A Quick Message About GIFTS, PASSION & CAREER

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Tonight I was inspired by the BET Awards (believe it or not)! I am a lover of music, so I tune in to all music award shows. Tonight however, one poignant moment that stands out for me was when gospel artist Yolanda Adams took a moment out of her acceptance speech to caution all the younger “popular” people attending the awards to “use your gifts responsibly”. I thought, YES! What a moment! So many of our youth listen, follow and try to emulate what they see in the media, that those who are setting the trends should take heed to be RESPONSIBLE WITH THEIR GIFT from GOD!

My mind immediately started working on how this message translates to the Aspire2Higher Movement! I started writing this blog ( and trying to write a book or two) because I wanted other people to hear, read and learn from my journey as I transform my GIFTS from GOD into a career.  I try to do this by using my natural abilities (or PASSIONS) to do the best work I can in each position I am blessed to receive.  This is the motivation behind the Aspire2Higher Movement!

As I have spent much time (i.e. paid my dues) by going through the necessary preparation (college, grad school and other training) for my VISION I have been ever mindful of where I was being led by GOD. I have not always been in cities that I loved working glamorous jobs, in fact, its been the opposite!  I have spent many years away from my family and what was comfortable and familiar to me. I believe that GOD took me to those places so that I could be STILL and realize the VISION he was birthing in me-through my career.

The “Quick” Message:

I won’t bore you with my interpretation of this. I recognize that my “giftedness” is in identifying and developing career plans and not in trying to teach messages from GOD. However, below I have shared 2 links with you to read a more in-depth article about this very message I am trying to convey.I found these articles on the Student Volunteer Movement and they describe very well how we all should be using and developing our gifts in service to others and ultimately the body of Christ.  This is what Yolanda Adams reminded us of tonight on the BET Awards. The work that we do-even if we aren’t stars or in the public eye- should be to the benefit of humankind (in some way).  We have a responsibility to not only USE OUR GIFTS, but do so in service of others.


How many of you can relate to this message?

Are you still identifying your gifts?

Have you connected your GIFTS, & Passions  to a career?  


Share with us here or meet other followers of the A2H Movement and let’s talk about this more on our Facebook page!

I Believe in Dreams!

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“The future belongs to those who BELIEVE in the BEAUTY of their DREAMS!”

I originally wrote this post in the summer of 2010 and it feels even more real almost two years later!  The above quote sums up why I wrote this post and why I am sharing it again.


In 2010 I was just beginning to form the VISION that my dreams were revealing to me.  I came to the realization around this time, that YES I am supposed to be working in higher ed, but that I could also combine my career with my PASSIONS!  I also realized that what I was passionate about was BELIEVING IN & LIVING MY DREAMS and helping others to do the same. (college students, seasoned professionals and youth alike)

At one time I used to question if I had anything to offer and here I am in 2012 initiating a MOVEMENT-the Aspire2Higher MOVEMENT! This blog and this post specifically, is the impetus of a huge movement and I’d like to thank you for being part of building it.


I also want to keep you motivated so that WE can look back in another two years and say WE GALVANIZED the “non-believers” and self doubters into their own VISIONWORK

I invite you to re-read (or for my new followers-read) the below post and tell us that you BELIEVE in your dreams and in the power of this MOVEMENT!

Please share your comments!

I Believe in Dreams!.

NOW PLAYING….Aspire2Higher The Movement!

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Hello friends, readers, and supporters of the Aspire2Higher blog!

WELCOME to the start of a REVOLUTION!!

You’ve seen the Occupy Wall Street, Oakland, & Philadelphia movement in its media frenzy.  I’m asking for your support during the genesis of …………


I welcome you to join this movement! If you are a person seeking ways to start your own revolution or revolutionary business, but uncertain how to communicate your dream to your family, your colleagues or a potential business partner…..the Aspire2Higher movement will be featuring many ways to get you ready.


