Thursday, December 9, 2010

Think P.I.N.K.: An interview with author and businesswoman Erica Moore-Burton

Erica Moore-Burton moved to the United States in her early twenties with $800 in her pocket and, she says, "a whole lot of faith that I was going to do well as a professional here." She didn't know anyone in the state she moved to, didn't have a job, a permanent place to live or any contacts. Moreover, she admits, she didn't really know what she wanted to do with her life. "I had a myriad of things that I was interested in, but wasn't ever been that person that knew at eight years old that I wanted to be a doctor, lawyer, accountant," Erica says.

Today, she has a successful career as an executive director for a national placement firm, professional speaker/coach, and author. Her book, The Little Professional P.I.N.K. Book of Success, tells her full story, and introduces readers to the P.I.N.K. Principles, which she used to build her career: Passion, Integrity, No Limits and Knowledge.

We caught up with Erica to discuss the book, her life as a writer, and her advice for all of us striving for our dreams!

Tell us about The Little Professional P.I.N.K. Book of Success. What was your inspiration behind this book?

I read an article written by Michelle Obama the other day, and loved when she said, "When you reach any level of success in life, it's not just enough to sit back and enjoy it. You must reach back and help others." Essentially, this book is about me giving back and helping others through my experiences, and my successes and failures in life (both big and small). It started when I worked for a Fortune 500 company and managed an office with over 60 individuals, many of whom were young women just starting out in their careers. I was a mentor to a few of them and was really surprised at the many questions that they would ask, that I thought were basic knowledge. In turn, I thought that an attractive, yet concise handbook would be great to help them navigate their careers.

There is a scary statistic that I reference in the book about individuals not reading when they finish college, so I wanted it to be a quick read, yet really valuable and packed with tools to help women. For those who want more, I have a book list at the end for further reading. My book is a short, yet informative read and has been endorsed by many human resources managers and women that are more senior in their careers too. Most have commented that they wish they had the book when they first started their career, and they also found golden nuggets that helped them in their roles today.

I start the book with talking about finding your passion, and there are exercises to help individuals find their passion from looking at their past. The book goes on to talk about networking, guarding your reputation and using it to help you get to the next level, how to use failure as a tool for success, how to conduct a 360 review with your peer group, finding mentors and getting the best from the relationship and other success principles!

What have you learned through writing this book?

Patience was the biggest thing. Also I learned how to handle being vulnerable. You are very vulnerable to criticism when you put information out there, and through writing this book I had to learn to be comfortable with that. Some people will like it, others won't, which is okay. As long as my message is heard by the right audience and my intention in helping women is met, then I have accomplished what I set out to do. I have been using this mantra lately: "Some will, some won't ... so what next!"

What is your writing routine? Do you write every day? Do you have a certain time or place you write?

It's funny, I don't really have a routine per se. I have to be in the mood to write, and when I am in the mood, I write in spurts. For this book, I wrote every day for a few months. It was typically at the same time of day. There were many days when I didn't feel like writing, but thank God my husband is a motivational speaker, and he helped me on many days with his "work 5" technique. Just write and commit to 5 minutes, that 5 minutes always leads to more. In my case (most of the time) it lead to a few hours! I write in my home office which has brightly colored orange walls and a huge painting of a Caribbean setting -- I kind of feel like I'm on an island when I'm in there, which is very relaxing and conducive to writing. Other places, the usual... Starbucks with a nice latte!

What was your path to publication like? 

Long and as I referred to it earlier, a lot of patience was required. I worked with a couple of different editors which at times was frustrating! Things went wrong along the way, which was frustrating. There were days I was tired of writing, which was frustrating! There were days when I doubted myself... which was frustrating. With all the frustration around me, I kept my eyes on the prize and used some of the visualization techniques that I disclose in the book, and just knew that I would be holding a copy of the book in my hand when it was all said and done!

You are not only a successful writer, you are also a professional speaker and career coach. How do the different components of your life enrich each other, and how do you stay balanced?

I wear a lot of different hats in my life and I think that they all compliment each other well. I love speaking because I think I can really effect change in people's lives by telling my personal stories live. I actually fancied myself as an actress many years ago, and when I'm on stage, I really feel alive and genuinely enjoy teaching others. The personal coaching is really great because I get to work one on one with individuals and build a relationship. When I can see changes before my eyes in their lives and general mindsets, there is an immense sense of gratification. Again, I love helping and connecting others, it feeds me.

How do I stay balanced? Meditation and an attitude of gratitude. I am so grateful for my life, the opportunities that I have had and continue to have; to be living in this country; to have fresh food every day; to the warm water coming out of my shower. Gratitude exudes through every pore of my being for both the big and small things, and with that, it helps me to remain very balanced.

What is your biggest advice for young people reaching for their dreams? 

While you're young, take risks and go for it. When I was younger, the biggest risk I took was coming to America. A lot people talked to me about what I didn't have. I often think about what would have happened if I stayed, and am again grateful that I didn't... even though I was scared. So, my advice is to take lots of calculated risks while you're young and really take advantage of all the wonderful resources that we have available to us.

In the book, you speak about the importance of finding a mentor. Can you speak a bit about what you have learned from the mentors in your life? 

I have had so many mentors that have helped me in so many different ways. I suppose the biggest thing is to use mentors as an additional resource, most of my mentors have suggested efficient ways to get things done. Other mentors have shown me how to really appreciate life and live it to the fullest.

Is there anything else you would like to add? 

I would like to add that it's important not only to read the book, but also to do the exercises at the end of each chapter. In most cases, experience is the best teacher, so by going through the exercises you will really learn a lot about yourself and will be able to use the information to help you in specific areas of growth.

Connect with Erica:

Order the book:


Steve Finnell said...

dallaS,you are invited to follow my blog

Dallas said...

Thanks Steve, I will!