341 Kisha Mays: Just Fearless

What does it mean to be fearless? Is it even possible? Because we all have these subsconscious beliefs that limit us, dampen our dreams, and keep us playing small. At the root of these subconscious drivers? Fear. It shows up as procrastination, perfectionism, and paralysis.


I’m Melinda Wittstock and today on Wings of Inspired Business we meet an inspiring entrepreneur who is all about fearless living – and how we can overcome our fears.

Kisha Mays is a serial entrepreneur, investor, philanthropist author, and an extraordinary success story who has taken her business global. Along the way she had to rebuild from scratch after massive failures three times. Those epic fails – and they were heartwrenching – forced her to dig deep into her soul, unearth the fear, and face it down.

Kisha’s primary focus is on helping to develop 1 million Fearless Female Entrepreneurs generating a minimum of $1 million + in annual revenue. She wants to turn these women into unicorn global businesses through her fund – its called the “Just Fearless Angel Fund” – a fund exclusicely for female-founded companies at justfearlessangels.com.

I’m so excited to share this inspiring conversation with Kisha Mays who is paying it forward by supporting non-profits worldwide that specifically support & empower women and girls.

Kisha is a Serial Entrepreneur, Visionary Global Business Development Strategist, Best Selling Author, Angel Investor, and Philanthropist. Her primary focus is on helping 1 million Fearless Female Entrepreneurs generate a minimum of $1million + in annual revenue – a mission we both share.

Most successful people only talk about the good parts of their journey. In Kisha’s bestselling book, “From Failure to Fearless,” Kisha details her many, some very public, failures and how she overcame them in a transparent and vulnerable way.

Her major influences are Oprah Winfrey, Sara Blakely, Malala Yousafzai, Nelson Mandela, and Richard Branson, for their fearlessness, exceptional courage, drive and ambition, willingness to go after what they desire & believe in all while setting the standard and breaking through any and all ceilings. She has been featured in the Business Insider, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fast Company, and Forbes to name a few.

Even with all the success she has achieved, Kisha still feels like she is only getting started. She says she IS Just Fearless and Building Her Global Just Fearless Empire with strategic partnerships worldwide.

So are you ready for Kisha Mays? I am. Let’s fly!

Melinda Wittstock:         Kisha, welcome to Wings.

Kisha Mays:                      Hi, Melinda. Thank you for having me.

Melinda Wittstock:         Oh, it’s so wonderful to have a woman on this podcast who is determined to be fearless. I mean easier said than done, but you’ve created a whole business around it. What was the inspiration?

Kisha Mays:                      Well, my company is called Just Fearless, and it’s something that people who know me well have always said about me. They’ve always said, “You are just fearless. You are fearless,”. And not that, I want to make sure I’m clear, that people understand, I’m not saying, I don’t have fear, you’ll never have to fear. I have every single day over something, I promise you. But I don’t let it stop me. And that’s what I mean when I say fearless. I act in spite of the fear. So, I call my company and my brand Just Fearless because that is how, my team and I, how we operate. Act in spite of the fear.

Melinda Wittstock:         Ah. I love that. I mean fear holds us back from so many things in our lives.

Kisha Mays:                      Yes.

Melinda Wittstock:         We talk a lot about fear of failure. And in the case of women, I’ve noticed something a little bit different. That it’s actually almost like fear of success.

Kisha Mays:                      Yes.

Melinda Wittstock:         Where we think, “Oh, my goodness. If I really go for it, oh maybe my friends won’t like me. Or maybe I won’t find a man. Or maybe I …”. All those sorts of things.

I’d love to take a moment and just break down how fear manifests in many female founders’ lives.

Kisha Mays:                      I think you hit right on the nail: it’s the fear of success, the fear, because we let other people’s opinions and thoughts matter too greatly. Obviously there are people you care for and you love who want the best for you, but at the same time they are not you and they don’t have that same vision, that same dream. So, not saying they won’t understand, because you’ll find people that do understand. But that fear of success of, “What if people don’t like me? Or don’t understand what I’m trying to do?” Or, “What if I struggle when I actually hit success?” Or whatever, and I think that goes back to me acting in spite of, regardless of what the naysayers or the family members who think you’re crazy for starting the business. “Why would you do that? You have so much responsibility, or you got kids, or you’ve got debt, or you’ve got,” whatever. They’ll think of any reason, and they mean well, but they don’t understand your vision, your dream.

So, I think for me, the fear of success is fear of failure too. Again that goes back to our mindset overthinking and thinking about, if I fail, I’m going to have everybody saying, “I told you so. I told you not to do that. Don’t put so much money into that.”. Some of it’s going to happen too. I’ve had my fair share of failures, Melinda, I’ve fallen flat on my face publicly and I am still encountering failures. It’s just what it is, but I don’t let it stop me. I keep going and act in spite of this. I think those two are the strongest, the two things that stop women the most. The fear of success and the fear of failure.

Melinda Wittstock:         Yeah, I love that … that you just keep going. Failure to an entrepreneur is feedback. It’s just part of a process.