Aspire2Higher can mean many things to many people. Some may take it very literal and define it in terms of the action or desire for the attainment of something more.  A lot of people ask me if it is about aspiring to get hired for a higher level job than one now holds.  People often ask that because of my background in career counseling.  Both of these are accurate descriptions but they are only ELEMENTSof the A2H Movement! (keep reading for the deets….)

Aspire2Higher began as just a notion in my mind years ago when I was a career counselor fresh out of grad school.  As I contemplated my career choices I began to write a book (yet to be published) about my thoughts and feelings as a new professional. It was out of this reflection and creative process that Aspire2Higher was born!  As I navigated the world of work, I began to develop a mindset that later became my mantra and what has grown into the A2H movement. I define Aspire2Higher as, being of the mindset that you are ALWAYS capable of doing & giving more!  It is the little voice in your head that drives you and tells you….your are great, but there is always something else to learn.  It is the belief that you can have any job you want if you prepare and work hard to attain the skills necessary.  It is having UNAPOLOGETIC AMBITION and the tenacity to endure the rigorous process of preparing yourself for what has been predestined as YOUR PURPOSE!

As I continued to manage my journey & professional development I took the time to actually analyze my decisions.  I began taking note of aspects of my work that I liked and dis-liked, where I excelled and where I had potential to grow. In all this analysis and reflection GOD finally revealed to me what I was seeking… purpose which has taken the shape of Aspire2Higher Personal & Professional Development Services (the business) and the A2H Movement which is happening through this blog.

Overall, my goal is to infiltrate the fabric of society (specifically young professionals) with the ELEMENTS for Success or A2H.  

I will reveal each of the ELEMENTS of A2H through my blog, seminars & speaking engagements throughout the year.   I hope you stay tuned in, join the movement and invite others to do the same.  If you are in or around the Philadelphia area, you are invited to register for the inaugural workshop of this movement.  You can register for my workshop “COMMUNICATE YOUR PASSION”  which will be held on January 20, 2012.  THERE’S A LINK TO REGISTER in the menu over HERE———-> 

Hope to work with many of you on this movement!


MERRY CHRISTMAS from Aspire2Higher!

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Sending warm wishes to you…my extended family and Aspire2Higher readers. I write this post to wish you a very Merry Christmas!






As I wind down on this Christmas day that I shared with my children and close family, I thought I would share with you some reflection.  I’ll start with a question…..

Did you get everything you wanted for Christmas this year?

As most of you know, I am the mother of 2 small children.  Well,this year those little ones had some very specific Christmas wishes.  While “Santa” did supply lots of fun presents for our family, once I thought about it, my kids hardly got anything on their lists’.  What I also realized as our day ended was…they didn’t even notice!  Imagine that…..they didn’t really get what they wanted yet they are quite content with what they have…….AHA!!!

Lightbulb Moment:

Oftentimes, we don’t get all the things we want in L.I.F.E but what’s important is how you feel about and what you do with what you have!  This is a key take away from the Aspire2Higher movement.  All that I’d like you (and myself) to focus on are the key elements that make up Aspire2Higher.  This movement is about the journey to achieving dreams. To embody the elements of Aspire2Higher we must focus on the here and now and stay grateful for where we are on the journey.  If my kids had expressed anything less than gratitude for all the things they received for Christmas, I would have been inclined to take it all away from them. The principle is the same for our jobs, our lives, our gifts & talents, our careers, our desires. etc.  If all we can do is complain about our current position or our possessions, why should GOD or the universe continue to give us anything?

However, the premise of the Aspire2Higher movement is upward mobility for your personal & professional self.  It is about having Unapologetic Ambition, but this can be done graciously and with hard work in the role or current state your life is in.  No matter where you are….YOU have the capacity to ASPIRE for more…no one can take that from you. My L.I.F.E is not perfect, but I am so content with what GOD is doing in my life now because I know that I am moving forward on my Aspire2Higher journey.

