It’s been one of my best teachers and has been as well as for Karen Alston.
She says self-employment creates personal growth by getting you out of your comfort zone.
She’s the founder of Alston Marketing Group a marketing, branding and advertising firm based in Washington, DC servicing government agencies and large nonprofits. She started 15 years ago after getting laid off from AOL Time Warner.
Two years ago she founded TheSpectrumCircle, a professional development platform form for women to share honest conversations about the development of their careers.
There are a lot of insightful perspectives in our conversation including:
- How automation is going to force more of us to working autonomously.
- Why Karen decided to work for herself after getting laid off instead of looking for another job.
- Why she believes most entrepreneurs really need a strategic plan, not a business plan.
- Her financial transition between employment and self-employment.
- What it means to create a truly inclusive work environment.
Life Skills That Matter In This Episode
- Embrace discomfort.
- Planning your actions.
How Karen Works and Thinks
- Wake up time: 6:55ish.
- Core work activities + habits: 1) Creating and executing her social media plan. 2) Planning how to expand her brand through speaking, interviews, events, etc. 3) Going out to events or different places to meet new people for business development.
- Ideal work environment: In a creative environment, that’s beautiful and inspiring, around lots of books, and where she can unplug.
- Book recommendation: Flying Without a Net by Thomas J. DeLong and Chasing Slow by Erin Loechner
- Regains focus and motivation by: Reading books and watching inspirational videos
- 90-day goal: Get everything lined up for Spectrum Circle for 2018, finish her strategic plan, put more time into Alston Marketing Group, and pursue more speaking engagements.
“That creative spark leads to something else, but it’s taking the time to say, ‘Today I’m going to enjoy working on my yard or doing something fun and creative that has nothing to do with work.'”
“You can’t operate in a silo, it’s impossible. You need a tribe.”
For women that are working full-time, but want to start their own business, Karen recommends these steps for getting started:
1) Find the people doing what you want to do and study them or ask them to mentor you, if they can.
2) Watch videos that will help to educate and inspire you.
3) Understand that it’s hard and use that knowledge to build a support system around you who can encourage you when things get tough.