We had the good fortune of connecting with Ashley Gay-Johnson and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Ashley, what habits do you feel helped you succeed?
“Taking time to smell the roses” a quote that we would here after our high school teams would win a game. Our high school principal would grant us with an additional 5 minutes of socialization time as we walk from home room to 1st period. During this time we would gather in the quad and hang out with our friends. Those 5 mins were important as a teenager and now that I am an adult, they are even more important to me. I have learned how to take a step back when I am feeling overwhelmed with business and personal matters. It is during those times that I am reminded to “Take time to smell the roses.” Being an entrepreneur it is very important to find time for yourself and those that you love. Having this time has allowed me to be more creative because I am not inundated with emails, phone calls, employees, etc. I have found that this time is very imperative because I need my mind to be free so that I can clearly see and think about where the business is headed. As a visionary, I am a firm believer in “Writing the Vision and Making It Plain”. This is the second habit that has helped me with my success as an entrepreneur. Everything literally started with an idea in my mind, once the idea came into my spirit I was then able to put the pen to paper. It is okay to write what your expectations are in life and in doing so make sure that you are very specific in your expectations. Your list will then serve as a guide that will ultimately help lead you to the next level in life. I wrote the vision and made in plain on the type of husband I wanted i.e. characteristics, traits, height, etc., the type of home that I wanted i.e. number of rooms, full basement with a fenced in back yard, level of spirituality and education. As new things come to me in the middle of the day or night, I jot them down in my phone so that I won’t forget. As of 6/9/2020, I have received almost everything, about 85%, of what I have written down, it truly works. As for the other 15%, I am waiting with expectancy on those to arrive. While waiting with expectancy, I have activated my “Faith”. Faith is literally the main habit that I rely on the most. It has been my guiding force and has helped me to become more successful than I could ever imagine and this is only the tip of the iceberg. Whenever I am discouraged, I lean on my faith to get me through. I am reminded of how situations have always worked on out in my favor at the end. Those constant reminders are what keep me going. The habit of “Knowing Thyself” will help you to quickly recover from misfortunes. I will read or listen to self-help books, spirituality books, sought out therapy for old wounds, etc. As you discover who you are will start to surround yourself with more likeminded individuals. Last but not least, “Take the Time to Heal”. This means a great deal to me as well. I have to protect my inner man from the world and in order to do so I take the necessary steps to heal and then proceed.

Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Our nonprofit organizations offer nutrition and youth development programs within the State of Georgia and Tennessee. It all started with a vision and this vision happened after I had been fired from 3 teaching jobs for not fitting into their “box” with my teaching methodology. It was at that moment where the light bulb went off. I had taught for 5 years and knew that I wanted my own school so that we could have more flexibility in how we reach and teach our youth. Was it easy? No, it was not easy but it was definitely worth it. It wasn’t truly hard either because everything fell into place even in the midst of things being turned upside down around me. The right people showed up and invested into the business concept and we went from there. That is how I know that it was truly aligned with my purpose. How did I overcome the challenges? Although many setbacks happened, I never lost focus and remained determined, therefore, I kept going and didn’t stop. I have learned a lot of valuable lessons along the way. I have learned that you simply cannot bring everyone on your journey because this journey was not meant for everyone. I have also learned how to speak less around certain people because people can be naysayers and may not truly understand your vision and will cast doubt. If I hung around a bunch of naysayers then we wouldn’t be where we are today. The biggest lesson that I have learned this year is how to be flexible especially with operating a business during the Coronavirus pandemic. As for knowing me, I am a true Aries at heart, a fierce & compassionate leader & educator, direct and adventurous. Traveling is my escape and I absolutely love to travel with my family!!

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
If you would have asked me this question while in my 20’s and early 30’s I would have been able to tell you about every hot spot in the Old Atlanta & Buckhead. Now that I am well into my 30’s I have to conduct research to find places to go. With that being said, we would have stayed in a rental downtown or on the outskirts of the city. We would visit the MLK Center and house, Punch bowl social Atlanta Bad Axe throwing, iFLY pretty much anything adventurous. We would go to one of the local lakes so that we could relax on boat while on the water, run out to Chateau Elan for a wine tour. As for the eateries, I would like to try new restaurants within the city since most of the ones from my childhood no longer exist.   

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I have always had the support of my mom (Joyce), dad (Wayne) and brother (Wayne Jr) from early on. As the years progressed I have received the support of my husband (Lorenzo Jr) and 2 sons (Seth and Noah) along with a host of relatives & friends. Over the time, I have gained great mentors such as Marvlet Cox, Shana Thornton, Dr Elenora Woods and a host of others. These individuals have shared a lot of business advice with me over the years and I am forever grateful for it. They have shown me that I am not in this alone and that there are genuine people out there who truly care about our mission and vision.

Website: www.risingphoenixinc.org www.standinginthegapyouthfoundation.org
Instagram: @risingphoenixenrichmentprogram @standinginthegapyouthfoundatio
Linkedin: Ashley Johnson
Twitter: @RisingProgram @StandingINC
Facebook: @risingphoenixinc @StandingInTheGapYF