Do Your Work: An Open Assessment of Tory Johnson

I received an email from a client with a forward from Tory Johnson of Good Morning America, Women for Hire, and Spark and Hustle fame.  It was titled, “Haters gonna hate!”

ToryIn this email, Mrs. Johnson discusses her new book/movement, “The Shift” and the praise and critiques she’s received since its launch.  Approximately half way through the email, Tory revealed the criticism that cut the deepest.  Someone wrote her and said, “You don’t care about helping other women lose weight. You just want our money for your book sales.”   While Tory is writing this off as someone being a hater (at the advice of her 16 year old daughter) I see something totally different.   I see a client having a negative experience with Tory Johnson, her brands, or both.  What could be awry with the PR Princess’ brands? As I dug a little deeper, here is what I found.

  1. Same Thing, Different Name (Same Face, Different Place).  All three of Tory Johnson’s brands (Women For Hire, Spark and Hustle, and The Shift) have the exact same business model.  Each includes a book and a conference, where once in attendance, premium products and services will be sold to you.  To boost your feeling of influence, you are invited to work for Tory by being an ambassador or host or sponsor for an additional investment.  But does it really boost your influence or only Tory’s bottom line?
  2. Brand Confusion.  While Mrs. Johnson’s movement from Women for Hire to Spark and Hustle appeared seamless, this latest venture, which has the exact same business model, is clearly not.  Women definitely maneuver from the workplace into entrepreneurship, but not all women are on a weight loss journey.  For those who follow Tory Johnson, the turning of a life experience into a movement can make one feel abandoned.  I thought we were Sparking and Hustling??!! Now you only want to talk about how you lost weight and created a better life? I’m confused.
  3. Stop talking about it and Be About it.  The real reason this person wrote Tory Johnson with her “hate” is because there is a disconnect between the image, or promise, that Tory Johnson and her brands emits and the experience.  Based on my research, this disconnect was created when Mrs. Johnson STOPPED staying connected to the audience that propelled her into the limelight.  She stopped working with them and started talking about the work she did with them.  Women for Hire started in 1999.  Spark and Hustle appears to be in the hands of affiliates with programs like Daring Doers and the BBF initiative. Her work was not speaking and writing books—those are tools to spread the word about her real work. And more speaking and more books won’t fix the problem, either.  When you spend so much time writing books and speeches and preparing to speak, coupled with the other responsibilities she has as a wife, mother, mentor, and community leader, there is no time to actually connect with the struggles and triumphs of your fan and customer base. When this happens, your core customer feels abandoned, frustrated, and devalued—thus the “…you just want our money for your book sales” comment.

Tory Johnson, I implore you to take a second look at the “hate mail” comments you received and referenced in your eblast.  Then, I want you analyze where you started and what steps you took to get where you are.  Lastly, I want you to remember that most of the women who look up to you are somewhere in the middle of that staircase. You cannot just speak to them from the front of a crowded conference hall.  They don’t want to just read your story on their Kindles.  That may work for some other mediapreneur, but it is not working for you.  Your customers are telling you that they miss the “Tory in the Story”—they need you back at work. Your work is being an awesome connector and conduit of entrepreneurial energy.  Once you return to that, you will get true hate mail—the kind where the only thing they can say is “I thought you looked better fat.”

See the CAREER Conversations™ webisode on Ego’s In Employment and Entrepreneurship


What’s Your Personal Development Plan?

Many times, we can get so busy working “in our business” or “on our job” that we sometimes fail to “work on ourself”.   Monday’s are interesting days for me because I use them for personal development days.  Meaning, I don’t take client calls.  I catch up on my weekly reading between my shows and I work on maintenance related things such product creation or making simply updates to an existing products or services that may be coming down the pike.

As part of my personal development, I also make an effort to truly understand what others do.  I have a friend who is such a great story teller, that I forgot she was an “Internet Marketer”.  I’m really selective about the lists I sign up for (one of my pet peeves is being spammed to death under the guise of “sign up for my newsletter”), but I look forward to reading emails that I receive from Pam Lawhorne,  because her emails are full of nuggets and reminders.