As we prepare to begin a new year, consider joining me. Let us all embark on this journey together. There will be days that “Santa” doesn’t grant every wish on our list, but we have to be ready to stay prayerful and grounded through that time while still moving forward.

Here’s what I commit to publicly:

  1. I will communicate with you through this process-Via this blog and via #Aspire2Higher Twitter chats (every 1st Thursday) so bring your questions & thoughts!
  2. I will share resources- I commit to Aspire2Higher workshops, seminars and at least one full day conference (before mid 2013) to empower others with skills & knowledge

I’d LOVE to start this before the New Year kicks in! Some people lay low for the last week of the year, but if you are open to it….I am open for business!  I am offering to organize and facilitate ONE SEMINAR OR WORKSHOP THIS LAST WEEK of 2011!!!  If you are in  (or around) Philadelphia….let me know if you are interested by leaving a comment below….AND if you are outside of Philadelphia..we can SKYPE you in! 

For now, Merry Christmas & Aspire2Higher!

Stephanie & kids-Christmas 2011




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I spent the better part of my twenties rationalizing my choices.  As a new professional, a young person with a Master’s degree and working on a large staff with people who had worked longer than I had been alive, I was cautious in how I interacted in the workplace. However, I was never passive. Some might even say at times I was a bit aggressive!  There has always been something in me that was looking for more. As soon as I achieved one goal, I was already hungry for the next one.  I have heard and read that many people think that my generation and the younger generation are unfocused and disloyal, but I beg to differ.

pointing woman

While that might be true for some, here’s what I think. LEADERS don’t become LEADERS by following others or waiting for someone to GIVE them a promotion. After spending countless hours on the phone with my friends complaining about not having the job or career I wanted, I finally got the kahunas to get up off my butt and go get what I wanted!  For example, at one point I was tired of wondering IF I would be good at something other than career counseling and frankly I was tired of helping college students get hired at Fortune 500 companies and making more money than me!  I made the choice to pursue a sales job.  I endured a pretty rigorous search and interview process and it took me and entire year to get that job!  All along the way, there were lots of naysayers who thought I was being greedy.  There were others who said, “maybe you should stick to what you know”.  Ohhh, but I was!  What I KNOW is that with preparation, a little polishing and persistence, I can have this job and many more!  Did I excel as a sales person…no but I learned some valuable things from the experience that I still use in my life and my career.

I’m sharing this with you in hopes that you get this key take away…. don’t be afraid of your ambition!  Everyone has fears, but what sets leaders apart is their drive and their ability to work through their own fears, stay focused and meet their goals.

girl look upI did not come to this realization easily, nor am I free of fears. However, I have a vision and clear plan that allows me to block out my fears.  I no longer seek permission or consensus from friends and family to go after something that I want.  For anyone who is considering a career transition, or pondering starting their own business or just doing something new, go after it no matter what! If you have the skills for the job….apply! If you are the next Beyoncé….be FIERCE!  Whatever it is you aspire to do, be ready for the journey, if you don’t have the skills, go out an acquire them.  Moreover, if you know you have what it takes, you have no reason to be timid about what you want.  Author Paul Sweeney said it best: “True success is overcoming the fear of being unsuccessful”.

Imagine if the world’s most powerful people/women ignored their ambitions!  Many of our businesses, policies, entertainment and even laws would not exist. OK…that might be a stretch, but the people who Fortune and Forbes name as the most rich and powerful year after year have UNAPOLOGETIC AMBITION! It’s time for US to get some.

Lessons in the Form of Experiences(L.I.F.E.)Series Pt.2– Struggle is Part of the Journey

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Hello Aspire Friends!

Stressed, worried, or struggling to stay focused?

