This Is A Custom Widget

This Sliding Bar can be switched on or off in theme options, and can take any widget you throw at it or even fill it with your custom HTML Code. Its perfect for grabbing the attention of your viewers. Choose between 1, 2, 3 or 4 columns, set the background color, widget divider color, activate transparency, a top border or fully disable it on desktop and mobile.

This Is A Custom Widget

This Sliding Bar can be switched on or off in theme options, and can take any widget you throw at it or even fill it with your custom HTML Code. Its perfect for grabbing the attention of your viewers. Choose between 1, 2, 3 or 4 columns, set the background color, widget divider color, activate transparency, a top border or fully disable it on desktop and mobile.
7 Jun, 2017

Ask Nicole: How Do I Develop Thick Skin?

By | 2017-06-06T10:02:50+00:00 June 7th, 2017|Categories: Ask Nicole|Tags: , , |0 Comments

Have a question you’d like to be featured? Let me know.

While working in direct practice and case management, I had a few clients whom I consider to be favorites. One in particular was a middle-age man who came to the agency for services.

When I first met him, he had survived three heart attacks in one month. He sat in my supervisor’s office, crying because he knew he needed some mental health services to deal with the stressors his body was enduring. On top of that, he was dealing with the heartache of losing his partner. The partner’s family blamed him for the death and subsequently refused to allowed my client to attend the funeral (and they also did not disclose where his partner was buried).

Of all the home visits I conducted, his home was also one of my favorites to visit. He was very hospitable and enjoyed showing off the items in his home. One day, as we were sitting outside in his outdoor office (yes…outdoor office), he asked, “How do you do this? How can you work with people that are desperate for help, who have so many problems?” I gave the usual “I like to help people” response, yet his question stuck with me until the I left the agency.

About a year before leaving the agency, I had a hard time getting in contact with him. As someone who readily responded to phone calls and letters and always welcomed me into his home, he was unresponsive. My letters to him were returned to back to sender, his phone was disconnected, and his health insurance was inactive.

I finally contacted his emergency contact—his mother—who informed me that he had died 3 months earlier from a heart attack. I was in a funk for the remainder of the day. The first thing I did when I got home was cry. I had clients who died before him, and several more who died after, but his death hit me the hardest.

I’ve been asked by a few people—in particular social workers—for advice on developing thick skin when dealing with clients and customers. The training and education you receive in school and during your internships will serve you well, but there will be days where your patience is tested. Here’s my advice on how to develop thick skin:


3 May, 2017

Ask Nicole: Advice on Being a Better Health Educator

By | 2017-05-03T12:02:40+00:00 May 3rd, 2017|Categories: Ask Nicole|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

Have a question you’d like to be featured? Let me know.

This month’s question comes from Nichelle, a health educator with a New York City-based health care center. Nichelle writes:

I was hoping to get more information on resources available around reproductive health. I am facilitating a teen group at the health center, and I am not sure if this is up your alley but I wanted general tips on how to be a better health educator overall.  This month’s focus for the group is reproductive rights. I  want to give accurate information while also facilitating meaningful conversations with the girls.

Nichelle requested a phone conversation, so we scheduled a time to chat. Nichelle is based at a local high school and has been given an opportunity to create a series of workshops for young women attending the school between the ages of 14-18. When she held her first workshop earlier in the year on body image, she had low attendance. But when she held her most recent workshop, more students came.  While Nichelle has been given the freedom to structure the workshops however she wants, she was clear on wanting a higher focus on intersectionality as opposed to feminism. I followed up with her after our conversation with the information we discussed, and today I’m sharing my advice based on preparation, implementation, evaluation, and resources.


As a health educator, your top priorities are to 1) provide medically accurate and age appropriate health information and 2) provide that information in a way that is memorable and action-specific. The key here is to start with the end in mind, and work backward. By the time participants leave your workshop, what are 2-3 key takeaways or calls to action you want participants to walk away with, above all else? Don’t overwhelm participants with a laundry list of things to know. You can always pique their curiosity enough so that when they have follow-up questions, you can address them (be it in another workshop facilitation or outside of the workshop).

Starting with the end in mind will give you laser focus on what aspects of a topic you want to cover, the key points you want to share, the resources that can provide additional information, and activities that can bring the information to life. This will help you to create a workshop structure that works for you. Also, an advantage Nichelle has is that she is familiar with the participants, of which they are very open with her about their lived experiences as well as topics they want to learn more about. When you know who’ll be in the space, you spend less time in the “getting to know you” phase and you can get right to work engaging with your participants.


