Natasha Lee-Maxwell of ‘Make Your Dreams Come True Corp’: 5 Things You Should Do To Become a Thought Leader In Your Industry
… Being a thought leader adds immeasurable value to both your personal brand and company. Thought leaders are known for being informed opinion leaders and the go-to field experts. The benefits are endless and tremendous to say the least, one including a never-ending pipeline of clients. Also, many times, these influencers are given the opportunity to inspire the masses and use their own ideas to create the changes that we want to see.
As part of our series about how to become known as a thought leader in your industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Natasha Lee-Maxwell. Natasha is CEO of Make Your Dreams Come True Corp which she founded in 2006 at the age of 23. This now one of the leading business service and professional development companies in the outsourcing industry with clients across the USA, UK, Canada, and Europe. Natasha is also an ambassador for website builder Wix and is their Detroit Wix Ambassador. Most recently, she founded That Girl, which started as a T-shirt fashion line but soon evolved into a major force for good. It now focuses on celebrating and supporting the success of women from youth to adulthood while empowering them through fashion, media outlets and education. That Girl isn’t merely words on a shirt: it’s a lifestyle. Natasha is an accomplished and inspiring speaker and regularly talks on a wide range of topics at educational establishments, business conferences and at non-profit organisations. She is dedicated to giving back to her community and has developed a number of initiatives. These include an entrepreneurship training program for high school students to provide unparalleled business and personal support, and a program teaching the visually impaired in Michigan how to become self-employed whilst working from home.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
HOLY SMOKES!!!! I became successful. Honestly, I beat many odds to begin with shattering statistics of African American girls in my city. Born and Raised in Detroit, from Vandyke living in a community of talented and brilliant people, yet who refuse to use their talents. Starting my career as an entrepreneur stemmed from result-driven results and performance while working for my last employer BUDCO. My supervisor, Gary told me that I sold 1 million dollars of extended service plans over a period of 6 months. WOW, what a conversation that taught me how to view work and business from a new perspective. I would spend 8–12 hours per day on the phone selling extended service plans for Ford and FCA (Chrysler) but never once counted how much money I would make in the day. Honestly, the only arithmetic that I was concerned with was the hours I was at work, my hourly rate and commission. Flashes of me eating in my car, picking my sons up from school, dropping them at my mother’s during my lunch break begin to suffocate my throat. This was not the life I imagined for myself. I realized that for me, being an employee was a deadened life. I remembered my 8-year-old self imagining retiring at 30. At that moment, while my supervisor continued to smile and give commendations regarding my latest sales tactics. I silently thought to myself, “I’m going to start my own BPO firm. I’m going to get paid my worth.” I DID IT. The most interesting story of my career is that I DID IT!!! By the age of 23 within 2 years of entrepreneurship, I hired over 400 contractors globally to service clients for our BPO clients. I named my company Make Your Dreams Come True, We make business dreams a reality. The very name of my company and its tagline identifies that being a thought leader is who I am.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I think the funniest thing about starting is realizing that you are the BOSS. Summertime in Detroit is my favourite season. My first few months of entrepreneurship was challenging because I didn’t know how to manage my time. Literally, after working multiple jobs from 13–22 I cultivated whatever pattern was necessary to get the job done. I didn’t know anything about managing my own time. First, few months at home with my then husband and kids were amazing. From my window I would see them playing at the playground, throwing the football around, and/or even barbecuing. I couldn’t imagine missing another moment of family time. While working, if my family went out in the sun, I would go out with them too. If they wanted to go get ice cream, I wanted to go with them. After receiving a payment from my first client, I was disappointed with the amount I earned. I became frustrated and become nervous wreck thinking I was in over my head becoming entrepreneur. Evermore, I recall wanting to call back my previous employer back, thinking at least there was a guaranteed $6000 a month. After these 10 minutes of evaluating my decisions, a light bulb went off in my head. I busted into a burst of great laughter because I realized that I wasn’t working. I was playing in the sun with my family. LOL. At this moment I learned that being a BOSS requires discipline, time management and making tough decisions. Moving forward I closed my blinds and focused on growing my company. x
Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the main focus of our interview. Can you briefly share with our readers why you are an authority about the topic of thought leadership?
My target audience, followers and clients trust me as a person who moves and inspires them with innovative ideas; making ideas into reality, and as a person who is dedicated to demonstrating how to replicate success. Since my adolescent years, as early as elementary school, unknowingly, I began to cultivate the responsibility of being a thought leader. I attended Michigan State University for a term while in elementary school. I learned my first professional skill, peer mediation. After receiving my certificate and becoming an official School Peer Mediator. To my surprise, there was an office for Peer Mediators and I would actually coach my peers on how to resolve issues without violence or offending their fellow classmates. I restored a tone of elementary school kid relationships that year. (fast forward to middle school and everything I learned about being peaceable flew out the window lol, but that’s another story for another time).I taught my first clients how to communicate properly, forgive freely, cultivate ideas that would serve as problem solving for future encounters and rekindle relationships. In my elementary school I was known for problem-solving. The point of the illustration is to show that my entire life I’ve been an authority in the topic of thought leadership. Since becoming Entrepreneur 13 years ago, I’ve become the real-life Olivia Pope, taking the lead, encouraging aspiring business owners, innovators and philanthropist to allow their business dreams to live out loud. Let’s commend A.L Holmes Elementary school for inculcating thought leadership at an early age.
In a nutshell, how would you define what a ‘Thought Leader’ is. How is a thought leader different than a typical leader? How is a thought leader different than an influencer?
