TaJuanna Taylor is an award-winning, transformational business strategist and CEO who shapes and mobilizes business and people to achieve greater heights and success.
This episode is important as Tajuanna shares firsthand her perspective as a woman, a mother, and a successful business owner and provides insights on the differential impact of toxicity.
Tajuanna’s perspective on imposter syndrome is a must-hear, especially as individuals navigate toxic behaviors and systems.
Listen to the podcast here:
Exploring Imposter Syndrome And The Gender-Based Impact Of Toxicity With TaJuanna Taylor
Welcome to the show. TaJuanna Taylor is an award-winning transformational business strategist and CEO who shapes and mobilizes business and people to achieve greater heights and success. This episode is important as she shares firsthand her perspective as a woman, a mother and a successful business owner and provides insight on the differential impact of toxicity. Her perspective on impostor syndrome is a must-hear, especially as individuals navigate toxic behaviors and systems. Let’s get to it.
I am so excited to have TaJuanna Taylor. How are you?
I am well. How are you?
I’m doing excellent. I’m excited to talk to you and very encouraged after I looked over your website and read about your experiences. I’m so energized to talk to you about toxic leadership, project management and women in the workplace. There is a lot of different expertise that I see. Before we get started, let me hear about you.
Thank you for having me on the show. I appreciate sharing this space with you. About me, I am a woman first before everything. I am also a mom. She’s super sophisticated and a very complex spirit, so we have that going on. I also happen to be the CEO and Founder of a boutique consulting company that helps entrepreneurs who are overwhelmed, take profitable ideas without being overwhelmed, put them into action, make profitable decisions and launch strategically. Achieve the results that they’re striving to achieve. That is what I do by day. By evening, I’m absolutely having fun creating my balance in reality and living.
Were you always an entrepreneur? Tell me about your journey. How did you get into this space?
I was not always an entrepreneur. I come from one of those known backgrounds, if you will, of you grow up, you get an education and you get a good job. Entrepreneurship was not in sight and not in mind. It wasn’t even something that I gave a lot of thought to because you don’t know what you don’t know. I pursued. I followed the path. I checked all the boxes and then came 2008 and it’s like, “Nobody’s hiring, everybody’s firing. What happened?” The plan didn’t work and that was when I came to know that a plan is a roadmap, not a guarantee.
Learning to be flexible, having a plan so that when chaos happens, you know where to make more informed decisions. You use that data and say, “This is happening. This is working. This isn’t, how can I pivot? Where can I pivot? What do I need? Who do I need to meet?” and so I made that journey and found entrepreneurship the first time for eight years making handcrafted jewelry. I niched down into bridal jewelry and then I went through the journey of getting my Master’s degree and then finding customer service experiences and human services, so I have over fifteen years of experience in small business and state government serving as an enterprise consultant.
That’s led to me going into the nuance of project management specifically and enjoying the natural and what I call the innate ability to help people take their ideas and make them tangible, make them their reality. Not that I know everything. I am not trained absolutely in everything, but I know we can execute decisions, not necessarily ideas. It requires action and when we make decisions knowing that we’re not married to them and they’re not written in concrete, you can change what needs to be changed. You can evolve as things need to be involved, but you do have to make decisions so that you can take action.
It gets me excited. There’s nothing dull about it, so that led me into after ten years of state government experience, realizing that I have done all that I can do here, amongst some other things that we’ll get into in the show. I’ve done all that I can do and I’m ready to go forward and help people live out their extraordinary dreams.
Project management, when most people hear that, they may think of IT or some big corporation. Talk to me a little bit about how does that serves others on the entrepreneurial journey, as you explained.
One thing we know about high-achieving visionaries, the dream is there, the vision is there, it is huge, it scares most people to no end, yet the follow-through lacks significantly. I take my project management experience and I help them put their idea, skills, knowledge, abilities and outsourcing things where there’s a need into action. I have a proprietary strategy or a formula that I teach so that it does not continue to overwhelm them by thinking about all the things and the misbelief that it has to all happen now. No. Gradual progress.
We phase into things, our visions and our dreams. I use project management in how to help people, whether it’s service or product-based to go from ideation to manifestation, to go from, “This is a great concept,” to having something practical that they cannot only serve others with but that they can also use to make a profit.
Now that you’re sitting here with me on the show, you know where we’re going next. As we dive into toxic leadership, talk to me about your perspective in that area, whether it’s research, coaching or lived experience. Tell us more.
