Don't Take It Personal

Last week I had a very tense email exchange with someone. We had a 3-4 email exchange where I expressed my point and then they expressed theirs. Before I go much further there is a quick point to note about me; I don’t read tone in emails or texts and I believe doing so could be harmful. So, in the last email I received back there were words that literally made me Laugh Out Loud. The email read, Don’t Take It Personal. Even as I write this I find myself chuckling because at that moment I realized that only a man would make such a statement. My next thought was let me re-read our exchange, which was brief, to the point with no fluff (not even an emoticon or exclamation). I believe that his thought was that as a woman I have to conduct everything, including my business, in an emotional state. However, that is not true and I am quite opposite; I am logical and analytical and while I use my intuition I also believe in just plain and simple truths and hard facts. Period!

I get over things extremely quickly but something about these words kept creeping into my mind. Partially because an R&B singer by the name of Monica had a song called “Don’t Take it Personal” and I was bopping along to it in my head. But the other reason was because I recently was asked in an interview for the Tennessee Economic Council on Women publication about the differences in the workplace for women and men and what my hopes were for making them better. I realized that this was one of those ‘things’ that a man would say to a women in the workplace and never be challenged about it. I also realized that as women we work too hard on perfection and often take a lot of things personally as opposed to examining the facts and presenting them as such.

These four words brought up some initial thoughts from me, some of which I have shared above and a few more I have shared below. As always please allow me to share what I have learned.

Men and women are different: As much as I really want us to just handle business without gender being a part of the conversation I’m not sure we can. We are built differently and only a man would think our email exchange meant I was having a fussy moment. Aside from our obvious differences there are some other differences like our communication, management, and leadership.

Don’t cry: ‘If you have to cry then you need to go outside’ was the infamous line by fashion publicist Kelly Cutrone on the MTV show Kell on Earth. Guess what, I agree. I understand that some might lean on emotion as a part of the ‘game’ played once we get to the job (or table) but we must understand that we have to get there first. If you want to have an even playing field you have to learn when and when not and how and how not. As a woman in business I believe we deserve a place at the table BUT that becomes harder to advocate for if you are perceived as an emotional basket case before you even get there.  (Some) Men already have their perception, let’s prove them wrong.

Listen to your first mind: As a part of the Business Journal’s interview I was asked what advice I would give to the young, professional woman and my answer was “Listen to your first mind.” When I first started my business I would sit at home late at night and analyze every conversation and each decision I made questioning if I had said or done the right things. I would say ‘I should have said that instead’ or ‘I hope when I said xyz they weren’t upset’. Around the top of the second year I made a commitment not to be so hard on myself or take things so personally and that I need to learn to tap into my own self-trust. So this goes for you also, you are trusted by clients and colleagues and you owe it to them to give them wise counsel without second guessing your strong decisions. As an entrepreneur, if you have not already, you will (hopefully) develop a keen sense of intuition; you should allow it to lead you.

Conflict is like a band-aid: The best way to take off a band-aid is quickly. As an entrepreneur sometimes conflict should be handled the same way. Have you ever not said something because you weren’t sure how the other person would respond? It’s not a matter of if but when conflict will happen. As a business owner or middle/senior manager it is important to prepare yourself for tough conversations because it is sometimes the nature of business. Pull quick and allow the sting to subside just as quickly.

While I’m still chuckling as I write, I learned many things in that 10 minute set of moments and here is a quick set of take-away’s; we can all lighten up a little more, men say the darndest things, and of lastly, don’t take so much personally!!

Stay inspired!

