HOUSTON — I am an old school chick who was groomed by pimps in the after-hours clubs WAY back in the day. And while their fashions I wouldn’t be caught dead in, their uniquely rhythmic words of advice I will take to the grave. Was I a “lady of the night?” Heck no! I was, however, a wild and foolish child partying like a rock star with no curfew and I did two important things… I observed and LISTENED. And in doing so, I learned and epitomized the famous pimp-a-licious phrase — “Let your next move be your best move.”
The lessons I learned in my 20s in the underground world have helped me to be successful 20 years later in Corporate America — which I must say — is far worse than any hole in the wall than I’ve ever been in. Why? Because you can at least trust pimps and hoes in bright suits… you can see them coming a mile away and their moves are textbook. But on the other hand, a “Corporate pimp” in a tailored, navy blue Brooks Brothers three-piece is masking himself, and you need to study the friend/foe until you learn what playbook he is following. Nine times out of 10, it is the one that only benefits him, and certainly not you, so don’t ever put your destiny in someone else’s hands. I know that’s hard to say when we are trying to impress and please them as we strive to climb the Corporate ladder.
Always remember these words ….. Never get comfortable, always stay a step ahead of everyone around you — especially those who think they are in charge of you — and, by all means, NEVER get caught off guard!
If you never knew before, let me hip you to game granted by your ancestors. The most dangerous slave on the plantation is the woman closest to Master. She’s beautiful and easy for him to look at with his lying eyes — he has no idea she sees him for what he really is and knows his secrets. She’s broad-shouldered so she can withstand the heavy load. She has large breasts and can feed everyone who comes across her path — remember, to nourish and nurture others is to gain trust. And she is as smart as she is “temporarily loyal” because sorry, when you cross her the wrong way or give her that “out,” she will take it … and you.. out before you realize what the fuck really just happened. That beautiful woman you “thought” was your slave…. is someone you never actually had control over.
So how did the slave beat or become the owner? By strategically working her ass off and MOVING IN SILENCE!
I am proud to say that I climbed the ranks in the newsrooms at a rate that has shocked many, rising from an intern to becoming the first African American digital media manager at a Houston television news station in under 10 years. I managed to maneuver between three stations in the same city, increasing in pay and title with each move, and earning a shelf full of prestigious awards (Associated Press, Edward R. Murrow, Lone Star Press, to name a few) in the process. I’ve proudly built my name and solid reputation as a respected leader in media, have spoken on numerous local and national panels, been written about in multiple publications (including Black Enterprise, USA Today, Equal Opportunity Magazine and Black Doctor) and have helped more than two dozen people land jobs and/or internships from Houston to Hollywood.
Not bragging, but you will see where I am going with this soon….. (hint, hint…never get comfortable)
So, it was a motherfucking blow to my ego when I found myself on a Thursday morning, sitting alongside slightly more than 50 of my coworkers to find out we would ALL BE OUT OF A JOB IN THE NEXT SEVEN DAYS.
Say the fuck what???!!!! How did that happen?
Well, I was working for a station that was coming up short in ratings, was part of a station group desperately trying to get out of the news game and sell off all its stations nationwide and I was a casualty of war.
“You’re not being laid off, Nakia,” I was told by the big chief a day later, “the show just got canceled. It happens in Hollywood every day. There is nothing more for you to work on.”
I went through a series of emotions, thinking of the “how dare they” and how maybe selective amnesia allowed those I worked for forget all high-fives,”job well done” hugs and the “stick with me, Nakia” conversations when I was presented with other job offers. In the end, I guess when it came down to the inevitable choices of “who stays and who goes,” in the kill or be killed land of budget cuts and all that, MY ASS was expendable. I looked around my corner office that I proudly spent my own money decorating and my mind immediately transported me to Angela Bassett’s epic “Waiting to Exhale” closet scene. I thought about all the long, unpaid “voluntary” overtime hours I put in for the company while I put my own personal projects on the back burner. I thought about all the missed activities with my family and my constant tardiness to my kids’ functions because I was “working”….and in the end, it meant nothing. I thought about all the people I personally recruited for the company, many of whom were sitting beside me on those bleachers being delivered the same devastating news.
I thought about how I transformed that website and, as Bernadine says in the movie, how I “worked my ass off” and was the “background” in someone else’s “foreground.” But as she also said, the fucking worst was over!
That ego is a dangerous beast, it can knock you off your game. It was time for Ms. Nakia to put her big girl panties on and move on to the next phase of my career. I took the advice that I always gave my other friends and coworkers, “Take your ass whooping like a Southern Black woman and not a white man.” While they leap from tall buildings when things take a tumble, we feed a family of five with a $3.50 pack of leg quarters and a half gallon of milk.
Truth be told, I had already started preparing myself for the “what ifs.” I’m no fool. From the moment the headlines of the potential sale of the station group started making national headlines and the FCC battle began, I started calculating an exit strategy, if need be. I think I just got angry because, as a manager, I would have liked to be in the loop of things before they came into the room with the file folders. But hey, I was a manager, and not the owner. At the end of the day, it was their news to deliver and my news to accept. Thankfully, I had the spirit of a slave guiding me and the words of a few pimps (and Bishop Don Juan) keeping me on my game. “Let your next move be your best move.”
For the last year and a half, I had been pushing myself through night school to obtain my Master degree in Communication and Digital Media Studies. I felt I needed to have options in case the new owners decided to bring in their own team and I was pushed out. It was a year and a half of me working 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and attending school from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. three days a week. It was one hell of a struggle and sacrifice mixed with bank statements showing proofs of purchases for unhealthy fast food meals for me and the kids. And the last semester was the hardest, I pushed my body to the max and ended up on an operating table having major surgery. But a higher power was with me that day and blessing my surgeon’s hands. By the grace of God, I came out better than ever.
One month later, I strutted across the stage in stilettos to grab my degree. As Tiffany Haddish said, #SheReady!!!
And as luck would have it, my keen speaking and presentation abilities caught the attention of some very important people and seven days before I was told the “show was canceled,” I was sent a tentative offer letter for the next phase of my career, just waiting for me to accept.
Obviously, I did…but I can’t announce what it is in THIS post where I am cursing like a sailor…ha ha!
I personally thank the Good Lord above who watched out for me and made it all possible.
Funny for me to mention God in the end of this article after mentioning my “colorful” nightlife characters in the beginning. No worries, God loves all his children! He proves it every day.
So the moral of the story is… no one controls your destiny but you and your Faith.
My uncle always told me… “Chance favors the prepared mind.” Meaning, when you get that opportunity, you better be ready for it.
Pimps, hoes and Corporate America… can’t you see they all go hand in hand? It just depends on how you look at it. Hopefully after reading this, no longer with blinders on.
Get up and get on your note, folks. Get your education, MOVE IN SILENCE and LET YOUR NEXT MOVE BE YOUR BEST MOVE.
And in case you haven’t figured it out yet, I OWN THIS SITE YOU ARE READING… and now….. the TRUE News With Attitude is BACK AND BETTER THAN EVER, and we’re giving it to you just as we did at first — Hard and raw (yet tasteful) while serving a little bit of “street journalism” with your every day hits, misses, tragedies and triumphs. We are refreshed, renewed and here to stay!
For memory lane’s sake… take a peek at our last day together pics from the station. I will truly miss this gang. And no concern needed, these grinders are out there making ish happen.