Keeper of the Flame: How Pink Mentor Network Got an Anthem

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“The two most important days in your life are

the day you are born and the day you find out why.”   
-Mark Twain
 

For me, there are really three important dates:


Born: April 9, 1979
Learned Why:  February 18, 2017
Started LIVING Why:  May 30, 2018

16 hours after I was “let go”, I started hustling & connecting. 

I was not going to be a victim.  I was going to register for a random events, make myself presentable, and start living my dream. 

(Even if that dream wasn’t crystal clear yet.)

I did.

And it was just what & who I needed. 

I attended a female entrepreneurs’ coffee.  These women inspired me with their passions, comforted my with their hospitality, and motivated me with their accomplishments.  

But on the car ride home…I heard the words that changed my life.

Miranda Lambert’s “Keeper of the Flame” came on the radio.  I’m sure I had heard  to it before. But today, in that moment of complete vulnerability, I finally listened it.

I’m walking in their footsteps
I’m singing their old songs
Somebody blazed this trail
I’m treadin’ on

“Blazed this trail I’m treading on” was the phrase that caught my attention.

I was hosting a Trailblazer’s Breakfast for 30 women in a few days. 

My mind was already imagining what type of impact it could make.  To celebrate, honor, and learn from a 16-year female partnership that transformed an industry, gave thousands work & paychecks. 

And then, to humbly sit in the space created by their dreams & hard work, listen to their experiences, learn from their greatness. 

And lil’ old me was privileged enough to invite & share this opportunity some of the most EXTRAORDINARY women in Charlotte.

We were treading on the trail they blazed… raceBecause they generously & graciously invited us to come along.  

I’m bent, but I’m not broken
I’m stronger than I feel
I’m made of flesh and bone
Not made of steel

The truth in that verse brought tears to my eyes.

I had lost my job.  I did feel broken.  But in my heart, I knew it wasn’t a fracture.

I am stronger than that. 

I’m the keeper of the flame
The teller of the story
Keeper of the flame
For the ones that came before me
For the little pilot lights waiting to ignite
Like fireflies in the rain
Keeper of the flame

As I listened to the chorus, I could feel the Pink Mentor Network mission race through my blood— everything that I am, everything that I know, everything that is true to my being.  

The emotion was so overwhelming I had to pull over.

I believe that every woman has a story we can learn from.  The power of the Pink Mentor Network has been giving her a stage, microphone, and audience.  

I believe in the power of female mentorship. I believe that women yearn for this relationship–someone to say, “You are not alone. I’ve been there too.  And here’s what I learned.”

The Pink Mentor Network honors those women, tells their stories igniting those who listen to them.  The Pink Mentor Network is the “Keeper of the Flame”.

I’ve been burned out to ashes
Waiting for a wind
To carry me and start a fire again
Sometimes I’m just a flicker
A candle in your eye
But I swear to God
I’ll never let it die

For 18 months, I leapt out of bed at 4AM because I felt so strongly about this mission that I had to work on it a few hours before “going to work.”

…I do swear to God I’ll never let it die.

When I’m drowning
When I’m fighting
When I’m screaming
When I’m hiding
When I’m losing
When I’m winning…

Drowning, Fighting, Screaming, Hiding, Losing, Winning — the Pink Mentor Network has introduced me to women all of these scenarios.  

For me, “hiding” resonates the most.  Over the last 18 months, I built this passion project that kept me energized and fueled. 

When I look at the event photos, I have never seen myself happier. 

confident me

It is me at my best. Me at my strongest. Me at my most confident. 

It is my belief system.  It has introduced me to women who changed my life—made me better.  

It is “ME“.  It is why I was put on this Earth.

And yet, I hid. 

… I go back to
The beginning

Those six words trigger two sentiments for me:  The beginning of Pink Mentor Network, but also my own beginning.  

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Growing up in Quinter, Kansas.  Being raised by two small town, high school sweethearts.  Never having a lot, but always having enough.  Being the daughter of a man who worked 65+ hours a week for his family, and the woman whose work was her family.  And carrying the values they instilled in me — generosity, dependability, & humility.  

The beginning of my beginning began there. 

It’s who I am at the core…because that’s how I was raised.

