becca and syd gbb

Two Peas in a DFSCC Pod

Part of being an associate at DFS Creative Concepts involves a lot of introspection throughout the process. It’s not just about the deliverables, it’s about the process. Each new addition is tasked with reflecting upon their first week (or so) with our company so that they can continue to grow not just as producers of excellent quality products, but as people. Because at the end of the day (I really need to get a new catch phrase), we care just as much (if not more) about what goes on inside our people than the great accomplishments they bring to the table.

Proud to bring to you Sydney and Becca. They’ll begin contributing to the #GirlBossBlog regularly, but for their intros. . . And to get to know them. . . Read below. And enjoy.

syd gbb

Sydney’s Reflection: First Week Wisdom

When I think of the word “intern,” I think of a coffee grabbing, errand running, copy-making guru who’s only purpose in the office is to do the busy-work of the higher ups. For a visual reference of what I’m talking about, watch “The Devil Wears Prada.”

So, when my lovely and amazing boss asked me to write a blog post about some things I learned during my first week as an intern, I was hesitant. All I could think was, “What could I possibly write about that anyone (other than my parents and grandparents) would willingly read or care about?”

But as soon as I stopped internally freaking out about what I was going to write about and actually began to listen, I realized that Dorothy is not only a source for fashion inspiration but also an outlet for receiving some insanely wise #girlboss wisdom.

So, between the wise musings of Dorothy Self and my own first week trial-and-error experiences, here are some little “tidbits” of advice for all of you aspiring interns out there:

1. Bring. A. Charger.
No seriously, bring one! Actually, bring two: One for your phone and one for your laptop. On my first day, I was on my phone pretty much all day researching our clients, looking at their Instagram’s, and becoming familiar with how we represent them on social media outlets. By 2:30p, my phone was surviving on 11% and had to somehow make it to 4:00…#yikes

Going off of #1…

1.5. Know who you’re working for:
This should be common sense…but I’ve included it as a ½ piece of advice, just in case! Research your clients. Research your employer. Research their old posts, blogs, articles, events…everything! Channel your inner Nancy Drew and just research away. The best way to impress your employer (and clients) is to be familiar with and know their brand.

2. Roll with the punches:
The night before my first day at DFS, my computer pulled a 2007 Britney Spears and had a complete meltdown. Needless to say, I had to take it to the Apple Store and get it repaired which left me stranded (without a computer) at an internship that relies almost entirely on having the technology to communicate, write and post updates for clients (talk about a great first impression…) But do you remember that “lovely and amazing” boss I mentioned earlier? She was nothing but understanding and accommodating for my lack of having the bare essentials. So, while things don’t always go your way (and rarely will they ever), the only thing that really matters at the end of the day is how you choose to handle those setbacks. Sometimes, the best reaction is no reaction at all. So, take a second. Pause. Breathe. And then get back to #werk.

3. It’s okay to be nervous:
Y’all…walking into the doors of DFS on my first day was single-handedly one of the scariest moments of my young life, so far. To describe it would be similar to the feeling you get right before you go down a roller-coaster. There is something so surreal and nerve-wracking about starting a new journey and steadily walking into the great unknown blindfolded (which is what I felt like I was doing). But this is normal – I promise! If you aren’t nervous, then it means you’re either not excited or passionate about it or have a lot more nerve than I do (in which case…please teach me your ways).

4. An internship is more than just a resume builder…
…it’s actually a learning opportunity! One thing Dorothy told me on my first day was: “I want you to grow as a person and I want you to have a voice.” And since that day, she has done just that and has given me countless opportunities to find my voice. In every task she assigns me, Dorothy explains why it needs to be done and how it’s helping our client. No social media strategy is just about a series of posts, but something that genuinely has an impact on the business’ overall messaging and brand. She also told me, “You’ve got to learn the foundations before you can learn how to construct the roof.” In other words, you have to learn how to walk before you can run. Not all internships are glamorous (however, in my case, I did luck out with interning at DFS Creative Concepts) but they do hold the potential for growth if you allow them to. Be open to the experience and seek wisdom from those who are already doing exactly what it is that you want to be doing.

