“Have an idea? Have obstacles? Never allow them to cause you to give up.”
Carol Gee, M.A. residing in a small factory town, with no means to go to college, thus limited career opportunities, upon graduating from high school, got a job in the local shoe factory. Paid by the piece meant working fast to make quota. Not only was the work hard, it was also dirty and frequently dangerous. What Gee longed to do was write the Great American novel, So after working there for about a year, at age twenty she ran away to the United States Air Force.
There, she once got up ‘close and personal’ with buffalo on the roam in South Dakota, ate Octopus Tempura in Okinawa—-and lived to tell about it, traveled and enjoyed other mis-adventures. She also earned both bachelors and master’s degrees courtesy of the military G.I Bill. There, she also met another Airman who would end up being the love of her life. (They have been married over 44 years).
Gee, served nearly 8 years on active duty. With interest in people and the human condition, and with her master’s in Human Relations (and Management), coupled with undergrad degrees in sociology and psychology, using Gestalt Therapy, (role play, other methods) she counseled adults and children in a mental health setting for a couple years. Thinking this to be her life’s work, she thrived at helping others. Then her spouse received orders for overseas. This led her to a career in higher education at the college and university levels. However, missed being in uniform, she joined the Air Force Reserves, serving another nearly fourteen years before retiring.
In 2011, after working in higher education close to 28 years (nearly 22 of them at Emory University), Gee retired to realize her lifelong dream of writing fulltime. Soon after, she became what she calls an ‘accidental’ entrepreneur when she founded her company, A Feast of Words, LLC. The last seven years at Emory, she had been employed as an editor at Emory’s Goizueta Business School, copyediting scientific manuscripts, researching and writing business case studies that were taught in the classrooms and other writings to support teaching.
All of these were transferable to her new business. Uncomfortable with putting her social security number on project Tax forms, she realized she needed a name for her growing writing streams, which by then also included promoting and marketing her two books, (she has since authored four) contributing to other authors’ books, freelance magazine writing, and public speaking.
As such, my one-woman writing service, A Feast Of Words, LLC, represents all aspects of her passion. It also highlights her brand, which women have fondly coined “girlfriend” books or books that allow women to embrace their humanity and allows them to laugh, and yes, to heal. Her most recent are Random Notes (About Life, “Stuff” And Finally Learning To Exhale) and Gilded Pearls (Vibrant Thoughts, Tips and Tidbits for a Full Life) joins The Venus Chronicles and, Diary of a ‘Flygirl’ Wannabe. In homage to her mental health counseling stint, Gee likens her books as ‘therapy without the couch.’
Viewing her writing as her passion, her purpose, Gee only works on projects that resonate with her. Like the case written for a retired 3-star Army General who led the humanitarian relief efforts during the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. Because of her own military affiliation and understanding of military leadership protocols, made Gee the ideal person to write it. Today, the case is taught in Goizueta Business School’s leadership program and other organizations. Her writings also regularly appear in a number of other author’s books on various subjects, as well as a number of magazines and blogs.
Gee resides in Stone Mountain, Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta. She is longtime member of American Business Woman Association (ABWA). In her free time, she enjoys reading, repurposing and transforming flea market and thrift store items, spending quality time with her husband and traveling.
Where did the idea for A Feast Of Words, LLC come from?
