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Episode 2 Transcript

Arivee Vargas: Hi I'm Arivee Vargas. I believe we're all so powerful beyond our wildest imaginations. We have the ability to overcome the fears, self-doubt, negative beliefs and all the other roadblocks that hold us back from having the life and career we really want and deserve. That's why I created the Humble Rising podcast.

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I want to help you get clear on what a joyful and fulfilling life and career looks like for you. And help you go after it with all you have. Each week, we'll talk to badass inspirational women sharing their journeys. We’ll dig into their successes, their failures, challenges, the different shifts, and their careers in their personal lives and so much more. Be inspired, get motivated, and get ready to rise. This is the Humble Rising Podcast.

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Aundrea: I like having real connections with people, and I remember like interviewing them like on Zoom and stuff like that, and then I would see in their eyes like such an exhaustion. And they're not OK. I don't do well in separating. I feel that my stories are better because I feel all of it. But I found myself at home. Afraid to go to the grocery store?

Arivee: My guest on the podcast this week is Aundrea Cline-Thomas. Aundrea is an award-winning journalist. She joined CBS New York as a general assignment reporter in October 2018. She also fills in on the anchor desk and contributes to the streaming platform CBS and New York. She's passionate about telling creative, engaging in memorable stories that center marginalized voices. Simply put, in addition to the facts, her stories have heart. Prior to CBS New York Aundrea works in Philadelphia, Nashville, Charlotte and Megan, Georgia. She also wrote profiles about women in business for the Know your Value women's empowerment digital platform created by MSNBC Morning Joe, cohost and author Mika Brzezinski, Aundrea is the recipient of two Regional Emmy Awards and the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists named her the broadcast journalist of the Year. In 2017. Aundrea received her bachelor's degree in communications with a minor in black studies from Boston College and a master's degree in broadcast journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park. Raised in a Maryland suburb of Washington DC, Aundrea is the youngest of three children. Both of her parents are from Sierra Leone, West Africa. In this conversation Aundrea and I delve deep into what it means to and how to navigate your career in life, including all those challenges? You know. Deciding when it's time to move on from my job. And how to take the steps to move forward in your career? I think you're going to relate to a lot of what Aundrea highlights in her own journey. And with that. Here's my conversation with Aundrea.

Aundrea I'm so excited to have you here. Thank you so much for taking the time to be on our podcast. It's just great to have you here. You're amazing.

Aundrea: Oh, I'm so happy to be here and thank you for having me as your guests.

Arivee: Yay! So, I wanted to start by asking you if you could share a little bit about your journey to becoming a journalist and what that journey was like for you.

Aundrea: I’ll start even before my first on-air job. I decided I wanted to be a journalist when I'm 17 years old. Um I went to a program, and it was like the only thing that ever clicked to me where I felt like a could use all of the things that I loved and all of my skill sets. Um But I was 17, so then I went to college, I went to BC and graduated with no job and no idea still of how to do this. Worked for a year, trying to get behind the scenes jobs and new stations, could not get one. Went to grad school for intensive year at the University of Maryland. Then started to apply for jobs like a ton of jobs. Finally got my first job in Macon, GA was there for two years. Ended up going home. The market crashed. Was home working for nine months out of the business? Then I got a job in Charlotte was there for two years, then Nashville. Was there for a little over four years. Then Philly was there for three years and then now I'm in New York and I've been here for two years.

Arivee: Sounds like you had many different shifts in terms of you were in different cities. Was that always the strategy to do different cities to get to New York? Or was it a little bit different like you were just trying to see what could be a steppingstone to the next level?

Aundrea: Right, so they always told us in school, like you have to start small. And so I was like, OK, fine. Trying to figure out where would I be willing to go and being I'm from the DC area and so going to a small town like I did not want to do that. Um so I just picked a city. I wouldn't. I targeted cities that were close to small towns that were close to big cities, so Macon was just a few hours away from Atlanta. And so we, I had some friends from school there. And so it was just like, it was Georgia and North Carolina that I was basically targeting. But yeah. No, that's. Kind of part of the process a lot of journalists have moved around to different cities and it's the toughest part in the job. For sure.

Arivee: Is it just the moving or what's so challenging about that?

Aundrea: You always have to start over. I'm going to places where I don't have any family. Um In some places where it didn't have any friends either. And you're just picking up in and you're starting over. It's already hard enough to start a new job, but then you're, like, where’s the grocery store and things like I don't have a stylist. I don't have a church. I don't have a nail salon like I don't have my things that make me feel like home. Um and your new place and everything is new. It can feel really lonely, and you just keep starting your life over and over and over again. Something that you get used to doing, but it's not always easy.