5. You’re not just an intern:
The biggest piece of advice, in my opinion, that Dorothy gave me on my first day was: “Just because you’re an associate does not mean you are less worthy. You have stuff to bring to the table. If you’re smart, good, and do the right thing…you’re valuable.” In fact, she has never referred to me as an intern, but rather an associate (see above quote). So really, this post shouldn’t be about my first week as an intern, but instead my first week as an associate (*insert hair flip emoji*). So often, people get bogged down in the mundane nature of internships when, in reality, there is so much room for you to learn new things about yourself not only as a person, but as a future employee. To quote Dorothy (again), “Every star is different and shines differently…but every star still gives light, nonetheless.” No one star can light up the sky on its own, it takes a team of stars (a #StarSquad some would say). And no matter if you’re the biggest star in the sky or the smallest one, you still give light. You still have ideas. And you still matter.

6. Embrace every experience:
Take this opportunity to: learn, grow, watch, listen, ask questions, fail, and succeed. But most importantly, take this time to find your passions and to find yourself. Being an intern isn’t just a stepping stone to bigger and better things, but a building block to add to your foundation that allows you to strengthen who you are and where you’re going.

So with that take my ramblings, from one “associate” to another, and start your journey to the top…

…because you’ve totally got this

becca gbb

Becca’s Reflection: The Anatomy of DFS Creative Concepts

You take a deep breath and you walk through the doors, it’s the morning of your very first day. Okay, so for anyone who got my reference: no, your first day of ‘real’ work won’t be like your first day of high school. For anyone who didn’t get my reference, don’t sweat it, Taylor Swift is pretty much off the charts anyway. Now let’s get back to that first day of work thing.

A few weeks ago, I walked in to what many people, myself included, would consider my first “professional” job. What I thought was going to be cubicles and pantsuits turned out to be creativity and passion, and what I thought was going to be stressful and intimidating, has turned out to be the best part of my day.

Over the last few weeks I’ve discovered what it’s like to actually sit at a desk for most of a day, that it is in fact possible for me to consume 6 cups of chai tea during one day in the office, and that no matter how cute the heels are, they still pinch your feet (unfortunately). On top of all those tidbits, I’ve also learned my way around the DFS office specifically (literally and figuratively!), and I have been able to see what makes our ever-growing office press on and produce amazing work. And so, without further ado, I present to you the anatomy of DFSCC.

We’ll start with me, an associate. Hopefully one day I can say “started from the bottom now I’m here” but for now, I’m proud to be taking it in as an associate. There are a few other associates running around, but make no mistake, we aren’t just going on coffee runs and making copies.

Here at DFSCC, associates literally make up the “creative concepts” (CC) part of D F S C C. That’s why one of the skills an associate like us needs to hone in on is our creativity. Some other skills an associate like myself would be nowhere without are passion, and a sense of purpose. Without our passion, our work would be dull. We’d produce only to meet deadlines, and only to reach Fridays faster. Our passion for DFSCC, what we stand for, the media, our clients and effective communication is what fuels our work.

But what fuels our passion, you may ask? Feeling like we serve a purpose at DFSCC and like our work matters is what encourages us to go the extra mile and to give our clients and each other our very best, every day. And finally, what fuels our sense of purpose? Moving up to the top is where we have our biggest fan and our greatest motivator, Dorothy.

Okay okay, I know… every office has a boss. But not every office has a #GIRLBOSS!! Dorothy herself quite literally makes up the DFS part of DFSCC, and is the powerhouse herself. See, the office can sail or sink based off the quality of its leadership, and the presence of qualities such as character, commitment, and humility. Character is important to us at DFSCC because we are committed to truth and integrity within our work, and we believe honesty is the best policy. We are committed to not only our character, but also our work in general. We are determined to get it done, and get it done in style, and with confidence. Through all that confidence, it’s important to us to have a leader who is humble through it all. A great leader is one who is strong and decisive, but knows how to listen and how to recognize the value of others.

Since my first moments of my first day at DFSCC, my value has been recognized and my work has been praised, which has in turn made me work hard and be excited for what I am going to produce during my time here. Hopefully through my eyes you can start to see the cycle of leadership and associate, the qualities each party possesses to make this cycle spin, and the anatomy of the office here at DFSCC!


