Why Asking to Pick Someone’s Brain Is Never Going to Make You Successful

Why Asking to Pick Someone’s Brain Is Never Going to Make You Successful

Let’s get one thing straight. It's one thing to have a genuine interest in connecting; it's another if you know you want something from that person that they offer as a service and you just don’t want to pay for it. Here are 3 reasons why that won’t fly and the joke will be on you anyway. 

She's Up Next: Women You Better Not Overlook This Year

If you know anything about me, you know that I live for rebuttals. I always try to give a new perspective and challenge traditional ways of thinking, because if we all think the same, then the world would be a really boring place. I wrote this post weeks ago, but decided that International Women's Day was the perfect time to post it and celebrate women near and dear to my heart.  I remember reading an article on XoNecole about Erika Pittman,Vice President of Combs Enterprises - yeah, Diddy's brand. All I could think of was “OMG, I need to meet her!” I immediately started searching for ways to get in touch. After a few minutes, I quickly gave up on the idea. Not because I didn't think it was possible, but because I wasn't sure how I could be valuable to her. I could pick her brain, interview her for my site, but what would I be offering her in return? I went on a Twitter rant and questioned why we are so biased around who we give our attention to? We are so quick to support celebrities and other public figures, but don't put half of that effort in supporting our own friends and people in our network. We will pay $30 for Kylie's lip kit or Karen Civil's book, before we pay $15 to attend a friend's event. Why? Why are we constantly looking up to these powerhouses of women and simultaneously neglect our peers?  Think about it. How many times have you curved brunch with your friend, but would immediately drop everything if someone like Erika Pittman or Oprah made time for a 15 minute meeting with you? You would probably travel 2 hours on camelback in the desert of Dubai if you had to.

[Tweet "Don't get so consumed looking up to people, that you forget to look around you."]

Guess what? One day, the women we are looking up to are going to retire and be out of the game. If you fail to cultivate relationships now, you will have no connections with your peers who are up next. You will realize that you spent so much time trying to connect with the Bevy Smiths of the world that you missed out on the Kela Walkers. You were so consumed with the Valeshia Butterfields, that you overlooked the Raven Robinsons. In the race to break into these inner circles of success, I realized I was ignoring the resources around me. That's what I hope this list can be. It's an ode to the amazing women in my network that I have overlooked, undervalued or downright ignored. It's also a celebration of women in my circle who I don't give enough credit to.

13 (and counting) Up and Coming Women of Color Under 30

Note: Comparisons are just for reference.


Darian Harvin - the next Ariana Huffington

Greatest Accomplishment: Working to put out a hardcover culture magazine, HRDCVR .

Words of Encouragement: Gimme the loot, gimme the loot.

Raven Robinson - the next Valeshia Butterfield

Greatest accomplishment: Receiving the top 30 under 30 rising star in government in New York State by award by City&State Magazine

Words of Encouragement: Remember you can only win or learn, there is no such thing as losing!

Tiffany Bender - the next Mona Scott Young

Greatest Accomplishment: Bringing home a Black Girls Rock Award for Harlem! *hits milly rock*

Words of Encouragement: get up and do everything you want to do, everyday.

Brittnee Anderson -the next Erika Pittman

Accomplishment: Traveling rural China for 10 days (basically by myself).

Words of Encouragement: if you can, you must.

Cristine Jacquez - the next Alison Brod

Greatest Accomplishment: Working on a brand that has cultivated an online community of Latinas to over 1.5MM members while giving women a platform to be authentically seen, heard and understood.

Words of Encouragement: Be bold & be YOU - there are those who will appreciate you for the same reason others are intimidated by you; be you anyway!

Chasity Cooper - the next Melissa Harris Perry

Greatest accomplishment: Whenever I have the opportunity to connect with young people and empower them to chase their dreams, it's a win for me.

Words of Encouragement: Do the things that set your soul on fire. Ask all the questions. Have faith that everything will work out for the best. Consistently create dope sh*t that will make you proud and leave your mark on the world and do it unapologetically.

Ada Rojas - the next Myliek Teele 

Greatest Accomplishment: Being the first in my family to graduate from college.

Words of Encouragement: Trust your struggle. The moment you are ready to quit is usually the moment right before a miracle happens. Don’t give up. Have in your yourself and your hustle.


Altrichia Cook - the next Draya (Mint Swim)

Alechia Reese - the next Marshawn Evans

Raevyn Jones - the next Small Biz Lady

Hiliana Devila - the next Dulce Candy

Gia Peppers - the next Issa Rae

Marisa Mendez - the next Necole Bitchie

And of course me, Emmelie De La Cruz. - the next Beyonce of Business as I have come to be so hilariously called. Hello - If I don't believe in me, who will?


international women's day quote

Who is up next in your circle? The women you should build and bond with? Let them know today. Tomorrow is too late. (I'll be updating the list until 5PM EST on March 8th. Let me know)

[Tweet "Happy #InternationalWomensDay! @[Overlooked woman here], you're up next. #SheInspiresMe"]


Slay with your own Melanin Magic Merchandise:


Why I Almost Quit My Business (Warning: Shade Inside)


  Listen, let me warn you now. There may be some curses up in here, some trap music references and a whole lot of honesty around what the online business industry has become. I was frustrated and quite frankly over it. And I feel that many of you may be feeling the same way, too. If you aren’t interested in reading the real, skip to the bottom so you can find out what I have coming for you in 2016. If you want all the tea, keep reading.

