My Best 21 of ‘21

2021 was an incredible year full of lots of ups and downs, but as I reflect on year 2 of the pandemic, there are way more ups than downs. So many lessons, so many opportunities, and SO many blessings. And friends, so many wonderful friends. Here are the best things that happened to me in 2021.

  1. Oprah Winfrey- The shero herself said MY name! I couldn’t believe it. Getting the opportunity to speak with THE Oprah Winfrey was (hopefully not) a once in a lifetime experience.

2. Marie Claire Power Trip- What a gathering! The Miraval Berkshires Resort & Spa was a beautiful backdrop for a powerful retreat. I go to meet so many INCREDIBLE women. Spending time in person with Maya Watson, Shelly Bell, Brooke Shields, Alicia Keys, Editor-in Chief Sally Holmes and all the others was a true gift. It reminded me that your network is your net worth.

3. Major Publications- I got to share my thought leadership in some wonderful publications and media outlets this year.

4. Great Photoshoot with my favorite Houston photographer Traci Ling- Art is important and I am always dazzled by people who can make beauty out of nothing. Traci Ling is an artist in every way I needed this year. Her eye is amazing and her spirit is truly beautiful. Check out more of her work here.

5. Dental Work- This may feel like a strange addition to this list, but this was the year I got poverty out of my mouth. When you grow up low-income, it’s obvious that you miss out on certain privileges. But people often underestimate how your financial condition impacts your long-term health. I’ve had bad dentists my whole life. This year I changed that and removed decades of brokenness and mediocrity.

6. Boundaries- They say good fences make great neighbors. This year I put up some very important fences to protect my peace and create an atmosphere where I can thrive. Everyone in the ring isn’t in your corner. Edit carefully.

7. Executive Coach- Even doctors need a doctor. This year I invested in an executive coach and the experience was truly transformative. She cleared the cobwebs and pushed me to new levels.

8. Speaking- In March of 2020, my speaking business came to a screeching halt and I’ll be honest, I was worried, but, thankfully, we were able to move to virtual presentations and so many wonderful clients committed and invested in me. I believe there is no greater gift than the gift of your attention. I am so grateful for those that gave me their attention this year. I’m excited to see what next year brings.

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9. Clubhouse- Social audio has taken the world by storm. I can honestly say that Clubhouse changed my life. I have met the most amazing people and built a community that has championed me in so many ways. It made me an accidental influencer. Feel free to jump into the conversation by joining me on the platform.

10. Adam Grant- There are many thought leaders in the world, but one of my personal favorites is Adam Grant. Imagine how excited I was to get a chance to meet and be mentored by this amazing man. He is a powerful example of allyship. His book Think Again was the best book I read in 2021.

11. Vermont Trip- Growing up in Texas, my husband had never experienced the beauty of a New England Fall. The brilliant foliage took our breath away and reminded us how big and amazing this world is.

12. Sign with Literary Agent Christy Fletcher- I’ve always wanted to be a published author, and this year I got one giant step closer by signing with literary super-agent, Christy Fletcher. It is an unbelievable honor to have someone of her caliber believe in me. I’m working on the book now. Feel free to send positive vibes and peanut M&Ms.

13. Facebook – What an honor it was to be showcased by Facebook this year. Being interviewed by Carolyn Coyne, Marketing Leader of Meta (formerly Head of Marketing for North America for Facebook) was so much fun and another proof point that I’m rowing the boat in the right direction.

14. Emerge Fellowship- As we build our personal goals and dreams, I believe it’s important to help others build their dreams as well. My work on the board of the non-profit Emerge has ben a highlight of this year. Supporting high-performing, low-income minority students to attend and thrive at the best schools in the country has been my joy.

15. Morning Joe and Know Your Value- Being nationally recognized as a thought leader really took my breath away this year. Appearing on Morning Joe with my friends Mika, Kat and Alex was incredible. Can’t wait to do more in 2022.

16. Read some great books-

Ask For More by Alexandra Carter
Limitless by Laura Gassner Otting
The 1619 Project by Nikole Hannah-Jones
Beyond Diversity by Rohit Bhargava (I was featured in this one!)

17. Mexico: Cancun/ Puerto Vallarta - After being on lockdown for over a year, it was wonderful to get to travel again, to see all the beauty that this Earth has to offer and to remember that we are so small in such a big world.

18. Layla- Being godmother to this sparkly, smart, beautiful angel is such a blessing to me. This year she turned 10 and it has been so fun to see her grow. I can’t wait for her 5th grade graduation in 2022 and you better believe Aunt Denise will be there!

19. I met a Superhero- I was blessed to meet many incredible people in 2021, but one of the highlights was interviewing Abdur- Rahman Muhammad. His amazing work was chronicled in the Netflix documentary mini- series Who Killed Malcolm X. This great man investigated the assassination of Malcolm X for over 30 years on his own time and dime. His work led to the exoneration of the men wrongly convicted of this brutal murder. Abdur-Rahman’s commitment, tenacity, focus, and determination have provided and example for me for the rest of my life. His day job is as a tour guide at the Smithsonian, but his purpose was so much more.

20. Atlanta Writing Trip- One of the best things you can do when attempting something new is surround yourself with people doing that thing successfully. I got to do that on a whole other level during my trip to Atlanta. Spending deep quality time with authors Amy Hertz, Josh Levs and Kat Cole was a masterclass. They helped me set a roadmap for success. I refer to notes from those meetings weekly, and I’m so grateful to have access to such incredible minds.

21. Working with Javan Hamilton- I feel so lucky to work with my incredible daughter, Javan Hamilton. Together, we had our best year ever. Even in the middle of a pandemic. This rockstar lost 180 pounds during the pandemic and I am in awe. It’s been so fun building the family business. 2022, we’re ready for you!

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