by Sabie Crowder
Tangela grew up in small, rural town in Georgia an hour and a half south of Atlanta. She is a first generation college graduate whose brothers followed in her foot steps and completed college as well.
“I knew at an early age that I was intellectually smart. I was a veracious reader who read all of the fairy tales and Greek mythology books that my local library had to offer. I believed life could be magical, and I was convinced that the world was a bigger place than my hometown.”
Although she had a great high school with good teachers who prepared her for college, her guidance counselor was no help whatsoever.
“I was number six in my class, and I should have gotten scholarships, but I didn’t. I only applied to the University of Georgia because no one told me I was supposed to apply to more than one college.”
Tangela never let adversity–or anyone, for that matter–stand in her way. She declared to her father at age 14 she was going to take Dan Rather’s job as host of the national evening news. To which he lovingly replied, “OK, what’s your plan?”
Her plan included going to the state college with the best journalism program, the University of Georgia. Turns out, she hated being on camera… but she loved the investigative aspect of journalism. She’s always been curious about people and life, so her major was a great fit for her interests, but she knew she wasn’t passionate about a career in broadcast news.
Tangela majored in broadcast news, with minors in political science and drama, and completed multiple internships including an internship with former Department of Labor Commissioner and Georgia State Representative Michael Thurmon. Thurmon recommended Tangela for a paid internship with State Farm, for which she was selected. They offered her a job to join full time before graduation from UGA with the caveat that she would move wherever they needed her, and that ended up being Dalton, Georgia.
After a couple of years in Dalton, she wanted to transfer to Atlanta to corporate office but then she met her husband…and you’ve got to hear this story. Tangela and John met on a blind date on a Friday, he proposed on the following Tuesday, and they were married 8 months later, but not without a bit of a hiccup. If you’ve lived in Chattanooga for a number of years, you know about the famed Blizzard of ‘93. The wedding was canceled, but Tangela and John were determined to get married blizzard or no blizzard. Her dad and brother found a pastor, brought him back to the house, and the couple married in Tangela’s childhood home.
Tangela’s aunt (who more like a sister) died on Christmas Eve 1995. Needing some room to grieve, she completed her tenure with State Farm the following March. She then moved into another insurance role at Provident in Chattanooga while she worked on her master’s degree in English at night.
“At that time, there wasn’t a lot of opportunity for women, and I am a creative problem solver with lots of ideas. My type of creativity wasn’t fully embraced by corporate culture back then. The tide has turned, corporations would love to have more creative employees with strong problem solving skills.”
She started working for a startup software company out of Louisville, Kentucky, which sold practice management software to doctors. With a background in insurance, she stepped into the vice president role and focused on sales. You can imagine how busy they were with HIPP
A and electronic claims coming on the scene in the late nineties. Learning more about technology than she ever wanted to, Tangela was able to leave the position a few years later, but sold the software on a contract basis.
“While selling software to the doctors, I noticed that they didn’t necessarily have great business processes in place to increase their revenue. Eventually, I transitioned from selling software, which I hated, to helping the practices increase their cash flow and reduce their receivables.”
For 7 years, Tangela successfully consulted for medical practices until one day she was walking into a client’s office, and something wasn’t right.
“I didn’t know what I was supposed to do, but I knew it had to be different. I felt in my gut that it was time for a change, I was right. Since then, I’ve learned to always listen to my gut.”
A constant learner and always hungry for more, Tangela had completed her master’s degree from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and began business classes at Dalton State College. Before long, and with a nudge from her dad, she ended up becoming an adjunct professor at Dalton State College.
“The first class was horrific!,” she laughs. “Half of the class dropped; I was the teacher, and I wanted to drop the class, but I’m not a quitter. I knew that if I were going to continue to te
ach, I had to become excellent. The next semester was a heck of a lot better. Through that difficult process, I discovered that teaching is one of my core gifts.”
She used her degree in English and her ability to ask good questions to write an online class called “Business Writing Made Simple”. Local companies began using it for their staff, and askied if Tangela was available to contract with them to consult, birthing her second consulting business.
A self-proclaimed people strategist, Tangela is gifted in reducing chaos and creating structure and order.
“I thought everyone could read emotional chaos, but I was wrong. Clients would ask me to help with their employee issues, and I realized I had a knack for solving people problems. I can identify root cause issues and help map a path towards resolutions that lead to better business outcomes. That has evolved into me focusing on leadership development and corporate culture.”
Now 18 years into her consulting practice, Tangela says she’s wiser and more productive than she’s ever been.
“My work aligns with my gifts and talents. I’m very fortunate that my career is essentially my calling. Understanding my calling has been a lifelong process of discovery, but I wake up every day excited and very, very grateful that I get to walk this path.”
Tangela joined CWLI when she was researching other networking groups around town. She had built a group in Dalton called Stilettos and Grace, and was curious as to what others were offering. She met Stefanie Crowe (past CWLI Board Chair), who became a great friend and convinced her to join. We are now lucky enough to have Tangela on the board at CWLI.
LESSONS FROM A COACH
“Pay attention to what energizes you…what you’d do morning, noon, and night… and walk toward that. The pursuit prepares you for the opportunity. Your calling will clear up over time, you’ll gain mastery through your experiences including your struggles. The money will eventually show up if you don’t give up.”
“Great leaders know what they are good at; they are connected to their passion, and they serve other people.”
“Be educated in your craft – whatever that looks like. A college degree is not essential for everyone; however, for many it is a ticket that opens certain doors. You have to decide if you need that ticket to open the doors to the dreams you have.
About personal brand:
“I’ve always had a vision that I wanted to control my own destiny and forge my own path. Since I’m an introvert and would rather sit quietly in the back of the room, I had to really be thoughtful and intentional about crafting my brand. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have one. I knew I would have to step out of my comfort zone to manifest the brand that I created in my head.”
Tangela is a role model to her daughter, Caylor, and women throughout the area. I encourage you to make time to connect with Tangela. There is a lot to be learned from an independent, visionary like her.
Read more about Tangela in her Q&A here.
P.S. Keep an eye out for Tangela’s book to be published soon! It is sure to be an excellent read by a professional communicator and coach.