Working with Purpose vs. Passion & How to Tell The Difference with Taina M Brown

November 7, 2021

Yellow background with photo of Taina smiling and looking to the side. Text says Guest Speaker on Compassionate Side Hustle Strategy: Working with Purpose Vs. Passion and How to Tell The Difference with Taina M. Brown

Description and Show Notes

Are you staying in your 9 to 5 because you believe you have no other choice? Also, what's the difference between working hard because you love what you're doing and working hard because capitalism has taught us that our value depends on our level of productivity?

Taina M Brown (she/her) is the founder and CEO of Taina M Brown, LLC, a coaching and consulting firm offering career and leadership coaching to new and emerging leaders and equity and inclusion consulting to organizations that are mission-driven.

One red flag question to consider: "Is the bullshit of this job more or less than I'm willing to put up with?" Other topics include: How to tell what your next best move is, if you're staying where you are because you believe you have no choice, and whether you're ready to quit your 9 to 5 (for reasons that may not be financial).

Taina's links to keep in touch:


Rochelle: Hey, Taina. Thank you for joining me today.

Taina: Thanks. It's so good to be here.

Rochelle: Yeah, I'm really glad that we're connecting here. And I'm super excited to hear what you have to share.
Just to get us started off, what is your side hustle?

Taina: My side hustle is, I am a career coach and DEI consultant.

Rochelle: Tell me about that. How long have you had it? What's it been like so far?

Taina: Yeah. I actually got into coaching years ago, when I was working at a church.
I was an administrative coordinator and volunteering my time coaching young professionals
and college students on everything from spiritual matters to life in general to career stuff.
And so that was maybe 10 plus years ago. A few years ago, when I was getting ready to wrap up graduate school,
I was just kind of thinking about what my next steps were going to be, what I wanted to do, what I enjoyed doing.
And coaching was the one thing that I have just always really loved doing.
I've always just kind of loved walking alongside someone on their journey and providing support.
And I decided to marry my undergraduate and graduate education with coaching.
And that's how I also got into the DEI consulting world.
My academic background is in women's Gender and Sexuality Studies and in humanities.
And so that really informs my DEI consulting as well as my career coaching.
So as a side hustle, I've been doing this for about two years now, two and a half years.

Rochelle: That's awesome. And I love that you were able to marry the two together, because I think that's just like the best of all worlds.
To bring your expertise and your passion and your intent to create change in the world and positively affect the communities that you care about.
That's wonderful. And I've personally had the honor of being coached by you so I know how helpful it was.
Obviously, a fan. Just to back up kind of broad picture. How would you define coaching?

Taina: Yeah. That's a really good question.
Because I think a lot of people have an idea of what coaching should look like.
And there's a lot of ambiguity around it, especially with the plethora of coaches that you can find on Instagram and Tik-Tok and LinkedIn nowadays.
And the thing with coaching is that, it's not necessarily regulated, it's not a regulated industry.

Rochelle: No, anyone can say they're a coach.

Taina: Exactly. Anyone can just be like, "I'm a coach now, let me coach you."
But there are certain principles that are important in coaching.
There is an organization that was started by coaches for self-regulation.
And so, there are certain certification programs that are out there that are accredited by this organization.
It's called the International Coaching Federation or ICF, for short. And so, my certificate in coaching is accredited to them.
And so, I've gone through the training, I've done the work on the front side,
or on the front end of just like educating myself on what those principles are, and how not to create harm when you're coaching someone,
which is the most important thing when you're dealing with people in general.
I think coaching is very different from counseling.
It's very different from consulting.
It's very different from talking with your best friends and trying to get advice on what to do next.
Coaching is a transformative process that happens when someone is able to acutely listen to what you have to say,
in order to mirror back to you what you're saying, and then ask the right questions so that you get to the conclusions yourself.
And so, what I've found is that like in just connecting with others so called coaches online, not every coach uses that model.
And in that case, I would not call that coaching, I would call that mentoring or consulting.
The last thing you want to do as a coach is give specific advice.
Because you want the client to be able to reach their own conclusions and you want the client to be able to decide for them what is best for their life.
Because at the end of the day, it is their life.
And that's where the real transformation happens when the client has that kind of like aha moment and as a coach, you're really just here to facilitate that moment.

