Michelle Person is a passionate educator with 20 years of experience in urban education. While searching for books for her youngest daughter she was disappointed by her inability to find diverse, multicultural characters that her daughter, as well as the students she serves, could identify with, she began writing as a way to fill that void as well as capture the unique relationship between a father and his daughter. Michelle founded Just Like Me Books in response to that void. Michelle has written 5 books including the #1 best seller Nathaniel English in Leaders of the Revolution.
JLM is a multimedia production and development company that stresses the importance of literacy, culturally relevant reading material, and active learning experiences. The mission is to promote a love of reading and increase literacy rates among high-risk readers through an interactive platform that prominently features characters of color.
Michelle graduated from Skidmore College with Bachelor of Arts in psychology and holds a Master of Arts in Educational Leadership from Capella University.
Where did the idea for Just Like Me Books come from?
I was writing a book about the special relationship between a daughter and her father to give as a gift. I shared the book with my brother-in-law who is a librarian. He was extremely supportive and he shared with me the abysmal statistics on diverse characters in children’s literature. Through that conversation, a seed was planted and Just Like Me books was born.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I am a list maker. Before I begin each day I sit at my desk with a pen and a notebook and write down all the things I want to accomplish that day in no particular order. Then I begin working my way through the list, crossing off the smallest tasks first and working my way up to the more time consuming.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I research, outline, plan, and then create. I need to know what has been done in the past, what is being done around me, and what people are projecting will happen in the future. With that information, I create an outline that works for me, develop milestones, and then create.
What’s one trend that excites you?
There is a shift in children’s books right now to really promote diversity; stories from different backgrounds, with diverse characters, that show both the normalcy and the uniqueness of our differences. These stories are sought after and being celebrated. It is a powerful shift that I am enjoying watching unfold.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I am a stickler for a schedule. I allot blocks of time throughout the day to work through different tasks. When that block of time is over, I move on to the next task whether the previous task has been completed or not. This allows me to not overindulge in one area to the detriment of another. It keeps all the wheels moving and the train on the tracks.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Find the value in every job. You might be tearing tickets at the movie theater, flipping burgers at McDonald’s, or working an assembly line in a factory. There is always a lesson in every experience that can be used to help you grow your business.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
I believe in small growth. It is not my intention to be a multimillion-dollar company next year. Fast growth is peppered with inefficiency, inconsistency, and often, the inability to remain aligned to your initial vision. I believe in growing slowly giving one an opportunity to solidify the framework on which the multimillion-dollar empire will be built in an effort to maximize sustainability.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Continue learning. I am always looking for webinars and classes to expand my skill set.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
It seems fairly simple but taking the time to attend networking events. The conversations and introductions made have been invaluable.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Not researching vendors thoroughly. As a small business, time is money and people who waste your time will always end up costing you more money in the long run. Take the time to any and all vendors you plan to use.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I would love for someone to create Facebook or Instagram “school”. A platform where you log in to one place and there are step by step lessons that explain how each platform works and how to maximize their effectiveness as a small business owner.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I got a 90-minute massage and savored every minute of it. Entrepreneurship is hard. We deserve a little self-care from time to time.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Buffer is invaluable to me. Social media is extremely important but also very time-consuming. Buffer allows me to craft all my posts at one time and spread them out over the course of a week or two taking it off my daily to-do list.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Who Moved the Cheese. Being an entrepreneur is all about being ahead of the curve and following trends. If you ever lose that “Sniff and Scurry” mentality your business will never thrive.
What is your favorite quote?
Just like my country, I am young, scrappy, and hungry, and I’m not throwing away my shot.
- Be a planner
- Find the value in everything.
- Stay ahead of the curve.
Carlyn runs the day-to-day publishing operation here at ideamensch and interacts with our awesome customers and entrepreneurs. She is likely editing this with a cat on her lap.