LC Johnson is one to watch. She is just one of those people that lights up the room when she walks in. Her enthusiasm for business and life are infectious. She is a woman who steps up to any challenge. She truly wants to make the world a better place for all woman, especially women of color. Currently, she is in the process of bringing one of her projects to life, Zora’s House, a co-working and community space located in Columbus, OH. Zora’s House will the be the first space of its kind designed with the specific purpose of helping women of color boldly unleash their gifts to the world
RL: Who are you and what is the magic you bring to the world?
LC: My name is LC and I am a wife, daughter, sister, and friend. As you can see by how I define myself, I feel like the magic for me has everything to do with how I show up in the world in relation to other people. People are mysterious, and crazy, and wonderful. And for me, relating to others is one of the most wonderful parts of being human.
Don’t get me wrong. People and relationships can be frustrating as hell (and often are!) but I find that in relating to others, we have the potential to learn so much about ourselves. I guess for me, that’s the magic. Being able to grow in relation to and because of the awesome people I have in my life, and the awesome opportunity to help them do the same.
RL: What lights you up about your work & the world?
LC: I am a writer, speaker, and entrepreneur but even within the labels, I like to think of myself as someone who creates things that people need. I’m particularly passionate about anything that allows women of color to show up fully in work, love, and life so a lot of my work revolves around that.
What I love most about my work is that it started out very much as a healing journey for myself. But over time, I realized that I wasn’t alone in some of the things that I struggle with. So what started out as a very individual journey has become a vibrant community and a passion for helping others.
As women, we often feel like it is selfish for us to focus on ourselves but as I always say: “A world in which women, especially women of color,” are taught to dream big, completely disregard the status quo, and create lives and careers they love, is a better world for everybody.”
RL: What does being a rebellious leader mean to you?
LC: I think it means being courageous enough to live life on your own terms and being able to inspire others to do the same. The hardest rebellion is the one against what others expect of us.
RL: In the past 3 years you have built a very successful career for yourself (Color Confidential blog, became a national and international speaker (including TedX Talk), nine city college speaking tour and Amazon best seller) yet you went quiet for 6 months. Most leaders are reluctant or afraid to step away from their business for even a week with fear that their customers will lose interest or go away. How did you arrive at the decision to step away for 6 months? What did you learn about yourself and your business during this time? What did you do during this time? Would you recommend other leaders to do this?
LC: Honestly, I didn’t have much of a choice. One thing that I struggled with a lot in my early days as a passionpreneur was feeling like I needed to “prove myself.” Not sure to who. Just feeling as if I needed to show people that my work, and by extension, myself, were worthwhile. This drove me to succeed in some really great ways. But it also made me push myself to my limits and I struggled off and on with burn out.
Couple this with some things going on in my personal life and there came a point last year where I was forced to step back. I didn’t have the energy to move forward. Despite my outward success, I feel exhausted and broken. It took six months of healing and kindness towards myself and my work before I was even in a place to start producing again and connecting to my community.
I learned a lot during this time but I think the most important lesson was that I’m not Superwoman. That I need to rest. That I don’t have anything to prove. And that if you build a business you love, but a life you hate (because you’re stressed all the time, disconnected from family and friends, etc.) than you’re still not living the life that was meant for you.
RL: What quote or mantra do you live by?
LC: I love this quote by Marianne Williamson. Most people only know a piece of it but the quote in its entirety is everything I believe about life, work, and faith:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
RL: Who are your mentors and sources of inspiration?
LC: My mom, definitely. She was one of my first role models and continues to be to this day. She’s definitely one of the bravest, kindest, funniest, and most brilliant people I have ever met. She’s always been such a trailblazer and a total badass in whatever work she set her mind to and I admire her strength and her courage. Also my husband for being one of the most thoughtful people I have ever met. I admire his integrity so much – everything he does, he does it to the best of his ability.
I do admire certain celebrities and historical figures but I find that my biggest inspiration from people who I know personally. For me to really find you a source of inspiration, it’s not just about what you’ve accomplished – it’s about the type of person you are, day in and day out. I need to know the person you are when the chips are down. How do you treat people who can do nothing for you? Those are the kind of things I admire in a person and it’s hard to know that without REALLY knowing somebody.
RL: Best piece of advice ever received?
LC: “Don’t try to get 5X7 advice from somebody with a 3×5 experience.” In other words, don’t ask advice from someone whose life you don’t admire and wish to emulate. A mentor gave me this advice in college when I found myself frustrated by the lack of resonate career advice on my college campus.
Everyone kept telling me that I needed to be more realistic or just look at me with a blank stare when I told them that I didn’t want to have a traditional 9-5 career. Finally my mentor was like, “Why are you looking for advice on non traditional careers from people who have extremely traditional careers?” And that really clicked for me.
I’m not saying that you can only get advice from people who think like you but don’t get discouraged by folks whose world view is smaller than yours, telling you to be smaller. Never shrink yourself to make someone else comfortable.
RL: Worst piece of advice ever received?
LC: Hmm… this may sound crazy but I don’t think I’ve ever taken any bad advice. I’m a pretty intuitive person so I have a hard time doing something unless I really believe it’s the right thing. Now that’s gotten me into some trouble over the years when what I thought was right was actually wrong/stupid/misguided but in general the only bad advice I take is my own. Lol
RL: Currently reading?
LC: Blue Ocean Strategy by Renée Mauborgne and W. Chan Kim
Things I Should Have Told My Daughter by Pearl Cleage
RL: What is something the world would be surprised to know about you?
LC: Most people don’t know this about me but I’m actually an introvert. If you read my writing or meet me in person, you’ll notice that I’m loud as hell, love to laugh, and connect easily with folks online and off. But I need a lot of time to myself to recharge. My outgoing personality is definitely tempered by my need for space and alone time!
RL: Where can we stalk, I mean find you?
LC: My podcast Black, Married, and Hustling is a great place to find me. It’s a behind the scenes look at my life as a passionpreneur. I’m paring down my social media but I’m most active on Instagram and occasionally Facebook.
Bonus Question: What are 5 things you can’t live without?
Aaaaaand that’s pretty much it for me. Lol
LC Johnson is an award winning blogger, entrepreneur, educator, and activist and the creator. She is the author of the Amazon best selling book, Colored Girl Confidential, and the executive producer of the podcast Black, Married, and Hustling – the first podcast of it’s kind to go behind the scenes of a one woman business as it is being created in real time.
LC can usually be found reading, writing, or watching HGTV with her husband and dog, Huey. To date, she has trained more than 500 women on the subjects of blogging, branding, new media, and entrepreneurship, and, at the end of 2013, Campbell’s Soup Co. named her one of the top five innovative leaders of her generation.