Tiffany Waddell Tate
Associate Director for National Engagement, Office of Alumni Engagement at Wake Forest University
1. How do you define success for yourself? What has helped you to be successful?
I define success by – simply put, mapping out clear goals and building the scaffolding to achieve them. I believe my ability to drill down into what’s important, create a plan (despite ambiguity), and propel myself forward … even in the face of adversity or tough times… has helped me be successful thus far.
2. Think of a time that you faced a challenge, obstacle, or roadblock. How did you get through that and what did you learn?
Finding my people: the ones I trusted to share what I was going through with to help me unpack it a bit, and build a plan to get around the roadblock (or what I perceived to be one) was the biggest piece of facing a challenge that comes to mind. I learned that my network is strong, and the people I suspected always have my back? They definitely do.
3. Who are your people (either by name or role) who help you to be successful/confident/intentional/reflective/any other descriptor you want to use? And how have they helped you?
Allison McWilliams! As the queen of mentoring, I have been really lucky to have a colleague (now friend and mentor) as a result of our paths crossing professionally years ago. She’s been one of my biggest cheerleaders (personally and professionally), and also super consistent in keeping it real. We all need that person who can both have our back and kick us in the pants at the same time. Also, my partner Dwayne. He probably doesn’t always understand why my plate is so full – but is always rooting for me to knock it out of the park. When I feel like I am failing, he reminds me that my “failing,” is probably not actually failure and I have to give myself a bit of grace.
4. How did you find your people?
Hm. This is a hard one. I think on some level you have to be authentic and confident in your own skin and talent. Once you do that, similar energy tends to attract and you just gel with people. Occasionally, I ask people to give me really pointed feedback, or I hold space for people unexpectedly, and boom. Your people just kind of show up as you go along.
5. What advice would you give to Wake Forest students as they look for their people?
Don’t expect people to pour 150% into you at the moment you are seeking it. They may not have it to give at that time (or ever) and it’s not about you. As you look for your people, though, just be honest about who you are and what you’re about and remember that your people may come in life stages, styles, and places you weren’t expecting them to be – and that’s ok. Also – always thank people for their time (big or small). Time is the one resource you can’t replicate, and it’s super valuable when someone shares it with you.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
Sometimes your people might be online. I know it sounds weird, but you can build community in real life AND online – and a healthy amount of interaction in the digital space can sometimes be just as important as real life coffee chats with people you admire, respect, and trust.