MGU 284 | Career Pressure

 

Societal standards and career pressure have convinced today’s millennials that going after money and being a “boss” is the definition of success. In reality, there’s no one right way to go about figuring out your career. It’s important to know that whatever career path you pursue is your choice to make. Joining Jason Wrobel and Whitney Lauritsen in today’s episode is Jazmine Reed-Clark. She is a self-employed career coach and Talent & HR consultant for her company, JRC Collective and host of the Office Politics: The Anti-#GIRLBOSS Podcast. The three sit down to dive deep into career pressure and discuss different concepts of a successful career. Jazmine explains career wellness and what it means for each individual in pursuit of a successful life. They also discuss hustle culture, ageism, parental expectations, and other factors that may impact your career outlook. Tune in for more fruitful insights on this installment of This Might Get Uncomfortable.

Listen to the podcast here:

Staying Sane Under Societal Standards And Career Pressure With Jazmine Reed-Clark

Pivoting Into A Healthier Mindset

When we talk about career, I feel like that’s a word that feels somewhat loaded. I saw an Instagram post that said, “You don’t have a career. You have a life.” The comments in that post were interesting. We’re starting this episode with our guest, the wonderful Jazmine Reed-Clark, talking about this idea of a career and the concept of the career, Jazmine. Before I turn the ball over to you, I feel like it’s a loaded word to me because of all of the connotations, the meanings, the importance, the weight, and the emotion we put when we talk about our careers. There’s a lot wrapped up in that.

Over the course of a global pandemic, there have been a lot of pivots, changes, and people deeply questioning, “What the hell am I doing on the planet? What am I doing with my life between unemployment and the shutdown?” The idea of a career is more multi-layered and complex than maybe ever now in consideration of it. Jazmine, what does a career mean to you? In some ways, how can we pivot into a healthier relationship and a framework of how we are regarding our careers, especially in the West, where it’s hustle, grind, and kill yourself for money? I know that’s a lot of questions in one. Jazmine, how do you define a career? How do we frame it in a healthier way?

It was a lot of questions but they’re all questions that I love to answer. This is truly perfect. I’ll break it down in a few ways. What is a career now to me, Jazmine Reed-Clark? To me, it is truly the vessel so that I can receive a payment but also fulfill my purpose. However, I say this to my clients, to my family members, and I even say it to my husband, that is not everyone’s journey. It is okay to not be in love with your career. It is okay to not turn your passions into profit. It is truly what is the relationship you want to have with work.

I can blame it on my ADHD or my astrological sign, Aries, but I have to be passionate about what I’m doing whether it’s a relationship, friendship, or work. For me, I need passion to be a thematic pillar in all of the things I do. If anything, I’m like, “Do not be like me because it is exhausting.” Bridging outside of that, let’s talk about career wellness. That’s one thing.

I consider myself a career wellness coach because I love to pair the tactical. It’s like, “Let’s figure out how to figure out your job strategy. Let’s also talk about your childhood wounds and why you want recognition at work, why you want to save the planet, and all of these different things. Maybe why don’t you want to do these things?”

With that said, I love career wellness because it meets us at the intersection of who we are at home and then who we want to be at work. That’s what’s beautiful. Everyone’s definition is going to be different. When you can honestly answer that question, that is when you can find a new level of enrichment in your life.

I need passion to be a thematic pillar in everything I do. Click To Tweet

I have clients who are like, “I am a first-generation college student. My parents are immigrants.” I don’t give an F about being passionate. I’m here to make some money. I’m like, “Let’s also figure out how to pair that with your strengths so that you can have healthy boundaries with work but also optimize and maximize the amount of money that you’re making in the process.”

You have the flowery hippies in another life like me who are like, “I want to have an impact.” I’m like, “What does that look and feel like to you?” At the end of the day, whether we call it manifesting or being strategic, I try to advocate and empower my clients to realize that you have agency over your life. What do you want to do with that agency?

MGU 284 | Career Pressure

 

Jazmine, one of the tidbits that jumped out at me when you were talking about passion is you might have used the word challenging. I have done many wonderful and also bizarre things for money. When I sit down and I tell people some of the things I’ve done for money, they’re like, “That’s weird as hell.” I’ve done some of the weirdest. My first actual job, not like mowing lawns in Detroit, where I grew up but jobby-job, was in high school. I was the guy in an X-ray warehouse who would go through this giant, dusty old X-ray.

There were no windows. It was creepy as hell. It’s the middle of summer. I’m losing weight like crazy. I had to extract, from a certain number of years, different X-rays because those had silver in them. I never knew this before I did this job. They melt down the X-rays, extract the silver, and sell it for profit. I had to go through a warehouse of X-rays, sorting them by year and then getting them to be melted down for silver. I could go on. There’s a bunch of weird things.

When you talk about passion, it always fascinates me how if I’m not passionate about something that I’m doing with work, I mentally and emotionally check out and my heart doesn’t feel connected to the work I’m doing. I don’t know if envy is the right word. Maybe curiosity is more accurate. This is no joke. I have a friend of a friend who opened a porta-potty business. I’m like, “Okay.” I then found out how much money he makes running a porta-potty and I was like, “You make that much money running a porta-potty business. Holy God.”

Part of me is like, “I want to make that much money.” No disrespect to anyone who runs a sanitation business. My heart was like, “I don’t give a shit about a porta-potty business even though this dude is making multiple six figures running it.” When you talk about passion being challenging, I wonder what you mean. The way that I interpreted that, Jazmine, is I could probably be making a whole lot of money doing something I feel no connection to but I can’t do it. My soul is like, “You cannot do this with your life.” Does that resonate for you? What do you mean for yourself when you talk about passion and the challenge of that?

