We were lucky to catch up with Tareka Wheeler recently and have shared our conversation below.
Alright, Tareka thanks for taking the time to share your stories and insights with us today. Too often the media represents innovation as something magical that only high-flying tech billionaires and upstarts engage in – but the truth is almost every business owner has to regularly innovate in small and big ways in order for their businesses to survive and thrive. Can you share a story that highlights something innovative you’ve done over the course of your career?
Innovation is key in anything, specially in your career. Being innovative at work means that you contribute ideas and solutions to workplace challenges or problems. Innovators recognize when there’s a need for improvement, and I see myself as a creative problem solver that is constantly seeking out ways to improve processes, environments, and myself. One of the most innovative things I have done in my career, is developed a partnership with a local major TV network to create a space for parents and caregivers to received weekly child safety tips and guidance from childhood injury prevention professionals. This was an innovative approach to not only broaden the reach of the message, but to also give my organization’s partners and stakeholders an opportunity to share their resources and tips as well. I was live every single Monday for two years prior to relocating to the east coast, and that Fox 7 Good Day Austin segment still has a spot today! I am incredibly proud of this innovative and sustainable solution. It provided so many organizational and community benefits, and served as a career milestone and metric that played a significant role in my career advancement at that time.
Great, appreciate you sharing that with us. Before we ask you to share more of your insights, can you take a moment to introduce yourself and how you got to where you are today to our readers
Tareka Wheeler is the Founder and CEO of T. Wheeler Strategic Solutions, a career development and consulting company. She has more than 17 years of experience in project management, operations, and strategic planning. As a Career & Work-life, Tareka helps high-achieving professionals, specializing in women of color and working parents, and parentpreneuers discover their unique value and design career strategies to increase their income all while achieving work-life harmony. She is also the Creator and Host of the Professional DNA Podcast, and challenges her audience each week with thought provoking and energizing conversations to help professionals get ready for the week ahead and advance in their careers.
Tareka has spent her career challenging assumptions and asking thought-provoking questions of herself and others. She believes that knowing and leveraging your Professional DNA, your defined natural ability to succeed, is a way to truly crack the code to being successful and advancing in your career.
Tareka is a wife, mom of three, and a Texas native. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Organizational Communications, and is a Certified Project Management Professional (PMP).
How about pivoting – can you share the story of a time you’ve had to pivot?
I will never forget the way I felt the day I walked away from my “dream job”! It was 2017, and I made one of the biggest pivots in my career. It all goes back 1998, when I found out I was pregnant as a freshman in college. While I was not prepared, I was determined. I unfortunately did not graduate in the traditional four years. Instead, my now husband of 22 years, decided to get married and start a family following his graduation. We followed to plan, had three beautiful children, built a home, and begin to live. I vowed to myself that I would finish my degree and position myself to make a big move and get an offer with my dream company. I did just that! In 2012, I graduated with my BA in Organizational Communications, and soon there after received a job offer for my “dream job”. My family and I moved from Texas to the east coast, and a new journey was underway.
Unfortunately, my dream job ended up not being a dream. While I was thriving with my performance, I was not thriving in the environment itself and eventually, after three years, I had to make a major pivot. I wish I could say it was all rainbows and bunnies, but it wasn’t. I took a $30K pay cut and transitioned into a new industry and field. While it was difficult, it was one of the best pivots I could make for my career and my family. I used this time to reset and become both strategic and intentional about my career. I designed a career strategy, strengthened my professional brand, and started to write my career story! I transitioned into consulting, and quickly begin to demonstrate and articulate my value in an organization that values both my skills, performance, and me as a person. I made up my $30k cut in just two years, and now make more than double what I was making when I took the cut in 2017. My pivot was so significant, because it showed me that I am not where I work, but yet I am Tareka! And Tareka deserves to be fulfilled, happy, respected, and valued.
We often hear about learning lessons – but just as important is unlearning lessons. Have you ever had to unlearn a lesson?
One of the biggest lessons I had to unlearn is that you must strive for perfection. Nothing is perfect, and it took me a very long time to understand that. I would literally chase perfection and fail to reach it every time I tried. You see, I come from a line a powerful, successful, resilient black women. It was an expectation for me to be great in all that I did. Singing, dancing, cheering, track, band, school, you name it! The problem was that I though great = perfection. I would stress myself out and sometimes run myself into the ground chasing what. thought was perfection. I thought I could never do anything wrong. I mean my grandmother, now 92, had two degree, my mother put herself through college with me on her lap, my aunt was a leader in the church, and son on.
The problem is that is trickled into adulthood! I found myself unlearning this need to be perfect. It begin to impact my mental and physical health, my marriage, career, being a mom, etc. No, I strive for excellence, but know that it’s the journey and process that are really important. When I made this shift, life felt lighter and I started to truly see the success and peace in my life that I both desired and deserved.
- Website: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/professional_dna/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ProfessionalDNA/
- Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/tareka-wheeler-pmp/
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCG2mO1ojXn_-G_jmoV3sRaw