What’s one way to provide health information that’s memorable and action-specific? Have participants teach back what they’ve just learned using the Teach Back Method . The Teach Back Method helps participants retain information because they’re reciting it in their own words, and since they have to teach someone else what they know, it brings up the motivation to get it right. This works out for you as the health educator because it shows where you need to correct any misunderstandings (if any). Also, this takes the focus off of you being the only expert in the room, as participants come into the space with their own lived experiences. In the case with youth, this can be a great way for them to develop skills in peer education.

Another way is to use real-world examples of the topics you’re teaching. In Nichelle’s case, she wants to have more of an intersectional lens on the topics she covers. And since she wants to cover reproductive rights and the right to parent or not parent in her next workshop, how can she do that using a real-world example?


5 Apr, 2017

Ask Nicole: Are Newsletters Valuable?

By | 2017-04-05T09:55:45+00:00 April 5th, 2017|Categories: Ask Nicole|Tags: , , |0 Comments

Have a question you’d like to be featured? Let me know.

I have another question from Jocelyn, a reader from the Raise Your Voice community weekly newsletter. This time, it’s about newsletters. Jocelyn asks via Twitter:

I used [to] send a newsletter out to help maintain a professional/personal network. How do I decide how often [to send out a newsletter, and] if it’s valuable to others? I think I have a clearer focus now than a few years ago, but my work is still broad/not specialized. Appreciate any tips!

Ahhh, newsletters. Also known as email subscriber lists. I started my newsletter back in 2012, mainly because business people I follow would routinely say, “The money is in the list”. You want as many people subscribed to your newsletter so that, when you need to promote something, someone will buy it.

My relationship with my newsletter—everything from the design of it to the content I share—has evolved along with my business. I’m more comfortable promoting my business services as I’ve gotten clearer on what I do, how I want to show up in the world, and what value I want to give. Plus, I give priority to my newsletter subscribers over my social media platforms because social media is saturated and filled with noise. When someone gives their email address to you, it shows that they want to hear directly from you. Also, outside of posting my latest blog posts on my platforms, I tend to go on brief social media detoxes. If you don’t hear from me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn, chances are my newsletter subscribers have.

Along with answering Jocelyn’s questions, here are some things I’ve learned along the way:

Figure out your purpose for creating a newsletter 

Since starting my newsletter, I’ve shifted the way I view my newsletter as well as my newsletter subscribers. I see my subscribers as not only people I want to share information with or people who may one day become clients or collaborators, but also as a larger accountability system.

My “why” for sending out my weekly newsletter is first and foremost to provide value. Outside of my weekly blog post, my subscribers get information on awareness themes (such as National Minority Health Week or World AIDS Day) and ideas on how to raise their voices in their community about these themes, resources and tools related to Reproductive Health/Rights/Justice, design thinking, program evaluation, and other things related to social justice and community collaboration that they can use in a variety of settings, and resources that promote self care and prevent burnout.

Also, my newsletter gives a behind-the-scenes look at all of the ups and downs of being a social worker running a business based on my passions. I may disclose certain struggles or successes in my newsletter than I wouldn’t otherwise mention “out in public” on social media. For example, my newsletter subscribers were the first to know that I was leaving my day job in 2016 to go into my business full time.

Be consistent

This ties into my first point because it’s through becoming clear on why I have a newsletter and what value I want to share that’s allowed the process of creating a newsletter to no longer suck. For 2017, I’ve decided to post a blog and send out my newsletter on a weekly basis, no matter what. If you’ve been a Raise Your Voice subscriber for a while, you know that I’ve been consistent, and not so consistent, so the point where I had to remove “weekly” on my website when promoting my newsletter list. By the end of 2017, I’ll re-evaluate if I want to continue on with weekly newsletters and blog posts.


1 Mar, 2017

Ask Nicole: What Should I Do With “Pick My Brain” Requests?

By | 2017-03-01T03:03:17+00:00 March 1st, 2017|Categories: Ask Nicole|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

Do you have a question to share with the Raise Your Voice community? Let me know. 

I recently got a tweet from Raise Your Voice reader Jocelyn, a social worker and consultant in the Boston area:

I LOVE your emails. Looking for tips on how to make others pay you when they’re seeking “informal” consultations? Any links?

This is something I’ve been going back and forth with for some time. Maybe it’s the social worker in me that just wants to be as helpful as possible. But sometimes being helpful can get in the way of getting work done for my clients and even working in my own projects.

