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Why being different is more important than being better, With Carla Williams Johnson

“Being different is more important than being better”. I first heard this quote from Jennifer Kem and I instantly fell in love. Too often we compare ourselves to others instead of focusing on what makes us unique, but it’s that uniqueness that will help us stand out. So instead of trying to outdo our competition, […]


“Being different is more important than being better”. I first heard this quote from Jennifer Kem and I instantly fell in love. Too often we compare ourselves to others instead of focusing on what makes us unique, but it’s that uniqueness that will help us stand out. So instead of trying to outdo our competition, we should look at them, study them and see how we can provide something that they cannot and truly wow our target audience.


I had the pleasure of interviewing Carla Williams Johnson. Due to her unique understanding of media and her imaginative approach to marketing, she founded Carli Communications, which offers advertising and marketing advice to entrepreneurs and business owners who are interested in building a business in the ‘real world’. Her philosophy is to help you M.A.P out your business through (M)arketing, (A)dvertising and (P)romotion in order to A.M.P up your business through (A)ction, (M)otivation, (P)rogress. She has also conducted thousands of advertising campaigns and has secured publicity for hundreds of business owners and entrepreneurs, thus allowing them to authentically connect with their customers in an ever changing environment.


Thank you so much for doing this with us Carla! What is your “backstory”?

Having worked in the field of marketing, advertising and communication for over 14 years with some of the top ad agencies, I made my entire life building the dreams of others. Here I am, working my fantastically fabulous buns off while others build their dreams and make money on my strength.

Everywhere I went, my colleges will always tell me I should open my own business because I’m so talented and I always have such great ideas. A voice inside me said I could do it but fear is such a powerful thing, especially fear of the unknown. I mean, getting a salary was better than nothing…..right?

In 2016. I was working an 8–4 and was extremely unhappy, physically sick and, unappreciated. I was so ill; I was on an entire month’s sick leave. One morning, as I stepped into office, I was summoned by the Human Resources Manager who informed me that my job was now redundant. After sacrificing to stay in job I hated, here I was being told that I was no longer needed, curiously enough…….I felt like I was finally free and I was extremely happy. I felt like it was God saying that this was my time to shine, on my own.

It was then that I finally decided to believe in myself, trust my gut, and listen to that little still voice inside my head that said: ‘You could do it, don’t worry, you’ll be alright!’

After all these years of companies standing on me, it was time for me to stand on my own. I decided it was time to get paid for my knowledge and expertise. So here I am, a young single mother, with no job, no plan of action, no money and no clue what to do. I was a bit scared, but a lot determined and decided that I needed to get focused.

Thankfully I had the support of my family and my health slowly improved. I just knew the universe had my back and I decided that God was in control of my destiny. I fell back on what I knew, what I was good at and what made other companies money. I started to meet people, expand and made connections.

Sometimes I made no money at all, sometimes I barely made enough to cover my bills. There were days I cried long tears and almost lost it because I knew I was working hard but I persevered using the tools that were provided to me.

I went back to my marketing roots, cause honestly, that was all I had and I had to keep going. I used my gifts, talents and abilities to help others grow their business and after months and months of being persistent and consistent with my efforts, the universe again answered my prayers in 2017. I landed my first major client, then like an avalanche of good luck, I was getting numerous calls for interviews and to be featured in local and international publications. I have even been named one of the top 99 “Limit Breaking Female Founders” as compiled by Huffington post and Thrive Global.

Could you imagine? In a just a few months I went from not having a job to being recognized on such a global scale? That’s the reward of using your God given gifts, talents and abilities. I used mine to help others and I didn’t let fear, self doubt and less than stellar results the first year I was 100% on my own get in the way of me rising to my dreams, instead, I trusted in the universe and believed that God will give me what I need, when I needed it, once I continued to work hard and believe in myself.

Why did you found your company?

My business really was in homage to my dad and every time I tell this story I’m in tears. I was really close to him and being the only girl I was a bonafide ‘daddy’s girl’. We shared a love of music and, as a business man himself he would always talk about carving out your own path. He and my mom encouraged my brothers and I to excel academically because he knew we had a lot to offer the world. When he died unexpectedly, I felt like I couldn’t breathe. My world had ended in my mind and I spiraled out of control, but through the darkness my business was born. It was time to come out of the shadows, cause his death taught me a tough lesson — that no matter what, while you’re here on this earth, do something worthwhile that you would be remembered for. He always motivated me and encouraged me and he knew his baby (he actually called me that) would be ok.

