Masters of The Turnaround: Carla Williams Johnson of The CEO’s Publicist On How She Turned Crisis Into Success

Authority Magazine Editorial Staff
Authority Magazine
Published in
7 min readDec 3, 2022

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Make up your mind — By this I mean you’re going to have to change the way that you think about things so make up your mind that you’re going to do things differently in order to get a different result. Be ok with thinking out of the box and understand that things will only get better from here on out.

As part of my series about prominent entrepreneurs and executives that overcame adversity to achieve great success”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Carla Williams Johnson.

Carla, also known as The CEO’s Publicist helps women CEOs get into the places and spaces that increase their visibility to help them hit those income goals that they set for themselves and their business which had been previously out of reach. Her award winning company Carli Communications seeks to enhance the lives of women brand owners by giving them the support they need to build global businesses that gets them seen, heard and ultimately paid.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to this specific career path?

If I’m being perfectly honest, I didn’t know I had a gift for teaching people how to get publicity. I took for granted that what I knew, others needed to understand how to do. After close to two decades in the field of marketing, media and communications, I live and breathe this every day and it’s literally second nature to me.

So much so, that getting featured for myself and my company was easy. Locally, regionally, internationally, getting interviewed was just something I knew how to do.

It was a call from someone who had been watching and observing me over time who said she absolutely needed my help to get her featured. She’d been trying for years and just couldn’t make any headway

I hesitated

Could I do this?

Can I really help her?

My first instinct was to say no, but she believed that I was exactly what she needed.

I relented and within two weeks of us working together I was able to get her published in three major business publications.

What took her years to accomplish, she did in just a few days with my help and, from that point on I could no longer deny that I was uniquely blessed with the talent to help others do the same.

From then on I started teaching others, then I started doing things for them…..fast forward to now, I’m everyone’s ‘go to’ publicist.

Can you share your story of when you were on the brink of failure? First, take us back to what it was like during the darkest days.

I think for me the brink of failure was back in March 2020……I think we can all remember those days right? I always joke and say March 2020 had like a thousand days because everything moved so slowly….the world was in turmoil and no one knew what was going to happen. Covid placed the world on standstill and we had no idea what the future held.

Like many other businesses, I had to deal with clients canceling; Being in the industry my whole life it’s pretty standard that marketing budgets are the first to cut when things go south with a business but this time it was different. I literally lost four clients in a day because, as I mentioned between the pandemic news, quarantines and lock downs it felt like the end of the world

What was your mindset during such a challenging time? Where did you get the drive to keep going when things were so hard?

My mindset was that I was NOT GOING TO GIVE UP. I felt like the Lord had blessed me with such a great gift and I saw that I could help so many people if I just changed my strategy. I mean, I have helped others get out of sticky situations before……one time helped a client who couldn’t launch because of major flooding in her country, I helped her pivot and she made $10k in one week……I figured I can do the same.

I made up my mind, I had to change my way of thinking, my strategy and use my ‘God-given’ gift to help others who were so clearly in need.

Can you please tell us how you were able to overcome such adversity and achieve success? What did the next chapter look like?

Well, I had to step out of my comfort zone for sure. I was so used to being everyone’s well kept secret but now I had to be ‘out there’, I was the one that had to get seen and heard. I literally showed up!! I showed up any and everywhere.

Not exaggerating, I lost count of about forty media features/interviews within a one month period because every single place I could be, I was.

I spoke to mompreneurs who were struggling with productivity because they were now working from home while homeschooling. I used my experience to help them cope with the challenges;

I spoke to entrepreneurs who didn’t know how to pivot to this ‘new normal’ and gave practical advice on how to stay afloat;

I spoke to solopreneurs who where literally now in crisis mode and gave them the strategies to manage that crisis and tips on how to turn that negative into a positive for their business;

I reached out to some of my entrepreneurial friends who were struggling and helped them show up as well by booking features and interviews so that they can share their knowledge with a whole new audience;

I was on a mission to save EVERYBODY and honestly I think I did.

Based on your experience, can you share five actionable pieces of advice about how to develop the mindset needed to persevere through adversity? (Please share a story or example for each.)

1 — Make up your mind

By this I mean you’re going to have to change the way that you think about things so make up your mind that you’re going to do things differently in order to get a different result. Be ok with thinking out of the box and understand that things will only get better from here on out

2 — Get rid of the negativity

During those dark days, I stayed away from social media; between the pandemic, conspiracy theories and negative news it was way too much for me. I needed to protect my mind and spirit if I was ever going to get through.

3 — Surround yourself with great people

This is so crucial because you’re going to need that positive energy to recharge you. Have the right people to lean on, to bounce ideas off of and who will steer you in the right direction.

4 — Get into the habit of self care

Whatever it takes to get your mind right…..do it!! For me it was meditating and journaling……getting my feelings and emotions out really helped me cope. For others that might look like exercising or running a marathon but whatever it is, take care of you so you’re in the right frame of mind to take care of others.

5 — Know that you are enough

During these times we tend to second guess everything but understand that you are more than enough and well equipped to handle it. Go forth and conquer!!

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

There are waaayyyy too many people who have helped me along the way and have ensured I moved forward. My sister from another mother Odessa Laulys who’s always there to push me; my business bestie Keiva Reyes who always makes sure I’m doing what I need to do to achieve greatness and so many others that I am eternally grateful for.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

I have so many ideas but the most exciting one is that I will be creating an academy to help others how to effectively use media and publicity for business. I find that where live publicity is only seen in terms of crisis management, my mission is to show how it can be used to build brand awareness and visibility. I think it will really revolutionize how we use publicity in this part of the world.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire 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. :-)

I honestly feel that men are ‘groomed’ (for lack of a better word) a particular way and therefore they are ‘expected’ to act and react in situations that can be really unhealthy for them and the people around them. Society still expects them to be a certain way which is counterproductive to how the world is progressing. If I could I would create a movement to address this because while women are becoming empowered, men are still being held to the same outdated stereotypes with their worth measured by an old-fashioned value system. I think helping these men unlearn some of the traits they were exposed to can truly help the world become a better, less violent place.

Any parting words of wisdom that you would like to share?

Just do it!! Not to steal Nike’s slogan but honestly no matter how daunting it looks or how scared you feel just do it…..I promise you’ll be happy you did

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Feel free to make the Carlicomm Connection

I’m literally everywhere @carlicommunication (on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Youtube)

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.

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