I can be a loving, compassionate business owner and still make a profit. Click To Tweet

Jason, you and I are cut from the same cloth. The jobs I’ve taken are because I needed a paycheck. I’ll give you a good example. I had a manager who was like, “I can tell you don’t give a crap. I can always tell when you give a crap about a project because it’s out of the park, A++, the clients and the executives love it. I can ask you to do the most menial task and it’s garbage. You don’t read directions.” That is challenging for me.

I am like you. I envy people. I shouldn’t even say robotic because maybe you and I are the odd ones and we’re the passion robots. I look at my husband, for example, he can turn it on and off. He’s like, “I can care from 9:00 to 5:00. After 5:00, I’m going to ride my bike and care about the things I love.” For me, I have to love it. I will say that has led to an incredible amount of emotional turmoil in my professional career because I will over care about a project.

In therapy, I have to work on emotional boundaries at work. Even my clients, some of them I love and I’m like, “I’ll help you no matter what.” Sometimes I’m like, “It’s okay. You don’t have to charge me for this session.” My husband will hear it and he’s like, “What the fuck? You need to charge her.” I’m like, “No. You don’t understand.” I get emotionally attached to people’s stories. One place where I’m having to grow is realizing I can still be a loving, compassionate, empathetic business owner and still make money and profit.

By the way, the porta-potty thing is brilliant because everyone poops. That’s perfect. It’s like Soulja Boy. A fun fact, he opened up a soap business and everyone lol’d at him. When the pandemic hit, he was like, “Jokes on you. Everyone’s trying to wash their hands now. I’m a millionaire. Kiss my ass.” I wish I could be that person. I want to be the person who can go in, put my head down, and get shit done. There’s a lot of power in that.

We do live in a hustle culture that makes you feel bad if you don’t love what you do. I am telling you, person to person, there’s power in having boundaries. I’m still trying to figure out how to set my own. For me, I have switched industries a few different times. I can’t stick to a business plan because sometimes I’m like, “Now I want to help this person.” I keep a memos app because I have ideas through the rest of the year and I’m like, “You’ve got to keep these plans. You can’t switch because you want to fix everyone. That’s not fair to yourself. If nothing else, it’s not fair to a few other people.”

It’s interesting because I’ve had a lot of thoughts around all of these ideas we have about what it takes to be successful, make money, feel fulfilled. The older I get, the more I recognize that all that stuff has been made up by other people. It’s not the be-all-end-all. It’s not a one size fits all approach. That’s something that Jason and I keep coming back to on this show of how we don’t resonate with this strategy mindset of like, “Take the steps and you’ll get these results.” Jason and I have tried that approach with our business and our lives, personally, and it doesn’t always work.

There's power in having boundaries. Click To Tweet

I’ve especially found that as a woman growing up feeling like I needed to look a certain way and to fit into society’s viewpoints on beauty to be loved, accepted, feel powerful, and confident, that has not served me. I get excited to see how the body positivity movement has been shaping things even though it’s not a perfect movement. There’s a lot of issues with it. What it’s done is it opened up the conversation around the fact that there is no one size fits all body. You don’t have to look a certain way, be a certain age, be anything, or be in any metric the society puts on us.

Jazmine, I imagine this comes up a lot for you given your work is in the age conversation. I see this a lot on TikTok. I’ve considered posting about it but I’m not sure how I want to say it yet. There’s so much conversation around getting old. I’ve noticed how many women and men have a big concern around turning 30. I’m like, “I’m over 30. What do you mean? I don’t think I was that concerned about turning 30.” Why are many people in their twenties feeling behind and posting, “I’m 27 and I accomplished this?” I’m like, “Twenty-seven is still young.” Why is it that a lot of younger Millennials and older Gen Z people are terrified of turning 30 and feel like if they don’t accomplish something before they’re 30, it’s too late?

A few things, first, I turned 30 in April 2021. Over 30 Club. After that, I didn’t have that. I did have that when I was 24 going into 25. Being in the South, I was like, “I still don’t know what I want to do with my career. I don’t have a boyfriend. I am still hung up on people from my past.” Truly, little did I know, within 60 days, I would meet my now husband. Within a couple of years, I would be in a career that I’m like, “This makes sense.” The people you think about from your past, you truly can leave them in your past.

MGU 284 | Career Pressure

 

To answer your question head-on, why do I think people have this aversion to turning 30? I say this with love because, at the end of the day, I will always have respect for every generation. Every generation brings something and can learn something. We were raised by Boomers who believe in bootstrapping and doing things so that Karen down the street thinks you’re cool. We pass that on to our kids. We’re people-pleasers. All of us have anxiety.

I got off the phone call with my mother before this. I’m putting on my makeup and I’m like, “Mom, I can’t get into this with you right now.” My parents are like, “You have a husband. Why don’t you have a house?” Here’s what’s crazy, we could technically buy a home but we would be house broke. We also don’t know if we want to be in Texas forever. My mom said to me, “If you have a home, then you’re going to have a better marriage because then you have something that’s legally keeping you together.” I’m like, “Whoa.”

I let her ramble on. I’m like, “I understand what you’re saying. I don’t want to be in a relationship because it’s about, ‘We have a home together.’” I want to be in this relationship because I believe this relationship serves me. What should I do? He drives me crazy half the time but he serves me. I am like, “Have we even moved past the fact that it does come down to property?” That’s a whole other conversation. If you want to go there, we can go there.

It is normal to go to therapy for your marriage. Click To Tweet

To answer your question, why are we afraid of turning 30? It’s because we are being raised by people who, in their time, when you’re 25, you can have a kid, a house, a degree, and a good-paying job. I saw something on Instagram, the new white picket fence is living in a one-bedroom apartment that you can barely afford. YOLO, you can afford Rosaé. I legit relate to that on a spiritual level. That’s what I think it is.