The reason why these requests can be annoying is that they can be very time consuming, and as writer Ruchika Tulshyan shares in “How 3 Successful Women of Color Navigate ‘Can I Pick Your Brain?’ Requests“, you have to create your own criteria for how to handle these requests. I tend to have a soft spot for some people (most notably social work grad students or people interested in entrepreneurship), so it’s not uncommon for me to schedule time for them when I can. If the person is someone I’m interested in building a professional partnership with, I don’t mind having them pick my brain because I’m picking their brain right back.

Here are my recommendations:

Get Money!

Requesting money up front can show people you mean business. Here are some examples:

  • Web designer Krystle Rowry of Kriss Did It: Krystle has a “Kriss Critique” where you pay to do a walk-through of your website design and she provides areas of improvement. She also has a “Pick My Brain” service where you can ask her specific questions related to your website design. She follows up with you a month later.
  • Social Worker and business brand coach Vasavi Kumar: Vasavi Kumar gives you 2-hour, 4-hour, or 6-hour opportunities to pick her brain. This service can focus on self-promotion, content and product creation, pitching yourself, and more.
  • Branding boutique Ready To Werk: Ready to Werk provides 45 or 60 minute phone consultations for budding entrepreneurs who need some help in flushing out their ideas.

Create a “Frequently Asked Questions” 

My “Ask Nicole” blog posts are my way of providing a FAQ for my business. Throughout the month, I get emails from a variety of folks–social workers, graduate students, activists, executive directors, etc. I often get the same kinds of questions, and to prevent me from answering the same question multiple times, I may share a question in a “Ask Nicole post” so when someone emails me with the same question, I’ll point them to that post as well as add any additional (but brief) information specific to their situation. I also point them to my Blog Archives so they can read blog posts related to their question, as well as read related blogs posts by topic. I do this to not only save time, but it’s also a good way to share information on a much  broader scale.


1 Feb, 2017

Ask Nicole: How Can I Get Hired for Workshops & Speaking Engagements?

By | 2017-02-01T00:54:56+00:00 February 1st, 2017|Categories: Ask Nicole|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

Do you have a question to share with the Raise Your Voice community? Let me know. 

Michelle, a social worker in Pennsylvania, writes:

I have been researching other options to become involved in within the [social work] field and came across your website. I was wondering if you [could] discuss how to get involved in facilitating workshops/speaking engagements.  This is an area I’m very interested in pursuing and am eager to build resources and network with other professionals.

I’m always excited to hear fellow social workers eager to show their expertise in a variety of ways.

I’ve been facilitating workshops in some capacity since 2003-ish. I started co-facilitating workshops as a student, with other youth activists around the country, then as a Reproductive Justice activist and professional social worker. Because I was so new to it, I leaned a lot on my peers to guide the workshop facilitation. I also sought out people who have a delivery style you like or who speak on topics that interests you. The goal isn’t to imitate them, but observe how they engage their audience. Whenever I co-faciliate a workshop or training with someone, I focus on how they engage the audience, how they interject personal experiences that tie into their content, or how they tie in real-world examples to illustrate their content. I eventually found a facilitation style that worked for me. 

First, determine what your interests are and what you want to share your expertise in. Next, brainstorm how you want to deliver your information.  I’ve written a series on preparing and facilitating workshops (Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four). We tend to think of workshops as being in person, but you can also deliver great content via online formats such as GoToMeeting or Zoom. In my Blog Archives, there’s a section on workshops where I share my own experiences with workshop facilitating as well as exercises I’ve facilitated in workshops.

Secondly (and probably most important), let people know that you’re available for workshops and speaking engagements! Word of mouth has been a driving force for my business and for lots of people interested in professional speaking and workshop facilitation.

Next, find ways to show your expertise before going into a conference or workshop space. My preferred method to show my interests and expertise has been through blogging, and in using my social media platforms to promote my thoughts. Blogging has been a good way for me to show my expertise, gain clients, and have folks invite me to speak. (I view it as an online business card). Blogging has also given me a platform to share my perspective AND has allowed me to revisit my stance to either strengthen my voice or to share a new perspective. Blogging may be that for you as well. Or it may be podcasting or sharing your perspective via YouTube. You can also engage with folks via live feeds on Instagram, Facebook, or Periscope. You can curate the topics you like to talk about and it aids in developing your personal approach and what you’re known for (aka, your brand), which then helps people associate you with certain speaking topics. I recently updated my Speaking page to show what my interests are as well as what I’m most requested to speak on.