Keeper of the flame
The teller of the story
Keeper of the flame
I’m not doing it for the glory
But for those little pilot lights waiting to ignite
Like fireflies in the rain
Keeper of the flame
I’m the keeper of the flame
Ooh, ooh
I’m the keeper of the flame
Ooh, ooh

Pink Mentor Network “Gives Her Career a Head Start” by collecting the experiences, successes, and lessons learned of accomplished women, and delivering them to women who desire professional inspiration, support, and encouragement.  Today, the network helps thousands of young women who are seeking career mentorship.  

I am not doing it for the glory.  I do it because it is who I am, and I can’t imagine doing anything else. 


To Natalie Hemby, Miranda Lambert, & Liz Rose: 

Thank you for writing what I needed to hear.  Thank you for writing an anthem to live by. 

We are going to disrupt and revolutionize how women seek and receive female mentorship.  Not because it’s a mission statement, but because we are “The Keepers of the Flame.”

When “Taking a Leap” Feels Like Being “Shoved Off a Cliff”

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I lost my job last week.

(As I type it, I still can’t believe it.)

I WAS FIRED?!?!?

ME?!… who has been working since 4th grade!
ME!?… who was awarded a “STACY CASSIO EMPLOYEE OF THE YEAR – AWARD OF EXCELLENCE” at her first full-time job.  (Seriously…they named a freaking award after me!)
ME!?…whose passion project is to help women THROUGH this exact situation.

How could this happen to ME?!?!

I remember once being asked, “If you didn’t have to get up and go to work tomorrow, what would you do?”

I couldn’t answer.

Work is my whole identity—no kids, just work.  Work is the legacy I want to leave others. Work is my contribution to this world. Work has been instilled in me since birth. I come from a long line of hard-working Kansas farmers—we work.   Work gives me purpose.  Work gives me meaning.

I am my job.  And I lost it last week.



What I understand now—10 days later, 12 networking events, nearly 60 new contacts, dozens of calls/tests/emails, 4 completely-read books, tons of yoga, meditation & journaling later is…

I AM NOT THAT JOB.  I AM NOT ANY JOB.

Pink Mentor Network was started through my own desire to find professional mentorship 18 months ago.  Since then, it has grown to almost 3,000 women.  It astounds me when I think of it.  (THAT’S 3 TIMES THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE IN MY HOMETOWN!!)

I believe in the mission more today than ever before.

Women want—no, WE NEED— to learn from the experiences of women who have achieved, failed, and overcome.  Conversely, the most professionally accomplished women want to share the lessons they’ve painfully learned.

I declared “2018: The Year She Leapt” because I wanted to help women achieve their dreams by providing introductions, resources, and inspiration that led them there.

Perhaps in my heart, I wanted it for me too.

However, I did not realize a “leap” would feel more like a “shove off a cliff”!  Or that, the network I created—the EXTRAORDINARY folks I’ve met—would be there to not only lessen the blow, but also life me up.

Turns out the answer to “What would you do if you didn’t wake up and go to work?” is work harder than ever.  Work on the DREAM.  Work on the WOMAN.  Work on the PLAN.

Do WORK that matters. Do WORK that’s caring, thoughtful, and generous—and all the things I want to be. Do WORK that makes a difference.

… Big things are coming!  Pink Mentor Network just hired a CEO.

Immensely Humbled & Incredibly Grateful,

Stacy Cassio
Founder & CEO

(This piece was featured in the Pink Mentor Network’s newsletter.  The entire newsletter is available here. )

Need to Overcome Self-Doubt? Try These Two Simple Techniques.

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Got any doubts about where you are headed?

Me too.  ALL THE TIME.

Jameson Frank said, “Our greatest battles are that with our own minds.”  

(Don’t ask me who Jameson Frank is.  I tried to look him up to ensure I was not referencing a maniac.  I can’t find a lick about him other than this quote.  So we will roll with it. It’s a solid quote.)

So how do we… as smart, strong women!… overcome our internal critics?

Two Suggestions:

1.  WE OWN HOW FAR WE’VE ALREADY COME.

Stop.  Take a long, deep TGIF! breath in.

Now look around.  Look at the place you are NOW.  Your home, your family, your friends.  Your successes, your accomplishments, your GREATNESS.

DAMN, GIRL…You’ve come a long way!  Bask in the glory of all you’ve achieved. Soak it in. Think about all you’ve CONQUERED to get this far.

You’ve got this.  You’ve got the gumption, strength, courage to face whatever is next because you got HERE today.

2.  WE SURROUND OURSELVES WITH WOMEN WHO BELIEVE IN US.

Each time my own gremlins creep in, I reach out to someone who I know has my back.  (And in the last 18 months, it’s been a PINK MENTOR NETWORK woman.)

