By Keala Bilbao
Herbert Swope, the first recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for Reporting in 1917, once said “I cannot give you the formula for success but I can give you the formula for failure. Which is try to please everybody.”
Another Pulitzer Prize winning writer, Mary Oliver, a poet who won the National Book Award later expressed a similar sentiment about life, asking readers, “What do you plan to do with your one wild precious life?”
Eventually, we all take a look at our lives, our hopes and whether or not we are living the life we want. Maybe we realize that life is about choice, not chance or that our time on this earth is finite and, therefore, we need to make it count. These are just two of the many lessons Charlene Wheeless, author, professional speaker and trailblazer teaches us in her story that I believe will one day save many readers from heartaches and headaches. Her book, “You Are Enough: Reclaiming Your Career and Your Life With Purpose, Passion and Unapologetic Authenticity” clearly shows commitment to preparing professionals to build meaningful personal and professional accomplishments and be responsible global citizens.
She is leading change at the top as the chair of the Arthur W. Page Society, one of the most prestigious communication societies for chief communication officers (CCOs), educators and agency leaders. Charlene has already made history as the first Black female chair of the organization.
In her new book, Charlene takes readers on an emotional journey of particular transformational moments of her life and career. “I don’t want people to suffer as I did,” Charlene explains. “it shouldn’t be so hard. Nobody told me it was going to be so hard. I wish someone would have told me the truth, and this is my truth. “Charlene hopes to help others recognize their value of choice and how to advocate for themselves in their work, personal life, and health—sharing both intimate and priceless lessons to help people live a life full of passion, purpose and authenticity. Many book testimonials describe her book as a gift to today’s young professionals.
Charlene will say her book is a cancer memoir, and this book is her truth about cancer and the workplace. It may surprise some readers before she found out about her cancer diagnosis, she had a lecture-series called “Lessons from Being Invisible.” That later became a part of her book. A woman said by many to be a trailblazer, Profiles in Diversity magazine coined Charlene a woman worth watching. She is anything but invisible, and as noted by the Washington Business Journal, “She is a woman that means business. “Her three decades of experience in the corporate communication field and 20 of those years in the C-suite. One could hardly imagine Charlene Wheeless as invisible and when she speaks, people listen.
Charlene said, “Acceptance is not automatic, and just because you are invited to the table, it doesn’t mean you are welcome there.” She tells readers in her book, “you are enough” and prepares them to overcome the hurdles she faced with the untold truths of corporate America. Most importantly, she helps readers to stop slowly suffocating themselves to conform to society’s misdirected standards, losing oneself bit-by-but in the process of balancing work and home life. These perfect short stories for the new era of communication leaders are bound to make an impact, especially after the changes the world experience due to racial injustice moments in 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic.
As humans, we naturally feel the need for acceptance. A basic human instinct that can mold and shape a person until they don’t recognize themselves anymore over the years. Charlene shows readers that they can be successful and not sacrifice themselves for acceptance. She said, “Don’t let anyone define or tell you who you are and especially don’t believe them.” She helps readers understand that corporate America wants everyone to be the same, but we all are different. Along with teaching readers the value of community and finding champions in their career. Readers can apply her valuable tips despite their backgrounds.
Charlene, like most women, loves her husband, children and fashion. She shared in her book the unique solutions that helped her cope with the pressures of motherhood she faced climbing up the corporate ladder. It’s a game-changer that will motivate women not to sacrifice their careers for motherhood. Yet, choose to create the ultimate environment for both work and home.
Often, she was the only woman in the room, a Black woman surrounded by white men. The adversity she faced for being unique provided another good lesson In her book, knowing your value and leaving a place that doesn’t value you, is priceless. She helps guide people who are unique and don’t fit in the company’s mold with great tips and wisdom.
For people going through a transformation, those who are trying to balance the work/life situation for people climbing the career ladder, she gives her readers motivation and insights to help them be brave, be themselves and make it happen! More importantly, she helps them understand the importance of not losing themselves while conforming to society’s antiquated, and often, unfair standards, losing themselves bit-by-bit in process. Charlene’s book is a game-changer and must read. I know because it changed my life.