Tonika Bruce is a Florida-based award-winning nurse, business leader and serial entrepreneur. Her vibrant personality and go-getter attitude has always been the drive for her success and winning in life. Her entrepreneurial projects started at an early age when she became a professional speaker and sales coach, and built a six-figure income-generating marketing and sales company with over 800 sales representatives.
The success of this business was a monumental accomplishment that defined her leadership and entrepreneurial potential, despite what life was about to bring her way.
Left with only 50 dollars in her pocket and two choices, the 9/11 tragedy proved devastating to her business, as it did with many others, and she knew the one decision she had to make- it did not involve throwing in the towel. Encouraged by previous achievements, she went on to learn other industries, inclusive of restaurant & hospitality management, financial collections and business consulting. Tonika would eventually return to her love of coaching and winning, and became a basketball trainer and coach. She went on to enjoy a colorful sports coaching career, winning five championships in a single season, and amassing a total of over 35 championships in her lifetime; cementing her role as a coach and leader.
Bruce became a registered nurse, earned her Master’s Degree in Nursing, and is currently pursuing her doctorate. Today, she brings her coaching and business consulting experience into the professional world by developing teams and leaders through training excellence; both in the healthcare and business industries.
She started companies such as Lead Nicely, Inc. and The Network Nurse, with the mission to share her experiences and help professionals explore their passion while building their leadership and businesses. She also helps leaders and organizations with missions of helping people, establish an online presence, launch products, explore entrepreneurship. Tonika also offers excellent mentorship, and develops startups that convert within one year of operation.
Tonika is the published author of successful personal development books; Limitless Success and Relentless Pursuit, and the upcoming book series, Thrudemic, a projected viral bestselling series of the post pandemic era.
Tonika is passionate about building people by helping them find their life’s gifts and purpose. As a result, her business endeavors focus on both personal and business mentorship. In her current leadership positions, her mission is to transform any space she is associated with, with four core values; teamwork, excellence, leadership, and passion.
Where did the idea for Lead Nicely come from?
The idea of Lead Nicely Inc. came from my purpose – to “lead people.” As a young child, my revelation was “to be nice to people”, so I held on to that for many years. Nicely to the world represents purpose, purity, development, and the building up/training up of others. Besides that, the world needs leaders, and we need nice people, even more than we need leaders. So when we lead, Lead Nicely!
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My typical day starts at 4 am with the exception of Mondays where I am up a bit earlier at 3.30 am, beating most of the world up. This enables me to prepare my mind, body, and spirit before the world demands my attention and time. It also adds an extra 2-3 hours of productive work time, before many even think of beginning their day. After my morning routine, I guide myself using a 3×5 notecard, and it lists the things that I must do, who I should follow up with, etc. Many of these things are meetings, discussions with my team on a goal or project we are working to perfect. Personal development is also a key part of my day, so I block off time for that. At the end of the work day, I try to spend as much time with my family as possible. My kids are actively into activities, and they could care less about if I am in school, writing a book, or building websites or businesses. They simply command their time. Since I really enjoy what I do, it is very difficult not to go back to work or go to sleep, but it also makes me that much more excited to get up every morning.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Much of it is my gift, really. The rest starts with dreaming. I carry around a notebook and a pencil everywhere I go. I write everything down to visualize and map out strategic plans. Also, I bounce many things off of mentors; the ones that have already gone through similar challenges or thoughts. Then I also surround myself with a great team to execute them. I believe that without a great team, I am literally arming myself with a sinking fund!
What’s one trend that excites you?