I invited Pam to be a guest on my show, CAREER Conversations™ and while doing research for the show, I realized that most small business owners are Internet Marketers in their own right – and may not realize it.  Now don’t get me wrong, like every profession, there are people who take advantage of the access they have to you (i.e. spamming your email with a daily deal that has absolutely zero value to you), but while talking with Pam, I realized that there are various types of Internet Marketing that is valuable and needed!    No, I wont be throwing up any splash pages, but I will continue with the various forms of Internet Marketing such blogging, video marketing and some of the other fantastic tools that you all love! (yes, you’ll be surprised at what falls under Internet Marketing, it’s more than just “sign up here!”)

Enjoy the conversation with Pam

Give Yourself A Raise! (Don’t Have the Money, I Bet You Do!)

Today is AUTHORPRENEUR THURSDAY!  What that means is, this is the day that I spend time sharing tips and resources for Authors.

I have a friend who owns, ZLS Publishing, a publishing company in New York.  She posts author tips everyday, but today there was a conversation on her page that prompted me to drop this in a blog and send it out (because 140 characters is just not enough to communicate my point).

Long and short of it, ZLS shared a blog on her page called , “You Wrote It, But Can You Promote it!”  To which, someone replied “No funds to do….”.  Immediately, I thought about a show I did a few years back called “How to Give Yourself a Raise” and shared it on her page as a resource.

This also made me reflect on the numerous conversations I’ve had with people over the years who always use money as the excuse for “not getting started”.  So I just wanted to drop this audio back in to circulation as a resource for those who may be financially challenged and it’s preventing them from moving forward.

Yes, this information is for anyone, not just authors.  So those of you are are seeking more funds take a look at your checkbook first.  You just might find that you have the ability to actually give yourself a raise based on your current income level. So the next time you find yourself saying, “but I don’t have the money!”  Pull up this blog and take a listen because, I bet you do!

BAABringspiralbinderAre you an author looking for “Author Resources”?
Check out the Books Are A Business™ Kit

Workplace Equality for Women (panel discussion re-cap)

Recently, I participated in a panel on the NEW Workplace Equality for Women, hosted by Kenetia Lee. Due to technical difficulties, some of the audio is not the best, but if you can make your way through some of the crackle and pop, I believe this conversation will be very helpful to you.

During the conversation, we shared about workplace quality and some of the issues and statistics surrounding the topic. But I challenge you as you listen to this, NOT TO BE A STATISTIC and so what you need to get what you want in the workplace. Remember CAREER doesn’t mean staying with one employer for 30 years. It means that you have progressive achievement in your field of pursuit. Women do not have to buy into the statistics or become one. We have everything at our reach just like anyone else.

In my own career, I have had to work very hard but learned early that success is personal and the best person to define what success looks like for me. No statistic, no company, no glass ceiling, and no “male competition” would be the measurement for my success.

Here is a look at the panel discussion, Enjoy! At the end of the day, ladies we must remember Wonder Woman is a fictional character! We can have it all, but we CANNOT do it all – - at least not effectively!

Hair today, Gone Tomorrow…was it worth it Rhonda Lee?

There’s a ton of buzz surrounding Rhonda Lee, the KTBS Meteorologist “fired over defending her hair”…but IS that the real reason she was fired?  If you haven’t read the story,  you can read it her on Yahoo.

Personally, I think she looks fantastic with her hair and find it becoming on her.  Apparently, the station didn’t have a problem with her hair either.  The station had a problem with her responding to the viewer -or viewers repeatedly.  As a certified HR Professional (and a black woman)….I understand the position of the station. Rhonda knows her public persona is subject to all kinds of comments. She had a choice to engage or not engage with the viewer who posted about her hair. Really, who cares that a viewer doesn’t like her short hair?

According to the story on Yahoo, even though Rhonda states she was not at the meeting where the social media policy was discussed, I’m sure she was aware of the “unofficial social media policy” as the story states she was “warned about this repeatedly”.  Which indicates there was previous conversations (plural) about Rhonda’s “social media practices”.

According to the story on Yahoo, “Ms. Rhonda Lee was let go for repeatedly violating that procedure and after being warned multiple times of the consequences if her behavior continued,” KTBS-TV executives said in a statement posted on Facebook on Tuesday, after Lee appeared on CNN. “Rhonda Lee was not dismissed for her appearance or defending her appearance. She was fired for continuing to violate company procedure.” 

