Alesha Brown of Fruition Publishing Concierge Services: 5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became a C-Suite Executive
Place less emphasis on your social media presence and avoid social media distractions. Social media has its pros and cons professionally and personally, but it does not replace standard forms of communication. The proper use of social media for business conversion is a science within itself and that science is forever changing. Without a team that understands this science and the resources to devote to them for proper implementation, many solo entrepreneurs and small businesses waste revenue-generating time on social media content and interaction. I have found a strong email campaign to be more effective than social media since email is a form of direct marketing.
As part of our series called “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Began Leading My Company” I had the pleasure of interviewing Alesha Brown, CEO of Fruition Publishing Concierge Services, a division of Alesha Brown LLC.
Alesha Brown, The Joy Guru, is an award-winning entrepreneur, book 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 ghostwriting, writing coaching, and full publishing services to help people share their stories 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 stories in order to pay it forward and create a circle of healing.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series. Before we dive into our discussion, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?
Thank you so much for having me. I am honored to be on this platform and to have the privilege of speaking to your audience. I unknowingly started my journey to 100 percent self-employment by fulfilling a dream of becoming a published author. As a child abuse survivor that battled the plague of suicide, I wanted to write a book for other survivors that were on the edge of life and the weight of their trauma was becoming too much leaving them feeling hopeless. I wanted to show them that they could regain control of their lives and create their success. I wanted them to know that there is life after and it can be a glorious one if you decide to make it so.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
Well, one month after resigning, my non-profit founder had emergency surgery and almost died while my mother had a breast cancer scare. I was thankful that I could be with both without having to get permission from a boss. A few months later, I was diagnosed with a chronic illness that made me shut down my business for the majority of one year. Let’s just say that it was quite a way to start your first year of 100 percent self-employment!
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
I can give you my own that I created as a mantra for my company. “It’s never too late to edit your life.” As a former editor, I thought about how easy it is for us to receive someone’s manuscript and, just like teachers in the old days with the red pen, editors mark everything up and return it to the author.
But why don’t we see or view our lives the way an editor views a manuscript? Like the manuscript, there is a great deal of quality in who we are, but there is always space for corrections, improvements, and reorganization. In order for things to be clearer and flow better than before, a few minor tweaks and different actions can lead to a glorious end. Sometimes just walking away, taking a rest, shifting one’s focus, and then reanalyzing what was created, helps us see clearer. Are our lives not more valuable than a manuscript? Yet, we are willing to devote so much time to a manuscript, including finances and inviting other people to make corrections, but we treat ourselves as if we are not worthy of the same and refuse to ask for help. “It is never too late to edit your life.”
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on your leadership style? Can you share a story or an example of that?
The classic Steven Covey’s The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. His whole concept of beginning with the end in mind made me focus on reverse engineering. As a creative, it is natural for me to come up with an idea and want to dive in. I have learned that greater results are produced when you begin with the end in mind, the highest version of success, then work your way back (reverse engineering) with the steps that will lead you to that.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
What makes Fruition Publishing Concierge Services stand out is that we look at the totality of our clients and their messages that need to be heard. It’s not just about great storylines or books, it is about their visions and audiences that need to hear from them. It is about helping them identify their expertise and the other pieces that should accompany their books and create their author platforms. It’s about not only creating the brand but legally making sure they protect their brands. Otherwise, they are leaving money on the table, positioning their intellectual property to be stolen, and will not be able to maximize their message because they are thinking too small.
One client in particular, who reminds me why I decided to offer full publishing services, came to us on a collaborative book project when the “publisher” dropped everything in her hands. After doing a thorough investigation on this “publisher,” I discovered a fraud. The person was fraudulent and had a habit of repurposing former clients’ book ideas and changing wording and pictures for other clients. I was able to rescue that project and also protect the client legally. When her attorney reviewed my contract and the previous “publisher’s” contract, it was our company’s contract that saved the client from litigation.
