How To Turn Adversity into Success


By: Sarah Ocker, LGP Detroit Ambassador

This is a recap of our kick-off town hall, Women & Money, in Detroit on June 27, 2017. Thank you to our host, Ponyride, a nonprofit committed to facilitating the growth of social missions within artists, entrepreneurs, makers, and nonprofits. You can follow your Detroit LGP community on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Detroit City has seen its share of hardship; some might say more than others. Detroit is strong and irrepressible, as are its people. We are fighters and survivors; and through the discussion and sharing at Detroit’s first town hall meeting for Ladies Get Paid, we experienced no less.  

The dimly lit dance studio at Ponyride with worn wooden floors, speckled with candlelight, felt warm, safe, and inviting. We had an amazing turnout of more than 50 women, some knowing and some unaware of what we were about to explore. We were honored to have seven amazing women on our first panel, each one marching a different career path, each path born from fighting the inequalities and oppressions they experienced along the way. There was strength present in the discussion we shared, not only amongst the speakers, but those in the audience as well—and raw vulnerability; a calling not easy to muster, in a room with one other person, let alone a room with fifty other women.

It was apparent in the discussion that as smart, capable, and accomplished we might be, our societal structures tend to keep us suppressed, and neglect to garnish us with the respect and status that we well deserve. When factoring race and ethnicity, these issues increase significantly. The common thread seemed to be that we need to be administrating our own empowerment, advocating for our own needs and requirements, and that adversity can be the most powerful motivator.


Key Takeaways:

  1. Rid yourself of the “shoulds” — Laura Khalil, marketing advisor and career coach, stressed the importance of allowing ourselves to live outside of what we believe is expected of us and to chase the things that inspire us most. There is freedom and empowerment in “removing the shackles of should,” and in making yourself a priority in your own life, without guilt or shame. She spoke of her experience with sexism in the workplace, as she didn’t fit the stereotypical mold of what a woman is sometimes expected to be. She also shared her passion for coaching women on how to be successful, as so many struggle to achieve and maintain financial independence.

  2. Boundaries are important — As a master social worker, in an extremely stressful field, after years of management with the highest volume of patients, Christina Gallardo talked of realizing that self care and the assertion of personal boundaries is key in maintaining personal success. Our needs are valuable and we are worthy of time to recollect and recuperate. Taking care of ourselves doesn’t make us any less dependable or deserving of leadership.  

  3. Advocate for yourself — Tylene Henry, owner of Northwestern Mutual, shared an empowering perspective on believing that you can have the things you want, and that even though you might have to jump through more hoops to get them, your goals are attainable. Tylene expressed that even though at times, assertive and powerful women are labeled aggressive or unpleasant, that we can’t allow that to dissuade us. We have to show the world that powerful women are just as deserving of the respect that powerful men are given. Sometimes that means going into business for yourself, so that we can create new precedences.

  4. “I’m not your secretary” — Kyra Harris, a civil litigation lawyer in downtown Detroit, struggled with how she was seen by her superiors and fighting for the fairness and equality that she knew she deserved. Many of us in authoritative positions, because we are female, are automatically seen as inferior, and it’s important for us to practice the right language that commands our positions be respected. She encouraged us to know ourselves and what we want so that we can more clearly manifest what we’re looking for.

  5. THINK BIG — Myya Jones, recent Michigan State University graduate, is currently running for Mayor of Detroit. She’s accomplished a wealth of achievements in her twenty-two years, and has always strived to cultivate inspiration and motivation from her struggles. Using her courageous personality to advocate for change, there seems no end to what she believes she can achieve. Finding what gives you purpose is vitally important and recognizing that the things that differentiate us from others are typically where our strengths lie.

  6. Don’t let the status quo dictate your career moves — Boudoir photography was just getting started in 2006, when Kimberly Williams decided to open her own boudoir studio. She was surrounded by men in the photography field and after owning several of her own business—the earliest at 21—she knew she had stumbled upon something truly special. She found her own niche in male dominated profession and gave it the expertise only a woman could grant it. She’s had tremendous success and uses the boudoir environment to empower women to accept and love themselves.

  7. Turn adversity into success — Anistia Thomas, evolutional entrepreneur, spoke candidly and powerfully about the trials she faced in her career and her personal life and how they motivated her to push herself to new heights, even when it seemed impossible. We were inspired by her perseverance and fortitude; and while there are moments that life’s challenges seem insurmountable, it’s important to remember that it is these moments in which we learn the most about ourselves.




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