This is where I’ll be individualistic. Keep in mind the disclaimer, this is my trauma, this is my story. The reason I was nervous turning 25, raised in the South in a Christian community was what does it mean if I’m not married? What does it mean if I don’t have this? I’m grateful that I’ve been led on a spiritual journey. If you’re not woo-woo, you’re like, “Oh my God.” What I’m telling you is I’m thankful for the way things unfolded because I was forced to realize that do you even want those things? If you don’t, that’s okay. What do you want? If you do want those things, why do you want them?

For me, answering that question, I knew I didn’t want kids. I love kids. I love being an auntie. I love being like a godmom. I’m not a godmom but I’m going to speak that into existence. I love caring for other people. That’s part of what I bring to my clients, for sure. I knew since I was young, I wanted to be a wife. This is probably being a little bit too real but I want to help normalize this. It is normal to go to therapy for your marriage.

If you go to therapy for your brain, if you go and see a physician for your body, it is healthy and normal to go to therapy for your marriage. We did that during the pandemic because I’m like, “We are in a romance rut. What are we going to do?” My husband was like, “We can’t go anywhere. What would you like me to do?” Thankfully, we worked through that because of the tools that we had accessible to us, which also opens up a conversation of privilege.

We were able to go to therapy and figure out this, that, and the other. I didn’t even realize it until the therapist asked me, I dreamt about being a wife who could dote on my husband. It’s funny because I very much lead with masculine energy. I’m an entrepreneur. I love to fix things. I’m a fixer. One thing that we’ve been working on since that session is realizing, “Where can I lean into my feminine energy and receive a lot of love but also inspire love?”

We have gotten so far from the question of why people are afraid to turn 30. We’re afraid to turn 30 because 30 means we should have certain accomplishments that maybe we don’t because we don’t have the access to. Also, 30 means if you haven’t figured out your bullshit, now it’s on you to figure out your bullshit. After I turned 30, thankfully, I was able to finally get in with a therapist I’ve been wanting to see for a minute. That’s what I told her. I’m like, “In my twenties, it’s about figuring out your childhood trauma. Now I’m ready to truly move past it.”

People can be amazing and still have trauma. Click To Tweet

I love everything you shared and it all ties into it. Marriage and buying a house are two huge mental challenges. I see this so much on TikTok, which is where I feel the most in tune with people around my age or younger and even older in some cases, thankfully. I love seeing people of all ages on that platform. Given that it’s dominated by younger Millennials and older Gen Z, it’s a fascinating look into what people are going through and how they’re living their lives.

What I see happening is a lot of people feeling frustrated and depressed because they’re not living life in the way that they thought they would or they felt like they were supposed to. Yet, I see hope in the fact that they’re determined to figure this out. I would say that the blessing of getting older is that every year older I am, the more I understand myself, the more I work through challenges, and the more tools I have because I have experience. That’s the big thing that breaks my heart about people being afraid to get older. Why do we have this misconception that getting older means that you’re having less or you don’t have enough time?

To your point, Jazmine, all of this mindset around what our parents said to us and the pressure that was put on them and the pressure that was put on us as a result of that is fascinating. I’m trying not to blame my parents. I think about what was going on for them when they grew up and what they were told about being a parent and how they were trying to support us. I don’t think most parents were like, “We’re going to set our kids up for emotional distress.” I’m sure, in their heads, they’re all looking out for us. My mom is similar. She says similar things to me like yours did, Jazmine. A lot of people can relate to that.

What I don’t think they fully understand and maybe if they’re paying attention, they will see that the world is different when they were around the same age. They cannot apply what happened. My mom says those things, “When I was your age, I was doing blank, blank, blank.” I’m like, “Great, mom. That has nothing to do with me. The world is vastly different now than it was when you’re my age.” I have to brush it off. I’m not going to try to fight with her. It’s my job to listen and let her say whatever she wants to say but recognize that has nothing to do with me. That’s all about her. It sounds like you can relate to that, Jazmine. I love you sharing all of this about how that’s impacted you and your marriage.

MGU 284 | Career Pressure

 

There are so many golden nuggets on that alone. One thing that you said was about getting older. I witnessed a great mother. People can be amazing and still have trauma. When I look back, I was taught how to have an eating disorder. It’s like, “You ate too much. Here are some laxatives.” I’m sure she learned that from the culture that she was in. Add that through the lens of a Black female where Black people don’t have eating disorders and you’re left to be like, “What’s going on right now?”

We went on vacation and people had no idea she was my mom. She looks incredibly young for her age, twenty years younger. “Bravo, moisturize. Yes, queen slay.” I saw her obsess about it. I remember thinking that I don’t want to obsess the way she obsesses about it. If I had any turning 30 bullshit to get over, it was like, “I’m starting to get lines in my neck. When I smile, I have crow’s feet.”

We don't value wisdom in our culture. Click To Tweet

What’s funny is I saw something on TikTok and it had such a profound effect on me. It was like, “If you have lines by your inner eyes, your outer eyes, crow’s feet, or you have laugh lines, be grateful because it means you laughed a lot. That’s why you have those wrinkles.” I’ve been able to embrace that but I have thought, “Should I get Botox?” I’m starting to feel my face make weird faces. Whether or not you decide to get Botox, I’m not here to determine a moral compass on that. Do whatever makes you feel good as long as you’re happy, healthy, not hurting anyone, and you’re doing it for yourself.

In Western culture, we don’t value wisdom and growing. I shared an Instagram meme and it was like, “Isn’t it funny how when we say a woman has let herself go, it’s her physical appearance. It’s never because she let go of her career, she let go of her dreams, her aspirations.” I’m like, “Oh my God.” I’ve been thinking about that every single day since posting that. I am trying my best to realize I am much more than the beauty I have to offer people.