It’s a combination, actually. I want to lead with the experience because we can study, read, hear all day, but there is something about knowing when someone says they understand and genuinely know you feel. I have personally experienced toxic leadership as a woman in business from other women in business and it’s mind-blowing.
As a practitioner of project management, I’ve seen it. Even when it’s unintended like, “Don’t do that. You know what’s going to happen,” but human nature, that’s what causes people to respond and behave in a way that even though there’s a consequence, they’ll do it anyway. There’s got to be a way to prevent this before it even happens.
I’ve experienced it as a practitioner, I’ve witnessed it and I’ve mitigated as much as I can. I’ve had my hand slapped, but I’m like, “What’s right is right.” As long as I’m doing what’s right, I don’t have to worry. If this company doesn’t want me, there will be another company that values the opportunities and experience that I bring and if I don’t feel settled with that, I can go out and pursue my opportunity knowing that there’s always a job somewhere waiting. That’s where I lean in.
A plan is a roadmap, not a guarantee.
It makes me think about the individuals who are in work settings in which they’re experiencing this toxic leadership or these toxic behaviors at all levels. We talk to founders, small business owners, job seekers or other professionals. What advice would you have as it relates to the pandemic?
Finding a job during a pandemic is daunting. However, to me, finding a job, in general, is daunting. Finding a job is a job. There’s nothing easy about it. It’s what I believe the pandemic has gifted us if I can dare say that. Not taking away the hardship, the very severe losses that many of us have experienced, yet the gift of the pandemic allows us to step back and ask ourselves, “What do we value? What is important?”
“Is it significant for me to drive two hours to this company to do the work and it’s taking away at least four hours a day from time with family or four hours a day from time with me pursuing whatever wellness goals that I could be seeking? I’m cramming everything in but not making any traction. Is it important to me to make a certain amount of money or is it more important for me to have peace and sanity and be a better steward of the money that I have? Am I living for myself or am I doing this for things and people external to me?”
I think the pandemic has given everyone an opportunity to level set and ask themselves what’s important and how can we be more human in business because we’re no longer compartmentalized? As a mom, my idea when I decided to go into full-time entrepreneurship after ten years of state government and I resigned, it was December 31st, 2019 and I was like, “2020 is going to be a fresh start.”
It was. My idea was to be home and to be closer to my daughter, not necessarily to be at home with my daughter. When you go to work, you can kind of be at work. Your mind might still be somewhere else sometimes, but you can be at work. I’m not momming at work, but with the pandemic, I am a mom, I am a professional, I am a cafeteria, I am a custodian, I am a therapist, I am everything, all at the same time.
A teacher or co-teacher. I’m so grateful for our county and for how they have made it possible for parents to co-lead the virtual education opportunity. Show up, listen and follow their lead. They made it feasible for me to be a stay-at-home mom and a co-teacher if you will, but these things are happening simultaneously and it makes you ask, “What is more important right now?” The things that used to be important to me are now taking a back seat to what is now a competing priority and I have to make a decision on which of these priorities has my immediate need.
Thanks a lot for that. One of the things that has me thinking about when we talk about work-life balance, what behaviors have you seen during the pandemic that are counterproductive to women in general?
I’m going to say we, because I’m not excluded, in general, strive to be like everyone else when we do have nuances to us. We are not men. We tend to have a nurturing side that kicks in in different situations. Therefore, our perspective, how we perceive a circumstance may be different. Just like there are different methods and modes of learning for people, there are different perspectives based on experiences. A woman’s approach in business may be different from a male’s approach in business when it doesn’t make it lesser than, less significant, less severe or something to blow over because our perspective and our approach might be gentler, softer or more compassionate.
Not striving to be like anyone other than who we absolutely are. If we don’t be ourselves, we are not serving. We do ourselves and everyone else around us a disservice because people do business with who they know, like and ultimately can trust, so if you are not you, you are being a chameleon and nobody can predict who’s showing up to the Zoom. It makes it hard for you and it makes it hard for people to collaborate, celebrate, converse and communicate with you.
Something else that’s counterproductive as a mom in business is that we strive to be that same heavy hitter and go-getter woman that we were before motherhood kicked in and it’s not that we can’t be a heavy hitter and a goal-getter. We have to move differently because we do have that competing priority and the age of the child is going to drive how you function. I got a full-time virtual kindergartener. I can’t give her a MacBook and say, “Go be great.” I’ve got to sit in on her Zoom calls so that I know how to follow up with the assignment.
