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Michaela Alexis is a Viral Content Creator, Speaker and commands the attention of millions on LinkedIn. Let’s not forget her LOVE for coffee. She is currently the President of Grade A Digital– a social media agency that offers outsourced social media managed services that include social media strategy, social media training, and content/community management for businesses.
She had her first viral hit article on Linkedin back in March 2016, and has defied the one hit wonder box that people speculated she was going to be. She went from a few hundred to 91,327 followers in a year( at the time of this article), receiving millions of views, comments, shares, and acceptance from the LinkedIn Community
Her articles and advice have since been published on CNBC, Success.com, Shopify, NDC News, Yahoo! Finance, MSN Money and many other media outlets
Michaela, how did this all start ?
I never intended on being an entrepreneur. For me, I believed in working in a team environment and being management. When I graduated, I went into a marketing position and was doing Marketing for about 16 different bars/restaurants.
As I progressed in my career, corporations started realizing the importance of social media and needed help understanding them.
However, it came to a point where every 2 years I felt miserable because I never felt like I had control over my career. I was in an environment where managers felt like they had leverage over me and I felt that I owed them something.
After, I ended up going to work for a startup. However a short time later- I was laid off and that was a big wake up call for me. I valued security so much within a job that I would do anything to avoid being laid off.
While laid off, I was doing a lot of reflecting and was getting job offers but I denied them. I was looking for growth and longevity within a role. I decided to send out 10 emails with my resume and only 1 person opened the email. I figured out that there had to be a better way and I realized I was in control of my choices.
I started writing on LinkedIn about my dream job, social media, career advice and people were gravitated towards my writing and supported it. My boss at that time- who is now my business partner in Grade A Digital( a subsidiary of Grade A IT) saw the article and hired me for Grade A IT in a Marketing role- a position they created.
Grade A Digital was born out of opportunities I was getting from companies who wanted me to help them explode their social media like I did with mine.
I never intended on being an Influencer or getting millions of views on my content. My intention was to help other people and give them hope to overcome their problems and turn their life around.
I realized the more I was sharing my problems and experiences on LinkedIn, I was going through a mental cleanse of built up emotional baggage and I wanted others to experience this feeling of relief.
What inspired you to co-create the #LetsGetHonest campaign ?
Everyone has a fear of being judged. Everyone has flaws and mistakes and we over analyze them. All people need is an outlet to voice there problems so they could feel a sense of relief and acceptance not only from people but internally accept themselves holistically.
What are 3 things you look for when hiring candidates ?
- Practical Ambition- people could read all the books they want, watch all the videos they want but if they don’t have a sense of purpose or personal/professional goals to help them grow- it will be difficult for them to succeed.
- Transparency- every week, we have a meeting talking about personal challenges and improvements we could make as a company and personally. We make sure to expand communication lines and have a free flowing sense of honesty embedded within our culture.
- Coffee Drinker- if you drink tea by any chance- I am not hiring you…. Just kidding but it’s fun to hang out with people who drink coffee
How can people collaborate with you or pitch you to do business ?
It has to make sense for both parties and be mutually beneficial. I get asked to have coffee so people could speak with me however they are not prepared. Time is everyone’s valuable asset and if you don’t respect their time- you are doing them a disservice and may not get their time again.
Here’s what I’ll tell you:
- Don’t pitch while sending your invitation request on LinkedIn.
- Don’t beat around the bush, be direct and tell me what you want. Be concise, grab my attention and get to the point.
- Know what questions you want to ask me.
How did you start your speaking career ?
I am shy and I break out in hives atleast once a day. When I was younger, I would love dancing and performing in front of people. I loved sharing ideas and I had more awards than anyone else in my English and French classes.
I believe in sharing my message and I want people to understand what LinkedIn has done for me. This isn’t a cliché statement but this is reality. LinkedIn launched the next phase of my career and helped me land many opportunities.
It is my responsibility to share the importance of building a personal brand with people. A personal brand is your career insurance policy and you are able to work more fearlessly.
If tomorrow, I went out of business, I am not worried because I know I have a personal brand that I can leverage to pursue other opportunities.
If tomorrow was your last day on Earth, what 3 pieces of advice do you have for people ?
- Don’t take life too seriously- problems come and go, people will hurt you, you’ll get laid off, lose deals, lose money, have loved ones die, and other problems in life. At the end of the day, when it’s all said and done, make use of the of time you have in this world. If you had a bad day today, you can start fresh tomorrow
“Be so good they can’t ignore you”- Doubters told me I would be a 1 hit wonder. Guess what ? I am still here and going strong on LinkedIn
- People won’t judge you for what you feel but what you do. No one cares about your feelings- whether you’re nervous, scared, sad- people don’t know. You could be the most confident person on stage but feel nervous on the inside- actions speak louder than words.
Michaela, how do you handle being judged as a young executive or being judged for your age ?
People will judge you for anything. I am judged being a female, especially at trade shows. I have to introduce myself as the President of Grade A Digital and people start paying attention. People will judge you and you overcome that by being so good they can’t ignore you. Don’t worry, focus on your work and becoming a master at your craft.
What’s next for you ?
I am travelling to Costa Rica in January. I just came back from Dubai which I loved. I am speaking on personal branding, LinkedIn and on the power of building communities. I want to continue impacting millions of people and 2 times a year I go back to my old high school to talk about the power of personal branding and the impact it’s had on my life and what it can do for others.
If you want to connect with Michaela- send her tea….jokes…send her some coffee love and maybe some donuts and maple syrup #CanadianLove