It’s our pleasure to feature Marquesa Pettway in our #MogulMoxie Woman series!
Marquesa Pettway earned her BA in Communications and Broadcast Journalism from Texas Southern University in Houston, Texas. With a rich inclination towards performing arts, Marquesa explored singing and theatre from adolescence to adulthood.
Combining her passions and skills, Marquesa is a highly-skilled professional speaker who is the founder and president of The National Center for Speaker Training.
Let’s start with your professional life. Your career has gone through some interesting changes before settling on speaking. Tell us about it.
“I giggle when I think of my journey. I knew I wanted to use my voice to make my living, but it took a while for me to find my sweet spot in business. Would you believe I was a professional singer? To put on a great performance, I had to practice and train. It also taught me competition. Then, acting became my focus. I learned how to express myself and lose myself in my character to tell a story.
Broadcast journalism taught me how to research and pay attention to the details. I also had a big shift at that time, although I love the idea of sharing stories on the air, I didn’t like doing it in the news. So, I chose to leave a promising career at CNN. My next step was retail sales management for about three months and then Corporate Sales Management for AT&T business markets. I was the top in my unit for five years straight.
While this was happening, I was creating an entirely new career, speaking. It started with answering a ‘call for a conference emcee’ for AT&T. After a few promotions and big downsizing, this became my new career in 2004. In 2005, I had three speaking contracts which took me all over the country and a few countries. It was exciting to speak to a new audience each day in a new city, but it was hard on the body and my life balance.
Once I started making mistakes like showing up in the wrong city, I had to shift without leaving the speaking industry. While on the road all the time, I created my own academy. Now, 12 years as a full time professional speaker, business coach, digital host, and columnist. I started hosting (online and offline) for organizations back in 2014 and I love it! I got my own reality TV column in 2015, which got syndicated in 100 plus papers and blogs. I’m also a columnist for Speaker Magazine. I love my career and I enjoy the evolution!”
We love that! Tell us about a typical day in your work life.
“My typical day is never typical, that’s what I love about it. I learned after being in business for myself a few years, my most important professional value is freedom. Freedom to do what I love along with the opportunity to choose my own timelines.
I also learned by doing! This lead me to create the word ‘Speakerpreneur™’. After being a professional speaker and running a speaking based virtual academy for 12 years, I wanted to make this process easier for others that desire leveraging their voices as a career.
It’s easier for me to share my typical month, which involves virtual speaking, speaking at venues, coaching high-end clients, hosting and writing my column, and working on my business with the support of a team. I’m a leader within professional speaking associations, so a lot of time goes there. You see, I teach what I live, which is how to use your voice to build a business and serve others. For individuals out there with a message they are burning to share, I help them create, package, and sell the message all while building a business that honors their most important values! I create Speakerpreneurs ™ by reinventing businesses. They call me a ‘Business Reinvention Expert and Strategist.’”
Let’s cover what drives you. What role has ambition played in your life?
“Ambition means giving your best in life while creating and living your purpose. This mindset was embedded in me as a child which lead to tons of plays, shows, performances, and moving to NYC right out of college to work in network news. As with most young people, I had to find my voice and my ultimate purpose. It went from singer to actress to broadcaster to sales executive to professional speaker. It took a few stops and lessons to get there.”
What would you like to share with ambitious young women who read our blog?
“I love to share with my nieces and other young women, ‘this is your life. You only get one, make the most of it and make choices wisely. Don’t be afraid to take risks.’ My goodness, when I moved to NYC for CNN as an unpaid intern right out of college with no family or friends in town, I had no guarantee that it would turn into a four-year job. Now, for 25 years I’ve lived in NYC and I’ve had countless dreams come true and I’m still not done. I think we all must define what success is for ourselves. My advice is to make sure it’s part of your purpose on earth and makes you happy from the inside! I appreciate my education and I continue to enrich it every day!”
Inspiring! Have you ever struggled with confidence? Tell us about it and how you’ve overcome the struggle.
“Oh yes, I’ve struggled with confidence in body image and health. Obesity was not a struggle for me until my mid-thirties, and I lost control and did not overcome that until 2016. It’s in the genes and if you do not learn how to manage it, it could be your destiny. Most of my friends and family will tell you that I’m a confident person.
For years, I hated to look in the mirror. I hated pictures taken of me and I hated how less visible I seemed to become.
In 2015, I started #personalinvention. I had to start with the inside. Then in 2016, I started with the outside. I hired a nutritionist, joined a gym, joined a weight-loss program. I went all in, and I’m still in it. Because I’ve lost weight before, it started from the inside out and I realized that weight-loss, for me, is not an event but a lifelong priority. Whatever your confidence struggle is, make overcoming it a priority in your life!”
Wow, congratulations on taking charge of your happiness. Tell us about one of the toughest things you have had to do in business and what you’ve learned from it.
