Figuring This All Out: Brand, Business, and Marketing

One of the realest things I read so far on this road to entrepreneurship is that THERE IS A LOT OF BAD INFORMATION OUT THERE!

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Now one would think that with 10 years of traditional classroom teaching, six years of active duty military service, and six degrees (2 associates, B.A., MPA, Ed.S. and an Ed.D.), I should be where I want to be. Wrong…Wrong…Wrong! I’m trying to crack the self-publishing market and offer a message to aspiring and new teachers (THAT IS MY PURPOSE—To Inspire!)

When I initially wrote my first book, My Fourth Year In Middle School: The Truth About Teaching, I was and still am completely behind on not doing enough to properly market my book to get it into the hands of the people that I feel could benefit from it the most.

I would attribute writing this book to being just like the formative years of education because in my first three years I learned A LOT.   Mostly through trial and error and faulty circumstances.  But in those first years I found my purpose and knew that I have a lot to offer as an educator.  As an individual.  As a person who is not afraid to make mistakes and take a risk.

Since the release of my book in July 2016, I still want to do more with it.  I am almost desperate to do more with it because I know that there is some really good information embedded inside to keep teachers motivated.  Now I’ll be honest, I have definitely taken some heat for my book but this was about some real stuff that I experienced as a new teacher.  Much like my recollection of a having a teacher tell me I’d never be successful; I never wanted a child to feel that way about themselves in my classroom. I do not want new teachers feeling left out and ostracized unnecessarily… even with the good support of my mentor teacher, I felt alone when I started teaching.  So I ask myself, was I supposed to paint a pretty picture of the people that were hard on me or was I supposed to tell my TRUTH.

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MY BOOK AT A GLANCE

Year One: This was the toughest year ever and I remember feeling like I was being tested to see if I could really hang in there with my high poverty stricken kids.  But the thing about the students is that once I won them over, they were not the problem.  IT WAS THE ADULTS.  I cried a lot that first year because I felt like I was failing miserably at teaching.  During pre-planning I had been whispered about because of a skirt that I thought was appropriate, but clearly it wasn’t.  I felt so embarrassed by my assets…the skirt was long but that wasn’t the problem.  I was body shamed before body shaming was a thing.

Dealing With Divorce: My first marriage fell apart during my second year of teaching.  I was holding on by a thread.  I had had a huge fight with my husband, got a mugshot for bursting out his truck window, separation, and watching the security I once felt in my marriage be shattered.  All of this was going on while my boys were toddlers (Lil Phil-5, Preston-3). I was home alone with my two boys, cooking for them, dropping them off at daycare, working my full-time teaching job—stressing and wondering when my husband was going to come back home.  HE DIDN’T! The divorce was finalized September, 2011!

Is This Really Happening: So many things happened to me in a few short years that I am blown away at the fact that I’m still in the classroom.  I admit my very first administrator was hands down the bomb.  She had very high expectations and as a new teacher  I had no choice but to meet them.  I’m extremely proud of my results after my first year of standardized testing…I can boast that 97% of my students passed the Criterion Referenced Competency  Test (Phased out CRCT).  But I dealt with a different administrator my 3rd, 4th, and 5th years of teaching that was so passive, it was difficult to feel productive under his leadership.  I dealt with my car being stolen from the school campus my 5th year and instead of being sympathetic his reaction was, “It was a simple repossession.”  That made my blood boil, and I knew it was time to GO!

A Different Perspective: Transferring to a different school was what I thought I needed and while I was yet again able to foster relationships with my students…I also had to deal with adults.  I will say that I am brash and unfiltered at times, but I’m committed to my stance on things, and that doesn’t make me wrong; it makes me passionate about my kids.  I respect other people’s opinions, but I think I have run into others not really respecting mine.  In my ten short years, I have dealt with court cases with my now second ex-husband in 2014, the murder of my half-brother in 2015, middle of the year moves from one content/classroom to another in 2016, and truly feeling undervalued for my experience and knowledge. In a one on one conversation about leadership I once told an administrator, “Your perspective is skewed by what you think you know about me.  Until you see me or in action, you have no idea what I’m capable of.  I take my content very seriously.  I’m not changing!  But you’d have to talk to me to know that.”

Even through all of that I have experienced, the nonconstructive criticisms, and being told I’m not qualified or experienced enough to be an academic coach I still forge ahead.  I’ve also been told I’m “social media heavy”, whatever that means.  I mean, is this the wave?!?!?  Criticize others for the moves they are making because you are not making them yourself?!?!?

Yes my career is teaching but my vision is much bigger than being in a classroom forever.  I refuse to be one dimensional.  Just as I heard today…not everyone wants you to be successful.  I’m building my platform one blog, discussion, experience, post, and video at a time.  I am not a traditional teacher…I have a bit of an edge about me and I’m not afraid to share my experiences.

As I’m figuring this all out I know that the LaTilya Rashon brand and PSB2 Publishing  will rise as I coach myself through the necessities.