I didn’t specialize in early childhood education, so when people say to me, “TaJuanna, you were her first teacher.” No, I’m her first influence. I am not going to discredit the fact that people grow up mature and make a choice to go into education as a profession, just like I went into project management as a profession. We have different tools, methodologies and levels of expertise that a person not being a practitioner of that, it would not cross their mind. I do not at all take away from her educators as trying to claim to be the teacher, but I’m her co-teacher primarily because of the pandemic at this capacity.
Having to change and be more flexible and more compassionate with myself, set a schedule for myself that actually serves my family because that’s my first ministry and then my company, which ultimately provides for standing firm on that and us and recognizing my customers are everywhere, but not everyone is my customer.
If a person has a problem or if a representative of a company has a problem with my daughter coming into the background of the screen or asking me a question while we’re talking or any of those things that a kindergarten may do. I’m like, “We’re probably not good for business at this time,” because this is my very real reality and while this project is going to come and go, Lord willing because that’s what I believe, my relationship and her presence as my daughter will not.
We will have a long time to come if I had my way and if she had her way. I’m not willing to sacrifice a temporary thing for what I perceived to be a lifestyle that I intend to be living as her very present and active mother and so I lead with those core values in my business. Anyone who’s not ready to align with that and not willing to align with it, I refer them to someone else who can meet their requirements.
I took away two things that I wanted to lift up. The first one that I enjoyed hearing about is the fact of you naming your priorities and being clear and firm about that. Unashamed. You’re like, “Look, I will help you find somebody else to work with if this is a problem.” I love the way you framed that. Second, I also liked the way you framed the importance in general of setting boundaries.
Show up and glow up. You know who you are and what you have accomplished.
If anybody ever got upset at a boundary you set, that’s proof enough that you needed a boundary in the first place. I appreciate hearing that. I’m an executive coach and I work with a lot of clients. Let’s say I’m having a conversation with a client and she’s wanting to leave a toxic work environment to bootstrap her dreams and start our own business. What advice would you have for her?
One of the main things that I absolutely lean heavily into and teach to my clients through coaching and accountability is you may be new to the business opportunity, but you are not new to the experience that you bring. A lot of times, the things that we decide to go into business with are our existing knowledge, skills and abilities.
Every now and again, you get that itch and you want to do something completely different, but if you are strategic and you are looking to provide a service because we’re not self-serving, we’re serving others as well, and make a profit, you’re going to develop a dragnet. You’re going to think, “What do I already have in my sheet? What am I already good at? What do people come to me for? I’m not seeking it, but they come to me and ask me this question all the time. They ask me to do this and be the solution for them all the time.”
That’s typically what people go into business doing and so while you might be new to business ownership, get a mentor or coach for that. Go to the small business development center in your area about business ownership and get the experience that you have already sweat, bled and cried for and you have already invested in for whatever years you’ve done and what you do. Do not discredit that. Do not hold back your confidence in that. Show up and glow up. You know who you are, what you have already accomplished and because it has already been done, it can’t be taken away from you, so use it.
I think the elephant in the room would be when a toxic work environment that has exacerbated my impostor syndrome.
I know I don’t do nearly do as much research as you have and do, but I am fully convinced that impostor syndrome, it’s spun off of being who you are not. We’ll choose. Make the decision to be you and function on the knowledge and expertise, if you will, that you have. You don’t have to pretend. A big part of being a leader is saying, “I don’t have the answer to that, but I know somebody who does. If we put our heads together, we can find it. We can find the answer to the question,” but not pretending to be, do or function in a zone of genius that you absolutely don’t operate in.
If there’s something my clients bring to me that I don’t have, I say, “I am not a financial professional. I am not a graphic designer. Marketing is a part of my background, so I understand those things. I can absolutely help you strategize on why it speaks and what does and doesn’t work, but if you want it done, I’m going to refer you to somebody in my preferred network. I’m not going to pretend that I’ve got the solution to that. You want to make an informed decision. You want to get the best return, the greatest return on your investment,” and so I think we can absolutely eliminate or alleviate the impostor syndrome if we show up with and I don’t want to say to minimize, but I think it’s that simple.