We’re going to get real and I know we talked about this on my podcast. When I used to post selfies years ago, it was like, “You’re so pretty.” Now, people relate to whatever my caption is. I caught myself thinking, “No one’s commenting on my looks. Am I losing it?” I do have to sit down and be like, “Why do you care? Do you care?” It’s this whole unraveling. It is a sad reality we have to live in and I’m living amongst it.

I don’t have any amazing hacks or tips for dealing with getting older. I’m falling for the bullshit, too. On a daily basis, I have to remind myself that getting older is a privilege. You have the wisdom to share. I don’t want everyone to think this way. If I’m being honest, the way I cope with it is like, I had my time. I was young, hip, and cute. I still think I’m young, hip, and cute. If the world doesn’t want to put me on their trending page, that is okay. I have to remind myself that I still have so much more to offer than my looks. That’s my truth.

There’s so much goodness in everything you shared, Jazmine. This conversation of aging has many layers to it. We’re talking about from both of your perspectives as women who are on social media who are talking about toxic beauty standards. This conversation flows into not the idea of desirability or attractiveness and how that is a gauge of our value in society and also our usefulness as we age.

You talked about beauty standards for women. I feel like there are also standards for men in the society that I see parroted all the time in the media, which are these metrics of masculinity. This could get into the white savior complex, too, like, “I’m coming in to save everyone. I’m here to save everyone.” It has tentacles of whiteness, masculinity, and colonialism. We could go deep down that rabbit hole.

Isn't it funny that when we say 'she let herself go,' we're speaking of her appearance, not her values? Click To Tweet

This idea, “As a man, I’m supposed to come in and protect and save everyone. As a man, that’s what you need to do.” If you’re not strong enough, you don’t have enough money, and you haven’t ascended the social hierarchy, you can’t save everyone. If you can’t save everyone and protect everyone, you’re failing as a man. You’re worthless. Get out of here. There are these standards as a man that I constantly feel this pressure to uphold.

I see it, too. We talk about standards. I’ll be in the line at the grocery store and I’ll look at Cosmopolitan, Allure, but I’ll also see Men’s Health. Men’s Health is the same shit, it’s just a different message, “Please her all night long. Get stronger and more ripped than you ever thought possible. Cut diamonds with your dick. Learn how to do backflips off your motorcycle in just two weeks.” If you are a member of modern human society, we are all in different ways.

We talked about ethnicity, color, gender. We are all subjugated by an oppressive, toxic capitalist culture that wants us to conform. God forbid, you do not want to conform because you will be crushed by people’s opinions, “You’re weird. What do you mean you don’t care about that? You don’t wear makeup? You don’t work out? You don’t care about making millions of dollars? Your hairline is receding?”

There are a trillion examples of this. It is a crushing amount of pressure. What is it come down to? If we don’t do this, we won’t belong. If we won’t do this, nobody will want us. We won’t be fuckable and desirable anymore. We won’t be valued. It touches on our deepest most primal fears. It’s a great way to sell things to people, by tapping into their deepest primal fears. It’s a great way to sell shit.

All I can say is exactly, completely, and I have nothing to add to that. Even as somebody who comes from an advertising background, even before HR and recruiting, we were taught that in college. You sell the people’s aspirations. Let’s be real. Aspiration is fear. It’s like, “If people want to be eco-friendly, let’s sell them a Prius and tell them it’s saving the world.” I drive a Prius. It’s not hating on Prius. Everything you’ve said, I relate to on such an intimate level. Thank you for sharing that.

That leads me to something I’m curious about, which I can’t remember if we dug into it when I was on your podcast. What drew me to you and your podcast initially was the phrase, “Anti-#GIRLBOSS.” I was like, “That is awesome.” When I started reading about that term, girl boss, which is something that I’ve had a fluctuating journey with because when I was starting to run my own business and figure out how to monetize it back in 2010, which is where my journey for being self-employed started. I was at a loss and I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know many people.

I am so much more than the beauty I have to offer. Click To Tweet

Social media was not where it is now. Barely anyone I knew was making money off of social media. Jason was one of the few people. I remember thinking, “Jason is making so much money off of YouTube sponsorships.” I thought that was amazing. I’m like, “I want to do that.” I knew a few bloggers that were making money. It’s not like what it is now where that’s commonplace. Now we have the whole creator industry.

Over ten years ago, with it not being like that, I was looking for any opportunity I could find. I was also figuring out my sense of self and what it was to be a woman around the age and all that. That’s when I stumbled into this Girl Boss movement and I was like, “This is cool. All these women are running their own businesses. They’re working for themselves. They’re changing the world.” It was exciting. Yet, my issue, and I’m curious how much you relate to this, Jazmine, and what else is part of this for you, it’s also pretty toxic or it has become so. I don’t know if it always was. The hustle culture is huge in that world.

The Girl Boss movement is generally, from my view, focused on young, beautiful women, and a lot of privilege. When I think girl boss, I think of young White women. I don’t think of a lot of diversity. I think of skinny girls who have a lot of money, who may have come from a background of money, which is also disturbing, trying to convince people that they made it all themselves the self-made woman. In reality, they were set up for success in ways that other women didn’t experience.

Going back to what I said, I take a massive issue. This ties into what you said, Jazmine. The Girl Boss movement, for the most part, is capitalizing on women who want to be girl bosses but may never get there because they don’t have the resources, the privilege, and all of the things. When you say, “Follow these steps,” those steps are not going to work for everybody because they are dependent on where that person is in their life and how they got there.