If that is true, then I stand with the station on the termination.  Okay so this is probably NOT the response that many of you were expecting from me,…BUT…as a 20 year human resources professional (and an black woman)…let me say this.   Rhonda is a high compensated employee HIRED TO BE A PUBLIC PERSONA for the station.  Every time she opens her mouth publicly,  it is essentially a “response from the employer”  With that being said…she did not have to respond.  Again, I say, WHO CARES THAT A VIEWER DOESN’T LIKE HER HAIR?  It’s not a secret that there are double standards in every class of people…black/white, men/women, young/old, rich/poor…as in this case, I totally believe that Rhonda Lee has a right to be who she chooses to be. But I also know the station was paying her boo-coos of money to be who they needed her to be.

Sometimes we forget that social media and our expressions on social media are not a “free” as we’d like them to be.  There have been so many cases in the media about employees being terminated over Facebook and other social media outlets.  Sometimes we have to learn to hold our peace.  I believe this was one of those times.

The issue I have with this whole story is “the station” didn’t have a problem with Rhonda Lee’s hair and she could have (and should have) IGNORED the Facebook post and this whole nightmare would have been avoided.   Personally and professionally, I didn’t find anything “wrong” with her response,

“Hello Emmitt—I am the “black lady” to which you are referring. My name is Rhonda Lee. Nice to meet you,” she wrote on October 6, in the comments. “I am sorry you don’t like my ethnic hair. And no I don’t have cancer.” 

“I am very proud of my African-American ancestry which includes my hair,” Lee, 37, continued. “For your edification: traditionally our hair doesn’t grow downward. It grows upward. Many Black women use strong straightening agents in order to achieve a more European grade of hair and that is their choice. However in my case I don’t find it necessary. I’m very proud of who I am and the standard of beauty I display. Women come in all shapes, sizes, nationalities, and levels of beauty. Showing little girls that . Little girls (and boys for that matter) need to see that what you look like isn’t a reason to not achieve their goals.” 

“Conforming to one standard isn’t what being American is about and I hope you can embrace that,” she concluded. “Thank you for your comment and have a great weekend and thank for watching.”

However, I am not her employer and since another employee of KTBS (Rhonda’s Employer) was also fired for defending himself online (see Chris Redford’s Story here), this appears to just be the policy of the station and not racial motivated -but a practice of KTBS.   Sometimes we have to dig a little to find the truth. Many times those of us in the HR Profession are accused of siding with the employer (we don’t we are just tasked with enforcing the policies and procedures set by the organization), as I’m sure I will be due to my stance on this but this termination appears to be justified.  Again…her employer CLAIMS Rhonda was terminated for “repeatedly violating that procedure and after being warned multiple times of the consequences if her behavior continued!”  If Rhonda was terminated on this for her first offense, I would be outraged but repeatedly and multiple stands out to me.  Let’s remove the profession for a moment and look at this from another point of view, how many times will you tell your child repeatedly not to do something before you punish them for it?  Rhonda is not a child, but I think you get my point!

One thing we have to learn in this world, is we don’t HAVE to defend a lie, ALWAYS prove to be right, or ALWAYS make a point. That is where Rhonda Lee made her error.  Yes she has a right to defend her appearance, but why?  She choose to embrace who she was on the inside as she claimed in her response, of being comfortable in the skin and HAIR God gave her contribution to society and that should have been enough.  Personally, I think Rhonda could have made a stronger statement by not even giving thought to the Facebook post.  After all, it was just his opinion, it wasn’t worth her job!

She’s an employee of the company and she didn’t have to be “in the meeting” to hear the unofficial social media policy” I’m sure she heard about it and I’m sure that she knew about about Chris Redford being terminated for defending himself online as well.  As an employee who is a public figure, (the news for Pete’s sake) Rhonda should have known it wasn’t worth it. She went to battle but lost the war!

Rhonda Lee is an intelligent, educated black woman who knows that her VERY public position means everyone wont like her…her hair…her smile…her voice…her skin color… and to that..she should have said.. SO WHAT and kept it moving. In this day and age, people have to remember….the employer is paying you to be who they need to you be during the hours of “9-5″.

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