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Here's How EIC of Essence Overcame Getting Rejected For The Job—Twice


Vanessa K. De Luca, Editor-in-Chief of Essence magazine, is no stranger to hard work. In fact, before becoming EIC, she applied for the job twice and was actually turned down BOTH times. For many people, failing twice would mean letting thata dream go, but not for De Luca. Speaking at Her Conference 2016, De Luca shares what obstacles she faced when trying to accomplish her goals and how she overcame them. Here is what she did: 

1. Know what you stand for—and what you don’t.

For De Luca, hard work ran in her family. When she was a kid her father worked the line at a Ford factory and her mom worked for a phone company. But eventually, her dad left his job in order to run his own business. He never took shortcuts when trying to accomplish his goals and that was something De Luca held with her. She says that when you take shortcuts, you aren't building a strong foundation. And knowing that, you stay true to what you stand for. 

2. Don’t rest on your laurels.

According to De Luca, you should never just be comfortable. There is always a way to do more and be constantly evolving. Whether it's your thinking or your approach to a situation, there is always a way you can think outside of the box. 

3. Believe in the power of failure.

For De Luca, this is one of the most important keys that she learned when climbing the ladder. She applied twice for the job of EIC and was turned down twice before she finally got into the role. She could have given up but she didn't. She says, “It’s hard when people tell you no” and tell you you aren't ready. You feel rejected and hurt and it's hard to come back from that. But instead of letting it tear you down, De Luca says it's crucial to always find the positive in a situation. One way you can learn from a failure is by asking questions like what you could have done better and how you can improve for next time. You should never be afraid to ask those hard questions.

4. Trust your inner compass, even when the naysayers do not. 

When you go the gym or a spin class, you probably have heard your instructor say "use your core!" Well, it's the same for life, De Luca says. Your core is the part that sustains you and keeps everything else working. This is the same way that your inner compass works. Once you know what you believe in and learn to trust your gut, you are trained to follow it for life, even if people try to tell you otherwise. For De Luca, she had to trust her inner compass greatly in February 2015 when she made a choice to do an exclusive Black Lives Matter edition of the magazine. People told her that it wouldn't work but she took that risk, because it was something she felt strongly about. She couldn't just stand by idly, she felt as though she had a responsibility to take a stand and that she did. The result? It's one of the most critically acclaimed issues the magazine has put out.

5. Take the risk that takes you somewhere new.

Sure, De Luca faced some resistance when creating a BLM cover for Essence. But, she says, "It's worth it." Being able to take a risk and make a difference is incredibly fulfilling. She had the opportunity to shift the future and that's exactly what she did.

6. Look back—but only to see how far you’ve come. 

An important part of growing up is making mistakes. But instead of looking at your mistakes as regrets, you can learn from them. De Luca stresses the importance of learning from what you did wrong and doing better next time. 

7. Don’t be afraid to do the unexpected. 

In our society, many people have an idea of who they are. But if you want to grow and be successful, it is important to think outside of the box and do the unexpected. "Take yourself out of the box that someone is putting you in!" and you will go so far. 

8. Remain humble, but let ’em know.

As Beyoncé knows, it is absolutely amazing when you know that you "slay." Like Queen B, it is important to own your successes and things that you do well. But on the other side of that, you should always give credit more than you take credit. But when you do well, don’t shy away from owning it. 

9. Never stop learning, because it gives you courage. 


Yes, yes, yes  @vanmommy @essence #HerConference

A photo posted by Her Campus (@hercampus) on

When De Luca grew up, her mother and grandmother drilled into her head the importance of education. "Education is everything" and you could not get where you want to be without an education, she says. When you have a good education, it gives you courage because you "know what you know" and as long as that's the case, you can do anything.

10. A winner never quits—a quitter never wins

Throughout everything, it is so important to never give up on your goals. Even if you fail many times, just as De Luca did, you cannot give up. Because once you accomplish what you set your mind to, the feeling is going to be unlike anything you've ever experienced before. 

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