Nicole Cober ’89 Shares Her Journey to Fulfillment
Nicole “Nic” Cober ’89 will be the first to tell you that loss can lead to abundance.
At major turning points in her life – including losing her high paying attorney position due to firm downsizing, and having to shutter the doors of her successful spa and hair salon chain as a result of the downturn in the economy – Cober found a way to switch the narrative in her head, replacing fear and doubt with faith and positivity.
Her soon-to-be released book, “CEO of My Soul – The Self-Love Journey of a Small Business Owner,” details her personal journey and offers a practical how-to-guide for entrepreneurs.
“Fear makes you think the next thing is inherently worse,” she said. “If you lose a job, you immediately think you’ll be homeless, not that you might become president of the next company you work for.”
You can’t be your own enemy, Cober said. “Once I was able to forgive myself for my failures and start to move forward, I soared,” she said.
Bouncing Back from Failure
After earning a bachelor’s degree in Mass Communications and Sociology from UC Berkeley, Cober graduated from Howard University School of Law, where she was a member of the Law Journal, the moot court team and served as class vice president for two years.
After serving as a senior law clerk for the Chief Judge of the DC Court of Appeals, Cober landed a plum job as a litigation associate at one of Washington DC’s largest and most renowned law firms, Dickstein Shapiro (now closed), where she worked for four years. “I was a generalist, but I did antitrust litigation as well as insurance coverage litigation,” she said. “But it wasn’t a good fit. I was miserable, and knew I needed to do something else.”
Still, Cober was nervous about the future.
She flipped the script and launched Soul Day Spa and Salon, a spa and hair salon with locations in Washington, DC, and Maryland. Over the course of the next 10 years, the spas were acclaimed for quality services and avant-garde branding, and Cober annually partnered with a women’s shelter in the nation’s capital to provide complementary service to residents.
But when the economy tanked, Cober struggled, and she was forced to close the business in 2010. “I practiced law under the radar for a couple of years, trying to heal my wounds,” she said.
“It’s really hard when you are finally working in your career and it’s not what you thought it would be”
Today, she is the Principal Managing Partner of Cober Johnson & Romney, which specializes in small business advocacy and development.
“I’m really taking the lessons I learned early on as a small business owner and helping people either get their ideas off the ground or grow their businesses,” she said. “I like to say I’m their cheerleader because most small business owners have great skills and great managerial instincts – that’s how they got their business off the ground. I am there to make sure they have best practices in place and to support them.”
Cober is also a sought-after media influencer who provides her expertise to an array of local and national media in the form of on-air interviews, print editorials, advice columns and expert quotes. She is a regular small business contributor for American Express Open Forum, Black Enterprise and Citibank’s Women and Co., and she serves as a regular on-air small business consultant for Fox 5 DC and WJLA-TV’s NewsChannel 8.
And she’s a mentor for SCORE and an instructor for the “Emerging Leaders Initiative,” two programs that are affiliated with the Small Business Administration.
A Positive Point of View
Cober says that it can be difficult for people to switch things up after devoting several years, and lots of money, to pursue a law or graduate degree. “It’s really hard when you are finally working in your career and it’s not what you thought it would be,” she said. “But my parents were awesome when I was faced with stressful circumstances with my jobs. They are two of the most encouraging, supporting and optimistic people. They trusted my judgement, and to have that kind of support behind me during transitional times turned fear into faith and helped me believe in myself again.”
“CEO of my Soul” is Cober’s way of helping others. She stresses that obstacles are “not the end of the road, but simply the end of a chapter in your book.”
In addition to professional challenges, Cober experienced several personal struggles that caused additional stress.
“What worked for me was loving God, loving myself, and loving others – in that order,” she said. “I had been out of alignment, putting jobs and relationships at the forefront. Once I stepped back and prioritized in a different way, I had a different outcome. That’s when I was able to truly find inner peace and was able to move forward.”
Self-love is essential for success, Cober said. “We are all on a journey, we are all doing the best we can. Instead of listening to that critical voice inside, you need to focus on learning lessons from your failures so that you can move forward in life. Being kinder to yourself, forgiving yourself, and getting a support system in place will help you move on,” she said.
Cober’s book is due to be released on May 2. Learn more about Cober and her book at http://niccober.com/