There are small things that happen in your life that you ignore. Then, there are things that you must pay attention to because they mean so much not only to you but to your family and future generations.
When I walked at graduation for my Doctorate of Business Administration from Temple University, I felt the impact and importance of that moment. The robing ceremony was meaningful to me – it symbolized that my hard work was complete. I felt the weight of my ancestors as I walked down the aisle to my seat. I knew they were walking with me, saying, “Atta girl! You are the first person in this immediate family who has accomplished being a doctor – an expert in your field. Now, you can go wherever you want to go! Ain’t no stopping you now!” We have college graduates in my family, including my siblings. The few other doctors are cousins and in-laws!
Most of us have so many firsts that go unacknowledged. If you look at my life, there are a lot of firsts. Here are my top ten “firsts” that have gone unnoticed until I started to write down and document them.
I was the first…
- of my generation to come to America from Jamaica. I came from Jamaica to the USA as a child, so I didn’t have a say in the matter. My brother was older and chose to stay in Jamaica. Brooklyn, NY is my home. I’m a tourist in the country of my birth, with no “natural” affiliations to it.
- among my siblings to graduate from college – It took fifteen years from high school to college graduation. I went to four different colleges on evenings, days, and weekends. My brother started before me, but I finished ahead of him. It took another six years to get an MBA – I only went back to school because my employer was taking away the free tuition if I didn’t register. Then, another nineteen years to my doctorate! But, I did it!
- to work in the corporate world. I come from a family of nurses, bakers, seamstresses, painters, janitors – blue-collar people who work with their hands. All my life, I heard that if I worked with my hands, I would never be out of work. I learned those trade skills, and I decided to take the risk of learning about management. Corporations were the best place to learn that skill. So, I leaped!
- to have an established, registered, tax-paying business. Many of my relatives delivered their services, but never as a registered business. They operated from home or worked for other companies for service delivery.
- to sell my business – I founded, scaled and sold my marketing and analytics business, Consultants 2 Go, in 2016. That allowed me to take some time to do work that I really love.
- to have a financial advisor – I got a financial advisor when I worked with a financial services company. Florence taught me how to save money in my 401K. I’ve made sure that everyone in my family takes care of their retirement to the best of their abilities.
- to learn about buying and trading stocks – I was the only black girl in my corporation’s marketing department and the only person without a trading account. I could not participate in the water-cooler conversations about what stock was up/down and what price I purchased it! What was wrong with that scenario? I decided to learn about stocks and started an investment club (another first!)
- to create the ability for customers to pay their bills with a credit – Paying an invoice with a credit card is now an everyday part of life. Did you stop to think that “someone” had to put that infrastructure in place? My business partner, Peggy, and I developed that system while in the corporation where we worked together. I’m proud to say that I built something used worldwide.
- to travel overseas other than Jamaica or England – I went to South Africa and many islands for vacation. I’ve since brought my family with me to Australia, Fiji, New Zealand, Alaska, France, Spain, Sweden
- to learn how to swim – I almost drowned when I was about 4 years old and became afraid of large bodies of water. I never forgot the feeling of water in my lungs. When I was 30 years old, I witnessed a swimmer almost drowning and felt helpless as I couldn’t jump in to help him. I took a deep breath and signed up for swimming lessons. I’m not a world-class swimmer but can save myself! I then signed up my family for swimming classes, and they swim better than I do. It’s still on my bucket list to continue lessons.
Each one of those ten accomplishments changed my life and others around me.
Write down your own “firsts.” You will be surprised to see how you have been the leader of a family, of a generation, without even knowing it.
I started a podcast, The First with Dr. Sandi Webster, because I wanted to capture and record the moments that are important to us. I would love to hear about your “firsts.” Complete my Podcast Intake Form at the top of the website page and it will notify me.
Hope to hear from you soon!