By 2014, journalist Daniela Pierre-Bravo apparently had what anyone might consider a promising career in broadcast news, rising from NBCUniversal’s prestigious Page show to quickly securing a full-time role on MSNBC’s flagship morning show, ” Morning Joe”.
But despite her achievements, the media professional lived with a silent weight on her shoulders, one that she admitted was filled with fear, anxiety and a sense that she didn’t belong. Pierre-Bravo grew up undocumented and immigrated to the US from her native Chile when she was 11 years old. Her experience of hiding her culture and identity as a teenager followed her into adulthood, where she said she lived by a “multitude of unspoken rules to remain safe in the shadows.”
And while she eventually became a DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipient, the young reporter, intending to be a “model minority,” continued to struggle with these traumas, adding that she constantly felt the need to prove herself. herself at work while she lived. with the uncertainty that her protected status could change at any moment.
But as Pierre-Bravo’s confidence in her abilities grew, including her role as an on-air reporter for the show, so did her determination to reclaim her own narrative, embrace her cultural duality as a competitive advantage, and create a book. of plays for your own vision of success.
That is the basis of his second book this week, “The other: how to own your power at work as a woman of color.” Part memoir, part guide for women of color, immigrants, and children of immigrants, Pierre-Bravo shared some of her main lessons with Know Your Value, including how to help others get out of the margins, advocate for themselves, ask for more, assume space and redefine your own path.
Know Your Value: Following the success of the 2019 book he co-wrote with Know Your Value founder Mika Brzezinski, “Earn It.” – What prompted you to write this book?
Pierre-Bravo: It was an honor to work together with Mika on “Earn It”. She encouraged me to share my story and use it to help other women just starting out in their careers. I wrote about being undocumented, coming from a small rural town, and not having any mentors. The feedback I received from the reader community confirmed that more content was needed that spoke to the struggles of women who have experienced what it means to be deflected.
For immigrants, children of immigrants, and women of color, there are different rules for moving up the career ladder. The same things that made us stand out early in our careers don’t translate to success as we move forward professionally.
Things like working hard and keeping your head down, being overly appreciative of everything to the point where you stop asking for more, going with the ebb and flow of your career instead of backing down when necessary – these are old rules we’ve convinced ourselves. . they are good and safe. This book shows women how to rewrite the rules of their career and move forward with more power and influence.
Know your value: Growing up, what did the label “the other” mean to you? What specific circumstances or experiences reinforced it at that time?
Pierre-Bravo: Being the only immigrant in school and the only Latina in many of the spaces where I grew up reinforced that I was different, but being undocumented made me internalize a lot of shame.
It meant that I was the problem, that I didn’t belong and that I shouldn’t even be here. It meant I had to work three times as hard to prove myself and be on high alert for any clues that might reveal that reality: no one knew about my status, but I suspect many wondered. I grew up with a lot of comments that immigrants were not welcome and derogatory comments about undocumented people. The clear message was that I was ‘less than’ and that I didn’t have to take up space.
I fought to believe those comments, otherwise I wouldn’t be where I am today. But a lot of it stuck with me unconsciously and showed up in nuanced ways along the way. For example, I was often hesitant to speak up at work because I thought what I had to say wasn’t good enough. I also refrained from ordering more because I didn’t want to seem ungrateful.
Know Your Value: When young women are just beginning their careers, they often operate in survival mode, working tirelessly to “get it right” while writing. When does this backfire?
Pierre-Bravo: When we begin to equate our worth with our productivity as we move forward in our career, it can work against us. Leading and articulating our ideas with more power requires that we do so with ease and confidence. It’s harder to do that if you’re operating with that “customer service” mentality: constantly volunteering for things below your pay level, saying yes to tasks you don’t have the bandwidth for, and not asking for help. when you need it. . Instead, focus on delegating and, in the right context, saying no to things that consume your time and energy and don’t return value to you.
Know Your Value: How does a person’s “otherness,” and in some cases cultural duality, turn into a competitive advantage in the workplace?
Pierre-Bravo: “Otherness” implies that our differences are passive. But in reality, they are our greatest assets and strengths. When we embrace our duality and lean into the multidimensionality of who we are—our different backgrounds, our lived experiences, our cultural knowledge—we can use it as both a hard and soft skill at work. The country is becoming more diverse, which is good for business and ensuring a seat at the table. But we must recognize that value so we can turn it into a competitive advantage at work.
Know Your Value: What’s the difference between networking and what you call “relationship fairness” in the workplace?
Pierre-Bravo: A good substantive network leads to fairness in relationships: a professional relationship that becomes a two-way street. Everyone has value to add, whether it’s a helpful perspective, a skill you can share, make connections for others, or celebrate and support someone’s work. Even if you are young and just starting out, you can find a way to add value to someone. Find out their needs and try to suggest ways you can be helpful, whether it’s help with social media or help researching a topic. Start small and then build on that momentum throughout your career.
Know your worth: What tools helped you discover your sense of “why” – your purpose and mission?
Pierre-Bravo: The first step is to let go of other people’s perceptions or expectations of you and begin to see yourself through your own eyes, through your own needs and goals.
This may be more difficult for immigrant communities. I spoke with several women with an immigrant background who feel a sense of responsibility and even guilt for pursuing the careers their families expect or pursue. sure paid jobs that don’t really bring them joy.
When we begin to live for ourselves and find purpose and heart in what we do, we are better advocates for ourselves. We have that fire in our belly to ask for the things we want and need in our careers.
But if you don’t know your “why” right now, that’s perfectly fine. Take the time to try out different jobs. If your goal right now is to work to save money and pay your rent, go for it! I worked in restaurants for years before moving to New York because I knew I would pay for everything myself. Also know that your “why” can change, you can have different variations and iterations.
Once I got rid of the idea that I needed to fit into a certain box to “make sense” to other people, I explored new ways to develop my purpose. I wanted to be a storyteller, but when I got into the news industry, I was afraid that if I wasn’t just making big news, I wouldn’t be taken seriously.
Ultimately, the core of my “why” turned out to be a mission to help other people feel seen and heard. Once I realized that, I gave myself permission to look for ways to expand that purpose. I found him writing, public speaking, sharing my story, and helping other Latinas and women of color amplify theirs.