I wish someone had advised me to be more patient. I took this for granted as a startup. When you hear other people’s success stories they give you 10 years condensed into a thirty second soundbite. Success mode sounds like an easy achievement and the snippets are very misleading. Becoming fully funded and financially sound is no easy feat.
As a part of my series about the women in wellness, I had the pleasure of interviewing Anita Washington, M.Ed. & M.B.A.
Anita is the CEO & Founder of That Anita Live, LLC, host of the popular show That Anita Live and the podcast Emotional Happiness Podcast with That Anita Live. She’s also a Personal Development Coach and speaker helping women build confidence to boost their careers, start their own businesses and market their mastery. Anita is the author of the bestselling book, Family Is Not Everything and also the creator of the 7-Step Method. She teaches women to live unashamed of their secret story with an old soul and a comedic, honest voice. Anita uses many southern colloquialisms and colorful expressions to unwrap personal stories that touch the heart.
Through her powerful and uplifting interviews on ThatAnitaLive.TV and The Emotional Happiness Podcast, women get to see and hear real women with resourceful stories living relentless lives after life’s most devastating challenges. Anita helps women use the tools and resources they already have to reveal and release success blockers such as childhood trauma and family dysfunction so they can build their confidence, boost their self-esteem and feel free to live true to their own personality, spirit and character.
Thank you so much for doing this with us Anita! What is your “backstory”?
Weall want to own our own time, am I right? Being thrust into an entrepreneurial environment and circle where were my friends were starting their own businesses I knew that I wasn’t about to ride out the rest of my years in the private practice field but began to think instead about what it was that I could do to serve.
Despite having a job, I really began to think more intensely about what I had to offer. I didn’t just want to pick something for money that I would eventually outgrow or create another job that I would become disillusioned with and quit, so I began, very organically at first to interview friends of mine so they would have content for their websites or their YouTube and Vimeo channels. What I noticed was that I amassed a lot of compliments. People would often comment that I asked questions that others never bothered to ask. It was a logical transition for me since my first career was in counseling and I was skilled at working with people from 11 years of age all the way up to 55 having worked as a guidance counsellor and career coach for ten years, so coupling the two together came as a natural way to serve. I could fight the stigma of mental illness and at the same time promote health from a mental and emotional perspective by creating a platform for others to share their story.
Can you share your top three “lifestyle tweaks” that you believe will help support people’s journey towards better wellbeing?
- Like the title of my book, Family is not Everything, to thy own self be true. Intimate, parental, work and romantic relationships all apply as it relates to your wellbeing. There is a tendency to believe that “since this is a member of my family they must inherently be good” mentality. In reality there are many instances in which a particular family member might be toxic. What triggered this for me? I was at work where I worked in a group setting. It was an office that totally hummed. You could hear fax machines going and phones ringing — people were always busy. One of my coworkers began to lament that she felt that her father didn’t love her. She felt this way because he wasn’t spending time with her or her four kids. She’s the oldest of four while her smaller siblings are still in high school. Very flippantly I asked her if she was serious. Have you asked him for any time? I asked. I had to tell her that my own father had tried to burn the house down three times with me in it, so let’s not talk about parental love or lack thereof. A hush fell over the people in the office, but one by one, all of those in earshot of the exchange eventually pulled me aside wanting to me to know they could relate to the experience I’ve been through and also wanted to better understand how I got to point where I wasn’t emotionally triggered by the trauma I had experienced.
- In life, base your decisions on quality and not quantity. When I started my endeavor as a show host, I wanted a better way to serve people who were struggling with mental health. The increase in interest came as people brought to my attention the types of questions I was asking. Rather than vetting for how many people I could interview, I preferred to push for questions that people wouldn’t regularly ask during a standard interview. It turns out that what people desperately sought, were the head to heart questions that pushed them to think more deeply about how they were managing emotionally in their day to day lives as well as how they would continue to improve upon themselves.
- Don’t expect loyalty from people that can’t give you honesty. What is causing a spike in depression, suicide and finding solace in hardcore drugs? I feel it can be attributed to the erosion of interpersonal relationships we have with others. Our communities are affected by lack of access and a breakdown in caring for one another. I also see a lack of integrity and moral values in our current society. You used to have a product that could last many years when it broke you could take it back to the store for repair but with the rise in consumerism, everything is pushed right back onto the individual causing more financial stress on the family unit. There was also a time where the teachers in school lived in the communities where the children went. Now we are observing less community involvement from our teachers, who are sometimes meeting three jobs to make ends meet. The lack of connectedness, even at a peer level where all the kids in the same cul de sac are going to different schools creates an environment where I am my brother’s keeper is no longer the credo.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
Itstarted out as a blog. I didn’t get a lot of comments on the posts at first, but I did start to get a lot of DMs. It felt like telling my story could really free people and empower them to make decisions about boundaries and self respect that could better affect their own lives. The most interesting part of my career was getting the opportunity to interview the ex wife of the DC sniper Mildred Mohammed. The D.C. sniper attacks took place over three weeks in October 2002 in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia. Ten people were killed and three others were critically wounded in the Baltimore-Washington Metropolitan Area and along Interstate 95 in Virginia. I lived in DC at that time and found it fascinating that she was able to speak about her former husband without feeling triggered. When it comes to learning about domestic abuse, I got to personally sit down with Mildred to go over questions about what it took to get back to a place where she and her children were emotionally healed despite repeated attempts by the media to bait her into losing it completely.