Once I had authored a couple of books, published several magazine articles, invitations to speak on my books and other topics, began to come in. Needing a way to organize, as well as monetize all these writing streams on appropriate Tax Forms I felt I needed a name that would encompass this. A Feast Of Words, LLC seemed to fit that bill.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
Having had two successful careers where I arose early for work (my day in the Air Force started at 7:00 AM), I was used to getting up and being fresh. So my typical day consists of getting up early (often 5:00 or 6:00 A.M if I am working on a project, or have an idea for an article etc.) I can’t sleep so get up and write. I will then write non-stop for two to three hours. I will then take a break, have breakfast etc. After breakfast I will work a couple more hours on my smartphone, answering business emails, responding to freelancing pitches for other authors’ magazines, setting up media interviews, podcasts, etc.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Because a lot of my writing topics come from daily life, experiences and thoughts, it’s easy for me to sit down and actually create or write. I often write a 600 word piece without stopping. I will then let it set for a time. Then go back and tweak it.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
Current events. I frequently get my ideas from current events that I respond to in my writings. That means reading the newspaper, online news feeds, blogs, etc.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I am really anal about prioritizing tasks, and about meeting deadlines. I think it comes from serving in the military where prioritizing, and meeting deadlines can be a matter of life and death.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Have an idea? Have obstacles? Never allow them to cause you to give up.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
That it’s easy to find time to do what you love. For me it’s writing. (Folks always ask me how I find time to do even when I worked full time, carried for my husband and home, etc.). My secret, I tell them, is not spending time on the other things a lot of folks do, like hours on social media or their cellphones. From past experience those things tend to eat up time.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Start a business that feeds your passion. Doing what you love, you are most likely to be successful. In 2006, I wrote an article, The Value of Turning Your Soul’s Passion and Purpose into Profit for the Innovation and Entrepreneurship section of Knowledge, which was based on what I feel my company represents. Several scholars at Emory concurred there was intrinsic value in doing what you love.
Stay focused on your goals. Every year my goal includes publishing more pieces, being featured in more well-known magazines. For example, my husband and I were featured in the February 2017 issue of Essence Magazine (Stand By His Health). This was the result of my pitch to the writer who was doing a story on African American women who actively support their spouse’s health. As my spouse has a number of health issues I jumped at the chance to share some of the ways I’m trying to keep him healthy. A future goal? Have a piece that I wrote appear in Essence. I also joined the Chicken Soup series with my May 2017 contribution to Chicken Soup: Military Families.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Having a reputation for always doing a good job, word of mouth referrals have been my best marketing tools for projects. This is especially important because of the kinds of projects I seek, I seldom market. As such, folks tend to find me through past clients.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Working with a client who wasn’t clear on they needed. This was a medical device company, having an article about their product in a scientific journal for the first time. After further clarification with the magazine, they determined they needed a physician or a clinician to write it due to medical terminology. I billed them for what I had done on the case before they got further clarification and was paid). Lesson learned? Have clients provide a copy of the publication so I could get a sense of it to see if I’m right for it, before starting the project.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Form a business doing what you love. My love of writing has morphed into more than simply writing my first article. As such, what I do feeds my soul, and get paid for doing it.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Book marketing and promoting items (created book postcards and posters for both new books, and had them laminated).
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
My computer for my writing. My website for marketing and promotion.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
My new book, Random Notes (About Life, “Stuff” And Finally Learning To Exhale). A coming-of-age book about my life. My story is the story of a lot of people. While written specifically for women, men can get something from the lessons learned.
It’s about anyone with a dream, but little means or opportunities to realize it. It’s for everyone who has ever felt like a ‘round –hole-in-a-square peg’, lived their entire life full of limiting beliefs that no longer work for their present situation, allowed past hurts and a lot of other ‘stuff’ rule them, and they were finally able to break out, break free through hard work or perseverance, this book is for you. A side note: I was two months short of age 50, before I published my first book jumpstarting my writing dream. Indeed I’m proof positive that it is never too late to realize one’s dream).
What is your favorite quote?
Author, scientist, Edward Teller’s about faith, which goes “When you get to the end of all the light you know and it’s time to step into the darkness of the unknown, faith is knowing that one of two things shall happen: either you will be given something solid to stand on, or you will be taught how to fly.”. I try to focus on this whenever I have doubts about anything.
Another that describes my life’s journey was Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken”. To paraphrase, with limited career and other opportunities I chose the military over a life time of factory work, and believed Frost was speaking to me at the end of this poem. ““Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—I took the one less traveled by. And that has made all the difference.
A Feast of Words LLC on Facebook: www.facebook.com/A-Feast-Of-WordsLLC-159469507826087/
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.