You can’t please everyone no matter how hard you try. I had a client that just literally liked to complain even when there was nothing to complain about. If we nailed an article from the client’s top ten list, the complaint would be the article wasn’t long enough. If it was a television appearance on a National show that was beneficial to the sales of the client’s products, he/she would still find something to complain about with that.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Ahlilah Longmire of The Tesla Group.
No stranger to the world of Sports, Entertainment, Music, and Fashion, Ahlilah has been a recognized industry leader for more than 17 years. She is the Founder of The Tesla Group, the lifestyle PR-Marketing & Events agency established in 2008, and is widely recognized for representing and developing brands for top athletes, producing events, tours and a wide range of productions, and in driving national & international PR campaigns.
As an Entrepreneur and competitive tennis player, Ahlilah observed how large numbers of skilled junior players were forced to drop out of the competitive tournament circuits after they had worked their way up the ranks in Harlem, New York. Through extensive research, including contact with coaches and retired professional tennis players, she formed a vision that would support these young players, who could not otherwise afford to continue to play tennis at the higher levels, to fully develop their potential and continue on to transition to pro-tours. Her desire to help these young players fulfill their dreams has now found expression in what she regards as her greatest accomplishment to date, Ascot Manor.
Thank you do much for joining us Ahlilah. Can you tell us the story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit from a young girl. A natural-born leader, always having to run the show. My father says if it wasn’t a musical instrument in my hand or some sort of athletic ball, it was a clipboard! However, I don’t believe in having talent(s) which you do not share, teach or give to others, therefore all of my ventures have always included a charitable or give-back model. The Tesla Group and Ascot Manor have been no different in how they were developed.
Can you share one of the major challenges you encountered when first leading the company? What lesson did you learn from that?
I started both businesses from the ground up. The Tesla Group which has been my longest-running business of 11years, I can be honest in saying, I didn’t have a clue as to what I was doing when I started it. Every step was an expensive learning step. Getting the right people involved or who believe in the business that was willing to work for hardly anything or intern was probably the most challenging.
What are some of the factors that you believe led to your eventual success?
Grit, honesty, drive, determination, and purpose.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became CEO”? Please share a story or example for each.
- That you can’t please everyone no matter how hard you try. I had a client that just literally liked to complain even when there was nothing to complain about. If we nailed an article from the client’s top ten list, the complaint would be the article wasn’t long enough. If it was a television appearance on a National show that was beneficial to the sales of the client’s products, he/she would still find something to complain about with that.
- The importance of taking time for yourself. It’s good to sometimes take a step back to appreciate how far you’ve come. To be able to reflect and evaluate any necessary changes.
- Work smarter, not harder. That concept had NOT been passed down until I was already in year #5 with my first business lol
- The importance of setting the tone in your work environment. From being present, cheerful, engaging, down to the structure of the office decor. All of it plays a part in the overall moral and energy of your team.
- Not every client is the right client. As important as client management is, there are some that are just completely unmanageable. I’ve had occasional clients who will call and email everyone in the company to have a question answered they just emailed you 5min ago. They will send 20 page text messages. Unscheduled random meeting requests. Conference calls where the client is taking care of 10 different things on the phone while you’re sitting on the phone with an itinerary. I’ve had a client email me 19 times in a 24hr period and this is with my OOF response on during a travel period.
What advice would you give to your colleagues to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Balance and patience. Whether you are starting a new business, partnership or new professional journey, it’s almost like you’re on this very long adrenaline rush. You want everything to happen NOW and you’re willing to do whatever it takes to make it, even if that means you are sacrificing sleep, proper nutrition, some sort of social or active life. Overtime not only will you burn yourself out, but life is also short, you can easily wake up one day and ask the question “Who stole my life” and miss out on so many beautiful moments and memories with friends and family.
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?
Absolutely! What started as just an office share with a Father/Son managed branding agency ended up in not only a successful and profitable working relationship but a huge growth period for me over the course of 8yrs. I got to experience working in an environment that really felt like a family, a team, a support system that was needed when you’re running every aspect of your business on your own. The relationship has grown to not only a beautiful friendship but one I consider to be like family.
What are some of the goals you still have and are working to accomplish, both personally and professionally?
Professionally it would be taking all that I’ve learned over the past 11years and applying it to the new business as well as helping other women on their entrepreneurial journey.
Personally-more vacation time. I tend to stay inspired and motivated through travel. It is something I do not do enough of. Getting back on the tennis court after 1yr + plus hiatus due to injuries.
What do you hope to leave as your lasting legacy?
I made some differences in someone’s life whether it was small or large. That I was good and kind to people.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would enhance people’s lives in some way, what would it be? You never know what your idea can trigger!
My movement now lives within Ascot Manor. I really want to be a part of not only continuing to develop athletes in a way that sets them up for life after sports but to be apart in supporting and advancing under-resourced kids of color and junior American players in the sport of tennis who have the goal of transitioning to the pro circuit.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Instagram @missl0123 @officialascotmanor