Believe in yourself- Not everyone will support you, and some might even try to make you feel you aren’t worthy. Trust yourself and know that you are worthy.
Inthis interview series, we are exploring the subject of resilience among successful business leaders. Resilience is one characteristic that many successful leaders share in common, and in many cases, it is the most important trait necessary to survive and thrive in today’s complex market.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Athalia Monae. Athalia is the ALAHTA hairbrush pouch innovator and author of “Why the Secrets”.
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your backstory?
Yes, thank you for having me. I used to wrap my comb in a paper towel and place it in my purse. The objective was to prevent stray hair and hair products from transferring from my comb to the interior of my bag. Although the paper towel served its purpose, it wasn’t my ideal solution for my need, but it worked at the time. I preferred a pouch or case to store my hairbrush or comb while having it in my purse. Some cases exist, but they only accommodate one shape, one size comb, or brush. My hairbrushes and combs vary in shapes and sizes, from a wig brush, paddle brush, rake tail comb to a wide-tooth comb, and I needed a case or pouch that could store either one of these shapes. After an extensive search and not finding what I was looking for, I designed and patented my own.
Can you share with us the most exciting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
One of the most interesting stories so far has been a situation I had with the first patent attorney I hired. He and I had a few conversations where we discussed in-depth the product design that I was interested in filing a patent application for and the patent classification he felt would be best for my product. This particular attorney was one of three attorneys I contacted. I asked them all if they could provide references, but they all told me they couldn’t give out clients personal information, which was understandable. One of them provided me with the business website of his most recent client. I reached out to her and asked about her experience working with him so far. She spoke highly of him and his staff. She told me he had done everything he was supposed to have done so far. After talking with that client, I decided that that’s the attorney I would like to file my patent application. I contacted his office, but at that time, he wasn’t available. After leaving my contact information, I waited to hear back. About three weeks had passed without me hearing anything from his office, so I decided to work with one of the other attorneys. I started the application process with this attorney. Some time had passed without hearing anything regarding any next steps, status, etc. Over the next 2–3 weeks, I attempted to contact this attorney via phone and email, with no follow-up. To make a long story short, I paid the attorney and application fees and provided everything the attorney requested. I was advised the filing of the application would then start. After finally speaking with the attorney, I found out that wasn’t the case. I requested my money back in full. I received it. Two days after receiving my refund from the first attorney, the office of the attorney I wanted to work with initially contacted me. We immediately started the application process.
After I started the application process with the new attorney, the designer and I talked about the unfortunate incident with the first attorney. The designer asked the name of my current attorney. After telling him the attorney’s name, he told me I was in good hands. He and this attorney worked together in the past. Hearing this solidified what the attorney’s client shared with me, which made me sigh of relief. Three years later, I received my patent. My takeaway from this experience is to have patience. Having patience can save us from unnecessary, frustrating negative experiences. Another takeaway is to listen to your gut feelings. The gut feeling I had was signaling something other than patience, but I ignored it. In the end, everything worked out.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
ALAHTA is a new business, but I strive to provide excellent customer service, more than anything. Excellent customer service is critical to me, whether I’m the consumer or the merchant. I want my customers to have a great experience. I’ve sold some of my product in person, just by chance. I enjoyed my interaction with those few customers. We had a brief but pleasant conversation about my product and why I designed it. Being able to connect with your customers is always good for business.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
I know you asked for a person, but God is that person for me. I’ve always worked hard for whatever my children and I wanted or needed. I have always been a great person, pleasant and caring, but some people wanted others to see me as the total opposite. Because of this, they created baseless, degrading, and vicious rumors regarding me. I’m grateful to God for the strength, self-love, resilience, talents, and curiosity that I have within me. I’m just as thankful for being able to appreciate that I’ve lived a life where these non-truths NEEDED to have been created about me because telling the truth, although not perfect, wouldn’t have been as bad. These rumors could have broken me, in multiple ways, but they didn’t. God’s guidance helped me along the way and is the only reason I am where I am today. Being able to put things into perspective is one of the places where I’ve gotten my strength. As long as you’re doing right, it doesn’t matter what anyone has to say; continue to do right. Stand firm in your truth and be comfortable and happy with who you are.