The Face Behind the #GirlBossBlog: Caroline Tucker

As Caroline has been writing about everyone else in the office it occurred to me that through the nature of this project, she has not written about herself. Which should come as no surprise, due to her unassuming heads-down-computer-screens-open attitude. So it’s my turn, actually honor, to write about the originator of the #GirlBossBlog.

When she first came to me with the concept, I was wary. “Will I need to ACTUALLY do anything for it?” I asked. After her marketing presentation, selling me on a dream and an idea she had, I couldn’t very well say no. (I mean really, you can’t say no to Caroline. You just can’t.) The result has been wonderful for DFS Creative Concepts in numerous ways. A lot of self-evaluation, introspection, analysis of what we do and how we work. . . It’s all come about because of Caroline.

So get to know the REAL face behind the #GirlBossBlog. The one who keeps it going, in essence and perseverance. You won’t regret learning more about our very own ray of sunshine.

1. What is your morning mantra?
Oh, man. Considering I’m the usual Monday Mantra contributor, my arsenal of mantras is pretty extensive. But growing up, my parents were big on telling me and my siblings: “Your best is always good enough.” I love that a whole lot. My best might not look like my brother’s best, or my best friend’s best, or Dorothy’s best, or that really picture-perfect fashion blogger’s best. But thank goodness we don’t all have the same “bests,” right? What a boring world that would be. 
(I think this mini rant was the birth of an upcoming Monday Mantra…. stay tuned.)
2. Who is a #GirlBoss you admire? Why?
My dad’s mom, my Nan-Nan, was THE #GirlBoss. She was a writer, mother, fashionista, and devoted lipstick wearer until her dying day. She was a huge believer in women building up women through words of affirmation. She encouraged me to give out at least one compliment a day, and she looooved retail therapy. 
3. What draws you to PR/marketing?
I get to be whatever I want to be – it’s a total chameleon job. One day I’m writing articles (my favorite), the next I’m walking through a venue for an upcoming event, and then I’m at a round-table meeting talking marketing strategy. It’s fast, it’s creative, and it’s ever-changing. 
4. Thoughts on where you’d like your PR/marketing experience to take you?
I’d love to marry my love for writing with the fashion/PR world. . . Maybe to write profiles on really cool people for a really cool publication in a really cool city.
5. You’re favorite office snack:
Dorothy’s leftovers from GB&D. 😉 Their hushpuppies are to die for. 
6. Your go-to office outfit:
An easy swing dress. It’s the best trick for looking like I have my life together regardless of the reality. And then I’ll throw on a long necklace or two and some booties if I reallyyy want to fool people. 
7. Best piece of advice Dorothy has given you:
“Don’t apologize for anything you didn’t do wrong.” Maybe it’s a generational thing, or maybe it’s an unfortunate tendency for young women in general, but it’s my instinct to say “I’m sorry” to everything. Dorothy once heard me on the phone with a vendor who confused an order, and after I apologized and hung up, she goes “Now stop right there.”
This goes for both professional and personal situations. There’s no need to degrade myself for the sake of others. 
8. Describe your experience working at DFSCC in one word:
Undeserved. I don’t know why or how lil ol’ me got this amazing opportunity but I am grateful. It’s fair to say Dorothy and DFSCC have changed my life for the better.
9. Favorite thing about the Village:
There is so much good happening in the Village. I think my favorite thing is the variety of initiatives going on to grow the Village to be a really special place. I’m particularly fond of Mill Community Ministries. I got to listen to the founder, Dan Weidenbenner, speak at a conference and was totally captivated by his vision. I can’t wait to see how it grows in the coming years.
10. Coffee or tea?
Coffee. Black. Or a good chai tea if I’m not that tired (but, really, when is that ever the case?).
So there you have it. Isn’t she lovely? We think so.
Monday Mantra DFS 4317

Monday Mantra: Don’t Just Stand There

dfs headshot feb 17

So normally, Caroline writes the majority of our posts, followed by the rest of the crew . . . And I round out the bottom of the barrel. Yep, that’s right. Being everything from my own janitor to my own bookkeeper to running my own small business (oh yeah, being a mother to a #threenager and a wife to a husband in tax season, too) has my writing time few and far between. But it’s a rainy day, I’ve actually done a good job with my bookkeeping for the morning, and before the tsunami of work (and, apparently, rain) piles up I thought I’d hijack the Monday Mantra post because there was something I felt needed to be shared for a number of reasons.

