Inspiring advice from Essence emeritus editor Susan L. Taylor

The Home Depot’s African American Pulse resource group hosted speaker Susan L. Taylor last week at the company’s Atlanta headquarters as part of a Black History Month celebration.

Taylor was congenial and conversational as she offered inspiring advice to the audience of Home Depot employees and special guests.

The emeritus editor of Essence — who started at the black female-focused magazine with just a high school diploma — kicked off the presentation with a video encouraging viewers to mentor a child.

Among other notable achievements, such as being the first black woman to be inducted into the American Society of Magazine Editors Association Hall of Fame, Taylor is the founder of the National CARES Mentoring Movement.

I was near tears just moments into the video, in which Mariah Carey, Danny Glover, Terrence Howard, Spike Lee, Oprah Winfrey and other celebrities talked about the particular need for mentors to serve African-American youth.

After the video (the above is a shorter version), Taylor talked about a wide range of topics, from how she began in the magazine business to eating for life.

Here’s just some of the inspiring advice from Taylor.

  • “Give from the overflow.” In other words, give of those things that you have in abundance. And you can only do that if you are taking the time to renew and refresh yourself, so that you can build back those reserves. When you’re not giving from the overflow, there’s drama. That drama can occur just about anywhere — in your home, on the job, anywhere there are other humans involved.
  • You have to understand the position you have now, and what it means for you in your life at this particular moment. Think about the route you’ve traveled, and use that to put your current position in context.
  • Recognize and honor your position, whatever it may be. Show up! Remember that you are standing on the shoulders of those who came before you, and do them the honor of working with excellence.
  • Whatever your “job,” make it a goal to become a good writer. That skill is useful no matter your position.
  • “We are human and divine. We are creative intelligence.” Taylor recounted a story about how she was living paycheck to paycheck, with just barely enough to pay her bills. She’d lost her faith. But something inside told her to stop running. Stop chasing. Just stop, and be still. When she did exactly that the next day, sitting on her bedside, an idea popped into her mind. With a phone call to a beauty school offering her consulting services, she increased her income by 40 percent. The divine could speak to her in the stillness. The creativity produced an idea that created a solution.
  • Be present for yourself. Say “I am more than enough. I have more than enough.”
  • Although the divine can truly make things happen, you have to do your part. Develop a plan. Ask yourself, “What do I want in five years? In 10 years?”
  • “Learn to love goodness.”
  • “Fire anyone in your life who doesn’t support you,” and that includes your internal judges!
  • Ask yourself, “What are the sacrifices or moves I need to make now to put me in the best place later?”
  • Be an expert on yourself, and don’t let anyone else play that role for you.
  • “The wisdom is within. Listen to that still, quiet voice.” Take quiet time for yourself.
  • Wake up every morning with a smile and words of gratitude and thanksgiving. For years now, I’ve been saying a simple “Thank you, God, for waking me up this morning” when I arise. But over the last week, I can attest that adding a smile makes a difference. It sets the tone for the day. I have smiled and laughed more throughout the day when I added that small gesture first thing in the morning.
  • Whenever you’re feeling sad, depressed, confused, angry — any emotion that is “off” — ask “What have you come to teach me?” Then, listen for the answer.
  • The food industry has figured out what our palettes want, Taylor said. She prefers salty over sweet, and eats olives to satisfy that craving. But she’ll take one or two of your potato chips if you have any! “Eat to live,” Taylor said, “not just because it tastes good.” And exercise at least 20 minutes a day. You need the serotonin — the feel-good hormones — that cardiovascular exercise produces. Taylor said, why go to a doctor for a prescription when the Holy Spirit has built in us exactly what we need!


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