MGU 284 | Career Pressure

 

It’s rare for someone that doesn’t have the privilege to be able to follow those steps and get to the same place. That mentality of, “If you’re not making this work, then you’re the problem, you’re the failure. If you don’t fit into these standards of beauty, you’re not going to get these opportunities. You have to conform.” It feels like major conformity and focus on capitalism, privilege, and ignoring all of the issues in the foundation.

If you haven’t set up the right foundation, it’s not even going to be sustainable. It’s going to end up ruining your mental health and that’s probably why it breaks my heart because of all the years that I felt like I was a failure. I wanted to be that girl boss and could never quite achieve it. If it’s not sustainable, what happens after you turn 30, 35, 40? Are you now a washed-up wannabe because you’re too old to fit into the girl boss model?

Getting older is a privilege - you have the wisdom to share. Click To Tweet

That’s why a lot of women are struggling, especially younger women because they feel like if they can’t make it, they’re the failures or there’s something wrong with them. With all that said, with my opinions out there, Jazmine, where’s the crossover for you? Are there different elements of this based on your experience that I didn’t even touch on?

Everything that you said, I relate to on an intimate level. Funny enough, I was working at Poo-Pourri. It all comes back to selling shit as a business. Some people do porta-potties. I worked for Poo-Pourri. I remember listening to #GIRLBOSS. I’m not joking. Even when I would finish the book, I would hit repeat and re-listen to it. I do genuinely believe and will likely always believe that you can rise above your circumstances. I will never forget the fact that there’s a level and privilege. There’s a level in class, race, and colorism.

With all that said, I was somebody who was drinking the Kool-Aid and was like, “I want to be a girl boss.” That’s why I’m anti-girl boss now because I fell into hustle culture. I remember saying to someone in HR, “They don’t care enough. They’re not a part of the mission.” My HR manager, while she gave me a lot of shitty advice, was one of the good pieces. She was like, “They don’t have to be. They can be here because they want to pay their light bill.”

I was like, “You have to be bought into the value system.” She’s like, “No. People can be here because they genuinely want to pay their bills.” It took me a lot of time to understand that but once I did, I’m like, “I got to reach as many women and men as I can because you don’t have to sell your life away. If you are, understand what comes with that purchase.” People sell an idea of idyllic vacation homes or great interactions with their boss.

When I was making $90,000, I don’t make that now, believe me, I had a mental breakdown. I don’t think that’s a coincidence because you feel a higher pressure to perform, to show up, and if you fail. The girl boss thing speaks to me. The reason I titled my podcast, Office Politics: The Anti-#GIRLBOSS is because I was like, “What the world doesn’t need is another inspirational business podcast.” It’s not because they’re not great. I listen to all of them and a lot of them have so much wisdom, whether it’s marketing techniques to like, “I’ve got to get through Friday. I need a little bit of juice. Hit me.”

I know I wanted my podcast to say, “It’s normal to hate your boss and wonder if you’re not cut out for the industry because you’re not passionate about it.” I know that’s what I was looking to bring. I have my exception episodes, for sure. My podcast isn’t to come and be inspired so that you can hustle for the next fourteen hours. Truly, it’s almost to release after you worked fourteen hours, at least that’s what I hope people use it as.

When I was making 90k, I had a mental breakdown, and I don't think that's a coincidence. Click To Tweet

Jason, it reminds me of something that you and I both had a lightbulb moment around. You and I were together. Jazmine, are you familiar with Casey Neistat from YouTube?

I am too familiar with Casey Neistat. Before any rumors start, when I was first getting into vlogging and stuff, I’m like, “What’s his style? How does he transition?” I’ve watched way too many videos.

I haven’t looked him up in a while. I lost touch with what he’s been doing. There was this period of time where he was the pinnacle of YouTube success. A lot of aspiring YouTubers were studying Casey Neistat. He was cool. He was killing it. I loved listening to him. He did some podcasts interview, Jason. Maybe you’ll remember this. Correct me if I’m wrong. I remember we were driving over a bridge somewhere to New York City. You and I were either discussing or listening to this podcast where he talked about how little sleep he got and how he barely saw his wife and had time for his youngest daughter at the time. You and I were contemplating this.

I also remember tying into Gary Vaynerchuk and that whole mentality. Whenever that was, maybe 2014 or 2015, Jason, maybe it’ll ring a bell for you. That mentality at the time that to be successful, you had to compromise your sleep, which impacts your health, your family, or your personal life. You had to give it all up. You had to do the bare minimum and everything in your life aside from your business. I have known countless creators like that who fed into that mentality and maybe still do. To me, that is damaging.

I wonder how many people are still in that mindset to your point, Jazmine. It was paralleled to the girl boss movement because a lot of women were seeing men do that and thinking, “I’m as smart and valuable as a man. If I want to be seen that way, I need to step up and show that I can do that, too.” The pressure that was on both women and men, this is where I want to hear Jason’s perspective as well, I don’t know who had it worse. It’s not about who had it worse. Both sides are struggling.

Women had the disadvantage of not feeling fully equal to men because of our society. Women may have had to push themselves even harder than these guys because they felt like they had to catch up and prove themselves. No wonder the girl boss movement got to that point. It was like, “We got to do this for the good of all women. We got to prove that we’re valuable. We got to prove that we can be successful. We got to hustle just as hard, if not harder than men.”

I sometimes break down because I feel like a juggling act. Click To Tweet

Jason, do you remember this? You and I were probably on the East Coast for one of our business trips and we were driving either into Brooklyn or out of there. I have this deep memory of us having this conversation. How about you? It doesn’t matter if you remember it but I’m curious. I’m also curious how that has had a ripple effect on your life because I know you’ve struggled a lot with it, too.