To learn more about my self-published titles please check me out here.  Be sure to connect with me on social media.

Be sure to share and leave a comment.  Thanks for reading.cropped-20170110_153240-e14840823819536.png

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*Two Years Ago*

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Two years ago I decided that I was going to revamp my blog and try to be more serious about my writing.  After all, I had received approval on my Institution Review Board (IRB) application for my dissertation so I felt my time freeing up and I was ready to write more creatively.

I felt like all the years of preparing to graduate since enrolling into my doctoral program at Nova Southeastern University in 2011 was finally about to pay off in a major way.  Let’s be real, since graduating from Ware County High School in 2000 and a six year enlistment in the United States Air Force (2001-2007), I had literally been in college off and on for 16 years pursuing various degrees.

*Doctor of Education; Higher Education Leadership (2016)

*Educational Specialist; Curriculum, Instruction, Management, and Administration (2010)

*Master of Public Administration (2009)

*Bachelor of Arts, Liberal Studies (2007)

Plus two associates degrees, you would think that writing would be the last thing on my mind.  Hell you’d probably even think that I had accomplished a lot in my own right academically but for me that still is not enough.

So I revamped my blog!  I was kidding myself thinking that this would be an easy journey and my name would ring supreme.  I learned very quickly that in this industry building a name for yourself and brand takes times.

I had the obnoxious idea to try to do a blog a day during that summer.  I had lame ideas like Motivation Monday, Thoughtful Tuesday, Wisdom Wednesday, Thankful Thursday, and Short Story Saturday.  I soon found myself burnt out and really not producing quality content.  I thought my posts were decent.  Now looking back it was just a bunch of fluff because I honestly just did not know what to do or what I was doing. I was trying some stuff out to see if it would work.

I managed to churn out chapters 4 and 5 of my dissertation and pick back up on my book project that I had outlined in 2013.  I was feeling like I was ready to put that story out to the world and I did, My Fourth Year in Middle School: The Truth About Teaching.

Now how does a busy mom like me balance work, school, and writing a book all at the same time is beyond me, but I had an inner strength to get some things done so I did.  I admit it to myself I am a fast burner because everything I set a timeline to do when I began teaching in 2008 was easily exceeded.

Still on the hunt for more, I now ponder the idea of pitching my book to publishing houses because I feel like there is a really great lessons that were learned for myself along the way.  These lessons are sure to touch the hearts of aspiring educators because it’s a lot behind the scenes that you often do not hear people talk about.

So hear I am fully exposed and ready to do the work because after listening to all of the experts, I can’t be afraid to fail.  Everyone of the EXPERTS  have shared a story of an idea flopping so I get it.

I am guilty of thinking that I had to have a logo and a big following to relevant.  But I’m learning that if I continue to be me, put my best effort forward, and stay true to myself then everything will fall into place in due time.

Now that I think about it, this time last year my focus was light and love.  But I’ve had to regroup and think about branding and narrowing my niche.  Yes!  Dare I say it, I truly see why the experts are the position that they are in and I’m striving day to day.

So my third book project is in the works and the personal approach I am taking it is why it has yet to be finished.  Just the other day  I was admiring my 12 year old because he was anxiously trying to print an essay earlier this week that is due tomorrow.  He was so frustrated because there was no ink but the overachiever in him got the best of him and all I could think was that he got that from me.  While on the other hand my 14 year old has a painting from his art class on display at the mall and I am in awe of his artistic ability and how his mind works.

I have taken time to really value the work that I have put into my two books. I have also realized that what I thought I knew two years ago was only the beginning.  I am just now beginning to scratch the surface and walk in my purpose.

Being that I am doing everything on my own as a one woman show, it feels good when the people who genuinely support me tap into my words and tell me how the things I write make them feel.  That is the impact I ultimately want to have.

When I began teaching I looked at each class period and asked myself how did I plan on touching 22 sometimes 27 minds at one time.  Then I quickly learned that if I touched one, then I had did my job.

Now as a writer I ponder the same thought.  How do I plan to reach the masses?  I’m realizing that if I get one new comment, then that’s a new soul that I have touched so I’m growing.

I have come so far to realize that all of this takes time, planning, patience, and hard work.  I am sure when the time is right for my first book to catapult it will.  I am confident that my brand will grow as long as I stick to being authentic and transparent.

Two years ago I made up in my mind that it was time to take my writing to next level.  And since hindsight is 20/20, who would have ever thought that 30 years ago in the streets of the projects, I’d grow up to be this woman on a mission to create the life I want to live, boss up, and be very unapologetic for daring to dream.

Keep coming back for more.

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11 Summers of Reflection

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In a friendly conversation I was asked if I reflect on my life.  I had to resist saying, “Duh!” because it would have been childish, but it turned into a fruitful conversation and a serious train of thought for me.  Since coming into the new year, I promised myself that I wouldn’t dwell in the past, but some things are worth remembering.  Today I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude and knew that I had to sit down for this blog post.

