If you haven’t yet discovered that Twitter is a fantastic opportunity to make meaningful connections, I’ve got a great story for you!
I met Akia Garnett on Twitter back in 2009 and we have built a solid business relationship ever since — sharing ideas and experiences, and collaborating on her fabulous projects including her Twitter chat entitled – #BrandChat and Akia’s live internet TV show – Think Big. You can check out my Think Big interview with Akia on YouTube and by clicking here.
With a BA in Communications and an MBA in International Business, Akia has built her more than 20-year career as a marketing and branding professional working in both the public and private sectors. Thanks to the power of social media, Akia and I found each other, we made a solid connection, and we continue to support each other as we move forward in our businesses.
Akia’s focus, her energy and the enthusiasm that she has for her life’s work will absolutely inspire you to move forward, so dig in!
Your background and especially your approach to education is really inspiring. Tell us about it.
From a classical perspective, I hold a BA in communications – and an MBA in international business. From an applied perspective, I remain focused on understanding the buying habits, decision making and behavioral patterns of US domestic market consumers and several international market consumers in West Africa and Europe.
Having lectured as an adjunct professor for over five years, I ﬁrmly believe that college is not for everyone, but education is … . And so, I stand behind the philosophy that our daily goal is to equip ourselves for our next chapter in life. Many times that may come through formal education, but other times it means that we read and research what we can, and we build constructive dialogue with others with the intent to transfer knowledge and encouragement.
Looking forward, tomorrow won’t belong to the smart, but to those who know where to ﬁnd information. So, I’m a career learner – I hope to actively learn and ask new questions every day of my life.
I love that you’re intentional about asking and answering new questions daily, which is truly ambitious! Tell us a little more about what ambition means to you. What role has it played in your life?
Ambition, to me, is drive. It’s the fuel that moves our feet from contemplation to action. Pure ambition is not a learned behavior. We’re born with or without the desire to see and move beyond our environment. Some of us are career movers – we’ll never stay stuck in a place of stagnation. This means that when working for an organization, we compete against ourselves daily, constantly adding value to its mission, community, bottom line and our roles. This also means that when we are working for ourselves, we are constantly measuring ourselves against our competitors, seeking new ways to show up with unique, impeccable market solutions.
Seeking unique market solutions is a major part of your work, so tell us more about your professional life.
I’m a marketing and branding professional, and entrepreneur of more than 20 years. I’ve worked in the public and private sector and have owned a couple of businesses. I’m both entrepreneurial and intrapreneurial.
The common thread tying together my career is creativity and curiosity. Titles I’ve held include CEO, marketing director, director of business development and operations, senior marketing manager, marketing manager, minority business liaison, and marketing projects coordinator, to name a few. Board service is also a big part of my career. I’ve served as vice president for a national and statewide board and advisory board member as well.
You’re both an entrepreneur and intrapreneur, and so now we’re all curious — what does a typical day in your work life look like?
My favorite kind of day includes me working in quadrant II, or what Stephen Covey calls Q-2, the planning quadrant. I’ve taken enough assessments to know that my peak times are early morning and late evening, so I rest well when I incorporate strategic planning into both of these daily timeframes.
And then there’s the need for daily self-reﬂection, which I always strive to incorporate into each day. Being honest with myself about my progress and areas for improvement is critical. What’s even more critical is to acknowledge and celebrate the milestones I reach.
Consider this: If today were your last day on earth, how would you want to spend it? Hopefully the answer is not beating up yourself, but more so, celebrating whatever accomplishments you’ve made, and most important, the accomplishments that helped others.
Thank you for reminding us to celebrate our accomplishments! What motivates you toward achieving even the simplest accomplishment?
God’s grace and love motivates me. My greatest sacriﬁce in life can’t touch His and that keeps me on my toes. Additionally, I’m self-driven by my children’s love for me. I’m moved to do more in life when I see them ﬁnd their own strides. They own a special part of my heart, and their needs push me beyond my own limits.
Of every role I’ve ever played in life, parenting is the best of them all. I’m proud to be a mother just as my mother is proud of bringing my sisters and me into the world. Each step they take towards their individual destinies inspires and motivates me.
It’s wonderful that your children continually inspire you to move beyond your limits! Do you ever struggle with conﬁdence or courage in your career? How do you overcome those struggles?
Negative. No room and no time for a lack of conﬁdence or cowardice! Failing forward is key.
