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Keisha Blair: “Never, Ever Give Up on Your Dreams”

My dream is that every man woman, boy and girl on the planet will have access to holistic wealth at some point in their lifetime. I started my journey giving back when I set up a virtual mentorship platform called Aspire-Canada about 10 years ago. The platform features free resources, articles and mentorship by some […]

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My dream is that every man woman, boy and girl on the planet will have access to holistic wealth at some point in their lifetime.

I started my journey giving back when I set up a virtual mentorship platform called Aspire-Canada about 10 years ago. The platform features free resources, articles and mentorship by some of the best business leaders in the US and Canada. It remains all free and everyone participates on a volunteer basis, including myself. That platform has over 35,000 subscribers that can access all those resources free (including over 800 articles) and I have given annual scholarships to students in universities across Canada and the United States. Even though, the name says Aspire-Canada, it’s a platform that can be accessed globally, by anyone around the world. So far on the platform over 30,000 questions have been submitted by young people to our mentors virtually. I also started another initiative called “The Modern Widow” to target young widows juggling a career, kids and work. That website also provides free resources and articles targeted to the needs of widows.


As part of my series about “authors who are making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Keisha Blair, the award-winning, international bestselling author of Holistic Wealth: 32 Life Lessons to Help You Find Purpose, Prosperity and Happiness, and the Holistic Wealth Personal Workbook. She is the world’s foremost expert on Holistic Wealth and is the Founder of the Keisha Blair Institute on Holistic Wealth, which offers the signature Certified Holistic Wealth™ Consultant Program. She has been profiled in the New York Times, Forbes, the Harvard Business Review, Essence Magazine and many other publications. Her viral article “My Husband Died At Age 34. Here Are 40 Life Lessons I Learned From It” was viewed by more than 50 million people globally. Her book Holistic Wealth has been well received by highly influential TV audiences such as the producers of Jada Pinkett Smith’s Red Table Talk, the producers of the Mel Robbins Show (formerly of Oprah’s Favorite Things) as well as Yahoo Finance’s the Final Round. Her book has now led to a global movement for holistic wealth.

In her new book Holistic Wealth: 32 Life Lessons To Help You Find Purpose Prosperity and Happiness, she interviewed over 100 trailblazers, influencers and celebrities who are world-renowned experts in these life lessons, such as Tia-Clair Toomey, Olympian and three time CrossFit champion, widely regarded as the “fittest woman on the planet”; Dr. Gail Saltz, clinical associate professor of psychiatry at the Weill Cornell Medical College and sister of Nobel Prize–winning astrophysicist Adam Riess; Apryl Jones from the reality TV show Love & Hip Hop: Hollywood; Osric Chau, Canadian actor and martial artist, best known for his role as Kevin Tran in the CW series Supernatural and as Vogel in the BBC America series Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency; Dr. Robert R. Johnson, CFA, CAIA, professor of finance at Creighton University and coauthor of Strategic Value Investing, a book that has been on Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting reading list for the past four years — among many others.

In 2018, she was part of Canada’s supporting delegation to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, and part of Canada’s supporting delegation to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Singapore. Through extensive research, Keisha Blair created the Personal Financial Identities Framework and the Personal Financial Identities Quiz to enable people to learn about and harness the strengths of their personal financial identities.

In 2019, she was asked to write a short-film based on her personal story, The Moments I Miss, starring Australian Actress and Model, Bambi Northwood-Blyth, produced by award-winning film producer, Thibault Buccelato in Paris, France. Arianna Huffington, Founder and CEO of Thrive Global, posted a quote from Keisha’s book Holistic Wealth on her social media platforms which is one of the most poignant quotes in the book: “Our education system teaches about linearity, not about what to do when this linear pattern breaks, not where to look for resilience, not the art of recovery from disruption”.


Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

Growing up the daughter of two public servants, probably like a lot of kids, I wanted to be like my parents and give back to public life. I grew up participating in a lot of volunteer and charity work in particular with my mom, who is an author and Academic, who overcame insurmountable odds to achieve the highest levels in her career. Growing up I couldn’t honestly think of any higher calling than giving back. I’m very thankful for all the people, along the way who impacted me on my journey.

