Exclusive Interview with Dr. Geneva J. Williams
Today we’d like to introduce you to Dr. Geneva J. Williams.
It’s an honor to speak with you today. Why don’t you give us some details about you and your story. How did you get to where you are today?
It all began on the Jersey Shore, surrounded by a caring community, and raised by parents who were civil rights activists. Watching my parents create opportunities for others and experiencing the compassion of the adults in my life inspired me to pursue a career in nonprofit work. For forty years, I led organizations, built community initiatives, and raised millions of dollars to bring about positive change in schools, neighborhoods, and communities. During my time working for others, I dreamed of starting my own business that could bring about such transformational change on a larger scale.
My journey took a difficult turn when I lost both my husband of 40 years to cancer and my parents within months of each other. My life seemed to pause, then end, and I lost my voice. That is, until one night, when reading their obituaries, the dash between the years of their birth and death jumped out at me. It was an Aha! moment revealing that meaning and purpose are what we do “in the dash.” The “dash” captures the love, laughter, moments of joy, and sorrows spent together. And it’s a reminder of the impact that my loved ones and all of us have on the world by the way we live our lives.
This realization ignited a new energy inside of me of personal growth and discovery which led me to start Dr. Geneva Speaks – my own business that empowers leaders to create greater impact for a better life and world.
I’m sure your success has not come easily. What challenges have you had to overcome along the way?
The road was not easy. One of the struggles was going through the grief process while starting a business. I had to learn how to balance mourning and being a new entrepreneur. I had to figure out how to start my own business while also transitioning from a steady employer paycheck to entrepreneurial pay. Another challenge was starting my business in my late 60s and without the help of my husband, who was my biggest supporter and a successful business owner.
I also struggled with self-doubt and fear of failure in running a business until I realized that I had been running multiple organizations for years, managing million-dollar budgets, and getting start-ups off the ground, all while being a wife and raising three beautiful children. Many female entrepreneurs and executives today experience the same “confidence gap” and handle multiple priorities like I did.
As a skilled leader who has faced difficulties and broken new ground in a variety of areas, I understand the importance of confidence and work-life balance in achieving success and living your best life.That’s one reason why I use the wealth of knowledge, unique insights, and strategies I’ve gained over the course of my career and life to help entrepreneurs and executives overcome challenges and become confident, powerful leaders.
Let’s talk about the work you do. What do you specialize in and why should someone work with you over the competition?
As a seasoned leader and expert in leadership and personal development, I understand the unique challenges women leaders and nonprofit organizations face. My company, Dr. Geneva Speaks, specializes in coaching, business and nonprofit consulting, and training to assist leaders in overcoming obstacles and achieving impactful goals.
I’ve encountered yet overcome many of the same challenges my clients face today, thanks to my 40 years of hands-on experience and knowledge as a CEO, school superintendent, nonprofit leader, and “juggling all balls” wife and mother. I understand what it takes to succeed and used my experiences to create the What’s Next FormulaTM. This time-tested, 5-step process helps leaders discover their direction, reach higher levels of confidence and income, and design their best, most vibrant life ever.
My journey as the first African American and woman of many titles throughout my career makes me a relatable and inspiring coach, particularly for women seeking success strategies.
I’m honored to have received numerous awards and appointments that demonstrate my dedication and expertise, including recognition from Crain’s Business as one of Detroit’s most influential women and as a Notable Nonprofit Leader, from the National Association of Women Business Owners as a leading Michigan businesswoman, and recognition from the Urban League as the Distinguished Warrior Award for lifetime achievement. The governor of Michigan appointed me as vice chair of the Michigan Women’s Commission. In addition, I earned a doctorate in educational leadership from Wayne State University, and am a Goldman Sachs 10K Small Business Program alum.
What’s your best piece of advice for readers who desire to find success in their life?
My best advice to those seeking success and fulfillment is to focus on developing self-awareness and laying a solid foundation of confidence and resilience. Setting clear goals, creating a personal strategic plan, and continually improving your self-esteem and communication skills are all part of this.
Take the time to learn about your strengths, vulnerabilities, values, and beliefs. Knowing yourself will help you discover your authenticity and what motivates and drives you. Trusting and knowing you also boosts your self confidence. Please know that nobody is born with self-assurance. It is a concept that you learn and grow into throughout your life. Take steps to build your confidence, and you’ll find it easier to trust yourself.
Define your vision and set attainable, tangible, and time-bound goals to stay focused and motivated as you work toward your goals. Surround yourself with positive people who uplift, support, and inspire you.
Take care of yourself. Prioritize your physical and mental well-being, as this will make it possible for you to be your best self in all aspects of your life.
Remember to believe in your own magic – you have unique talents and abilities that set you apart; don’t be afraid to use your magic to build the life you love.
And don’t forget – Success is defined not only by what you accomplish but also by how you live your life and your impact on others.
Speaking of success, what does the word mean to you?
To me, success is a balance of finding joy and spreading joy. When I find joy, it means I know who I am. I recognize my purpose and strive to achieve personal and professional goals. I’m motivated and committed to live a meaningful life doing what truly makes me happy.
Bringing joy, on the other hand, is equally important. I believe that success is defined by personal accomplishments and by what I can do for others. Success means being able to contribute and have a positive impact on the world with my time, talent, and resources. It is about sharing my knowledge and abilities. Being able to bring joy means understanding how I can help in ways no one else can and applying that knowledge to assist people and organizations in achieving their goals.
Success is about living meaningfully and purposefully, finding joy and happiness in everything we do, and making a difference through our contributions. It’s more than just achieving our goals; success is about living a vibrant life that fills the time between birth and death with meaningful experiences. Finally, I believe the key to success is to leave behind a joyful, loving, and inspiring legacy.
What’s next for you?
I’ll keep working to help women in leadership and nonprofit organizations find their magic and use it to do even more good. Through workshops, courses, digital products, and my What’s Next FormulaTM, I hope to reach hundreds of leaders and help them build a life of confidence, impact, and well-being.
I will continue to speak on important issues, mainly providing thought leadership on my concept of vibrant leadership. Effective leaders must cultivate a supportive and collaborative environment to inspire others to work toward common goals and visions. Vibrant leadership goes a step further by emphasizing the value of self-care, personal presence, and a positive, confident mindset. Vibrant leadership recognizes that these factors are critical to maintaining energy and momentum over time and influencing real change.
I’ll continue to host the Ignite2Impact podcast on iTunes and iHeart Radio, bringing critical perspectives and voices on leadership and how we can build better neighborhoods and communities.
I’ve authored eight books and will continue to write. I am passionate about living a vibrant life, celebrating my Golden Soror status with Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., and spoiling my five grandchildren. And, at the age of 70, I’m proof that success and impact have no expiration date.
Finally, how can people connect with you if they want to learn more?
You can contact me in a variety of ways if you want to learn more about my work and how I can help you achieve greater impact and success. To begin, you can go to www.drgenevaspeaks.com
where you’ll find a wealth of information about my services, background, and mission.
You can also join my VibrantpreneurTM email community to receive regular newsletters and updates. Just visit my website at www.drgenevaspeaks.com
You can also find me on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn, where I go by the handle @drgenevaspeaks.
If you want to connect with other like-minded women, I invite you to join my Extraordinary Women Influencers Facebook Group (www.facebook.com/groups/extraordinarywomeninfluencers). This is a welcoming community where women can connect, collaborate, and share their knowledge and experiences.
You can visit my Amazon Author page at www.amazon.com/author/genevawilliams
So, whether you need coaching, training, or just some inspiration, I’m here to help. Get in touch with me today. I look forward to meeting you.