At the age of 31, Aja Brown made history when she became the youngest mayor ever elected in the city of Compton. But when she was first running, people said, "Are you even old enough to be mayor?" Well, it turns out age really is just a number. Mayor Brown was one of the most qualified people to ever run and win that office. And now she’s basically the CEO...of a city. This week, we asked Mayor Brown for her best management tips (think: don’t micromanage) that she’s learned over her two terms in office.
Danielle: How do you actually take care of yourself in a role where it's 24/7? [When] it's also a highly critical role.
Mayor Brown: Boundaries are just really important. I've learned to utilize 'do not disturb' on my phone and to really be strict with those boundaries. I've learned to not let email run my life. There are certain increments throughout the day, intervals that I check in for my email, but I really focus on achieving the things that I want to get done on that day. And I've learned to take time for myself. I've learned to spend time with family to recharge. I've learned to just take time and you have to just take it because it'll never be there. And that was something that I didn't really fully understand for the first, I would say, at least the first term and maybe even halfway into the second.
Danielle: You were the youngest mayor ever elected in the city. Politics is already hard. Do you think it was harder because you were the youngest? Do you think it was helpful? Did that factor in at all to your decision to run either as a positive or negative?
Mayor Brown: I definitely considered my age as a factor. As I was campaigning and talking with people for support, they would ask me, "You know, baby, are you old enough to run for mayor?" And I will tell them, "Yes, I am." And I would share about my experience and expertise and they later learned I was probably the most qualified mayor we've ever had. And so they really got behind me after just speaking with me for some time and understanding that I was qualified to do so.
But it's been a challenge because I think that there are some people that are older that just have a big divide and also a lack of perspective. And sometimes people judge you based on where they were at your age. And everyone's path is really different. And I wouldn't say I was an average 30-year-old. I don't know a lot of 30-year-olds that were deciding to run for mayor, but I've always made unusual decisions and sacrifices in my life.
So I was mature and prepared to do so, but I think the hardest obstacle was really being a female. Women in leadership have such a hard journey and it's not just men, you are also objectified by women. And so that I think was the hardest obstacle that I've encountered, which is leading as a woman.
Skimm'd by Alex Carr and Peter Bonaventure.
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