I’ll never forget how the women in my life seemed to all be in cahoots in their chorus of advice: WELL DON’T JUST STAND THERE. (Implied: do something.) Every woman I’ve ever looked up to was never just standing around. Whether professionally, personally, ideologically, ethically, or physically. Nobody just stood around and let life happen. Carpe diem, right?

There’s so much to this loaded phrase that has carried me through life.

Seeing another student being called names on the playground in elementary school? Well don’t just stand there.

Seeing another student struggling with high school math (who doesn’t)? Well don’t just stand there.

Want to get into the college / graduate school / job of your dreams? Well don’t just stand there.

Want to pursue a dream you’ve had for a long time, yet lack the self-confidence to pursue it? Well don’t just stand there.

Standing around is easy. Letting life happen to you is easy (whether the good, the bad, or the ugly). Staying in that boring job is easy. Not standing up for what is right is easy. Saying unkind things is easy. (Just to name a few.) None of those aforementioned situations take any thought. In fact, it takes literally ZERO thought and actually no action.

What does take thought, though? Not standing there, not just letting life happen to you, going for it, standing up for what is right, saying kind things, doing what is right, actively being present. You get the drift. It’s so much harder, and takes way more thought and deliberation, to say and do the right thing (by yourself and by others). But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t.

When I started DFSCC, I didn’t just stand there. It was extremely difficult to put myself, my name, my time, and all of my heart on the line to pursue a dream (not to mention the sacrifices that had to be made across the board). Were there those who doubted my ability to succeed? Of course. Were there those who, due to their own insecurities, questioned how I could be a working mother? You bet. I still get those side comments. “You’re so lucky you are a weekend mom,” someone once said. Hello, uncensored.

But as one of my favorite quotes from a great lifelong girlfriend goes, “We may stand out, but we never stand alone.” Read: just find the right tribe to stand with you. Tribes don’t have to be big. Just the right people are needed.

So let’s start fresh this week and challenge ourselves not to “just stand there.” Go do something. Pursue a dream, pursue a passion. Be kind to someone who needs it, and even kinder to someone who you think might not need it one single bit.

After all, nobody ever crossed the finish line in life by just standing around.

Also a good pair of shoes makes all the difference. Cinderella proved that a long time ago.

GBB photo 32417

How Full is Your Tank?

A few weeks ago, as I left the office, I received a phone call from one of those friends that you (under no circumstances) let go to voicemail (unless you are physically unable to answer the phone). Only, this phone call resulted in a comedy of errors that provided for much entertainment and, surprisingly, self-awareness.

Apparently her gas tank was empty, and she was stranded on the side of a busy intersection. And you know what? I love that she called ME.

Having danced on the edge of this one too many times myself (“ZERO is just a suggestion!” I always say.), I said “I’ll be right there. But how do you get gas? To a car? If it’s not at a gas station?” (We can discuss my lack of automotive knowledge at a later date.)

After walking me through how to buy an empty gas can, fill it with gas, and then (duh) drive to her to fill the tank, I thought we were all set.

Until, that is, we couldn’t figure out how to get the gas out of the gas can and into the tank. Fast forward 15-20 minutes (maybe 30, if we are totally honest), and we realized that perhaps the illustrated directions – on the sticker, on the gas can – would probably give us the coveted information we so desperately needed. (Calling spouses and admitting defeat and/or asking what to do was not an option.)

All of this didn’t happen without multiple passers-by stopping to take photos of what probably looked like a stand-up comedy routine. No, nobody offered to help. Not one person. Yes, one of us was head-to-toe in Lilly Pulitzer and the other was wearing the standard leopard print stilettos, a flowy top, and oversized sunglasses. And yes, there came a point where we were so desperate to fill the tank that we tried to splash the gas into the tank. Which only resulted in the ole 80-20 rule – 80% wound up on us and our clothing and 20% wound up on the street.

However, once we actually followed directions which were presumably illustrated and designed by those who knew what they were doing, we got the tank reasonably full and were able to get moving again. Granted we smelled like gasoline for two weeks, but that’s beside the point.

