Aunia Kahn is the CEO of Rise Visible. With 24 years in the field, she is a highly sought-after digital marketer strategist public speaker and digital influencer. She is also an internationally recognized and awarded visual artist photographer author who has shown in over 300 exhibitions in over 10 countries at places such as San Diego Art Institute, iMOCA and the St. Louis Art Museum. She founded Create for Healing and the Oregon Disabled Business Owners Association. Aunia also identifies as a disabled business owner surviving and thriving with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (Type 3) Mast Cell Disease Dysautonomia and POTS PTSD etc.
Where did the idea for Rise Visible come from?
Our name, Rise Visible represents everything we do and believe in as a company. We believe that everyone deserves to be uplifted by the community and have visibility. We all have a story and we all deserve to be seen and heard.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
For 24 years, I have worked from home due to a rare health condition. So, before remote work became fashionable in the last couple of years, I had mastered the art of working from home (for me). Meaning, that I have learned how to deal with the loneliness many people feel not having in-person work connections regularly. I have mastered the art of wearing PJ bottoms paired with a professional work-safe top and I have also mastered good time management and a schedule. All of which needed many years of effort and finesse.
A typical day starts with feeding the dogs and taking them outside. Once inside I do some self-care and try my best to not look at my phone or computer (still trying to master that). I like to know what is going on for the day ahead, but I am trying to teach myself that nothing is going to burn down in the 30 min of self-care time. I stretch, journal, and write down all the things I am grateful for.
My partner, Michael de Vena, and I look at the schedule for the day. We start making plans or returning to plans from the day before that might not have been completed. We work together in the same studio and we don’t often argue or want to kill each other. We are not only partners in businesses but we are life partners and that can get difficult at times. For us, it improved our personal relationship adding a working relationship. Go figure!
We break and eat some lunch, and do a bit more stretching. Being at a computer a lot is hard on the body so we try to stretch a lot.
We try to end the days early but this very rarely happens. We both love what we do and you never know when last-minute things will come up. Our goal is to end at 4 pm but can often still be seen working until 6 p.m. If special things are needed or a major deadline is approaching, we have worked late into the night. We mostly have curbed that to better take care of ourselves. We believe that when you love what you do, it’s important to set hours so you don’t go off on a tangent, and before you know it, it’s midnight.
How do you bring ideas to life?
We have a very large whiteboard that takes up half the studio, on the weekends we wheel it back to the other studio space – the art studio. We love that board and it is where we start the planning and brainstorming process.
Depending on the project, various things are used to inspire. If it is design, then we love looking at other great designs and Pinterest. If we are working on automation for an email marketing campaign, then we love to map it out in software and brainstorm before we start the implementation. If we are working on SEO (because we are nerds) we love to crunch the numbers and make the goals.
What’s one trend that excites you?
The trend that inspires me right now is that people are being more transparent and real. Example: We used to only have perfect models selling us a bar of Ivory soap and now we see bodies and faces of different sizes, ages, races, etc. We are also seeing a lot more inclusion with disabilities in advertising and it has excited me as a disabled business owner.
We are also seeing this in our everyday, real-life experiences too. People are being open about their struggles. Social media has made seem that people look perfect and have perfect lives due to the highly curated nature of the platform. However, now, people are taking it a step further and are willing to show their flaws, mistakes, and reality. This is truth and we can all relate this is why this trend excites me!
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Resting. Although it is counterintuitive to my brain to even say that! I like to be busy and do things, many things! I am not good at being still. I lost a large chunk of my life due to health issues, so I am always eager to do something or be busy. Even without considering the loss of time in my past, I think I am just wired that way. However, when I have made myself rest more, the work time is more solid and I am more productive! I do see the value. It is just hard to make it happen.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I would tell my younger self that even if you will lose 18 years of your life to an aggressive and undiagnosed illness, that in 2018 and 2021 you will have breakthroughs and finally medical support. With this, you will live a more normal life than you ever have. You will be writing interviews like this right now and not just surviving, you will be thriving.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
I believe that most people are genuinely good and I find most people do not agree with that. I also believe in diplomacy. There is a lot of grey area in the world and almost everyone I know lives in black or white. These times are very polar, so living in the grey is not super common.
