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Gen Y has been dubbed the “entrepreneurial generation,” as many millennials are passing up corporate jobs to be at the helm of something they have created. For most young professionals who attempt to start their own ventures seeing success out of the gate is quite rare, forcing many millennials to work full-time jobs with a handful of side hustles. How can millennials balance their 9-5 jobs and side hustles, hone their entrepreneurship skills and transform their passion into profit? These were just a few of the topics explored at the Young Professionals: Next Level Success panel at Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network Convention.

The panel was moderated by Janaye Ingram, Acting National Executive Director, National Action Network, and featured a line-up of young movers and shakers in the fields of media, advocacy, technology and politics, including Kelli Coleman, Executive Vice President, GlobalHue; Natalie Madeira Cofield, President and CEO, Greater Austin Black Chamber of Commerce & Founder Walker’s Legacy; Demetria L. Lucas, author of “A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life;” Valeisha Butterfield Jones, Co-Founder, Women Entertainment Empowerment Network; Jay Morrison, CEO & President, Young Minds Can; Angela Rye, Founder, IMPACT Strategies; and Amos Winbush III, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, CyberSynchs.

Work-Life Balance

During the panel there was a lively discussion about the concept of work-life balance. The panelists shared their back-stories and tips for juggling all that comes with running your own business and maintaining a personal life. Valeisha Butterfield Jones shared how she pulled inspiration from President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. “To have the President and the First Lady as an example of the perfect balance of your personal life and professional life, I had to ask myself ‘how can I not take the time for myself?’ The First Lady gave some great advice. She said, ‘If you don’t take the time out for yourself your whole family will fall apart.’ So, for me, that’s how I find that balance and check myself and press reset when I start going into overdrive.”

Natalie Madeira Cofield shared a technique that she uses to manage her time. “I schedule my time in fifteen minute increments because that’s actually the amount of time that it takes to process what you told me, figure out if I can help you or figure out if I need to pass you to someone else. When it comes to all the things that we’re managing with our schedules, the efficient use of your time is valuable.”

Demetria Lucas shared how bringing others on her team to lighten the load and make her brand more successful was a major transition for her. “I’ve only been an entrepreneur for about two years now, and one of the biggest mistakes that I’ve made starting out was thinking that I had to do everything. The truth is you can have really great interns and really great assistants. If you take the time to train them, then you don’t have to be doing everything all at the same time,” she said.

Influence Of Pop Culture & YOLO

Later on in the discussion the panelists discussed how pop culture has had an influence on the way the millennial generation handles their finances. They spoke about the term and concept ‘YOLO’, which was coined by rapper Drake, that has held millennials back from making smart decisions. “For our youth the first thing is, we can’t live YOLO. We can’t live every day like it’s our last because every day is not necessarily ouu last. If you’re buying Jordans and you’re buying shoes and you’re buying Gucci bags, you can’t pass that down to your kids. It’s not valued at anything,” said Jay Morrison. “Living every day like it’s your last [actually] means to live responsibly and give your very best. It means being a good steward over your time and your resources,” said Angela Rye.

Amos Winbush III, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, CyberSynchs stressed the importance of making good investments. “Risk is that word that we should really live by. We should stay ahead of the game and ahead of the curve. So if you’re looking to invest look at Tech Crunch, join an angel financing organization where you can put small amounts of money into it and get a percentage of equity in those particular companies or just do E-Trade.”

The panel left the dozens of young professionals in the audience informed and inspired.

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