If we simply show up with who we are, all we have to do is be one step ahead and we can teach because we already did it. Teach what you know and what you got in front of you and be willing to learn as well. Those things will mitigate the whole impostor syndrome that causes people to not show up consistently and develop a formula of continuity in their living and professionally that causes them to lack confidence, question and have paralysis by analysis because you’re trying to do and be somebody that you aren’t. Be yourself. Use your existing experience to be great.
You could also get an awesome business coach and get that support.
Do it yourself if you have to go that route, but you have to do it yourself does not necessarily mean do it alone.
Do it yourself doesn’t mean do it by yourself.
You might have to get in there, learn it a little bit and then outsource it or you may have the capacity to outsource it right away because you’ve sourced out information to make the most informed decision on what you need. I’m not saying live on YouTube university, but accelerate your opportunities where it makes sense to do so. You don’t have to do it alone, even though you may be doing it yourself or creating your own path your own way. There is a lot of opportunity and expertise like coaching, accountability and consulting. We are out here, we are willing and we are ready to see you thrive and not just survive in your opportunity.
Before we go, thank you for your time. I appreciate getting to hear all of your contributions and insights. What could you leave us from a words of wisdom standpoint? What could you leave with our audience?
Words of wisdom when it comes to being toxic in the workplace, there are two things that come to mind. One is not believing in reciprocity regardless of age, tenure, demographic or geographic differences. I don’t care what the position is and I don’t care what the title is. Management and leadership are not always synonymous. You can be in a management role and be a very poor leader of people. You can be in a common role, one that wouldn’t be considered in an organizational chart.
A leadership role and be an absolutely dynamic and positive influencer of others that is able to mobilize people and understanding that there are differences. Debbie says, “People are only as human as their experiences,” and so realizing people bring to the table that which they have encountered. If they don’t understand, use that as an opportunity to help them. Agree to disagree, yet there’s always more to be learned. The other thing is understanding that whenever we misplace and put our financial capital above our human capital, we’ve already lost.
It is the people that take care of people. People do business with people out of a relationship, not out of anything else. Not out of the bullets of how you’re going to work together and not because of certain tools and everything that you use. Those are cool benefits and features, but people tend to be influenced to go with an entity, a project, an initiative and a leader because of the rapport. Acknowledging that people are important and being a human first in business is absolutely going to get you further every time, regardless of your position.
You may be new to the business opportunity, but you are not new to the experience that you bring.
Thank you for sharing that. How can we reach you?
Thank you for asking. If you are looking to gain clarity, leverage your skills, launch your business strategically and you said, “I am done with this workplace stuff,” yet I encourage you, don’t leave. Do it strategically. Leverage your current employment and pursue your opportunity gradually. You can reach me on BootstrapDreams.com. Have an introductory strategy call, see what your goals are about and if it makes sense to go further and absolutely live out your mission and vision, we can talk about coaching and accountability services.
If you are a woman in business, join us on Facebook in the community Results Driven Strategies for Women Entrepreneurs. We talk about all things, life, family, adulting and of course, business. I have a dynamic network of women who come in and guest speak about all the things that you asked for and need in business so that you can up-level your opportunity to succeed. Those are the ways that you can keep in touch and get connected with me.
I appreciate being able to cross paths with you. This is awesome.
Thank you and thank you all for reading. Until next time.
- TaJuanna Taylor
- Results Driven Strategies for Women Entrepreneurs – Facebook
- @ToxicLeadershipPodcast – Instagram
- @ToxicLeaderShow – Twitter
- KEVRA: The Culture Company – Linkedin
About TaJuanna Taylor
Through a well-earned reputation for her ability to shape and mobilize a business-focused vision, TaJuanna is the Business Strategist and Accountability Coach executives turn to when they’re launching profitable ideas. As the founder and CEO of her boutique consulting company Bootstrap Dreams, LLC, TaJuanna applies 15+ years of small business and state government experience to teaching her proprietary strategy, The D.O.N.E. Formula™. Proving that even the most lofty business endeavors can significantly bypass overwhelm using processes and systems.
TaJuanna has received over 9xs awards for leadership, social impact, implementation, contribution, and exemplary as a Project Management Professional (PMP®). Driven by resilience and relentlessly speaking from the gift of encouragement, TaJuanna finds fulfillment in faith, exploring new things, journeying through motherhood. Living in community with others inspires TaJuanna to share messages out of life’s messes and is on an impassioned mission to turn former sufferings into service.