EAP Episode 3: Amber Cabral – The Journey From Corporate Manager to Execution Coach

Amber Cabral is a guest on the EAP with Kimi Walker

Our guest today on the Early Accountability Podcast is Amber Cabral. Amber is a writer, a speaker, an inclusion & diversity consultant, non-profit board member, and an execution coach. She owns a boutique consulting firm called Cabral Consulting Co.

After working in the corporate world for over a decade, Amber decided it was time to start her own consulting business because she was growing increasingly frustrated with corporate politics. This move, although not easy, has been liberating for Amber as she just recently celebrated one year of self-employment.

Amber shares tips on how to execute your goals and how to be accountable for your actions. As an execution coach, she has some really great ideas that can easily be put into practice!

IN THIS EPISODE YOU’LL FIND OUT ABOUT:

  • A little introduction of Amber.
  • When she knew it was time to quit her corporate job.
  • How long she was in the corporate world before throwing the towel.
  • How Amber kept herself accountable and was able to execute her plans.
  • Steps you should take to keep yourself accountable for your choices.
  • Different steps to take to define your target market.
  • Why 60% of what you need is enough to kick off your business.
  • How discomfort can make you deliver extraordinarily.
  • Services and support Amber offers.

GET IN TOUCH WITH AMBER AT:

Tune in to more episodes of the Early Accountability Podcast here!

Amber’s Bio

Amber Cabral is a business consultant focused on helping organizations, educational institutions and non-profits create and execute strategies to achieve sustainable leadership and inclusion objectives. She is the founder and Principal Consultant at Cabral Consulting, LLC.

Formerly a diversity strategist at Walmart Stores, Inc., Amber has extensive experience developing and executing strategies to embed culture, diversity and inclusion into the employee experience. In her career and consulting practice, she has helped Fortune 250 companies, non-profit organizations and Division I universities address their leadership and inclusion needs.

Amber has a Master’s in Organizational Leadership from Siena Heights University in Adrian, Michigan and a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a minor in Sociology from Wayne State University in her hometown; Detroit, Michigan. Passionate about nurturing the next generation of decision-makers, she serves on the board for multiple non-profit organizations committed to promoting diverse representation in the arts, in corporate and in communities; as well as empowering women and girls, globally. In her free time, she writes articles focused on race, culture and working class life.

Full Transcript

Kimi: Hello. Kimi Walker here and welcome back for another episode of Early Accountability Podcast. Tonight, I’m privileged to be graced with Amber Cabral.

Amber: Hey.

Kimi: Yes. And this is a very strong and talented, multi-faceted woman, and I am so, so happy to have you here. Thank you so much for being here, Amber.

Amber: I’m happy to be here. Thanks for having me.

Kimi: Why don’t you start by telling us a little bit about yourself? Like where you’re from, what you do for a living…

Amber: My name is Amber Cabral. I’m a writer, a speaker, an inclusion, diversity, and inclusion equity consultant, and an execution coach. I own a boutique consulting firm called Cabral Co. And prior to stepping out and really growing my business, because I kind of always did a little consulting on the side, I worked for Walmart stores as a diversity strategist. I loved it, great company, and great time. Ultimately, I decided it was time for me to spread my wings a little bit and so I started a consulting company that I felt would service some of the needs that I saw in the corporate marketplace. So I did that in the last year. I’m a year self-employed at this point. I do a number of other things just independently.

I contribute to a number of non-profit organizations, all which are committed to promoting diverse representation either in arts or in workplaces or in communities empowering women. Also resonates women and girls globally. So I support two organizations that I am on the executive board for. One is called Brown Girls do Ballet and I’m the chair of that organization and I also service the board secretary for National African-American Women’s Leadership Institute. So that’s what I do.

I’m originally from Detroit, Michigan. I tell people I am transient because I feel like I move every 6 months these days. So today I’m in plain old Texas. In about a month I will be a resident of the DMV. I do quite a bit of moving about, but that’s me in a nutshell.

Kimi: Okay. You’ve been self-employed for a year. How did you know or what were you starting to see or feel within yourself to let you know that it was time for a change?

Amber: You always want to have the happy side of things but this is not a happy side.

Kimi: You tell the truth.

Amber: Yeah. To just keep it all the way real, you know when work doesn’t light you up anymore. And I cared about my job, I cared about the people I worked with, I cared about the work that I did, but I was over the environment. I was over a lot of the corporate politics that come with working in corporate America. And if I may be clear, I support corporates today, I’m just in a different position because I’m a consultant instead of being an employee.

I definitely see in value corporate and what is contributed as a function of that institution. But for me, it became a struggle to navigate the things that working for someone comes with to be able to achieve what I wanted to see in the world. The thing that I say now to clients, and friends, and people who ask me, is you just have to do what lights you up and if you’re not lit up like on fire ready to go to work every day, then there might be something missing. For me it was not that I needed to do a different job or move to a different part of the organization, it was that I needed to do more of the same but have more space to do it in.

