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Angel Ishmael of NetBlaze: “Don’t let setbacks define you”

Determination: Don’t let setbacks define you. Each setback or struggle is one step closer to success! You will always need to have setbacks in order to improve and grow. Don’t focus on what you did wrong but on what you will do to make it right and improve for the next time. As a part of […]

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Determination: Don’t let setbacks define you. Each setback or struggle is one step closer to success! You will always need to have setbacks in order to improve and grow. Don’t focus on what you did wrong but on what you will do to make it right and improve for the next time.


As a part of our series about women who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Angel Ishmael.

Angel Ishmael is the Vice President of Sales and Marketing for NetBlaze, a Chicago-based SaaS digital marketing solution for small businesses nationwide. Ishmael has been with NetBlaze since it’s conception in June of 2018 starting as the Marketing Director. In her current role, her responsibilities include helping clients implement and grow their online presence through social media strategies, CRM tools, reputation management and customer reviews. Ishmael has demonstrated experience working in the digital marketing industry. Her previous role prior to joining NetBlaze included being a social media strategist and manager for digital marketing company, Blueprint Information Products. She holds a B.A. in Communications from Purdue University.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

I interned for a CBS affiliate and then went on to work for PBS in my early career days. Those experiences gave me some insight into advertising and marketing that have stuck with me. I went on to co-own (I was married at the time) several small businesses myself. From a wine bar in Northwest Indiana, to having my own real estate practice, to running a highly successful online platform review site for families. As a stay at home mom, raising my 3 kids, I started the platform review site from scratch and soon was working with companies such as Disney, Glamour, Honest Tea, Beaches Resorts and more. I did all of the marketing for the companies plus more (hiring, training, payroll, inventory) and understand the long hours and hard work that a small business owner puts in. When the opportunity to work for a company that valued the small business owner came up, I couldn’t say no as it’s something I’ve always been passionate about,which is helping a small business succeed!

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

The value we provide at NetBlaze for our digital marketing SaaS solution to small business owners for such a low price is unprecedented — I am so proud to be a part of a company that levels the playing field for small businesses.

My work is also disruptive as I was a stay at home mom for 12 years, doing my own thing, yet with time, preparation and hard work, I ended up back on the playing field. It’s difficult for moms to re-start their careers, and I’m showing that it’s possible!

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 had been out of the workforce for many years, and was the queen of managing my home and kids to a T. My new bosses asked for a check-in, so that I could update them on what I had accomplished in the past month. Being a detail oriented person, and out of the corporate world for many years this clicked in my brain as “write down every single thing you’ve done for the month” and so I spent days completing this. I sent a spreadsheet with every single activity I had done with each and every client in detail — I’m talking pages and pages of notes. The only feedback I received was “Gosh we wish you hadn’t done that as we needed a high level overview”. What I learned was to ASK QUESTIONS up front! If you aren’t clear on what someone needs or how they want it presented, ASK.

We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact

I was mentored by our CEO, Steven Clayton, before coming to work for NetBlaze. What I realized through that six month journey was that it didn’t matter that I had stayed home with my kids nor that I hadn’t worked in the corporate world in a while. What DID matter was my desire to jump back in with determination and grit. I had been out of the marketing world for awhile yet I understood that my history and the knowledge was still within me. I was encouraged to identify WHAT it was that i enjoyed doing the most and to focus my energy on those things, to build them up even more.

In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?

Sure, the idea to me that a woman can’t work and raise a family and even do those things while being a single mom is so outdated. I had a male CMO who told me that maybe I wasn’t cut out to work and raise kids simultaneously and it pissed me off. I am fantastic at multitasking and compartmentalizing and knew that I could do the job regardless of his outdated thoughts.

Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

Focus: Know what you want in life and THEN figure out how to achieve it! While I was a stay at home mom, I knew I wanted to get back into the corporate world eventually. I didn’t exactly know how that would transpire but I had the drive and determination to make it happen.

Determination: Don’t let setbacks define you. Each setback or struggle is one step closer to success! You will always need to have setbacks in order to improve and grow. Don’t focus on what you did wrong but on what you will do to make it right and improve for the next time.

Plan: I can’t stress this one enough! Plan out your year (I love the 12 week plan), I plan out all parts of my life so that I make sure 1. I achieve my goals and 2. That I have work/life balance.

Everyday, I write down three things that I MUST accomplish — this keeps me accountable and feeling accomplished at the end of the day.

We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?

I really want to help women owned businesses shine! I want to provide them with the tools and support they need to push forward and succeed. This could mean providing marketing help, digital improvements or even just providing an ear to listen. When women come together, we can make big things happen!

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by ‘women disruptors’ that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?

Women have a hard time asking for what they want for fear of feeling bossy or aggressive. Men say exactly what they want all the time. I have learned (and very quickly) to be clear and concise in exactly what it is that I want in both my professional and personal life and it’s truly empowering.

Do you have a book/podcast/talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us?

The Alchemist has to be my favorite book of all time. It’s one that I read and re-read and learn something new every time. It encouraged me to think outside the box, and to understand the importance of the choices I make on a daily basis and how those create my future. I pay close attention to my thoughts, words and actions to make sure they all align to the journey I’m on because of my deep connection to this book.

You are a person of great 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. 🙂

I would help women step outside of their comfort zone, help them unlearn behaviors that hold them back so that they can move forward in their greatness. I think showing up unapologetically is empowering and that’s where I’d start!

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

This quote by Marie Curie resonates as we all have challenges in life and it reminds me that we all have a greater purpose in life. Through laughter and tears, love and loss, triumph and failure…it’s all just a part of our journey.

“Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained.” — Marie Curie

How can our readers follow you online?

https://www.linkedin.com/in/angelishmael/
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