As part of my series about the “How Business Leaders Plan To Rebuild In The Post COVID Economy,” I had the pleasure of interviewing Alesha Brown.
Alesha Brown, The Joy Guru, is a best-selling author, international editor & publisher and transformational speaker who encourages audiences by igniting the fire within and helping them take center stage.
She is the owner of Fruition Publishing Concierge Services (a division of Alesha Brown, LLC) where she offers author consultation, writing coaching and publishing services to help people share their story with the masses. As a childhood abuse survivor, she is on a mission to reverse the damage of abuse by encouraging survivors to write and publish their story in order to pay it forward and create a circle of healing.
She is also the creator and host of The Entrepreneurs’ Lounge Radio Show & podcast, designed to expose the myths, pains & struggle of entrepreneurship and interview influential experts to give laser-focused solutions. The show uses its featured guest experts to help listeners release the weight of it all.
Thank you so much for your time! I know that you are a very busy person. Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
Thank you so much for this opportunity. I got started as a child abuse survivor who wanted to inspire others to live and thrive. I wanted to reach out to those who were suffering from PTSD, depression and felt like there was more to life but didn’t know how to deal with the weight of it all. I wanted them to know that there is life after abuse and trauma and it worth living and are value supersedes those things we have endured. My life was saved in part because of the stories of abuse survivors I had read since I was five so I wanted to pay it forward by sharing my story by becoming a published author. So I published my first book which opened the door to podcasting, being a contributing writer, associate editor of a digital magazine and eventually 100% self-employed.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
Believing “if you build it they will come” and “if your story is good enough, it will catch the eyes of the right people and you will be an overnight success.” It doesn’t work that way at all. Nor does the “you must invest in your business in order to be successful.” While that is partially true, you may be paying for things that you don’t need for where you are professionally and where you want your business to grow. Too many people are paying for coaches teaching them how to implement elaborate systems when they don’t even know Business 101.
What I did learn and teach clients and audiences today is that:
- People pay for “solutions” not just buy because it sounds like a good idea or the packaging is attractive. What solution does your service, product and business offer? Who needs it and what will they need after they purchase from you?
- Know your expertise and market that. Stop trying to sell hamburgers to the vegan or convince the tea drinker that you sell the best coffee known to man. Everyone is not your client and you have a specific audience that you are ideal for.
- Always deliver more than you promise. I relish in exceeding my customer’s expectations and vision. When my service not only offers the solution but exceeds their vision, I’ve hit a home run. Good enough is NOT good enough, especially in the business world today.
- Don’t forget to show your personal side. Everything is not all business and people want to know more about the CEO and officers of the companies and brands their purchase from. They not only want exceptional service and products, but they also like to see the good public interest stories and you outside of the office. So it’s okay for them to see you drooling over that cup of coffee that you were in dire need of, giving back to the community OR having dinner with your family. They want to see that you’re just like them with some of the same struggles and some of the same likes.
Is there a particular book that you read, or podcast you listened to, that really helped you in your career? Can you explain?
No particular book or podcast so to speak helped me in my career, but definitely professional organizations and industry associations that serve as great networking opportunities, keep me abreast of current trends, meeting experts that are where I want to be and providing a global business perspective. You don’t know what you don’t know, but you are responsible for keeping current, staying relevant and forecasting.
Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven business” are more successful in many areas. When you started your company what was your vision, your purpose?
For every client to recognize the power of one and how to position themselves as an effective change agent for many. One of my company mottos is “it’s never too late to edit your life” and that doesn’t just pertain to writing and publishing a book. If you don’t like anything about your life and current circumstances, you and only you have the power to change it. You are in the driver’s seat and will remain there until you give the keys to someone else. If you feel as if you don’t’ have control, it’s time for you to take your key’s back and get back into your rightful position of power. It’s not by happenstance or circumstance, it’s by choice and design. It is NEVER Too Late to EDIT your life.
Do you have a “number one principle” that guides you through the ups and downs of running a business?
All things are possible to him who believes. The only reason I am alive today and did not commit suicide from my child abuse experience is because I realized that I was born with a purpose. There was greater awaiting me and I needed to hold on to see it. Once I discovered what my purpose was and believed that all things were possible, I developed a “never say die” attitude. Boy did it come in handy as a business owner because what people don’t tell you is that the life of a business owner is ups and downs every day. You can wake up emotionally-charged and on top of the world. Have money coming in for half the day. And then have a major contract canceled that afternoon or a big proposal denied and feel like the world is on top of you. Then, something amazing can happen in the evening that makes you feel like you are on top of the world again. All of that can happen in the span of 24 hours or less.
