There’s undoubtedly a ton of hard work that goes into building a seven-figure business. Besides all of the actual business admin, hiring, and scaling that goes into growing your company, you have to work through your own doubts, limiting beliefs, and other mental obstacles if you want to make it to the million-dollar mark. But even with all that, there are some things in your journey – both business and personal – that can be easy, if you allow them.
On this episode, Kaneisha Grayson joins me to talk about how she’s built her seven-figure business, trusted herself, and conquered doubt along the way. Kaneisha is a Harvard alum two times over, earning both her MBA and MPA there before going on to establish the Art of Applying, an admissions consulting company that helps applicants get into their dream graduate school (AND helps them get fellowships and scholarships to pay for it).
Kaneisha and I discuss all sorts of great stuff on this episode. She talks about her upbringing and how she ended up at a private liberal arts college before heading off to Harvard, business ideas that she didn’t pursue, and how she turned the Art of Applying into a seven-figure business that also changes the world. Kaneisha also talks about trusting herself to know when certain opportunities were meant for her, and how she keeps the Doubt Devil from pulling her off course. And we touch on the importance of getting great mentorship, shifting into an abundance mindset, and her goals for the future of her business.
After you’ve listened to the episode, your homework this week is to journal about the following three questions:
What’s one thing you can do for yourself to let your business be easier? How can you be less committed to the struggle?
Where are you allowing the Doubt Devil to get in your way of taking action and saying yes to miracles & opportunities in front of you?
Everybody listening, if you have something to share, you don’t need a big fancy website to get started. Send out a mass email and let people know, you know how I’ve been helping you for free with your styling or making pies or doing your kid’s hair or dating, coaching, I charge now, and people will pay.
Welcome to The Million Dollar Badass Podcast. I’m your host, Rachel Rodgers, wife, mother to four children, lover of Beyoncé, coffee drinker, and afro wearer, and I just happen to be the CEO of a seven-figure business. I am on a mission to help every woman I meet become a millionaire. If you want to make more money, you are in the right place. Let’s get it going.
Get excited, you guys. We have a delightful episode for you today. I’m so excited to be joined by Kaneisha Grayson today. And this class is basically a million-dollar mindset master class. That’s what this is today as we unpack Kaneisha’s journey from growing up in a town that had the highest rate of teen pregnancy to becoming the owner of a fast-growing business.
So Kaneisha’s the founder of The Art of Applying. It is a fast-growing admissions consulting company that serves business school, policy school, law school, and joint degree applicants. And not only does Kaneisha help her clients get into these amazing schools, but she also helps them earn scholarship money and fellowships to pay for it.
So she’s pretty, pretty awesome and Kaneisha herself has a Master’s of business administration from the Harvard Business School and she also has a Master’s in policy from the Harvard Kennedy School. She’s also the author of Be Your Own Boyfriend and that’s actually how I learned about Kaneisha back in 2013.
So we have an amazing conversation about everything from what it’s like to be a business owner as a black woman or a woman of color, we talk about dating and how that fits into Kaneisha’s life. We had conversations about why it’s important to learn how to be rich. And Kaneisha also introduces us to a term called the doubt devil. It’s fascinating. This is a really, really juicy episode. You’re going to be super inspired. Please enjoy my conversation with Kaneisha Grayson.
Rachel: Hey y’all. So, so excited to have the amazing Kaneisha Grayson here with me. Million Dollar Badass. So Kaneisha, tell me something exciting that’s happening in your life.
Kaneisha: Sure. Well, hi Rachel, thank you for having me. I’m so excited to be here. Something amazing and exciting happening for me personally is I am going to start dating soon.
Rachel: Yes, so juicy. Tell us more.
Kaneisha: My swiping finger is ready. I got divorced in August 2018. It was not what I wanted but it happened. And it was very hard, we’ve been married for three years, so it’s been almost a year now and I’ve taken time to be my own boyfriend, which is the title of my book, and work on myself and just relax and have fun and be single but not dating. But now it’s time to get out there and find some love and have some fun.
Rachel: Yes, I love that. I love that you took time for yourself. I love that you take your own advice. I will talk a little bit – I want to talk about the book also. And I feel like actually, that’s how I first heard about you is through your Kickstarter that you did for that book.
Rachel: Yes. I feel like somebody told me about it or somehow I saw it being promoted so I remember that. And it’s amazing to see. Isn’t it fun like, if you hang out on the internet long enough, you start to see people who you were like, I remember when we barely had a little baby business and now look at us now.
Kaneisha: Look at us now. Well, I am thrilled and honored. You just made my day. I had no idea, Rachel.
Rachel: Oh, that’s so funny. I love that. I love that. And I love that you’re getting back out there and dating. I think that’s really important. And you know, what I like to do on this podcast is really give people a glimpse of like, what it’s like to be a Million Dollar Badass, a seven-figure entrepreneur. And the only thing in your life is not just business. Business is important but the reality is you get to – you have a team helping you execute and so you don’t have to do everything, and so you get to have a life again.
Kaneisha: That’s exactly right. There have been times when I did not want any sort of life, but yes, I get to have a life again for sure.
Rachel: Yes. So tell me like, do you have a strategy around dating? Are you going to – is there a funnel involved?
Kaneisha: Girl, I’m running Facebook ads to an automated webinar. There’s going to be a qualification call with my head of enrollment. No. Yeah, I don’t have a strategy yet. I do think I will want some support and I’m very fortunate to run in these circles that we run in. So I have not one, not two, but three friends with really wonderful dating offers. So I’ll probably join one of their programs to get some support and have some fun and just have some accountability around dating with integrity and dating the way I want to.
And I’m also reading a book I really like called Safe to Love Again, and oh, it’s so good and painful, Rachel. So painful to read because it’s about how people with insecure attachment styles, which unfortunately, I have an anxious attachment style due to life experiences. And it just talks about these missing rights that people who don’t have a secure attachment style are missing and how that shows up in our lives and in our businesses. He actually talks about how it shows up in your business too.
And so I’m reading that book. I’ll probably reach out to the author to do some work with him. He also has a program, but yeah, I just really want to make sure I’m supported and not flying by the seat of my pants, and also just not being too proud to ask for help.
Rachel: Yes, I love that. And I love you sharing that, and I’m sure that that’s true for a lot of us with – we all have childhoods where we learn certain things, we saw certain things. We didn’t necessarily all have a very healthy relationship modeled to us, and then we have to go create it. My husband and I have been through several rounds of therapy. And that’s just real, you know?
But I love you’re showing people how you are – I feel like the ladies listening are going to see how you’re being very intentional about how you’re going about approaching this. Like, I’m ready to date so now we’re going to do this and we’re going to do this in a very intentional way. We’re going to do this in a way that is thoughtful, on my terms, and I know what I’m looking for. And also, I’m going to have some fun as well.
I kind of like, and my husband actually – my husband and I when we started dating initially, we approached our relationship kind of like business. Like alright, we’re about to be this power couple. Like, what do you want? What do I want? What are you bringing to the table? And we really kind of like, interviewed each other for a year. And then once we went through that process and we’re like, really all in, then we were like, living together and married five minutes later.
But we did go through this lengthy process of like, when you’re somebody who knows you’ve got something to bring to the table, you’re going to interview and you’re going to be like, it’s not just any old body. You’ve got to come with it.
Kaneisha: Exactly. I completely agree.
Rachel: And approaching it like business actually has worked for us. We’ve been married for 11 years, been together for 14 and have all the children.
Kaneisha: All of them.
Rachel: All of them. But yes, there were challenges along the way and I think even sometimes too, I will say this, I think you can get too business about it and lose some of the romance. So you do need that balance of both where you want that practical, but you also want it to be exciting and romantic and all of that stuff too, you know?
Kaneisha: You can definitely have both. You can have both, ladies.
Rachel: Hold out for it.
Kaneisha: That’s right. Yes.
Rachel: So tell me a little bit about your childhood. What did little seven-year-old Kaneisha want to be when she grew up?
Kaneisha: Oh my goodness. So I am the same person that I was when I was seven. There are family videos of my parents just setting up a camera on the tripod and going to go take a nap because I was just like, it is the Kaneisha show. There are just family videos of me like, me and the baby, my little sister Tamika, who they let me name when I was six. They let me name the baby, having a television show, and I loved the Disney channel. I was like, I’m going to be on the Disney channel and I’m going to be a teacher and a writer, and I’m going to be on the Disney channel.