Kisha Mays:                      Yes.

Melinda Wittstock:         It’s like being a scientist in a lab and you just keep trying something until it works.

Kisha Mays:                      Exactly, yes. I mean, you don’t give up. I mean we always make the thing about, with Thomas Edison. How many times he tried before he finally got the light bulb working, like ten thousand times I think.

Melinda Wittstock:         Ten thousand times. That’s right.

Kisha Mays:                      How many people would go that long? Honestly, I don’t know if I could commit to ten thousand times before I’m like, “You know what, I don’t think this is for me,” I don’t know.

Melinda Wittstock:         Well, the interesting thing is, I think when people do go that far it’s because they have a mission. That they have a purpose that’s bigger than themselves-

Kisha Mays:                      Than them, yes.

Melinda Wittstock:         -or just the transactional value of the business, or just the day to day. To be that obsessed is necessary I think in a lot of cases to overcoming-

Kisha Mays:                      Absolutely.

Melinda Wittstock:         -the failure.

Kisha Mays:                      Most people won’t, they won’t do that, and that going that extra mile I think is what separates the difference between another thing, being that entrepreneur or that solopreneur. When I say those two, they’re different for me. If you don’t mind I’m going to share a fun fact I saw from the 2018 American Express State of Women Owned Business Report, and it said that the US has 11.9 million women-owned businesses and employ nine million people. So that to me says that we have a lot of women that they start a business, but they’re solopreneurs, if that makes sense. And I think to go to that next level, it’s like you got to get that obsession of, “Okay, I have a business, so how can I take it back and make it where it makes money while I sleep and I’m not tied to the business?”. So I think that, you know.

Melinda Wittstock:         Oh, yes. Amen. Yeah, I mean it’s interesting because I wonder, just tying that back to fear for a moment, I see a lot of women really fall into perfectionism, which is kind of fear dressed up pretty.

Kisha Mays:                      Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Melinda Wittstock:         Don’t you think?

Kisha Mays:                      Yes, I love that. I love that.

Melinda Wittstock:         Put a nice little pink bow around it. And we do the equivalent of cleaning the house before the housekeeper comes-

Kisha Mays:                      That’s ridiculous.

Melinda Wittstock:         -and making it so perfect. But then something holds us back from hiring quickly enough. What do you think that is? Is it sort of like this inner control freak or something in us? Whereas men have no problem asking for help, we try and do it all ourselves. Why?

Kisha Mays:                      I think it’s definitely of a fear of … I kind of feel like it’s twofold. So, it’s either, one the control freak wants to do everything herself. Wants to control every aspect, not realizing she’s actually stopping herself from moving forward and progressing. And then there’s the other person who feels that fear of, “What if I hire them and then I can’t pay them? Or and then it doesn’t work out? Or they take my idea and go off and,” I’ve actually heard all this stuff before, Go and build a bigger business doing exactly what I’m teaching them how to do?”. It’s those types of things, you have these two dynamics of, you’re stopping yourself by either fearing the other person doing their job rather than letting them do things that they are great at and succeeding. Which helps you make more money.

Or you want to control it and do everything, but you’re not making as much money as you could because you’re only one person and you only have so many hours in the day.

Melinda Wittstock:         Right. So, 100% of a very small pie, or 80% or 50%, or God knows even 10% of a massive pie.

Kisha Mays:                      Exactly, and that’s it, that’s it. So, I’m like, you have to weigh it and I look at those figures and I think, it also said how … What was it? 80% of those businesses don’t make over 100,000 dollars a year and only 1.7 make over a million dollars a year.

Melinda Wittstock:         Yeah, very few women get to a million dollars. There was a stat, and I forget where this came from, but only 3% of female business owners make it to seven figures.

Kisha Mays:                      And I’m like, we got to do something to change that. That for me is why I started the Angel Fund and HERstory Connection is twofold. So, the Angel Fund I started, and which is on our website, because I wanted to invest in women-owned companies. I know what it takes to build a seven figure, eight figure business, I’ve done it myself with my own company, and I help other clients go eight and nine figures. And so, I think with investing in them, that’s the first thing. Investing so they have money for manufacturing, and their products and whatnot, and marketing, and things of that nature. Investing in exclusively in female [inaudible 00:16:00] companies.

We see that most DC firms still tend to go primarily towards male-owned businesses. But we have to, as a community of women, come together and put our own money into that and change these numbers. And then with HERstory Connections, it’s really about the platform and having that platform to be able to help these women to sell their product and services to the world. Whether they’re in business, or creative, or in literary.

So these two things, the Angel Fund to me is like, I can help where most people struggle with. It’s that they have an idea, they have a vision, but maybe they don’t have access to a massive credit card line, maybe they don’t have a home they can get a home equity loan on, or maybe they don’t have family and friends they can borrow from. But they just need that boost to really get over that starting point and then they can take off from there. I looked for that.

Melinda Wittstock:         Right. Get out of that chicken and egg. I call it the startup sticky floor.