Arivee: Yeah. No, I can imagine that can be really difficult, especially if you're looking to establish relationships in the city. And. And you know you wanna move to the next city for the next like opportunity. Any key learnings from where you've where you've worked to me, you've worked in many different cities. Talk a little bit about what was like maybe the most formative experience for you um before getting to New York?

Aundrea: I would say my first on air job, so thank you Georgia. I had never spent considerable time in the South. I had cousins in Houston that I would visit. But I wasn't actually like in the community. I just went to visit my cousins so literally moved to Macon, GA. Everybody had really thick accents to me. I had a very thick accent to them. I could not speak to people on the phone because I had no clue what they were saying. Ever. And they were just feel like you're not from around here, are you? (Both laughing) Like, no ma'am. No, Sir. You know Like, everything was so different. I mean, just everything was so different. There wasn't a whole lot of diversity. It was very black and white. And like not very much else. You really felt like you were in a moment in history. You know, it's just you would see Confederate flags. You would go to even smaller towns, to do stories. And I went down South really to confront my bias. I don't like how Southerners are portrayed on TV a certain type of way. That's like my only exposure are and it's a caricature picture really. And so, I really went there to confront my biases, to get a start and learn so much about people. And people who I would have never, ever met voluntarily, we are just fundamentally different in ways that can't be reconciled, but still literally going into people's homes. And then offering me sweet tea and. We are fundamentally different. So, it taught me a lot about humanity. It's taugh me about how like when you move someplace else. It's not about finding. Like for I was like oh man, I miss this about home. Yeah, I missed that about home, you know, but it's just like I can't look for a home in this place. Like, what was my creature comfort in this place because it's a different place, so I need to see what this place can offer me. And so I think that people give. You know, characterize things so negatively because they refused to understand, or they refused to step outside of themselves right. And so that was like a big thing. Like these people are so different than I am, but I can still learn a lot from them. They’re their foundation on family like they would be like. “This is not Atlanta” and that was like a saying, a horrible thing or like you're a Yankee. And that was like not good. (Both laughing) You know, because there are, like cause it's to them most like the fast pace, only care about your jobs, yet not focused on her fame. There are just certain things where you can break it down. I feel like people are often put in a box, but you know, Brené Brown says, “You can't hate people.” Able to get people up close, you know. In a way that life would have never really allowed me to do without this career. to really understand people in a much different way. So that informs my reporting. Even now, when we're talking about politics, we're putting people in these buckets of how they're voting and ostracizing them because of that. It's like, do you really understand who these people are and why they would vote the way they vote. Doesn’t mean you have to agree with that, but at least try to understand them. Um and you have to do that by stepping outside of your. For me, my metropolitan. (Arivee: “Yes”) Very diverse my family is African. So, like from like an immigrant like. That was the community I grew up with to go here and. (Arivee: “Yeah”) Everything is just not as good and bad, right? It's just there is Gray and trying to understand what that Gray is. So that was huge with Macon and then also career wise. I was so broke, I was so broke I was so broke. I was eating hot dog. I can’t eat a hot dog. I was traumatized. I couldn’t afford like I couldn't really cook. I didn't know how to cook it that point. So I was like, making like spaghetti and then eating hot dogs. Cause, I'm just. I would literally be at like cause. That's the first time I had gone to Walmart too. So, I'm like, OK, well, they say Walmart is like cheaper than everywhere else. So, I'm just gonna go to Walmart. But then, you know, like when they're ringing me up and I'm like, oooo and you like sneak in your car you like? My work, please. Come on work please. Please please. So. Just being able to withstand with so little. (Arivee: yeah) Right, my checks weren’t even. I was making $18,000. That was like my, like $18,000 a year was like my base with overtime, but like literally. Cause they you know, they take taxes (Arivee: Yeah, I mean, for all of us) Like. They take. It was like my $18,000 I was like for real though. I brought home $14,000 one year with overtime. So, I mean, I have my family thankfully supporting me, helping me like pay a cell phone bill. Like eat in my day to like, I had to figure that out. So, but I just know I survived, right? I survived that so. I move differently now. Because I know what I'm able to do. I know I can use a little bit and making a lot more. I know you know what I mean. And even with that little bit of money, I was still going to like our journalism convention. I was just. Pinching pennies and saving up, investing in myself. I just knew how to prioritize and turn something around so. In use uncertain times when companies or laying people off it does not scare me because I know I can exist with very little. Now I don't want to. (laughs) You know I don’t want too. But that tool is in the toolbox. I know I can figure it out. That was just a big, you know, the big grown-up big experience first time, like, really on your own. Making you know work in life real life. And then the other one was when I was in Philadelphia, it was the experience that everybody was like. You made it. I wanted to go home to DC. That was my goal. Look, my goals were very simple actually. Go to a market within proximity of home, so it would have to be like DC like it just being from DC area there are. There aren’t many markets around there. Make good enough money to pay your bills. Go on vacation, save the little bit. And live happily ever after like it was real simple, yeah. So, when I got to Philly, I was like it’s not DC, but then it hit me one day I was like, no, this is exactly why you started and Macon it like it was for for you to be marketable enough to have this opportunity, but my theme music wasn't on. I was like wait it was broken over here like what's going on. You know in the movie, when you when you work so hard and then you hit the point and then it was like, wait, wait. It's not on hello is this thing working. It was just different. (Arivee: Yeah.) It was bootcamp. You had to level up. It was first time I really realized that when you get to a different part, it was a different level. I made a huge jump from Nashville. Which is in the market. We have market sizes. I think there are like 200 plus markets. So, we use like 4, Nashville is in20, so that’s a big jump. And it’s based on how many people like the viewership, like how many people are in the market to actually look, I bulge to see you. And I had to level up. So what I used to do will no longer work here, so I had some really figure out what it takes to be at this level.

