Interview With Tihanna McCleese

Interview female entrepreneurs l Paperbeau.nl

TELL ME ABOUT YOUR CURRENT BUSINESS. WHAT ARE YOU DOING EXACTLY?

I have a platform called Worth-A-Read where WORTHY conversations LIVE and your story MATTERS! As a coach, consultant and trainer, I help individuals get clear on the stories not serving them in their personal and professional lives. I use my gifts as a highly sensitive intuitive, empath and natural communicator to identify the emotional and mental blocks of the stories keeping you stuck. We all have the tendency to say “x” but do
“y”. Sometimes, no matter what we say and despite our best intentions, we say “x” but keep doing “y” and that’s what I help my clients shift.

As a result of what I do, the content I create and services I provide, individuals, particularly those with entrepreneurial spirits, are more inspired and better informed to take action around their dreams and some of the most difficult situations in their lives. I’ve spent the last several years of my life immersed in transformational training and exploring healing and spiritual practices like meditation, restorative justice, mindfulness, tarot and crystal energy healing. All of these elements are woven into the coaching experience with me. The goal of my coaching is to help clients obtain practical and tangible emotional literacy skills they can themselves implement in every area of their lives. I believe being emotionally and energetically literate is the first major stepping-stone to becoming successful in life, business and relationships and having things turn out the way we intend. I’m also a book junkie and my love for reading is part of my business. I use personal development and self-help books to aid in my trainings. I also help personal development authors create content and message marketing strategies for their books. You can always find me curled up with a good book about personal development or business and I love sharing what I learn with others. I do this by building tiny libraries in urban communities and hosting pop up libraries.

HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH YOUR BUSINESS IDEA?

I’ve always had an ambitious, entrepreneurial and hustler type spirit. In September 2015, I was laid off from my job as a Communications Manager for an education non-profit. Six months later, the news station I worked for as an on-air reporter, laid off its entire newsroom without warning. I was devastated and unemployed. I had been toying with the idea of quitting both my jobs because I was burnt out and unhappy in the months leading up to the layoff but had been too afraid to just quit. I took the layoff as a positive sign from the Universe and decided this was my chance to strike out on my own. It was then that I decided to turn my layoff into a legacy. I jumped headfirst into a number of business ventures. I began doing marketing and public relations consulting. I took classes in real estate and stocks and started investing on a professional level. I drove Uber and Lyft as a way to make extra money and network. I met so many interesting people that I started blogging/vlogging about the experience and that’s what led me to create Worth A Read as a blog initially. My coaching/consulting was under a different business name at the time. But it was late 2016, as I was finishing a leadership development program with a company called Aiming High that everything began to come into full view and all my projects began to merge into one. I’ll never forget being on a walk along Alameda beach with a friend when I saw a tiny library. I lost my breath and God began speaking to me. With so much extra time on my hands as a result of the layoff, I had reconnected with my passion for reading and had read dozens of books during the months I had been working for myself. I was learning a lot and doing all of these things centred on business and making money but part of my leadership training involved accomplishing goals in every area of my life, including the community. And, I wasn’t clear until that moment exactly in what way I wanted to be in contribution to the world until that moment. When I saw the tiny library, it became clear to me that all the knowledge I had acquired and my love of books and reading were intrinsically linked to my purpose of teaching, helping people tell stories and spreading important information in the world. I went home and ideas began to come to me about merging my consulting/coaching agency with my community project into one company. Within a week, I incorporated W.A.R. as a 50 percent for profit to handle my coaching and consulting services and the other half as a 501c3 non-profit to support the tiny library project. I began incorporating books and other literary resources into my coaching practice, including things I’ve written myself. I’m currently working on my first book. I have libraries in four urban neighbourhoods of Oakland, Ca, which is my hometown and where I launched my business. I’ve received so much interest in the tiny libraries and my holistic approach to coaching that I’ve expanded the business to be bi-coastal. My client base spans from Oakland to Brooklyn.

WHAT WERE YOU DOING BEFORE THIS, AND IS THIS YOUR FIRST BUSINESS?

Before becoming an entrepreneur who helps people get clear and tell better stories, I used to tell stories for a living as a news reporter myself. I spent 12 years travelling the country reporting for major local news stations in Texas, Pennsylvania, Sacramento and San Francisco.  After giving birth to my last child in 2013, I took some time off from reporting the news so I could have a more “normal” schedule that didn’t include working every single weekend and holiday so that I could spend more time with my family. This is when I began working in the 9-5 corporate world of public relations, marketing and communications. I eventually returned to news and worked in both fields simultaneously. This is what allowed me firsthand insight into how some of the largest companies and CEO’s in the world were in-authentically telling stories about themselves and their companies just to “fit” into a certain mold or stereotype in the public arena. This is what began to spark a passion in me to change this, first and foremost on an individual level. It’s the lack of authenticity and responsibility that breeds mistrust of the media landscape as a whole and it doesn’t have to be that way if we can authentically tell our stories.