I believe in protecting the author and, at least in the United States, ignorance is no excuse of the law. You might not know what you don’t know, but you can lose a great deal of money and rights to your intellectual property when you work with the wrong company. Unfortunately, this is what scammers bank on.
The road to success is hard and requires tremendous dedication. This question is obviously a big one, but what advice would you give to a young person who aspires to follow in your footsteps and emulate your success?
Identify your superhero status. If you look back over your life, you will find many challenges and obstacles that you have overcome. While you may take them for granted, others have quit over far less but you didn’t. You kept striving, you kept pushing although you wanted to quit, and everything worked out in the end. Remember that.
Entrepreneurship is not for everyone and the odds are not in your favor. But that should not deter you, that should ENCOURAGE you. You can have a career and employer as well as have a side hustle and or business. You can have whatever you want as long as you are committed and willing to do the work. Make sure you know what you are signing up for and it’s the desire of your heart. If so, then follow your heart’s desire and get to work.
Often leaders are asked to share the best advice they received. But let’s reverse the question. Can you share a story about advice you’ve received that you now wish you never followed?
The average business takes seven years before it is profitable. That can become a crutch and limiting belief, especially when you should be adopting the “begin with the end in mind” concept. It is more important for one to be laser-focused and looking at how to disrupt the industry.
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
- Determination (my parents called me stubborn). I want what I want when I want it, and the way I want it. I use this in what I demand for my clients and their brands. I expect excellence and I expect those hired to keep their words.
- Resilience. As an abuse survivor, I quickly learned that only the strong survive. Business is the same way and you need to fight your way through difficult times and situations.
- Independence. I was an only child for eight years born to older parents. I’m also a Taurus with a Type A personality. I learned how to exist in a world of my own. This has served me well as a double minority business owner, (black female). I am often at the table as the only black woman and that no longer makes me uncomfortable.
Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. Most of our readers — in fact, most people — think they have a pretty good idea of what a C-Suite executive does. But in just a few words can you explain what a C-Level executive does that is different from the responsibilities of other leaders?
Everything, lol. As a C-Level executive, everything begins and ends with you despite how little or large your team is. You are the final decision maker, the innovator, and the one that must maintain oversight. A leader can lead in his or her area of expertise. While you operate in your expertise, as the C-Level executive, you are held to a higher level of authority and accountability. This responsibility is too much for some, especially if you have an employee mindset.
What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a CEO or executive? Can you explain what you mean?
I teach this often to my non-profit youth programs: Being a CEO does not mean that you answer to no one. Everyone wants to be the boss because the boss “calls all the shots,” but the boss/CEO answers to everyone from shareholders and employees to the IRS. The decisions you make affect a multitude of people on various levels, not just you. The old cliché is true: To whom much is given, much is required. Freedom is not, nor has it ever been, free.
What are the most common leadership mistakes you have seen C-Suite leaders make when they start leading a new team? What can be done to avoid those errors?
Similar to the “I’m the boss; I call all the shots” theology, some C-Suite leaders are not great leaders. Some treat their new teams more like laborers versus talent that they need to extract their highest potential and facilitate their professional growth. There is nothing worse than a leader who refuses to listen to the advice of those he or she hired.
In your experience, which aspect of running a company tends to be most underestimated? Can you explain or give an example?
The right advisors and values. It’s imperative to begin with the end in mind and the type of company you want to build rests heavily on what your company’s core values are. Identifying and establishing a core set of values for your company helps to ensure that you build the type of company culture that lays the foundation for your business now and in the future. Key advisors are also important for accountability, sustainability, and especially to help you establish your business in the beginning. As you grow and scale, their role is essential to your success.
Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Began Leading From the C-Suite”? Please share a story or an example for each.
- Focus less on “build it and they will come” and more on exploiting, maximizing, and monetizing your expertise. So many entrepreneurs are focused on the aesthetics of their business offerings, brand appearance, and all that accompanies it. The truth is there are those whose brand aesthetics are really not that appealing, they may not have a social media presence, website, or plan to have any of those things, but they are extremely successful. Those who know their expertise, the solution they are providing, and have identified who they serve and how to connect with them will be successful. If you skip this core part of entrepreneurial/business success, your brand/business aesthetics will not get you far or help you create sustainability.