Rochelle: That's a good way to put it.
You're there to facilitate, but it's really about them and their process and their transformation.
You yourself as a coach and doing the business that you have, can you tell me if you've ever found yourself struggling with self-compassion,
like when it comes to your business or any ways that you tend to be hard on yourself as a business owner?
Taina: Oh, absolutely, absolutely. First of all, I am like a workaholic just by nature.
Like I'm just the kind of person that I'm just like grinding all the time. Not necessarily because I'm like hustle culture,
I'm not a #hustle culture kind of person. But I just enjoy work in general. I'm just one of those people, one of those maddening people that really enjoys working.

Rochelle: Yeah, totally understand that.

Taina: And also, I think this is one of the ways that my education has also informed my coaching practice,
in that I have been able to take a step back and analyze the societal structures that inform how we operate on a day-to-day basis.
And so that's something that I've studied for years in college and graduate school whether or not you want to call it what it is,
which is obviously like patriarchy and capitalism and things like that.
So, whether or not you call it those things, or you believe that that's what's really happening, those are the things that exist.
And those are the structures that inform how we operate, how we deal with relationships, how hard we work, or how hard we don't work.
And so, at the end of the day, the bottom line is that we've all been socialized to live in this society, which is structured around capitalism.
The ideas behind capitalism is intense productivity. It's the transfer or the--Not the transfer, the exchange of bodily labor for products.
So, when we live in a society that's like that, the idea that we have to be productive, that our value, that our worth, is inherent to what we produce, becomes second nature to us.
And so, which you could argue is one of the reasons why I am a workaholic. It's one of the reasons why I enjoy working.
Because I find value in that. I find value in myself in the work that I produce.
And so, it's always difficult for me to take a step back and be like, "Okay, not necessarily that I'm producing too much but I also need to prioritize other things."
That work is not the only thing that matters, that productivity is not the only thing that matters.
But that relationships matter, that rest matters, that participating in hobbies matter, enjoying the sun matters.
The touch of the bare Earth on your feet, that matters.
Those are constantly things that I'm not necessarily fighting against but I have to constantly remind myself of those things.
Because if not, I will just keep going, going, going and so it's always interesting when I have those moments
because it's always like right after I'm talking to a client about the same thing.
And then two days later, I have a gut check and I'm like, "I am not practicing what I just told that client that they should be."
That maybe that's what they should be working on or the conversation that I have with that client is because they're burnt out and now I find myself in the same situation.
And so that is the one thing for me that's always like, "I need to take my own advice when it comes to this."

Rochelle: That also seems like a really nice side benefit of being a coach is that you get reminders for yourself coming from yourself too.

Taina: Yes, yes. It's also out of body experience. Yes.

Rochelle: Yeah, yeah. You mentioned something about hustle culture versus you loving what you do and working a lot.
For someone who can't really tell the difference, how would you differentiate between hustle culture and your natural tendency to work and enjoy work versus influence of capitalism?
How do you know which one you're in?

Taina: Yeah, no, that's a great question. That's a really great question.
And I think the line is when it stops becoming enjoyable. When it's no longer something that brings you joy or pleasure to be doing.
And that doesn't mean that you quit working. But maybe you need to take a break.
Maybe you need to just like take a day off or take a vacation or reprioritize your to do list so you're not working as late.
Because maybe it's just a matter of you're just working too many hours in the day.
Maybe it's a matter of just restructuring your days so you have more free time in the evenings, or in the middle of the day, or in the morning, whatever works for you.
And so that's always my barometer, when it stops becoming enjoyable.
At that point, I need to reevaluate why I'm doing this, because the why has shifted without my full attention or my full control over what that why is.

Rochelle: That's a great way to look at it.
I'm starting to get more and more curious as you keep talking because I'm like, "Oh, but what about" For the example of someone who hates their day job,
and they're in a vocation that they just they don't like and they're stuck in it for I don't know, financial reasons or whatever.
What is it then like because they don't actually like the work, but maybe they enjoy providing for their family or that kind of situation? How does it work, then?

