…What a loaded question. First of all, thank you so much for the kind words. After an emotional and tragic loss in 2010, I attempted to start a “Making a Difference Daily” movement to inspire people to make a difference in others’ lives. In turn, it helps make a difference in theirs. There’s a powerful feeling that happens when you lend a hand to someone. I started getting donations from local businesses, including towels, hygiene products, and food. I would fill the trunk of my car and drive down to skid row in LA. The homeless would line up orderly and were so thankful. They would only take exactly what they needed; they were some of the most appreciative and humble people I’ve met. We would also head down to Hollywood BLVD and have people hold a sign that said “Spend a Day in My Shoes” to bring awareness to the fact that everyone has a story, and everyone’s reality and life experiences are different. I wanted people to be less likely to react when someone was rude and be more open to what that person’s day might have looked like. Unfortunately, that campaign wasn’t sustainable. But I’ve always had a passion for helping people and making a difference in this world (another reason I got into healthcare). I am not sure what movement will be next to assisting entrepreneurs in following their dreams and helping aspiring business owners not miss vital steps. Right now, it’s all about those two things, and hopefully, in the future, I can look back and see millions of people we’ve helped through our services, e-learning classes, and podcast. Giving people the great American dream is a movement in itself.
As a part of our series about pop culture’s rising stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Ashley Carty. Ashley is a seasoned entrepreneur who left ten years in the medical field to start her career in marketing. After a few years and notable experiences, she launched a highly acclaimed digital marketing agency — Carty Media, in 2014.
Since the launch of her agency, she’s helped scale single location restaurants into franchises, e-commerce stores reach their first million in sales, authors hit the international best-sellers list, and startups reach their fundraising goals. More notably, she has worked on projects in collaboration with Coca-Cola, Lifetime Fitness, and Kawasaki.
After five years of working with startups and watching countless clients miss vital steps, she knew she needed to do something. Information on how to plan, launch, grow, and maintain a brand was available, but the steps were inconsistent, disorganized, and weren’t taught by industry experts. So, Ashley set out to launch Action Mavens, a 30-step e-learning platform for aspiring entrepreneurs that covers everything from confirming idea viability and choosing the right business structure, to marketing, branding, and the last class ends with how to set your business up for a merger or acquisition.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
I grew up in Orange County but didn’t have the lifestyle most people see on the TV shows. I spent my younger years at campgrounds, amusement parks, and the beach. As I got older, I spent my time between our house in Trabuco Canyon and my dad’s house in Apple Valley. Growing up with my time split in half between two very different places gave me an understanding of how life choices can change what your life looks like, and I am so thankful for that.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
If I were to go back in time and tell my younger self that I would own a marketing agency, and an e-learning platform, I wouldn’t have believed it. Since I was old enough to know better, I thought I would grow up to be a Pediatric Cardiology Nurse [shout out to Moreen for making my childhood in the doctor’s office fun with the Chinese jump rope]!
I grew up playing doctor, and I was so determined to follow this path, I had my First Responder and CNA certifications before graduating high school. I had a job at a local assisted living facility during my Senior year. But something unexpected happened, my dad (technically step — he never had the chance to adopt me legally) was diagnosed with Stage 4 Lung Cancer. SATs and all the fun stuff that goes with planning for college went out the window. So after his loss, bereavement time, and a few life lessons later, I ended up going to community college to pursue my career in nursing while working every role possible at one of the top hospitals in Southern California.
After countless years working for some of the top hospitals and never finding fulfillment, I was starting to think this wasn’t for me. Don’t get me wrong, I was thankful every time I walked into the Director of Nursing’s office and walked out with a higher paying position and more responsibility than when I walked in, but it was never enough.
In addition to this, I am an INFJ personality type, and the patient loss (even though those that saved usually outweighed it) was too much for me to handle emotionally. When you combine that with a glass ceiling and an innate feeling that I wasn’t doing enough, I decided to make a career transition. Being the calculated person I am, I downgraded my role to per-diem at the hospital and pursued a career in marketing. I know, it’s not exactly a linear path from healthcare.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
I love marketing because it keeps you on your toes, new clients, new industries, and new quirky things to handle every day. It’s a lot like the medical field; you never know what you’re walking into.