- Place less emphasis on your social media presence and avoid social media distractions. Social media has its pros and cons professionally and personally, but it does not replace standard forms of communication. The proper use of social media for business conversion is a science within itself and that science is forever changing. Without a team that understands this science and the resources to devote to them for proper implementation, many solo entrepreneurs and small businesses waste revenue-generating time on social media content and interaction. I have found a strong email campaign to be more effective than social media since email is a form of direct marketing.
-I equate social media to your standard networking events. Just dressing up, showing up, and handing out your business card does not automatically equate to business and revenue. More time should be spent to ensure that you are attending events with influencers and or your target audience versus just attending a “networking event.” Be careful that what you are attracting and pulling into your “net” is actually what you seek or you will find that your “net” is not “working” for you.
- Start with a VA or admin even if it is only for a few hours per week. One of my millionaire coaches said this early on and I wish I had listened sooner. I bought into the “I’m just starting and cannot afford a virtual assistant” belief. Of course, many will co-sign this thought, convincing you that your money would be better allocated to other areas that will grow your business faster. How wrong that was.
-First, you need to begin with the end in mind. If you are truly focused on your expertise and business scalability, you cannot do everything alone. Administrative work will take up a large percentage of your time and keep you from doing the things that truly generate revenue in your business.
-If you start with a virtual assistant for just a few hours a week, it starts training your mind to delegate and hire experts who can do it better and faster than you. This practice will have you building the boardroom before you have the building, which will allow you to truly grow your business and scale versus owning a business which really is a job with your name on it. I learned that if you think you cannot afford to hire a virtual or administrative assistant, you do not know the value of your expertise and billable hours.
- Think scalability versus growth. As I explained in my video, scalability and business growth are not the same and often is not discussed in the business world as much as it should be. Business growth carries the connotation of increased revenue and is linear. Taking your business from a six-figure entity to a multi-million-dollar entity sounds like a good thing. However, to do so also requires additional resources especially financial.
Scaling is about creating business models and designing your organization in a way that easily scales to generate consistent revenue growth without adding a ton of extra costs and or resources to achieve that. A business can generate a great amount of revenue, but not necessarily be scalable.
- Think revenue streams versus the revenue of your business. I believe why so many small businesses are not positioned for scalability is because they are focused on growing their business versus revenue streams. While this may not sound like a big deal, it is. Revenue streams allow you to offer complementary products and services to increase your sales with little or no additional overhead costs.
- For example, it’s not enough for my author clients to just have a book. We strategize on what their author platform should include based on their expertise and audience. Many of my clients are now speakers, have courses, merchandise, and a podcast platform connected to their book. These revenue streams increase their financial success, visibility, and credibility much more than just having a book for purchase.
In your opinion, what are a few ways that executives can help to create a fantastic work culture? Can you share a story or an example?
Create your company’s core values as the basis of everything that happens at your company now and in the future. Devote time to ensure that all of your employees know the company’s core values and are aligned with them. This is a continuous process.
Next, be clear about what type of organizational culture you want to create. Carefully consider everything from the physical layout of the office to how frequently employees interact with one another, including upper management and yourself.
Your culture should ensure that everyone feels valued and heard regardless of their job title or role. Some sort of employee recognition system should also be designed for employees who achieve high results. (Money should not be your main or top incentive.) These recognition systems can encourage high performance continuously.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
Make it mandatory that restaurants, grocery stores with prepared foods, convenience stores, and the like, would have to give away their excess food versus throw it away. I think it’s insane that there are regulations that make it mandatory to discard excess food when there are hungry people that could eat that food as long as it was safe for human consumption.
How can our readers further follow you online?
They can go to TheJoyGuru.net which will provide links to all my social media accounts as well as how to contact me. For information regarding my publishing company, they can visit FruitionPublishing.com.
Thank you for the time you spent sharing these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!