And I was always very entrepreneurial, selling friendship bracelets, then having little newspaper, selling Girl Scout cookies. I’ve been the same person. I love to read, I love to write. I just love stage. So yeah, I remember my third-grade teacher said to me, “Kaneisha, you’re going to make a great lawyer one day.” I said no, I’m not. No ma’am. I don’t even know how I knew what a lawyer was but I was like, that does not sound like the Disney channel.
Rachel: Right. That does not sound like my stage.
Kaneisha: No. And I love my lawyer, but I knew, little seven-year-old Kaneisha knew she needed to teach, she needs to write, and she needs an audience so that she can tap dance in front of them and make people feel happy and inspired. And that’s what I get to do.
Rachel: Yes, I love that, and that tells me that you knew you had a voice, you had things to say, which I love. I love that. And also too, I just think we as – especially as black women, need to take up a lot more space. Just all the space. Pass me the mic, put me on the stage, I got things to say. Y’all be quiet and sit down.
Kaneisha: That’s right.
Rachel: So I love that so much. So tell me, how did that look when you went to college, you went to graduate school, tell me what that journey was like.
Kaneisha: What did that look like? So in elementary school, I went to title one schools, which are schools where most of the students are on free lunch. I’m pretty sure I was one of seven kids in the whole school not on free lunch, and I used to bring the form home and be like, mom, fill it out so I can get free lunch. She’d be like, we’re not going to qualify. And it’s so funny that I really wanted to fit in and have free lunch.
I didn’t realize it was because I was blessed that my parents had enough income, we didn’t need free lunch. So what it looked like in elementary school was literally, my fifth-grade teacher would be like okay, I’m going to take a rest for an hour and Kaneisha’s going to read the whole book to us as a class. And that was fifth grade. I remember. And she was a good teacher, but she was just like, go ahead and read the entire book to the class.
Rachel: I love it. She’s like, let me just give you the stage. Let me just relinquish the stage to you.
Kaneisha: It looked like competing in talent shows as Diana Ross and being The Supremes. It looked like winning the hula dancing contest. I’m a terrible dancer, but I’m just not afraid of the stage. And then when I was in sixth grade, a school, special school came to my school and all the honors kids got brought to the auditorium and they stood on stage and they said are you a nerd? Do you love school and you want school to be harder? And I was like yes.
I do want school to be harder. And they were like okay, great. Fill out this application and you can come to our special school for free, but it’s going to be hard. You’re going to have to wake up at five in the morning and you’re going to have two hours of homework every night and it’s going to be hard. And I was like yes, that’s what I want to do.
Rachel: You’re like yes please, sign me right up.
Kaneisha: Sign me right up.
Rachel: I love a challenge.
Kaneisha: Yeah. School is – I love school. I grew up in a low-income neighborhood. It was literally like school or join a gang. School or get pregnant. When I was growing up Rachel, my neighborhood, nobody thinks of Austin, Texas as like, the streets, ghetto, mean streets of whatever. My neighborhood, Dove Springs, when I was growing up had the highest teen pregnancy rate in the nation.
Kaneisha: In the nation. NPR does stories on my neighborhood in Austin, Texas.
Rachel: That’s not what you would expect. And I mean, I grew up similarly with like, either you’re going to be focused on school and that’s your thing or you’re going to be doing all kinds of shenanigans and I probably did a little bit of both, you know? Mostly school, a little bit of shenanigans. But yes, there was definitely – I definitely grew up in a neighborhood where I ran because someone was shooting out the bowling alley. I definitely had those experiences growing up.
Kaneisha: Yes. And I just – I love that you talked about doing some shenanigans because it is important to shenanigize somewhat because if you don’t, you don’t know what you can handle and what you do and don’t like, right? If we stay inside, and I’m saying this to everybody as grownups too.
Rachel: Yes, I agree. I feel – first of all, I think there’s a ton of value in being both book smart and street smart. I really value some of the education that I got and I think that it’s helped me navigate as an entrepreneur, to know how to talk to really anybody. To be able to feel people out. I had to do that for my safety, to be like am I safe in this space or do I need to get the fuck out of here? And if I’m going to get out of here, how do I do it in a way that doesn’t draw attention to myself and create a problem, you know? That stuff is very, very valuable.
Kaneisha: Definitely. I can imagine that both of us and many of your listeners have had to navigate, like I have to be a cool black girl who’s down with the black people but I also have to speak in my white voice so my white friends understand what I’m saying. I have to speak in my extra black voice for my country cousin who’s telling me I talk proper and I talk white. And that code switching is exhausting, but it’s also so valuable and helpful when you run a business because you can talk to your assistant, you can talk to your team, you can talk to the person making a million dollars, 10 million, 50 million, or $50,000.
Rachel: Yes, I think these are the skills that make leaders, that put you in that position to lead because when you have survived some things and you’ve had to be able to communicate with a whole host of different types of people, especially in relation to your survival and wellbeing, it becomes almost like automatic.
Like we don’t even notice – we don’t think it’s a skill because it’s just so natural for us, but I do think it is a skill and it’s that type of stuff that also can help you be comfortable being on a stage or doing a podcast or just putting yourself out there in whatever way. Those are skills that are valuable, that are transferable as well.
Kaneisha: For sure. So basically, I went to the nerd school. I loved it.
Rachel: I think you went to a lot of nerd schools. I have all the babies, you got all the nerd degrees.
Kaneisha: All of it. And then I became the person they would send around to the school to do the are you a nerd talk and recruit all the baby nerds. And so I did that all of middle school, and then when it was time to go to high school, once again, a school came and was like, are you not only a nerd but also weird and emo? And I was like yes. And I went to the liberal arts high school, Magnet high school, and then in high school, all of high school, they pulled me out of class to go do the are you a nerd, weird, and emo talk at the other middle schools to recruit.
Then when I went to college, something very interesting happened. Rachel, talk about being intentional. When I was 17 years old, they called me into the office and they sat me down. The college counselor at my school, and they were like, very fancy and educated. It was a public school but they were very – they knew what they were doing. And they sat me down and they said, Kaneisha, you’re going to get into every college you apply to. Go to a small liberal arts college so you can get a lot of attention from your professors and learn how to be a rich person.
And learn how rich people live because you need to go to Harvard for graduate school and that’s going to be on a whole ‘nother level, and you need that first experience. And I was like, I don’t know what graduate school is but I’m in.
Rachel: Whatever you just said, I’m getting this message that I need to follow it.
Kaneisha: Okay, got it. And literally at 17 I made the decision I’m going to go to this rich tiny private school and I’m going to get great attention from my professors, I’m going to see what it’s like to be a rich person, and then I’m going to go to Harvard. And that’s exactly what happened. I went to Pomona College. A tiny 1500-person college. I was in college with Steven Spielberg’s son, Halle Berry and Eric Benét’s niece lived two doors down from me. It was – I don’t mean to say it’s like a place celebrities send their kids, but it was just like rich people everywhere. Halle Berry would send a trunk of clothes to my friend. We try on her clothes like, Halle Berry touched this.
Rachel: Oh my gosh, I love it.
Kaneisha: So I college I was a big campus leader. I felt really out of place at first because I had conflated race and class. I didn’t even know I didn’t think black people could be rich. I didn’t even know that I thought that. The way I realized I thought that was I was sitting around with some of the black student’s freshman year and someone said yeah, both my parents went to Yale, and my brain exploded. I was like, wait, wait, wait…
Rachel: Wait, you ain’t from the hood like me?
Kaneisha: And I didn’t know. I knew there were celebrities, but I didn’t know there were these people in the middle. Normal black folk but like, we’re rich. I didn’t know.
Rachel: Wow, that is amazing. First of all, I find it fascinating that they told you you need to learn how to be rich because 100%, that is a completely different – when you grow up poor and then suddenly you have – or even not poor but lower income, and we did both. There was a time where we were poor and there were times we were lower middle class.
