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“Don’t Mold to What You Think Success Is” The 5 Lessons I Learned Being a 20-Something Founder

I had the pleasure of interviewing Alicia Williams, Founder and CEO of Aliste Marketing, is an award winning entrepreneur and author whose…


I had the pleasure of interviewing Alicia Williams, Founder and CEO of Aliste Marketing, 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.

Jean: Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory” of how you become a founder?

I graduated in a recession and jobs were very hard to come by. I started going to networking events and meeting people and realizing that I could make money with my writing skills. As I started doing writing projects and learning more about marketing as a whole, I decided that I wanted to invest all of my time into growing my own business. Becoming an entrepreneur resulted from a need and Aliste marketing was born.

I always had an eye for good branding, it is 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!

Jean: 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.

Jean: Are you working on any exciting projects now?

We recently added a new placement division to our portfolio of branding services that will offer both sourcing and orientation of top notch marketing talent for local businesses. Aliste Marketing Placement Service (AMPS) has launched with the primary goal to improve the talent recruitment process and reduce the financial risk and negative impact of unfit new hires.

According to a recent article in Forbes, the U.S. Department of Labor revealed in 2016 that the price of a bad hire is at least 30% of the employee’s first-year earnings. For a small company, a five-figure investment in the wrong person is a threat to the business.

AMPS offers specialized marketing staffing services backed by a respected collective of industry experts with nearly four decades of combined experience. The agency employs a comprehensive approach that involves a marketing strategy consultant, vetted candidates, training and onboarding of direct hires, and ongoing support to ensure successful placements.

Jean: Do you have a favorite book that made a deep impact on your life? Can you share a story?

The Giving Tree was my favorite book from my childhood and I loved it for its simplicity. Now when reading it as an adult to my children, the book has taken on even greater meaning. It does not matter all the things you want, but it matters the ripple effect of the people around you. It does not matter what you sold, but how you have treated people.


Jean: What are your “5 Lessons I Learned as a 20-Something Founder” and why? Please share a story or example for each.

1 – Make mistakes and clean them up by yourself.

This is such an important lesson for new business owners!

2 – You are the only one that is responsible for your success.

You will always be on. Even when you take a vacation and have a stellar team running the show, you will always be checking in on emails or taking that prospect call on the beach because you are addicted to growth

3 – Taking risks is key to succeeding.

This is a blip in your entire life story so don’t be afraid to take risks and have fun.

4 – The problems you have now are nothing compared to what they could be.

Being an adult is challenging. Once you add in bills, family responsibilities, work and everything else, it can be a struggle. Be positive, be realistic, prioritize, and find balance.

5 – Don’t mold to what you think success is.

Instead define what that means to you — could be money or lifestyle. For me, lifestyle is so important. Having the balance and flexibility bring my children to the park at 4pm or take them to the doctors is key. I work harder than I ever have, but I do have the flexibility to choose when that is.


Jean: Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. 🙂

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.

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

— Published on June 27, 2018

Originally published at medium.com

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