Arivee: They tell you that or did you figure that out? Like you figured out how you figured out that? OK, I have to do it differently here.

Aundrea: I had to do it differently. The stakes were so much higher. Yeah, and there's just the stakes were so much higher. The stories we're getting a lot more traction. A lot of the local stories became national stories. I was working for like a big media company I was working for the NBC affiliate so was owned by NBC. So, if you're in a small town the NBC station is probably not owned by NBC, but my station was actually owned by NBC. I work for CBS now, so my stations owned by CBS. And I think they're 20 some stations in the country owned by CBS, but you're working for the the Big Dogs, you know. I mean, there's up there, possibly opportunity there. You don't wanna mess it up. But there were just so many challenges of I just had to really ask myself really difficult questions like who am gonna be? Like, what does it seem like this job is requiring you to do? But who are you going to be? The industry can really feel like it's telling you that being one way, but there is only one way to being successful. Well, what happens when that one way doesn't jive with who you know yourself to be. Does that mean that you leave? I mean, it's it's a crossroads. Everybody has to like, get to you know. So, what happens? And I and I struggled cause. I was just like, OK. But this isn't this does not feel right in my spirit like at all this is not what I'm called to do. So, I considered leaving. I really did, but things didn't end up happening that way. But I was really charting a path to leave. Cause I just felt like what it would require for me to be successful would be outside of who I know myself to be, so in that process of grappling with that I had to ask myself really difficult questions. I had to change the questions I was asking. So. You know from what job you want like that seemed like a very low-level question to be asking myself, you know, to who do you wanna serve. Who do you want to be? What does that woman look like, how does she show up, you know, and feel like where are the deficiencies there and then level up in that way. So, it's creating more of rubric on my turn. It is saying this is what everybody told you to do. Because I did. I checked all the boxes, they said live small. I started small. OK, well get the awards. I got the awards. Ooo get the big job. I got the big job. And then it didn't feel like anything to be excited about. Although I externally people like oh. (Arivee: You’re so lucky.) Asking people outside of my friends, just like strangers in business when I would go to journalism convention would be like they wouldn't say how are you they'd be like you must love it. Like I was like is nobody asked me how I am anymore. Like, this is weird. This is like the reaction was so weird to me because it was the place where I struggle. I was struggling, I was drowning. But everybody was just like that’s it.

Arivee: That happened quickly though Aundrea. Like when you got there. What was the first time Do you remember the first time? Like what happened that made you feel for that first time? Like oh, this doesn’t feel right to me.

Aundrea: Well, it was just like I getting such bad feedback. You know. I just constantly got bad feedback about what I was not doing right. Like you're bad at this, you’re bad at this you're bad at this. You're bad at that and I'm great with like criticism. And I, you know, just you can't be in this business and not have have tough skin, but it just was like, OK, but OK like, OK. So, like, how do I fix this? Right. Like, OK, what? What do I need to learn? But then I just realized that I was like leaning into. You just have to know. Who will you are? And some of the criticism wasn't who I knew myself to be. (Arivee: Yeah.) Maybe, that’s what you think of me, but that's not who I am. So that doesn't. But you are not a mirror of who I am. And what I bring to the table, because quite frankly. A lot of those things that were criticized are the very thing (Arivee: yeah) being celebrated now. And as affording me an opportunity's so you have to come to a point, I think we're, you know, when you constantly do the work of self-improvement like I've been not just getting jobs, but really working on myself and making that a priority. Sometimes you're just style is not for everyone. You know, and it's really just about finding your tribe as opposed to conforming to this thing that other people deem amazing. It's may not be your tribe, though. And it doesn’t make them wrong, but it also doesn't.