You do need to learn that. I learned that actually from my mom’s family, from my aunt because my aunt was wealthy and still is, and that’s how I learned like, oh – so I had my black side of the family where it’s like the cookout, it’s mad fun. My aunt Vet is yelling at all the kids, like, you know, everybody’s dancing. And then I would go to my mom’s side of the family and it was like, Neil Diamond is playing in the background. We’re all sitting properly around the…
Kaneisha: People have pajamas.
Rachel: Yes, exactly. It’s like, matching pajamas. It’s like, shrimp cocktail and slices of cheese and gifts that I would never expect. We didn’t have gifts over at my dad’s side of the family, you know what I mean? And my mom’s white. Y’all listeners I think know that by now. But anyway, so this was my experience. But I do think it’s super important to learn that. To learn how to be wealthy because it’s a different set of rules, right?
Like the rules that helped you to survive and thrive as a low income person, or coming from that environment, they’re very different once you start to get money and you could lose it if you try to use those same poverty rules when you suddenly have cash, you know?
Kaneisha: And we see it all the time. We see it all the time with celebrities, athletes, and I fell into that entourage, Empire building as well and had to course correct from that, so we can talk about that. And so there’s a book that I didn’t read called Do What You Are, and that’s just what I’m doing. Yes, I help people. In my business, The Art of Applying, we help people apply to grad school and get money to pay for it, but it’s really – I love what I do but it’s just my stage. If something happened and every graduate school went out of business tomorrow, I would take 24 hours to be like, that was crazy, and then I would just do…
Rachel: Find another stage.
Rachel: Create another stage for yourself.
Kaneisha: Exactly, and help people in some other way.
Rachel: Well see, I love that and I feel like what I’m hearing from you too is that – and that’s the reality. I think that’s a benefit but it’s also a struggle with a lot of entrepreneurs because they’re like, well I have this skillset that can apply to all of these different settings or all of these potential clients. How do I choose? So tell us a little bit about that. How did you choose? What was that journey after Pomona College and you found out there were rich black people? You learned how to be rich, right?
Kaneisha: I really did. Shout-out to Pomona College. And they’re doing such a good job, Rachel. Something like 50% of the incoming class now identifies, I believe as a person of color.
Rachel: Wow, that’s amazing.
Kaneisha: It’s amazing. They don’t give student loans anymore. What? That’s now how it was when I was there. So my junior year summer, going into senior year, I’m volunteering at a non-profit in my neighborhood called River City Youth Foundation. It’s a non-profit to help the youth like, basically see the kids because school’s out, they don’t go – play basketball, computers, things like that.
And a cop had just shot a kid in the neighborhood, an unarmed kid. This was before all the Black Lives Matter. It was just like – it was before it was a “normal” thing. And so the neighborhood was in an uproar and they asked me to – they were like, we’re going to plan this hip-hop stop the violence concert and we want you. There’s going to be 500 people and we have no budget, so can you get food, drinks, and door prizes for everybody, and I was like sure.
And the executive director – I was just doing my thing, and the executive director sat me down and was like, talk to me about what you’re planning to do after college because you’re really good at this, whatever this is that you’re doing, getting all this stuff for free, you’re really good at this. And I was like, I don’t know, I’m going to move to Africa. And she was like, okay.
And so I had won a scholarship to spend a year in any country I wanted and I chose – I was going to choose Nigeria actually, and my Nigerian friends were like ma’am, no ma’am, you can’t handle it. You need to go to Ghana. And I was like, okay. So I love my Nigerian friends, they tell it like it is. So I chose Ghana instead and that was the only plan I had was move to – literally, move to Africa.
And I had this notion that yeah, I want to go to Harvard because of what they told me in college but like, to study what? I don’t know. I’d done a lot of non-profit stuff so maybe I’ll go to Harvard Kennedy School. I had helped a friend get in there, I can get myself in. And she said, I think you should go to Harvard Business School, and I literally Googled what is business school.
Their website said, do you want to transform your life? Yes. Do you want to change the world? Yes, I do. Then I clicked around some more and they have their salary stats and it said the average graduating salary was $130,000. And I was like, wait…
Kaneisha: Sold. Where do I submit my application?
Rachel: I get to change the world, I get to change my life, and make bank? Yes please.
Kaneisha: $130,000. More money than my parents make combined and I haven’t even had a full-time job yet. Yes, sign me up. And then it turns out that it was the first year that they were accepting – well, the first year since World War Two that they were accepting application from college seniors, because usually they want you to have two to five years of work experience. Something happened, there was some sort of glitch in the matrix, and they decided…
Rachel: It opened up just for you. The black hole. Get in there.
Kaneisha: For me.
Kaneisha: They said, if you’re a college senior, it’s free to apply. And if you don’t get in, we will tell you why, which they never tell you why otherwise. And if you get in, we’ll give you a golden ticket – they didn’t call it that. That’s what I called it. For two years, and you go live your life for two years, then you come.
Rachel: Oh, so you get in then you go get that experience for two years and then come back and start. That’s amazing.
Kaneisha: Amazing. And I literally was like, I did not find out about this to not get in. I’m getting in. And literally Rachel, I had no doubt that I was getting in because I was like, why would I find this?
Rachel: Wait, can we just talk about that for a second because I have moments like that too where I’m just kind of like – I’m in the book process now and I just got an agent that is better than I would expect.
Kaneisha: Very exciting.
Rachel: Very exciting. And I just kind of – but I knew ahead of time. And you almost feel wrong for saying it. You almost feel like everybody’s like, oh, it’s so hard, so you feel like you have to pretend it’s hard too, but you’re like no, this is a divine order. This is happening because it’s meant to happen and there’s just like, I just got to keep taking the steps and keep playing the game.
Kaneisha: That’s exactly right.
Rachel: I love that you had that moment and so I want our listeners to understand that when you have that moment, just believe it. Don’t let the people around you convince you. What’s hard for them, it might be hard for them, but maybe it’s not hard for you.
Kaneisha: That’s exactly right.
Rachel: You were chosen for this for some reason. Know it and lean all the way into it, you know?
Kaneisha: I love that and I just want to say that the reason things feel easy and in divine order is that you already did the soul, spiritual work to be aligned with the very good agent and the great publishing house and the great advance. It’s just that the universe had to catch up. Like, the real 3D world had to catch up but you did the work.
Rachel: I agree.
Kaneisha: You know what drives me nuts?
Rachel: Tell me.
Kaneisha: When people are looking for help, let’s say they’re like, I want to start my business and I want to learn from a fabulous, beautiful, badass black woman. And then they find Rachel Rodgers and then they’re like, well, I’m not sure, I got to pray about it and consult the moon and the stars. And like yes, it’s important to pray and whoever your higher power is, pray or consult, but the sign you’re looking for is that you found what you were looking for.
Rachel: Yes, exactly.
Kaneisha: There are so many people in the world and you found her on the internet. This is a miracle. Sign up.
Rachel: Exactly. This is not a let me go think about it. It’s a yes, yes, yes right now, take my money.
Kaneisha: I am so glad. Let me do this now before one of my clients – they call it the doubt devil. Before the doubt devil gets the best of me. I love that she called it that. My grandma loves to – I don’t even know what question I am answering.
Rachel: We were talking about you know, starting Harvard Business School.
Kaneisha: I am the most verbose guest you will ever have.
Rachel: You’re my favorite so far, I have to tell you.
Kaneisha: That makes me very happy. I’m having a ton of fun. You know Rachel, I’m so loud that they had to put a noise machine in my office because I was torturing everybody with my hollering.
Rachel: Listen, that sounds like me.
Kaneisha: Yeah. Full of joy and happiness. So I went to Harvard, and it’s funny, one of my professors pulled me aside and he said Kaneisha, you’ve got to stop saying you had no doubt you’d get in. It makes people feel bad. I was like, but it’s true.
Rachel: Right. Listen, I can’t be dimming my light. My friend has a great saying that says the sun doesn’t care if it blinds you, and I love it so much. Susan Hyatt. And she said it to me or she wrote it in a blog post or something and I was like yes. Stop hiding. What are we hiding for? Listen, if somebody’s feelings is hurt, great, that’s an opportunity for them to deal with that, for them to sort it out. You know what I mean? That’s not an opportunity for you to shut it down or make it smaller to make other people – hell to the no.