I do remember this conversation. I do remember the rise of Casey Neistat and Gary Vee. You look at this ingrained mentality. At the risk of sounding blunt, in the system that we’re all in, we are all fodder for the machine. I don’t care if you’re a billionaire or you are destitute. We all exist in the machine. The thing is, with billionaires, we look at them and we vilify them for a good reason. They’re deserving of our scrutiny because they’ve benefited from a system that is set up to unfairly benefit them. The machine is the machine and the machine is going to eat us all and spit us all out. I don’t mean to sound like it’s a matrix situation but it is.

MGU 284 | Career Pressure

 

Here’s what I mean by this. Have you ever noticed that when it comes to the idea of fame, success, notoriety, someone will come up out of nowhere? We know it’s not out of nowhere. We know that most overnight successes have 5, 10, 15, God knows how many years behind an overnight success. I’ll never forget, there was this conversation. This was over fifteen years ago. This might have been Jam Master Jay from Run DMC. I’m trying to remember exactly who it was.

There was an interview with a rap artist who was talking about the music industry. He was saying that the way they do it is every single year, these executives at record companies will come and they’ll talk to their A&R people. They’ll be like, “This dude is hot. This chick is hot.” Their strategy is they’re handing out record deals and they’re putting money behind these artists.

They phrased it this way, they’re taking a handful of motherfuckers and they’re throwing them against the wall and they’re seeing who sticks. A few people stick. If you stick, they’re going to ride you and extract as much money out of you while you are hot because they know not everybody is Rolling Stones, Jay Z, or U2. Those ideas of being a career rock star, God even knows the percentage of that.

My point is this, whether it’s YouTube, the music industry, modeling, acting, they’re going to throw your ass up against that wall and see if you stick to flypaper. If you do, you have a narrow window to make as much money and get as famous as possible. Why don’t we hear about Casey Neistat anymore? It doesn’t mean Casey Neistat is gone but he had his moment. Who did they replace him with? They replaced him with MrBeast, David Dobrik, and whoever is in the pipeline. This whole system wants to chew you up and spit you out. Subconsciously, people know that they need to “strike while the iron is hot” to make as much money and to get as famous as possible because the machine is going to grind you up. It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when.

You don't have to subscribe to the American dream. Click To Tweet

The pressure we’re talking about reminds me of that Eminem song, “You only get one chance to blow.” It’s like, “This is my chance. If I don’t maximize my chances right now, I’m fucked.” It goes back into the conversation about age, “If you don’t hit your window, you’re never going to get another window,” which we know is bullshit.

It’s also not bullshit because that is how the machine is designed to operate, “Who is the flavor of the month? Let’s extract as much money, fame, influence, and then toss you aside because someone new is going to be the flavor of the month.” The machine doesn’t give a fuck about Jay Z, Mick Jagger, Aretha Franklin, Casey Neistat. The machine just wants to squeeze as much as it can out of you and spit you out. I don’t mean to be hardcore but that is my observation of how the capitalist and entertainment machines work together.

Hallelujah. I was on a walk and somebody reached out to me and she’s like, “Hey.” I do some ghostwriting for her and someone in the public eye. She’s like, “I want to increase what you do for my platform.” Mind you, I’m tapped out. I have reached my bandwidth. When I tell you that I said, “That’d be great. Let’s set up a meeting for next week.” It was, “What if I’m not relevant in six months? What if this is what funds my retirement?” I can’t tell you how much I relate to that. You have to have me on for part two.

When you want to talk about marriage, relationships, friendships, sometimes I break down because I feel like a juggling act. It’s crazy because I tell my clients to not be like me. I say, “I am a cautionary tale.” You want to talk about Eminem. It’s funny because I was joking with one of my clients about how we play Eminem when we’re angry. You understand that the algorithm doesn’t fuck about you, your family, or your dreams.

You do feel this pressure to strike while the algorithm thinks you’re hot and that’s very hard because you don’t know how long you’re going to be on the top shelf and when you’re on the bottom shelf. You think about all the time you spent behind the scenes trying to get on the top shelf. You’re like, “I got to take every opportunity that comes to me.” That is something I have to say. That is poignant because I understand that feeling and I haven’t found a solution for it yet. When my husband says, “It’s 11:00 PM. Why haven’t you turned off your computer?” I’m like, “What if I’m not relevant six months from now?” I wanted to say that is a real thing you brought up.

It’s important when you say, “I don’t know how to fix it. Don’t follow my example.” What you’re saying is part of the solution. The reason why someone should look to as an example, Jazmine, is because you have the awareness of it. That’s the biggest thing that Jason and I have discovered. Doing this show, the number one key to most challenges from our perspective is awareness. Awareness is key to this particular problem because a lot of people don’t have the awareness of why they see other people succeeding and what it took. That’s why I have issues with the girl boss movement because it’s the highlight reel. It’s like, “Look where I am now. Look how great I am.” They’re not sharing the truth behind the scenes.

I saw my dad miss a lot of moments because of work, and I knew I didn't want to do that. Click To Tweet

When we see people on TikTok, there’s a lot of focus on Addison Rae. Even to me, she’s overtaken Charli D’Amelio. Everything was about Charli on TikTok for a while. Suddenly, Addison rose and now she’s got these TV and movie deals. She has music out. I’ve heard people say like, “A) How did this girl get there? B) Why is she doing so much?” What Jason said, to me, must be the explanation. She’s hot and relevant. She feels the desire and pressure. She probably dreams of being famous. Everybody’s got the money dollar signs in their eyes with Addison Rae. Everybody’s coming to her with these opportunities.