If you lose the belief in yourself, you have lost everything and these constant fluctuations, especially the emotional wear and tear on some, will definitely have you give up. Even worse, are those who are wildly successful who cannot accept their success and will always strive for more and are NEVER satisfied. They live in a lack mentality because they are “never good enough”, always worried that someone is going to push them out of their top spot or they are willing to risk it all including their family, health and the enjoyment of life. Entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart and it’s not for everyone.
Thank you for all that. The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. For the benefit of empowering our readers, can you share with our readers a few of the personal and family related challenges you faced during this crisis? Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
I am a caretaker for two family members who are considered as those who are vulnerable to catching COVID as I am. I also have family members who live in hotspots and one member who is recovering from the virus. So mentally and emotionally, in the beginning, I was in a state of unrest. At first, I wasn’t taking it seriously and then reality hit. So I use to fuss at them daily because I felt they weren’t taken the necessary precautions and they were trying to do things as normal which puts your life and mine in danger. So I was scared for them and then I was shutting myself in for weeks at a time before I would venture out.
Then there was a medical test that I had been putting off and rescheduled until I experienced some symptoms where I just couldn’t put it off anymore. And then when my family member who lives out of state told me she had the virus, I just came to the conclusion that life goes on and none of us know when our time is. So we must practice wisdom and take precautions but we have to LIVE. Whatever foundation we build our lives on, whatever power source we believe and have faith in, we must turn to it during times like these. So, I recharged, prayed and had faith that we would get through this and made sure to take precautions as I live. And I had to pray that my family would use wisdom and do the same and that the same power source I pray to and put my faith and trust in would also cover them and protect us all.
And of course, I am a small business owner who has clients who are small business owners so I didn’t try to sugar coat anything or ignore COVID19’s impact, I addressed it had on. I gave presentations with my city’s Economic Development office and with my clients to show them how they could pivot their businesses and brands at this time. I focused on what opportunities existed and how they could use this time and situations to be more engaged and solution driven as ever in what they offer. This wasn’t a time for them to hide or throw their hands up, this was the time to be the thought leaders and action takers that entrepreneurs are.
I do also mention one caveat: in times of chaos and confusion, you must make a true assessment of your state of mind and where you are. For some, this needs to be a time of rest where they focus more on their health and family life versus their business. When people ask me why would I say that it is because for some they were on the edge of collapse with their business, family life and overall health. COVID19 was the final straw that they couldn’t afford to have, but since it’s here, they have to pivot. For some, the business cannot be the priority now, especially if they did not have a solid infrastructure to begin with.
Can you share a few of the biggest work related challenges you are facing during this pandemic? Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
Honestly, I can say I don’t have any big work-related challenges during the pandemic. For me, there was an increase in business because people realized how quickly life can change and decided to take action. Those that kept talking about writing a book or building their book platform, committed and signed on. They understood that they needed to pay it forward and offer the solution that they were purposed for. They have people with more time, who are more attentive and interested than ever so they need to be in position and ready to maximize their space.
As the CEO, I have to remember to delegate and create opportunities for others and be the visionary. You can’t have your hands in everything but I love that 1-on-1 touch that I have with clients.
Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have understandably heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. What are a few ideas that you have used to offer support to your family and loved ones who were feeling anxious? Can you explain?
Just reminding them that there will be an end to all this although we might not see it now. This is not the time to let your guard down, but using wisdom and taking precautions doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t live. We’re not accepting gloom and doom, but we’re moving forward with hope and peace. I also don’t label anything as the “new normal.” This is not normal, just a temporary adjustment.
Truly we must count our blessings because pandemic or not, all we have is this moment. We can plan, prepare and hope for tomorrow, but we don’t know what will happen in the next hour that could mean the end of our life at no fault of our own. So if you understand how precious and fleeting life is you must learn to be thankful for what you have. My family and I have one another and we have food, shelter, a reasonable portion of our health and strength, companionship (although sometimes all this time together makes you want to kick them out) and opportunity. As long as there is breath in your body you have an opportunity for change or something greater. Even in times of chaos and confusion, there are blessings being poured out but only if you have the mind and eye to receive them.
So we learn to be thankful for what we have and trust that our source of power will provide everything else and we need to be anxious in nothing. Even my one-year-old rescue cat is a source of comfort and her antics every day are a source of humor for us. A reminder that life goes on and some things never change regardless of what is going on around you. She centers me because she is focused on what’s necessary: that’s she loved, cared for, has shelter and is fed. If you can say you have all those things then everything is secondary and life is good. It’s all in your perspective and mind’s eye.