Arivee: Yeah, there's. So, there's so many women who. I talked someone who's stay in a job where they feel like it's not right for whatever reason. It could be a unfulfilling it could be, could be so many reasons and they stay. Often times, because they don't wanna face the uncertainty of transitioning somewhere elsewhere, like you had said before, where you may have to start over new job. And that's daunting to some people who build strong reputations where they are. And so I’m curious what was the final? What was the real impetus for leaving Philly? Like, what was the moment where you said, OK, I see no other alternative but to move on?

Aundrea: It just became clear to me. Two things. One: Internal for me, and then one that was very concrete. One thing internally for me. So, we have the like my contract was three years about a year in a half in I was just like. (Arivee: You know) I don't think this is gonna work for me. I just I just knew. And that was really difficult, and I started, I actually one of our professors from BC, I don't know if he had Doctor Rock versus sociology carrying Kerry Ann Rockquemore. But I kept in contact with her and she's like a mentor to me. Like a distant mentor we don’t have an established relationship, but I just as a woman, I'm just in awe of her and I always have been. And um, I reached out to her. I didn't know what to do. This is what I had wanted to do since I was 17 and I was like, I don't know if I can do this anymore and she like helped guide me. And she said, you know, you know that inside yourself. And I was like, well then, what do you do about it and you just like, you know, when she talked about her transition, she had, like, these informational interviews with different people. Why don't you just start there of having informational interviews with people and ask them what they do and what their days are like and see if anything resonates with you. So, I started doing that. I started talking to women. I'm saying I'm just trying to figure myself out. I also started to one of the things that I really wanted to do for myself was to speak and do a lot more speaking engagement. I felt like I needed it to network outside of the news. My network was solely news, and I was like, I really wanna possibly branch into something else. And so, I started going to networking events all across Philly and started getting stronger friendships with people who were outside of the business and they would just bring me along. And Philly is a very relational town, so you need somebody to vouch for you. If you're an outsider. So, I had woman, again vouching for me at different places. Like if you would say, well, how can I help you? And I'm like ehhh I'll speak at your event I will mc your event you know. And then their like cool. And I started just doing that more more to get relationships. And then it was just one thing after another happened, but I I started seeking information. I applied to this program within the company that taught you leadership skill. And usually, you would have like managers recommend you. I was like, I'm not gonna have that happen so. I like recommended myself. And then in that program there like you could apply for this other program. So, I applied for this other program that touch leadership and like I just learned so much I was reading books. I was watching. I was going to church sometimes and watching sermons online like I just immersed myself in really trying to (Arivee: This while you’re still in Philly, you're still working in Philly.) I still have a contract to fulfill. Hoping that they would allow me to fulfill it because things were not going well. And then I and then I got at the beginning of 2018, I got an executive coach. Um I knew that was my contract was gonna be up at the end of the year and I knew this was gonna be a year transition. I had known that for a while. And so, we started charting the path of (Arivee: Yes) OK, now what? You know, it's it's it's so it's so amazing what happens when you just. (Arivee: Right) You don't have to know the end; I swear to you. Once I I'm just like, OK, I just am going to go on my gut feeling one thing after another thing after another thing happened. When I I just went to one event, and I met great. I ended up meeting like people who are my great friends right now. At this one event just because I showed up by myself, I did not wanna go. You know, like I went by myself. I did not know who was gonna be there. I was nervous. But I just stepped out on that one gut feeling like this is really scary and I have no idea what I'm doing, but this is in front of me right now.

Arivee: People think of building, or they think of networking not as relationship building. Think of it as. You know, I'm gonna go and it's not. I'm gonna be inauthentic. It feels fake. And what you're talking about is so much and it's showing up. It's putting yourself out there to start, to build relationships and just being you and and taking the chance and just showing up. Show up at the event you. I always. I go to I, you know, pre-Covid, I used to go to a lot of events and 9 out of 10 I be like oh I signed up for this month, but I don't wanna go. And every single time I leave that event, I'm like, that was fantastic and so glad I went. But the other piece that you mentioned that I thought was super important and this is so important for women listening is, even when you know in your job that it's time you start doing the work, you do the work, you don't just stay there and not do anything, because when you know you have to do something with the knowledge. And so, you started doing that work and kept doing that work. You knew their contract was ending and you said, OK, now what's next, I've done all this work. And to build momentum for your next step. So, I think that's just super important to keep in mind is that when you're, if you're feeling that in the in the, in the job or in your career. There's always something you can do.