In this post, I’d like to engage the community in an extended conversation.  L.I.F.E. for me has not been very easy these last couple of weeks or months!  But you know what–I want to be genuine with my “followers” or readers and give you a full representation of what it is to pursue your dreams. I don’t have all the answers. I have acquiesced to this fact. So I thought I would share with you guys what’s been on my mind.  I don’t want to misrepresent myself through this blog, like working on my VisionWork has been a walk on easy street.

On the contrary, I have had several sleepless nights due to disappointments, frustrations, financial worries, and the like. This journey has certainly had its share of ups and downs along the way.  In fact, day-to-day is a constant struggle to justify spending time on this dream.  Sometimes I question if I have what it takes to pull this off. Particularly, I wonder if I can do it and provide for my family at the same time.  Although I know if I am successful, my children will reap those benefits, I often wonder if I am taking away from their quality of life TODAY! I need to be present with my children NOW! So I try to manage my time in ways that allow me to do both things.  While I may not have much of a social life now, I may be financially strapped (real talk), I at least have my VISION! I don’t know that I will realize it fully, I just know that having that allows me to walk right through those struggles with my head held high!

What I have known for sometime,  but have now come to experience as an adult really working for a desired outcome, is that struggle is part of the journey. It is necessary for growth to occur.  At the risk of sounding cliché, I refer to the example of the process a lump of coal undergoes while becoming a diamond.  The pressure that is applied to the coal is what makes it beautiful at the end of the process. The most interesting part of that to me is that becoming a diamond is not the END of the road for that coal (now diamond).  It just becomes a brand new element and begins a whole new L.I.F.E or process.  It is the most valuable after going through that rigorous process.

So, in the meantime I will consider this road I am on and my efforts to blog, write a book and start a small business ( I know it’s a lot, right?) my lump of coal that will one day be a diamond!Well, that’s my L.I.F.E ….anyone else care to share?

Thanks for listening/reading.


3 Essential Skills for ANY Career!

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All bosses enjoy having people on their team who contribute to the bottom line.  If you notice your team members or even your boss struggling with something that might come easy to you, gently offer your assistance.  As you go about the business of doing your job, periodically observe the system.  If you notice weakness or opportunities for improvement make a note and get to work at finding a solution! After you find what you think is the answer, test it out. For example, in my job one of my observations was that our customers weren’t using our online system because it was down right confusing! As I worked through my tasks each week, I set aside time to “test/tweak” the system.  I found ways to make our system/site more user-friendly and appealing. I eventually showed it to my boss (in beta), provided the team with instruction on how the improvements worked, and explained why those changes were beneficial.  My boss agreed and we updated the site which in turn gets much more traffic.  The moral of the story is, find solutions, work out the kinks first and show your boss the benefits! This should minimally give you a positive rating during performance review time!

PASSION (well, that IS what this BLOG is all about!!)

While helping to solve problems might yield high ratings, it won’t give  you a winning personality!  Passion will take you even further in the quest for career/professional success.  Passion for what you do will make tough tasks and long days easier to bear.  It will also keep you going as you deal with the sometimes mundane activities we all get bogged down with, like e-mail, reports and staff/team meetings!  Passion and excitement are contagious, you might even make  work more enjoyable for the people around you.  if you aren’t in a job that you are passionate about (CALL ME-I can help you), focus on things you enjoy about your work.  More importantly, be a pleasure to work with and/or for.  When the people you work for, the clients/customers you serve always speak highly of you—->you are WINNING (A little Charlie Sheen humor)!


Lastly, I think that innovation is the cornerstone of business. It keeps the economy, industries and business moving forward!  What does that mean for you-well simply stated, BE INNOVATIVE!  More specifically, innovation is a quality that can manifest in many forms and in many lines of work. What I am suggesting is that you think critically AND creatively! Many employers report those two things as characteristics they seek in candidates across all industries.  A few simple ways to do this are to stay “fresh” and current, especially in technology.  Overall, find creative ways to make work easier, efficient, effective and fun for you, your team and your boss.