WHAT SPECIFIC ADVICE WOULD YOU HAVE FOR YOUNG WOMEN WHO WOULD LIKE TO BECOME AN ENTREPRENEUR?

Be in it for the long haul. Entrepreneurialism is not for the faint of heart. It’s not a quick fix. It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon. Success will surely come if you put in the work but what many of us don’t talk about is the sacrifice and emotional ups and downs that building a business can create in our lives. Since starting my own business there have been many days I’ve spent with no clue when or how the next dollar was coming and that is a scary thing as a single mom of four who is used to pulling in a six-figure paycheck every two weeks.  So, you have to be mentally strong and keep a healthy mindset and body to be able to effectively deal with all that comes with entrepreneurship.

Interview Female Entrepreneurs l Paperbeau

MY GREATEST OBSTACLE AND HOW I DEALT WITH IT:

Two of my biggest obstacles in business has been expanding my capacity to have full faith in the Universe and being more comfortable being uncomfortable. Entrepreneurship is very much about taking risks and dealing with uncertainties and that has been a learning curve for me. It’s forced me to exercise more patience and compassion with myself than ever before because by nature I like to have all the plans and answers up front. This journey has been a true exercise in trust….trust in myself and the Divine.

MY PROUDEST ACCOMPLISHMENT:

I can’t say I’ve had my “proudest” moment yet in terms of business. There are still many goals I want to accomplish but I am definitely proud of moments where it’s clear my coaching has changed lives for the better. With my guidance, my clients are doing things they thought impossible like reconnecting broken relationships and chasing after their dreams, expanding their business and overcoming fears. Every time I build a tiny library I’m also proud. It’s an amazing feeling to actually build something that can outlive you. No matter where I am, how long I live etc., my libraries will continue to bring joy and promote literacy in the communities they serve for generations to come! They are part of my legacy. That is humbling and amazing!

HOW I BLEND LIFE AND WORK TO CREATE THE LIFE I WANT:

For me, I try not to separate my time/days into work play. Since becoming an entrepreneur, I definitely set aside more time to intentionally play but I find the lines between my work and play is more obscure and fluid and I like that. I don’t feel like there is that separation I used to feel when I worked for someone else M-F. All of my time is my time and all of my time is Worth-A-Read time. I also do things I’ve never done before like take naps regularly and play with my kids in the middle of the day. Sometimes its hard to pull myself away from my laptop because I’m a natural workaholic but I force myself to indulge in different forms of self-care during each day and that always includes exercising the freedom I have to work when I want to work and how. It also means I don’t keep “regular” hours anymore. Some days I work 9-5, other days I may not start work until noon. Some days I don’t work at all and instead will pull a late night. I let my “life” and what needs to be accomplished on any given day dictate “how” my work will flow into my life.

 

I AM INSPIRED BY:

Greatness inspires me. Great people, great books, great ideas, great movies, great art, food and great music.

 

WHY I CHOSE THIS CAREER:

I’ve finally found a way to do what I love in a way that actually helps people and informs them in ways that allow them to help themselves. I never got this feeling in the news. It always felt like something was manufactured or not truly informing, caring or authentic. I finally feel like I’m scratching the surface of my true purpose and calling on this planet.

 

 

HOW I PREPARE FOR SUCCESS:

Every day before I get out of bed I meditate, pray, say my affirmations and do a reading for myself to get an idea of the energies at play around me. Being in business for myself has nurtured a deeper spirituality and faith within me. I’ve never felt this close to Divine Spirit in my life and can’t recall how I was ever “too busy” to not intentionally sit down and spend an hour or two with God/dess/Universe/Creator/Jesus/Buddha etc…(whatever you call the Divine) every single day. Now, my mind is full of conversation with God. The divine is part of everything I do and is my “secret weapon” so to speak when it comes to my success.

 

DID YOU WRITE A BUSINESS PLAN? WAS IT AN EFFECTIVE TOOL FOR YOU?

I didn’t. Because of my layoff, things were of an urgent nature and I just jumped right in. I have since done things more formally. Having a business plan is very beneficial when trying to attract investors or obtain a loan etc…

Interview Female Entrepreneurs l Paperbeau

ARE THERE SPECIFIC ADVANTAGES, DISADVANTAGES TO BEING A WOMEN BUSINESS OWNER?

Of course, there are gender stereotypes that exist but luckily I personally have not dealt with anything negative in terms of running a business as a woman. I have taken advantage of many entrepreneur programs geared specifically toward women. I think the most important thing is being clear about who you are, what you do and the value you bring period.

 

MY FAVOURITE BUSINESS TOOL IS…

Freshbooks. It takes care of all of my invoicing and accounting needs, which can be a pain. Freshbooks handles everything and keeps it all organized. This is helpful for tax time. I don’t have an affiliation with the company.

 

 

THE BEST PIECE OF ADVICE I HAVE EVER BEEN GIVEN IS…

You are always one conversation away from the transformation, meaning you alone hold the power to transform your life at any given moment.

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