Aundrea: 100% and I I mean, I had confidants who knew what was really going on. Um, but at work nobody had any clue. No one had an idea cause I just. I showed up. Still, I gave it my 100%. I did the best that I could. I wish, you know I was trying. But at the same time. I was also trying to create this other lane and this path for myself, yeah. And again, I didn't know what it would look like I didn't know what step 10 was. I didn't zero clue. I just was like, OK, what is in front of me right now. (Arivee: yeah) And I just sit and use that and then one thing led to another led to another. I considered what the worst-case scenario would be. And. Also saved a lot of money. You have to, you know, like that thing that people often talk about I took this leap, and I took this jump and then like like, you know, I don't have kids to feed, but other people do like and that's you know. People have real real important reasons for staying in places that they didn't want. You know they don't want to be in. The thing is, you know if you started a year later. Like what if you had started a year before when you got that gut feeling, just doing the little things. A year later you'd be so much further along. And when I tell you crazy things opened up for me, it was. It blew my mind. I mean certain things of like I'm and I was feeling awful during the process I was not feeling empowered. I was not doing this thing. I was like nope ah this is not what I want to be. (Both laughing) (Arivee: Yeah.) I felt awful. Like, Oh my God. Like, this is (Arivee: yeah) This is what I worked so hard for. I don't understand like what is going on here. This is not the script that I had written for myself, and now I'm in this limbo. I did all of that so I wouldn't be in limbo right now. When I tell you though crazy things? I went to a conference in Hawaii that I got the registration paid for hundreds of dollars of you know paid for, but I was thinking about going to the house like, OK, it's too much money and I need to save money right now, so I don't. I don't know what the return on investment would be was still like (Arivee: Yeah) Cause it wasn't. I just didn't know what it would be. I was too familiar with the with the group. But then they had a thing three weeks before the conference was gonna happen. I had already taken the time off, and there are, like, you could apply. Just put your name in, put it in the in the hat. Full name in the hat and your registration would be paid for. I think it was something like 4 or $500. Just get here. I was like 4 give me something for free. (Arivee: Yes) Give me a discount, gurl (both laugh) Say no more, say less. I'll figure it out. I’ll figure it out. Literally within like a week I found a ticket, paid for a ticket to fly to Hawaii for this conference. I thought of an idea um of writing some stories while I was there because I was like, oh, you know, I still wanna be a journalist I just might not do it this very way to build up a portfolio. I don't know where I was going. I had my friend. Who's this photography mail me his like camera. We did Facetime's on how to use it. Videotapes these interviews while I was there. I you know, that's the thing too is that. Even when I don't know how I'm doing this, we were. We're gonna do this. (Arivee: Yeah.) How can I do this little halfway? Imma Come with a camera and a this and even like when I was in Macon, and I had no money. I remember going to the journal, this National Association of Black Journalists. It's a conference I always go to and that's like all the Executives you can think of, and like all-in-one place and my whole thing is like, let me just be in the midst and I believe that whatever happened like whatever can happen will happen. I just need to show up and I I didn't have enough money for like all of these professional clothes. So, I had one black suit. And then I bought like some like cheap, colorful tops. There's some necklace in. You know what I mean like. And then another pair of slacks, cause. I couldn't afford whole suits. I can wear like a black whole suit one. Gray slacks with the colorful top the next day. The black slacks from the suit and another top the other day like it was literally like piecing things together and just showing up and like, here I am. I'm like, OK, this is what I need to work on you bet. You bet. (Arivee: You has a lot.) And then I'm gonna email you a whole year. You won't email me back and be like, remember when? Remember that last email? As per my last email.

Arivee: But but I bet there were people that did respond.

Aundrea: Sometimes they did, and I have relationships now that's, you know, that's the thing that I was always just thinking steps ahead cause. I was just like this is, you know, I think sometimes people like get stuck in the moment. I'm like, no boo boo. We're on a continuum. I tell my mentee this all the time. I'm like, you know, she's like, oh my God And work is this. And work is that. I was like, you planning on saying that forever? She goes no. I was like who cares? You know what I mean? Like. What do you need to get at the experience? You got it? (Arivee: yes.) Go. You can't get places to be something they're not. This perfect specific purpose, to assess their business plan, but if you have outgrown that or that business plan does not align with you, you gotta go. There's no retrofitting. Uh, please this is the behemoths you know.