While I am somewhat of a perfectionist, I try not to take myself too seriously. I love to laugh. And I talk out challenges with my close circle of trusted friends when I feel stuck in a certain mindset or predicament.
Your way of dealing with challenges is wonderful! Tell us about one of the toughest things you’ve had to do in your career and what you’ve learned from it.
To be honest, my career and past business pursuits are all about moving gracefully toward a goal. I’m known to live inside the moment, which means that I don’t hold onto things over time. Where I am today is not accidental, but based on what was already to be, so regrets can’t exist in my mind. They are counterproductive. I’ve never been able to leverage regret. But I have been able to leverage new ideas and a positive mindset.
You always see yourself as moving gracefully toward a goal, awesome! This makes me curious. Solid financials is a necessary goal for business owners — what’s been helpful to you in increasing and managing your cashﬂow?
Here’s what I have to say to entrepreneurs about cashﬂow: Create and stick to your business budget. There’s nothing worse than looking at a list of deliverables and not being able to pay the people who will help you complete the tasks. Cash-ﬂow is essential. The only thing in business that is worse than a lack of cashﬂow is a lack of customers. Without the two, you’re soon out of business, if not already.
Your cashflow advice is pure “wisdom” — one of my favorite words! So now here’s a fun question: What’s your favorite word and why?
Being a newlywed, my favorite word is “honey”, and that’s because my husband, Richard, and I use it all day every day.
My favorite phrase is “Why would I do that?”, which is a rhetorical question in response to any out of the ordinary request. “Why would I do that?” may be my ﬁrst response, but many times it’s followed up with a “yes.”
You’re obviously a thoughtful person. Do you consider yourself unusual/strange/weird, or pretty normal?
Hmmm. I’m pretty unique and rather “different” she says as she strokes her chin. I recognized that early in life and have always seen it as something to embrace. The way I do “me” is totally up to me. I love that.
Your uniqueness is beautiful, and you must be just a tiny bit proud! Can you tell us what you’ve accomplished, created or built that makes you the most proud or brings you the most joy?
I’m pretty proud of my skill set, which is pretty diverse. I can create just about anything through thought and strategic partnerships.
Your diverse skill set has brought you some recognition over the years. What awards or honors have you received that make you the most proud?
Being honored for Black History Month has been one of my greatest honors. As a youth, learning about greater achievers of African descent was about listening, admiring and respecting. Memorizing the accomplishments of those who came before me showed gratitude and appreciation, not to mention intelligence. So, when I learned that I would be honored for Black History Month I was unprepared for the emotions I experienced. This was probably the most humbling moment of my life; walking across that stage and accepting an award with my name on it.
I received the award for authoring a book that supported the growth of small business owners and entrepreneurs. That award, that moment, that experience made every single mile along my journey worth it. Even today, I can’t wrap my mind around it. Me, honored for Black History Month? Incredible!
You’ve certainly got Moxie! And you’ve had an amazing journey — what’s coming up that you want our readers to know about?
Weekly episodes of ThinkBIG by Akia Garnett, my internet talk show. The show offers weekly interviews of industry inﬂuencers who are not only building a reputable brand, but also building up others and communities as well. The show airs every Tuesday night at 8PM, ET. Details at www.AkiaGarnett.com/thinkBIG.
How can our readers keep up with you?
Connect with me on social – I’m all over @AkiaGarnett. Drop me a line there. Stay connected to www.AkiaGarnett.com to see upcoming show details, guests and other information.
I’m thrilled with having this opportunity to interview Akia Garnett and to share her story with you! Akia offered us so much to think on and incorporate into our own lives — here are just 3 TAKEAWAYS:
❖ Although a formal college education is not for everyone, education is! In Akia’s own profound words: “Looking forward, tomorrow won’t belong to the smart, but to those who know where to ﬁnd information.”
❖ There is not enough time in our lives to dwell in a state of lacking confidence. Instead, our ambition — our drive — is what will move us from contemplation to action and we should always see ourselves as “moving gracefully toward a goal.”
❖ Embrace being different! In Akia’s words, “The way I do me is totally up to me.” Being different, unique, one of a kind, is our glorious opportunity to shine!
UP NEXT, Author –Lisa Hall
I hope reading Akia’s story has inspired and motivated you to build your MOXIE.
Tomorrow we feature an inspiring MogulMoxie® Maven and brand new first time author – Lisa Hall. I first encountered Lisa’s inspirational story on Facebook. Tomorrow, I get to share a part of her journey of love for family and hope with you.
Blessings! ~ TC Cooper