Sierra Hillsman

Founder of Legacy Speaks

Sierra Hillsman is a licensed Associate Professional Counselor and is credentialed as a National Certified Counselor and Certified Clinical Trauma Professional. Her platform, Legacy Speaks, focuses on increasing awareness of mental health issues, creating conversations with marginalized communities, and increasing access to local and national resources by advocating for both equality and equity. This powerhouse clinician is passionate about changing the world one person at a time as she continues to champion mental wellness #ForTheCulture.

Where did the idea for Legacy Speaks come from?

In high school, I became infatuated with the concept of legacy – what that looks like, what goes into leaving your mark on the earth, and what people would say about me when I transitioned on after death. I know that sounds a bit morbid but I think it’s important for each and every one of us to think about our impact in society. Legacy speaks volumes and transcends generations, which is why I chose to name my business Legacy Speaks. The brand challenges people to manifest the best versions of themselves through personal development and mental wellness.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

As a mental health counselor by trade, my day consists of seeing clients at the non-profit agency that I am currently employed with. Some tasks include case management, continuing with the therapeutic process, providing psychoeducation, and so much more. When I am finished at work, that’s when the magic happens as an entrepreneur. I transition into producing mental health content for my platforms, developing presentations for community partners, and fostering relationships with fellow clinicians of color in order to showcase their talents and expertise within the wellness community.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I am really big on planning in advance. I develop quarterly goals based on four categories: Learn, Serve, Connect, and Create. This has helped me remain as impactful and focused as I possibly can. Once those goals are created, I develop action items that will bring me closer to those goals and utilize a large wall calendar to assign them to different days of the week. I never do more than 3-4 tasks a day. This helps reduce the likelihood of being overwhelmed. I am also a huge advocate for journaling and concept mapping as ways of taking a general idea in my head and turning them into something bigger. This same approach is what inspired the journal that I created, “Mental Wellness for the Creative: A Guided Journal for People Who Manifest Dope Things.”

What’s one trend that excites you?

Adult coloring books is an awesome trend. It’s very nostalgic in nature and is a wonderful coping skill to have.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

I will hide my cell phone in a drawer or on a shelf behind me so that it’s out of sight but near enough for me to hear when phone calls come in. The magic of “out of sight, out of mind” still reigns true in my day to day.

What advice would you give your younger self?

I would tell my younger self to invest in Apple and Bitcoin…(*laughs to self*). On a more serious note, I would definitely tell myself, “Perfectionism is unattainable. Don’t allow a timeline to keep you from enjoying the beauty of uncertainty”.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

Guacamole is disgusting however, no one ever agrees with me on that. They make it seem like it’s a must-have or a way of life.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Self care is so important because burnout is a real thing. It doesn’t have to be a huge event. It can be incorporated in your daily schedule. Before going to bed, I wind down by reading a Bible verse or something that increases self-awareness. Then I journal about it as a way to check in with my emotions and brain dump. It can be as simple as that. Time flies so quickly so whatever it is that you enjoy, find a way to carve out recharge sessions specifically for yourself.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

Collaborating with other people has been a major tool in the success of my business. I do weekly interviews with fellow clinicians and entrepreneurs of color and it gives me the opportunity to not only grow my network for future projects, but also tap into their audience as well. It truly is a win-win because I have content for all of my platforms that can be used over time and in return, they gain more exposure for their private practice and services in the process. Another strategy that has helped me is repurposing content. One video can be used for podcast audio, social media snippets, and transcriptions for blog posts. This helps with working smarter and not harder.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

As a new entrepreneur, I was in such a rush with trying to develop and launch a catalog of merchandise. I bought about 150 shirts with just my logo on it thinking that I would be able to sell them immediately. At the time, I didn’t have a real following outside of my friends, family, and those I went to college with. I had completely blown my initial investment into my business. I had to pivot and eventually realized the power of pre-selling items in order to raise the capital first for future merchandise ideas. I also learned the importance of incorporating my target audience. The people know what they want and since that’s who I’m selling to, it’s always smarter to just ask them what they think and launch in increments rather than going all in on a full design.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Someone should create a substance abuse treatment facility catered specifically to LGBTQI+ community. One that is free of heternormative standards and provides the safety and security of clients within this population so that they can remain focused on treatment.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

I recently spent $150 on my registration for the Black Mental Health Symposium. It was originally scheduled to take place in Atlanta but due to COVID, it was hosted digitally. It included 10 continuing education breakout sessions on topics related to minority mental health. It was phenomenal to learn from colleagues within the field and gain more knowledge about research studies that are more reflective of the black experience.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

Latergram is very helpful with scheduling content. I don’t have to get caught up in waking up at a certain time to post an image or set alarm reminders to upload a video. I have the freedom to direct my attention towards other matters.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat” by John Ortberg. It really helped change my perspective when it came to fear and self-doubt. It also helped me understand the role that faith plays in every decision we make in life. It challenged me as a Believer in Christ and I honestly feel like it’s an amazing book.

What is your favorite quote?

It’s actually a quote of a quote from Dr. Maya Angelou to Oprah Winfrey: “…your legacy is what you do every day. Your legacy is every life you’ve touched, every person whose life was either moved or not. It’s every person you’ve harmed or helped. That’s your legacy.”

Key Learnings:

  • Sierra Hillsman uses her expertise as a licensed associate professional counselor to create content that destigmatizes mental health concerns.
  • In the wake of a pandemic, Sierra Hillsman developed a free two-day digital conference that featured mental health professionals and entrepreneurs as a way to help communities of color explore ways of building mental and emotional resilience during life crises. She had over 200 registrants for this being her first conference hosted.
  • Sierra is a huge proponent of working smarter and not harder and excels at strategies that are of benefit to the communities that she serves. Here “Learn-Serve-Connect-Create” model is what has helped her business and brand grow extensively.
  • Sierra creates safe spaces for her audience to find strength in vulnerability and encourages other clinicians, entrepreneurs, and creatives to improve their holistic well-being.