The whole experience got me thinking. How often do we run on empty? How often do we, as those who work both within the home or outside of it (or both) think “I can make it just one more mile. . . even though the indicator is flashing bright red and says ZERO”? How many times do we actually ONLY fill up our tanks when we are prompted to by the light? When is the last time we thought “Hey, let’s put some gas in the tank. . . Just because I know I’ll need it one day.” (Usually such forethought, at least in my case, only happens when preparing for a long drive.)

So I concluded that (at least for me) many wait until we are empty to fill ourselves up. . . And the only time we find to proactively fill ourselves comes when on the front-end of a long journey where we know we will need it.

And that’s not really any way to live.

So I don’t know about you, but I’ve started to make it a priority to not wait until my tank says ZERO or I’m stranded before I do things to nourish myself mentally, physically and emotionally. A small break here, doing something nice for myself (no matter how seemingly insignificant) there, saying “No” without citing a reason and little things that internally validate who I am and what I believe in. . . All of those come together to fill my tank so that I won’t find myself at ZERO or stranded in any way, shape or form.

Here’s to filling up your tanks. And also to those friends who are there to help you refill it when you were too busy being everything for everyone, and you didn’t notice you were running low.

Now about that piece of chocolate cake and a side glass of champagne. I’ll take one of each, thank you very much!

Numbers Don’t Lie and Neither Does Young Adult Literature

“Some hearts beat only about 412 million times, which might sound like a lot, but the truth is, it barely even gets you twelve years.” –The Truth About Jellyfish

My sister-in-law, also a #girlboss (slash pediatrician), gave me a fabulous read for Christmas. As the mother of an almost three-year-old boy. . . I find it hard to muster up the energy to read things (outside of working hours) that require more than his attention span (currently that of a bumble bee). Until I read The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin.

I’m going to tell you a story about a special person, whose heart only beat for thirty years. As anyone can tell you, I’m no mathematician. I just spent about 15 minutes on my iPhone calculator trying to figure out, based on that excerpt, how many beats would constitute thirty years. And I’m still not able to get it. Sidebar: My math teachers were awesome, I think they just gave up and said “Listen, how about I give you a passing grade if you just leave me alone and stop asking questions?”

His name was Daniel. And he was born with Proteus Syndrome. Don’t know what it is? Google it.

His sister Kathleen and his cousin Amelia lived with me in college. So in a sense, Daniel felt like an extended part of my family. The thing about Daniel and his crew is that they treat you like family even if you aren’t. As Kathleen once said, “Listen I hate to break it to you, but there’s nothing you can do that will make me stop loving and caring about you. I might get mad at you, but we’re family and families don’t give up on each other. No matter how hard it gets.” As all college girls/roommates do, we had our ups and downs. And as all friends do, we have had our near years and our far years. But ultimately there’s a string, a common thread, that ties us all together. A little thing called love.

Daniel died the other week, after thirty years of changing lives like it was no big deal (which, in fact, it was a very big deal the way he changed people’s lives, for the record). . . And hitting well over the century mark in numbers of surgeries.

As I woke up at 3am to drive to Savannah for his funeral, and to be there for my “extended family,” all I could do was reflect, contemplate, and question what it all means.

And here are my top five things that I think we all need to keep in mind as women in the workplace, mothers, sisters, daughters, friends, you name it.

1.) You only get so many minutes in the hour, hours in the day, days in the week, weeks in the year, and years in your life. You better spend them wisely. Is it worth it to allow negativity into your life? Or is it better to let love permeate? Is it better to live a life ruled by competition than one guided by kindness and treating others how you’d want to be treated?

2.) The people in your life are there for a reason. You might not understand why. But every person is put into your life to teach you something about what it means to live. You might as well go ahead and accept this fact. Love one another. Live a life that radiates positivity, and refuse to engage in anything that doesn’t put good out there.

3.) Find your tribe, and love them hard. And though not everyone can be there for every tribe member every minute of every day, at least try to be there when the going gets tough. You don’t need a big tribe. Just the right people in it.

4.) Joy: sprinkle that stuff everywhere like it’s confetti on your birthday (or a random Friday). Because life is brief, and happiness matters.

