We had the good fortune of connecting with Tensie J. Taylor and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Tensie J., is there something that you feel is most responsible for your success?
The most important factor behind my success is the way I treat people. With every individual with whom I have the pleasure of meeting, I treat him/her with the utmost dignity and respect. Whether the person is the CEO of a company, Dean of a college, or a custodial worker, each person plays a pivotal role in their respective careers and society, and I ascertain they know they are valued. Someone might have more status, money, or a higher position, but that does not make that individual better than anyone else. In addition, I use my manners and say, “Yes ma’am,” “No sir,” “Please” and “Thank you.” I am from North Carolina, and my parents raised me to “mind my manners” and be respectful, part of the southern hospitality. Because of my mannerisms, this has contributed greatly to my success as the Associate Director of the University of Southern California Black Alumni Association, an Amazon Best-selling author of “BULLIED From Terror to Triumph, My Survival Story,” and an international motivational speaker. I approach people with care, listen to what they have to say, and respond in a dignified manner. Because I treat people as people and not as objects to be used, this has greatly contributed to my success and advancement in my various roles. I carry this success with the brand of my book. I listen to the stories people share about being bullied, and I empathize and provide encouraging words. I also personally write messages when autographing books to let the person know that I did indeed hear what they said. Treating people as human beings truly goes a long way, and sadly, our society does not always value people as people. We must change this narrative. Even when those who disagree with me, I still treat that person with respect and will politely agree to disagree before things turn argumentative. I choose to operate in love, kindness, positivity, upliftment, and encouragement. I strive to be a light in this world and to help others shine their light, too!
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I wear several hats, one of them being a higher education professional, where I serve as the Associate Director of the USC Black Alumni Association. In this role, I have the pleasure of helping students with their academic and future career endeavors by providing resources, internship and study abroad opportunities, pairing them with mentors in their respective future careers, providing scholarships, and serving as a source of encouragement. In my office, I have a “Thank You Wall,” where I have received more than 250 hand written thank you cards from students, staff, alumni, and community members thanking me for my service, dedication, belief in them, assisting with a project, and simply being a cheerleader. It warms my heart when a student writes me saying, “Dear Ms. Tensie, thank you for writing such a great letter of recommendation for me! I was accepted in this program.” Or “Dear Ms. Tensie, thank you for introducing me to your contact at HBO; I applied to the program and now I will be interning with them this summer.” It makes me smile being able to assist my students in making their aspirations come true. It is a pleasure being able to be a blessing to others, and I do not take for granted the work I do. I got to where I am professionally by watching my parents and mentors pour their heart into the work they do. They never did what they did for money, fame, or recognition; they simply did it because they cared and were passionate. Once you find your passion, you will never “work” another day in your life because you will love and appreciate what you do. In addition to my role at USC, I am an author and motivational speaker. In my book and speeches, I share how I overcame challenges of being bullied, and why I do not believe in excuses, only solutions. We all have experienced trials and tribulations, but how we respond to those will determine our level of success. The road it took to get me to where I am today was not easy, but I am thankful that I never gave up. No matter how tired I was, how discouraged I became, I still continued to press on in spite of. I want the world to know that I turned the negativity I faced in life into positivity. Never let the actions or words from someone else bring you out of character. Operate from a place of love, understanding, and excellence. How you respond to a situation shows your character just as much as the person who provoked you does. Although hard at times, in the words of Michelle Obama, “When they go low, we go high.” I live by this mantra.
Any great local spots you’d like to shoutout?
My best friend has visited the area, and she had such a spectacular time! I took her to the Roof on Wilshire, where we had brunch at the rooftop restaurant near the pool. We got to meet several radio personalities from 97.1 AMP Radio. Because of my connections in Hollywood, she was able to attend a red carpet event with me, walk the carpet, and meet several celebrities, such as Ms. Tina Lawson (mother of Beyonce), Sherri Shepherd, Robin McGraw (Dr. Phil’s wife), Kim Whitley, and many others. She got to not only meet them, but take pictures with them, since I know many celebrities personally. In addition, I took her to Marina del Rey, where we went on a nice, elegant dinner cruise on a yacht around the marina. I also took her to Venice Beach, Roscoe’s Chicken & Waffles, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Beverly Hills sign and “shopping” on Rodeo Drive. She had a blast and enjoyed living the LA/Hollywood life! There is so much to do in the City of Angels, and she is looking forward to her next trip. I love when my friends visit me because I get to show them the “touristy” things, and because I am well connected in Hollywood, I get to introduce them to my celebrity friends, tour TV sets, attend red carpet events, and more. I enjoy living my best life and sharing that life with those who are close to me!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I must give a shout out to my parents for all of their unconditional love, support, guidance, mentorship, and encouragement throughout my life. They taught me at a young age the importance of working hard, being resilient, exhibiting tenacious behavior, and to always DREAM BIG! Anything I set my mind to, they told me I could accomplish it if I worked hard, believed in myself, surrounded myself with individuals who believed in me, and kept the faith. Many of my goals, aspirations, and accomplishments have come to fruition because of the guidance my parents instilled me. Also, listening to the obstacles they overcame in their lives showed me that I, too, can overcome the challenges in my life. I also thank my teachers, college professors, mentors, and church members who kept me motivated. No [wo]man is an island, meaning that no individual makes it on his/her own, and I am indebted to the village who raised, molded, and shaped me into the woman I am today! I am truly blessed to have been provided such amazing people in my life, and I cherish each one of them.
Linkedin: Tensie J. Taylor, M.Ed.
Facebook: Tensie J. Taylor (fan page) Tensie Taylor (personal page)
Several of the images were taken by Louis Carr. I received his permission to use the photos. The photos taken by him are the following: Moderating a Panel at USC, USC Students and Staff, Speaking to Student at our Conference, With USC Students. The other four photos are mine taken on my phone.