Kaneisha: To the no, no, no. So at Harvard, I had a wonderful time. I’m there for three years because I did a Master’s of public administration and a Master’s of business administration.
Rachel: Of course you did.
Kaneisha: I did two. I was like, one degree’s not enough. I need two.
Rachel: Listen, I’m in here, let me get two. I’ll take two for three years.
Kaneisha: Yeah, because it’s usually four years and I’m like, I get a discount on a year? I’ll take it. And I think I’m going to go work in corporate America and get my 130K. That’s my plan. So for my first summer internship, I worked for a large pharmaceutical company, huge. And they were so wonderful because they saw this wild card coming and they were like okay, let’s put her somewhere we can actually – let’s use this wild card.
And so they actually had me working in the public policy office. They said, there’s this guy, Barack Obama. He’s running for president and like, we’re concerned that he might win and we need to be on the right side of history in the policies coming out of this company around racial healthcare disparities, so we need your help. And I was like, this is amazing.
Rachel: What? First of all, perfect testament to not dimming your light, right? You’re out there at a pharmaceutical company, you could easily tone it down because you’re in this new environment. This is like, your first legit job that you’ve ever had in life. And you’re just like, I’m going to be fully 100% me.
Rachel: And that’s when you get tapped on the shoulder for, and we have this opportunity. We know how to use this, this talent you got.
Kaneisha: They were like, this is interesting, but we like it.
Rachel: I bet you this is what you do as a business owner too because I know I do it. When I have a team member and I see their skillset, I’m like, I noticed that when I assigned this, it’s always late. But when I assign the other thing, you are slaying it. So let me just give you more of that and less of that other thing. I’m always looking for how do I use your talent to further the mission of the company and benefit everybody. And then they’re happier in the role because they’re doing what they love and not doing the shit that they hate, you know?
Kaneisha: That’s exactly right. And it’s such a gift to have a boss who even notices and then will take action on that noticing. Yeah, and so that was great, but that was not a real, full-time opportunity and they let me know that upfront. They were like, we’re going to give you this really amazing project but that’s not a real job at this company. So I had a great summer there, and they were like, you need to go be Oprah. Please go do that. And I was like, I agree.
My boss literally said that and I was like, I agree. And then my second summer, I was like, no but I like, really want my $130,000. So I – I was very attached to that number. But then I went and I worked at the largest food company in the world and they were like, she’s a weird one so let’s put her in the weird department and I was marketing Willy Wonka candy, and that is the funnest thing that they could have possible ever given me.
We even had a day – my job was literally like, buy a bunch of candy and eat it, talk to teenagers on Twitter. Twitter had just started. But it just wasn’t for me. It wasn’t for me. And they were so good to me, so kind to me, they sat me across from the one other black woman in the department. They gave me a Latina as my boss. They did – they took care of me. But it still – I was like no, no, and I was complaining to a friend, Laura Roeder, the co-founder of B School.
And she said, you know Kaneisha, you just got to start an online business. And I was like, yeah, but like, what? And I casually mentioned I have a conference call tonight with 16 people about how to get into grad school and she was like, blink, that’s your business. That’s your business, woman.
Rachel: It’s staring you in the face, lady.
Kaneisha: It was staring me in the face, Rachel. So I did the conference call. I made the people – because people had barraged me like, how did you get into Harvard? You didn’t take quantitative courses, you were a black studies major in college, like, why did they let you in? How did you get in? And how can I get in with my imperfect self? And so she said I’m putting you in my class called creating fame, and you’re going to do it. And then Marie Forleo’s creating – we’re creating this thing and you’re going to take it. So I said okay.
Rachel: So then you went to grad school for online business basically?
Kaneisha: Yeah. Then I was like – just all the schools. So I was dating a guy and I told him I want to do this as a business. This is still the summer before my last year of graduate school and he, to my delight and surprise said I want to be your first paying customer. I was like, really? And he was like, how much do you charge? And because I don’t think small, I came out the gate high ticket and I said $3500. He was like okay, that’s a lot, but let’s do it.
And we worked together and got him into his dream school. Unfortunately, when he got in – this is literally what happened, Rachel. I was like, we is moving to Chicago and he was like, oh no. He was like, not we. And I was like, oh no. Tricks are for kids. So he…
Rachel: First of all, hold on because this is a pet peeve of mine with women and I mean, see, the difference is you got paid though. But he probably got the bonus extra stuff that you didn’t charge him for, you know what I mean? But I hate when I see women building up some other – you know, and I don’t hate men. I’m not a man hater.
Kaneisha: We love men.
Rachel: We love men but listen, if you don’t have your dream life happening, you have zero business building up somebody else’s life. Please do not – because women will step in and do it for you. I will write the essays, I will help you…
Kaneisha: I did not do that but they will, yeah.
Rachel: I have a girlfriend who always wanted to be a real estate investor and every guy she’s ever met, guess what they become? A real estate investor. She still don’t own no property. No, okay? Let’s stop this bullshit right now. Y’all need to invest in yourselves. No, no, no. You can cheer for them, you can be supportive of them, but do not let their dreams come before your dreams. Stay in your lane, okay?
Kaneisha: Oh my goodness.
Rachel: I’m so glad you brought that up because I feel like people need to hear it.
Kaneisha: There’s a difference between believing in your man, supporting him and cheering him on. There’s a difference between doing that and saying let me put the pause button on my life and become the incubator for your dreams.
Rachel: Hell yes, there is. And let me tell you something. I dated a doctor who – he was in med school, getting into this residency and then doing his residency and I was just like, super supportive whatever way that I can, more into his shit, moved across the country for his career, which he really wanted and I was like, I don’t know about that. And once he got me to do that, then I was doing all kinds of nonsense.
And then when he was done with his residency and I was like, let’s move to San Francisco because I want to go to law school and the law school I want to go to is in the Bay area, and he was like, oh, I’m not moving to San Francisco. Mind you, we were in the San Jose area. It was a couple hours away. He could have – he had connections to get a great job there but was like no, I don’t move for you, you move for me. I’m like, oh, you got the right one baby, bye. Deuces.
Kaneisha: Okay wow, thank you for sharing that. Thank you for sharing that and I always encourage my – I get a lot of couples Rachel, who come to me – like a married couple or an engaged couple and I always try and really emphasize that this is a give and take. If we’re going to Pennsylvania for him to go to Wharton, when it’s time for her to go to Harvard, we’re moving to – we, I’m putting myself in there – we’re moving to Cambridge.
But he was my first paying client and I will forever be grateful for that. It was a wonderful experience and we got him into this school and with really not great stats, and I will say I also did not have great stats, so we were both like, these wild cards that got into these really fancy schools.
Rachel: I love it and I love that you clearly have a system that works. You’ve cracked the code and know how to present a package that is very attractive to these top schools.
Kaneisha: Definitely. And so after my friend Laura told me yeah, this is your business and she put me in her class, I just sent out a mass email. Literally, that’s what I did. I sent out a mass email to friends and people who’d reached out to me for free help and I said I charge now. And I made up some names for some packages. I said these are the prices. And I started answering questions for free on forums, I started a blog. I called it The Art of Applying because I was a big fan of The Art of Non-Conformity…
Rachel: Yes, I read that. That was one of my first books in this world as well is The Art of Non-Conformity. I remember that.
Kaneisha: Yeah, now everything in the world is the art of this or that, but back then it wasn’t that overused and I was like oh great, that’s the name of my business. And my first client besides my boyfriend was a guy in South Korea. He just found me on a forum and he asked for help, I sent him a PayPal link and he paid.
Rachel: I love it.
Kaneisha: Yeah, and so everybody listening, if you have something to share, you don’t need a big fancy website to get started. Send out a mass email and let people know, you know how I’ve been helping you for free with your styling or making pies or doing your kid’s hair or dating, coaching, I charge now, and people will pay. People will pay.
Rachel: So, just a funny story. That’s exactly how I started my business. I was working for a judge and you can’t do anything outside of that when you’re working for a judge because of the neutrality thing. But as soon as it was over, the next day I sent an email to – I made a list of everybody I know. My momma’s friends, my friends, my sister’s friends, people I went to school with, old professors, everybody and was like hey, this is what I do now. I’ve started my own law practice, here’s who I serve, and that’s where I got my first clients.
Kaneisha: That’s beautiful.