Taina: Yeah. One, I think that's a really loaded question. Because that brings to mind all these other questions and ideas that we have about what work is supposed to mean.
There's the whole idea of do what you love, you'll never work a day in your life, which is utter bullshit. That just isn't true. And so, it feels good to say it, but that isn't true.

Rochelle: Feels nice. Looks good on the postcard.

Taina: Exactly. Exactly. Like hang that up on your wall and see how long it stays there.
It brings to mind all these different ideas around what we mean when we say work, the value that we place on those things
and just the differentiation between work for purpose, work for passion, are those two things the same thing?
Are they different things? And funny enough, I was just having a conversation about this with my supervisor today and with my wife a couple days ago.
And it wasn't the exact same details, but it was along the similar vein of thought.
And the bottom line is with work, first of all, no matter what job you have, whether you have a side hustle,
or whether you're working for someone else, it's never going to be 100% the greatest job in the world.
There are going to be things about that job, about the work that you do that you're not going to enjoy, that you're not going to be good at or you're not going to want to do.
Because we live in this capitalist structure which demands so much productivity of us. And because people are people.
When you're working with other people, you're rubbing up against different personalities,
you're rubbing up against different working styles, you're rubbing up against other people's trauma, you're rubbing up against your trauma.
There's so much that goes into a working environment.
And so, what we really have to consider is, first of all, is this job meeting my needs?
Does it pay enough to meet my needs and for me to have a comfortable life? And by comfort I don't mean making a million dollars.
But I also don't mean like just the bare minimum.
I mean something that allows you to enjoy your life outside of work, allows you to be able to take vacations, to make a doctor's appointment if you need to.
And that's another vein of thought about work. When we're talking about what work means, then we're getting into the conversation of living wages.
But that's a different conversation for another day. But if it is providing enough for you to have a comfortable life, then at that point then you need to decide.
And this is exactly how I put it to my wife. Is the bullshit of this job more or less than I'm willing to put up with.
And so, if it's more than you're willing to put up with, then maybe it's time to pivot or transition into another role.
If it's less than you're willing to put up with, then you're in a good spot.
You're in a good spot because it's not maxing you out when it comes to the amount of bullshit you want to deal with on a day-to-day basis.
That's how I think of work when I'm working one on one with my career coaching client. And when I do career coaching,
I do a little bit of career coaching and a little bit of consulting.
Because I've had so many different types of jobs and careers and I'm connected to so many different industries through my personal network.
I do a little bit of consulting and coaching, that goes hand in hand.
When I'm working with my career coaching clients, that's how I put it to them.
No job is going to be 100% perfect, but you have to decide what percentage of not perfect you're willing to deal with.
Now, if it's something that is completely horrible, not paying the bills, not allowing you to live a comfortable life,
and maybe even making you question or making you do things that are not within your integrity, which you might be having to.
Like maybe the sales stuff is just outside of your own ethical or moral integrity.
I think at that point, that's when you really have to consider, is this role the best role for me?
Is it possible for me to transition into another role in the company? Is it possible for me to pursue something else?
What's the best move for me at this point?
Because the longer you stay there, the more miserable you're going to be and you're just going to keep burning out.
And eventually, you're just going to have one of those moments where you just quit with no plan in place and that's never a position you want to be in.

Rochelle: Yeah, I wish that I had your advice back when I was turmoiling through all of my previous jobs.
I was like, "I don't understand what's going on and why I hate this job and I have to stay here and all that stuff, which I think that a lot of people feel."
We feel like we have to do whatever it is, which obviously isn't true and there are other ways to live the kind of life that you want.
And, yeah, so important to remember that we do have choices and we have ways of gauging whether something is worth it.
I love yours, where you just measure the amount of bullshit. How much of it is that really?

Taina: It's that simple. It's that simple. I mean, I agree with your sentiment. I wish I had my own advice when I was younger.
Because there were a lot of jobs that I stayed in because I felt like I had no choice.
Because I either felt like I didn't have a choice or I felt like I wasn't sure what I would do.
And that is when you're on the cycle of just like 24/7 productivity, you don't have time to take a step back, sit down,
and really think through what you want to do or what your next step should be. And so, if you find yourself in a position or in a job,
where you don't even have time to consider what else you would want to do or what else you couldn't be doing, then that to me is also a red flag.
That's a clear indication that you're working too much, that you are exhausted,
that you're burnt out, because you don't even have the mental or emotional capacity to think of other possibilities.
And so, that's one of the ways that capitalism functions to just suck our soul. When people say soul sucking jobs, that's what they mean.
It's soul sucking because you don't even have imagination anymore.
It just sucks the imagination out of you because you're just constantly going to the point of not having anything left over for yourself.

