You can either use the adversity in your life to hold you back or propel you forward. Pauleanna Reid is an amazing example of a woman who went through a number of struggles while growing up yet didn’t let it stop her from achieving her true potential. From depression to abusive relationships to dropping out of college, Pauleanna has used her past to create a positive future, not only for herself but for other young women across North America. She’s a best-selling author, motivational speaker, ghostwriter and journalist who truly epitomizes the word hustle and I’m so excited to be profiling her in my Stylish and Successful Interview Series.
Keep reading to be educated and inspired:
I’ve just stepped into an elevator with you – how do you introduce yourself?
I love this question! Having a solid elevator pitch is everything. It can make or break your brand. Personally, if I have to introduce myself on the fly, I say: Hi, my name is Pauleanna. I’m a multi-passionate entrepreneur on a mission to help young adults see beyond the limits of their circumstances and create a life they love. I’m a nationally published journalist and motivational speaker, the best-selling author of the book, “Everything I Couldn’t Tell My Mother” and the founder of New Girl on the Block Inc., a mentorship program that’s way sicker than your average.
You were about to complete your final year of college when you realized it wasn’t for you, walked out of your final exam and never looked back. Tell us what it was like to come to this decision and what advice you have for someone who may be going through a similar experience.
It felt like my moment of liberation. Up until that day I had been so unhappy with my life. I hated school, I hated my program, and I hated that I was only sticking through it because it was what other people expected for me. It’s not that formal education isn’t important, it’s just not right for me. That’s not to say making that leap was easy. It was terrifying leaving the security of an education that would lead to a lucrative career to pursue my dreams of becoming an author and journalist, but that decision was the beginning of the life I have now. For anyone else feeling trapped by other people’s expectations, remember that only you can live the life you want. Trust in your passions. They can take you anywhere if you’re willing to grind for them.
I know that you didn’t get to where you are today without creating a vision for yourself and outlining actionable goals to get you there. In fact, you’re actually a huge advocate for creating yearly vision boards. Why is it important to create a vision board and how has it helped you manifest positive change in your life?
I am a fanatic for vision boards! I create at least three of them every year. They’re a physical manifestation of my vision for my future. Waking up every day to see my goals in front of me reminds me that this is my life, my dreams are worth it, and that I don’t need anyone’s approval or permission to be happy. And it works! My vision boards have helped me map out the direction of my life. Before I became an author or a media darling, before I bought my home, my office space, my car, or my investment property, all of those were things I had included on my vision boards. The law of attraction is so real and seeing the possibilities for my life has let me blow the lid off my potential.
“Remember that only you can live the life you want. Trust in your passions. They can take you anywhere if you’re willing to grind for them.”
Your best-selling debut novel, “Everything I Couldn’t Tell My Mother” is an honest coming-of-age story for women. Why was it important for you to tell your story?
Writing my book was such a therapeutic process for me. I’d been through so many difficult experiences by the time I sat down to write it, and telling my story allowed me to unload a lot of the emotional baggage I’d been carrying around and begin to heal myself. It helped me to start a real conversation with my mother and tell her the secrets I’d been holding in for years. We now have a better relationship than we’ve ever had. But “Everything I Couldn’t Tell My Mother” wasn’t just for me. I know that there are so many other women out there that have stayed silent when they should have spoken up, accepted less than they deserved, or questioned their sexual maturity and readiness. I wanted to give them a story that would empower them too. My protagonist Aaliyah isn’t just me. She’s all of us.
One thing I admire about you is your complete transparency about who you are and what you have experienced. But of course, we know that sharing our personal story requires confidence and the courage to be vulnerable. What would you tell someone who still has yet to build up the confidence and courage to tell their story?
Being this transparent is definitely hard. There’s so much courage in vulnerability. But there’s a lot of healing and freedom in it too. Any woman working up the confidence to tell her story should start by being gentle and patient with herself. Dealing with a dark and toxic past is difficult and facing up to your imperfections isn’t something you start to do overnight. But you have to remember that you can’t conquer what you won’t confront. Once you begin to live your truth, tell your truth, and release your past, no one can use it against you and you’ll have no reason to shy away from your story when you’re ready to tell it.
Let’s talk a bit about your mentorship program, New Girl on the Block, a resource to help women ignite their inner power, maximize their vision and live their fullest lives. Why was it important for you to start the program? How has mentorship helped you get to where you are today?
There was a time when I didn’t know if I would ever make it through my struggles. People told me that I would never be successful. But for all the naysayers, I’ve been fortunate enough to have several amazing women show me that my past doesn’t have to define my future and my failures aren’t a measure of my potential. They’ve helped me steer my life in the direction I wanted to go with their mentorship and to this day, I still have several mentors that I turn to for counsel and knowledge. I started New Girl on the Block because I wanted to empower other women to see their potential and push beyond their limits too. I know that mentorship is really the greatest contribution I can make with my life.
“You can’t conquer what you won’t confront.”
Aliza Licht, author of Leave Your Mark (formerly DKNY PR Girl), said in a past interview that she believes one of the greatest gifts is having conviction – having strong beliefs and being confident enough to express them. When I recently sat beside you at a networking event you quite confidently shared that you don’t drink (in fact you’ve never even tried alcohol). Why is it important for us to have conviction, especially as a woman?
The secret to living an abundant life is to make yourself a priority. This means choosing the things that are best for yourself and following through on them with unwavering commitment. A lot of the times, this means dealing with people questioning and criticizing your standards. Especially as women, we often have people trying to coerce and persuade us into doing things we decided weren’t right for ourselves or that distract us from our purpose. I still get people teasing me for not drinking and trying to persuade me to have just one sip. But sometimes you have to vibe alone to really understand and see the bigger picture. You have to learn to do your own thing and stay in your own lane. And once your convictions start moving you in the direction you want, backsliding isn’t even an option.
What does your morning routine look like? Do you have any tools or apps that help keep you on track?
I wake up every morning at 4:30 to get a head start on the world. I never hit snooze, but I also resist the workaholic urge to grab my phone and check my email. Instead, I spend some time talking to God and communing with myself before letting the world in. Once I get out of bed, I repeat my affirmations and read the love notes I’ve stuck to my mirror because I believe it’s really important to start the day with a reminder of everything I have to offer the world. I don’t really have any apps or tools that I use to get my morning started, but I’m a strong advocate for creating the agenda for my day from the night before so I’m never scrambling when I wake up.
Through New Girl on the Block, you turn “shy girls into fly girls”. How should a “fly girl” present themselves through their attire? How has your personal image played a role in your success?
I started my entrepreneurial ventures as a fashion stylist and personal shopper for clients in the music and entertainment industry, so I have a great understanding of how what you wear can affect the way people see you. I personally admire women like Rachel Roy, Mikki Taylor and Rachel Zoe who understand what items make them stand out and turn heads for all the right reasons. For me, my appearance is part of my brand and being able to convey an image that’s as polished and professional as my work has been so key. I encourage all my fly girls to choose clothing that reflects what they want to be known for and that makes them feel confident. I recognize that I work with women in every industry from business to fashion, so what’s appropriate for one may not be for another, but as a general rule, you can’t go wrong with covering your butt and your bra straps and leaving the baggy sloppy clothes for lounging at home.
Describe that one outfit that makes you feel like a fly girl as soon as you put it on.
I love to look super chic with just a hint of sexy. My days of being obsessed with high end brands are over. Feeling fly isn’t about expensive or high fashion items for me, but items that make me feel totally confident. A great wrap dress or skirt suit paired with killer heels and my invisible crown will always make me feel like I can conquer the world.