Ashley Graham founded The Conscious Publicist, a public relations and thought leadership concierge that helps purpose-driven brands share their stories and methodologies with the world. Graham has always had a passion for writing, communication, and storytelling. After working at traditional PR agencies and in-house director roles, she wanted to do something more meaningful with her career. In 2016, Graham decided to start her entrepreneurial journey that focused on helping conscious brands share their messages of mindful leadership, social impact, and purpose.
The Conscious Publicist has since become a leading PR firm in the industry, helping its clients share their stories in an authentic, engaging, and impactful way to succeed in today’s competitive media landscape. Graham is known for her authentic and transparent communication approach and ability to connect with people from all walks of life. In addition to running The Conscious Publicist, Graham is also a writer, host of The Conscious Publicist Podcast, speaker and frequently contributes to various publications, podcasts, and blogs, advocating for purpose-driven brands and a way of living, all through the transformative power of storytelling.
What is your typical day, and how do you make it productive?
My typical day involves balancing work and self-care to remain productive, focused and inspired. My daily routine begins with getting myself ready to leave my house as if I were going to head to the office. Even though I work from home, getting ready in the morning has helped me feel more alert and energized for the day ahead, setting the tone for a productive day.
In addition, I always carve out time for enjoying a latte at a nearby cafe to kick off my day and other self-care activities throughout the afternoon. I strategically plan my schedule by time-blocking and prioritizing moments of mindfulness by incorporating journaling, writing, and meditation throughout the day to refresh my mind and promote creativity in other focus areas for the day ahead.
How do you bring ideas to life?
When bringing ideas to life, I follow a structured approach. Firstly, I brainstorm and identify the main goals and objectives of the idea, what I like to call the Ideation Phase. The Ideation Phase helps me create an action plan that breaks down the steps needed to achieve these goals. During this phase, I approach the process with an open mind and encourage myself to think freely and creatively. This phase is vital as it lays the foundation and inspiration for the rest of the process.
Once I have a list of ideas, I move on to the Creation Phase. Here, I prioritize and select the most promising ideas by asking myself: What is the core message and objective? Who is the target audience? How will this idea be delivered? I flesh out the details of the idea, considering how my target audience will receive it and what type of messaging will be most effective in conveying my message. I then focus on developing a clear, concise message that reflects my expertise and unique value proposition.
After finalizing my ideas, I plan the Implementation Phase, which involves creating a detailed roadmap, setting deadlines, and defining the required resources. Once I have a solid plan and message, I begin taking action, executing the steps identified in my plan. Throughout the process, I stay focused on the end goal and remain flexible, adjusting my plan as needed to account for any unexpected challenges or opportunities that may arise.
To ensure my ideas resonate with my target audience, I seek feedback from trusted sources and refine my ideas accordingly, what I like to call the Transformation Phase. Bringing ideas to life requires a structured approach that combines creativity, focus, and action. It is essential to start with a clear vision, refine and validate the ideas, plan the execution process, and take consistent action. By following this approach, I have successfully brought many of my ideas to life, and I hope it can help others do the same.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Collaborative problem-solving approaches are gaining popularity in the business world, with thought partnership and ideation coaching at the forefront. Thought partnership involves developing a collaborative relationship with a professional who can help you think through complex problems, provide new perspectives, and challenge your assumptions. The focus is enhancing your thinking skills and making better, more informed decisions. On the other hand, ideation coaching generates new solutions and ideas for complex problems. This coaching technique stimulates creativity and encourages out-of-the-box thinking, helping individuals and teams to unlock their creative potential.
Both thought partnership and ideation coaching are becoming increasingly popular as companies and individuals seek new ways to stay competitive in a rapidly changing business environment. Leaders who face complicated challenges or must develop new strategies to remain ahead of the curve can benefit from these approaches. I am excited about this trend towards more collaborative and creative problem-solving techniques, and we are incorporating both of these approaches into our suite of offers to provide immense value in these expansion areas.
What is one habit that helps you be productive?
One habit that helps me with productivity is time blocking. By setting aside specific blocks of time for each task or project on my to-do list and focusing solely on that task during that time frame, I can significantly boost my productivity. By planning my day and allocating specific time slots for each task, I can prioritize my workload and ensure that I progress on all my important projects. Time blocking also helps me identify and eliminate time-wasting activities or distractions that may hinder my productivity.
This habit has helped me develop better time management skills, which I apply to all areas of my life. Whether working as a professional or pursuing personal projects, time blocking has enabled me to achieve tremendous success and accomplish my goals more efficiently. If you want to become more productive, make time blocking a part of your daily routine. You can start by planning your day ahead of time, identifying your most important tasks, and allocating specific time slots for each one. With practice and consistency, you can develop this habit into a powerful tool for achieving your goals and improving your productivity.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Reflecting on my entrepreneurial journey fills me with nostalgia and fondness for my younger self. I recall the excitement and enthusiasm that fueled me in the early days, as well as the fears and doubts that occasionally held me back.
