B.J. is a Moral Character Analyst at the State Bar of California. She plays a significant role at this prestigious organization by bringing her brand of excellence and using it to review applicants. B.J. managed to travel upwards within the organization. Previously, she worked as a Senior Administrative Assistant for 3 years, and before that as an Administrative Assistant II. Prior to working at the State Bar of California, B.J. was employed at a law firm as a legal secretary for 2 ½ years. Also she was a Site Operations Manager for 6 years, managing 14 staff members, handling operations, and visiting problematic sites to train managers and even replacing some. I share B.J.’s career background to show how vast and far she has traveled As such, B.J. knows a lot about leadership.
When asked to define leadership, B.J. replied with a simple answer “contributions.” She believes that when you’re truly a leader you lead by sharing your knowledge, and building others. B.J. adds that this quality of leading requires courage and strength because there’s always a struggle with haters. But she explained that haters are actually just intimidated because they want to inhibit winners who pose a threat to them.
When asked if B.J. had any role models to shape her into the person she is today, she shared that her family provided strong role models. Her mother, J.M., and her grandfather, G.L., set great examples of the leadership that B.J. embodies. She also added that Oprah has provided a great role model too. But B.J. maintained that her family - the people she saw every day, who loved and protected her, contributed the biggest impact on her life.
B.J. has a positive influence on her loved ones and associates. Moreover, her friends have her back and support her to be the person she is. B.J.’s recognizes how helpful her friends are, and she supports others to be the individuals they were intended to be. She’s selective about her friends and purposely stays away from “negative” people. B.J. learned this lesson way back in middle school, and her discernment has served her well. When she learns that friends are of a negative nature, she cuts them loose. B.J. is confrontational at times so she does not allow others to waste her time. This quality is especially crucial in dealing with haters. Furthermore after haters reveal their true colors, B.J. accepts them as they are, forgives them, and then moves on without them. The key is that she forgives them. That’s a powerful step that’s often overlooked when people interact with others. B.J. endorses remembering, although we must forgive, so we don’t allow that line to be crossed again.
To maintain her leadership on a team, she always shines. B.J. always brings her uniqueness wherever she goes. She stays on her A-game. What keeps B.J. in a class of her own is that she strives for consistency and excellence. Many of us choose one or the other. (I’ll be consistent but let’s negotiate excellence. Or I’ll be excellent, but just don’t ask me to be consistent about it.) Yet she strives for both daily. B.J.’s ability to shine began in her formative years. She listened to her mother who told her that she could do whatever she put her mind to. As a result, B.J. made things happen in school for herself: great grades, sports, modeling, singing, and acting.
One of her philosophies is to, “Be yourself, and the best will follow.” This expression upholds authenticity. In other words, when you’re authentic, good things will happen. And B.J. reminds us that good things do happen to those who wait. It’s all about patience. She lives by the words, “Treat people how you want to be treated.” This is a powerful perspective because B.J. made the connection that the way we treat others is the way we want to be treated. So, it raises the standard on how we treat others since we want to be treated well. Another interesting philosophy of hers is that no one has to lose in order for her to win. In fact, everyone can win. A real leader can still stand there leading without anyone losing. B.J.’s harmonious brand of leadership reminds me of an Oprah life lesson. “Truly successful, powerful people want other people to be empowered.”
She’s well aware of her uniqueness because she’s always been complimented on this quality. Throughout B.J.’s life, her loved ones have recognized and told her that she offers a different type of friendship and relationship than they’ve experienced. B.J. brings her excellence into her personal life as well, and that is unique. She shared that she benefited from her mother and grandfather demonstrating their uniqueness and courage to be authentic.
Having her own strong sense of leadership has kept B.J. self-directed. During tough times, she’s managed to take the obstacles and make them work for her. For instance, B.J. was raised in a strict household. Her activities were limited to getting good grades and focusing on homework. B.J. was only allowed to see friends and family. That was a lot of pressure on her as a young person to stay so focused while growing up in a busy city. But B.J. took this obstacle, and made it work for her by allowing it to mold her into the woman she is today. The strictness of her father was ultimately protective and communicating value for her even though she didn’t understand the reasoning when she was younger. Furthermore, B.J.’s leadership skills carry over into her adulthood. She takes the initiative whether it’s at work, or in her finances, or in her personal matters. B.J. does not wait for someone else to take care of business.
B.J. offered 3 pieces of advice for aspiring leaders:
1. Never let anyone stand in your way.
2. Use negativity to disprove others. In other words, don’t let negativity break you. Challenge it by proving your success.
3. Maintain your own positivity.
In remaining thoughts on the topic of leadership, there’s a poem that has also left an impression on her; “Phenomenal Woman” by Maya Angelou. B.J. appreciates how knowledgeable Maya Angelou is and how her lessons are still relevant today.
By Ruby Fa'agau