Rochelle: That makes so much sense.
I think that's probably a lot of the trouble that we have when we're starting a side hustle or trying to maintain it or scale it,
where you're just not giving yourself enough time to create that creative environment for yourself because you just can't.
You're either at your job or you're forcing this thing that you hope will take off on the side.
And it's like, well, that's not really the best environment for your best work to come through.

Taina: 100% agree. 100% agree. And I think if you are working a nine to five and starting or working on a side hustle at the same time, that's what I'm currently doing.
And my gauge for knowing when to quit my nine to five, it's based not just on how much revenue I can bring in on my side hustle
but it's also based on what I get to the point where I no longer have that creative space to even work on my side hustle
then I know that this nine to five is also no longer working for me.
And so, at that point, I need to make a decision.
Am I going to just work on the nine to five? Is that just going to be it.
Or if I'm really invested in my side hustle, then I need to either have a talk with my supervisor about capacity issues
or I need to downscale how much work I'm putting out for someone else.
Whether that means, going part time or finding another part time job or working until I save enough so I'm comfortable in order to my work on my side hustle 100%.
Whatever the plan is, at that point, I need to make a plan.
Because the whole point of starting a side hustle is so you have that creative outlet.
Because not everyone wants to scale their side hustle to seven, like multiple seven figures, which is totally fine.
There's no need for that if that's not what you dream of. But if you start a side hustle, it's obviously for a reason.
And so, once it gets to the point where you can no longer focus on what that reason is,
then you need to have an honest conversation with yourself about what changes need to be made so you can recalibrate.

Rochelle: What would you say is the best part about being a coach and doing the coaching and consulting work that you do?
Taina: Yeah. I love the transformation that my clients go through and I love that I'm also able to bring all of the education that I have student loans for into my coaching practice.
There's this being that's a reality that a lot of people, they have this education, and then they end up working in a position
or in an industry that may or might have from little to nothing to do with the education that they got. I think that's a reality of the world that we live in now.
And so even though it's not directly tied to the education that I got for myself, it still informs my practice.
And so, I'm able to bring in feminist principles, I'm able to bring in an analysis of power, I'm able to bring in black feminist liberation talk in how I engage with my clients.
I think that adds another level of transformation for them. Because then they feel validated, then they know "Oh, it's not just me."
I'm not just crazy for thinking that the world is like that shit crazy and forcing me to work so hard for no real reason other than just making money and making somebody else rich.
And so, when I bring in that analysis of power and all of those like feminist principles, they're like, "Okay, this makes sense to me.
I feel validated and I feel understood and I now I know why this works the way that it does."
Okay, so now what can I do about it? And then the plan after that, the transformation after that, the implementation that happens after that is more contextual and it's more holistic.
As opposed to just, "Oh, yeah, this is just a checklist for me to do to try to have a better life kind of thing.

Rochelle: Yeah, I resonate with that a lot. My college degree was architecture.

Taina: Oh, wow.

Rochelle: I thought I was going to be an architect.
I have a professional out of state degree in architecture and ended up totally not going that way.
But when I'm not pissy about the student loans I'm paying off, then I can see the correlation.
I'm like, "Well, I see the big picture." I have that design part of my brain activated. I'm solving problems with physical things or structures or processes and things like that.
I totally get what you mean about applying what you learned.
And it doesn't even have to be about the same topic for you to see the value in it and see the value that you bring to something that might be completely different.

Taina: Yeah. I had no idea about your architecture background.
But that makes so much sense now, like thinking back to some of your incident stories that I've seen where you're building things or crafting.
Doing all that like really tangible, like tactical kind of hobbies. Yeah, that totally makes sense.

Rochelle: Yeah, I'm trying to fulfill the craftiness in a different way other than making models of buildings. I have a couple questions left for you.
I have to ask you about your autoresponder for your emails.
Because I think it's just a brilliant way to set boundaries for yourself and for others and set that expectation for people. Would you mind talking about that?