One of the most interesting stories was a year before I took the leap and started my agency. At the time, I was working for The One Group, and I had a friend who was launching a new business. He heard that I had my foot in the door in marketing and asked if I would help launch his company on Kickstarter. He was my first client, and it is likely single-handedly why I’m where I am today.
I wrote out the marketing plan and started planning a massive launch event with a $5,000 budget. I reached out to my connections at the Wynn hotel and planned their entire launch event during the largest convention in the world with the after-party at Surrender Nightclub in the Wynn hotel. The whole story of who, what, when, where, and how is for another day. But let’s just say that Steve Aoki was Djing, and we got their product into the hands of Travis Barker and George Clooney, just to name a few. We surpassed their fundraising goals, and they went on to work with major brands like EDC and The Dallas Mavericks.
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 can’t say that any mistake has been funny. In my situation, mistakes involve careers on the line, and I don’t take that lightly. One of the biggest mistakes, however, that I can share would be related to starting my business and happens to be why I am so passionate about Action Mavens. When starting, I had no clue the right way to start a business. And although I did a ton of research, I still missed vital steps that years later show up down the road. When you launch a business, it’s essential to know everything that comes with owning a company.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
It is such an honor to work with any clients we bring on whether they are a startup or a Fortune 100 company. However, one of the most important projects that are close to my heart is with Anne Peled, M.D. Anne is paving the way for modern-day mastectomies by preserving both the nipple and sensation with her and her husband Ziv’s unique techniques. I love that my background in healthcare comes together with my marketing experience. I can’t wait to get her campaigns fully launched and for the world to know that this might be an option for them, whether it’s preventative because they are BRCA positive or if it’s necessary because of a breast cancer diagnosis.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started,” and why? Please share a story or example for each.
- Follow The Steps: Don’t just launch, you’ll have to pay for those missed steps later.
- Be Careful Who Share Things With: The next thing I wish someone would have shared with me is that you have to be careful who you trust and hire. Not too long after starting my business, I had a long road trip to Las Vegas. I was in the car with my best friend and her cousin. The entire trip, her cousin, was asking a million questions about my business, how much I made, how much work I did, what tools I used, how I found clients, etc. She was acting as if she wanted to come work for Carty Media. Two weeks after the trip, she launched her own business and started reaching out to my clients to offer them cheaper services. I was the first person they called. None of them left (when you keep your clients happy they are loyal), but she did get a nasty call from me about it. Not too long after she gave up and she let her “business” fizzle out. A year later, my boyfriend, at the time, decided to leave his job to start his firm offering the exact services I provided using a lot of the unique techniques and tools I used. We were almost immediately competing against each other. He had every right to get into what I was doing, he had an MBA from a great university, but it hurts to have people close to you decide to compete with you rather than work with you.
- Time: I haven’t had a real weekend since I started. Even when I am on vacation, I have my phone, and I have to step away for work. Granted, I was answering emails in a Hammock in Costa Maya, but I still had to be plugged in. Every holiday is filled with work because that’s the busiest time of year for my clients. My laptop is out on Thanksgiving and again on Christmas eve, new years, and every other holiday. I am writing this on Memorial Day Weekend (pandemic or no pandemic, if it’s a holiday I’m working at some capacity). It’s not for the faint of heart. Thankfully my 12–14 hour shifts working in a hospital conditioned me for working holidays and long hours.
- Friends & Family: You will quickly start to realize who has your back, who doesn’t, and who you’ve outgrown. Having fun is no longer a priority, small talk is annoying, and the only thing you enjoy doing involves your business. The only thing you know how to talk about is your business and what happened that day. You find celebrities boring, and you start to lose touch with friends that are still working mediocre jobs because they feel lesser than you no matter what you try to do to support them. Fancy meals on your card make them feel inadequate, and time with family turns into conversations about your business.
