Always have a Plan B, C, D and E. It’s rare that your first try will work out the way that you want it to. There are times when I’ve failed or been rejected and I had to come up with a new plan which eventually worked after my initial strategy flopped.
As a part of my series about “Grit: The Most Overlooked Ingredient of Success” I had the pleasure of interviewing Charlene Walters.
Charlene Walters, MBA, PhD, is an entrepreneurship coach, business and branding mentor, corporate trainer and author of Launch Your Inner Entrepreneur. She serves as a mentor on Entrepreneur magazine’s “Ask an Expert” forum and through her own consulting business, is featured among other CEOs, influencers and celebrities on the BAM Network and was selected as one of 150 Marketers to Follow by Rubicly. Charlene developed a digital entrepreneurship MBA program and is an entrepreneur who enjoys combining her knowledge and love of marketing and business strategy with her passion for innovation and desire to help others succeed.
Charlene also wrote a memoir about overcoming tragedy/loss and moving forward in life based on her own personal experience (pre-publication). As part of that, she serves as a speaker and mentor to others, and writes and contributes to numerous publications on business and motivational topics. Charlene also writes a blog called Entrepreneurship, Life Enthusiasm & Energizing Your Brand and has taught hundreds of business, marketing and entrepreneurship courses and workshops for businesses and universities.
Charlene is also a busy single mom currently living in Charlotte, North Carolina with her two beautiful daughters.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what events have drawn you to this specific career path?
Absolutely. I’d be happy to. I grew up in Connecticut and moved to Miami as soon as I graduated with an undergraduate degree in English (leaving the cold weather behind). I started my career in sales and marketing and really enjoyed the hustle of making deals and matching customers with products which led to my growing love of business. I decided to pursue my MBA in management. From there, I went on to earn my PhD in marketing. I continued to move on professionally to other positions in marketing and higher education before eventually creating a digital entrepreneurship MBA program. I loved the energy of it- it was wonderful to be able to work with business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs. I also began to do some mentoring with Entrepreneur’s “Ask an Expert” Platform” and through my own consulting business. Around the same time, I also began to present more workshops and corporate trainings as well. From there, I fulfilled a life-long dream and published my first book, too. It’s been an extremely rewarding career so far and the best is yet to come.
Can you share your story about “Grit and Success”? First can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey?
I’ve had many spots on the journey where I’ve experienced obstacles and setbacks. There have been times that I haven’t gotten deals or opportunities that I thought for sure that I would. Other times, I’ve encountered difficult people who’ve thwarted my progress or that didn’t recognize my value. These tough times and challenging people actually made me try harder, pivot and go after new opportunities. Success at anything has a lot to do with knowing your own value, being tenacious and not giving up until you reach your goals. Stick with it and you’ll make it happen.
Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
How resilient you are, and how quickly you bounce back has everything to do with mindset. I have always been a goal-oriented person, and at some point, I realized that nothing is ever easy and you have to make a number of attempts before you will achieve those tough goals. Everything worth having in life requires a lot of work and a long wait. I’ve also experienced personal tragedy in my life and that helped me become more resilient as well.
So how did Grit lead to your eventual success? How did Grit turn things around?
Grit is the key ingredient for any sort of success. Because of grit, I was able to pivot, deal with difficult situations, setbacks and people, and find new ways to achieve my goals. The journey to success is never a straight line. It’s got a lot of ups and downs and zig zags, but eventually we get to where we need to be through persistence, trial and error and a lot of willpower.
Based on your experience, can you share 5 pieces of advice about how one can develop Grit?
Sure. I would be happy to:
- Always have a Plan B, C, D and E. It’s rare that your first try will work out the way that you want it to. There are times when I’ve failed or been rejected and I had to come up with a new plan which eventually worked after my initial strategy flopped.
- Train yourself to find the silver lining. Even when something bad happens, there is always a bright side. Perhaps you got the feedback you needed to improve your product or service, or something else (that’s better) is now possible as a result. Always endeavor to look for the silver lining.
- Celebrate both successes and failures. Whenever you have a big decision or outcome looming (such as a presentation, pitch or interview), plan a celebration afterwards and celebrate either way- whether you prevailed or failed. Without failures, we would never learn and grow.
- If you’re struggling, take a break. If you find yourself focusing on the negative or the bad in a situation, it’s a sign that you need to regroup and take a timeout. Go for a run, spend a few hours with your family or give yourself an afternoon outdoors. In this sort of scenario, you need to reset your mindset -you won’t be productive or effective until you do so.
- Remind yourself that you have what it takes and that you can do it! Come up with a mantra if you need to like “Mary you’ve got this,” or “Jack, it’s going to work out.” Repeat it when you feel yourself getting pulled down by an obstacle or setback.
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 you when things were tough? Can you share a story about that?
I am grateful to many different people who have helped me become the person and business professional that I am today. It is hard to name just one individual as I feel as if there were multiple people who’ve guided me and given me encouragement along the path to where I am. These people range from teachers and professors to different supervisors, mentors, friends and colleagues. We can learn something from everyone we interact with so listen up and show gratitude. The world is full of amazing people.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I’ve tried to be a mentor and support system to others, sharing information and ideas, and helping when I can. I also try to set a good example for people who may have encountered experiences similar to mine. I recently published a book which supports women on their entrepreneurial journeys and I hope that will help many people. The more we put ourselves out there and share stories, the more others will benefit.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
The most exciting thing that I am working on right now is the publication of my new book- Launch Your Inner Entrepreneur. It will come out 2/23 so it is at the forefront of my efforts at the moment. 😊 You can check out the book trailer if you’re interested (I think it’s kind of motivating). After that, I will turn my attention towards my second and third books, and am also planning to launch a podcast, too. I’ve been doing some great virtual events and trainings as well. These activities are helping people by giving them tips and tools to improve their mindsets and their business success. More to come.
What advice would you give to other executives or founders to help their employees to thrive?
Make sure that you are acknowledging your employees’ contributions, supporting them, and encouraging them to keep aiming higher. Let them know that it’s okay to fail, too. The grittier your team is, the more effective it will be in innovating and solving problems as they arise.
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. 🙂
There are so many worthy causes, and it’s difficult to narrow it down, but I am very passionate about helping women elevate themselves through entrepreneurship and education, particularly single mothers who are the sole breadwinners for their families. I understand what they go through because I have lived it myself. Women are at a disadvantage and typically have to juggle much more than their male counterparts so they would really benefit from some extra backing.
I would love to start a movement to help support these women, particularly now as the impact of COVID-19 looms and women are being more negatively impacted, providing them with the tools to develop the mindset and the skills that they need to be successful in business, and to foster work-life balance, which is more challenging for women, and again, single mothers in particular. This movement would also benefit their children, through positive role-modeling and support, and therefore clearly impact future generations.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
I have so many that I love to share. For this particular article, I would like to emphasize the quote, “God helps those who help themselves.” It’s a really old quote and one that my mother repeated to me all the time, but one that has everything to do with grit. I think about it when I get stuck or am waiting for someone else to intervene. You are ultimately in charge of your own success or failure, so when you are not getting the outcome that you want, help yourself (you’re in control) and come up with a new plan. That’s what I always do.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
I want to thank you, and your readers, for taking the time to learn more about me. I am so appreciative and humbled.
LinkedIn- @Charlene Walters, PhD
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.