Alechia Reese is a single mother, serial entrepreneur, author, media personality and transformation coach. She journeyed into the realm of dynamic speaking after discovering her gift of being able to uplift, and assist others through her words and innovative way of thinking. Through her out-of-the-box strategies, Reese has assisted the likes of everyday people, corporate brands, and high profile figures like Zendaya and Soledad O’Brien with identifying their personal value and utilizing it to propel themselves further into professional success.
21Ninety sat down with Reese for a conversation centered on career pivoting. Read as she shares her tips for women struggling with the fear of moving on from their current career, how one can decipher their personal value, why confidence is the key to professional success, and more!
Jadriena Solomon: Many people have recently found themselves switching career fields or leaving the stability of a nine to five to pursue entrepreneurship. Although this looks like a seamless switch for most, it isn’t always for everyone. Women often face the fear of not being re-hired elsewhere, having to start all over in their career, the challenge of ageism, and fear of regret, which often keeps them stagnant in a career that they dread. What advice do you give to women who come to you with fears of leaving their current workplace although it makes them unhappy?
Alechia Reese: My advice is kind of morbid – but it’s what has always gotten me to move. It’s ‘if you died today, could you say that you loved your life?’. Tomorrow isn’t promised to you. You don’t get to live into infinity – we are finite beings. And people sometimes forget the fact that you don’t have forever to make a move or make a choice. So if you are unhappy, you and only you are responsible for changing that. But it requires that you make a move. You are going to have to decide that where you are no longer works for you, and that you’re going to have enough love for yourself to do something different. Everyone is just figuring it out, so you have to decide to do the same.
JS: Entrepreneurship has definitely been glorified recently through the use of social media, but the reality is that “all that glitters isn’t gold” and pursuing the dream of entrepreneurship can definitely be more difficult than it looks. How can one truly decipher if the road of entrepreneurship is a good fit for them? Or if they may be better suited for the full time, nine to five career life?
AR: I always tell people that they have to get real clear on what their purpose is. And I’m not talking about the deep purpose – I’m talking about, what’s the point of it all? If you’re talking about becoming an entrepreneur so you don’t have to work as much or because you don’t like listening to people or because you want to own your own time, then you definitely should not become an entrepreneur.
Because the one thing that I can tell you for sure is that with entrepreneurship, you don’t eat what you don’t kill. So until you’ve learned how to specialize in that, you really are in a “kill or be killed” kind of energetic flow. And everybody cannot maintain that level of requirement and be okay, because it’s not something that’s super easy.
I always tell folks that if they decide they really do want to become an entrepreneur – the first thing they need to do is get their bills down to the lowest amount possible. When I decided to become an entrepreneur, I planned out my expenses for the whole year and calculated how much money I would need to sustain myself – because you don’t always monetize immediately.
Next, start working on your business while you still have your first investor – which is your nine to five. Through your nine to five, you have an investor who is giving you a check every two weeks. Get excited about that! And make sure that as you’re receiving that money, you’re taking it and investing it into your business.
The third piece of advice is that membership has its benefits. Get super clear on what memberships you need to join and be a part of so that once you are ready to go full time [with your business], you’ve already built and developed the relationships that you’re going to need to expand it by leaps and bounds.
JS: Now what if we have somebody who’s trying to figure out if a nine to five may be better suited for them?
AR: I love my friends who work in corporate America. Why? Because they help assist me when I need help with launching products and building partnerships and relationships. There’s actually nothing wrong with working in corporate America. Entrepreneurship is not for everybody and everybody shouldn’t be trying to be an entrepreneur.
So for those who are in corporate America, I always encourage them to ask themselves, ‘What does your ideal job look like? What does your ideal career look like?’. Because a job and a career are very different. So I suggest that they figure out what part of the spectrum they’re on. Are they just looking to have a job, or really develop and grow their career?
If it’s the career, then they need to be clear on the type of work that they want to do and what it looks like for them. Then begin working on building strategic relationships so that they can decide and define, intentionally, what type of career they are going to have.
