Photo by Todd Zimmerman

How I kept my momentum

“My daughter is an extremely hard worker,” Denise Uzzelle of Lancaster, TX told msnbc before competing as a finalist in Philadelphia’s Grow Your Value contest. “But I want her to know what it is like to love what you do and work for yourself without having to struggle like we did when I was raising her as a single parent. My goal is to build a company that I can leave to her that is not just a financial success, but also a social endeavor that delivers positive change for others.”

The founder of a human resources company and spouse of a U.S. Army veteran with disabilities, Uzzelle is leading social change by improving the lives of veterans who have entered the civilian workforce. She is preparing to launch Operation Vet Works—a company initiative providing organizations with retention programs focused on long-term employment outcomes for veterans. In April, she was selected as a Grow Your Value finalist as part of the Know Your Value event series led by Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski to empower women in the workplace.

After Know Your Value:

We left Philadelphia’s Know Your Value conference with a renewed sense of self, our value and a little bit of an attitude. We recognized that we needed to sit up straighter, be more confident, be able to communicate our value and ask for what we were worth. We laughed. We cried. We learned. We celebrated. Then we came home. 

The hardest thing about coming home after such an inspiring event is the risk of losing the momentum. On good days I’m standing in my superwoman pose ready to take on the world. On bad days I’d rather hide under the covers than face the world. The truth of the matter is that the journey is filled with highs and lows and that’s okay. Most days I’m somewhere in the middle, working hard to turn every opportunity into a win. Here are my tips to help you keep your momentum in your professional life.

Break old habits:

The first thing I did when I came home was watch my pitch from the competition. The second thing I did was block out the little voice that told me I didn’t win because I did this wrong, said that wrong and so on. Not only do you have to know your value, but you must also remind yourself of it – often. Break the old habit of being your own worst critic by not letting negative thoughts sing solo to background music of your life. 

Find value partners:

I’m passionate about empowering organizations that hire veterans to retain them long term, but failed to communicate why I was the one to lead the charge. Take a step back to evaluate where you may be missing opportunities to share your value. I suggest finding a ‘value partner’ or mentor. It may be a corporate partner or your co-worker – someone who sees your strongest assets and will help you communicate your strengths. Whether it is your online bio, your resume or a product that your company is launching, take an objective look and make sure that the value you bring is loud and clear. Finding someone who believes in you will give you that extra boost.

Fuel your mission:

I connected with a young lady who was sex trafficked by her mother as a teen and she sent me every practice video of her Grow Your Value pitch. I encouraged her to verbalize her value and strength, rather than emphasize how great everyone else who helped her was. I also invited a female veteran to the Philadelphia event and after attending, she was inspired to start a youth program empowering young girls. The funny thing is that these ladies think I helped them when honestly, they helped me. I found that I am more energized, determined and happier when sharing with others how to identify and celebrate their value. We refuel by helping others. If you ever feel like giving up, give back.

Take action:

Once you know what your mission is and recognize your value, you have to get moving. The event helped me grow my network but I still find myself questioning how to tap into it. Because I want everything to be just right, I retreat into my comfort zone of waiting for perfection before engaging with others. So every day I’m taking action to avoid being paralyzed by the pitfalls of perfectionism. Slowly but surely, I’m reaching out to my network ready to ask for help or provide it.

What I’ve found is that there is an unspoken commitment among the women of Know Your Value to support each other. If you attended but haven’t nurtured your network, take action and reach out. If you haven’t attended then don’t miss the next conference! You may even consider submitting a video to the Grow Your Value contest. You never know what could happen, but if you don’t take action you are guaranteeing that nothing will.

You can watch Uzzelle and her fellow Grow Your value finalists compete for a $10,000 bonus during Philadelphia’s Know Your Value event here.

How I kept my momentum