When you were younger, was there a book that you read that inspired you to take action or changed your life? Can you share a story about that?

Actually when I was younger my mother was already an established author, but at that time as an educator so she wrote math and english textbooks for kids. I remember the weekends at home, filled with two authors (her co-author), revising the manuscripts. It had a big impact on me even though they weren’t mystery novels. The discipline and due diligence in crafting helpful books for kids will always be stamped in my mind. To also go into bookstores with her and see them on the book shelves, and being used in schools were also hugely important for me in terms of my love for books.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?

I don’t think this can be classified as a mistake — but we often get so emotionally invested in our projects that it can be counterproductive. I think we are all guilty of this at some point in our lives or the other. Certainly, as an author I have become emotionally invested in different projects at times, but there’s value in letting life unfold as it should and just taking its natural course instead of trying to control every outcome.

Can you describe how you aim to make a significant social impact with your book?

The book has started a global movement for holistic wealth. As a matter of fact, it started with the viral article that was seen globally by more than 50 million people and featured on or linked to by more than 160 websites. Some of the main messages of my book, such as resilience and bouncing back from life-altering setbacks, the intersection of physical health, mental and emotional health along with financial wellness, were the major news stories in 2020 and will continue in 2021 and beyond. My dream is that every man woman, boy and girl on the planet will have access to holistic wealth at some point in their lifetime.

I started my journey giving back when I set up a virtual mentorship platform called Aspire-Canada about 10 years ago. The platform features free resources, articles and mentorship by some of the best business leaders in the US and Canada. It remains all free and everyone participates on a volunteer basis, including myself. That platform has over 35,000 subscribers that can access all those resources free (including over 800 articles) and I have given annual scholarships to students in universities across Canada and the United States. Even though, the name says Aspire-Canada, it’s a platform that can be accessed globally, by anyone around the world. So far on the platform over 30,000 questions have been submitted by young people to our mentors virtually. I also started another initiative called “The Modern Widow” to target young widows juggling a career, kids and work. That website also provides free resources and articles targeted to the needs of widows.

In terms of the movement, the concept of holistic wealth and living a holistically wealthy lifestyle are tied to current trends like increasing emphasis on work/life balance, concerns about younger generations not being financially stable. With COVID-19, we have realized that our physical health and wealth are so interdependent and that the definition of wealth needs a reset to include not only financial wealth but our physical and mental health. As I wrote in an article recently, holistic wealth is the new wealth. It also includes financial empowerment for women, and a recognition that if women are not financially empowered they can’t be fully empowered, in other words, financial empowerment is the new feminism. This is why I started the Institute on Holistic Wealth, to start to also realize this dream and to train an army of Consultants who can help one community at a time become holistically wealthier. Many readers reached out to me personally to propose a certification program to put the framework outlined in the book into practice. As a result, I launched the Keisha Blair Institute on Holistic Wealth with a membership portal with free resources as well as several online courses such as the Certified Holistic Wealth™ Consultant Program and other courses such as Build Your Life Purpose Portfolio, Holistic Healing, Build Your Financial Independence Portfolio and Build Your Holistic Wealth Blueprint.

Can you share with us the most interesting story that you shared in your book?

There are so many interesting stories in Holistic Wealth. Growing up my mother had epilepsy so bad that she didn’t attend school any at all from age 9 to age 14 due to fainting spells. She would watch the school kids going to school everyday from her bedroom window and wish she could join them. Through sheer determination and will, she ended up going back to school at age 14, and was the only child in the entire school to pass this major annual exam they had at the time. That wasn’t the only remarkable thing but because of that yearning for education (that she was denied all of those years because she was so ill and couldn’t attend school) — she now has about 7 university degrees — including two PHDs (including Counseling and Psychology) and several masters degrees and rose to prominence in her career as a public servant. After I was born, her own father feared that she would never live to see me grow into an adult (at least not past my 7th birthday). I tell my kids that story every chance I get about how lucky they are to be able to be in school (even if its online learning during COVID-19) and even interact with their classmates. My mother and I co-authored a course called Holistic Healing at the Institute on Holistic Wealth (and its inspired by her story), as well as mine with overcoming tragedy and grief. Its one of my proudest moments — to be able to share the development of that course with her in order to help others.

