Welcome to my new interview series featuring some of the brightest and most hard-working women I know. My goal for this series is to collect stories from women in all levels of their career. The hope is that their journey and their advice will trigger something in you, and help you take the jump you need to achieve your personal level of success. Whether they are freelancers, founders of their own business, corporate employees, or students, this #LadiesWhoHustle series will showcase their unique talents and help you unveil yours.
Christine Michel Carter is one of the few Black millennial mom writers and speakers with a national voice for moms. A single mother of two, she has been featured in The New York Times, EBONY and Women's Health, and has been called "the exec inspiring millennial moms", a "mom on the move" and "the voice of millennial moms". Christine is also the creator of Mompreneur and Me, the first national mommy and me networking event.
Read on to learn more about this incredible woman and her path to her current successes.
Christine Michel Carter
Writer, speaker, and creator of Mompreneur and Me.
Why do you do what you do?
I'm an advocate for working millennial moms and Black women because they are ME! I'm passionate about seeing my tribe represented in a positive light. I have the opportunity to promote us on some of the largest platforms in writing - like Forbes and TIME - and I do feel pressure to clarify misconceptions and make sure I get it right. I'm motivated to tell the story of a generation, a gender and a race: our hopes, fears, challenges, everyday struggles and wins... and having someone listen to the story and make a positive impact as a result of the story. As long as I'm building or improving upon our narrative, I'm doing something right.
What was your dream job at 10 years old?
I wanted to be a museum curator or an assistant to Puff Daddy. Not Diddy, as when I was 10, that's not what he called himself!
If you could have anyone's job, whose job would you choose and why?
I wouldn't choose to have anyone else's job but my own, as it's my night job (motherhood) that brings me the most passion and validation. BUT, being a food critic I supposed wouldn't be too shabby a profession either.
What is one thing people outside of your industry get wrong about your job?
Many people think marketing to black consumers is the same as marketing to any other consumer segment. I think all the blunders H&M, Dove and Gap have experienced have taught us quite the contrary. There's interesting data and insights available about these consumers, and there's a great deal of spending power within their segment, but that all means nothing if a marketer can't use a unique, authentic voice in their messaging to black people.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Spending even more time with my children. I'd like to make strategic professional decisions today that allow me to spend even more time with them in the future. Decisions that tilt the "work-life balance" scales of justice back in their favor.
What has been your biggest career struggle to date?
My biggest career struggle so far has been working alongside various generations. There's a clear difference between how millennials tackle projects and what they expect from a company culture vs. generation X. For example, many generation X members just don't understand how much flexible schedules and telecommuting impact the amount of time a working mom spends with her child, her finances, stress levels, health and overall quality of life.
Millennial parents get it - they're dealing with the same struggles, and know they need to hold themselves accountable and independently get their work done. But there's something about the older generations and the fear of letting go control... it's a constant struggle. Not with all my older professional counterparts, but it's there.
And what about your biggest career win?
My biggest career win has been my ability to use my unique, authentic voice and combine it with the insights and data (as I mentioned above), and provide some of the largest global brands with messaging that resonates with my cohorts: millennial moms and black consumers.
The biggest compliment I received when I consulted a brand on marketing to millennial moms was "our call with Christine was so, so helpful; my colleagues were thrilled with it - and Christine herself. And personally, as an aging Gen-Xer, I appreciated that she spoke clearly and directly (which many Millennials don't) and I could hear everything said without straining. I learned more during that 30 minutes than I could reading for a week. And it was a whole lot more fun."
What's the best piece of career advice you've received?
Add numbers to everything you've done for a company. There's always a metric which can quantify your impact within an organization: hours reduced on a project, number of employees impacted by your work, dollars saved, etc. Once you're able to add numbers to what you've done for a company, you control your destiny with that company and organizations for years to come.
Have you received any bad career advice?
Lean In. Seriously, I really hate that piece of advice Sheryl Sandberg gave women of my generation and I'm glad Michelle Obama called it "sh*t". I've always said Sandberg shouldn't apologize for her success, but if I "leaned in" as a Black woman in corporate America, the next place you'll find me "leaning in" is over a counter at Burger King to clarify a customer's order.
What are you most proud of?
I'm most proud of my children, when they use manners, are confident with themselves and are loving towards their friends. To me, it means I'm raising well-rounded, responsible human beings... and we all know we could use more of them in today's world.
Who motivates you the most?
I'm motivated by the mothers I meet when I interview mompreneurs for Forbes, or when I hold Mompreneur and Me events across the country. These women know that they're responsible for 3X the amount of household chores as their partners, yet here they are, spending time with their babies and working to improve their professional career by networking with other women. I'm so inspired by their tenacity.
What advice do you have for those looking for a career in your field?
I advise them to have thick skin, because everyone gives an opinion about your content. Don't take their comments personally, and ask them what data (quantitative or qualitative) they have to back up their feedback. More often than not, this shuts people up! And if their feedback is warranted, you've just been given an opportunity to grow in your field.
When do you feel the most confident?
When I'm writing an opinion piece about my children that's relevant to other moms or black people that's also grounded in data.
How do you relax?
On the weekends with a cup of tea, a heated mattress, no children around and a Friends marathon on Netflix. Perfection.
Currently coveting: a Chanel bag I will NOT buy and have no business buying.
Favourite way to sweat: at the gym on the treadmill listening to C+C Music Factory.
Favourite book: right now it's "I Am, God's Affirmation for Little Girls" because it includes affirmations that not only my daughter, but also I, can learn from.
Morning bird or night owl? Morning person!
Favourite '90s jam: Sadly (and don't let this be a reflection of my mother's parenting) but it was "I Wanna Sex You Up" by Color Me Badd. I was five when the song was released.
Favourite city: Baltimore, of course.
Spirit animal: the dragon, because I am the mother of Black dragons.
Get in touch with Christine:
Website: christinemichelcarter.com, mompreneurandme.com
Facebook: Christine Michel Carter
Know anyone that would be great to feature in the #LadiesWhoHustle series? Connect with me on Instagram to nominate them - or yourself!