Can you imagine a life with no adventure? A life where you never explored beyond your comfort zone. I’m sure we all considered what life would be like beyond our hometown. Well, Chanel Cathey did the damn the thing. She went from Bridgeport to the Big Apple and along the way she made a name for herself. If you want to learn more about how she did it, keep reading-
Truthfully, it’s quite relieving to know that Chanel was born and raised in Bridgeport. (It makes your dreams feel just a bit more attainable, doesn’t it?) And she had an ordinary childhood like the rest of us. In fact, her interest in media and communications developed as a child. She used a cardboard box to create a news anchor set where she was the star of the show. After attending Notre Dame High School (yes, the one down Old Town Road) she went on to study Political Science and Communications at Fordham University.
Now, like any college student, Chanel wanted work experience, however, her approach was anything but ordinary. You might’ve assumed she went onto Indeed like everyone else and applied to as many jobs as possible. Oh no, she attended an event in which a high-level executive of ABC News was present, and marched right up to him and stated she wanted to work for the company. Chanel gave him her elevator pitch, and lo and behold, she got an internship right then and there. She also later interned at the United Nations.
For Chanel post-grad included a full-time position at Unilever and attended the NYU Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. She took on a few different roles before starting her own communications and public relations agency, CJC Insights. Her company focuses on activating powerful press and industry relationships to build traction and momentum for your brand. Chanel is also passionate about working with female founders and minority-owned businesses.
Whether you’re looking for some inspiration or motivation, Chanel has got it.
How have you overcome any challenges you’ve experienced as a woman of color in the workforce?
Chanel says as a black woman working in the big leagues, you are naturally going to stand out and sometimes that’s a challenging reality to navigate.
“You become the default representative for millennials, African-Americans, women, and so on.”
She’s turned this into a positive by being an ally for these communities.
Another challenge she’s faced is fierce professional competition, surprisingly from other women. The fear that there are only so many spots at the table for women created many toxic relationships. Instead of hindering others, Chanel wants to encourage, support and motivate women to succeed. There’s plenty of room for men and women at the table.
Did you have any preconceived notions going into the workforce? If so, what were they?
Chanel didn’t realize the power of connections and the role they play in the workforce. In PR, you need press relationships. She believes it’s important to remember the details like birthdays in order to maintain those relationships. You need to understand the power of everyone you meet and truly get to know them. What are their pain points? How can you make their life better? Just clicking “connect” on LinkedIn is not a network.
“It’s all about the follow-up.”
Whether its an interview or casual meeting, always follow-up. It shows you actually give a shit.
What self-care practices do you implement in your routine?
Now, Chanel is your typical type A, she is always looking for ways to fill up her schedule. Although she may seem like she has it all together, even she has to work on time management.
“There is no balance.”
Something that has changed Chanel’s life for the better is waking up early. She enjoys the calm in the morning before her inbox gets slammed. Unlike you and me, she doesn’t check her email or texts when she first wakes up. She had to train herself to take a pause in the morning for calm before diving into the day. It takes a lot of discipline for her to pull back, especially because PR is 24/7. Chanel set boundaries and sticks to them. Her Saturdays are for laundry and family, and Sundays are for worship.
Chanel also meditates at least 3x a week. (Trust me, even as an amateur meditator, I agree it makes a difference.) Whether its meditation or cardio, she tries to incorporate exercise into her routine.
You know, I could very well research advice from people like Bill Gates but how do I relate to them? Truth is, I don’t. For me, speaking to Chanel was a breath of fresh air and I hope you feel relieved as well. Women like her make me feel my dreams are that much more attainable. Over the past few years, I’ve learned that women need to stick together. And I am so grateful for having met such brilliant women. It is never too late for you to expand your network, start that conversation you’ve been meaning to have with that person you admire. It’s now or never.