He left a legacy for me and my brothers to always leave a mark in this world. The name of my business was really to honor him because he used to call me ‘Carli” and I know he’s looking down on me and I know he’s proud of the woman I am today. I’m not completely over it (I am actually tearing up even while writing this) every year on the anniversary of his death I always get a bit moody, but I use that as a reminder to always keep pushing and moving forward. My business life changed when my dad passed away (it still hurts to this day to admit he’s gone) but out of it, my passion and desire for doing good in the world was reignited because through the tears and heartache I realized that I wanted to leave a legacy for my children, just like my dad left for me

I must say that people have told me that after speaking with me, they are super clear on what they need to do to advertise and promote their business effectively

Clients typically come to me because they are confused, frustrated and stressed out because they have tried quite a few things to promote themselves and their business but they are just not getting the results they want.

More often than not they fall into one of three categories

They’re not using the right media for their business to attract their target audience

They’re stuck using only one medium to promote themselves (usually social media)

They’re not using the media of choice correctly

What I do is offer them advice on ways to promote themselves both online and offline as I believe that a mix of both is crucial. Whenever customers talk to me they always say they are so much clearer as to what they should do and are usually blown away by the simple, yet effective, out of the box ideas they can use to promote themselves.

It’s like second nature to me. Just from listening to a client I instantly know exactly what medium they should use, what marketing tactics would work best to reach their customers and how they can use the resources they already have to increase their visibility and sell their products. I tell people all the time that it’s a noisy world out there and people have very short attention spans so you have to get them to take notice. You need to not only know what media is best for you, but HOW to use it to really stand out

My Culture credo

Call us inventive, creative and imaginative, anything but normal.

Reinvention is key. Strategy is everything.

You are the architect of your dreams,

We provide the blueprint and a solid foundation.

Terminate your illusion and dominate your position

Anything is possible. Success is well within reach

Give us your information and we will give you innovation with a dash of inspiration.

I guess dad will be proud of his little girl after all.

What is it about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

Honesty and realness are so refreshing in today’s world, because so many people are not. They put on this façade to make you feel that they know more than they do or they’re living this perfect life……..sadly social media fuels this. All that luxury living by the poolside and trips around the world are great, but did you earn it honestly…..is it even real? Were you truthful in how you helped people or were you just telling them what they wanted to hear and taking their money for it……those types of people I call ‘expensive cheerleaders’. They’re on the sidelines with their pom poms shouting you can do it, which is ok but what you really want is someone who’s in the game with you, someone who has the vision to see play and tell you how to move, where to be and what you should do to increase your chances of winning.

There are so many people being lied to and duped out of their hard earned cash by ‘so called’ marketing gurus. These corrupt con artists promise the world but absolutely CANNOT deliver. They have no real substance, just regurgitating whatever they’ve seen or heard from others because their main goal is make the sale by any means necessary, instead of seeing the sale as an exchange for quality service. (emphasis on quality)

The thing is, being an entrepreneur and putting yourself out there is already hard enough without someone coming along to make it that much harder. It really makes me angry when I see someone who took that leap of faith to be their own boss, only to have their confidence shaken by someone who does not have their best interest at heart.

Trust me, I have been on the receiving end and it’s not nice. I am driven honesty and it is by far the number one value that I live and run my business by. What I believe about my work above all is that every business owner and entrepreneur deserves honest, reliable guidance in promoting their business in the real world, thus reinforcing their confidence and clarifying their vision as they move forward in their journey

That’s what I do in the world and I do it proudly.

The way I see it, everyone needs a bit of Carli in their lives…..lol. Here’s why people should love me:

  • I have a unique understanding of the advertising and marketing world and my ability to understand the media and my knack for creative thinking makes me a force to be reckoned with.
  • I am a Warrior Princess: I consider myself an advocate for business owners and entrepreneurs who truly need to put themselves out there the right way to the right people without losing themselves in the process.
  • I am not about to see my people get screwed. Over the years, I noticed there were a lot of business men and women being ill advised by persons looking to make a quick buck or using their lack of knowledge against them to sell them something that made no sense. I feel like a superhero sometimes to be honest. Like I’m saving the day (and the dollar) for people who are in danger of wasting their money. I want to save my people from making ‘costly’ mistakes (pun intended).
  • I am here for my people!! On the surface my company helps you with promoting your business but what we really do is assist you in finding the best, quickest and most creative ways to truly connect with your ideal clients

We all need a little help along the journey — who have been some of your mentors?