What was the “aha moment” or series of events that made you decide to bring your message to the greater world? Can you share a story about that?

There were several “aha moments” for me, including my viral article “My Husband Died At Age 34. Here Are 40 Life Lessons I Learned From It”, that went viral and resonated with many people around the world. An Agent then suggested I write the book based on the viral article. When award-winning film producer Thibaut Buccelato reached out to me from Paris to ask that I write a short-film based on my story, I realized that my writing had truly touched a global audience. I had to learn the nuances of writing for film and television, but it was a success and the film was shot in Paris starring Bambi Northwood Blyth and Yaniss Lespert.

Without sharing specific names, can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?

There are many individuals but if I had to name one it would be New York Times Bestselling Author, serial entrepreneur and CEO of Likeable Media, Dave Kerpen, who I also interviewed in Holistic Wealth. Dave was an early supporter of my volunteer initiative Aspire-Canada and signed on early as one of the volunteer mentors, and is truly a remarkable person. He was also thankfully a big supporter of my book Holistic Wealth. Loren Ridinger, Co-Founder of Shop.com has also had a major impact on my life — she was an early supporter of my non-profit initiative Aspire-Canada from the very beginning.

How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?

An Empathetic Leader is the Best Leader. The best leadership, is empathetic leadership.

Whereas many people think leadership is about rank, power and privilege, the Marines believe that true leadership is the willingness to place others’ needs above their own. The U.S Army, in its Army Field Manual on Leadership development, insists repeatedly that empathy is essential for competent leadership.

Now that I’ve gone through tragedy and grief and experienced true empathy from bosses and colleagues, I readily help out when my colleagues are stuck in a bind. It’s the everyday gestures of kindness that have the ability to build reciprocity and build resilient employees and organizations. This is when I truly discovered the power of mentorship, and the value in seeing every change, and every season, as part of a bigger story.

After my husband died, it was actually one of my bosses who encouraged me to take a sabbatical after my husband died. He told me it was the best time to do it as the organization was going through structural changes at the time. He told me that when I came back, it would be all over and I wouldn’t have to go through the added stress of grief, a newborn baby and organizational change. I believe that empathy — the ability to recognize and share other people’s feelings — is the most important instrument in a leader’s toolkit.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

Each of these 5 examples below are based on stories in my book Holistic Wealth: (all quotes below are excerpts from Holistic Wealth, Copyright @ Keisha Blair)

  1. Your Adversity is Your Strength

After my husband died, I didn’t realize that my adversity would become my core strength. For my book Holistic Wealth, I interviewed Tia Claire Toomey, often regarded as the “fittest women on earth”). When Tia-Claire Toomey competed for the gold medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, her beloved cousin Jade Dixson had passed away only two weeks prior. Despite the grief and sudden tragedy — her cousin died in a tragic car accident — Toomey decided to focus on the task at hand. Her cousin was one of her best supporters and had planned to be in the stands to cheer her on. She knew she had to do her best to honor her cousin. She continued to train as she always does, with focus, determination and drive, deciding not to stray from the original plan of not seeing family until competition was completed. After the competition ended, Toomey attended the funeral with the rest of the family. While this might have been the hardest thing to do for many of us, she decided to focus on the task at hand and not get distracted. Instead, her adversity became her strength and that gold medal was dedicated to her cousin, Jade. Toomey fulfilled her purpose by being laser-focussed on the task at hand.

When I interviewed Toomey for my book Holistic Wealth, she emphasized always improving on every aspect of your game. According to her, “what keeps me inspired is the desire to constantly improve in every aspect of my fitness. From running faster, running longer, lifting heavier, increasing my gymnastics ability and many more facets.”

2. Never, Ever Give Up on Your Dreams

So often when a tragedy strikes, we think it’s the end of our dreams. Canadian Actor Osric Chau, known for his role as Kevin Tran in the CW series Supernatural, had dreamed about playing the next big Asian superhero. As Chau stated in my book Holistic Wealth: “I wanted to put an Asian superhero out into the limelight but every time, my team would get cold feet because they were afraid of getting shut down.” Chau never gave up on his dream and played the role of Ryan Choi, AKA the Atom — a character he was a big fan of as a child — the Arrowverse crossover Crisis on Infinite Earths. It was seven years (nearly a decade) between the time Chau developed a pitch deck for the role of Ryan Choi to when he actually landed the part. During that time, he never wavered in his dream or focus.

