Welcome Think and Grow Chicks and of course, Think and Grow bros:-). I’m super excited to have you guys with me. This one is a little different because it’s not a solo episode. I’m really excited about our guest.
Last week we focused on what I did right this year, what I did wrong this year and what I’m doing next. I did my fair share of discussion about maintaining work toward my goals without burning out and how I’ve been approaching things as a soon to be a mom and dealing with this awesome pregnancy. With that, I’ve really had to revisit the conversation surrounding Grace vs. Grind. This idea that you do need to work hard to achieve your goals you also need to be intentional and allow aspects of grace in your life because if you try to do it all on your own strength, you’ll burn yourself out.
This is something that I’m exploring and learning, and while I’m definitely not an expert at this skill, I thought it’d be really fun to bring others to help continue the discussion.
I’m super excited to have my friend with me here, Ashley Brown of Ashleyempowers.com. She has an amazing brand online. She teaches all about relationships, marriage, and really just encourages women to do it the right way and the Godly way. I really love her content.
She, like me, recently quit her job not too long ago. I love Ashley and how she approaches her business because I think really she nails balance in terms of being a mother, she has a young daughter, having a healthy relationship with her husband and really being successful with her goals and going after her dreams.
For the full audio from our personal interview, please check out the podcast on iTunes and Soundcloud.
So here’s the highlight of what Ashley and I have talked about in the podcast:
Can you spend some time talking about how you started your business and how you built your brand up to where it is today?
Ashley Empowers is a brand that is really grounded in relationship empowerment, sharing with people the importance of pursuing healthy relationships with God at the center. Popularly known for our relationship blogging on YouTube. My husband and I have a series where we answer relationship questions. We also interview couples on a series called Dating with Purpose, showcasing couples who have healthy, thriving relationships to inspire this generation.
I’ve been full time entrepreneur for about a year now and I’ve always had that desire to become an entrepreneur since I was 8 years old. I went to business school and have an executive MBA. But what really started this brand happened almost three and a half year ago, I was single and at a point in my life where I’d gone through a lot of unhealthy relationships and was just at a breaking point where I wanted to do something different in my life. And when it came to the relationships and how I was going about relationships, I realized that my relationships were a mess and I started having the desire to learn how to go about pursuing relationships in a healthy way. I developed the term called “Dating with Purpose.”
The biggest issue was that I never really grew up in Church, have negative examples of this kind of relationship because my parents divorced when she was still young. So one day on a dinner with some friends, I thought about starting a YouTube channel where I just wanted to interview couples with healthy relationships. Couples who are young, hip, relatable because in media you see a lot of unhealthy relationships. You see a lot of Real Housewives, where nobody is actually a wife.
I didn’t have any resources when I started, so my boyfriend (my now husband) bought me an iPad that I could use for my videos. I started a blog, I didn’t even have a domain name. I remember being in my apartment and I was sitting on the floor. This was my first video. I took the painting off the wall to serve as the backdrop, as I was sitting on the floor. I propped the iPad up on some dirty clothes and I hit record.
When I recorded my first YouTube video and I just did an introduction telling people about what it was going to be, interviewing couples called “Dating with Purpose.” And that led me to meet the right people who helped me with what I wanted. From there, I had the desire to be a speaker. I didn’t grow up having the desire to become a speaker. I took a step out on faith and I just put a speakers tab on my website.
Can you talk more about the transition now, how did you make the leap to actual full-time entrepreneur?
When I first started Ashley Empowers, I didn’t know that it even had the potential of producing revenue. I didn’t know until about a year and a half or so after doing videos on YouTube consistently, I was on YouTube one day and I was watching somebody’s channel and this girl mentioned that this was her full-time job. That’s when I learned that you can monetize your channel. And I started just seeing more entrepreneurs and people that were themselves the brand.
It started very slow and when I decided to take the leap, I was working a full-time job that I actually really enjoyed but I was feeling a tug in my spirit that I was supposed to be doing this full-time. Because my time, it was getting really demanding and I just had my daughter.
I was willing to step into the unknown and have that uncertainty. I tell you that was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made because when you’re put in a position where you have no choice but to make something happen, you see a completely different side of yourself.
Once you were full-time, did you find yourself tempted to shift into a grind mode or how did you still maintain that Grace vs. Grind balance when the stakes were so high now that you didn’t have a job?
I took this leap of faith, God is just going to make everything happen but I quickly realized that His favor is in my life. His hand is in my business. I have a specific assignment from Him but I had to really just get some structure. And like you’ve mentioned a lot in your broadcasts and podcasts, the importance of having a system. When I started to learn that there are absolutely systems that you can put in place to help with your business, to help reach more people, to have more impact, I started applying those.
And that’s what really took my business to the next level. I took what I was already doing and just adding structure to it. But when you develop certain systems and you see what works for your specific business, it does allow you to have some grace because you’re no longer trying to figure out everything for yourself, you’re learning ways to work smarter and not harder.
You have a daughter, and you do scheduled date nights with your husband, a lot of people, women in particular, really struggle with that. So how do you keep all the balls up in the air and manage your business?
For me, when it comes to balancing everything, it’s one taking dominion over my morning. I have a very structured morning routine, where I hit all of my core points. For instance, I wake up at 5:00 in the morning and the first thing that I’ll do is have my quiet time because when it comes to operating a business with grace, I feel like you have to consult the Creator.
A huge aspect of my business is faith-based and I believe that this is an assignment that I have, so I have to consult God regarding my next steps. I don’t have a CEO. I say that God is the CEO. I’m the CEO on paper but really spiritually, I’m the manager. And I think when you’re in tune with what He’s called you to do, it’ll take you further than you will ever imagine.