Arivee: It's like you got the same thing is, you know. I used at a couple large law firms in the first when I worked at some of my colleagues just it's like the for them wasn't for them and they knew right away, and they left. Right away now. I always said that you have to really know yourself to do that, and they didn't like, you know, this is not the environment for me like I like the law. I like law school. But this is not what I thought it was gonna be in it. And I'm not OK with having to respond to emails at 11:00 PM on Friday night. Like I'm not OK with that. I I have other commitments that are more important to me and so they left to do other things because of at that time in their lives that wasn't the most important thing, and they weren't. They understood that a law firm is not going to flex to you, you have to flex to them. And that wasn't a line with who they wanted to be. So, they left. And at that time, I we asked you at that time, Aundrea. That was the first-year associate. I was like working really hard. I had no responsibilities open to myself. You know, I at the time. I'll be honest. I was like, oh, they couldn't hack it. Oh, they couldn't. you know, they couldn't take it. And now I'm like, um I was so wrong. I was so wrong They were way ahead of me in terms of their own development and their own knowing of themselves. It took me a long time to figure it out for myself, but you're absolutely right.

Aundrea: But also, to get to some places you gotta be in the mud other places first. Sometimes people, especially with like teaming like as.

Arivee: It look so easy and when we view it as viewers. Were like, we look so fabulous.

Aundrea: Like you know, I've had so many interns. When you ask them why their just like I just wanted to be on TV? I was like (both laughing). There are easier ways to be on. For real. Because this is not the way to do it if that is your goal like it's just. It’s just so much responsibility you are around. I always tell people. Yes, we are around either on your best day or the worst day of your life. Chances are it's going to be the worst day.

Arivee: How about this year, Aundrea? This year, with so much loss and grief and and just (Aundrea: Oh my god) completely unprecedented. I mean, how has that been for you?

Aundrea: Oh God. It's been traumatizing. Honest. Um because it's like it's one thing to cover a story, but also to be experiencing it in real time along with people. But yet I'm supposed to contextualize it. It's been alot. It’s been so much. But so, I think that one thing that sets me apart in just in terms of like my approach is just my empathy. And I let people feel their feelings, and I feel like I'm pretty unjudgmental at work as to. Just being human. You know and and those are the stories I've pitched or the human stories I've been able to do stories about mental health that I'm really passionate about. Letting moments happen and I think that what I'm most proud of is contextualizing things words, just like “they're protesting about this, this, this and this and over here. You know, people are rioting like, no. We need to give context to this. You know about ok what does holding people accountable look like? Asking people who are now on the bandwagon, where were you. Asking, you know, officials like right now I'm with this vaccine coming out. You know, I've been doing stories about people not believing in it. You know, because there is a historic context to what it you know, there's resistance in the very communities of black and brown communities that were ravaged by COVID and that continue to be. So, you know, asking our elected officials what is your plan? To properly engage those communities in trusting vaccine knowing the context of history and also knowing that you've been criticized for not properly dealing with these communities during COVID. People were just dying importunately so. In all of the trauma has emerged such a purpose in a laser focus. An understanding being that black journalist. (Arivee: Yes) is is such an asset. It’s an asset. And having that per… and understanding really like my perspective. So many people don't understand our perspective, and so they're now just getting on and it's like. So, I'm I'm really happy that I've been able to express myself in ways I have never been able to express myself in my entire career. And I think that my voice is become even more authentic than has ever been…

Arivee: That’s the culmination of your experience getting to this point and the times or is it the time?

Aunder: Both, because you know there are people who are also in the times and also having shared experience who are not speaking, but I feel like because I've had those experiences in Macon Georgia like I had to do it in a in a way that, you know, we're speaking up is not like this sub bold thing. I checked my account. I checked out how much Money I had saved you know what mean. Like you cut through some things. (Arivee: yes) Speaking of feels like a very big risk. Feels like a very big risk. I check my bank account. I I went through my worst-case scenarios in my mind. If it was a liability on my part if, you know, like being called angry or aggressive. Or, you know, as a black or brown woman, is the kiss of death for your career. So, we have to be completely honest about that. However, there was an opening and also there was a knowingness in me and um to where, for me, where I was (Arivee: yes) that was not. So much of a risk. It felt like the risk, and you know, it is a risk, but it wasn't so much where it would silence me because I know the work that I've done. I know the career that I've had I've known the accolades that I’ve recieved I've done things, i've checked the boxes, I’ve had the experiences, so if it's not here and again, it's when I said before, it's about finding your tribe. If it's not here, it will be somewhere else. Like I do believe. This space for me to show up as Aundrea exists, so it was like testing the waters and for me it was. It paid off Like it was really, really good and I think that my coworkers have learned so much more about me and that I do have very much a point of view and it's been respected. You know um so I I appreciate that and that we can have dialogue and sometimes it's difficult dialogue to have, but I can add to it in that factor.

