The world is in crisis. Media consultant and author Darlene Brooks Thomas has just-in-time intervention tool. She recently penned A Mother’s Manual, which contains over 100 easy-to-understand passages inspired by a host of topics including accountability, compassion, forgiveness to love, self-discipline and unity.
Thomas shares, “The simple passages in the book resonate with everyone, not just mothers, but with fathers, grandparents, guardians and educators. Those without children who have read the book have expressed that it makes them consider just how they were raised and what they were — or were not — taught in their upbringing.”
What is your day-to-day like at work?
I start my weekdays in the pool 9 a.m. and I work out strenuously for one hour in water. Then, I work from my home office usually writing or on the phone. I travel about one week of each month. If I am working with mothers it can be very intimate one-on-one discussions or group discussions where we talk openly about the obstacles they are facing raising their children. When I teach classes to teenage pregnant and parenting teens, we use my book A Mother’s Manual. We go over each of the passages in the book and I make sure the students understand how to use the principles with their children as well as apply in their own lives.
What inspires you to show up at work every day?
I love what I do. I have a real love and respect for women raising kids. My kids are 18, 21, 22 and 27 years old. I have been a parent for almost three decades. I raised four intelligent, bold children into conscientious and hard-working adults. I also have two grown, brilliant stepdaughters now. They are all doing very exciting things to create change in the world. Each victory gives me hope. My husband is an excellent and devoted father and stepdad. He is a mental health clinician and he is a suicide prevention counselor in our district’s high schools. His passion and support for me and my work also fuels and inspires me.
How did you determine your career path?
I have had great jobs but I have always been a writer. I worked in some capacity in entertainment most of my life. In 2008, I decided to devote the rest of my life to helping mothers because I want to serve. I want to serve God for blessing me. I want to serve mothers of color and children because I love my people and I see so much brilliance and beauty in us that just needs guidance and inspiration. I want my testimony of overcoming many, many challenges to encourage other mothers to fight through their own struggles and in turn see themselves grow and prosper and for their children to be successful in school and in life despite the hard times or suffering they may have endured.
What industries connect to your career choice?
I wrote A Mother’s Manual as a tool to teach so I work with schools and educators, social workers, pastors. I connect with a lot of media people who interview me for TV, radio and social media. A Mother’s Manual is going to be available this year in hospital gift shops. I am working with hospital administrators in the prenatal and education departments. I am in the process of producing public service announcements for television, radio and on digital media platforms. It is a teaching and awareness campaign for parents that will consist of the entire content of A Mother’s Manual. These PSAs will feature children talking directly to adult viewers and listeners. My next goal is to connect with Ob/Gyn offices to air the PSAs in their waiting rooms. I still work in the entertainment industry as a media consultant. I pick and choose the projects very carefully because I only have so much time to devote. I deal with a lot of music industry people because I help manage my daughter Crystal who is a singer and songwriter.
Describe the skill sets that will be essential to future business leaders and innovators.
Our future will depend wholly on people creating a clear vision of their personal contribution to bettering mankind and how to improve things in the world. Leaders will be the ones who will also take up activism and use their resources to do innovative things to make positive changes. Since they were very young, I gave all my children an assignment to not just consume and complain. Come up with solutions and act on them. I am extremely proud of what they are doing. People are watching the world go mad. We have to stop watching and start doing more to fix brokenness where it’s necessary. So many people go to school, get a job and never really think about their dreams, volunteering their time and skills or giving back to others. I hope more people will decide to get into their communities and use their gifts and talents to support other people who are less fortunate. I speak often about my village. I believe in working together and I depend on the ingenuity and creativity of collaborating.
Describe innovative methods you apply to your business and life.
I deal with people from a place of love. I pray about what I say and do. I infuse humor and the bright side of everything I do. I humbly offer my life experiences to relate to others. I share my good and not so good stories and I give away my knowledge to anyone who wants to try something different. I know most people are not comfortable exposing their fears or telling their backstory. By me being transparent, I connect more intimately with those I want to help. I don’t stand on a pedestal. I get down and get real about what I know to be true. I have lived, worked and traveled in a lot of places. I confer with all kinds of people multimillionaires, politicians and people who have only known the streets as their place of business. We all have something in common. I am called on for advice, counsel and prayer from all types of people from different socioeconomic backgrounds and cultures. I am the same person to all people. I know for a fact that a millionaire, White, socialite sometimes is dealing with the same issues as a poverty-stricken, Black, single mother and the issues have nothing to do with money. The one thing for sure, is most women all over the world have in common is that they are mothers.
Describe how you set goals and evaluate your success.