But, back to balancing, I’ll wake up in the morning, I’ll have my quiet time. I’ll read whatever book I’m reading, at least a chapter. I’ll go on a walk or whatever exercise that I’m into at that moment. And then from there, I mean, my husband, he’ll be up doing his thing. My daughter’s asleep. It’s really just having my time blocked. So first thing in the morning, it’s my “me time”.
So above everything, I’m a momtrepreneur. I schedule my day but when it’s time to be with my daughter or she’s trying to play, I don’t want to be on my laptop or on my phone. When I’m having my me time, I do my own personal spiritual and self-development before I even touch my emails or anything business related.
What would you say to those who are listening and are starting to build, in terms of incorporating this more grace filled method to still being ambitious and building things but not burning themselves out at the same time?
When it comes to entrepreneurship, I think the first thing that I would say is yes, there is grind to it, right? There is a grind to it but I like to call it, a divine flow. When you are operating in your assignment and you are not the one trying to force everything but you’re being led by someone greater than you, which is the Creator God, there’s a flow.
There is a grind that will allow you to grind and not be burnt out. I notice that on days where I’m trying to just knock out every single thing on my to-do list and I’m exhausted, it’s because I was trying to do too much. My recommendation for people who feel like they’re just in grind mode, understand that when you’re not trying to do everything in your own strength, there’s going to be a flow and a peace that literally will surpass your understanding.
If someone were a fly on the wall and they were looking at your schedule, would you say, on paper, maybe it looks like you do less than what other entrepreneurs claim to do but maybe you get a greater impact out of it?
To a certain extent, yes. I’m a very organized person where I’ve learned to schedule my day in a way that is beneficial to me. I schedule my day where I have one or two heavy-hitting items max. And I actually do what I say I’m going to do. When you’re an entrepreneur, you have to be incredibly self-motivated. You have to be a self-starter.
You can build those skills, but people say they want to be an entrepreneur, but if you’re not a self-starter, if you’re not self-motivated, you will fail. It’s just me saying, “Okay, what’s the most effective thing that I can be working on in this season?” And it’s just as simple as me getting it done.
What does feminine productivity look like? What does it mean to be, not just a businesswoman, but a woman in your business?
I think sometimes when women try to adopt those grind, grind, grind attitudes and you’re trying to go toe to toe with this man attitude it takes and chips away at our power. Because as women, and I remember you mentioned this at the Powerhouse, we are the receivers. What femininity really looks like is being able to gracefully receive, not feeling like you have to just go get it, do, hustle, but being able to relax back into feminine nature and understand that there is a sense of flow when you’re operating in your womanhood. Because people want to serve you.
There is something about a woman who operates in her femininity, who is confident, who is graceful, that is incredibly attractive in relationships and in business.
I think as an entrepreneur, especially speaking to entrepreneurs that are women, married and have families, there’s a tendency to have that grind mode and sometimes it’s hard to turn that switch off when you get home.
Women have permission to build businesses, to build families, to have a career, but understand what’s really attractive is embracing your femininity and allowing that to shine.
Can you speak what that would look like in terms of a woman embracing her femininity in business or using it to her advantage or even just examples of how you’ve done that or situations that you’ve been in where you’ve allowed your femininity to shine?
This applies to relationships and business. Someone who is feminine, confident, don’t feel like they have to beg for things. Yes, I’m a business owner but I embrace my femininity by putting my content out there in an attractive, professional way, in a classy way that shows people the value that they would get from being a part of my programs or buying a product. But I don’t beg for it.
As a woman who’s feminine and who’s confident, you can relax back and know that :
(1) what you offer is not going to be for everybody
(2) you don’t have to beg for something that’s already yours.
How that applies to relationships is the same thing. Sometimes women have a very thirsty energy that they become clingy and needy to be in a relationship.
I find that the most attractive people are the ones that are confident, knowing that yes, they can add value to a relationship but they don’t need it in order to be successful. I apply those same principles in business, like don’t be the business owner or the brand who is just looking like you’re begging people to sign up for something.
But for that woman who is struggling to understand what her value is and it’s hindering her from showing up in that feminine power, whether it be, and attracting a mate or succeeding in her business, what would you say to her? How can women find what makes them valuable?
When it comes to business, a lot of people do not value their unique assignment because a lot of times when you have a calling, when you have a gift, it appears to come so easy.
What I would say to people who feel like they’re not really valuing what they’re doing, where they have these ideas but they’re kind of baby stepping into their purposes, I would tell them to tighten up because you have to take your eyes off of you and put your eyes on you being obedient to what you’re called to do is going to bless so many people.
But when people are self-centered and they’re thinking about their value or the feeling of the lack thereof, they’re every day missing opportunities to bless people with whatever they’ve been called to do.
I do tons of things scared. I do tons of things nervous. I have doubts in my mind that I have to cast down and just renew my thoughts because I like, “Who are you to do this?” Or “Who are you to do that?”
It’s not about you. But it’s really just realizing that what you’re doing is not for you, it’s for everyone who’s attached to you.
What are some baby steps they can take to start operating in this mindset?
For those who are super interested in you, where can they learn more about you and how can they get your books and projects that you have going on?
On social media, I’m @ashleyempowers on everything. My website is ashleyempowers.com.
For every single person that is listening to this broadcast, I am offering my book for free. I just came out with a new book called Dating with Purpose: How God Turned a Hot Mess into a Housewife. It’s perfect for really anyone. If you’re married, single, engaged, what have you, but specifically for singles, I share my journey. I share a bucket list of things that I recommend single women to do. I share over 80 things that I recommend to do as they go through this season.