Arivee: Is there, is there anything that you've been doing this year like a routine or practice that has helped you navigate like you said, like the trauma of it all, and the overwhelm of it all?

Aundrea: Therapy. I double it up. I go to therapy every two weeks. Um ever since June, ever since everything kind of like started really blowing up. I started going like every two months before, I would go like every month to 6. Now I’m like see you in two weeks. (Both laugh) Now my boyfriend already ready scheduled. And I can feel it when it's like, what's today's date? OOO, I got my appointment on Saturday morning. (Arivee: Yeah) I feel like I can feel when it's like time for me to talk to her again. And that has been the saving grace because while all of this other stuff has been happening like personally. Things have happened, you know, like personal loss and people pass away in my family or it's just like there's just like, I got a whole life too that I'm trying to navigate, and it is all so much. You know, but that's been free in in what my therapist is really worked with me in and doing, (Arivee: yeah) is not trying to save everybody. Oh, you wanna choose? Like, you know this is needs to happen. I think this had this idea and I have this. She's like, what's in it for you though? Try and do all these things for all these different people.

Arivee: And how did you decide that? How did you decide? OK, these the things I can say no to.

Aundrea: It gets to a point for me where I'm just like I'm trying to navigate. I'm trying to navigate. And then like and then I get a hard no. (Aundrea laughs) This thing is like just; you know to other people. And I'm in, this is this is something that I do need to work on because other people can't sense it because I never really show it out really, I'm feeling it. I'm feeling like it's obvious, but other people I'm not making it obvious to other people. So, I'm doing this like hey, maybe. Hey, maybe this and they're taking it like normal Aundrea, but really, I'm I'm starting to get irritated. I'm starting to get irritated. And then one day, I'm relaxed. I'm done. And then (Arivee laughing) I’m like whoa where did that come from you know. So, I'm working on it. But it just you know, it comes to a point because I've learned that nothing is worth the cost of my mental health. (Arivee: Yeah) Nothing. Absolutely nothing, not even a job I've learned because I was used to be a few years ago at the point where I'm not sleeping. I'm I'm showing up with this smile and I'm dying inside, you know, and it serves in in other people are cheering you on. But who cares? Who cares? You know. So, I I I made that commitment to myself then just a few years ago and uphold that now. And so, I always said, like before this, before COVID and all of it, I prioritized my mental health. Now I am fiercely protective of my mental health.

Arivee: Yeah, especially when there's so many things pulling at you and Aundrea, I’ll honest and it's it's I can shut off the news.

Aundrea: I know right 'cause I.

Arivee: No, I can shut shut it off.

Aundrea: Yeah. And that's the things that. That’s the first thing they tell you to do right, and I can’t.

Arivee: Yes, I'm yes. Yeah.

Aundrea: Yeah, like it's my job and even like with COVID I remember so like being in New York City it. So, they had told it, like everybody had worked from home, right started, who could, obviously, who had the privilege of doing so. So you start, it started saying the trains were empty, but I was still going to work still. Our building was shut down. Actually, CBS HQ got shut down because of the COVID. Because they have, like the first cases, like one of the first outbreaks in New York. So, it was like we knew it was such a big thing and we had been talking about. I started reporting about COVID in February before we knew it was here. So, it was like every single day a story about Covid a story about Covid, but we were still like working normally. There were few things happening. One was like a Elmhurts hospital in Queens which was considered ground zero. We went we're gonna talk to somebody who's working in there. We're just getting some video of it. And we went around the backside, and this was in March, and there was a line, a zig-zag outside and you can only get in that line if you have like moderate to severe symptoms at that point because there weren't tests available and I saw I'm literally was started to panic a little bit. I was like to the photographer. I was like getting the car when leaving. We're leaving. We're leaving. You know, 'cause, It just like hit me about how real that was then, you know, as it was a new virus that they were trying to figure it out. As it was happening, and so before was like, oh, you know, like I wouldn't be in a high-risk category at the beginning 'cause it was like older people who have all these comorbidities. And then I did a story about this 36-year-old who died. (Arivee: Yes.) Was that known Tabaco morbidity. At 38, that jacked me up, I was assigned the like hospital beat, so it's starting to talk to lot of doctors. And., I like having real connections with people and I remember like interviewing them on zoom and stuff like that, and then I would see in their eyes like such an exhaustion. And they're they're not OK. They're not OK. And I don't do well in separating. I feel like my stories are better 'cause I have because I feel all of it right. But I found myself at home. Like. Afraid to go to grocery store? (Arivee: Yeah.) Paralyzed. Like I've got my mat literally one day I had my mask on. I had my gloves on. I have baseball cap on, and I sat on my couch and the grocery store is like connected to my building, it’s not like I had to go far. Do I really have to go to? Maybe I can scrounge up a little something in my cupboard, you know, like and I just was so. It like was paralyzing. And so, I had to, like, talk to my therapist really about, like about that 'cause of the same time like work, the stress level working had gone up, our workflow had been completely. Um just kind of decentralized and so were like I still had to get stories on air. A lot of my stories were like. Some of the lead’s stories in the newscast and I'm having to edit my own stuff it. It's just it just was a lot that, you know, you go, and you see the city with, like empty. Just was like I live near a where I see the highway is always busy and um. It was like no cars, (Arivee: yeah. In New York City.) In New York City like what is happening. So, it was a lot to to process really, I thought at first it was like ok this is a new story like, oh my God, I mean, New York City. The biggest news story line of our time. And it's a privilege It's a total privilege to be able to tell the stories with heart, but I've had to work through it. 'cause it was just. My own feelings about it and you know, but I I channeled that like what I feel like I need to know. I try to do stories that tell people that, you know. (Arivee: Yes.) You know, if I'm hurting, I know. I interviewed enough people to know that, like how I feel is not singular. (Arivee: Yeah.) And so, I searched pitching those stories, or like talking to friends. And like, all saying the same things. I'm gonna pitch those stories to help try to find resources for people to normalize how they're feeling, how to deal with this what do you are marginalized, communities need to know what information holding people accountable to try to maybe save other people. (Arivee: Yeah) from getting it. You know, like it, there's a sense of purpose in it. But I'm also, like, working through it behind the scenes.

