WYP Summer Reading List

WYP Summer Reading List

We are six days into summer! Summer is the time for vacations, extended weekends and trips to the ice cream parlor. But summer is also the time to feed your brain and spark creativity with a good book. I asked for recommendations from my friends for books they were either currently reading or will be reading this summer. This list has everything from non-fiction to business to self-help to romance.

  • From Panic to Empowerment Series by Dr. Stephanie Reid (Recommended by Karla Wynn Diouf)
  • 5 Steps to Rapid Employment by Jay Block (Recommended by Karla Wynn Diouf)
  • Failing Forward by John C. Maxwell (Recommended by Karla Wynn Diouf)
  • Women Who Run with the Wolves by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes (Recommended by Karla Wynn Diouf)
  • An American Marriage by Tayari Jones (Recommended by Michelle W. Russell)
  • Chasing Waterfalls by Takoma Washington (Recommended by James Lewis)
  • The Art of Asking: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help by Amanda Palmer and Brené Brown (Recommended by Debbie Shaffer)
  • Impact! What Every Woman Needs to Know to Go From Invisible to Invincible by Nancy D. Solomon (Recommended by Debbie Shaffer)

A few weeks ago I did an FB Live where I shared three of the books that I will be reading over the summer by Shawn Achor. I read one over the weekend and WOW! I can’t wait to get to the other two books. I’m intrigued by positive psychology and Shawn Achor has a style of writing that is not only humorous, it is backed by scientific research.

  • The Happiness Advantage: How a Positive Brain Fuels Success in Work and Life by Shawn Achor
  • Before Happiness: The 5 Hidden Keys to Achieving Success, Spreading Happiness, and Sustaining Positive Change by Shawn Achor
  • Big Potential: How Transforming the Pursuit of Success Raises Our Achievement, Happiness, and Well-Being by Shawn Achor

What books are you reading this summer? Share them in the comments below.

With love,

Knuckle Up Buttercup

Knuckle Up Buttercup

Let that sink in. Everything. Your mistakes, mishaps, disappointments, successes, achievements, tears of joy, tears of sadness, drama, shenanigans….all of it. Since you already have everything you need to be extraordinary, believe me when I tell you, whatever you are going through is only preparation for the amazing things coming your way.

With love,

Lessons From London

Lessons From London

Two weeks ago I had the opportunity to travel to London as one of the speakers for Executive Secretary LIVE hosted by Lucy Brazier, CEO of Marcham Publishing, specialist publishers of Executive Secretary Magazine – a global training magazine dedicated to the professional development needs of senior and aspiring administrative professionals. The experience was, in one word, PHENOMENAL! From the moment I was greeted by my driver at Heathrow until I was dropped back off at the airport six days later, I soaked in every minute. Did it rain? Yes, it was raining when I landed. Did it snow? Yes, it snowed the night before I left. Did I have jetlag? You bet! I think I’m still battling the residuals of the time difference two weeks later. Oh, but what about the good stuff? There’s plenty! Here are some of the lessons I learned from my trip:

  1. Transparency and sharing your journey can inspire others. I’ll be perfectly honest with you, being transparent can be scary and downright terrifying when you are surrounded by people you know. Now imagine being transparent with people you just met 48 hours prior. Talk about a leap of faith. But here’s what happened. I became relatable. The attendees at the conference saw themselves in me and vice versa.
  2. You never know who is watching you. There I was minding my own business (after eating a delicious cheeseburger) and from across the room, I hear a woman calling my name. She tells me that she’s an Ayanna Castro fan. Excuse me? A fan? The woman’s name is Melissa Esquibel, a Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT) with more than 25 years in business application technology. She proceeds to tell me that she thought that one of the FB live videos I posted for Work Your Package Wednesday was epic. (Insert a big fat HOLY COW right here). Then it happened again when a conference delegate told me how much she looks forward to my post. I had no idea they were watching, I was just delivering on a promise to myself to show up consistently every Wednesday. Be true to who you are and let your light speak for itself.
  3. Never stop practicing your craft. Do you know that some of the most world-renowned singers have vocal coaches? When I learned that little tidbit, I decided that I would never stop practicing my craft. It wasn’t my first time giving my signature presentation but it was the first time I was delivering it in front of an international audience and I wanted to make sure I gave the delegates my best effort. It doesn’t matter if you’ve done something a thousand times, practice is part of growth.
  4. Check your ego at the door. When you do something with the intention to serve and not be served, leaving your ego at the door (or better at home) is an easy thing to do. Once you realize that your gifts and talents are to be given away, it is harder for your ego to show up.