Rachel: Send the mass email. You know people. Tell them what you do.
Kaneisha: Send a mass email. I also want to say, I’m getting like, a psychic hit that somebody is listening to this and thinking oh, that’s nice but Kaneisha and Rachel have been in business for a really long time. It’s too…
Rachel: I love that that’s your psychic hit.
Kaneisha: Yeah. It’s too late, it’s too late for me. I can’t just – the world is saturated. I can’t send out that mass email, things have changed. I got to build a $30,000 site and then I got to spend 100K on Facebook ads and then maybe I’m in business. No. It’s not too late. I love to tell people the internet is still such a wild, wide open place. It’s not too late. It’s not too late.
Rachel: I totally agree, and I think we’re just kind of – we’re in our little bubbles, right? We of course have exposed ourselves to all of these people and all of these different online businesses because that’s what we’re doing. We’ve saturated our lives with it. That’s what we’re doing. Most normal humans, that’s not their life. They’re not getting emails. They’re not getting my emails and your emails and everybody else’s. They’re getting emails from Anthropologie and Nordstrom. You know what I mean?
Kaneisha: Yeah, and like, three a day.
Rachel: Exactly. And still don’t unsubscribe. I do not unsubscribe from them.
Kaneisha: Nobody wants to miss Anthro day.
Rachel: Listen, no. You want those deals, you need those dresses.
Kaneisha: Nobody wants to miss Anthro day or what is it? Nordstrom has their midyear – semi-annual sale.
Rachel: Exactly. Exactly. Okay, sorry, I digress. So you started your business, you had your boyfriend, now your ex-boyfriend. I’m so glad you charged him. Can you imagine if you didn’t charge him? You would be so mad.
Kaneisha: I would have been lit up. But I think – you know what somebody said to me recently? It had never occurred to me in my whole life. I think it was a man. I’m like oh, this is why it’s so important to have male friends because they do think differently. One of my guy friends said, do you think maybe that’s why he wanted to be your first client is so that he knew he was on his way out and he wanted it to be more fair, equal exchange of energy? And I’m like, you know what, that never occurred to me but I do think that could be part of it, and I’m glad that he…
Rachel: Yeah, that’s actually a much more respectful way than a lot of men might do it. And I can totally see my husband doing that. Like, I could see my husband, especially when he was dating, I could see him being like, “So let’s have a fair exchange.” You know, he was very, very, like, “Listen, let me give you the real deal about what’s happening here.” He’s not one of those, tells you everything you want to hear. He’s, in fact, like, “Let me talk you out of this and see if you still want to be here.
Kaneisha: I like that, yeah. Yeah, so I started a business in 2010.
Rachel: That’s the same year I started, I love it.
Kaneisha: That’s really exciting, and isn’t it such a round beautiful – I love the zeros in 2010. It’s this big fat belly of abundance. And so next year is our – what’s that word, decatenial?
Rachel: I don’t know, 10-year anniversary is what I would say.
Kaneisha: Of course, we need to celebrate all year.
Rachel: Do you know the day that you started?
Kaneisha: I don’t know the day and I actually claim 2010, Rachel, but I took the money in 2009. But I need an even number.
Rachel: Listen, that’s your year…
Kaneisha: For my graphic design. And that’s when it was my full income, so that’s why I claim it as that. I just chose May 1st 2010 because I graduated sometime in May, my boyfriend had started paying me sometime around there, so that’s what I claim. You know your date?
Rachel: September 1st. My clerkship ended August 31st and I literally started my business September 1st.
Kaneisha: I love it. you know, I could go back in my Gmail and figure out the day, but it’s going to be some ugly, July – I don’t want to say a date because it will be somebody’s birthday, but I like May 1st 2010.
Rachel: I love it. Okay, so tell me about the journey from you starting your business to making seven figures and being like, holy shit.
Kaneisha: For sure, first of all…
Rachel: That’s like, take several years and turn it into seven sentences.
Kaneisha: That’s okay, I can do it. First of all, do not go around crowd-sourcing your greatness, okay. So you cannot go around asking people, “Would you pay for this,” because people are going to tell you what you want to hear and you don’t know if people will pay for it until you charge and somebody does.
Rachel: Oh my gosh, I tell this to my clients all the time. I’m like, when you have an idea, the next thing that you should do is launch it. Sell the damn thing. That’s the only way you’re going to know because people will tell you anything you want to hear until it’s time to pull out their wallet and part with some money, then we’ll get the real real, you know.
Kaneisha: “Oh well, I mean, I didn’t know it was going to be that much.” And the reason I say that is because I submitted a business plan to the Harvard Business School Entrepreneurship Center for feedback, anonymous feedback from a qualified alum. And that qualified alum said, “Do not start this business, it will never work. It will not be profitable and don’t start it.” And I was like, next. I said, thank you, next. Thank goodness I didn’t let that discourage me because that same period of time, Harvard sent out an email saying – this is the most Harvard thing that Harvard’s ever done. It said, “Hey, we’ve got some extra money and we need to use it so we want to support student entrepreneurs. If you’re going to start a business right after graduate school, we’re going to choose some of you and we’re going to give you $10,000. So write a business plan and send it in.”
And it was during finals week, so that filtered out a lot of people. It also looked too good to be true, so that filtered out a lot of people. And Kaneisha is used to filling out applications and used to being intentional and certain that I would not have found out about this if I wasn’t supposed to go for it. So I went for it. Instead of studying for my finals, I did a business plan, which really just meant making some slides telling the story of what I wanted to do. And they said, “Great, you’re one of eight students, here’s $10,000.
So I’ve never – we don’t have investors or anything like that. My parents have been very supportive and loving, but they didn’t give me, “A small loan of just a million dollars.” I did though get $10,000 from Harvard which I promptly burned up.
Rachel: Oh, 100% because, first of all, you don’t even know what to do with that money when you’re a brand-new entrepreneur.
Kaneisha: Yeah, I didn’t know what to do. I was still living that flashy Harvard lifestyle, which I should have never been living because I was getting all of the student loans, but I was and I still was doing that. So the money went away pretty quickly. So I don’t want people to think you need $10,000 to start your business. You need internet connection and sit your ass down and make your offer.
Rachel: And some grit.
Kaneisha: You need some grit and some fate. So I start my business and it takes off pretty quickly. I’m able to get paying clients, I feel so rich, and then I don’t realize that applying to graduate school is seasonal and I just happened to start my business in the peak of the season. So I started running out of money and it was very scary.
Now, instead of getting resourceful, I got scared and I started to contract. And so I ended up moving out of my amazing rent-controlled nine blocks from the beach apartment in Santa Monica to follow my then boyfriend – this is why I had to write a book called Be Your Own Boyfriend because if you see there are these pivot points in my life, and I just experienced another one where I experienced this huge disruption in my life, either that I brought on myself or that happens as a part of my partnership. And then I just go all the way left.
And so I moved across the country with my then unemployed – this is a different boyfriend – boyfriend, because I think you’re going to be able to get a job in DC. And I was right. He got a job like that, and our relationship promptly fell apart and I was like, what am I doing? Why do I live here? What am I doing?
Rachel: Why did I give up my rent-controlled beach apartment?
Kaneisha: So I moved back home to Austin, Texas to regroup, and two things happened. One, I am like, okay, let me really write this book because I seriously have an issue. I was a dating blogger and doing the admissions stuff. So I wrote my book and it was really fun. But I thought – I really thought this, Rachel – I was like, my book’s going to come out and then I’m just going to live off of the royalties or something. I don’t know where I got that idea.
Rachel: Listen, whatever keeps you going, okay, and keeps you taking action because listen, if we knew it was going to be this hard, we would never have million-dollar businesses because we’d be like, fuck that, no, that shit sounds hard.
Kaneisha: That’s right, Rachel, either there does have to be a little bit of delusion, a little bit of mania…
Rachel: Yeas, you almost have to have a one-track mind, like it will happen. You’ve got to have your kung fu grip around it and not let go. And that is literally the key to success.
Kaneisha: For sure. And so I had the two things going side by side and I actually had people paying me for dating advice and dating coaching, but I was one of those dating coaches that was real strategic and tactical. So I was almost closer to, like, a pickup artist than let’s do deep soul work and heal your trauma so you can actually attract a good mate. I was more like how to make the man want you. That’s what I was doing. And I found that I didn’t like it because the advice worked whether the guy was good or not.