Guess what: we all aren't going to have 6 or 7-figure businesses. We all aren't going to be full-time entrepreneurs, but I've learned to make a passive income while working full-time. I haven’t hacked every single aspect of business to make 6 figures, but the few thousand dollars of extra income I made each month allowed me to live comfortably, to travel every single month last year (pictures here), to pick up and move to Atlanta, and to be able to do what I want cause I'm popping! (Have y'all heard that Drake/Future song?)  Anywho, that was the same income that kept me from freaking out when I was laid off from my job today. The startup that I work for isn’t doing that well and unless a miracle happens, Feb. 29 will be my last day. How ironic that I will have to take the leap into full-time entrepreneurship on the leap day in a leap year. I see what you did there, God. Boom. Yes. It got super freaking real for me, but you know what? I am happy and relieved. I could spend more time doing the things that I love at my own pace.  Since I have gotten this passive income thing down, I can only imagine what will happen when I’m working on it full-time.

[Tweet "What @EmmelieDeLaCruz plans to do now that she’s been laid off.."]

Before we start the Emmelie pity party, let me tell you why this is actually a blessing is disguise. I have been so annoyed that everybody wants to have a $497 dollar course to teach you how to do [any business or marketing task here] in [ridiculous amount of time]. You basically teach yourself how to do the damn thing anyway. (There are a handful of coaches and infopreneurs out there that have mastered teaching courses like Regina, but she’s basically a unicorn.) I have invested thousands of dollars in courses and masterclasses and was highly underwhelmed. I have taken courses that talk about why copy is important and the fact that I need a landing page. However, it took me a while and a lot of wasted money to teach myself how to actually make a landing page and even longer to find a copywriter to write the copy for it. By the time I figure shxt out, I’m too exhausted to do whatever it is I was promoting with the landing page in the first place. Many of the products and classes I have invested in focus on the what and the why, but never the how. 

[Tweet "This is for anyone who has ever wasted time and money on course after course."]

I was so freaking over it last year. I was so done in early 2015, that I quit. The Branding Muse blog went library quiet because I was having a hard time figuring out where I fit in the world of 6-figure business coaches and blogging gurus. After tuning out the noise flooding my timeline and IG feed, I decided to follow my intuition last August. If everyone is teaching me how to grow my online business, who the hell is actually doing the work? I rebranded the site to be more focused on providing actual services like brand audits and brand development, while building #HustleHackCo which focuses on the tools and shortcuts to better business. If you are going to go the DIY route, I want to make sure you are spending DIY money - aka less than $50. 

So if you want a coach (and I use that term loosely)  that is going to “teach” you how to make millions, then I’m not it and that’s ok. (and just so we’re clear, no coach can ever teach you that. There are way too many intangibles, but that’s a topic for another day.) What I can show you are REALISTIC strategies for busy people who want to market their business even with a trillion other things going on. I’m not going to give you an expensive-ass self-guided course and wish you the best. As your personal branding mentor, my job is to give you baby steps each week and each month to move you towards progressing into what you were really called to do. And if you don’t want those steps, I’m also here to do it for you. (Check out my Hire Me page.)

How so?  Well for those of you who don’t know, I started my side hustle at 20, and I was always learning and going through a lot of trial and error. Those experiments with different tools, processes, courses and coaches are what built the Hustle Hack community. Everything I now know after 5 years, I can share with you so you don't make the same mistakes or waste as much time confused. You deserve to make a living and secure your own destiny. So when you do leave your job or are put in an uncomfortable position like being laid off, you have no worries.

I’m not perfect. I don’t have it all together. I have a small Twitter and Instagram following, but it has gotten me clients. I have a modest 10k (and growing) people who visit my blog each month, but I’m still connecting and landing brand partnerships. I don’t have 20K launches - shxt, I get excited if I make 2K in a launch - but I’m passionate about making information accessible to the people who need it most: the newbies, the non-tech savvy, the multi-passionate, the hustlers. A lot of y'all are on the verge of doing something great, but you're too scared and too busy to start. That’s where I come in.

So what does this mean for you?

I’m switching things up a bit. Now that I have more time on my hands to create useful and easy to follow content (Hello, "unemployment!"), I’m leveling up. Introducing #HustleHackCo: part academy + support group + resource library for the side hustler or newbie entrepreneur who want a more guided experience on marketing their biz + building their brand. I have been growing and marketing brands for years. It’s time to take my degree from the top communications school in the country (shoutout to Newhouse!) and  tools + tips that I used daily in corporate America, to support solopreneurs, small businesses, and passion projects. Click here to learn more.

