Carla Williams Johnson: “Learn to let go”

Know your strengths and decide what are the highest generating activities that only you can do, then prioritize all other activities that are important but can be delegated out. Be sure to include instructions of what you need, the desired outcome and expected timelines. Learn to let go. Trust yourself that you’ve made the right […]

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Know your strengths and decide what are the highest generating activities that only you can do, then prioritize all other activities that are important but can be delegated out. Be sure to include instructions of what you need, the desired outcome and expected timelines.

Learn to let go. Trust yourself that you’ve made the right decision and resist the urge to micro manage.

Be open to doing things differently. The person you delegate to may have their own ways of getting things done that may be different from what you’re accustomed to; be ok with it.


As part of my series about the “How To Delegate Effectively and Be Completely Satisfied With the Results”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Carla Williams Johnson, CEO of Carli Communications LLC. Known simply as Carli, she is extremely passionate about helping others and giving back, volunteering her time and skills wherever she can. When she’s not working, she can usually be found in the company of her adult daughter and infant son in the beautiful Caribbean twin island Republic of Trinidad & Tobago.


Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

I just always knew that I wanted to get into the field. I think I was the only person in the world who would get excited when commercials would come on during a program or rush to get the latest magazine to see all the creative ways print ads were displayed. Even at a young age I was always in awe of creative executions and how absolutely brilliant one must be to convince someone to purchase from just a few words and an image.

As time went on, my passion grew and it landed me to work with some of the most prestigious advertising companies with global brands. It was there I learned that there was so much that went into the final product and I was finally part of the strategic process.

I realized that there was so much brainstorming and creativity that went into a single campaign and, working in media, I had the single most important job of getting that creativity out to the right people. Plus I noticed that the more innovative the approach, the more of an impact the campaign made, which resulted in increased sales.

Fast forward, now I have my own company where I help entrepreneurs and business owners increase their visibility through the creative and strategic uses of media.

In my years, the one thing I saw regularly that really upset me was businessmen and women being ill-advised by greedy coaches and consultants looking to make a quick buck. These ‘so called’ gurus would use the client’s lack of knowledge against them to sell them a product or service that made no sense and gave absolutely no returns on investment. That’s when my business was born.

I feel like a superhero sometimes, to be honest. Like I’m saving the day (and the dollar) of people who are in danger of wasting their money. On the surface, I help clients with promoting their business, but what I do is assist my people with finding the best and quickest ways to truly connect with their ideal clients so that they can serve them and, of course, make some money in the process.

Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?

I think we all as business owners have been put down or told that we wouldn’t make it at some point in our journey. What sets apart the successful entrepreneurs from the rest is what we do with that information.

When I first started on my journey, I was outright told by my numerous people that I should

  • Forget my ‘stupid business venture’ because no one would take me seriously anyway
  • Why even bother, the industry is dominated by a certain type (aka white males)
  • Get someone ‘lighter skinned’ to be the face of my company if I’m ever going to succeed.

To get specific, I remember this one time that I was working with a group of entrepreneurs to produce what was supposed to be an event that would take all our businesses ‘to the next level’. The speaker of the event who happened to be a business coach started making demands of us which initially were fine but when she insisted that she AND HER HUSBAND (who was not a speaker but his expenses to attend the event needed to be paid as well) needed to be featured prominently to the top of the landing page, I pushed back. I stated that firstly, we compromised to place her at the top of the page granted she was not as well known to our target, and it was not her event but that she was a guest but I was totally against her husband being up there when he’s not even a featured speaker. Her response was a condescending “Well if you want to have a sold out event, you’ll need to have someone white featured………it’s just how things are……if you want to make it and be successful.” Then she added “I’m just telling you what worked for me…you don’t have to do it if you don’t want to…but this is what made me successful so if you want to sell tickets you should do it.

So basically, the color of my skin was directly related to my success or failure rather? What’s worse there were others who agreed with her……like this is some kind of unspoken rule that just needed to be accepted.

Well I washed my hands of that event, needless to say it never materialized, but I was determined to prove that the very thing people said would cause me to fail would be the very thing that will make me succeed!

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?

Funniest…..well at the time it wasn’t funny but now I laugh because I definitely learned my lesson. When I first started my business, I would meet with potential clients at their offices regularly. Not a fan of driving, most times I would take my significant other with me……(and I would tell persons he was my driver)

Anyways while at a meeting with a gentleman, we got into a discussion about what was best for him and how he should proceed. He had gotten some bad advice before and I really didn’t want him to keep wasting money on promotional packages that weren’t working.

Now, I’m not saying that he pushed back and argued with me because I was female but he gave off this ‘know it all’ vibe and literally challenged everything I was saying……..to which my boyfriend said “Listen, Carla knows her stuff and whatever she says to do, just do it! You won’t regret!” Eventually I did book the client, but unfortunately his misogyny started to show and just couldn’t work with him anymore.

I learned pretty quickly that just because someone can pay for my services doesn’t mean they’re my ideal client. Sometimes I have to say no for sanity sake. I saw the signs and I still pursued thinking that my knowledge and expertise would win him over, but all it did was encourage him to comment on how my legs looked every time I had to pick up the cheque.

From then on, I always understood that it’s a relationship I’m building with clients so I have to ensure that our values are aligned.

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

A colleague said to me: “I see everyone selling different things but I always consider you to be a true marketer because you’re the one who puts it all together.” That pretty much sums it all up honestly.