Now, it’s a skill that hasn’t always came easily to me—you know, that ASKING FOR HELP.  Ugh.  It’s still a challenge sometimes.

But in my own times of self-doubt, I turn to women who I know have battled through their own.

I pull ENERGY from their journeys.  I gain GRIT from their lessons.  I collect FEARLESSNESS from their stories.

And I carry on.

I invite you to do the same.  Come to the next Mentor Dinner on “Overcoming Self-Doubt.” 

Fight for what you’ve yet to accomplish by celebrating where you are.

CELEBRATE. BATTLE. REPEAT.
Keep fighting for it.  It’ll be worth it.
Stacy


This piece was featured in the Pink Mentor Network’s June 2018 newsletter.  The entire newsletter is available here.

Meet Brittany Danielle Scacchetti: Making Women Look & Feel Beautiful One Sitting at a Time!

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“Love yourself and put yourself first.

You can’t pour from an empty cup. Take good care of yourself, always!!!!!”

— Brittany Danielle Scacchetti, Mom, Singer, & Esthetician

 

Some talents are easier to show than to describe.  Here is a sampling of Brittany Scacchetti’s.

This was the first time I met Brittany Scacchetti, the makeup artist in this video.

I was not feeling particularly glamorous, beautiful, empowered or confident.  In fact, I had just gotten that dreaded monthly visitor, and was feeling bloated, tired, and cranky. To make matters worse, I actually even had broken out. For the first time in years, stress had left me with a giant red reminder smack-dab in the middle of my forehead.

Seriously, this was not how I wanted to roll into on very first (and probably only) modeling gig.  Yet, here I was trying to fight through my physical insecurities.

But little did I know, I had met the secret weapon, Brittany Scacchetti.

Brittany Danielle Scacchetti is like the Tinkerbell of makeup application.  She flies in with her magical pixie dust, and empowers women one face at a time.  I know because she transformed me into a beautiful, confident, empowered woman on a day when I was feeling anything but!

I asked Brittany to share her journey and inspiration with us.  I also really wanted to feature a woman whose talents are one-part artist, one-part magician, and 100% a gift to the faces she touches.

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Brittany, I know between your newly developing career and family time that you have a tremendous amount on your plate.  Thank you for taking a few minutes to share your story with us.

I often think if only I found my passion younger, I would have lived a lifetime with it.  I feel like at 27, you have been blessed with that gift.  Tell us about it.

To start, I have 3 “professions” that have my heart. 

First, being a mother. This is the most important one to me. I always knew I wanted to be a mama first, this was my greatest legacy.

Second, I wanted to sing, it was and still is my special gift. While I don’t use this as often as I’d like to, it has made an impact on my life and opened many opportunities in my path.

Third and final, (I know get on with it, Girl!)…I wanted to be an esthetician. This realization came much later but hindsight, I always knew it was my calling. I was a salon baby, if you don’t know what that is, I spent a majority of my childhood in the salons that my mom worked at.

I was the only child to a single mother. She worked her tail off to provide for me and all of my needs. My mother was a nail technician, she struggled but she was persistent, I spent 18 years coming to a salon “home” with her every day until one day I decided it was where I needed to be as well.

My mom always had issues with acne, I wanted to make her and others feel beautiful. When I started out, I focused on waxing and chemical peels. (I had no intentions of doing makeup at that point). It wasn’t until after I had children that I really delved into makeup artistry.

I loved it. I still do, it made me feel better and helped me deal with postpartum depression. I love seeing what my hands can do for others, it’s healing, it gives hope. It’s not much but it’s my gift, one of many, I was so blessed that I got a second chance to do what I love!

Well, it’s obvious you have found “your gifts”.  I am still amazed by how you transformed me.  How did you get your start in this field?

When I was growing up I had authority issues, it was so hard for me to listen to anyone or follow directions. I loved people but I needed to be my own boss. Thankfully the beauty business allows you to do just that! I found my niché!!!

I went to a TINY school in Stanly County, North Carolina, which was perfect for me, I was diagnosed with ADHD in the first grade and was medicated since then. I had to have one-on-one attention with schooling. Fortunately, I did my research and found Stanly Community College, a small esthetics school located in a strip mall neighboring a gas station.

It sounds out there, I know, but I found my place and that’s what I needed! There are many ways and classes offered to further education after graduation. Another thing I love about my career choice, I’m always learning something new!