Kia Jarmon is a brand strategist and PR coach with boutique public relations firm, The MEPR Agency.  She speaks, blogs, mentors, and is soon to be an author.  You can find more information at her personal brand site,

I Fell In Front of 500 People

So here’s a just a tad bit of back history about me. I received the first Ingram Achiever Scholarship to attend Belmont University. So let’s fast forward. I received an email to attend a charity polo match where Orrin Ingram, the gracious scholarship donor, was playing. I was going to be meeting up with the other award recipients, many of whom I had never met. I was super cute and had on the highest heels in my closet and a nice Saturday afternoon, sun inspired dress. So here’s the deal. The country club was HUGE and it was all GRASS. If you aren’t a woman you probably won’t see the problem. I then went traipsing all up and down the field looking for my cabana. After walking around for what felt like forever, alone, I called the person at Belmont who was coordinating. Right after I reminded her who I was the craziest thing happened…I FELL! Well, I toppled because my shoes were stuck in the grass and when I went to move I went down. I was still on the phone and as she was telling me the cabana number I had fallen right in front of it. I also fell in front of several hundred people. The interesting part was that I wasn’t embarrassed, AT ALL. I was still on the phone with her, I took my shoes off, walked the rest of the way up the hill, and sat right on down. No one was in our cabana so I watched for a while from a distance and then got closer to the polo match.

So, Kia, what is the point of this story?! I realized that true life falling incident was representative of my experience being in business. I realized that as an entrepreneur there will be some falls, risks, and interesting moments but they all mean something and should be measured as a part of my success!

Here were the lessons.

Don’t be afraid to fall: If you are new to business you will soon experience several types of falls. Many people who know me know that I carry around a fabulous pillow that enables me to fall, roll, and still look graceful. There is indeed an art form to falling and picking yourself back up. As my story indicates kick off your shoes and take a deep seat into your business. It will make it a little easier to catch yourself on the way down.

Believe in timing: I could not believe that when I fell I would land right in front of the very place I needed to be. If you reflect on your falls over the years running your own business do you often find that you land right where you need to? I thought it was ironic that it happened that way and then within that 2 second topple over moment I had summed up my entire entrepreneurial existence. I believe in the timing of everything. If you are in tune to yourself and your business you will too. That client you have been stalking for months or that partnership you have been wishing for…they all happen in the right timing and that one fall does not indicate a failure, just falling one inch closer.

Not easily embarrassed: You will fall, literally and figuratively, many times. You will put your foot in your mouth and you will cringe at some of the ways that you act, at every level of your business. However, the good news is that it will all mean something. I have a permanent ‘embarrassment’ brush that allows me to dust myself off pretty quickly, just like a lent brush, in those moments. You, of course, won’t (hopefully) keep making the same mistakes but they are going to happen. Allow them to happen as they may and rather than reflecting on the embarrassment, reflect on the lesson(s) learned.

Don’t look around: When babies fall the first thing they do is look around. If you baby them they immediately cry and receive the attention they deserve. If you say “you’re ok let’s get up” they don’t seem to have the same reaction. I fell, acted like it was a part of my ‘act’ and kept it pushing. I didn’t look around for responses or for anyone to feel sorry for me but instead I jumped up. In business you don’t always have the luxury of having someone kiss your boo boo’s and tell you it’s okay. Many times you have to be that for yourself. Don’t seek others attention, instead keep your eye focused on what you were looking at before you fell. You might just fall right where you should!

And here’s another lesson for good measure!

Be a risk taker: You must walk, climb, swim, and fly in areas that would terrify most. I have a huge fear of water but I have been white water rafting and even jumped out in the middle of the river. I have been indoor rock climbing because the adrenaline at 25 or so feet in the air resembles that of running a business. I have been ziplining 80 feet across and several hundred feet above and I would do it two more times. Why do I do all of these things? Because they give me the opportunity to understand gasping for air, clutching business deals, and the excitement of my successes. My day to day operations running The MEPR Agency can sometimes feel like I am in a triathlon.

Have you fallen in business, life, or your career? What did you learn from it?

Need help catching yourself on a fabulous pillow? Shoot me an email for Brand Mapping or Lunch & Learn with Kia Jarmon. You will leave confident enough to fall, just like me, and not experience embarrassment!

Kia Jarmon is a brand strategist and PR coach with boutique public relations firm, The MEPR Agency. Shespeaks, blogs,mentors, and is soon to be an author. You can find more information at her personal brand site,