“One big lesson was ‘Entrepreneurship’. I was naturally good in speaking, selling, and marketing, but there are several moving parts to running a business. I had to learn how to manage my time, how to delegate, how to manage my numbers, and how to systematize. I invested in business coaches, conferences, and programs to understand what it meant to work for myself, all of the moving parts. Once I got educated and made lots of mistakes in these areas, I got my footing and I got it down. I’m still not perfect, but it feels good to see the growth.
I also must say, a big lesson for me was learning how to balance relationships. I’m a natural loner. I like people, just not every single hour of every day. I don’t like when folks just call me or invite themselves over. I’m too busy in my business for that. However, I shifted this mindset in 2015 during my #personalreinvention and realized I needed to be uncomfortable sometimes to grow up, even in relationships. So, I take the calls and visits and learned that I like it sometimes. Relationships are important and sometimes you have to be uncomfortable to grow!”
It’s all about balance. Speaking of balance, what has been helpful to you in increasing and managing your cashflow?
“I’m asked often how to increase your cashflow and grow your business consistently. My answer is, focus on one widget at a time. Identify the widget you are selling, understand why someone needs it to solve their problems (this is not about you), and share that messaging in your marketing every day! This keeps you and your widget relevant and present. This does not mean promoting your widget blatantly without getting the permission and earning the right.
Give. Serve. Share. Spotlight others all while providing solutions to the folks that need your widget the most. Be consistent, be clear and be creative. This will lead to consistent cashflow, it has for me.”
Sound advice for building a secure business.
What have you accomplished, created, or built that makes you the proudest?
“I love that I gained my skills as a kid and tweaked them as a young adult by becoming a New Yorker in 1993. I’ve leveraged these skills and talents into a dream career and I’m proud of that. I live a life that I really enjoy. It’s not ideal for everyone, but it’s perfect for me and it gets better with each year and season. I have my own business which allows me to pour into others and reinvent them every day. What an awesome privilege. I love my awards, roles, titles, and certifications, but what I love the most is seeing the joy in my parents’ eyes. All of their hard work and investment in my life paid off, and there’s more to come.”
What awards or honors have you received that make you feel proudest?
“The 2016 Recipient of the Dorothea Hornbuckle Business Entrepreneur Award presented by Iota Phi Lambda Business Sorority. In 2013, I earned the highest designation awarded to professional speakers, the Certified Speaking Professional Designation. I am the second woman and only person of color to earn this in NYC.
I’ve been featured on MSNBC’s small business show, CNN Business News, New York Newsday, Voices of Experience, an audio magazine by the National Speakers Association. In addition, I’ve been featured in more than 100 blogs and print publications all over the word as a syndicated columnist. I’ve also been interviewed on several radio stations, internet TV shows and virtual speaker summits.
As a recognized authority in the speaking industry, I’m a recurring expert in Speaker Magazine with a column called, ‘The Speaker Toolkit.’ Every month, I’m featured on SpeakerMagazine.com interviewing professional speakers highlighted in her features and columns. I also serve as a digital host for Women’s Speakers Association ‘Speaker Success TV’ an online membership group of nearly 12k.”
Do you consider yourself unusual, strange, weird or pretty normal?
“I consider myself unique. I partially blame this on my mom, she named me ‘Marquesa’. I will question myself sometimes about why my life is not more traditional, but I’m not traditional and now that I’m in my forties I own the ‘Force of Nature’ in me. Some may label this weird, I call it amazeballs!”
What’s coming up that you want our readers to know about?
“The Speakerpreneur ™ blog magazine is launching later this year and will feature the best steps, lessons, and strategies from experts, speakers, and celebrities on how they created their platform that allows them to change the world. A complimentary show to the blog magazine will be seen on several platforms both online and offline and will launch in 2018. Join my list to stay updated by going to www.GottaSpeakNow.com”
How can our readers keep up with you?
“If you are reading my story and it resonates with you, reach out and start that process by downloading a free e-book on Earning Six Figures, Speaking for Free at www.GottaSpeakNow.com. I’m on all social media platforms with the handle @SpeakerTalk and under my name, Marquesa Pettway. To check out my reality TV column, now on a break, google me under ‘Marquesa Ladawn.’
I’m also writing a book, which I plan to release in the summer of 2017! Stay tuned!”
As you can tell from this interview, Marquesa is slaying her journey to a life she loves. [If our reference to “slaying” has you scratching your head – leave a comment below and we’ll explain. :))
Here are a two key lessons that you can implement into your personal and professional life, starting today:
• Teach what you live. Marquesa shares that this is how “to use your voice to build a business and serve others.”
• To increase your cashflow and grow your business consistently, focus on widget at a time. “Identify the widget you are selling, understand why someone needs it to solve their problems, and share that messaging in your marketing every day! This keeps you and your widget relevant and present.”