5.) “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on Earth.” – Muhammad Ali

Young adult literature is easy to read. For the young and young-at-heart, and all those in between who find themselves with less time on their hands to read than desired, I encourage you to pick up this book. It’s a good one.

And Daniel, thank you for the life you lived. You taught us all about what it means to persevere, and to live life to the fullest.

To find out how you can help with Proteus Syndrome, click here. For Daniel.

Start, Stop, Continue

Last week, I discussed the Furman University Women in Leadership Institute in which I am participating this Winter/Spring. The moderators left us with a task before our next (February) meeting: figure out three things. Something to start, something to stop, and something to continue.

At first, this seemed pretty easy. Start eating healthier (I say as I enjoyed a burger from GB&D, complete with “extra burger sauce” for my fries. Thank God I inherited my mom’s metabolism . . . For now), stop buying shoes (Although Blossom Shoes & Such is exempt from this, naturally), and continue growing DFSCC into my vision: a place for women both young, young-ish, and young-at-heart to learn, thrive, and grow while conducting good work for the clients who put their faith within us.

After much thought, a glass of wine, and a little bit of sleep (let’s hear it for toddlers and sleep regression!), I’ve revised my three to reflect a bit more insightful and introspective thoughts. After all, this WIL Institute is supposed to change my life (so far it has), so we might as well continue with the trend.

START: Forget eating healthier. (Though I should be doing that anyway.) My start that I plan to report at our February meeting is that I plan to start only speaking and communicating in a purposeful way. Meaning: I tend to fill the space. If someone’s not talking, I feel like I need to make conversation. Witness my former publisher-boss, who would just sit there as I rambled on about everything from work to my dogs to the kitchen sink. Somewhat amused, but probably somewhat thinking “Will she ever stop?” I’ve realized the importance of not saying things just to say them. Rather, I plan to only say things that are relevant to my clients’ work, my family’s interests and lives, and my friends’ livelihoods. I want each word to be purposeful, thought through, and relevant. I plan to do a whole lot of listening, and a lot less talking. Someone (I was too busy talking, apparently, to remember who) said “You’ve got two ears, and one mouth. Use them in that order.” It might have been my dad. He was never one to wax poetic about things. Speak with a heart of purpose through your words, that’s what I’m going to start doing. (Somehow I can hear people who know me reading this and cheering out loud.)

STOP: Forget the cease-shopping stance on shoes. Ok, maybe I can dial it back a little bit. But what I truly plan on stopping is self-criticism. We’re our own worst critics (most of the time, anyway). It eats us alive, and sucks the joy out of life and our abilities to love the life we live. We only get one go-round at this life (or so my beliefs state), so might as well spend it NOT thinking about all of your imperfections, your weaknesses, and shortcomings. But rather, turn those observations into teachable moments.

CONTINUE: I do plan to continue growing DFSCC into my vision as a place for women to flourish in the marketing world (small, medium, or large as that world may be based on their desires). I’m going to keep my eye on the prize: mentoring women as best I can. Because while I might not know the answer, I certainly at the very least know what NOT to do (from personal experience!). I’m not perfect, but sometimes the best lessons are learned from those who aren’t, right?

I’m reminded of one of my favorite quotes, written on a shoddy notecard with no attribution. (Sorry, Mrs. Burleigh and Mr. Blackwell, I know your skin is crawling about this.)

“This is the beginning of a new day. God has given me this day to use as I will. I can waste it or use it for good. What I do today is important, because I am exchanging a day of my life for it. When tomorrow comes, this day will be gone forever, leaving something I have traded for it. I want it to be a fain, not loss; good, not evil; success, not failure; in order that I shall not regret the price I paid for it.”

My closest friends joke that I always say “At the end of the day……” before I launch into my opinions. So, true to form…..

At the end of the day, it’s worth evaluating what took place and what was sacrificed for that day. You can begin a start/stop/continue each day, each week, or each month. Heck, I’m sure you can start one each hour if you’re that into it. But if there’s one thing I do know, it’s that as a mom (separate from small business owner), mine include: start the day with a snuggle, stop beating yourself up over sleep regressions / potty training / weird toddler food preferences / running the rat race, and continue loving my child.

What are your start/stop/continues?

