5 Min ReadTrending Now 26 June 2020
As part of my series about strong female leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Amber J., the founder and host of After it All, a podcast that shares weekly life lessons and interviews with individuals who land their dream jobs, achieve so-called "unrealistic" goals, and decide to live the life of their dreams. If you are looking for a podcast to motivate you and get you on the track to overcoming obstacles and living life on your terms, then the After it All podcast is for you. This podcast is full of inspirational goodness. Many times, what drives us to overcome is simply hearing the stories of others' accomplishments, which lets us know anything is possible. Through the podcast, Amber shares her journey to living life on her own terms and going "after it all".
Thank you so much for participating, Amber! Tell us about yourself.
I am Amber J, a small-town girl from Pennsylvania, USA with goals and dreams to make an impact in the lives of others who want it all in life. I believe my purpose stems from my childhood. If someone were to scroll on my social media or have a conversation about my current life, they might assume I've had an easy life, perfect parents who gave me most of what I have in life, but the reality is quite the opposite. My parents split when I was baby, I've moved houses because of eviction at least 15 times, I've lived with a few different family members, seen the horrible effects that drugs and alcoholism have on people, watched my mother struggle for years in physically and mentally abusive relationships. The list goes on. Now, I do not say all of that to receive a pity party from anyone reading, it's quite the opposite. I was able to experience all these negative events and traumas and turn it around for good. From a young age, I knew I wanted more for myself. I wanted a good life, a happy life, a loving life, a peaceful life. I may not have been taught what to do, but I sure as hell saw what not to do. I learned from watching other people's mistakes, so I didn't have to make them for myself.
Many times, what drives us to overcome is simply hearing the stories of others' accomplishments, which lets us know anything is possible
Before I knew it, I saw myself with incredible connections in the industry who led me to do hair and makeup for a Top 10 Billboard jazz artist attending the NYC Grammys, two seasons of a T.V. show, a concert for a Top 10 contestant from The Voice T.V. show, working on set for commercial pharmaceutical photoshoots, and two amazing bridal companies. Those opportunities didn't happen because I was the best makeup artist in the world, they happened because I believed in myself, I put myself out there, I took any opportunity I could, and one opportunity turned into another! My other career goal was modeling. Not long after getting into the agencies, I landed amazing jobs. I did a T.V. commercial for QVC, went to the headquarters, and modeled for a billion-dollar makeup brand, I.T. Cosmetics, and being featured on their website.
I was then ready for the next step of my life — to teach others what mindsets allowed me to create this dream life for myself. A huge dream I have always had was to travel the world, live in other countries for months or years at a time, and live by the beach. My past has shown me that if I put action to my dreams, I can achieve them, so skip ahead a few months, I launched my podcast, After it All, to share everything I learned to help others know that they can have it all in life and how to go after it! The same week that I launched my podcast, I moved across the world to Phuket, Thailand to fulfill yet another dream. My mission is to show people that it doesn't matter what cards you were dealt in life if you believe in yourself, you can have it all — just go after it!
How do you believe your venture and/or organizations benefit others? Please give us an example.
My podcast, which I am in the process of building into a brand and community is so beneficial for people's lives because I share countless life lessons, mindset tips, and motivation from my personal story, and I also share other people and their journeys going for it all. By listening to my story and my guest's stories, people learn so much value that they can apply to better their own lives to go after their own dreams!
What was the skill you had that you found the most useful when starting your venture?
I believe one of the biggest skills anyone can have is the ability to adapt. Mistakes and other curveballs from life are inevitable. Those moments when things don't work out the way you hoped or planned are so crucial. Will you let that break you and cause you to give up? Or will you just accept it as a learning tool, overcome it, and adapt?
Ask yourself every day, "What's at least one small step I can take today to get myself even just a little bit closer to my dream life."
If you can see those curveballs as blessings in disguise and another way to learn and grow, you will be so much happier and more successful in your journey. That ability to adapt has been my most valued strength in starting and most importantly continuing my path. Mindset plays a huge role in this skill, so train your mindset to see these curveballs in a different light.
I know you decided to go abroad to live in Thailand. Tell us, how was this decision life-changing and how did it help you gain an edge in your podcast and life?
When I was younger and I would vision my dream life, it would look like me living by the beach and helping people's lives. I was not sure what beach and I was not sure how exactly I would be helping people. As destiny would have it, the opportunity to move abroad to Thailand came up, and that really made me take a lot of time and evaluate my life. I could stay down this path of doing hair, makeup, and modeling, and see how far I could go with that, or I could go to Thailand, leave that all behind to focus on other dreams. That is an intense decision, right? That realization brought me to the decision to launch a podcast to do exactly that. While others did not understand why I'd leave my current career success, I had peace knowing that I was entering a new chapter in my life… maybe even a whole new book. As the flight date got closer and closer, I gained more and more confidence and clarity about what my purpose is, what my mission is, and how my podcast is a huge stepping stone to an abundant future full of impacting people's lives. I really believe it came down to being willing to give up "good" for "great."
What advice would you give women who would like to follow into your footsteps of becoming founders in the podcast and virtual space?