And anyone who works at any job knows that there are parameters, there are guidelines, and the company gets to define for you how far your reach is and what kind of changes they’re willing to make. And what the impact of your work is going to have in their organizations is largely contingent upon what kind of agreement you make as you do your job and I didn’t have enough space.

So it began feeling very suffocating and frustrating and I was mad like all the time. I remember I used to say that because my co-workers were like, ‘’What is wrong with her.’’ But I was just unhappy and I couldn’t fix it. It still took some time after I left to really get clear about what it was that I needed to do but I was crystal clear that that wasn’t it anymore. So that’s how I knew.

Kimi: A big thing with early accountability or really holding ourselves responsible, and a big one is executing our goals. And that’s what you do, execution coach. When you made that decision, it was time. That’s an actual scary step. How long were you in corporate before you took that leap?

Amber: I’ve had a couple of jobs. Over a decade. It wasn’t this job but I was with Walmart for 5 ½ years.

Kimi: That’s a scary thing. Like even the security around a lot of it even though there’s a lot of politics, I know that can just be a very scary transition. How did you keep yourself accountable and how did you make sure that you still executed that? Once you set it in your mind like, ‘’Okay, I’m done.’’ What steps did you do or what steps does somebody else take to see, ‘’Okay, this is what I said and this is how I can hold myself accountable. This is what I need to do and this is how I can get it done.’’

Amber: It’s only going to take a 10000-foot approach. I call myself an execution coach because I’m always moving. I like things to be in motion and I need change and I need adjustment and innovation and that is not the norm. Most people are trying to figure how to get more of that. I’m very good at operating in motion.

The first things you want to do is get clear about what you want and understand that you need to be in motion. It can’t all happen in your head. That’s step one. What is it that you want to do? What do you think you want to do? What does that feel like? So once that happens, once you’re like, ‘’I want to do this.’’ Whatever that is – whether it’s leaving your job, whether that’s deciding to start a family, whether that’s buying a house, whatever it might be- the next thing you need to do is simplify.

Start with what you know. I know that I have this much saved, I know how to look for a home, if we’re talking about buying a house. If it’s looking for a job, I know I have this much saved. I know I know how to facilitate. I know that I’m great at project management. Whatever that looks like, simplify. Make know of what you know because you know it. You actually know it. It’s really important that you at least – after you get clear that you want to do this- you take a moment and simplify what you own or what you have or what those pieces are that you can move forward with.

Then the next step is, make some steps. Outline your steps. Maybe the first step is I’m going to decide to save this much first, or I want to make sure I have my website up first. Make some steps and write those steps out. And initially, you’re going to start to encounter things that are all over the place but that’s okay, write the steps out.

Once you have those steps, go back and water the little steps that are part of those steps. The smaller you can make it the easier it is to watch and see about how much time you need to execute it to get it done. If we’re talking about buying a home you may say, ‘’I need to look at some listings.’’ Well, if you don’t think about the detail nuances and steps to looking at a listing you’d think, ‘’Oh, that’s going to take me 30 minutes. I’ll grab 5 or 6 homes in 30 minutes.’’ But looking at a listing takes some time. You’ve got to get somebody to pull it for you, you’ve got to run some criteria. So that may change what you thought was going to take you a few minutes to something that takes several hours. It’s really important to clarify your steps and then make the sub-steps.

Once you have all of that done, then try to organize it in order. If you’re selling a product, if it’s not leaving your job, if you’re trying to build something that you’re going to give to someone else, sometimes what hangs people up with the organize is, ‘’Who am I organizing it for? I don’t know how people will need this. Maybe this isn’t the right order.’’ When you’re organizing it’s an order that works for you. Put it together in your mind, in the way that works for you because at the end of the day you need to be the one that can talk about it.

There is a quote that I like, I want to say it’s Einstein that says it, ‘’If you can’t explain it simply, then you don’t understand it.’’ That’s your goal for organizing. You should be able to explain it simply because then you know you understand it.

Kimi: I think sometimes people do think that it has to be concrete that you can’t come back and change or shift. If it’s not feeling good for you right now you’re thinking, ‘’I thought maybe I wanted to work with individuals but I see myself want to do more stuff with groups.’’

Amber: And that’s what happens next. Once you have your pieces then you can start thinking about whose next. Like who is this for, what do they look like, what is my target demographic, what do they need, how do they think, is it who I thought it was? Because the thing is, once you get your details down, once you’re clear and simplified and made your steps and have order, then you can start to think about who that’s good for.

So when you think about something like—the first raincoat was probably made by two people who were sick of standing outside and having wet clothes right, but they didn’t think of a raincoat as a fashion statement. Now people wear raincoats when it’s cloudy and there’s not even any chance of rain just because it goes with their aesthetic.

That’s what happens when you start to produce and you start to lay your steps out and you start to get organized. Suddenly, your thinking shifts and you start to be better able to define who your audience is and who it is that you want to serve. And it may start out as I want to service individuals or I may want to service millennials or I may want to service black women, but that could very quickly become someone else once you have a good understanding of what you have.