Why I’m Hating on #BlackGirlMagic + #Formation


For many years, (most of my life really) I have always felt I was a black girl born to Hispanic parents. My mentors are black, my best friends are black (or think they black), my boyfriends are usually black, but what about my roots? I have come to terms with the fact that Latinas aren't united in the same way that black women are, and for that reason alone, I’m jealous. I’m jealous of that sisterhood that could be, but doesn’t exist for Latinas.  Beyonce just dropped a very culturally relevant song and music video and this happens.


#BlackTwitter and #BlackLivesMatter erupts, but we don’t have a #SpanishTwitter that unites us. Shoot, we don’t have anything at all. There are many things that separate us as Latinas. For example, Dominicans and Puerto Ricans view themselves as very different from other nationalities like Ecuadorian and Mexicans. Although we are the same ethnicity, there are still some very obvious differences in the way we look, talk, think, eat and exist. Thus, we don't unite in the same way that African-American women do. For years, I’ve been searching for our version of Black Girl Magic. What are we doing different? I always wonder, and I never get the answers. Is it because we aren't our own heroes and our own cheerleaders? Is it because we truly do have different priorities in terms of raising families and being wives? Are we not as strong and powerful as we think? Or, do we simply just not give a fck? I really struggle with this. And honestly, I don't know what the answer really is.

[Tweet "Will Latinas ever have #BlackGirlMagic? "]

I started thinking a lot about this when the Essence Magazine covers dropped and shortly after, Teen Vogue's. There was such a momentum around the Black Girl Magic movement that it made me wonder where was the brown girl magic, latina magic movement. Where were we and why weren’t we being celebrated by our own people? I created the Melanin Magic Virtual Conference with this idea in mind. I wanted to create a place where we can unite around what it means to be a woman of color in the workplace and society. However, what was interesting to see was that most of the women that showed up to the virtual conference were black women. In the audience, that commradery that I hoped to create around Latinas and African-Americans didn't come to pass.  I'm not sure where I go from here, because I quite frankly just don't care to galvanize Latinas. We have to work on not tearing down the women who are stepping into shoes of roles models for us like Gina Rodriguez. Can you believe she won a Golden Globe and instead of being celebrated, she was criticized for not speaking perfect Spanish? While a woman like Taraji can give Viola Davis a standing ovation when she wins an award. Black girls truly do rock, and they will remind you in every moment. It is small but meaningful moments like those that set the tone for the dialogue we have in this country.

[Tweet "Black girls truly do rock, and they will remind you in every moment."]

We are so quick to judge and discredit what it means to be Latina and quicker to segment ourselves into subcategories by language, race, skin color and hair texture. Then we wonder why the universal stereotype of the Latina woman is that she is fiery. Our Latina icons in Hollywood come in the form of Adrienne Bailon, Sophia Vergara, Zoe Saldana, Gina Rodriguez, Jennifer Lopez and Rosario Dawson etc. But are they really enough? The classic Hispanic icons are Spanish-speaking women on Spanish language networks that often times are irrelevant or ignored by young, urban, bicultural Latinas like me. I’ve found many of them don’t have much to say about race and gender anyway. Will we ever have our own movement? I'm not sure. I think there's a lot of mindset shifitng that needs to take place in order for us to be able to do that. We need to feel the same bonds of sisterhood and loyalty to one another that our African-American counterparts feel. There are a lot of complexities, but I know that there is a possibility of doing it right. Cheers to you #BlackGirlMagic and Mother Beyonce for showing us what could be.

Melanin Magic Mug mockup

[Lifestyle Post] Greetings From Dubai

4 years ago, I was blessed with the opportunity to travel to the UAE to intern for Ketchum RAAD in their healthcare PR practice. What I thought would be a significant professional experience became a life-changing summer for me. It baffled me that people who grew up on the other side of the world had so much in common with me. In fact, we had so much in common that we continue to be great friends. The misconceptions that exist in the west will forever make it impossible to forge meaningful relationships with our counterparts in the east. We need to get it together. But, I digress.

IMG_0936The moral of the story is, I'm back! Years and one airline glitch later, I returned to the Middle East, a place that I love so much. When I came in June 2011, and the heat was real and I couldn't do a desert safari. This September was the perfect time. We visited the desert to dune bash aka almost die in a 4x4, rode camels, smoked shisha, ate traditional food and got henna tattoos. It was a great evening with friends.

IMG_0974To survive the desert heat and still protect myself from the sun, I opted for a cotton jumpsuit with a bathing suit top.  The humidity, although brutal, doesn't totally melt your makeup off. I'm convinced that the 100 SPF sunscreen I wore kept my makeup intact. However, translucent powder and setting spray kept me from being shiny throughout the day. The star of the day was really my orange lipstick from Wet and Wild. All matte everything.

Lipstick: Carrot Gold