things no one tells you: protect your IP

there are things no one will tell you, things you just find out “on accident” about how the compound interest works, how corporate america works, why it’s important to comb your hair out completely, BEFORE washing it, after taking out your braids. but the latter is another topic for another post. i’ve decided that it is incumbent upon me, and other SBFs like me to share the tribal knowledge we have gathered and not horde it like squirrels who’ve buried nuts all over the yard and can’t find nary a one.

nugget of truth: a good idea is sure to be stolen. let that be your first lesson. anytime you gin up a good idea, put your name on it! watermark it. PDF it. tell everyone you talk with that it’s yours. otherwise you risk something like this happening.

you draft an onboarding program targeted at new employees to help integrate them into a work culture that is far from welcoming. you share this with your leadership and explain that new hires should be given a 90-day plan wherein they learn elements about the company in the first 30 days, elements about the financials in the next 30 days and how their job function affects both in the final 30 days. at the end of each period the new hire will be given an assessment to confirm understanding as the instructors will build upon the knowledge transfer to round-out the onboarding process.  having been through the new hire “training” you know it is sub-par and something akin to what you are describing will facilitate retention and alignment with the company goals, and define where the new hire fits into the overall strategy.

you are convinced this is a winning tool and even offer to draft the model and work with HR to implement it. all of this is met with mild curiosity at best, but then someone else latches on to the idea and decides that HR would be better equipped than you to execute this concept. you are thanked for your ideas and asked to complete a knowledge sharing session with those who will “raise your baby.”

wait, come again? you’ve identified an issue, provided a viable solution to resolve it only to have it stripped away from you and given to another team who is unlikely to nurture it like you would.

or how about a situation where you are asked to lead a project that other teams have worked on for months. you are 10 days into the effort and the senior leadership team is asking for a roll-out plan, a cost model, and a risk analysis. those who were on the project before you stepped in were given a golden ticket, some sort of “no-responsibility-required” pass that you do not have access to, so you spend evenings and weekends busting your ass to do in days what they failed to accomplish in months. your deliverables, more succinct and developed than your predecessors, will still be torn apart like a grizzly bear at a campsite.

these are the moments where helplessness, listlessness, and disappointment cure like cement and you are ready to wave the white flag of surrender and accept defeat. why continue to try when the door will be closed, the response will be “no” and the expectations for you will always be greater? the answer: because there is another sista right behind you, beside you, in front of you who is, has, or will experience the same plight and if you quit now, her journey, as well as yours, will be stunted.

create your own winner’s circle, that group of women who are your buoy when you are neck deep and your feet cannot touch the bottom. the sisters who will pray you through, review your slides for errors, and talk you off the ledge before you curse out your leader. these are women you trust to give wise counsel and speak for you when you cannot speak for yourself.  it takes time to find them, but once you do it is your job to BE THAT WOMAN for someone else.


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