I love how passionate you are about your work.  Where does that come from, Brittany?

My mom was a nail technician for 23 years, I’d like to think that’s what sparked my dedication.

She is persistent, she is strong, she taught me everything I know and I appreciate that more than she will ever know. She is my inspiration and that guided me to my career choice, taught me how to treat people and more importantly to love them, each and every one!

I love everything about my career and business, I’m fortunate to say the least. I’m extremely passionate about my work, I’m blessed and I count my blessings accordingly, I’m thankful and lucky that I knew my path as early as I did! 

That joy and innate purpose definitely comes across.  You are really extremely talented at what you do, Brittany.  Your mother must be very proud.  

What advice do you have for women searching for this type of passion?

Work hard, devote yourself to what you know and love and don’t waver.

If you feel something is right in your heart, don’t ignore that feeling. People will notice hard work and dedication, and if you aren’t proving yourself to them, prove yourself to yourself!

My Mawmaw always taught me to be the little engine that could, “I think I can, I think I can” to “I knew I could, I knew I could”, and my Pawpaw always taught me that not everything will go your way, you’ve got to just move past it or in his words “sometimes you just gotta eat a lotta crow”.

Every move you make is an experience …good or bad, but try hard and make the most of what you’ve got! 

Finally, share an instant source of inspiration, Brittany.

Honestly, Loretta Lynn. She came from nothing she made a life for herself just my speaking up and using her incredible voice. She overcame a music industry ran by men and still made her way to the top.

Women like her, Dolly Parton, Patsy Cline, have made a path for career women. They were able to vocalize their stories, to me that makes them all the more powerful. It’s not a book expert or song, but it inspires me to be more and it gives hope that even if you’ve come from nothing you can go all the way to the top! 

I love it, Brittany.  And I loved meeting you, Brittany!!  Thank you again.

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Brittany’s talents are always on display at Mnemosyne Studio.  She has also agreed to offer them at a discounted rate at our Headshot Refresh Day.  Join me, Brittany, and photographers Christy Miller, and Ray Evans on Saturday, March 31st for this very special event.  Event registration and details are here!

For more information on how to book or contact Brittany, check out her Facebook page.

Don’t Hit Snooze on Your Dreams!

Don't Hit Snooze On Your Dream

My alarm clock goes off at 4:17am every morning. I wake up early to work on the DREAM before I go to the JOB. It’s been the same routine for 16 months.

Most mornings I wake up before it goes off. Some mornings I want to hit snooze. On those mornings, I think STACY CASSIO, DO NOT HIT SNOOZE ON THE DREAM.

Folks, don’t press snooze on your dream.

It’s too important, and so are YOU.

Reminder: You Are More Than Your Resume.

Ever Get This Rejection Email?

“Thank you for your interest in our company.  As you can imagine, we received a large number of applications. I am sorry to inform you that you have not been selected for an interview for this position. Best wishes for a successful job search. Thank you, again, for your interest in our company.”

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Yep. Me too.  

(Actually, it’s cut & paste from my inbox! Not even an interview!)

And each time I get one, it is soul-crushing, gut-wrenching, anxiety-building, confidence-squashing. But then, I remind myself, “Girl, you are more than your resume!  Your DREAM JOB is still waiting for you.

Now, I’m reminding you.  GIRL, YOU ARE MORE THAN YOUR RESUME YOUR DREAM JOB IS WAITING FOR YOU.

Our next event is for anyone who has gotten this rejection notice, anyone trying to land their DREAM JOB, anyone who is MORE THAN THEIR DAY JOB.   It’s tips on searching, resumes, and interviewing. It’s moral support. It’s a reminder that YOU ARE MORE THAN YOUR RESUME today, tomorrow, and every day.

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TheYearSheLeapt into a New Job

Join me for “THE YEAR SHE LEAPT INTO HER DREAM JOB.”  You bring your dreams.  I’ll bring breakfast.

REGISTER HERE:  https://leapersbreakfast0318.eventbrite.com

From “Your Journey Moves Her Forward” to “The Year She Leapt”

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Pink Mentor Network celebrated it’s first birthday last weekend.

(It’s okay.  I actually forgot about it too.)

Incredibly, what started out as a series of hyperventilation spouts & my own personal quest for mentorship has grown into a professional development community for women.

Pink Mentor Network was founded on one core belief.

Every woman’s professional journey is an unique story, and the collection of those stories moves generations of women forward. 