So I thought, I’ve got to get out of this game the way I’m playing it because I’m going to wreck some people’s lives including my own. So that was like, let me go over here and see what I can do. And going over here meant The Art of Applying. And what’s been amazing is people come to me saying, “Help me get into Harvard, that’s going to help me…” you know. We only want to do things because of the way we think it will make us feel. So help me get into Harvard and then I’ll feel worthy and smart and capable and nobody will ever doubt my greatness.
But then, once they join my world, they get everything. We talk about relationships, mindset, telling your story, being a survivor. We talk about – they ask me questions about freezing their eggs. So I guess what I would say to people who are like, “How do I choose a niche,” is you just choose one; something that is a combination of I am excellent at delivering this result and I can do it consistently, and I can do it for people I actually like to work with and people will pay good money for it. Because I can consistently deliver, I don’t know, I’m great at making steak on the grill. But there’s a limit to how much people are going to pay me to make them a steak.
So it’s not just about follow your passion. It’s also about what people really will pay for and need. Because remember, once they pay you for what they really think they need, you can also overdeliver if you want and give them things that blow their mind, like mindset coaching.
Rachel: Exactly, and that’s the interesting thing. I like that you point that out because regardless of – I hear this from coaches all the time – you kind of lead with one thing and that’s the result that you consistently deliver. But like, then you’re talking about all this other stuff. The reality is that life comes up regardless. If you’re a health coach, you wind up coaching someone and helping them. My Pilates instructor regularly helps me get clear on business decisions, just because I’m talking to her during the session and she’s just open and she’s helping me accomplish something I didn’t think I could accomplish and then I’m like, if I could do that here, I could do that in my business as well, you know. So I think you just have to start working with people to see that that’s possible.
Kaneisha: That’s exactly right. You know, Rachel, one thing that I – I don’t like to have regrets, but I will just say, one big lesson for me is that everything changed for me when I hired help. When I say hired help, I mean invested in mentorship. So the first seven years, seven years of my business were at, like, 30K then 50K then 80K then 100K then 200K, then 275: then back down to 180K, oh no. And then I invested in help and we made $561,000. I had my first 300K year, 400K year, and 500K year at once, once I said I need help.
Why did it take me so long? I was like, well, I went to Harvard Business School. I bet you hear this all the time, I already did Marie Forleo’s B-School. What else in the world could there possibly be?
Rachel: Oh my goodness, yes, yes.
Kaneisha: Right, and can you – Rachel, how many millions of dollars did I miss out on because I was like, “But I did B-School and I went to actual B-School?”
Rachel: I did both B-Schools.
Kaneisha: I did all the B-Schools. But if I had been humble and courageous enough, and also you said it earlier that poor people scrapping by is so valuable. It’s so valuable when you are in that situation. But at some point, you’ve got to move more towards a wealth mindset and an abundance mindset of, I am making an investment in myself and it’s going to pay off eventually and I know it will. And then everything changed and we had a million dollars. That was July 2018, after eight years in business. And it’s like, wow, what could I have done if I had done this earlier.
But you know – who says this, my grandma and my mom – a hard head makes a soft behind. And I’m just very hardheaded. I sometimes honestly need to feel a million dollars’ worth of pain for a $10,000 solution.
Rachel: Oh my god, yes, yes, yes, I think it’s like we almost can be addicted to the struggle if we’re accustomed to struggling. Like, if that was our childhood and that’s been a part of our life – and I don’t think you come from a black family and aren’t addicted to some form of struggle, living in this country. And you just always choose the hard road, like how can I make this harder for myself, how can I make this slower, how can I make it feel like a mo-fo grind, you know? Let it be easy.
Kaneisha: Let it be easy. I had a blog post back in my dating post days called let It Be Easy. I had a black couple, amazing black couple, sign up to work with me. The husband is the client because the wife has already gotten her law degree and she’s at KKR, so she’s real fancy, very accomplished. Not KKR, sorry, I’m saying the wrong place. What’s the pinnacle?
Rachel: there’s a few. Skadden is the big one.
Kaneisha: That’s what I was trying to say, Skadden Arps, that’s where she is. She’s doing her thing. And so her husband was signing up and on their signup call, I was asking, you know, why sign up? We all went to college together. We all studied black studies. You might be a mini- Kaneisha, male version, why not just do it on your own? And the wife – I’m friends with both of them, the wife said, “Because you don’t get points for doing it the hard way.”
Rachel: Hello, preach, sister. Seriously, OMG, oh my gosh, you think we would get a degree for doing it the hard way, people be committed.
Kaneisha: So committed, I’m feeling very impacted by what you said about addiction to struggle. Then that’s like, well then, I earned it. Then I really earned it. I promise I don’t think I’m better than all of you because it was really hard and it was a real struggle. Nobody wants to hear, “I wake up sometimes and there’s a $10,000 transaction that just came through and I didn’t even make it, somebody on my team did.” Some people don’t want to hear that, but it’s true.
Rachel: It is true, and I think it comes from making those investments, believing like you did that whole time and continuing to say yes. I went to Beyoncé’s concert last year in Atlanta…
Kaneisha: I saw your pictures. You went with your guy friend and your other friend, yeah.
Rachel: We had so much fun. It was in the Mercedes Benz arena or whatever, which apparently can hold 80,000 people. And I’m in there and I’m looking at them. And at one point, we made eye contact. I feel like she blessed me with her Beyoncéness. So now I’m about to make way more money just because she looked at me.
Kaneisha: Eye contact with Beyoncé, that’s amazing.
Rachel: That is very special and I will never forget it. And it was worth the cost of the floor seats. But I was in that arena looking around there and I’m thinking about little Beyoncé when she was on her stages at her family’s church or whatever, and she had to keep saying yes to the next level. She had to keep saying yes to the 500 people audience and then to the 20,000 people audience. And I’m sure there’s fear at every level. There’s bullshit that can happen at every level and she just kept saying yes. And I think that’s what we need to do. We have to keep saying yes to the next opportunity and creating those opportunities ourselves and just believe that it’s possible and not stunt your growth by getting scared, by contracting.
Kaneisha: Yes, and it’s interesting because people think, I’m going to say no to this opportunity being presented to me so when I’m like, girl, obviously I cannot make guarantees, don’t put me in prison, but my spiritual guarantee based on the tremendous number of testimonial videos you can watch of people who look just like you is, like, I did it for them. I can literally get you into your dream school with a full scholarship. And when that person says, you know, I just bought a car – this really happened this last week…
Rachel: I can’t even, take that car back. Take it back.
Kaneisha: That’s a good point, or drive Uber and Lyft on weekends or use Turo and rent it out when you’re not using it. It’s like you think that saying no to yourself and not doing this means you’re going to be comfortable, but that’s not how it works. You’re going to be uncomfortable if you work with me because it’s going to be things, writing essays, working on your resume, it’s confronting fears on inadequacy. But it’s also going to be uncomfortable sitting and staying stuck and knowing what you’re capable of with the right help but you’re not doing it. So it’s not like, I get to have my blankie and be comfortable or I get to be tortured and uncomfortable. You’re going to be uncomfortable either way.
Rachel: Exactly, choose the discomfort that gets you to the level that you want to be at. Okay, so something I really, really wanted to ask you about, I saw you posted this on Facebook and I feel like this comes up a lot with my clients where they think there’s a hierarchy of clientele and they think one kind of client is better than another kind of client. And I’m like, listen, if you fit my ideal client profile and you have money then you are an ideal client. What else is there?
You posted an image of a Facebook ad that you run and it was like, a squad of black women looking fierce. And the caption on the post that you put up on Facebook was, “Love the ones who love you,” or something like that.
Kaneisha: That’s exactly what it said, yep.
Rachel: Tell me more about that because I think sometimes women think, like, if I don’t have – I have to have all kinds of people hiring me. And I had a client that I had to coach on this multiple times who was like, well only black people will come to me – she was a lawyer – for services and a lot of them can’t afford it. And I’m like, I think you’re making a lot of assumptions, number one, about whether they can afford it or not. And number two, if black people love you, love them, I don’t see the problem, you know. Tell me more about your philosophy on that.