You’re One in 33 Million. Say What??

Strengths help define us just as much as weaknesses. And while we would love for the former to outweigh the latter on all occasions, that’s simply just not the case. Sometimes, our weaknesses rear their little (or big) selves right before our very eyes (unfortunately, so it would seem). . . and I learned on Tuesday at the Furman University Women in Leadership Institute that’s not entirely a bad thing. Wait, what? Weaknesses (and knowing what they are) aren’t a bad thing? Who’s moderating this institute anyway? Didn’t they get the memo: weaknesses are bad. Do I need to jump in and correct everyone? Lord help us.

But I was wrong.

Turns out, you’re not just “one in a million” as the phrase goes. In fact, technically based on the 34 strengths that we were assessed on during the first session, we are each one in thirty-three million.  Based on how we fared on our strengths (top five, top ten) and weaknesses (bottom five, bottom ten) and everything in between. . . our strengths and weaknesses make us as individual as fingerprints.

After my initial concern that 4/5 of my top strengths were in “relationship building” (I guess I’m not as well-rounded as I thought in terms of strengths), the facilitator pointed out something rather insightful out to me. (Yes, I was the girl who raised her hand, panicking that my strengths were not spread equally across the board.)

She said, “You don’t have to be strong at everything, you know. You just have to know your strengths, hone those, and find people who compliment them. THAT’s when you have a powerful situation. Whether at work, at home, or with friends. . . Find those people who compliment your strengths, such that the sum total is better than the individual parts.” Wow, thanks Dr. Kim Keefer with the Shucker Learning Institute. You pretty much blew my mind.

In a day and age where we, as women (Caro would say #GirlBosses) feel like we have to be “it all” for everyone (and trust me, there’s always someone else who needs you for something), it was somewhat freeing to realize that it’s okay not to be evenly spread across the strengths board. And that you don’t have to have it all. You can trust God, the Universe, a higher power (hey, whatever you believe – that’s your bag). . . But people are put into your life for a reason.

We then went on to list out people who we “partner” with that make us better as a whole. Luckily, this came easy to me. Apparently I know who is better at certain things than I am. (I suppose this comes from having a psychologist as a sister.) We also examined who you find yourself partnering with who might not really fit your strengths (read: takes a little bit too much, and doesn’t give back nearly what they receive).

With an office full of young women, emerging into who they become in the personal and professional world, I always try to tell them and treat them as if they are “one in a million.” I think, and don’t judge me, that once on Oprah (still sad her show is where I can’t seem to find it, but that’s another blog post). . . she interviewed someone who said “My mother treated each of us like we were her favorites, and we all felt that way.” And that’s how I designed DFS Creative Concepts. To ensure each client, collaborator and employee felt they were the very most important. That they were the one-in-a-million.

But surprisingly, and in a happy way, my people, collaborators and my clients are so much more than that. They’re one-in-thirty-three million. I’m no math genius (just ask my teachers growing up – they would see me walk in and run for dear life when I would launch into my questions), but it seems rather clear to me: we are way more special than we thought.

And it’s not only due to our strengths, but also our weaknesses, and everything in between. It all weaves together to create the fabric of who we are as people.

So for “Doses of DFS” this Friday, I guess the point of this way-too-long-post is that you’re more unique, special, and different than you think. And that’s not just because of the good stuff. But also because of the weaker parts and everything average in between.

Let’s stop thinking of ourselves as just one-in-a-million. When truly, you’re exponentially more than that.


PS: My fifth strength is strategic. And our office people have all taken the same analysis, and between all of us, we’ve got all the boxes checked as strengths. Like a puzzle, we all seem to fit together to create our little powerhouse of women, and I couldn’t feel more lucky.

Dressing drinks and finding a ‘better way’

So, I kind of feel like I’m in group therapy. “My name is Dorothy…” and Caroline (my faithful comrade at DFSCC) is making me do these “Doses of DFS” on Fridays. And I couldn’t be more out of my comfort zone. I don’t even like looking into photos directly unless a photographer forces me to. As extroverted as I might seem, I actually test on the extreme introvert side of the spectrum. Nobody ever believes me, so I have to pull the results up on my phone. Extrovert by trade, introvert by nature. 

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