I think it is important to weight al sides, look at peoples experiences, and evaluate things without always being self-focused. It is common to want to make sure things are good for ourselves, to go after achievements and to be self motivated, but the world is a big place and the world does not revolve around anyhow. The world is rich with so many great people, places and experiences – let’s not shut things out just because they are different or we don’t understand them. Considered different ways of thinking and opinions outside of your own makes you a more well rounded person.\
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Remember your value. Not egotistically, but with truth, compassion, and confidence. If you don’t value yourself – no one will. You will revisit your value and worth over and over again. Your value will change based on many things and is a fluid and moving metric. Your value is a very deep part of your self-worth and you can grow your value and self-worth based on the decisions you make.
Other people will not value you unless you value yourself. You can be nice and not be a doormat. You can stand in your own confidence and not be an ego maniac. You can find value in yourself that others won’t value – let them go. It won’t always be easy and can bring fear, but do it anyway!
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
My tenacity has been one of the biggest traits that I am so honored to behold. Over the last 24 years, most of the time, I was not focused on growing. I was dealing with severe undiagnosed health issues that almost killed me and my goal was to not die until someone could finally help me – it took 18 years. In this, my tenacity also played a very large role in my work and how I kept going without ever giving up. It’s not easy, but it’s been worth it.
In 2018 with the right diagnosis and medical treatment and another major diagnosis in 2021, we are on the road to some epic growth. I have the health, strength, and energy to move the needle and I am doing just that. Over the last two months, we have won many awards and certifications.
The strategy from day one is to never give up. Keep on going, one day you will get there!
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I was grossly undercharging for my services for years based on not having anyone to compare myself to. When I met with a client and she shared the pricing from the agency she was moving from, I about fell off my chair. Over the years, I was so focused on just paying my bills because I could not get a normal job due to my disability, I never thought to investigate pay wages for the work I did.
It was a huge failure on my part because I could have worked a lot less and it would have been a more adequate work-life balance and helped my health. After researching and meeting others who work in my field, I realized my skills and experience were so much more valuable than I had given them credit for.
I overcame it by asking for more. It was not easy! I was even called out one time in a consult that it looked like the rate I had asked for was hard for me to say and asked if I get kickback. I had tripped over my words when saying my rate and it was painfully obvious. I got red in the face and told the person, yes, that I was stepping into my new value and I had gotten kickback for asking for that rate, but that I knew my worth and I was sticking to it. The person did not question it and said, that it was fine – I will pay your rate.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
To create a passive income; start teaching something you love. Online education is having a huge boon right now and if you have something you love and it can value others, teach it! You don’t have to be a teacher, you can learn to do it. You can build platforms on your own business website or use things like Learnworlds and Teachable. If that does not sound appealing, there are so many other ways to make passive income – start researching them.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
The best $100 I spent was purchasing a ring security system. I know that is way more than that, but let’s just focus on the door light camera which was a couple of hundred dollars. The one in our backyard is officially bird TV. We have a crow family that comes to visit. Lonan (Papa), Koa (Momma), and 3 babies. We feed them on the back deck and the camera lets us know when they are there. Before we would have to get up and check to see from time to time. Now we are notified and we feed them. Bird TV, as we humorously call it, is pretty funny. We catch so many things on that camera.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
We love Semrush for SEO. We use 4 other SEO software tools, but our favorite currently is Semrush. We use this software to do website audits to find out areas we can improve a website. We improve local listings, backlink analysis, keyword researching and more. We also love their CRM (Customer Relationship Management). We can add our clients and keep them up to date in real-time – they get the reports and tracked tasks in real time.
We have learned with many of our clients that had hired other SEO companies got a lot of talk about what’s being done but nothing to prove what was really happening. SEO is an enigma to so many people, which makes it easy for scam companies to take advantage of clients that don’t know any better. Transparency is key, we want our clients to see everything we are doing and be in the first row, front and center in the game of website SEO improvement and growth for they business.
It not only keeps us accountable but it’s also is extremely motivating for us and our clients to see the growth and visibly improve.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
This is hard to choose just one! I love to read and read so many books. A great book to read and I highly recommended is: This Is Marketing: You Can’t Be Seen Until You Learn to See (Seth Godin)
What is your favorite quote?
Fall down 7 times, get up 8. – Japanese Proverb
- You have value, it is one of your biggest assets.
- Ask for more money. If they say no. Ask someone else.
- Lifting others up is a great way to lift yourself up as well.
- Health is important. Don’t take it for granted.
- Be real and authentic, your audience will find you.
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.