I see people selling all different aspects of marketing, whether it be Instagram tips, LinkedIn selling, copywriting, branding whatever……and all these things are great but what is the benefit to the recipient if they have no idea how to use it effectively or do not need it right now in their business. I like to look at marketing as a whole puzzle and advise persons what are the specific pieces they need to build their brand right now based on what they’d like to accomplish and what’s happening in the market right now…..and if that looks like me recommending them to someone else who can help them achieve those goals then so be it.

There are too many people out here looking to see how fast they can make a sale; driven by money instead of the desire of helping others. What sets me and my company apart is that I am the exact opposite. I believe the sale will come if my focus is giving value and helping others succeed.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Schedule self-care like your life depended on it because it does. There are times I get so focused and engrossed in what I’m doing that I forget to eat. It’s crazy! I had to learn the hard way that being unkind to my body and not giving my brain time to recharge can have terrible consequences. Being a marketer means you have to always think of the best ways to connect with your customers and you cannot think creatively or strategically if you’re tired all the time, so do yourself and your business a favor and take a break every once in a while.

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?

There are so many people who have helped me in so many ways, but I would have to say my best friend who has been cheering me on from day one! Odessa Laulys has been by my side and is literally my rock and really, she’s more than a friend, she’s my big sister. She’s been there for everything in business and in life and I have no idea what I would do without her.

Another person I must shout out is my good friend Marlena Cole. She’s a Relationship Coach and she actually reached out to me because she knew I could help her build her business. Little did we know at the time that such a close friendship would emerge. She saw in me what I was so afraid to see in myself and truly gave me the confidence to step out and do what I’m good at.

Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. Delegating effectively is a challenge for many leaders. Let’s put first things first. Can you help articulate to our readers a few reasons why delegating is such an important skill for a leader or a business owner to develop?

The fact DIY-ing ourselves through entrepreneurship slows us down and keeps us in ‘struggle-mode’. We waste the precious resources of time and energy (and sometimes money) trying to figure things out ourselves or trying to do it all.

We burn out faster; we get frustrated and honestly nothing really gets done effectively.

To be a true leader and CEO of your business you must be able to see the bigger picture to lead your brand to greatness and you really can’t if your head is constantly down trying to figure things out or not focusing on your highest, revenue generating activities.

Can you help articulate a few of the reasons why delegating is such a challenge for so many people?

Somehow we got the notion that when we got into entrepreneurship that we had to do it all ourselves……by ourselves; We also got it in our heads that if we need to get it right we have to do it ourselves.

Both are totally untrue, to get it right you have to delegate tasks to person’s who are geniuses at what they do so you can continue to be a genius at what you do.

I think it all comes down to trust and clarity. I know many entrepreneurs who say that they don’t trust others but I think it’s really that they don’t trust themselves…..they’re not clear about what they want or what type of help they need so they rather stress out about it. That is not an effective way to build a brand.

In your opinion, what pivots need to be made, either in perspective or in work habits, to help alleviate some of the challenges you mentioned?

Well first of all I think getting clear on what you need help with will help you determine who you can trust to delegate to. You will be able to source someone with the strengths you need to get the job done efficiently. Also identify the highest revenue generating activities that only you can do and prioritize that first, then delegate everything else.

Can you please share your “Five Things You Need To Know To Delegate Effectively and Be Completely Satisfied With the Results?” Please share a story or an example for each.

  1. Get clear on what you need. Who (or what) do you need exactly on your team to ensure things run smoothly? What are the strengths this candidate must possess in order to get the job done or is it something where investing in a system might be a better option.
  2. Know your strengths and decide what are the highest generating activities that only you can do, then prioritize all other activities that are important but can be delegated out. Be sure to include instructions of what you need, the desired outcome and expected timelines.
  3. Learn to let go. Trust yourself that you’ve made the right decision and resist the urge to micro manage.
  4. Be open to doing things differently. The person you delegate to may have their own ways of getting things done that may be different from what you’re accustomed to; be ok with it.
  5. Encourage feedback letting your team know that they’re doing a great job or if there’s room for improvement. Also allow them to open up to you if they feel stuck and need assistance.

One of the obstacles to proper delegating is the oft quoted cliche “If you want something done right do it yourself.” Is this saying true? Is it false? Is there a way to reconcile it with the importance of delegating?

I’m 100% an advocate for getting persons who are geniuses at what they do to help you achieve your goals. There are things that I need that I just cannot do so ‘doing it myself’ is not an option. It actually costs you more money trying to figure things out, because the time you’re taking to do that task, you could actually be making money doing what you’re good at.

As a CEO, you need to understand that people are a necessary investment in your business if you really want to grow.

Thank you for all of that. We are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could start 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 honestly feel that men are ‘groomed’ (for lack of a better word) a particular way and therefore they are ‘expected’ to act and react in situations that can be really unhealthy for them and the people around them. Society still expects them to be a certain way which is counterproductive to how the world is progressing. If I could I would create a movement to address this because while women are becoming empowered, men are still being held to the same outdated stereotypes with their worth measured by an old-fashioned value system. I think helping these men unlearn some of the traits they were exposed to can truly help the world become a better, less violent place.

How can our readers further follow you online?

Find me on my website at www.carlimedia.com

or on social media:

Facebook: carlicommunications

Instagram: carlicommunications

LinkedIn: carlicommunications

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!


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