Isa Adney is a Community College Superstar and has been able to transform what she considered to be a negative situation into a life-changing one. Isa began community college crying in the advising office, but by the end of it, she had won the $110,000 Jack Kent Cooke scholarship. Her journey during that time inspired her to share her secrets of success with other eager students looking to find direction in their lives. Her book Community College Success was published in March of 2012 and she is now a full-time speaker, author, and consultant.She was the first in her family to graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree and has her Masters of Education from the University of Illinois and has gone on to write or national publications, make television appearances and speak to groups of students and education advocates nation-wide.
In December 2010 when I decided to start CommunityCollegeSuccess.com. I wanted to write a book on the subject, and read that publishers now require non-fiction authors to have a platform before they’ll even be considered. So I became intentional in order to get published. I never imagined it could have turned into a full-time job.How much time, money and energy do you invest to continue building a solid brand?
I invest all my time in it now, as it is my full time job. I love it! Every decision I make in my business, whether it’s what to post on Facebook or whether or not to take a new consulting client, I always think about how it aligns with my brand and mission. If it doesn’t, I say no.
What has been the greatest opportunity you have been offered?
The greatest opportunity has been to consult with Pearson Students and be the ambassador for the One Professor campaign. That consulting job was what allowed me to make the jump to do this full time. I am so thankful.
How did you get started?
It all started with an idea during my first job out of college. Being immersed working in the community college and being with students illuminated the idea to write the book. I then started by reading every book about getting published. That led to books on blogging and branding and speaking. I’m still reading, and the books are still bringing results.
What keeps you going?
Meeting college students. Just seeing the hope and hard work in their eyes reminds me that there is great human potential out there that is in danger of not being met if these students don’t have the money or, more importantly, someone who believes in them. Their determination and intelligence fuels me daily.
What is your typical day like?
I start every day with a protein shake, tea, and my morning routine, which consists of reading my goals, writing in my journal, learning a new English and Spanish word of the day, and reading a non-fiction book or SUCCESS magazine for 15-30min. I then go to the gym or do Zumba on my Wii. Then it’s time for work! I start my listing my top 3 priorities for the day on my to do list and start cracking down on those before I get to e-mail. Then it’s a mix of phone calls, meetings, writing blogs, working on my second book, traveling to speak, hosting, and social media. I try to stop for a real lunch break and then stop work at a decent hour. I love ending the day with some of my favorite new shows like Downton Abbey or New Girl.
How did you garner press coverage and media attention?
I hired a publicist when my book came out, so she was wonderful and was the reason I got so many local shows and even a national show. The rest has come from speaking gigs and people finding me through my blog or YouTube.
What were the steps you took in college to help get you into the position you are in now?
I worked really hard, networked, and tried to keep options open. If you had asked me in college what I wanted to do, I could have never conceived what I’m doing right now. I always knew that to find work I loved I needed to have options, so my focus was always doing my best, learning a lot, and doing whatever I could to have as many options as possible in the areas of work that I found really interesting. The steps to get where I am now, directly, really started when I had been working full-time for a few years and started to understand more about the current needs in community colleges and how I could help through my writing.
Personal Branding Ah-ha moment:
When I realized my brand is more than me. It can be hard to have a personal brand at times, especially if you’re not a naturally outgoing person or someone who loves attention. I am actually quite introverted, so sometimes I felt hesitant to put myself out there and have a brand all about “me.” It seemed so self-involved. But after great feedback from mentors and even my husband, I realized that while the brand is me, it is much more than that. I represent something, something I believe in, that community college students matter, and that is always something worth sharing, growing, and celebrating.
Essential Business Tip:
Build genuine relationships with people. Opportunities happen through people, but not when people feel like they are being used. If you can’t be personal with someone, it’s not worth reaching out. Being personal takes a lot of extra time, but it is always time well invested, both for business opportunities, more more importantly, for real friendships.