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. We would like to explore and flesh out the trait of resilience. How would you define resilience? What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?
I would define resilience as being able to bounce back from difficult experiences as quickly as they surfaced. Courageous, perseverance, mental strength, willpower, endurance, goal-oriented, and a can-do attitude are all characteristics of resilient people.
Has there ever been a time that someone told you something was impossible, but you did it anyway? Can you share the story with us?
After I decided to apply for a patent for my idea, I shared my intentions with a few people. One of them told me she felt I wouldn’t receive a patent for my product. She wasn’t nasty or disrespectful about it, though. I asked her why she felt that way, based on what? She didn’t give me a specific reason as to why. She just felt a product like mine wouldn’t be eligible for a patent. I continued working on that project. I’m optimistic about most things, so someone feeling like I was wasting my time didn’t make me second guess if I should continue applying for the patent. I had my prototype constructed, met with an attorney, then a designer, had my ups and downs, learned some lessons, and in the end, I received my patent. Someone doubting my efforts was not my focus. I firmly believed in my idea. The worst that could have happened was, I failed after trying, but I wasn’t going to fail by allowing someone to discourage me. Do not allow your critics to distract or discourage you.
Did you have a time in your life where you had one of your greatest setbacks, but you bounced back from it stronger than ever? Can you share that story with us?
Yes, and it was self-inflicted. I’m very hands-on with anything I do. There was a time when I worked on multiple projects, and I was trying to do it all alone. I loved it, though. I loved every aspect of what I was doing, no matter what the task entailed. I was learning a lot while building relationships. Trying to do it all also caused me to miss some great opportunities. After I noticed that my efforts could be more fruitful if I hired people to help out, that’s what I did. After I started delegating, things began to pick up.
Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Can you share a story?
Growing up, I had a simple life, but I would say, a horrible relationship I was involved in, in my early twenties contributed to building my resiliency. After that relationship ended, I became more assertive, more steadfast, and more confident. I learned my self-worth. The older I got, the more I loved and appreciated myself. I knew what I deserved and what I would no longer accept. I knew if I felt disrespected and unappreciated, then that’s a relationship I don’t want. That applies to any relationship. I never reverted to that young lady who didn’t know her worth. That experience shaped me in so many other areas of my life.
Resilience is like a muscle that can be strengthened. In your opinion, what are 5 steps that someone can take to become more resilient? Please share a story or an example for each.
*Be your own biggest cheerleader- It’s always nice to have support, but no one should be cheering for you more than you cheer for yourself.
*Stay focused on your objective- Don’t allow distractions to cause you to lose focus.
*Redirect- What you tried initially may not work, but that doesn’t mean you give up. Try something different.
*Be grateful- Don’t only be thankful when things are going your way; learn how to appreciate some of the negative things as well. Use them to evolve.
*Believe in yourself- Not everyone will support you, and some might even try to make you feel you aren’t worthy. Trust yourself and know that you are worthy.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Wow, good one. Some people have a false sense of entitlement. They’re not as grateful for what they have because they’re not aware of how truly blessed they are. I’m thankful that I don’t know what it feels like not to have my mental, physical or terminal health. If I could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, I would encourage everyone to understand that when you wake up in the morning, with your physical, terminal, and mental health, that’s a form of wealth, as far as I’m concerned. It shouldn’t be taken for granted because not everyone has their overall health. It’s human nature to want more than what we have, but understanding that not everyone has their overall health, but you do, should make you more grateful. This realization should put things into perspective for you. All the other great things will follow. If we valued stuff like this more, things that money and power aren’t attached to, I believe our society would be better.
We are blessed that some very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them 🙂
Yes, Sarah Blakely, because we both created a product for women out of a need. There’s one thing I would love to pick her brain about.