I separated from the Air Force in 2007, the summer of 2007 and here I am now, not working my 11th summer and still getting paid.  That is a blessing!  Not because I’m an educator, but it is a blessing that I have a career that I love and it frees up my time to pursue my passion during breaks and holidays.  My website and blog are my outlet to practice my writing skills as I crank out my inspirational nonfiction.  I never thought nonfiction would have been the genre of my first two books My Fourth Year in Middle School:  The Truth About Teaching (2016) and Brown Sugar Magic: Goal Setting and Reflections Journal (2017).

So here we go, 11 Summers of Reflection…

2007:  I was scared out of my mind to be separating from the Air Force after six years because I was concerned with finding a job.  It didn’t matter that I had earned two associates degrees, my bachelors, and was separating honorably, I was preparing in my mind for my future.  I settled into my new home back in my home state and pushed dozens of my resume and applications out.  I chose to go work for the Office of Child Support Services.  In eight months I learned that child support enforcement is not the kind of job I wanted.  Thankfully I was a forward thinker and able to move on.

2008: The summer of newness.  After working for the State of Georgia for a hot minute… I was impressive enough to secure interviews in April of 2008 to become a teacher.  So mid-way through my Master’s program leading into the summer, I was blessed enough to not work a second summer in a row, and still collect a check.  My Essentials to Teaching class was an eye-opener, but I was excited to take on a new challenge and start my new career as a teacher.  I had no idea what I was getting into.

2009:  This summer broke me just a little….  I had been with my high school crush since 2001 right before joining the Air Force, but at the end of my first year of teaching we had a MAJOR fight… the fight was the snowball to that marriage.  I celebrated my first year of teaching, the highs and lows.  I found love for the classroom and for the students I taught.  I moved forward with my career while crying my eyes out at night, but pulling it together to be SUPER mom for my boys.  We separated.  Tough Summer!

2010:  I had filed for divorce, experienced a fling with a blast from the past and when that didn’t work, I flew to Puerto Rico.  It was just the getaway that I needed.  Now there is no need for details, but being around a familiar and trustworthy face made the trip worth it.  We ate, we drank, we talked.  I loved him but we understood that our love was not to be explored beyond where we were at.  We were adults… still distant friends… Truly someone I will never forget.  I see his life now and I’m extremely happy for him.

2011:  I had completed my third year of teaching and I had some tough decisions to make.  Reconcile completely or not to reconcile at all.  Things were not adding up so I made a choice to walk away.  After someone says they don’t like the word marriage, you walk away.  I never work summer school, but one of my friends had the bright idea to start a book club and we had the most fun ever.  The book club fell to wayside because life happened but shortly after the summer, September to be exact, I was officially divorced.  After all according to that spouse, marriage was just a piece of paper.  Ain’t no way hell was I about that life.

2012:  This was my summer of sexy!  I had officially become a homeowner and hosted my housewarming party.  This was one of the most rewarding experiences I had in a lifetime.  Becoming a homeowner and decorating my home was the best feeling ever.  I could not have been more excited in this year of independence.  I loved every moment of my freedom to do as I chose.

2013: Summer of blur.  I was in a relationship.  It was fun.  It was combative.  Two summers post divorce, and second summer of home ownership.  I had tunnel vision and was completing my last required courses towards my doctorate.  I was trying to be a free spirit and finding myself all over again.

2014:  Let’s call this the summer of love.  I was smitten. I was engaged. I was a nervous wreck.  I was trying!  I think I tried and cried so hard this particular summer.  I honestly don’t know if I was coming or going.  But that is all apart of life.  The struggle to get to what is real.

2015:  The summer of laughter.  A beautiful summer of grilling, slip and slides for the kids, Tybee Island, Jekyll Island, and Summer Waves.  WE had fun…a lot of fun.  I was oblivious and living in the moment.  I was happy.  My boys were growing up and mama was having a life too.  Life could not have been more grand than what it was.

2016:  Revelations and Celebrations!  A year ago I was flying back from Fort Lauderdale after walking across the grand stage to receive my Doctorate of Education.  I was starting my “business” of writing and blogging and trying to figure things out.  I published my book and was on an emotional high.  Of course some things did not feel right in my marriage, but I took things in stride and accepted some harsh realities.  The highs of cruising to the Bahamas a second time, Florida, and family kept me motivated.  I was continuing to come into my own.

2017:  The journey to here!  I am elated to be standing because I know who I am.  I know the impact I have on my LOVED ones, and the RESPECT I have earned in my career, my family, my friends, and my life.  The story is still being written as I’m WRITING!  So do I reflect on my LIFE?  Hell yes I reflect on my life and I am forever grateful for all of my experiences.  The GOOD and the BAD.  The HURTFUL and the LOVING.

In my 11 summers I have made time for myself.  I love myself and the woman that I continue to become.  Others will wonder how I do it?  I’ll just say that it’s the drive and the God in me.  I’m not perfect, I’m original.

Live~Reflect~Write~Learn

LaTilya Rashon