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Alicia Williams: “The three keys to developing resilience are belief, determination, and faith”

I define resilience as being able to push forward when the wind is constantly pushing against you. The three key pieces to having resilience I feel would be belief, determination, and faith. When you believe in something the idea of failure isn’t an option- it isn’t even in your vocabulary- against all negativity or closed […]

I define resilience as being able to push forward when the wind is constantly pushing against you. The three key pieces to having resilience I feel would be belief, determination, and faith. When you believe in something the idea of failure isn’t an option- it isn’t even in your vocabulary- against all negativity or closed doors you have the determination to push forward to make it work. When you have faith in your talents and ideas it is easier to draw from that passion when you come to those closed doors and uphill battles.


In this interview series, we are exploring the subject of resilience among successful business leaders. Resilience is one characteristic that many successful leaders share in common, and in many cases it is the most important trait necessary to survive and thrive in today’s complex market. I had the pleasure of interviewing Alicia Williams, the cofounder and CEO of Aliste Marketing. She is an award winning entrepreneur and author whose out of the box creative strategies have helped businesses expand their market reach by effectively using Social Media. As an accomplished public speaker, she has enlightened and entertained audiences at local and national conferences as well as on regional radio programs. Recipient of the 2016 Outstanding Women of Family Business Award Recipient, recognition as one of The Worcester Business Journal’s 40 Under Forty, and the honor of being the Spotlight Entrepreneur for Capital One Spark.

Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’?

I always had an eye for good branding — it’s a blessing and a curse.

I can’t look at anything without diving deeper into why a company utilized specific colors, wording or imagery on their social pages- my goal is to figure out what story they are telling.

Creating a brand experience is in my blood, from my first fundraising event I hosted I was coordinating the candy bar to match the foundations colors, creating invitations that mimicked their mission and pushed the boundaries of guerilla marketing to grab the attention of my prospective guests.

A graduate of Curry College in Milton, MA, I majored in Communications with concentrations in Public Relations and Theatre- I wanted to be the star of the show and then quickly realized you need to be able to sing in order to hit it big on Broadway- so marketing was my next stage that I took to.

I graduated a semester early and decided to attempt starting my own business in the height of a recession when everyone was telling me “Don’t Do It!”

With nightly networking events filling my calendar and projects piled on my 12×12 desk situated in my laundry room- I got to working!

Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?

Where do I start!?! I think the most interesting story is the people I get to meet along my journey. Sitting down and chatting with other business owners is one of my favorite parts for the simple fact that everyone has a different motivator, a different “why” that drives them to work 70+ hours a week and never shut off. One story was of an amazing individual that devoted his life to saving enough money to move his family to this country and in the process landed himself some untouchable connections and acquisition offers on his budding business.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

We’re real people that have families, dreams, struggles, successes, vacations and experiences. When we meet with a client it isn’t just a game for us to get them to buy more services or sign a longer contract, for us it is all about learning their story and then figuring out how we get to be a chapter in that story. I know what it feels like as a business owner to be on the top of the world one minute and the next feel like you’re ready to sell your house and car- we get it and that shows through in the drive we have for our clients to succeed. The majority of our clients have been with us for several years because we intertwined their goals with our mission and the results have been tremendous for their bottom line. It is very rare to work with a team that are all invested in your success. You may work with a specific Account Manager, but the leadership team and myself are always involved in those brainstorm sessions and a phone call away for the client. Further differentiating us, which is really just second nature, is our ability to understands your “why” and can strategize how to get you to where you need to be in business.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

I wouldn’t say one specific person helped me, but it was a combination of the people I surrounded myself with. The name Aliste was created from the initials of family members that were and continue to be my backbone on this journey. From my parents who always told me “do it” to my siblings who took my dreams seriously and kept me laughing along the way, to my husband who at any point could have said, “please get a job that makes you less stressed” and all of the fellow business owners along the way that have listened to my story and are now part of that….those people are who helped us get to where we are and continue to grow.

Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. We would like to explore and flesh out the trait of resilience. How would you define resilience? What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?

I define resilience as being able to push forward when the wind is constantly pushing against you. The three key pieces to having resilience I feel would be belief, determination, and faith. When you believe in something the idea of failure isn’t an option- it isn’t even in your vocabulary- against all negativity or closed doors you have the determination to push forward to make it work. When you have faith in your talents and ideas it is easier to draw from that passion when you come to those closed doors and uphill battles.

When you think of resilience, which person comes to mind? Can you explain why you chose that person?

Everyone that you meet is resilient in some capacity. For me I think I remind myself of my own resilience when things feel tough. I graduated during the height of a recession where business owners and professors were advising me to not start a business- but I didn’t listen. Throughout the last decade I have been told “no” “not now” but my determination and belief that failure wasn’t an option is what brings us here today. There will always be obstacles that come in your path but you can choose to wait for someone to move them for you or figure out another path- I enjoy finding a new path!

Has there ever been a time that someone told you something was impossible, but you did it anyway? Can you share the story with us?

Yes – starting a business in 2008 at age 21. I may have done it anyways but I had to adapt my business and grow my knowledge in order to make it succeed. I don’t mind someone saying that I can’t do something- maybe they are right- it is my job to figure out why they think I can’t do it and then adapt to the market feedback to make it work.

Did you have a time in your life where you had one of your greatest setbacks, but you bounced back from it stronger than ever? Can you share that story with us?

As a creative business we always like to bring on new talent that offers a fresh perspective. We invested in several full time employees as our business continued to grow- which is great- but in that same excitement we also introduced more payroll. We are fortunate to have a great CFO that manages our accounts but one month we had payroll, taxes and business expenses hit all at once and several accounts delayed on payment. Didn’t take a CFO to realize that this was a recipe for some tight cash flow headed our way. We adjusted, listened to the market and fine tuned our process to ensure that this does not happen again. Everything that happens in business is a learning opportunity- take it and grow stronger!

Resilience is like a muscle that can be strengthened. In your opinion, what are 5 steps that someone can take to become more resilient? Please share a story or an example for each.

1) Believe in your idea and have the knowledge to back it up.

2) Grow your confidence through self reflection to understand how you think and interact with others.

3) Surround yourself with positivity. Whether it is with people or books, find your network of positive.

4) View things from a different perspective. Instead of seeing a loss of a client shift your mindset to; now I have the time to refocus on our values and our own marketing.

5) Realize that you are not the first to be told no — just do something about it so that you aren’t the third person to hear it!

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. 🙂

Be a kind, honest, and truthful person. There are so many struggles around every person. I encourage everyone to take a step back into Kindergarten and realize that what we are taught on how to treat people at age 5 is how we should continue to treat people until we are 100.

We are blessed that some very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with 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 🙂

Richard Branson because he seems to stay true to his purpose, isn’t afraid to push the boundaries of ideas, supports entrepreneurs, has fun while doing all of this and is a killer branding strategist. I have mentioned him several times in articles, but maybe this time he will see it and let me take him out to breakfast 🙂

How can our readers follow you on social media?

https://www.facebook.com/AlisteMarketing/

https://www.linkedin.com/company/aliste-marketing/

https://www.instagram.com/alistemarketing/

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

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