I would have to say the evolution of Telehealth. This solution has seen an increase in efficiency, improves collaboration, and prepares the health system for the next phase of virtual care by allowing third parties to join the dialogue and allowing screen sharing. This has mainly escalated due to the pandemic but nonetheless it has proven that there is still enough room for innovation in healthcare. This is key, with the need for more mental health care and required support. This gets me so excited because I run a digital marketing company, which places me at an advantage because I understand the systems and organization of many healthcare facilities and how the digital space plays a key role.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
The one habit that comes to mind is reading emails at the end of the day rather than at the beginning of the day. As seen in an earlier question, my day starts pretty early and earlier on in my career, I would read my emails at the beginning of the day and I realized that it took a lot of time. This has helped me tremendously with time, allowing me to get things done early in the morning, especially now that I run a global team and several businesses ventures.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Do not be afraid to embrace your gifts and talents, everyone does not have the same desire and hunger, and that is ok, keep moving. Also, have one job that pays your bills and one that can fund your passion, so that you can always pursue it, without money being a deciding factor of success or not.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Anyone can be a leader. Some people believe that leadership is an innate skill, or that men lead better than women, but I think otherwise. Leaders do not always have the same process, but I think that having the right mindset, and the proper mentor can inspire anyone to grow to become a great leader.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Getting my mind and body to the highest possible self, first thing in the morning. I recommend everyone to get up early! This habit allows me to reflect, dream, and obsess over the details and intricacies of all key aspects of my life. I always revisit my “why” so I feel grateful and focused on what I am currently doing. I also make sure that before I start my day and interact with others, that I am grounded, and I am operating in my purpose, passion, and faith. Early mornings help me prepare well for my day, motivating me to position myself ahead of change and others around me. This morning ritual clears my mind and makes me focus on my tasks and business.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Growing positive relationships. Not only with my clients and partners but also with everyone I interact with. Whether a previous employee, a janitor, or a neighbor, I believe that everyone should be treated with respect. Nurturing relationships helps you grow in business. Those same relationships encourage people to recommend your services to others. If people remember a positive interaction with you, when they meet people who need your services, you are often the first person who comes to their mind. So I encourage everyone, especially entrepreneurs, to always nurture their relationships.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I have had a ton of failures. But one of my biggest failures that left a huge impact on me was, when I was 22 years old, I thought I was “big stuff.” I spent and invested a lot to grow my business, then when a disaster came, I was cut down to my last dollars. In fact, I couldn’t even spare to buy a week of ramen noodles. That’s when it all hit me – that I never prepared for the future. I didn’t save enough, didn’t share with the church, nor others in need. I just invested in higher risk things, spending more to make more, growing so fast that I couldn’t duplicate myself quickly enough. Seeing both sides of the spectrum allowed me to understand that money gives us leverage but it absolutely means nothing if I am not using it for its intended purpose. That was a pivotal moment of growth. I realized that regardless of finances and personal vision, I should pursue my purpose first and passion will be evident.
In all of that, service, leadership, and love for others must remain my motivation, so even if money is not there, I am still intrinsically fulfilled.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Create a company that allows you to invest in learning and growth of digital marketing, the same as you would REITs. There is a lot in that space that anyone can take advantage of, especially if it is done collectively. Many people are not interested in producing content, blogging, or affiliate marketing and even social media marketing, but they would invest in it, because the opportunities in this field are endless.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I started a network marketing business. I believe network marketing is so underrated. You can gain so much within your networks. Networking pushes you out of your comfort zone and builds your self-confidence. I have been able to open so many doors, build a good return, and grow just by exchanging information and expanding my circle, both personally and professionally.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Basecamp. I work a lot with remote staff. Basecamp has enabled me to easily track assigned tasks and the progress of my employees without having to actually ask what it is that I am doing at the moment. It is easy to track projects and it is well organized. It allows me to assign tasks and receive communication from my remote teams.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
The Inner Game of Tennis: The Classic Guide to the Mental Side of Peak Performance. This book is more than about the actual game of tennis, and I highly recommend it because it teaches us that we can hinder our own performance by doing all the wrong things: pushing ourselves and criticizing too hard, constantly wanting to improve but never truly doing so. The book is very instructional, and empowering, and it personally changed my mindset after reading it. It is one of my Top 10 books that I share with others.
What is your favorite quote?
There are so many people who inspire me which makes this really hard to choose. Some of my favorite quotes are:
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” – Mahatma Gandhi
“They may forget your name, but they will always remember how you made them feel” – Maya Angelou
- The true meaning of success can never be tied to any amount of money. It’s about the achievement and accomplishment of your purpose in life.
- Always think about your WHY and let it guide you in your day-to-day life.
- Be ready to face any challenges that come your way, they serve to make you stronger and by not giving up, you effectively learn how to convert your failure to success
- Invest in your team/employees, and relationships, as this will directly translate to productivity and growth.
- Change is inevitable. Be flexible enough to embrace change to avoid being irrelevant.
Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.