I am a first-generation American, who was raised in Brooklyn, New York by parents who emigrated from Guyana.  As an inner-city youth, my story is not quite one of a traditional Brooklyn native – i.e. one who traveled with a crew of friends, weaving her way in and out of the corridors of mischief and childish thrills, etc. 

Mine was a much quieter life.  To say that my parents were protective of me would be an understatement. They loved both my brother and me, dearly. They also believed that the key to my survival was to cloak me in the bastions of a secure home. 

This parental protectiveness, combined with my extreme introversion, served to create a type of cocoon in which I remained through my teenage years. There is an aspect of this state for which I thank God. I was shielded from the wiles and snares of our earlier neighborhood communities – communities that were much tougher than I was. My story could’ve easily been one rife with losses during those formative stages – loss of a sense of security or even life itself.

This ‘cocooned’ living did, however, present other complications growing up.

I loved words and the English language, yet processed most things in silence. I was fascinated by people, yet too shy to engage them. I was full of healthy emotions, yet many of them remained trapped for years. I had so much to say, yet believed that my voice didn’t matter.

As I share in my book, 'Tough As Nails: Finding Your Voice as a Woman in the Workplace,' it was God, the help of an amazing husband, grit, and determination which allowed me to find my voice. My leadership voice was not far behind. The wonderful irony is that I am now a complete leadership geek. I conceptualize, write, talk and present about the topic of leadership all the time! I love to lead, and view it as a high calling. I carry the mantle proudly and steadfastly–even when I sometimes fail at it.

My childhood experience, and metamorphosis, has made me acutely sensitive to others who are struggling to find their voices–to find their way in an oftentimes hostile work environment.  Workplaces are full of opportunities for creativity, innovative solutions and lasting relationships.  They can also be full of trauma, disappointment and–if we’re not careful–disillusionment. There are ways to successfully navigate these environments.

I have a heart for encouraging and empowering people– especially women.  My heart’s desire is to equip you, as a woman rising to the top of your field–or simply rising– to be all that you were intended to be. I want to help you use your gifts, talents and your unique voice to make a difference in this world.

I’d like 'Tough As Nails: Finding Your Voice as a Woman in the Workplace,' to be your pathway toward greatness.

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© 2018 by Joanne Rencher. All Rights Reserved.