YourJourneyMovesHerForward

What’s Next?

It turns out my theory was right.

As women gather to share stories of success, failure, and every emotion in between, we all benefit.  I’ve witnessed women share their dreams to a roomful of strangers, and then leave that room with the courage to chase it.

I’ve learned that so much progress can be made in twelve months.  In the last year, I’ve witnessed brave women take giant professional, personal, spiritual, health, and financial leaps.

Therefore, Pink Mentor Network is dedicating the next twelve months to “The Year She Leapt”.  Details, programs, and content rolling out later this week.

Stay tuned!!  Big leaps ahead!!!

The Year She Leapt

 

Why Women Act Like Catty Bitches at Work

No catty bitches allowed.

If I had $100 for every time I heard “Why can’t women get along at work?” … I, alone, could shrink the gender pay gap.

Ambition Over Integrity

First, let me apologize to the first group of women I ever worked with in a professional environment.

So Tracey, Diane, Celines, Ellen, and Jaime,

I am sorry.  I acted like a catty bitch… like a lot.

I valued the “corporate ladder” over our relationships.

I chose ambition over integrity.

I was a hungry 23 year-old (literally & figuratively) from the Midwest who took a random receptionist job to pay bills (and eat) in the suburbs of NYC. The office was male-owned & operated. I was hired by the only female manager in company.

She was about 15 years older than me and very well-versed in the workplace ecosystem. But she was good to me. We clicked immediately. Me — an eager naive sponge from Kansas, and her — a scrappy, street-smart mentor from New York.

It worked well until ambition blinded me.

I learned fast, worked hard, and eventually was asked to step into her management role.  The transition was informal and poorly communicated, and resulted in a female emotional uproar.

Suddenly, women were reverting to survival tactics learned in high school like gossiping, choosing sides, building damaging narratives, and plain-old “Mean Girl” behavior.

Clawing Our Way to the Top

Every work environment in my 20+ year career has been filled with similar situations. Women, acting like mean girls — throwing each other under the bus for a chance to sit in the C-Suite.

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Women can have meaningful, no-strings-attached, mutually fulfilling friendships in our personal lives. Yet, put two female friends in a work environment, and we will claw each other’s eyes out for professional gain.

Leaving me to admit, “Why can’t women get along at work?”

(See? $100 right there. Told you, this is easy money!)

No, but seriously.  What’s our deal, women?

It’s a question that has plagued me my entire career.  It has also been a pattern I’ve heard through the Pink Mentor Network.  Women are seeking mentorship outside of their organizations because they don’t trust or respect the women within it.

I’ve heard stories of teachers treating each other like children, nurses acting awful to  peers, and the most unprofessional female office behaviors.

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These toxic work environments led me to the following conclusion:

 

 Women claw each other’s eyes out on the way to the top because there are so few opportunities for us to get there.

Ladies, our fight is NOT with each other.  Our fight is to make more opportunities for women at the top. 

Claw your way to the top.  Then pause, and retract those claws. Turn around, lean down, and pull her up with you.

VALUE INTEGRITY AND AMBITION.  NO CATTY BITCHES ALLOWED.

November & Beyond – Pink Mentor Network

Careers Don't Come with Maps.

Who took a chance on YOU?
Before you had that title or experience … Who gave YOU a shot?

Who taught YOU to be a leader?
Before you had leadership skills … Who believed YOU could lead?

Who gave YOU good feedback?
Before you were doing it right … Who instructed YOU do it differently?

Who do YOU turn to for career advice?
When you are at your most vulnerable professionally … Who still believes in YOU?

Give it some serious thought. Maybe there are others to add to that VIP list.  Who are THOSE people?

THOSE ARE “YOUR PEOPLE“.

A career is a long journey.  We collect many influences along the way.  Some come in human form.

Do they know how they changed YOU?

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Several women recently had this exact AHA moment.  They each realized that they grew professionally because someone once gave them an opportunity or a nudge, and sometimes both.

And for each woman, it had been a while since they reflected on those experiences.  But from the rear view mirror, they each came to the same conclusion —

APPRECIATION WAS OVERDUE FOR ONCE UNDERAPPRECIATED OPPORTUNITY.

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Now, Go. You have YOUR PEOPLE to thank.

With Immense Gratitude,

Stacy

P.S.  If “YOUR PEOPLE LIST” is short, let me know.  I got your back!

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This piece was featured in the Pink Mentor Network’s November 2017 newsletter.  The entire newsletter is available here.