Kaneisha: Yes, thank you so much for asking about this because this is a limiting belief I only very recently addressed. So where to begin – I never paid a lot of attention – I do not mean this to sound like, “I don’t see race,” but I just did not pay a lot of attention to the demographics of my clients when I was in that 200K range because I was just like, “You got a pulse?”
Rachel: A pulse and a checkbook, exactly.
Kaneisha: Yeah, I can help you. But then, once I had a funnel that was dialed in and we were receiving 200 or 300 applications a day to speak to the team, I said, wait a minute, hold up, every name on my salespeople’s calendar has Isha in it. What’s going on? I was like, what, why is it all black people? And I was upset, not because I didn’t want to work with black people, but because I was like, I want the white peoples’ money too. I want everybody’s money and I can help everybody.
Rachel, please let me go on a five-second tangent and let you know that I regularly send straight white males to business schools on diversity scholarships, full diversity scholarships. Now, these are our woke white brothers in the struggle and in the, whatever the opposite is in the thriving that we’re also doing. So it’s not like I just pluck people off the street. These are allies who are actively working to help people of color. But I can help white people get into grad school with a full scholarship, but the reality is that humans are humans and we all have our implicit and explicit biases. And the data is undeniable that when people come through my funnel I can literally – this is my funnel, Rachel, before I had the very black people funnel, it was just like, let’s say, like a picture of a cookie or something…
Rachel: Something random.
Kaneisha: The most popular photo, a cookie…
Rachel: And isn’t it hilarious how that is sometimes. The most basic stock photo…
Kaneisha: A cat on a tricycle or something. It was a cookie, and then it goes to a landing page, but there’s a picture of me on the landing page. That’s where we were losing all of our white people. And when I say white people, actually what I should say is we were looking, yeah, all our white people, because I was still getting a good amount of Latino people of all races, a good amount of people of Asian descent, but the white people were dropping off. And nobody thinks that they’re saying, click this ad, it’s a great ad, ooh, black face, bye-bye. But that’s what was happening. My webinar only has white people in it…
Rachel: In terms of testimonials and stuff?
Kaneisha: Yes, because I was concerned that people would think, this is only for black people or this is only for women. So my testimonials are only white males and still the calendars will just be full of Kaneisha, Tenisha, Shanisha, and Trenisha. And I was like, what is going on? And I had all this story, like what do I do, I need to get more diversity. We even thought about replacing my picture with my head of enrollment’s picture, a white dude. And I just couldn’t bring myself to do that.
Rachel: Fuck that, hell no.
Kaneisha: I couldn’t bring myself to do that and so I said, well, black people are who wants to work with me, people of color – you know what it is? It’s so interesting. Number one is women of color, ambitious women of color, and number two is Latin American males. And can you believe our first client ever, that boyfriend, that’s exactly what he was.
Rachel: You had clues all along.
Kaneisha: We had clues all along. So I said let me just actually speak to them instead of being – you know those brands, every year there’s like, “Black people are mad at Tommy Hilfiger. Now we’re mad at Gucci,” or whatever. Those brands that are – and I don’t know how much – I know Gucci really messed up, but I don’t know how some of the other stuff, if it’s even true. But I don’t want to be one of those brands that are like, “Black people give me their money and their live and I ignore them or I treat them like I don’t want them. How dare I?”
So then I started running ads directly featuring black women and directly to black women, because it was like, why am I wasting money, time, and energy casting this really wide net begging people to get on the phone and have their worlds rocked with my team when there are people who are knocking down our door. And do you know, Rachel, that once I stopped hoping or whatever that I could get white peoples’ money, now when my team asks people what resonated with you that made you book this call, even the white people, the white women and the white men even, everybody says, “I saw a woman of color running a business and a really successful business and I was like, that’s interesting, I want to learn more.”
So the thing I thought was my kryptonite or my Achilles heel was a light, or like a magic power that I wasn’t embracing and being grateful for and I am so grateful that I didn’t let that limiting belief of black people don’t have the money, black people don’t invest, they’re going to try and negotiate. It’s the opposite, Rachel.
Rachel: You know I know.
Kaneisha: I don’t know if there are studies on this. I think black people, and especially black women in their 30s, I think we invest more money per capita or per available dollar than anybody else in training and coaching, and probably also beauty.
Rachel: I 100% agree. All of the things. Slay in our minds and physically.
Kaneisha: That’s exactly right. And so to anyone out there who’s like, “Oh my god, I’m Latina and only Latinas are coming,” good. Good because, you know what, when you start flipping into Spanglish, they’ll still understand you and they will love it.
Rachel: Also, too, look at the impact you get to have in the world, because most things, especially things like getting into Harvard, that’s not made for us. We’re making it work for us, do you know what I’m saying? It’s not created for us, so to create a business or space – when I was pitching myself to these agents, I told them, name a business book that’s popular written by a woman of color. Name a business book that’s popular written by a black woman. There ain’t one. So if you are a woman of color listening at this time, this is your time. Stop fucking around and put yourself out there because, just like you said, the fact that you are a black woman teaching what you teach, building this super successful business, that is interesting because it’s not what’s commonly seen. What’s commonly seen – and it’s not that we’re not out here doing it, it’s just that every 30 under 30 or 40 under 40 or whatever stupid ass list they come up with, it’s always white guys and one white woman and, like, an Asian guy.
Kaneisha: Rachel, do not get me started on those lists.
Rachel: Those lists are such bullshit because I know all these badass women out here slaying and they look us over, you know. I’ve applied for some of these lists and I’m like, I know this mo-fo and he don’t make nowhere near as much money as me, but you got him on your list, fuck you and fuck the rest.
Kaneisha: I know, people like us do not go to graduate school and – we like a cookie. I made a million dollars, I want a cookie and I want a certificate and I want to walk across the stage and get my certificate and I want to take a picture in front of the step and repeat. And it’s painful. It’s painful to be overlooked, but that’s also why it’s so important to love the ones who love you. And that’s not about being separatist or nationalist or anything like that. It’s about stop begging people to give you permission to exist.
Rachel: yes, please, yes, 100%.
Kaneisha: People ask me, Kaneisha, how did you get the courage to start your business? Because I had to look at myself in the mirror every day. Can you imagine if I had just contorted myself, turned down the volume, straightened my hair, like whatever you’ve got to do to fit in, for my $130,000?
Rachel: I know, can you imagine? Listen, I was on the same path and I was like, I can’t do it. I will start this practice and be a lawyer on my own or I will not be a lawyer because I had three different job offers for law firms and I was like, no, because I literally – I know exactly what’s going to happen is I’m going to kick a file, one of those standing things, I’m going to kick that shit over, I’m going to curse all of y’all out and hurt your feelings and you’re going to be thinking about what I said to you for the next 10 years because it’s going to be vicious. And then I’m going to walk out the door and I’ll be like, how do I pay these student loans? I knew it, because I can’t have you disrespecting me and I have a thing about old white men telling me what the fuck to do. No, I don’t want that. So I was like, I’m going to start my own shit and either it’s going to work or I’m going to find something else to do, that’s it.
Kaneisha: Yeah, you know, and Rachel, I don’t want people to hear us and be like, well I wouldn’t knock down the cabinet, so I guess I can’t start a business. And it’s like, well, me and Rachel are just really far on the scale of unemployable.
Rachel: Exactly right.
Kaneisha: You can still thrive in corporate America and still choose to start your own business because you want to use your skills and talents and life force to build your legacy instead of somebody else’s. So yeah, I’m a table-turner as well, but even with you fitting in corporate America, you should still start a business if you have something to contribute.
Rachel: For sure, and even if you stay, stay and be you and demand what you need. I just got called by a family member yesterday because she straightened out her boss. She yelled at her boss and got loud with her. She didn’t mean to get loud, but she just pissed her off so badly. And that’s what she does. She just picks at this family member all the time and I’m always hearing about it, and so she finally just blew up at her yesterday. I was like, great, I bet you it gets better from here. Either that or you’re going to leave.
Kaneisha: It will get better because either she’s set a boundary now with that boss and the boss knows, like, don’t let the Hulk out, or she’ll leave or get fired and can move on to someplace where she can be herself.