Taina: Yeah, sure. I actually saw somewhere. I saw someone else do that. It wasn't through an email.
Oh, I remember who it was. For my nine to five, one of our community partners that we work with, she has a line at the bottom of her email signature that is similar to my autoresponder.
But it was only while she was on vacation that she had that on there. I sent her an email while she was on vacation, and I saw it bounce back, and then it had that line on her signature.
And I was like, "Well, that's a really interesting way to communicate boundaries with people."
And so, I was like, you know what? I'm going to do this with my side hustle email because I check it every day but I don't always respond every day.
And there were a couple situations where I didn't respond to something and then the person emailed me back, like the next day, and so it was less about the intrusion of boundaries,
but more about just letting people know this is the pace at which I operate. Like come join me in this pace.
Not like, take a step back and chill out but more of, let's do this together, let's operate this together.
And so, my autoresponder says that I intentionally check my email every 24 to 48 hours.
And because of that, it takes me 48 to 72 hours to properly respond to an email.
And I add in a note that that is an intentional practice that is intentionally in opposition to the hustle culture that all of us are so accustomed to.
And so, I started doing that maybe about two months ago, maybe a little less than that.
And I've gotten great feedback.
I haven't had anyone so far be like, "What are you doing?" This is wild.
It hasn't been a lot of feedback but the people who have responded to the autoresponder have been like, "Thank you for letting me know.
I love that now I know the pace that you work at or I think this is great." And so it's been nice to have that feedback.

Rochelle: Yeah, it's awesome. You're right about it being like a way for you to call people in to join you.
You have an explanation for it.
It makes the person sending the email stop a little and go like,
"Oh, I guess I am expecting her to be reading this at this very moment and about to respond to be like,
"Nope." Well, she just said that she may not so we can move on with our lives.

Taina: Exactly. Exactly. And I think that's the point too.
A lot of times when we're communicating with people, we're used to instant communication because of text messages,
or because of face-to-face conversations or phone calls, or even like things like Slack. And so, we're used to immediate responses.
And we forget that not everyone is on our schedule, not everyone is operating at the same pace, and that you're not entitled to an immediate response.
Nobody's entitled to an immediate response. And that's okay. That's actually a good thing. And one thing I forgot to mention is that there is a caveat in there.
If it is an urgent message, I have a line in there saying, "If this is urgent, just resend it with a subject line urgent and I'll respond as soon as I can."
And if it's from a client, I try to respond sooner than the 72 hours.
Because sometimes client work requires not necessarily an instant turnaround,
but a faster turnaround, because of the nature of the work that I do.
Because if I have a career coaching client, who is like, "I'm having this issue with my boss today and I have a meeting with them tomorrow to talk about it."
I don't want to leave that person out in the cold. I want to make sure that I'm there to provide the support. So, if it is a client, I tend to respond faster than that.
But in general, that's the rule.

Rochelle: The need for instant gratification trickles into like, even our marketing and social media,
I think about people who are like, "I'm not getting any engagement on whatever it is that they posted."
I'm like, "So you mean you didn't get triple digits of double taps on Instagram within 24 hours and that's what's upsetting?"
You actually expect hundreds of people to see your stuff and then give you the interaction that you were hoping for and it's just like,
"Well, we could apply that here too." Maybe people have their own lives and they're not so invested.
Maybe they thinking about other things. I think that boundary setting and being aware of your expectations and other people's expectations is just helpful all around.

Taina: Yeah, yeah. But the Instagram thing used to really bother me with my friends, because I'd like work hard on this content.
And then none of my friends would like it. Yeah.
And I'd be like, "What the hell you guy?" But the thing is, social media, it's literally 24/7 news cycle.
98% of the time they weren't even seeing my content.
Like it wasn't even like coming up on their feed because either they weren't checking Instagram that often or they follow so many people,
or just so many reasons why they weren't seeing it.
Then I was like, "You know what? I need to get go of this expectation." This is unhealthy.

Rochelle: And really it's unhealthy. But it's also because we're just trained into these unhealthy habits
because it's the whole point of Facebook and Instagram is that they design it hoping that people will get addicted to it
and be on it all the time because it's their revenue maker. That's another whole conversation to have.