Can you share a story about the biggest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Asan entrepreneur I discovered that my strength was also my weakness. I had a constant flow of guests on the show and the content was robust. I started to podcast and produce the television show shortly thereafter. Soon it occured to me that I was busy but broke. I was giving of myself and although people wanted to share their story and applauded me for creating a venue to share, I had to come to the realization that I needed a course correction. I had to recognize that I needed a proper business model around the service offering so that I could generate money to continue being a producer in my own show.
When it comes to health and wellness, how is the work you are doing helping to make a bigger impact in the world?
Between the two books that I published, I get a lot of DMs and this trend has increased more speaking engagements, but I feel the most important giveback is that people are not unique in having experienced traumatic experiences. They soon realize that they are not the only one who is a survivor, or who has survived a drug addiction and/or rape or emotional and physical torment. I am truly enjoying effectuating impact with regard to the connectedness, allowing us to feel better about ourselves overall as a human race.
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 about that?
Itwould be hard for me to choose just one person. A collage is the best way I can describe the people I can credit for the person I am today. I see where I am now as a culmination of everything that I have been through from the elders that I had as a minor, to the teachers I that taught me in high school.
My teachers in high school and my professors doubled as my mentors so it became easier to open up about my story to the people who would eventually help me. For instance, the first time I ran away I was 5 years old, I remember it very distinctly. My father was an alcoholic with a mental illness and my mom worked nights, so it forced me to stay with a family friend or relative. Everytime I returned home, something would be missing, messy or overturned. The TV or the chairs might be toppled over and it is as if by rote, my mother would begin to clean things up much like the Silent Generation before her. I knew this was not a good life.
The empirical evidence I had that there was a better life available came through the model I had from having been raised in my grandmother’s home with 11 kids in it as well as having observed my neighbors and relatives whose homes I stayed at. I ran past the door through all the bedrooms and ended up six or seven blocks away in the neighborhood park.
The way in which I grew up never really came into play while in high school because everybody knew my story but once I got to college no one really asked because everyone there is focused on their own outcome. As a counsellor, my story became especially relevant because counselling is an incubated environment where you can help others to manage their well being as well as to create and maintain a healthy space by drawing from your own experiences. I credit the assistant principal who would let me take naps in the side room as she knew that I had not slept well the night before, understood the situation at home and gave me permission to regenerate from being weary. I am thankful for my publicist at Zebra Public Relations and for my author Dr. William Seeds and Yitzi Weiner who have allowed me to share this story with you.
If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?
That is actually something that I am working on right now. The same basic reasons for why I started the television show and the podcast is so that people can learn that they are not alone. I put it together so that we disempower the stigma of mental illness and focus on wellness. So that we could bridge the gap between community and the diverse population that manages mental health because in reality we all must manage our mental wellness. When I started the studio in 2019, I found that when I talked about marriage, relationships, kids — surface level communications — I packed the house with guest audiences. When I talked about suicide, homicide and domestic violence, I could barely get people through the door. Its odd that the TV shows that receive the highest ratings tell the story of domestic violence and suicide but when it comes to being real with it and having an open honest communication by dealing with the pain of it in our every day lives, every one wants to close that shade. “It’s not me” too often is the cry.
So here is my challenge for you: on your way to the supermarket next time or on your next coffee run, make eye contact with a complete stranger, ask them how they are doing and actually wait for an answer. A simple good morning is helpful.
Do you have a “girl-crush” in this industry? If you could take one person to brunch, who would it be? (Let another “woman in wellness” know that you respect her as a teacher and guide! )
Iam teetering back and forth on this one! It would it be Lisa Nichols or Yolanda Adams. I admire different things about each of them, so perhaps both. Lisa Nichols is in Professional development space and Yolanda Adams is the entrepreneur.
What are your “3 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
- I wish someone had advised me to be more patient. I took this for granted as a startup. When you hear other people’s success stories they give you 10 years condensed into a thirty second soundbite. Success mode sounds like an easy achievement and the snippets are very misleading. Becoming fully funded and financially sound is no easy feat.
- Know who to know. Rather than thinking to yourself it’s not what you know, it’s who you know, take it a step further and determine who you should know, because it genuinely surprised me to know how many adversaries there are in the process of becoming. Never forget that there are some people out there who have already decided that what you aspire towards is not what you should be doing. Haters are real, they do exist.
- Don’t capitulate on your worth. When you are in a helping field, you don’t want to leave anybody out or behind, but remember, this is a business. Especially when what you are trying to reverse is the fact that people have been downtrodden and averse to the reality that life takes investment in self.
Sustainability, veganism, mental health and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?
Mental health is dearest to me because it is one of the three pillars of being a good human being and we desperately need good humans in the world. All three areas — mental, physical and emotional work in concert to as they are all interconnected