Once you have all that then you move to who is this for, and how do they think. Find somebody, talk to them about it. After that, you want to go to build your service if it’s building a service or if it’s building a plan to leave your day job. Build out what you’re going to do. Start to actually implement some of those steps and lay them out.

If it’s a service, one of the things you want to keep in mind is that if someone needs something they’ll come ask you for it. So you give people the core. I always tell people like if someone wants some fruit, you bring them fruit if they don’t want grapes, they’ll take them out. But the opposite side of that is also that if someone wants fruit but they want grapes they’re going to ask you for grapes. So just keep that in mind.

Your product or service, whatever you’re building, you don’t have to know everything. And more than likely you know more than you realize you know but you don’t have to have all of it right then to start moving. And that’s the thing about this, its motion. There has to be motion. If there isn’t motion then you’re just thinking about it.

From there, once you have an idea of what your service is and you build that out, define success. Figure out what winning looks like. I want to be able to leave my job in 7 months or I want to be able to buy a home in 6 weeks or whatever and then you want to execute. And you execute in a way that you’re clear what success looks like. Because it’s not going to be the same thing the next time. Every session, every time you buy a home, every time you shift jobs, every time you decide you want to change careers, whatever that looks like, it’s going to be different. But you can always follow kind of a set framework that will help you get going and as long as you’re not hang up on needing all of it – because you’ll never have all of it. I always say if you’ve got 60%, it’s ready because you’re going to build as you go. You’ve got to be comfortable with just moving. I think that’s what really holds people up a lot of time, it’s just that fear of getting moving.

Kimi: So you’re saying if a person has about at least 60% of what they say they would like to produce or put out or give as a service, go ahead?

Amber: Go ahead.

Kimi: And watch.

Amber: Yeah, just watch. Because at the end of the day, if it’s a podcast, if you’ve got most of what you need put it out there. Somebody is going to listen to it and they’re going to call you and they’re going to say, ‘’Hey, I listened to your podcast. You know, it might be a good idea if you check out this app. It’s really good at giving you intro music.’’ People will show up with the pieces you need. Life will show up with the pieces you need but it will never do that until you at least start executing.

My little sister wants to kind of get a little further into photography. She is very artsy. I’m not the artsy one in the family. All people like to think I’m an artist, I’m not. Not in that way. But I recently asked her to shoot some images for me for my business site and she hesitated and totally didn’t make any move so I called her and we had a conversation literally earlier today where she had to admit that, ‘’I’m afraid to do it and it’s wrong and you don’t like what I shoot.’’ And I had to say, ‘’Well, you’ll never know if you don’t shoot it and send me something. You’ll never know if I like it or if I think it’s amazing. You could very well shoot something and I’m like this is way better than I thought it would be. Can you also do this?’’

Because here’s the thing, you’re afraid that I’m going to ask for something that you can’t do. That could happen if it’s bad or if it’s great. So just throw it out there and use that 60% as a measure. You kind of know when you’re close to being done. If you’re more than halfway, you’re ready to at least start launching.

Kimi: I know you’ve said, when I’ve been in one of your speaking engagements, you said in discomfort you deliver. So I think even taking that from your story with your sister there should be a little bit of that feeling of ‘I’m just not completely like there.’

Amber: Yeah. Discomfort totally helps you deliver if you use it right. If you let your discomfort freeze you, you’ll be in the same place forever, and we all know those people. But if you go ahead and move out of it, there’s something so rewarding about being like, ‘’Oh my god, I was so stressed about this and it went great.’’

If your discomfort is like really pressing against your throat and you’re nervous, that lets you know it’s time to do something. That is a dead indicator that it’s time to move.

Kimi: Got you. So it sounds like you’ve taken your passions, some things that you’re really good at, your non-profit and the work that you’re doing with that and other organizations, you have your consultation business. Are there any other services or support that you offer at this time?

Amber: Cabral Co works largely with corporations, large and small – we’re a small but mighty company – but I also do some individual consultation. I’m in the process of revamping my site. I hope it’ll be up by the end of the week. It’s under my name Ambercabral.com and it’s also there to highlight some of the things that I do outside of just the entrepreneurial side of me that has this company that I started. It talks a little bit more about the talks that I give and the places I speak and the nonprofits that I serve, the ways that I use to give my time back, as well as highlighting other things that I’m part of like the podcasts. This podcast will probably be out there so people can kind of get a good sense of who I am. Hopefully, that will be up for people to peruse very soon.

Kimi: So if someone wants to get in contact with you what would be the best way?

Amber: Probably Ambercabral.com or Cabralco.com.

Kimi: All right. Sounds good. Well, thank you so much, Amber. You gave us a lot on strategy and execution and I’m going to implement a lot of these things that you said because it’s right there. I’ll start with the 60%.

Amber: Good. I could help. 60% and keep it moving.

Kimi: Thank you so much and make sure to check out Ambercabral.com. Thank you so much for your time.

Amber: Absolutely.

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