Obviously we can’t know for certain what the Post-Covid economy will look like. But we can of course try our best to be prepared. We can reasonably assume that the Post-Covid economy will be a trying time for many people across the globe. Yet at the same time the Post-Covid growth can be a time of opportunity. Can you share a few of the opportunities that you anticipate in the Post-Covid economy?
Many opportunities and most in direct opposition to each other. We will see:
- The importance of in-person communication and touch vs. the desire to utilize virtual technology for connection
- Travel restrictions, closed shops and bricks and motors, etc. will have a lot of people overindulging in those things once restrictions have been lifted. People will understand just how valuable personal touch and one on one connections are.
- On the other hand, those restrictions have taught a lot of businesses and industries that a lot of antiquated processes and systems need to go. There are a lot of people who are not going to want to go back to the office when they discovered how much of their job can be done virtually. Also, a lot of people who were just seat fillers may find their roles reduced or eliminated because there is no need for them to return. A lot of executives in certain industries are going to also look at the cost savings for those who were working virtually and shift to that option for more of their employees.
- Some businesses which measured their success by their brick and mortar space, now have experienced how well they can serve their clients without that brick and mortar and may see that customers now prefer the new system versus coming in person.
- Some of the shortages for resources and personal protective equipment will cause the creation of companies in the U.S. to be a producer of these goods for possible upcoming pandemics. Some small businesses may now add subsidiaries to their brands that can be suppliers for toilet paper, paper towels and sanitation products since they see how much revenue they could have gained if they had those established already like some of the paper supply companies in existence now.
- Entrepreneurs and small businesses are realizing the gaps and opportunities that exist now and many are realigning their business structure and processes to position them to be more of a resource of these essentials and increase their profitability and streams of income.
How do you think the COVID pandemic might permanently change the way we behave, act or live?
I think we will realize the neon flashing sign that we can no longer live according to “business as usual.” I think we will scrutinize the sanitization and health policies of a lot of public establishments. I think we will question the manner in which we work, buy and sell. The number of small businesses who were not able to receive funding from the CARES Act will look at how their business is structured and how it should be structured to receive advantages like that.
Personally, I think it will make us look at the value of the various types of relationships we have. Some people who were romantically involved realize that they have just been tolerating things they should not have and need to end the connection. Some friendships are realizing how toxic their relationship is and how they need to no longer be friends. Also, there are some that are single who realize that they need to heal from past hurt because they truly want love and companionship especially when it comes to times of crisis. I also think that there are a lot of parents who realize how much quality time they weren’t spending with their children and the need to make time. I think COVID-19 has highlighted the type of education our children are really receiving with educators who are either doing their job exceptionally well or exceptionally poor.
Considering the potential challenges and opportunities in the Post-Covid economy, what do you personally plan to do to rebuild and grow your business or organization in the Post-Covid Economy?
As an Award-Winning Entrepreneur, Publisher and Global Brand, I see the biggest opportunity for my company is to dominate my industry by successfully utilizing the online market. COVID19 was a wake-up call for many business owners of the importance and vulnerability of global business, distribution channels, technology use and streamlined operations for continued communication, pivoting, staying financially solvent and attracting new customers while retaining current ones and creating brand awareness.
Many of our clients are shocked to learn how their book launches can be just as profitable, if not more, virtually and during a pandemic. However, the key was investing more time in being virtually present and communicating with their target audience. Instead of floating over current situations, they needed to address them head-on and be transparent to how they are dealing with them as well. As the audiences got to know them, their message, their day-to-day challenges, they were more receptive to their platforms and the solutions they offer. This made the actual sales on launch days seamless and profitable.
Similarly, what would you encourage others to do?
Take an assessment of your business before COVID-19 and now. What was working well? What wasn’t working? What changes have you experienced at this time and why? What do your customers love about your business?
How does your business or brand stand out from your competitors? In what ways is your business more efficient than your competitors’? Are there any gaps and or opportunities that exist? Anticipate what changes will occur and be needed after COVID-19.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
All things are possible. I believe that all things are possible and that I am capable of achieving whatever I set my mind to. This belief does not mean that no hard work or challenges are involved, but I use this as fuel to keep dreaming and fulfill my life’s purpose. Once I stop believing, then nothing is possible regardless of how talented, gifted and the numerous opportunities on the horizon. I can be the reason for my success or failure.
How can our readers further follow your work?
They can always follow me at TheJoyGuru.net. That will have all my links for my podcast, publishing company and other updates and brands.