- Relationships: Forget dating someone with a 9–5 because there will be nights you’re up until the sun rises, and they just don’t get it when you have to work instead of celebrating a holiday with them. You’ll struggle to find someone that understands your ambitions and has similar goals of their own. Once you do, you’ll both be so wrapped up in work years pass by that feel like weeks, and your friends have since run laps around you when it comes to marking life things off their checklists. I’m happily taken, but we are still living the condo life with pets. Until I hit my goals, I have zero plan for letting anything get in the way of them. Most of you will feel the same if you start your own business. Fair warning.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
I am guilty of working myself way too hard until I burn out and need two full solid days of sleep and binge-watching tv to catch up, but I am trying to get better. I recently invested in a Peloton, weighted blanket and practicing “self-care Saturdays,” where the entire day is dedicated to anything that makes my heart happy. Some weekends it’s a mimosa in the morning and a heavy ride that night. Other days it’s nearly the entire day in the bathroom doing my hair, nails, tan, and all the other things I could do for self-care elsewhere if it weren’t for COVID.
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. 🙂
What a loaded question. First of all, thank you so much for the kind words. After an emotional and tragic loss in 2010, I attempted to start a “Making a Difference Daily” movement to inspire people to make a difference in others’ lives. In turn, it helps make a difference in theirs. There’s a powerful feeling that happens when you lend a hand to someone. I started getting donations from local businesses, including towels, hygiene products, and food. I would fill the trunk of my car and drive down to skid row in LA. The homeless would line up orderly and were so thankful. They would only take exactly what they needed; they were some of the most appreciative and humble people I’ve met. We would also head down to Hollywood BLVD and have people hold a sign that said “Spend a Day in My Shoes” to bring awareness to the fact that everyone has a story, and everyone’s reality and life experiences are different. I wanted people to be less likely to react when someone was rude and be more open to what that person’s day might have looked like. Unfortunately, that campaign wasn’t sustainable. But I’ve always had a passion for helping people and making a difference in this world (another reason I got into healthcare). I am not sure what movement will be next to assisting entrepreneurs in following their dreams and helping aspiring business owners not miss vital steps. Right now, it’s all about those two things, and hopefully, in the future, I can look back and see millions of people we’ve helped through our services, e-learning classes, and podcast. Giving people the great American dream is a movement in itself.
None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful to who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I am thankful for all the people who were stepping stones along the way. Jeannie at Saddleback Memorial for always believing in me, if it wasn’t for her, I don’t think I would have the work self-esteem I have today. Joe Scott for taking me under his wing with his marketing agency (my first experience with marketing), The team over at The One Group for all the hospitality big brand experience, Scott Campbell for believing in me and giving me one of my best case studies that allowed me to launch my agency, and all the clients I’ve had over the years.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Everything happens for a reason. I wholeheartedly believe in that. Whether you’re religious or not, every tiny thing that has happened to me has led me to where I am today. It’s crazy to look back and see how my experience at Saddleback memorial helped me have the grit to pull 14+ hour days, and how teaching doctors and nurses EMR in large groups gave me the confidence to get in front of a camera to host (and teach a few) action mavens classes. Every little step, every crazy thing has given me the stepping stones I need to be precisely where I am. It goes many layers deep, but we will leave it there.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
Hands down, it would be brunch with Sara Blakely at my favorite spot, the Beachcomber Cafe in Newport, right on the sand. I can see it now. She is such an inspiration to any female entrepreneur. I have been following her on Instagram and seeing the BTS of how she runs her business, her amazing office, and hearing all about her $5k in the bank account to a billion-dollar brand. She is who I want to be in five years from now once I am almost 40. Every morning I wake up and do my morning mantra: “You will be a female billionaire, you will hit your goal weight, you will have a beach house on the cliff overlooking the ocean where you can hear the waves crashing and smell the ocean air, and most importantly you will make a difference in this world.”
How can our readers follow you online?