My advice to anyone who feels called to host their own podcast, build a brand, create an online community, is to just full-heartedly believe you can have it all. Work on your mental strength and your mindset daily, always pump your mind with that brain food. Get rid of self-limiting beliefs! I have gotten so many messages from people saying, "Oh I wish I could just do that."
I really believe it came down to being willing to give up "good" for "great."
My response is always you can! You can do whatever you want to do in life if you rid your mind of those self-limiting beliefs. Whatever excuse pops into your head about why you can't do what you're meant to do, I guarantee if you learn more about it, get creative in finding another way, and change your mindset about it, you can. Be a solution-maker, not an excuse-maker.
I always tell the listeners of my podcast to not get overwhelmed by their biggest dreams and goals. It is great to have clarity on that, but when it comes time to act towards them, just focus on your goals for that day. Ask yourself every day, "What's at least one small step I can take today to get myself even just a little bit closer to my dream life." If you do that every day, you'll be so aligned with your goals and dreams that you're bound to achieve them!
As I always say... You can have it all — just go after it!
To learn more about Amber J. and her journey to entrepreneurship. Connect with her!
Podcast link: https://afteritall.buzzsprout.com/
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3 Min Read
"How did you ever get into a business like that?" people ask me. They're confounded to hear that my product is industrial baler wire—a very unfeminine pursuit, especially in 1975 when I founded my company in the midst of a machismo man's world. It's a long story, but I'll try to shorten it.
I'd never been interested to enter the "man's" world of business, but when I discovered a lucrative opportunity to become my own boss, I couldn't pass it up—even if it involved a non-glamorous product. I'd been fired from my previous job working to become a ladies' clothing buyer and was told at my dismissal, "You just aren't management or corporate material." My primary goal then was to find a career in which nobody had the power to fire me and that provided a comfortable living for my two little girls and myself.
Over the years, I've learned quite a few tough lessons about how to successfully run a business. Below are five essential elements to keep in mind, as well as my story on how I learned them.
Find A Need And Fill It
I gradually became successful at selling various products, which unfortunately weren't profitable enough to get me off the ground, so I asked people what they needed that they couldn't seem to get. One man said, "Honey, I need baler wire. Even the farmers can't get it." I saw happy dollar signs as he talked on and dedicated myself to figuring out the baler wire industry.
I'd never been interested to enter the "man's" world of business, but when I discovered a lucrative opportunity to become my own boss, I couldn't pass it up.
Now forty-five years later, I'm proud to be the founder of Vulcan Wire, Inc., an industrial baler wire company with $10 million of annual sales.
Have Working Capital And Credit
There were many pitfalls along the way to my eventual success. My daughters and I were subsisting from my unemployment checks, erratic alimony and child-support payments, and food stamps. I had no money stashed up to start up a business.
I paid for the first wire with a check for which I had no funds, an illegal act, but I thought it wouldn't matter as long as I made a deposit to cover the deficit before the bank received the check. My expectation was that I'd receive payment immediately upon delivery, for which I used a rented truck.
Little did I know that this Fortune 500 company's modus operandi was to pay all bills thirty or more days after receipts. My customer initially refused to pay on the spot. I told him I would consequently have to return the wire, so he reluctantly decided to call corporate headquarters for this unusual request.
My stomach was in knots the whole time he was gone, because he said it was iffy that corporate would come through. Fifty minutes later, however, he emerged with a check in hand, resentful of the time away from his busy schedule. Stressed, he told me to never again expect another C.O.D. and that any future sale must be on credit. Luckily, I made it to the bank with a few minutes to spare.
Know Your Product Thoroughly
I received a disheartening phone call shortly thereafter: my wire was breaking. This horrible news fueled the fire of my fears. Would I have to reimburse my customer? Would my vendor refuse to reimburse me?
My customer told me to come over and take samples of his good wire to see if I might duplicate it. I did that and educated myself on the necessary qualities.
My primary goal then was to find a career in which nobody had the power to fire me and that provided a comfortable living for my two little girls and myself.
Voila! I found another wire supplier that had the right specifications. By then, I was savvy enough to act as though they would naturally give me thirty-day terms. They did!
More good news: My customer merely threw away all the bad wire I'd sold him, and the new wire worked perfectly; he then gave me leads and a good endorsement. I rapidly gained more wire customers.
Anticipate The Dangers Of Exponential Growth
I had made a depressing discovery. My working capital was inadequate. After I purchased the wire, I had to wait ten to thirty days for a fabricator to get it reconfigured, which became a looming problem. It meant that to maintain a good credit standing, I had to pay for the wire ten to thirty days before my customers paid me.
I was successful on paper but was incredibly cash deprived. In other words, my exponentially growing business was about to implode due to too many sales. Eventually, my increasing sales grew at a slower rate, solving my cash flow problem.
Delegate From The Bottom Up
I learned how to delegate and eventually delegated myself out of the top jobs of CEO, President, CFO, and Vice President of Finance. Now, at seventy-eight years old, I've sold all but a third of Vulcan's stock and am semi-retired with my only job currently serving as Vice President of Stock and Consultant.
In the interim, I survived many obstacles and learned many other lessons, but hopefully these five will get you started and help prevent some of you from having the same struggles that I did. And in the end, I figured it all out, just like you will.