I would describe a Thought Leader as a leading expert who is trusted by their industries and client base. They think bigger than their own situation and seem to always have a different (and sometimes bigger) view of what’s going on and what needs to be done. Thought leaders are innovators and visionaries, they are able to transform one idea into 1 million ideas. Often times they have the magic of seeing perspectives from several viewpoints. Typical leaders are great at taking the lead, performs well in both alone and as a team player. They’re even great at outsourcing and creating systems. These are a few core characteristics of a typical leader. Thought Leaders encourage individuals with innovative concepts; flip ideas into reality, and grasp and show a way to replicate their success.
Can you talk to our readers a bit about the benefits of becoming a thought leader. Why do you think it is worthwhile to invest resources and energy into this?
Being a thought leader adds immeasurable value to both your personal brand and company. Thought leaders are known for being informed opinion leaders and the go-to field experts. The benefits are endless and tremendous to say the least, one including a never-ending pipeline of clients. Also, many times, these influencers are given the opportunity to inspire the masses and use their own ideas to create the changes that we want to see. Regardless, if you’re trying to make your company scalable or inspire a small group of people, investing resources, energy and thought into standing out from typical leaders and being more credible in business has never hurt anyone. Oprah Winfrey, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg Tony Robbins, Eric Thomas, Brene Brown, Beyoncé are some of my favorite thought leaders. These influencers are prime examples of why investing in your influence is important.
Let’s talk about business opportunities specifically. Can you share a few examples of how thought leadership can help a business grow or create lucrative opportunities?
We live in a world where presence and influence equate to money. Influencers are earning 7 figures easily based on the number of social media followers influence. Furthermore, when Thought Leaders create a chemistry with their audience, their audience will begin to want to request your expertise or opinions in other areas. For example, when I entered into the “Work From Home Call Center Industry” that was my niche. Overnight seemingly, I became an International Business Consultant, then I became a bit of an online influencer which then lead me to people who ask my opinion on motherhood, marriage, spirituality, fashion, fine dining and oh yeah business. Being a Thought leader provides you with an experience that surpasses earning 6 or 7 figures, it serves a reward of influencing and inspiring lives that you never imagined you would touch simply by living and leading!!!
Ok. Now that we have that behind us, we’d love to hear your thoughts about how to eventually become a thought leader. Can you share a few strategies that a person should implement to become known as a thought leader in their industry?
I think one of the most important of the strategies that I listed being authentic is the most valuable. Therefore, it’s important to establish a personal brand. Through personal branding, influencers are able to create a natural and authentic connection to their audience. In fact, personal branding is a core ingredient to many marketing strategies, building a lasting customer relationship and a lasting reputation. For example, my personal brand is the leading marketing strategy to attract new clients and it’s my most enjoyable. I’m able to join them the REAL person behind my companies. My clients and partners trust me.
In your opinion, who is an example of someone who has that has done a fantastic job as a thought leader? Which specific things have impressed you about that person? What lessons can we learn from this person’s approach?
Beyoncé, it seems like a which could seem like a typical answer from her fan LOL. No but seriously, here’s a woman who transferred from lead singer in one of the top women groups ever, to being incredibly successful as a solo artist to being one of the WORLD’s greatest influencers. Beyoncé has influences in many industries beyond MUSIC which was her introduction to the world. NOW she’s known for being the person who makes powerful business moves and investments, influences industries such as music, film, education, politics, philanthropy, fashion, culture, marketing, humanism, health, legacy building, generational wealth to name a few. Because Beyoncé’s diverse portfolio, influence, wealth and power are always at her fingertips. Beyoncé’s brilliance is undisputed. She’s a true example of being able to do anything when you tap into your imagination, work.
What advice would you give to other leaders to thrive and avoid burnout?
Embrace self-care. Remember the communities that you serve are expecting to experience your best you. You give your best performance on zero fumes. I get it, the world needs your light, you’re exactly right they do, but YOU need your light. Take care of your temple.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
It would be acts of love and kindness to family members and communities for 365 days. The world is lacking many of the fruitages of Jehovah’s spirit, however, there are many amazing people in this world who care. Could you imagine if everyone participated in demonstrating love and acts of kindness every day. What a site that would be. Giving makes feel amazing and it’s a great way to distract yourself from horrific headlines. I also would like to create a business mentorship program for young men ages 12 to 24 for the inner city and Metropolitan Detroit Residents.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” If you’re aiming for something, even if you don’t achieve it, you’ll still be somewhere better than where you started. You can achieve other great things while trying to do your first, even if you don’t achieve your original goal.
We are blessed that very prominent leaders in business and entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world with whom you would like to have lunch or breakfast with? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
Without a 100 million percent doubt, it would be OPRAH WINFREY. She’s without a list of my top 10 people. She’s number one. I can’t wait to laugh with her about the times that I hated seeing her name as a child. My mother would watch her talk show every day and discuss it with her girlfriends on the phone. I would be like ugggggh. When I turned 21 I began to hear chatter about decisions she made about her show content and business dealings. I began to adapt the audience point of view solely based on their opinion. Being the leader that I am, I became annoyed with myself for not investigating and making my own decisions. After carefully evaluating Oprah, her success and influence, I grew to love her more than my mother did. She’s one of my Role Model.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
@imthatgirlnatasha @be_thatgirl_, Natasha Lee, Facebook and LinkedIn,
Natasha Lee-Maxwell of ‘Make Your Dreams Come True Corp’: 5 Things You Should Do To Become a… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.