Here’s the bonus…adding this amazing presenters and speakers to my network. Someone asked me if they were my family from London. My response was very simple, “They are my family now.”

Pictured Left to Right: (back row) Dinah Liversidge, Lucy Brazier, Chrissy Scivicque, Cynthia Thomsen, RoseMarie Terenzio, Geoff Richards, Vickie Sokol Evans; (front row) Kemetia Foley, Colette Carlson, Shelagh DonnellyAndrea Macarie, Ayanna Castro, Marie Herman

 

I’m excited to be part of the Executive Secretary LIVE speaker family and a contributor to the Executive Secretary Magazine. Check out my articles:

With love,

 

Are You Overreacting?

Are You Overreacting?

Situations continue to resurface until the lesson is learned. Learning how not to overreact is one of those lessons I believe we continuously learn.

Respect + Asking Question + Seeking Correction = Not Overacting

Lack of Respect + Assuming the Worse + Seeking Crucifixion = Overacting

A Proportional Response…And Other Lessons Learned from TV

 

No Easy Road to Wisdom

No Easy Road to Wisdom

 

Do you remember the first time you touched something hot and it burned your hand? You were more cautious the next time you approached the stove. Do you remember the first time you disobeyed your parents and got grounded? You paid attention the time and got home before curfew. What about the first disappointment or heartache? You remained guarded a little bit longer before you allowed yourself to be vulnerable.

Wisdom seldom comes from pleasant experiences. It often comes from a source of pain or hardship. The tactic to survive what you once thought was so debilitating is to apply that wisdom to future circumstances so that you can make better decisions and share that wisdom with others. Your “little birdie” is strengthened with each experience and has an amazing memory. Are you trusting it and applying your wisdom to help you navigate the inevitable pitfuls you will face during your journey?

With love,

 

Self-Care Is Not Selfish

Self-Care Is Not Selfish

 

It seems like everyone is running on full tilt these days. Between home, work and civic responsibilities and interests, it has almost become commonplace to be left without time for yourself. Here’s a roundup of some self-care tips:

The Self-Care Tips You Need to Add to Your To-Do List

15 Ways to Add Self-Care to Your Workout Routine

Treat Yo’ Self: Self Care in the Workplace

How To Practice Self-Care In 2018 For A Happier You

How do you practice self-care? Share your tips in the comments.

With love,

You Deserve More

You Deserve More

I read a quote that said if you have to wonder if you deserve better you already know the answer. If you have to wonder whether or not you’re being fully supported to go toward your hopes and your dreams, you’re not getting the support that you need. So what happens when you’re faced with an opportunity to receive the support that you need? Do you think it’s too good to be true? Do you wonder whether not you actually deserve it? Are you willing to accept the fact that you deserve to have the support that you’ve been giving to everybody else? Are able to accept the fact that you finally have the support you need as you grow into the person that will achieve your wildly ambitious dreams?

I often talk about my board of directors and how invaluable their support is to me. There are key members of my board of directors who I know will push me when I’m ready to throw in the towel. Then there’s another level within that board who will not only not let me throw in the towel, they will carry me the last mile if they need to. Why? Because they believe that I deserve better. They believe that I can do better.

Being a superhero is overrated. I mean honestly, it is a thankless job when you think about it. You go around saving people all day and at the end of the day you are battered and scarred and waking up with bruises in the morning. And I’m not talking about physical bruises, I’m talking about the emotional bruises left over from someone else’s emotional baggage. Far too often we try to pick up somebody else’s broken pieces ended up getting cut in the process. Are you ready for someone else to bandage you up so that you can heal? Stop being so damn strong and let someone support you.

With love,

Check Their Credit Score

Check Their Credit Score

While it’s nice to wear rose-colored glasses some of you have been extending American Express Black Card credit privileges to people who don’t even deserve a prepaid debit Visa. If you think that I’ve covered this topic before you’re right. Allowing people access to different facets of your life without them being qualified put you in a position and at risk of being disappointed. But the extension of credit goes much further than that. I need you to start considering the access to you as lines of credit. There will be some people who are very responsible with the line of credit you extend to them. They will use it for emergencies or they’ve planned for the purchase with every intention of paying the debt at the end of the month. Then there are some people who will make purchases knowing full well they won’t have the cash at the end of the month to pay the bill. You would be lucky if they pay the minimum payment. What’s even worse is when they don’t pay the bill at all.

