For Women’s History Month, I’m having a sit down with some of my favorite working women to discuss motivation, empowerment, entrepreneurship, and more. My first guest is none other than my beautiful mother, Leslie Brown. Leslie has been an employee of the federal government for over 30 years, while currently getting her sewing business venture off the ground. She has taught me mostly everything I know about being a strong woman, so I hope you learn something from her today!
Kamrin: Who do you take inspiration from?
Leslie: As a black female, what I take as inspiration is my mom. My mom died when I was seven or eight years old. However, I think about the struggles my mom went through to raise her eight surviving children…that’s my survivor, that’s my story. There’s a lot of women out in society that I admire, but the woman in the forefront of my mind is my mother.
K: That’s beautiful, Mommy. Anybody else?
L: I don’t really have anyone off the top of my head, but like I said, my mom is what’s in my mind. When I think about what she went through raising us, getting us here, and where I am today, I always think about what my mom did to encourage me to try to do even better…as an example for my child, that’s what I do.
K: What do you love most about what you do?
L: What I love most about what I do is the fact that I’m one of the few black females in my line of work. A lot of times when I attend/chair meetings, set them up, etc., I’m the only black face. I can tell that a lot of times my counterparts are a bit surprised of my knowledge, my experience, and my confidence when I walk into those rooms. The only thing it makes me do is try harder, because I know some people perceive me as having two strikes against me: being black and being female. However, I look at those as challenges and badges of honor, which makes me work that much harder; so that when I go to work, I am as professional as I possibly can be.
K: How do you push through your tough moments?
L: I say prayers to myself, and then I talk to myself, saying “Leslie, you can do it.” I always remind myself (and I always remind my woman-child daughter here) that you can only change yourself. You can’t change anybody else. And when you really having those hard times, sometimes you got to have a little cry in the corner just to cleanse yourself, make yourself stronger and start over. But again, when you make a mistake or when you just trying to get through it, you need to really talk to yourself, pray to the Lord, and just push yourself through it. It’s hard, I’m not gonna lie, it’s hard. But to me, every day is a learning experience. You can never learn too much. I’m 54 years old, you learn something new every day.
K: What advice would you give to current and future women?
L: I would say follow your goals, follow your dreams. Finish college, get yourself a private sector position. If you cannot find a job in your arena, I would always say to start off small. Get your feet wet. Start looking for a job that will at least get you in the realm of what you want to do. Okay? Don’t let one person change your mind or crush your dream. Just keep trying, because eventually someone is gonna say yes. Someone is gonna give you that opportunity, that leg up, and in turn, you pay it forward by helping someone else. When I was 21-22 years old, I had a boss that helped me. Looking back, that’s why I am where I am today…if one door closes, another one is gonna open.
K: What do you love most about being a working woman?
L: What I love most about being a working woman is I feel pride in what I do. I feel confident in what I bring to the table. I love being a black female, and I can always see the bewilderment in a lot of men’s faces when they see me. Especially on the phone, they can’t tell what color I am (because I’ve had that question before), but when they meet me, they are surprised. By the same token, that humbles me because I think about what my ancestors went through and where I am today. It keeps me moving, keeps me strong trying to teach my woman-child here what to expect in life. So, there you have it.
K: Thank you so much, Mommy.
L: You’re welcome, woman-child.
Tune back in next week for my next guest!