Tuesday, April 13, 2010

How to be a Boss Chick: Jenny Bennett

Another boss chick I adore is my amazing Godmother Jenny Bennett. Sure enough I've known her all my life as my family member with the demanding job, but when she got the corner office and all the big boys began to report to her, I knew we officially had a boss chick in the family. I love my Aunt Jenny because she worked her way up in her company. Her loyalty to the United States Postal Service has proven extremely beneficial as she began as a mail carrier and is now Postmaster of the City of Decatur, an honor that comes complete with a holiday. As the first female to have this title in the city, her dedication shows a type of mobility I had to learn more about, and a level of achievement I hope to experience myself.

A boss chick's take on where she expected to be and learning about life...
When I entered the working world I didn't have a timeline on where I wanted to be. I began working because I had to. I was super stressed in my 20's because I just didn't know what I wanted to do, and I was well into my 30's before I found out. Having a family can truly affect the decisions you make and at the rates in which you make them, however everything happens for a reason. I was in the right place at the right time and continue to find new opportunities by being patient and aggressive at the same time.

A boss chick's guide to taking that leap...
People seldom understand that as the boss, I'm always working. Yes, I can make my own hours but I have an operation to run sometimes I get into the office at 3 in the morning. The misconception is that "having your way" means doing nothing. I work hard. I work when people aren't working. I work when people don't think I'm working. Any successful person will tell you this. One of the reasons I am able to be successful is because I have a strong foundation at home. No matter what your family looks like, you cannot be a good leader if your life doesn't have balance. Any woman can aggressively move to the top of her field, especially if she has a solid foundation to live in.

A boss chick's guide to being that woman...
Women are used to being the backbones in the family. We're generally more responsible than men. Black Women especially take on lots of responsibility for family. We can also do that in the work world. To become 'Jenny Bennett,' I've given up part of my personal identity. It's lonely at the top and you stop being able to let your hair down. Last year I went to a restaurant called Pearl for my birthday and all night I ran into people who worked for me. I had to be on guard for my birthday. The safety net is really small and it's apparent. The next day at work, a carrier said 'I didn't know you hung out at night.' If my skirt is too short, or my heels are too high, I'm under scrutiny all the time and I have to act accordingly. Lastly, being that woman involves having confidence in what you do. Always appear to be in control. Don't let anyone see you sweat. Women are tougher than the world gives us credit for. Use your strength to your advantage.

A boss chick's thoughts on fitting the professional bill...
I'm involved in Post Office sponsored professional organizations. One is gender related and the other is race related. After you get into management, the network is imperative. It's nationwide; it helps when you're looking for new positions and it's the way we break into the good ole' boy network. Here, you have more executives willing to help you out. When you truly want to be the part, join an organization. When you want to dress the part, don't underestimate the discount stores! Many times I've seen a suit in a large retail store to turn around not long after and find it in TJ Maxx. I may be a boss, but I like to save money, too.

Word association with a boss chick...

Passion: A deep desire to achieve.

Hard Work: Doing what you have to do.

Faith: Believing in yourself.

Opportunity: Going after what you want.

Power: Being a leader but still having integrity.

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