I bring ideas to life by writing them down and creating lists. I try to think about the end goal and plan backwards.
Dr. Marquita S. Blades is an award-winning Educator, international speaker, author, and education consultant with 16 years of experience as a high school science teacher and manager of national STEM programs for high-achieving high school students. Dr. Blades is currently a full-time Education Consultant, the owner of Dr. Blades Consulting, which offers solutions to learning institutions and individuals through professional development programs, curriculum and assessment development, conference development and programming, and individual teacher/education consultant coaching services.
Dr. Blades is also the founder of The Mediocre Teacher Project© which helps other teachers avoid and battle through burnout by incorporating their unique gifts and talents into their daily practice. In 2016, Dr. Blades launched The Dr. Marquita Blades Show-Candid Conversations that Create Change, a radio show dedicated to discussing current trends and issues in education. Dr. Blades is a contributing author for The Whole Truth Anthology which was released in 2017, the lead author for The Mediocre Teacher Project Anthology, and just recently completed her first book of instructional strategies entitled: POWARRful Teaching Strategies for Increasing Engagement & Collaboration While Maintaining Rigor in Science Courses.
Dr. Blades holds a Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies in Broad Field Science from Georgia State University, a Master of Science in Technical and Professional Communication from Southern Polytechnic State University, and a Doctor of Education in Instructional Leadership from Nova Southeastern University. When she is not working, Dr. Blades enjoys reading, cooking, and traveling with her husband. Learn more about Dr. Blades and her work by visiting www.drmarquitablades.com.
Where did the idea for Dr. Blades Consulting come from?
I considered starting a consulting firm for a long time, but just couldn’t grasp taking the risk. I got the idea to start my own education consulting firm early in my teaching career. Every summer, I worked with a summer program for high school students and one year, I moved up from working directly with the students as an advisor, to a member of the management team. In this role, I had to train the staff on the program’s curriculum. I knew then that I wanted to work with adult learners and that one day I’d be training other teachers.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My typical day begins around 4 am and I’m in my office by 4:30 am. I have a morning playlist on Spotify that I listen to prior to starting work to train my mindset for the day. I make my days productive by following routines and keeping a meticulous planner. I spend most of my time during the day creating – writing lessons, planning workshops, developing learning materials, sending emails, and engaging on social media. I keep my days productive by limiting meetings and phone calls to one or two days of the week. I have found that scheduling meetings and phone calls throughout the week is far too disruptive for me. Once I get into my creative process, I don’t like to stop until I have finished that particular project or task.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I bring ideas to life by writing them down and creating lists. I try to think about the end goal and plan backwards. That said, once I begin the creative process, I typically get a new idea for something to add or change. I keep an open mind during the creative process.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I am excited by the current trend in STEM education. I think it’s great that math and science are finally the desired subjects rather than the dreaded ones. Technology has always been fascinating and the arts have always had a loyal following, but math and science have come with a stigma of being hard, boring, and for only one particular subset of people. It’s nice to see STEM getting the attention it deserves.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
My obsession with organization makes me more productive in my business. Everything goes in my planner, I create supporting to-do lists, and I always take lots and lots of notes. I also have a killer pen and office supply collection. Being able to track information in a logical way is extremely helpful when you are constantly working on multiple projects simultaneously.
What advice would you give your younger self?
If I could, I’d tell my younger self to take more risks. I wanted to start my consulting business years ago but I talked myself out of it. I’d tell myself something I hear often now that I am an entrepreneur: “Imperfect actions beats perfect inaction.”
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Most people don’t agree with me that standardized testing in education is not a bad thing. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with expecting a student to be able to show a certain level of proficiency upon completing a course. This issue is that most standardized tests do not assess what has been taught in the same way it has been taught. If a school district requires teachers to implement performance-based learning throughout the school year, but fails to administer a performance-based standardized assessment at the end of the year, that is where the problem lies. It’s not so much the idea of the test, in my opinion.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
The one thing I do over and over and highly recommend to everyone else is being active on social media daily. There is rarely a day that passes when I don’t post something on social media about my business. I have been referred to several clients based on my social media posts.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
I actually have two. The first strategy that has helped me grow my business is simply providing value to others. I have spent a lot of time sharing my best practices and resources with others who have expressed interest in doing what I do. I love to help give other educators those foundational steps for getting started in consulting.
The other is investing in coaching and mentoring. As a teacher, I was not accustomed to relying on any coaching and mentoring because by and large, it is not available. Even when provided a “mentor teacher” most of them do not really provide the level of mentoring a new teacher really needs. I have learned to find the value in learning from the expertise of those who are doing what I do and are having success at it.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I have had a few failures but the one that sticks out most is not doing adequate research when I first started my company. I incorporated a name that someone else had been actively using for years! I did research, but not thoroughly. Shortly after registering the name, I realized that I could not use it. I’d already had business cards and other marketing materials created! I didn’t understand everything that I was supposed to look for or where I needed to look for it. I overcame this by changing my business name to my name. I now reserve all unique names for my programs and services to avoid making this mistake again. Oh yeah…now, I also do more thorough research, too.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Versions of this already exist, but I love the idea of an entrepreneur’s subscription box that comes with resources needed to help business owners stay on track. It can include personal or professional development books, organizational tools, office supplies – of course, and other beneficial tools based on the entrepreneur’s goals and industry.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
The best $100 I recently spent was a subscription to a certification program.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
I don’t use a lot of software or web services to increase my productivity. I am very old school so I still like writing things down in my planner and creating lists. I just recently added QuickBooks Self-Employed app to my phone and I really love the convenience of being able to organize my receipts and tracking mileage instantly. Of course I have a CRM and the other modern tools required for business, but I don’t feel that they enhance my productivity as much as being organized the old-fashioned way.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Again, I have two recommendations: SuccessQuest the Journey from Ordinary to Extraordinary by Dr. Chike Akua and “The Hustler’s 10 Commandments“ by Hotep. These two books jumpstarted the mindset shift I needed to get Dr. Blades Consulting up and running.
What is your favorite quote?
It’s not necessarily a quote, but I always use and people quote me on: “Trust the process”.
- Being organized can help (whatever that means to you) you stay focused on tasks and complete them in a timely manner.
- Create and maintain a strong presence on social media.
- Provide value to others and be willing to invest in coaching/mentoring programs.
- Read SuccessQuest the Journey from Ordinary to Extraordinary by Dr. Chike Akua and The Hustler’s 10 Commandments by Hotep.
- Trust the process!