Taina: Yeah. Oh, yeah.

Rochelle: Yeah, it's just so complicated.
It's way more than just like, this is how I expected other people to interact with my content, or even with my emails, or anything like that.
It's all about expectations and where we're coming from and what we expect.

Taina: Yeah, most definitely.

Rochelle: Okay. So, if you could give our listeners any advice when it comes to being more compassionate,
having more compassion for either themselves, or the people that they hope to help with their side hustle, what would it be?

Taina: I think what I would say is that failure is not your enemy.
And this is something that I have had to learn over a lifetime and I'm still learning.
Every time I feel like I failed at something. And I read this book a few years ago as part of my grad studies by an author named Adrienne Maree Brown.
She has a few books out. She's got Pleasure Activism, Holding Change, We Will Not Cancel Us.
She has a fiction anthology called Octavia's Brood. And then she has a book called Emergent Strategy.
And so, Emergent Strategy is all about how we shape change and change the world. And it's written from her perspective as an organizer and facilitator.
And the book is parsed out into different principles of emergent strategy.
And one of the principles of emergent strategy is that failure is not like the end, all be all, that failure is actually part of the learning process.
And I think whenever you're starting to build something from the ground up, there's a lot of failure involved.
There's a lot of trial and error when you're working with clients, and you're hoping to provide transformation.
There's a lot of failure in that. There's a lot of trial and error.
And we tend to think of failure as a destination.
We think of success and failure as destinations that we arrive at.
And that is not the case. Because let's use the example of graduate school. If you graduate graduate school successfully, your life doesn't end. You keep on living.
There's more that happens after that.

Rochelle: Yes.

Taina: So, it is not a destination, it is a step in your journey.
And so, I think as a society, as human beings, we've learned to accept that about success, but we haven't applied the same energy to failure.
And we need to in order to be okay with failing. Because the only way you lose out when you fail is if you don't learn something from it.
If you don't take a step back to debrief with yourself, or with your client, or with your family, and say, "What have we learned through this process?"
And how can we adapt? Any success or failure is just an opportunity for growth, it's just an opportunity to learn something new, it's an opportunity to pivot,
it's an opportunity for change, and the only constant in life is change.
And if we believe that the only constant in life is change, then we have to believe that failure is a part of that process.
And we have to be okay with it. And I would even argue that we have to look forward to failure.
That we have to welcome it with open arms like the way we would welcome a friend.
A friend who has an advice to share with us, a friend who has wisdom and stories to share with us, that we can then implement into our lives.

Rochelle: Beautifully said.

Taina: Thank you.

Rochelle: Do you have any offers or information on where we can keep in contact with you and learn more about you what you do?

Taina: Yeah, so I have my website. It's my name
And right now, I am actually about to start beta testing a new group coaching program for career group coaching program.
So, I've done a lot one-on-one work with career coaching.
But I haven't done any group programs with career coaching just yet and so I'm putting the finishing touches on that and about to launch that in just a little bit.
So that is going to be coming in at a discounted price, obviously because it's a beta program with the caveat that participants provide me some feedback
so that I can further develop it and just make it better.
And yeah, so I'm looking forward to launching that in just a little bit.
But other than that, you can find me on my website, you can find me on Instagram. I don't post a lot in my feed but I do share a lot in stories.
Just an FYI it gets very political on my Instagram stories because I'm a very political person.
Because I believe the personal is political.
There's no separate our lives from the power structures that we live in.
And I also DEI consulting as an individual consultant, for organizations who have employee resource groups,
or who need a lunch and learn or who needs just like a one-off training on privilege or unconscious bias and what those things mean and how they show up.
But I am also part of a group of consultants called The Rise journey,
which is just a group of us that offer lunch and learns and DEI consulting on like a vast variety of topics for any organization who's looking to do that work with their employees.

Rochelle: Awesome. I'm happy to continue spreading the word about the work that you're doing. Obviously, a big fan of yours.

Taina: Thank you.

Rochelle: Thank you so much for today's conversation and I'll keep in touch with you and we can talk again soon.

Taina: Thanks so much, Rochelle. It was so great talking to you. It always is. Always appreciate you

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