If someone’s not sure where to start, LinkedIn is a great tool. They can go on the website, type in the company that they’re interested in and click on the “People” tab. From there, they should go through the list of people who work at that company and reach out to them with just a simple message – ‘Hey, can I interview you for fifteen minutes of your time to talk about what your career trajectory has looked like at this organization?’. That’s a great place to start.
JS: This point, in the process of pivoting, is a great place for one to begin pondering the concept of personal value and what personal value looks like to them. What does personal value consist of to you? And how can women begin to decipher theirs?
AR: Value is subjective because people base value based on their own personal needs. So when people are trying to figure out what value they bring to the table, I always suggest making a discovery map.
To do this, make a list of three columns. In the first column, list all of the skills that you possess, from being able to braid hair, being able to mediate complex problems, or being skilled at project management. Then in the middle column, identify problems that your skills solve. So for example, if the skill is being able to braid hair then the problem is that people always want to have a way to improve their appearance. Then in the last column, identify jobs or opportunities that your skillset solves the problem for – because that is the solution.
People pay for solutions to problems. Whether it’s a career or a business that you’re looking to create. Doing this allows you to clearly see the value that you bring to each table, no matter what skill you’re tapping into – and then what you’re able to do when you’re networking, is quickly articulate what your skills are, how you solve specific problems and how it can potentially help the person that you’re speaking with.
JS: I think that pivots perfectly into another topic that you love to touch on which is building mutually beneficial relationships.
AR: Absolutely. Because here’s the thing – in a world full of liabilities, you have to figure out how to become an asset. Assets people protect, liabilities people run from. When you’re looking to build valuable relationships, you have to decipher how you can be of help to people. When you do that, people begin to see you as someone that’s not trying to take from them but give something to them. Which affords you so many more opportunities.
JS: So let’s say we have a woman who’s taken the time to decipher her personal value and is ready to re-enter the career field or enter the realm of entrepreneurship. How can she now assert that personal value to lead a more successful, professional life?
AR: You have to remember that everything is a transferable skill. For a lot of women – especially when they take time away from the workspace – they tend to feel like they’ve missed out on so much. But as long as you have a willingness to learn, then there’s always an opportunity out there for you.
Next, I always advise people who have been away from the workspace, to take a look at where those areas of opportunities are, at the places that they want to get into. Take a look at what that company doesn’t do so well. And align what they don’t do well with what you excel at. So that means do your research and remember – everything is a transferable skill.
Let’s say a company doesn’t do well with delivering product releases on time. If you’re a mother of multiple kids then guess what, you’re proficient at project management. Those kids have schedules, they have to eat, they have to be in bed at a certain time, and you still have things you have to do for yourself. And if you’re a mother and you’re able to manage that, then that means that you have to be really good at project management.
JS: You’ve worked with industry professionals like Zendaya and Soledad O’Brien. As well as large scale, successful companies like Bank of America, UPS, and Buzzfeed. What is the million dollar piece of advice that you share with your clients, that unanimously works across the board for everyone from the high profile figures, to the multimillion dollar brands to the everyday person?
AR: Two things. The first is that there’s always a seat at the table for excellence. So although perfection is not required, excellence is. And, treat the janitor the same way you do the CEO, and you’ll always find an opportunity for your growth.
JS: What else can women expect to learn from your live and remote coaching program? And if they’d like to attend or schedule a session with you, how can they go about doing that?
AR: They can join ‘Got Value? Nation’ by going to gotvaluenation.com. It is a community where we discuss how to discover our own personal value to be able to build more intentional careers, and lives that we love. Our mantra is that “it’s no fun being a personal mess, but a professional success.”
So they can connect there. And anytime they want to join our lives or join our sessions they can do it through that website.
JS: Any last thoughts or advice?
AR: When it comes to pivoting, you have to have a Kanye West level of confidence – where you are just so confident in your ability to produce and create, that you go after what you want. Confidence is the number one attribute that everyone in their career needs to have. Having that confidence really does change the game. You build differently, you go after things differently, you operate differently, and you show up in the world differently when you’re confident. The most important thing that you can do for yourself is being confident in who you are, what you can do, and your abilities.
When you are just that confident, you produce whatever it is you are imagining simply because you decided that it’s possible for you.