Arivee: Yeah, yeah. Yeah, I know. Thank you for that. I I mean. You're on the front lines toO, you know, experiencing it every day. Feeling like it, every day is really challenging 'cause. I can choose not to feel it. Or ignore it essentially. So, Aundrea I have three rapid fire questions for you. Are you ready for em?

Aundrea: Ready.

Arivee: OK. If you could share one piece of advice with your younger self and it could be your younger self of five years ago, it could be 10 years ago you decided well, would it be?

Aundrea: Your instincts are spot on. You may not know how to get from A to point B. Well, what your gut is telling you is right.

Arivee: Amen. If you could share one piece of advice with women who'd like to pursue the career you have. What would it be?

Aundrea: Find your voice first. Your unique voice. And then find your tribe. And then one place doesn't work out for you. It's fine. It doesn't mean that you are inept and can't do the job. You just have to find the place that does work out for you.

Arivee: Yeah. Yeah, it's good advice. Yeah. And the last 1 is what does rise with humility mean to you?

Aundrea: That means that you know that your life serves a purpose. Everyone’s life serves a purpose. And that you are seeking that with all that you have, that you prioritize it, and then you seek it with all that you have.

Arivee: I love that. Oh, I love it. It's so good. Thank you for sharing that and thank you so much for for joining me on the podcast. I appreciate your time.

Aundrea: Thank you so much.

Arivee: You’re so amazing. I'm so, so proud people wanna hear your story. Uhm, this is amazing. Thank you so much.

Aundrea: Thank you. This is great. I can't. I can't wait to listen to more.

Arivee: Awesome

(Music playing out)

Arivee: Thank you so much for listening I really hope you enjoyed the conversation with Aundrea. Here are the key takeaways from our conversation. #1 follow your own instincts. When it comes to knowing when it’s time to move on to the next steps in your career. #2 You don’t have to know what the ultimate end would look like, but put in the work and continue to challenge yourself in finding your skills. #3 Don’t underestimate the power of relationships. Show up by yourself to an in person event when those start up again. And even now be strategic on who you would like to introduce yourself to. What conversations you’d like to do and step out of your comfort zone to build new relationships. Don’t forget about maintaining the ones you have. #4 take advantage of the opportunities that are in front of you right now. You can do something with what you have, right now. #5 It’s the little thing and the little steps that you take over time that add up and produce results. #6 Take stuff off your to do list and I love this because I totally agree including things that are no longer serving you and things you simply need to let go of so that you can continue to do what you need to do and live your purpose. #7 This is the last one, and this is so important especially at this time ok. Nothing is worth the cost of your mental health so be proactive and protect it. Thanks again to Aundrea for sharing with us. My friends take what’s helpful to you and try to apply it in your life with action one step at a time. With that don’t forget to subscribe to this podcast so you don’t miss an episode. If you want my weekly doses of inspiration and motivation, click the link in the show notes to subscribe. And if been asking yourself how to figure out the next step in your career when you’re at that cross roads, or you feel stuck, I’ve got a career clarity guide just for you. Check out the show notes for the link. Until next time, keep stepping into how incredibly powerful you really are.


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