OMG!! I am in love with Jennifer Kem. She is one of the realest, most sincere and down to earth people that I have discovered on the interwebs in a long time. I met her virtually in 2016 and I have been hooked ever since. She is extremely knowledgeable in building brands and really showing you how to go make your money.

I also love Gary Vaynerchuck for his realness and honesty in his approach. He says what he needs to and very unapologetic in his approach. I recently started following Selena Soo and Chris Windfield and I am impressed with their knowledge of media and public relations. Having worked in media for most of my life, it’s nice to see persons who still understand the value and impact of traditional forms of advertising in building a business.

As you can tell, I have a theme……I love real people who are honest and who don’t care what others think….they are who they are, they’re experts in their field and you just have to accept it.

How are you going to shake things up next?

Well I plan on taking the world by storm. What I’ve realized that so many persons need someone like me who can tell them the truth, even if that truth is something they don’t want to hear. Honestly I fulfill my dreams helping others fulfill theirs. I love that I can truly support people who need it. My vision is to help as many business owners as possible promote themselves in the right way to the right people and to make their lives better. I intend to do a lot more programs and delve into live events where I can not only show off my skills but my beautiful twin island Republic of Trinidad & Tobago.

I would also love to branch out to help young people build their dream. I believe I will start by showing them how social media can be used the right way. Too often they see it as entertainment, but even at that young age, I want show them that it can be used for business and to help them build themselves. The idea is to showcase how platforms they already use such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter can be utilized for more than just recreational purposes and can be adapted to the real world and can truly assist them in their overall development in their chosen field. It’s a passion project of mine that I’m currently working on.

Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

“Being different is more important than being better”. I first heard this quote from Jennifer Kem and I instantly fell in love. Too often we compare ourselves to others instead of focusing on what makes us unique, but it’s that uniqueness that will help us stand out. So instead of trying to outdo our competition, we should look at them, study them and see how we can provide something that they cannot and truly wow our target audience.

Leadership of others requires leadership of self, again I heard this from Jennifer Kem and it really hit home because you cannot build a team expecting others to help you if you cannot help yourself. Yes there will be things that you don’t know how to do and will need to bring in an expert, but you still have to guide them, let them know your vision and where you would like to be. In a sense you have to lead them and they will carry you to where you want to go, if you don’t have a clear direction everyone will be lost.

Lastly, from Danielle La Porte, instead of writing your never ending ‘to do’ list, start with your core desired feelings, as in ‘how do you want to feel’ in business and in life. Starting out with how you would like to feel will help you determine how you move through life, what clients you serve, what jobs you take, etc. The fact is our list of things we want to accomplish will never fully get done, there will always be more things we would love in our lives, but how we feel should be the same. Do we want to feel happy, fulfilled, useful? However we desire to feel will guide us to choose the things that will always make us feel that way.

What’s a book/podcast/talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Share a story with us.

I think my new favorite writer is Malcolm Gladwell. I’ve read both The Tipping Point and Outliers and they have completely changed my perspective on how things can move from the ordinary to the extraordinary when all the right components are in place. In the Tipping Point he also made reference to Connectors (persons who just have a knack for bringing people together), Mavens(those who are knowledgeable in what they do) and Salesmen (persons who are great at selling) and after reading that I totally realized where I fit in and the types of people I need to grow my brand. Totally loved both books and would highly recommend.

The Desire Map from Danielle La Porte is also excellent and I urge everyone to read it. She puts life into perspective by showing you how to truly use your feelings and your intuition to choose only what is best for you. She explains how you can be your very own magnetic self and draw the right people into your life and to tap into your strengths in order to truly serve your people. I’ve read the book twice and she also has a program called The Fire Starter Session that guides you deeper. Get them all!!

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. 🙂

Do I have to choose just one??? Lol

Well definitely Jennifer Kem, I cannot speak highly enough of this woman. She is truly phenomenal and she’s extremely passionate about what she does. She’s honest, true and attracts the best people to her…….her team is fantastic and, while many CEO’s may only acknowledge that they have a team, she calls them out by name and praises them for all the hard work they’ve done. Plus we have so much in common; with both of us coming from agency backgrounds and we’re both island girls with her life in Hawaii and mine in Trinidad & Tobago. She is truly the best person to help your build your brand through not only discovering your story but telling it as well.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

I invite everyone to Keep Up with Carli on

Facebook: carlicommunications

Instagram: carlicommunications

Twitter: carlicomm

LinkedIn: carlicommunications

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

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