Having Rose Colored Glasses is not a weakness. Not cleaning the lens is where many of us fall short. We want to see the good in everyone. We want to believe that everybody is true to their word. We want to believe that everybody will pay their bill. This is where listening to the little birdie comes into play. Because if you would just be honest with yourself for a moment the same people you keep extending credit to haven’t paid the last bill. They are same people who continue to disappoint you. Why do you allow it? Why do you continue to sell yourself short? It’s time to change your mindset. Once you change your mind on how you will allow yourself to be treated, the people who do not respect you or value you will slowly distance themselves from you. It won’t be because of what you say, but because of the boundaries, you have set. 

With love,

No More Discounts

No More Discounts

I need your help. Sure.
I need a favor. Okay.
I need to vent. I’m listening.
Hey, can you help me out with something? I’m kind of busy right now.
Can you do me a favor? What’s in it for me?
I’m really stressed right now. So let me tell you how my day really sucked.

One of the hardest lessons I had to learn was there’s a difference between being helpful and being used. People who are caring and nurturing by nature have a tendency to give more than the other person actually deserves. Actually, we give before the other person provides credentials or passes a background check to show that they’re even worthy of receiving it our time, kindness and generosity. Recovering People Pleasers have a tendency to see the good in everybody and walk around with rose-colored glasses. God forbid should we say ‘no’ and run the risk of having someone not “like” us. But the old adage is true: You teach people how to treat you. If you’re teaching people that you’re not worth your full value, they will continue to ask for discounts and sales when it comes to access to your life. When you know your worth there are certain things you will not tolerate such as a lack of respect in any regard. It’s easier to speak up about your frustrations than to walk around with it bottled up inside. Knowing your worth allows you to speak up and to speak your truth without being disrespectful to others. I’ve said this many times before you need to surround yourself with people who do not tolerate you but celebrate you. And that doesn’t mean telling you how great you are all the time. It means that they remind you that you’re smart, brilliant, creative and awesome to be around. It also means that they challenge you and call you out on your foolishness and shenanigans when you’re not living up to your full potential. Your board of directors is indicative of how you value yourself. If you are surrounded by people who do not have a healthy self-image, how can you possibly expect them to help you develop yours? I can use a whole bunch of catchphrases here…iron sharpens iron, birds of a feather flock together…you get the point.

And while it’s great to have a board of directors who were just as kick-ass and phenomenal as you are, you have to learn how to love yourself as much as you love other people. You attract who you are so if you are feeling miserable and full of doubt, you will attract your mirror image. Remember you teach people how to treat you and the best way to show them is by loving yourself. Stop giving the freeloaders of your kindness a free ride. Tell them your price, add tax and add 10% for all your time they’ve wasted. The people who genuinely want to be around you will have no problem paying full price. The people who do not complain about the price honestly want to see you be an extraordinary version of yourself. They will pay every single dollar, will make the time on their calendar, will answer the phone when you call, will respond to your text messages late at night and will encourage you when you are ready to throw in the towel. A sincere love is one of the best gifts you can ever give to someone why not give it to yourself first?

With love,
Ayanna

Circumstances Come and Go, Character is Permanent

Circumstances Come and Go, Character is Permanent

“It’s not my fault if he/she/they didn’t do…..then I would be in this situation now.”

The most frequently used excuse for not owning up to taking responsibility for your life.

It is an easy cop-out to say that you are a product of your environment. It’s easy to blame someone else for your current state of affairs. It’s even easier to blame someone else for your anger and anguish. You are not a product of your circumstances but of your decisions. You have a choice to be happy. You have a choice to see positivity instead of negativity. You have a choice to rewrite the narrative as the victim. Making decisions is hard because then you are the one who is ultimately responsible for its outcome. But imagine for a moment, where one decision can change your trajectory for the rest of the day or the next month and maybe into the next few years? Make a decision that supports your dreams. Make a decision that supports building your character. Your circumstances will always change, but your character should not.

With love,