I don’t know what it’s called but I got this vague vision of an evil cartoon character. It’s almost like the Pied Piper or something. It’s like, “Follow me. I’m going to take you to the promised land. All you have to do is follow me and everything that you want will come true.” We’ve got this trail of people following after someone not knowing that where they’re going is not in their best interest.

That’s why I want to say to you, Jazmine, that what you’re describing is important. I’m sure people look up to you. When you’re speaking out about this, you are helping them grow their awareness earlier. Another benefit to being older is if you can use your age to help people that are younger than you and say, “I’ve learned something that I hope that you learn when you’re younger. It’ll take you less time to get to where I’m at and hopefully support you along the way.” Jazmine, to anyone younger than you that hears you speak about these things, it’s the greatest gift you could give.

I appreciate that in a way you’ll never understand. I did a branding boot camp. It was funny because I remember raising my hand and I’m like, “Here’s what’s weird about my brand.” I’m the expert in the way that I’ve been in HR for so long but I’m like, “I’m not the expert because I’m going to give you the polished beauty pageant answer.” It’s more like, “I have fucked up so many times. Here’s how I fucked up. Here’s what happened. Here’s what stuck when I threw spaghetti at the wall.”

This could be a whole conversation. When Olivia Rodrigo popped off, I saw a lot of us getting protective over her, myself included. I’m like, “This girl is it. I love her.” It’s funny because she was on TikTok and I was like, “Should I even listen to her?” Once I did, I’m like, “I love her.” I don’t want us to do her dirty, filthy, and disgusting the way we did Britney. We realized that we all have a part in where Britney is now. It’s that self-awareness. I genuinely, with every being in my soul, hope we are all learning from our mistakes.

When we look back, Britney didn’t stand a chance. We built that whole story arc. No one should have to go through that. I hate that, Britney. That’s the whole story. We were talking about TikTok and I wanted to say that about Olivia Rodrigo. I hope we’ve all learned our mistakes from how we take pop stars and we put them on this pedestal, “You better be perfect. If not, we have every right to eat you alive.” No, we don’t.

I am worthy of love, respect, admiration, and my own confidence. Click To Tweet

Here’s the thing I want to talk about. Aside from media, entertainment, and what we’ve been talking about is the inherent nature of the machine. I want to dig into this more with you. When we go back to career wellness, Jazmine, one of the most difficult things is, even in a corporate setting, non-entertainment, it’s been historically frowned upon to show any kind of real humanity at the workplace.

It’s funny, you and I have a similar thing. Before I got into food and wellness and coaching, I was in the advertising industry as a copywriter for many years. I look back on those stages of my life and I think about how many mental health days I needed, but did not feel the agency and the safety to even say that I needed those things.

When we talk about the idea of bringing more humanity and communicating, with what you coach people on and you teach in your framework of career wellness, I don’t know if this is a part of it. I want you to speak more on how we can, as individuals, get clear about what wellness means in our careers, how we create more agency around it, especially in a workplace or systems that don’t encourage us to find a balance and speak up and state our boundaries and our needs. It feels daunting as hell. Where do you think we ought to even start with this?

We have to start with so many other questions. Breaking it down, past, present, future. Sometimes it’s easier to start with our present. I’m spending and working on journal prompts. If you are willing to emotionally go to that past place, what was your parents’ relationship like or the guardians who raised you? What was their relationship like with work? To be vulnerable for a moment, my dad worked hard. He liked what he did for all I knew and he made a lot of money at it. To me, that’s the message I received. Now I can see where I have transitioned into making it unhealthy, but I feel like I had a “healthy” relationship with, “If you work hard and you want something, you go get it.”

Let’s look at your past. What did your parents do for work? What was their relationship like with work? What has your relationship been like with money? What do you believe about passion? What do you believe you’re here to do? We can go forward into your present and then your future. That’s how I would typically look at it. With wellness at the end of the day, truly there is no right answer. What is the relationship you want to have with work?

If you want to be like me and Jason and be passion pirates, great. What’s your passion? Do you love flowers, dark chocolate, and light switches? If you’re like, “I want enough money to help care for my mom and myself, and not worry about things,” that is a fantastic answer as well. You don’t have to subscribe to the American dream. What do you want? What relationship do you want with money? I know I have some clients who are like, “I don’t have any friends at work.” That’s weird to me. Whereas I met my best friend through work.

You don't need to be a size 2 and fit into the white beauty standard. Click To Tweet

It’s understanding who you are, the relationship you want to have with work, and then taking those baby steps from there. A lot of us are envious if you don’t want to be obsessed with work. Realize that there truly is enough space for everyone. If you want to try something new, I recommend you try something new. If you have something that you haven’t quite heard me talk about, please slide into my DMs, @JazmineReedClark. I am happy to guide you through it because I’ve been through so many different phases of my career.

Part of your message on the big takeaway that I’m getting is that sometimes you learn the best lessons through your perceived failures or mess-ups. A lot of us have this hope that we can prevent it. We can avoid pain and combat our fears. This is big for me. When I examine a lot of my behavior, it’s often motivated out of my anxious fears around not being prepared. I’ve thought for so long, “If I’m prepared enough and have the right system, then I can avoid pain somehow.”

As much as we can look to other people for advice, that’s not preventing us from pain, discomfort, and struggles. We’re probably just going to go through it in different ways or maybe it’ll be a little bit less. Maybe we can avoid and dodge some things like that because other people have helped us with it. I got this vision of a video game. Some people are good at playing video games and they can get through it fast. First of all, the reason they’re good at playing is because they’ve probably played a lot of video games and they have a lot of experience. Their brains can anticipate things because of what they learned in the past.