I have lists of to-dos each day. I have an entire plan for my vision and my work with mothers. I do at least one thing every day to get me closer to completing the bigger plan. I add and subtract all the time. I evaluate my success by looking at the big picture. I still get excited about the work I do. My husband is still smiling and happy every day. My children are thriving and do well in their endeavors. The children of the mothers I know are doing well. For me, it’s all about being grateful, joy and progress.
Who do you consider your peers in your field? How have they supported you?
I belong to the biggest unofficial sorority on the planet. I am a mother. Mothers are my peers. Support from my peers comes in many forms. Buying and reading A Mother’s Manual is one way. Sharing our hopes and victories is supportive and creates strong bonds. I do a great deal through referrals. People are my assets, not money. I value relationships.
What best practices have they shared?
We all share tips and suggestions with each other. I am a member of Black Moms Connection on Facebook. There are thousands of us sharing all kinds of personal things and helping each other in a safe, loving space online. A Black Canadian mother started the group. As mothers, we all want the best for our children. We give our children the best of what we know. Some mothers never received the very basic things they needed to thrive personally. Nurturing is so important. But you cannot give what you do not understand. Self-esteem is monumental and again many people lack good self-esteem. People who don’t really love or believe in themselves have great difficulty giving love or even recognizing what a healthy relationship looks or feels like. Encouraging each other is important.
Name your favorite role models for success in two different industries.
Oprah Winfrey has been such a great teacher for living a full life. She has given the public so many tools for self-help. And then she keeps living her own life fully by trying new things and challenging herself. My other role models are some of my very close friends. People who have gone through tremendous ups and downs, but they never gave up. They are all very close to God’s guiding light and some of them are history makers. Some are very famous, some are just great at what they do. They root for me. They love me and my children. They are my village.
Names three books that changed how you saw life and you recommend to others.
A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle. It taught me all about the ego and how it works. Now I recognize when the ego is at work as opposed to the true goodness of Spirit.
The Bhagavad Gita. I read this during a difficult time of my life. It’s an Indian spiritual book about the struggles within us, both our dark and higher self and how to live victoriously.
Until Today by Iyanla Vanzant was everything.
The Bible. Every day I read Bible scripture and I share with my six adult children via a morning text message what I read.
Describe why lifelong learning is important to you.
Lifelong learning is the only way to cure ignorance. When you won’t allow yourself to change or grow because you believe you can’t, it’s sad and dangerous. If you look at some of the worst things happening in the world today it’s because of ignorance and refusal to change. It can be as simple as a stubborn relative keeping up division and drama. It can as destructive as century-old beliefs and systems that refuse to adhere to what’s right and humane. Learning, growing and changing are important.
Describe the voice of success that you hear in your head.
The voice I hear is the voice of the Holy Spirit which always reminds me that I am more than a conqueror, no weapon formed against me shall prosper and if God [is] for me then who can be against me. This is the voice that guides me.
Community success based on what you do in the community means what to you.
Community success means everything to me. It’s why I am working to change the narrative of what a Black mother is. We are doing the most incredible work and it’s the hardest job of all. As we build our villages together and support one another, exchange ideas and uplift each other we are changing the world.
What role does technology play in your daily life?
I use some form of technology for all my work. I am thankful for Skype because I can speak to mothers and do interviews and speak without leaving home.
Which software and technology tools have made the biggest difference in your life?
I actually wrote my book starting out with PowerPoint. It was less intimidating than a full blank page. I like writing one slide at a time.
Define your personal culture.
I am a people person. I really value personal connections and meeting new people. I like genuine exchanges more than small talk. I try to leave people with a good word even if it’s just someone on the plane next to me. You’d be amazed at how many deep conversations I’ve had with strangers after they ask what I do and then they share concerns about their children, spouses, etc.
How does music impact and influence you?
I listen to music every day. Especially in my office. Music is something I love more than food. I listen to everything from 70’s soul, neo-soul, Soca, Bossa Nova, jazz, classic rock, old school hip-hop to a tiny bit of trap depending on my mood.
Describe your favorite vacation spot.
Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paolo are some of my favorite places to go. I went to Sao Paolo for Mother’s Day weekend last year. Just for the beauty and serenity I find there. I love to party in Rio with my best friend and a group of our Brazilian friends. Crazy fun.
If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?
I would encourage people who have children together to raise them together. Broken families grieve me. It is sad when mothers have to carry all the responsibility to do such important and difficult work required to raise a child. I hear too many stories of fathers just not being there. They are alive but not participating — and that’s unacceptable to me.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I would be bolder about asking for help with my work. I am very excited about recently getting on board with the Wayfinder Foundation. I literally, found and sought out Wayfinder because I thought the organization’s mission matched exactly what I am doing. They believe women need support because women and mothers can change the world. I asked for help and Wayfinder said yes.