If I could advise my younger self, I would encourage myself to cultivate inner confidence and courage. Starting a business can be daunting, especially for those who struggle with self-doubt or fear of failure. However, I now know that taking calculated risks and being vulnerable is essential for growth and success.
At the same time, I would remind my younger self that failure is not the end of the road. Failure can often be an invaluable learning opportunity. I would urge myself to embrace the mindset of “failing forward,” meaning using setbacks and mistakes as opportunities to refine my approach, learn from my experiences, and ultimately move closer to achieving my goals.
In hindsight, there is no perfect formula for success as an entrepreneur. However, by cultivating confidence, embracing risk-taking, and viewing failure as a natural part of the journey, I have built a business that I am proud of. If I could give one piece of advice to anyone embarking on their entrepreneurial journey, especially my younger self, it would be to remain true to oneself, stay committed to one’s goals, and be willing to take risks and learn from mistakes.
Tell us something you believe almost nobody agrees with you.
I think we should reconsider our perspective on “failure.” Our society teaches us to fear failure and view it as a negative outcome. However, failure is a natural part of the learning process and an essential step towards growth and success. Without failure, we won’t be able to learn from our mistakes and make necessary improvements.
Instead of avoiding it, let’s embrace failure as an opportunity for growth and learning. We should appreciate the effort and courage it takes to try something new and learn from the outcome, irrespective of whether it is considered a success or a failure by societal standards. By shifting our mindset towards failure, we can create a more positive and empowering outlook that enables us to take risks and pursue our goals more confidently and resiliently.
What is the one thing you repeatedly do and recommend everyone else do?
Taking a moment to pause and think before speaking or reacting is a highly recommended practice that can benefit everyone. Controlling our emotions, especially in heated or stressful situations, can be challenging. However, by taking that extra moment to collect our thoughts and consider our words, we can avoid saying things that we may later regret, or that could potentially harm others.
Pausing and reflecting also allow us to respond from a place of calmness and clarity rather than reacting impulsively. This practice can benefit us and those around us by enabling us to communicate effectively and constructively resolve conflicts. Through intentional communication and thoughtful actions, practicing self-mastery can improve relationships, promote better decision-making, and ultimately lead to a more fulfilling life.
When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, what do you do?
For me, self-care is a top priority. Whenever necessary, I allow myself to take a break and relax to regain my focus and recharge. I also create a plan or to-do list to feel more in control and organized. Talking to someone I trust about my feelings helps me gain perspective and receive support. Ultimately, taking care of my mental and emotional well-being is vital for a healthy balance in my life.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business or advance in your career?
Since I became an entrepreneur, I have undergone significant growth as a leader. One of the most valuable contributions to my development has been recognizing the habits, patterns, and thoughts that hinder my ability to lead effectively. As a result, I have become more self-aware and proactive in addressing these limiting beliefs or practices, allowing me to evolve and improve my leadership capabilities continually. I’ve learned to identify habits, patterns, and thought processes that don’t align with my desired future and the highest version of myself as a leader.
My commitment to personal development has been crucial in this growth process. I have learned to be more self-aware and reflective, regularly reflecting on my actions and decisions to identify areas for improvement. I have also learned to embrace change and be adaptable in the face of challenges and unexpected circumstances.
My journey as a business owner has been a transformative experience that has challenged me to evolve constantly and become the best version of myself. Through this growth, I am better equipped to lead my partners and achieve the goals we have set for the future.
Leading a company has exposed me to various experiences, including managing partnerships, navigating complex situations, and making difficult but proactive decisions. These experiences have taught me the importance of effective communication, empathy, strategic thinking in leadership, conscious communication, delegation, and collaboration. I have learned to listen to my partners, understand their strengths and weaknesses, and provide guidance and support where necessary. These experiences allowed me to foster a positive and productive work environment, supporting my partners’ growth and development.
Finally, the challenges and obstacles I’ve encountered while running this business have taught me to be resilient, adaptable, and solution-oriented. I have learned to stay calm under pressure, think critically, and find creative solutions to problems. These skills have helped me as a leader and in my personal life.
Starting and running this business has been a transformative experience that has helped me grow personally and professionally. I am grateful for the lessons learned and the opportunity to continue to evolve and improve as a leader.
What is one failure in your career, how did you overcome it, and what lessons did you take away from it?
Starting and running a company can be both challenging and rewarding. Over time, I have learned valuable lessons that have helped me navigate the ups and downs of entrepreneurship and running an intentional business.
One of the most significant lessons I have learned is that growth takes time, patience, and consistent effort. While it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of starting a business and expect immediate results, building a successful company requires small daily steps and long-term focus. By focusing on daily progress and staying persistent, I have achieved long-term success.