3. Trust Your Gut

In my book Holistic Wealth, Dr. Gail Saltz, Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the New York Presbyterian Hospital Weill-Cornell School of medicine and the author of The Power of Different: The Link Between Disorder and Genius. Dr. Saltz states, “Intuition is based on unconscious information amassed over your lifetime through experiences, memories, empathy, emotional reactions of the past. It happens quickly, often before conscious and more rationally based cognitive thinking has gone on. Therefore, one’s intuition is often very spot on in terms of making good decisions for ourselves in all aspects of life, but unfortunately, often enough people are unaware of or squash their intuition and make choices based solely on conscious rational, data-driven thinking. Being aware of your intuition and allowing yourself to consider it in making choices, in reacting to situations, and in being creative can result in better outcomes that feel truer and are more satisfying in the long run.”

4. Ignore the Naysayers.

Tuning out negative messages is key to achieving your purpose in life. In my book I defined the term naysayers as the people and social forces who tap into negative thinking and undermine your belief in your own ability to create holistic wealth. Toxic naysayers are destructive to holistic wealth; they try to trap us into a narrative in which we’re afraid of their goals, of embarrassment, of not being enough. Yet, COVID-19 has shown us that we need to have the confidence and resilience to weather life’s storms and this is especially so when we need to make a pivot in life to achieve our dreams after a life-altering setback.

5. Live Intentionally

Achieving holistic wealth means we need to live intentionally by design. Everyday we make at least 36,000 decisions. Most of these decisions we make mindlessly or non-strategically. In my book I introduced the Holistic Wealth Method™, which means look at each decision through the lens of your holistic wealth bank account. Each decision represents an addition or a depletion. We need to increase the actions that enrich our lives and decrease the ones which will leave us feeling bankrupt.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

In my viral article entitled “My Husband Died at 34. Here Are 40 Life Lessons I Learned From It”, I outlined 40 life lessons. Its really hard to just choose one life lessons but if I had to choose one it would be the very first one — Live Life Like You Mean It. As I stated in the very first paragraph in the introduction of my book:

“A sudden, unanticipated death has a way of jolting us to our senses. When you’re told that your husband is dead, everything changes in an instant. Life as you know it will never be the same — even though it can be reinvented and reshaped into something different. How we re-form our lives after tremendous obstacles determines our future. Individually, it affects our families and our closest loved ones. And collectively? It can change the trajectory of humanity”

I believe that we are all here for a purpose, that service to humanity is the highest calling and as a result, we need to live life to its fullest, by giving back when we can, and enriching each other’s holistic wealth bank accounts.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

For me, that person would undoubtedly be Oprah Winfrey. When I was writing Holistic Wealth, I personally reached out to her team to get permission to include a quote from her in my book. It was a paragraph from her commencement address on May 11, 2018, at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. Her team was so amazing and accommodating but the quote in the book is so relevant today, given that we are living in a world in turmoil, with COVID-19 and political unrest. As I stated in my book Holistic Wealth™, “Oprah has built the greatest platform of all time. She is the summation of it, and everything she does and advocates for is wrapped up in her overall mission and purpose”. In that speech she emphasized speaking up against hatred and deceit, and giving a voice to those who don’t have one. In my opinion, its one of the greatest commencement speeches of all time (along with the late Actor Chadwick Boseman’s speech at Howard University).

Her words are so visionary — and they stand the test of time. If I could have lunch with her that would be absolutely delightful. Chapter 30 in my book Holistic Wealth, entitled “A Platform That Represents You”, is basically built around Oprah Winfrey, and it is relevant for so many including, entrepreneurs, authors, journalists, business leaders, non-profit organizations and charities, academic organizations, athletes and entertainers, celebrities and influencers.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

My website is www.keishablair.com

I’m reachable on social media: Instagram: @KeishaOBlair. Twitter:@KeishaOBlair.

Facebook: https://m.facebook.com/keishablairauthor/

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC4nMRC8H3tc3Q-rb3JijpWQ

Holistic Wealth Podcast with Keisha Blair

This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!


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