Rachel: Exactly, either way is a win.
Kaneisha: For sure. I also want to say – and this is partially me covering my tracks because I’m like, I don’t want to hear from people with their tears, because you said you have a problem with old white men – I have actually had a lot of positive experiences with, in particular, with old white men. And here is why I think so; I think that I am so far away from being an old white man that they’re just like, “You are an interesting alien, how can I help?” So I also want to tell people that love the ones who love you, and that also includes if they look different than you. If you are a half black half Indian woman and, for whatever reason, 47-year-old white ladies who go to the renaissance fair, you are their queen, you do not shun those women, be their queen.
Rachel: Love those who love you. And it’s not always necessarily people who look just like you, I agree. My favorite uncle is an old white man, you know. And also too, there have definitely been people who are white men that have opened doors for me. There have also been white men that have opened doors that I should have been like, nope, and shut it back. So there’s a little bit of both. But yeah, I totally agree with you on that as well. This has been so amazing, oh my god. This whole conversation, I feel like it’s going to be such a mindset shift for everybody listening. And this is basically a masterclass on how to shift your thinking a whole lot more money. So tell us, before you go, what are you working on right now? Tell us a little bit about that?
Kaneisha: Yeah, what are we working on right now? We are working on all kinds of things. I’m really excited. We’re hiring an integrator…
Rachel: Yes, I just did that, by the way, it’s amazing.
Kaneisha: Okay, so we need to trade notes on onboarding and keeping the integrator around and not running them off. So I just hired an integrator. I’m really excited. She runs a college in the Philippines so she’s going to come in, take that experience, and help us really smooth out and amplify our operations. So we’re going to actually build out our back-office team in the Philippines. So our marketing – basically, people who don’t generate revenue and who don’t work directly with the clients will be in the Philippines and that’s where our team retreats will be. That’s my vision.
I’m also working on a lot of my own personal mindset stuff because my next goal is now a million dollars for me. And I am so excited about that goal. And I also have a really sort of perverted related goal which is I want to make a million dollars for me and see how little revenue does it take for me to make a million dollars. It’s funny, it’s kind of a little backwards thing to be like, I want to see how little revenue it takes for me to take a million.
Rachel: Profitability matters, okay, because we all know there’s vanity metrics out there. I actually met with – my books got done a little bit late for 2018 and he was like, your profit is strange to me. I’m like, why is it strange? Mind you, online businesses is what this guy does, my bookkeeper. He’s like, it’s really high, it’s abnormal. And I’m like, okay, well how high is it? He said it was 67%. And let me just caveat that with I know why, because I was driving myself bananas and I had contractors who are now employees. So it’s not going to be the same this year. It’s definitely going to be lower. But we are very profitable. And I agree with you, I love a challenge like that. Let’s see if we can keep 67% profitability and not drive ourselves crazy.
Kaneisha: Exactly, so that’s what we’re working on is really relentless profitability decisions, building out a back-office team, onboarding an integrator. She starts in a week or two weeks and I’m so excited. And I just need to do a lot of unpacking of my intellectual property because, in my industry, I really don’t have any competitors in the way that I help people in an accelerator style hybrid group coaching one on one coaching format. Everybody else is doing one on one coaching, so there is not an external reason to make my stuff better, but just the kind of people that we are, I want it to be better. So that’s also a very important thing we’re working on is just making the experience better, getting my intellectual property more out for my clients so they don’t have to ask me or my team the same questions over and over. And so I’m really excited about that because there is a lot inside of my brain that can come out, and that can really help people. So that’s what we’re working on and I’m very excited about it.
Rachel: I love that. It’s funny because that’s exactly what I’ve been doing over the last six months. I hired an operations director, started to take more of my intellectual property and put it in a tangible format that my clients can engage with, you know. Like taking that system, pulling it out of you, I think that’s what you do at this stage to get to that five million. That’s what’s required at this time is you need to remove yourself more and more from the business in terms of getting that IP out so your team can do what they need to do, hiring an operations director.
One of the things I’ve found is I get so much more out of my team. I think my team is happier and they’re more productive because I have somebody whose fulltime job is managing the team and the backend. It’s been awesome. So I’m excited. I love this vision that you have. I have never thought of the idea of having your back office in the Philippines, genius, and so fucking badass, I love it.
Kaneisha: I’m really excited. I was like, so how close are you to an exquisite beach where I can just get us a huge house for every team retreat and she was like, two-hour ferry ride, and I was like, fantastic.
Rachel: Sounds amazing.
Kaneisha: Yeah, and the fact that’s he runs a university means that she has access to hundreds of recent graduates and she can choose the best ones and be like, now you work for The Art of Applying.
Rachel: I love it, perfect.
Kaneisha: This has been so fun. Thank you so much for having me. I would like to come back when I make the million for me.
Rachel: definitely, and we’ll talk about how we did that.
Kaneisha: That’s right.
Rachel: I love that. So tell them where they can find you if they want to get your help applying to grad school or tell their cousin to reach out to you, or they just want to follow you.
Kaneisha: For sure, so if you’re not interested in grad school and you just want to follow me, you can just – where would someone follow me just personally? On Twitter, @askkaneisha. I’m also on LinkedIn. I love LinkedIn. So I’m at LinkedIn as Kaneisha Grayson. Spell it however you want, I’m the most famous Kaneisha. Spell it however you want, LinkedIn will be like, “You mean her.” And then of course, if you are interested in applying to grad school, come to tehartofapplying.com.
I’m very active on LinkedIn, very active on Facebook and all of our social is always just The Art of Applying. I’m one of those weirdoes who’s not on Instagram, but I know that’s where the people are, so we will be getting on Instagram. Once again, it will be @theartofapplying on Instagram. And if you want to look at my seven photos from six years ago on Instagram, @kaneisha.grayson.
Rachel: I love that and I like that you’re using LinkedIn. That makes a lot of sense for what you’re doing, you know. You’ve got to choose the channel that makes sense for you.
Kaneisha: People are on Instagram too, but on LinkedIn, they’re acting the way I need them to act to get into grad school. Whereas Instagram’s a little bit more like stunting or whatever, whereas LinkedIn is more about your accomplishments in the workplace.
Rachel: Exactly, that makes a lot of sense. Thank you so much for taking the time, this was a blast.
Kaneisha: I completely agree, thank you for having me.
Okay, you guys, how fabulous was that episode? How amazing is Kaneisha? So inspiring and so hilarious as well. I really hope that you were inspired, that you’re excited, that you’re going to take some action to create your million-dollar business. And I have some homework for you to that end.
So here’s what I want you to do. I want you to take out your journal and just spend a couple of minutes, today preferably or sometime this week, and answer a couple of questions for yourself. So one, what’s one thing you can do to let it be easy? That’s one thing I talked about with Kaneisha, how important it is to just not be so committed to the struggle and let go of this idea that you have to grind. What’s one thing that you can do to let this process of scaling your business be easy? I want you to think about that, ponder that, and then take action on it.
Second question I want you to answer is, where are you allowing the doubt devil to get in your way, where you’re allowing doubt, either somebody else’s doubt or your own to stop you from taking action, to saying yes to opportunities and miracles that come your way?
And then lastly, I want you to ask yourself, what do you believe is possible for yourself? What do you know that you can accomplish for yourself? I want to challenge you to really think about that and really think about what your calling is, what you know is for you. Because I think sometimes we think we have to pretend it’s hard, we have to make it hard, we have to go through a whole lot of struggle to accomplish big things and that we can’t just allow ourselves to trust and believe that this seven-figure business is for us, that this fame and fortune or whatever it is, whatever your vision looks like, that it’s for you and that you can have it.
I want you to start to shift your thinking around that and trust and know that it is inevitable. And if you aren’t a part of my community, you should join my Facebook community. You can join us. Go to helloseven.co/community and there’s a link there where you can opt-in to our Facebook community and be surrounded by amazing badass women who believe in you, who believe in your vision, and who won’t scoff when you say what your big dream is, okay. And you can share your answers to these three questions in the Facebook group. You can also interact with me there. So join us in our Facebook group so we can continue to connect.
Alrighty, guys, that is my episode for today. I hope it has left you lit up and ignited and ready to go. I’ll talk to you guys next week. Bye, guys.