Miss A Columnist

Jennifer Keck is a freelance writer and translator. Her work has appeared in various publications including The Hartford Business Journal, The Glass Hammer, the Fanm Kanson Network, and Real Atlanta Magazine. You can also follow her on Tumblr at http://thewritingden.tumblr.com. She lives in Queens, NY with her husband and cat.

If you have an New York City charity or cultural event, restaurant, boutique, spa, or salon you would like covered on Miss A, please contact Jennifer at jennifer.keck@gmail.com.

Interview With Atlanta-Based Success Coach Celest Turner

With an impressive career that spans 15 years, Success Coach Celest Turner shares her expertise with everyone from aspiring entrepreneurs and small business owners to large enterprises. She helps them build the marketing and branding strategies that take their success to the next level. But you don’t have to be a business owner to call on Celest. She also works with everyday people, providing the guidance they need to overcome challenges in both their personal and professional lives. Her services, which range from professional coaching to marketing consulting and training, are all designed to help you reach your goals.

Celest shares her story. (Photo credit: growthbycelest.com)

So how did Celest become a business and career guru? She entered the corporate world in 1996 at AEGON, one of the largest multinational insurance companies in the world. While at AEGON, she gained the direct marketing and business development experience that propelled her career. By 2000, she moved on to become the director of marketing at Johns Hopkins University, where her responsibilities included branding, marketing research, CRM, demand generation, media buying, and online marketing for multiple programs and campuses. But her biggest success at Johns Hopkins was her participation in the launch of the Premedical Post-Bac program, one of the best in the county. After Celest left the university, she followed her professional pursuits to Atlanta, where she led the strategic marketing and channel development programs for Intel, Bellsouth (now AT&T), and Verizon Wireless. Now a success coach, she combines the knowledge and skills she acquired to create a comprehensive guide for anyone who aspires to achieve personal and professional growth.

Book signing at the Cobb Galleria (Photo credit: growthbycelest.com)

Internationally renowned motivational speaker and author, Lisa Nichols named Celest one of the 39 “Ambassadors of Fortitude” in her latest book, Unbreakable Spirit: Rising Above the Impossible. On February 2, I had the pleasure of meeting Celest during the Unbreakable Spirit: Rising Above the Impossible book celebration and signing at the Cobb Galleria. She spoke about her own career struggles, the importance of networking, the elusive work/life balance, and much more.

How did you get involved with the book Unbreakable Spirit: Rising Above the Impossible?

I attended a workshop with Lisa Nichols, an internationally known writer and speaker. She was looking for inspirational stories to talk about how people can transform themselves and overcome big issues. I submitted my story, she liked it, and she named me one of her 39 “Ambassadors of Fortitude” in the book.

What are some of the challenges you’ve faced throughout your career, and how did you overcome them?

I was very shy. I had no corporate background. I was one of the first in my family to go to college, so I had no one to show me the ropes. I learned things the hard way. I always say I got bruises from Corporate America because I learned by hitting my head against the wall. And finally, I said, “Okay, that’s not how you do things.”

What inspired you to become a success coach?

The things that I went through. I realized that if people knew some of this upfront, they wouldn’t have to go through the same things. I want to help people be successful and gain a knowledge base so that when they’re doing something, they feel like they can accomplish it. They feel like they can do it. And if they were in the same situation that I was, with no role models or mentors, they’ve got someone they can call or they’ve got a book they can reference. Then they can say to themselves, “Okay, this is how I’m supposed to do it. Or this might help me.”

You said in your interview with Money Wisdom for Women that the ‘people plan’ is just as important as the financial plan. Why do you think is this the case?

If you look at sustainable businesses or big businesses, they have people plans. They have succession plans. They develop people because they know that in order to have a successful enterprise and not have to trade hours of your life every day for dollars, you have to look at people. A lot of times when people get into business they look at their marketing plans, they look at their financial plans, but they don’t look at the people because nobody ever tells them to do that. Then they wonder why they are working 90 hours a week on a business that is just breaking even. That’s part of the reason why.

What are some of the ways women can use their existing networks to develop their people plan?

One of the things they can do is ask for what they need. Just put it out there. “I’m looking for this.” One of the challenges that women face more often than men is that they don’t know how to promote themselves and talk to their circle. There are people waiting to help you, but you’ve got to tell them that you need the help.

What are your answers to some of the common objections women give as to why they can’t start a business or pursue that dream career?

The big answer: life is short. You have a finite amount of time on earth, and you have to maximize it. When you list your priorities and desires, and you see those aren’t aligned, you need to think about why they aren’t aligned. You need to focus your life in the direction you want it to go in. We all have families and loved ones, but at the end of the day, life is about everything. It’s not just about your family. It’s not just about your career. You have to carve out pieces and prioritize based on both aspects.

What are a few tips you have for women who are trying to balance their careers with their personal lives?

Instead of keeping two lists, a personal list and a work list, you have one list. Everything you think is a priority goes on one list. Then you prioritize the list in its totality. You don’t say, “I have to do this for work or my business, but I have to do this in my personal life.” No, everything is on one list, so that solves the conflict right there. What you have to do is allot time. A lot of times, especially if you’re a mom, you’re working, and you’re a wife, you find that it’s a struggle. You’re not balanced. If you spend too much time at work, you’re neglecting your family. If you spend too much time with your family, you’re neglecting work. So here’s what you do: you say, “I’ll allot this amount of time to work, and this amount of time to my family.” And if you spill over, you say, “I’ll make it up next week.” But you have to prioritize one list and create balance in your own life based on what’s reasonable for you. And that’s different for everybody. What’s reasonable for me may not be reasonable for you.

What’s the one piece of advice, be it career, financial, or personal, that every woman should hear?

Be a constant learner and listener. When you have the mindset that you are always learning and listening, you’ll find more information, you’ll find people who are sharing information, and you’ll realize that you’re always looking for information. The smartest people in business are constant learners. That’s because they have to evolve. You can’t evolved and get what you need if you aren’t looking for what’s next. Knowledge is power. Keep the mentality that no matter what, you’re looking to learn what’s next.

Any final thoughts on women in business?

I think that women have a phenomenal opportunity to develop enterprises and build businesses. If you look at the number of workshops, grants, and government funding, there’s a lot out there to help women in business. Now is the time to really pursue entrepreneurship. And in a down economy, if you can make it and start a business, you will flourish when the economy recovers.

Celest is available for consultations, workshops, advisor engagements, and as a keynote speaker. For more information, contact Celest at getstarted@theturnerconsulting.com.

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