We had the good fortune of connecting with Ashley Smith and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ashley, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
Having spent 10 years in medical device sales and 3 years coaching c-suite executives from LinkedIn, Facebook, Google and more with global communications company, Own the Room, my passion for communications only increased. My awareness for voices heard & unheard also become keen & my heart extended to women who conformed to societal expectations which have crippled their ability to strive for excellence over perfection. Feeling inferior, unworthy or not good enough are common emotions most all women have experienced at one point in their life. Whether a minority, trying to climb the corporate ladder or a woman shamed for growing up impoverished and now living on the streets; I had a vision to create an affordable (EVEN FREE) platform for every woman to taste the magic of what it means to believe in herself and what’s possible for her future. My thought process was to create a world of strong confident women who could ASK better questions that will propel them forward in life or business.
What should our readers know about your business?
If you aren’t making mistakes, you aren’t growing. I like to think I’m queen of mistake making and because I’ve made a lot, I’ve learned a lot. I started my career in medical sales, pharma in particular. I quickly transitioned into another medical sales role and then another to shrink my large territory. As a young mom and young professional the juggle of both was often hard. I was of course a minority handling the household duties and running a territory and business between two states. Sometimes venting frustration or just being authentic with people who can’t relate comes across as complaining. It wasn’t long before I found the good ole boy system working against me and I was weeded out and replaced with a close guy friend. That was the first time I was fired and boy it sucked. It hurt my heart and my pride. Soon after I found a job in the OR and I enjoyed the challenge of surgery. I was always in awe of the modern day practices of medicine. It’s amazing how advanced medicine is these days. My family grew, I had two more children and the juggle became even more challenging. This particular organization had no maternity leave and I was quick to voice my thoughts about this lack of care for internal employees. Once again this feedback was not welcomed or tolerated and I found myself on my fired fanny again. It didn’t suck as bad this time because I knew my voice was heard when several other female colleagues left shortly after me on their own accord. I’d speak my mind again and again on this topic and go out in a blaze of glory all over again. The great thing about medical sales is they put you through a lot of personal and professional training. One course that I took was a communications course called Own the Room. What they delivered was pure magic and after I took the course I stayed in close contact with my trainer. I wanted to do what she did. A few years later, we moved to Seattle and I applied to be a communications coach with Own the Room. I landed the job and started coaching C-Suite executives from LinkedIn, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and more. It was a dream job! A trend I quickly noticed was that I was spending a lot of time doing one on one coaching with women within these large corporations. It seemed women held themselves to a higher standard than men often striving for perfection where men were confident in winging their presentations. The more I lifted the hood up of these emotions women experienced the more I realized that this deep feeling of insecurity was conditioned from an early age. The other trend I noticed was that most of these large organizations were in big cities where homelessness was at an all time high. People were often complaining about this but were willing to step over and normalize this major problem. I knew deep within my heart that I had a calling to be a part of the solution and I knew just what I had to do to create it. There was a gap that needed to be bridged and I was the person to do it! That’s when I had the idea for M Perfectly non-profit. People often ask me how can you have create a course that encompasses a message for women in the corporate world and women barely putting one foot in front of the other and living on the streets. It all boils down to one simple message: WOMEN were taught at a young age to sit still, be quiet and look pretty. It is my goal to help corporations retain employees within the corporate world by building self confidence and helping them to ask better questions that propel them forward in life and business while also making a positive impact in the community and empowering women who have never had the opportunity to taste the magic of what it means to believe in themselves and what’s possible for their future. We are different because we are a non-profit. We implement internal training from a charitable givings budget vs. a learning and development budget and we help corporations fulfill their mission by taking the employees we train out into the community to serve, to implement the leadership skills we practice and to empower other women to be courageous. As for the challenges I’ve had to overcome, one word comes to mind PANDEMIC. I started this organization in January of 2020. Little did I know I’d be building a company from the ground up during a global pandemic while having to homeschool three kids under the age of 10.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I’m gonna have to be honest here, there is not just ONE place I can recommend but I can say the US if filled to the brim with MANY wonderful places to visit. When the pandemic hit, we were living in Seattle and in March the school sent out a message saying school was going to close until further notice. This smelt like a vacation to me. I couldn’t reach my hubby as he was on a work trip in Atlanta so I started looking at flights. Y’all, flights to Hawaii were $250 round trip. I booked a week for me and my three kids and figured it was better to ask for forgiveness than permission. We took off the next day and had one hell of a week in Maui! It was to this day one of my favorite trips but then we returned to Seattle and school was still not in. That’s when they decided to close down the world and say school will now be virtual. My kids were in 4th grade, 1st and preschool at the time. There was no way in hell I was going to attempt to have them learn virtually. Heck they couldn’t watch TV without bouncing off the wall after 10 minutes much less try and learn online. So I told my husband it was time for us to live out our dream. Our dream was to travel the US in an airstream and just go see and do. So we sold everything; house, furniture, belongings and loaded up and toured the country. If my best friend asked me where she should go, I would have to say hands down…EXPLORE. Take a year to truly LIVE. You don’t need much to survive much less thrive. We saw so much. We experienced so much and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I can’t say I have a favorite place as every place gives you a different experience. It’s the experiences that are memorable but every place we visited had something magical and wonderous to offer.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Oh, How I love this question. I would not be where I am today without the millions of women who have loved and uplifted me along the way. I’d be doing a disservice to so many if I were to name drop because undoubtedly, I’d leave someone out. One person that I can start with who’s been with me from the beginning is my mother. We don’t always see eye to eye but we have a special bond and a mad respect for one another. My mother was a highly sought after basket ball coach in Atlanta for many years. I believe she had high expectations for her one and only daughter to take up the sport as well but when I played for the first time the only point I scored was for the other team. Needless to say, she her hopes were crushed and I was determined to become her worst nightmare, a cheerleader. Nonetheless, she’s always been a huge fan of mine a strong supporter. She knew my strong will and determination would take me far in life and she’s always encouraged that spirit within me. I’m so grateful to her and all the women who’ve been a part of my journey in discovering me and the gifts I bring to this world.