Another important lesson I have learned is to seek help and guidance from those who have achieved what I strive to achieve. Initially, I was inclined to seek advice from those closest to me. However, seeking advice from successful individuals has provided invaluable insights and guidance that have helped me avoid common pitfalls and achieve my goals.
Finally, I have come to appreciate the importance of self-worth in business. As an entrepreneur, it is easy to get caught up in the metrics and numbers and forget the value of my worth. However, understanding my self-worth and how it aligns with my business goals has been essential to my success. By integrating my self-worth with market analysis, I have made informed decisions that align with my values and goals, creating a balance between the two.
To sum up, starting and running a company can be challenging but rewarding. Growth takes time, patience, and consistent effort. Seeking guidance from successful individuals and understanding my self-worth have been equally important to market analysis. By incorporating these lessons into my business strategy, I have navigated the challenges of entrepreneurship and made it an enriching experience.
What is one business idea you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I have a business idea that I want to share with the readers. It involves a recycling and training program to promote a more holistic approach to recycling and educate everyday consumers about sustainable practices. The program would comprise several initiatives, such as community recycling events, educational seminars, and outreach programs.
In addition, the program would introduce innovative recycling techniques such as composting, upcycling, and creative repurposing of materials. The ultimate goal of this program would be to create an eco-friendly culture that benefits both individuals and the environment.
By encouraging more sustainable practices, we can work together to create a brighter, more sustainable future for future generations. This program would serve as a platform to emphasize the value of recycling and train consumers on incorporating more sustainable practices into their daily lives.
What is one piece of software that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
As a productivity software, HoneyBook has been an excellent choice for me. It provides a comprehensive solution for managing client relationships and streamlining workflows, making it an all-in-one tool. With HoneyBook as my CRM software, I can quickly drive client communication, track leads, send invoices, and handle contracts in one place. Additionally, I love the customizable templates that HoneyBook offers for proposals, contracts, and invoices, which saves me a lot of time and effort in creating professional-looking documents for my clients. I can input the necessary information and send it to my clients in minutes.
Another feature of HoneyBook that is particularly helpful is its automation capabilities. I can set up automated workflows for specific tasks, such as sending follow-up emails or reminders to clients, which makes it easier for me to save time and ensure that nothing falls through the cracks. Overall, HoneyBook has been a game-changer for me regarding productivity, allowing me to manage client relationships efficiently and effectively.
What is the best $100 you recently spent?
I recently decided to treat myself to a massage, one of my best purchases. I spent $100 on a one-hour session, which was worth every penny. The massage helped me feel revitalized, more focused, and relaxed, positively impacting my productivity and overall well-being.
As someone who spends extended periods sitting at a desk, my body often feels stiff and tense. The massage helped release some of the built-up tension and soreness in my muscles, which was incredibly beneficial for my physical and mental health. Besides the physical benefits, the experience was mentally calming and refreshing. The dim lighting, soothing music, and pleasant aroma of the massage room created a serene environment that allowed me to detach from my daily stresses and recharge my mind.
I highly recommend treating yourself to a massage. It is an excellent way to prioritize self-care and invest in your physical and mental health, which can have a positive impact on all areas of your life.
Do you have a favorite book or podcast from which you’ve received much value?
“The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz is a book that holds a special place in my heart. I recommend it to anyone looking for guidance in their growth journey. This book provides four practical agreements that we can make with ourselves to live a more fulfilling life:
- Be impeccable with your word.
- Don’t take anything personally.
- Don’t make assumptions.
- Always do your best.
The book details these agreements and describes how they can transform different areas of our lives, not just in personal growth but also in our professional lives. I keep returning to this book every few years because it reminds me to stay true to these principles. It is easy to get caught up in our daily lives, and we must remember to practice these agreements. By revisiting the book, I can realign myself with these principles and stay on track toward personal and professional success.
I wholeheartedly recommend “The Four Agreements” to anyone seeking practical personal growth and development guidance. The concepts presented in the book have profoundly impacted my life, and they can do the same for others.
What’s a movie or series you recently enjoyed and why?
Manifest is a captivating TV series that delves into the mysterious disappearance and sudden reappearance of a plane and its passengers five years later. The show’s unique blend of science fiction and family drama keeps its viewers hooked and eager to see what happens next. One of the standout themes of the series is the importance of human connections, whether between family members, friends, or strangers. The characters’ struggles and relationships with each other are just as compelling as the overarching mystery, making for a well-rounded and satisfying viewing experience.
Overall, Manifest is an excellent example of how a captivating story can be entertaining and meaningful, leaving a lasting impression on its audience.
- To bring ideas to life, start by brainstorming and identifying the main goals and objectives of the concept and vision.
- “Failure” is overrated and should be reevaluated.
- It’s important to prioritize self-care and permit taking a break when needed.
- Starting and running a company can be a challenging but rewarding experience.
- The challenges and obstacles while running a business teach resilience, adaptability, and solution-oriented action.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.