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Elegant Authenticity: An Interview with Janine Dennis, author of The Absurdity of Doing You

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Janine is the Owner/Chief Innovations Officer for Talent Think Innovations, LLC, a multidisciplinary business strategy and management consulting firm. Her career spans eighteen years in HR, Talent Acquisition, and Talent Management that has taken her through the world of pharmaceuticals, the arts, K-12 education, technology, private equity, healthcare, staffing, and R&D, just to name a few sectors she has worked in. Janine is a dynamic speaker, entrepreneur, and an important and respected voice bringing both a human touch and business savvy to the companies and businesses she works with.

It is through the trials and tribulations of her career travels and her passion for business, technology, digital transformation, and talent management that she created Talent Think Innovations in January 2013. Her aim is to provide practical and sustainable solutions, programs, and strategies that are a catalyst for innovation. Through her work, she is using her experience to get businesses and individuals from surviving to thriving allowing them to succeed in an age of rapid transformation.

Janine doesn’t just preach innovation—she lives it. A globally-known figure in human resources and business, she has contributed to HRD Connect, Cornerstone Rework, and UKG, to name a few. Janine is a rare professional who isn’t afraid to tackle the obstacles and issues facing us as a society and global marketplace. She has been quoted by HBR, Thrive Global, Bustle, The Cut, Atlanta BlackStar, Newsday, SHRM, USA Today and has been featured by Entrepreneur, Fast Company, Black Enterprise, and Ebony Magazines. In 2013, Ms. Dennis was also named one of the Top 100 Most Social Human Resources Experts on Twitter by Huffington Post and one of 50+ Unstoppable Women in HR Tech by Clear Company. Additionally, she was a part of the first-ever IBM + Purematter VIP Futurist Project. She also served as Project Manager for the revamp of IHRIM’s HRIP certification exam in 2019. The HRIP exam is designed to qualify HR Tech and HRIT professionals with competencies rooted in HR Technology’s best practices. Janine is currently in the process of transitioning her knowledge and work in HR to focus on both Future of Life and Total Wellness as well as sprouting a technology company that will address the challenges the differently abled community has in becoming gainfully employed. She is also the author of The Absurdity of Doing You: Rebel Elegance for the Evolving Soul. Janine has proven that humility, innovation, and practical thinking have value and are fast becoming the new business imperative.

Follow her across social media at @MzJanineNicole. Catch her in action AnchorFM for her “Growth on my Terms” podcast:

You can buy The Absurdity of Doing You here.

Are you a writer, too? Submit your manuscript to Atmosphere Press.

Tell us the story of your book’s title. Was it easy to find, or did it take forever?

My journey to the book title was years in the making. The Absurdity of Doing You came to me due to a late-night breastfeeding session over the phone with a friend in May 2015. We were chatting about professional goals, and she asked me when I would write a book. I threw out a few book titles and she shared some as well at the time, but The Absurdity of Doing You was one we both felt connected to. I put it in a note in my Evernote where it sat until 2020. I added “Rebel Elegance” to the title after looking at one of my vision boards for inspiration to finish the title. When I thought of what I wanted readers to walk away with after reading my book, I wrote out “Rebel Elegance for the Evolving Soul.” To ask people to bet on their authentic selves is in many ways absurd. The key to the readers’ ability to meet themselves at the depths I ask of them throughout the book is to be rebellious in elegant ways and dedicate themselves to a life of purposeful evolution.

How did it feel when you first saw your book cover? Or when you first held your book in your hands?

The first time I saw my book cover I cried and the first time I held my book in my hands I cried. It is an indescribable feeling to see something come to life that you spent many days daydreaming about and in so many ways had no clue when it would ever come to fruition. With my book cover, I wanted it to be a work of art. My feeling was I wanted people to be happy to read it and proud to display it on a coffee table or in their little reading nook in their house. I thought of books I have seen in staged houses over the years and thought to myself: the cover alone must make the reader think and feel something before they ever read a page of my story. When it came to physically holding my book for the first time, the first thing that came up for me was a recollection of everything I endured while writing the book. I felt overwhelmingly proud of myself for honoring my process and writing a memoir that I and future generations of my family can be proud of.

Who/what made you want to write? Was there a particular person, or particular writers/works/art forms that influenced you?

I developed a love of reading and writing at a young age. I was already reading literature like Macbeth, Julius Caesar, and Roots in elementary school. I learned in that time that I had a love for reading, but also that I had the gift of writing and storytelling. Alex Haley and Shakespeare were some of my first influences, but later I came to enjoy the writing of Yuval Noah Harari, Pablo Coelho, and Khalil Gibran. The intersection between philosophy, human evolution, and the eloquent use of words to unpack the mysteries of life intrigue me. I found this type of writing with the authors I mentioned. I noticed it in the poetry I read. It was patterned in the music I listened to. My goal has always been to be the sort of writer that added something valuable to the centuries-old discussions of human existence while exploring our design and essence in provocative ways.

What other professions have you worked in? What’s something about you that your readers wouldn’t know?

I have worn many hats over the years. I got my working papers on my fourteenth birthday and I have never stopped working. My first job was working as a waitress for a Jewish Temple on the weekends. It was there I learned how much I would come to love potato latkes and noodle pudding. I worked many jobs in retail, one of them being for the first Forever 21 stores that came to New York from Cali. I was hired as some of the first staff that opened both of their stores in Long Island, NY. I also worked as a Buyer/Executive Assistant to the Director of Materials Management for a hospital in New York called Winthrop Hospital now known as NYU Langone Hospital. I was responsible for managing procurement contracts for the hospital as well as purchasing for several departments.

If your book had a soundtrack, what are some songs that would be on it?

Funny enough, I have a playlist/soundtrack for the book called “Rebel Elegance.” As far as some songs that are on the playlist, there are over six hours of music that take you on the journey of my book, but for the purpose of giving a glimpse of the type of music that I think represents my book, here is a short list:

1. War – Bob Marley

2. Blazed – Ariana Grande feat. Pharrell

3. Freedom! – George Michael

4. …All – Miguel

5. A Beautiful Day – Freedom Fry

6. I n I – Amel Larrieux

7. Look at Her Now – Selena Gomez

8. After the Storm – Kali Uchis feat. Tyler, The Great

9. Nostalgia – Dawn Richard

10. IzWe – Kes, Etienne Charles, Laventille Riddim Section

What is one thing you hope readers take away from reading your book? How do you envision your perfect reader?

My perfect reader would be someone who is perhaps at the beginning of their awakening journey or at a crossroads in life where maybe none of the components of their lives make sense anymore. My hope for this reader is that they see the beauty and power in the chaos of life and find themselves fortified to continue evolving in the ways most unique and meaningful to who they are becoming.

How was working with Atmosphere Press? What would you tell other writers who want to publish? Working with Atmosphere Press exceeded my expectations. I always thought I needed to work with a traditional publisher to get the quality I was seeking. Atmosphere Press provides its authors with a highly supportive team of editors, proofreaders, and more to see that your project can be successful. Never once was I blindsided by any part of the process or felt like my project wasn’t a priority. It was truly a joy working with the team to see my dream become a reality. That aside, it is worth noting that writing a book is no small undertaking. It is truly a labor of love spending time to fine-tune your work so that it garners the attention and respect you desire. The proofreading process in general is tedious, but it is my opinion that Atmosphere makes every part of the process as straightforward and painless as they possibly can. All in all, I highly recommend Atmosphere Press as a publisher and look forward to working with them for a long time to come.

You can buy The Absurdity of Doing You here.

Are you a writer, too? Submit your manuscript to Atmosphere Press.

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