There are some video games that you can get cheat codes for that other people provide you because they found them. You can skip forward through some of the challenging parts. Anyone who’s tried that knows it’s not quite as satisfying when you cheat on a video game because you get through it too fast. Part of the fun is all the times that you mess up and then do it over. As you’re doing it over, you get better and you feel good about it. You’re like, “Yes, I made it through this level that I’ve been trying to beat for so long.” I don’t think it’s always about avoiding it. Yet, you can sit there and acknowledge the fact that maybe you feel afraid, anxious, burnt out, and overwhelmed and you’re examining that. Do you want that for yourself? Just because somebody else wants it, doesn’t mean that you have to want it.

When we even look at our parents or our guardians, whether or not you had a great example, a mediocre example or a horrible example, you do get to decide, “I want to emulate that,” or run in the total opposite direction. You’re like me or Jason, and I’m sure Whitney even. You work to fuel a passion. On the outside, it looks like a workaholic, but truly in your mind, you’re like, “I’m fighting the good fight. No one else is doing this. I’m picking up the swords and battling.”

I will say this with respect and love to both of my parents. I saw my dad miss a lot of moments because of work and I knew I didn’t want to do that. When Jordan came to me and was like, “I don’t like picking you up at the office at 9:00 PM,” I made sure to listen to that. We find a system that works for us if you’re curious. I’m too much of an open book. We do a lot of breakfast dates and that works for our marriage. I’m not saying it’s going to work for yours and it needs to work for yours.

Have that open communication because I knew from a young age, I’m never going to sacrifice love and unconditional love because of work. The more we all work in the capitalist society, we all know our boss doesn’t give a shit about us for the most part. Truly have those hard conversations and figure out those solutions. I know, for me, it is so much more important. As long as I’m living my purpose and my partner understands I love them and I feel they love me, that’s my happy camper threshold.

Figure out yours and understand that if that means you have to disappoint your parents, whatever. They’re easier said than done. I got off a call with my mom before this and she was like, “Why don’t you own a house?” It is hard to navigate those conversations. Be honest with who you are because I want you to learn the lessons you are supposed to learn this lifetime. That’s what I have to offer.

What this distills down to me is having the awareness, willingness, and courage to face the often difficult and confusing journey of finding out who we are. So much of this conversation with you has been full of the journey of discovery. Who are we if we decide not to succumb to our parent’s conditioning? The conditioning of maybe the religion we grew up in that doesn’t resonate anymore or the religion of capitalism. Who are we independent of those things, programs, conditions, rules, and subjugation? It’s difficult. This is not easy work. Ultimately, if we want to feel a sense of freedom, liberation, and deep connection to our essence, this is work that’s got to be done. It doesn’t mean you can’t have a good life, but why are you here?

MGU 284 | Career Pressure

 

If you don’t learn it in this lifetime, I swear you will learn it in the next lifetime. I know for me, I’m like, “I am ready to learn all my lessons. I’m going to lay all my dirty laundry out. In this life, I know I am meant to learn self-love. We talked about weight and career. I am meant to be here to learn. No matter what weight I am, I have been every size from a 4 to a 14. That’s not an exaggeration. No matter how much money I’m making. In 2020, I made $36,000. The year before that, I made $90,000. I am worthy of love, respect, admiration, and my confidence.”

I do not want to go through another lifetime of having to learn these lessons. Truly learn them as soon as you can surrender to the lessons you’re meant to learn and know that you, if nothing else, if all of this is woo-woo and New Agey to you, you are breaking generational curses. That is something you can totally research. What I’m doing now being like, “Mama, you do not need to be a size two to fit into a wide beauty standard.” I may not feel that when I die. My granddaughter may not feel that when she dies, but 100 years from now because that’s what they say is the average, she’s not going to have to go through that bullshit.

Take this as you will. I would love to get to a world where we’re not talking about race, gender, and socio-economic class. I want to get to a place where that shit is in the background. I don’t want to get on LinkedIn and see First Female CEO. Fuck that. That should be old history by now. What I want is to help be a part of the solution. If nothing else on my hard days, that is what I remind myself of.

Preach. You are in good company here with that mission on the planet. We feel you so much. If you, dear reader, have been feeling Jazmine as we have, please visit her Instagram and her website. Follow her work, coach with her, be a client of hers because she’s clearly going to love you up and down every which way. You are not going to get more love from a coach than this woman. That is clear. Jazmine, it’s been an absolute pleasure. Especially because you touched on generational curses, we may need to have you back for part two because you dropped the spiritual shit at the end and I’m like, “She clearly is planting the seeds for a part two.” If we have a part two with Jazmine Reed-Clark, do not be surprised. If you demand it, let us know.

I would love to be back on. Thank you, guys, so much.

Thank you, Jazmine.

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About Jazmine Reed-Clark

MGU 284 | Career PressureJazmine Reed-Clark is a Dallas-based content creator, career wellness coach, and mental health advocate focused on helping millennial women feel secure at work, inspired at home, and confident in their skin. She offers 1:1 coaching, job hunter packages, and hosts Office Politics: The Anti-#GIRLBOSS Podcast. Reed-Clark has been featured in The Financial Diet, Refinery29, Cupcakes & Cashmere, and The Everygirl.

In case you need more meat 😊: After graduating in 2013 with a degree in journalism and communications, Reed-Clark struggled to find her footing as a young professional. Before becoming an entrepreneur, she tried on different hats within the advertising, marketing, and human resources fields. Each time, she would find some success (though, plenty of failures, too) but never felt the same content she saw in other friends. Eventually, she would begin to share her story on social media and through her writing. Over time, her storytelling became her business. She is now a content creator, career wellness coach, and mental health advocate focused on helping millennial women feel secure at work, inspired at home, and confident in their skin. Reed-Clark has appeared in The Financial Diet, Refinery29, Cupcakes & Cashmere, and The Everygirl.

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