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Juliette Okotie-Eboh, Ph.D. Discusses her New Motivational Book, '10 Things I Know'

The doctor and executive shares her professional secrets for getting the most out of life.

Juliette Okotie-Eboh holds a doctorate in city/urban, community and regional planning, with a 30-plus year career in her wake, including 14 years as senior vice president for one of Detroit's major casinos. Suffice to say, she's acquired a few tips along her journey, so she wrote a book. 10 Things I Know is a collection of Okotie-Eboh's "secrets for getting the most out of life." BLAC sat down with her shortly after its release.

 

BLAC: Why did you want to write this book?

Juliette Okotie-Eboh: I wanted to write it based on my experiences professionally as an African-American woman and someone who had to figure out the best way to move forward in my career, how to best put my life together working in the corporate arena. My doctorate is from the University of Michigan, and I was invited to come up about seven years ago to talk to the graduate students. I started mulling over what I should share with them. All of a sudden, I started writing down bullet points that I thought would be helpful. Some of those same pieces of advice were relevant to anybody looking to accomplish something.

B: Self-help/motivation books are everywhere. What sets yours apart?

J: I don't profess to guide the reader in any kind of religious doctrine, there's no religious context to the book. I speak from the perspective of an African-American woman, but I think that many of the challenges and opportunities that we all have to grapple with are neutral. I try to cut to the chase in terms of giving you a practical guide. It's very easy for you, the reader, to motivate yourself and to examine your own life with an objective eye toward who you are, who you spend your time with and what factors are holding you back instead of moving you forward.

B: Do the tactics that you mention in the book come naturally to you at this point, or do you still have to consciously work at them?

J: I learn something new every day. But the ones that I stress in this book, these are things that I would put my reputation on, in terms of know that these 10 things are essential to having a good career and subsequently a better life. These are things that are tried and true. These are not theories, these are things I've lived.

B: In Chapter 4, you mention being your own cheerleader. What about when people are rooting against you?

J: It's all about where you focus your attention. As for the naysayers, that just comes with the territory of living. You see people on Facebook and social media talking very negatively about people they don't even know. If you're waiting for people to affirm you before you feel like you can make a move forward, then you'll be waiting a long time.

B: In chapter 7, you wrote about looking ahead for change and preparing for it. What's your advice when there is no warning and change surprises you?

J: Change never sneaks up on you–in a professional sense. I have not had an experience where change snuck up on me. I think you always get signals that change is about to happen. If your boss asks to see your plan for the remainder of the year and how much you have left in your budget. A.) They're going to lower your budget because the company needs it somewhere else or B.) It could mean that maybe your function in that company is not as vital as you thought it was. … How could you not know that your job is under review when one boss leaves and another boss comes on? Whenever that happens you should put yourself on audition mode. … People resist change, they hate change, they fear change, I get it. But you can't stand still, nothing stands still. … I don't think anybody should be surprised by change. What you want to do is stay a little bit in front of the change curve so you may be able to predict which way it's going and fit in. You want to be able to see change coming and to be able to react positively to it.

B: Is there a such thing as failure?

J: Oh yeah. There's failure, but it doesn't have to be long term and it doesn't have to be the end of who and what you are. … The main thing you want to be able to do is stay in the game. If you're out of the game, you can't overcome the failure or setback, and you can't put a new plan into motion. You want to stay in that game, and sometimes you have to find a new game to get into, but you don't want to be on the sidelines. Everybody has failures and disappointments, that's inevitable, like change. But what you want to do is not let that flatten you out so you throw in the towel. … The more you focus on a problem, the more consuming it becomes. Focusing on problems doesn't get you anywhere, it's looking at problems, accepting problems and then putting it aside and focusing on a solution.

B: You also mentioned keeping quiet about the sexual harassment you experienced. With everything in the news now, do you have regrets?

J: Everybody lives in their own time. I would have regrets if I did not have my own strategies for how to overcome it. At that time, I was a single parent and the only income earner. I'm not saying you put up with things just because you have to have a job, but I could figure out how I could manage in those situations. Number one, I would never be harassed again. … In the current context, if you look at what's going on now, it's still really high-profile people in high-profile positions. And you've got social media and things now that make it a little bit easier for you to prove those allegations. … I still think the average person working in a regular job is going to face the same challenges that have been going on for years and years. It's a power move. And when people have power over you, they may think they can do anything to you. Take away the political scandals and the high-profile cases in the media, I wonder how this is filtered down to everyday people. A major shift is happening, and it's a good shift, but I still think everyone has to have strategies for setting their own boundaries, because it's nothing but bully behavior. And when you confront a bully or open up the tiger's jaws and look at it, generally, you can get a bully off you. But I would never discourage anyone from reporting that kind of behavior.

B: Who would you encourage to read this book?

J: Anybody. I would encourage anyone, whether they're a student or a professional, in any sector, including working from home. This book is race, gender neutral. It's for anybody, from a young person to a seasoned worker – blue collar, white collar, whatever. I think it will bring some clarity to you with your own goal setting, with focusing in on your life's purpose and creating a life that's workable for you. 

10 Things I Know is available on Amazon.com and on 10thingsiknow.com.

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