Kisha Mays:                      Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Melinda Wittstock:         Where they don’t quite have enough to hire but they can’t really get to the next level without hiring. They need capital. I mean, some of the stats on this are shocking to me. Depending on whose stat it is, between 2 to 3% of venture capital money in this country goes to female founders.

Kisha Mays:                      And that’s ridiculous.

Melinda Wittstock:         And that percentage too has stayed static at that level since the year 2000. So, it’s barely moved. And what’s interesting though is there are so many more funds now. I think a lot more female investors out there like say Lauren Flanagan, who’s been on this podcast to build capital. Or Anu Duggal at Female Founders Fund, or there’s things that Ellevest is doing, Cowboy Ventures, a bunch of-

Kisha Mays:                      Right. Backstage Capital.

Melinda Wittstock:         Right. Backstage, that’s an amazing story. Backstage, yeah.

Kisha Mays:                      Yes, yes.

Melinda Wittstock:         I think that’s incredible. Didn’t she sleep like on airport floors or something trying to raise her money?

Kisha Mays:                      Yeah, she was homeless trying to raise her funds. That’s commitment, that’s the obsession I talked about earlier.

Melinda Wittstock:         That’s commitment. She was, yes, homeless building a venture capital fund. Which I think is the most astonishing story but here she is, she’s got a great fund. She’s supporting so many amazing women, as are you, and it’s what it takes. So, how many women have you invested in?

Kisha Mays:                      So far, we just launched in 2018, but so far about 50. Now our thing is we need to do better about getting the word out. Because I think most people don’t even know that we’re there unless they go to the website or they see something, they heard an interview where I get to mention it and talk about it like this one. So, I think we got to do better. I have multiple business, so I got to do better about getting the word out.

I think most people, most women, that’s another thing too, I think it’s interesting too that when women hear about it, sometimes most won’t apply or maybe think, “I don’t have the money, I don’t have the need for it right now,” or, ” I don’t know if I’ll get it.” And I’m like, not all of them, but a lot of the funds you mentioned they focus on the typical, not typical, but real technology driven things, AI and the internet of things. Not all, but some of them do focus on that.

So I think it makes it harder for the woman who’s like, maybe she’s a creative and she has a food product line, or maybe recently invested in a company that’s in the cannabis industry. You know, it’s still not federally legal here, and most federally legal in Canada, but we’ll get there because state by state by state, is making it legal. So, eventually we’ll get to the federal level.

But I’ve invested in those type of businesses. You know, cryptocurrency in Canada, things that most people probably wouldn’t touch with an arm’s length. I’m looking at the future, I’m looking at five, ten years out. Where will we be as a country on this? Why not get in now on the ground floor?

Melinda Wittstock:         That’s fantastic. I mean, women do tend to do businesses that are a little different. I know from my own experience, and from so many women I know, who go out to raise capital and their addressable market are women. And the VPs think that that’s a small market. It’s like, “Wait, dude,” I mean, women, actually there’s some stat that women between the ages of 40 and 60 now control something like 17 trillion dollars. A couple years ago, it was 51% of all money spent in this country is controlled by women in that age group. It’s going up to about 70%.

Kisha Mays:                      Mm-hmm (affirmative). That’s astounding.

Melinda Wittstock:         And that’s not a small market, so.

Kisha Mays:                      No, not at all.

Melinda Wittstock:         But I’ve seen so many women struggle to get funding. Like even when they have a technology business, if it’s a fashion tech business, or like a fem tech or health tech business or whatever, addressing women or a women’s market. And so that really has to change, but also there’s need for capital for businesses that aren’t technology focused. And so, what are some of the things that you look for when you’re thinking of investing in a company? Is it primarily the team that you’re looking at? Like the founder, or is it the idea, is it both?

Kisha Mays:                      It starts with the idea. Like, what industry, what’s the product or service, what’s the potential for growth? I understand there are things that can be niche market, but there has to be an opportunity. Obviously I don’t run a charity, so it’s a business for me, there has to be options to make money.

And then looking at the team, I’ve got to believe in that team, I’ve got to believe in that founder, I’ve got to believe in their vision. If it’s a thing where we don’t mesh well, or I don’t believe in your vision, or that you’ll execute in a way that I think it should be in order to help me get my money back, I don’t know that I’m going to invest in it. But it’s twofold. So, it’s based on the actual product and service and the industry itself, and then the actual team and then really the owner. And the team can fluctuate, can grow, can do any number of things, but the owner is the one that kind of determines how that culture, that company is going to flow.

So, I’ve got to have that feeling of, “This is someone I want to partner with, and work with, and help them,”. And here’s a thing too, even when I invest, I’m not just cutting a blank check and just saying, “Great, here you go. Here’s 100,000 dollars, 200,000,” whatever. I’m not just cutting the check for that. What I’m doing is I want to help you succeed so that when you get to that point of selling or exiting or even just creating additional, multiple revenue streams. If you win, I win. I don’t want to just sit and give you a check and send you on your way, I want to help if I can.

So, it’s twofold. So, I have to be able to work with that founder and connect with them and mesh with them. Because if I don’t; I’m not just going to give you a check and walk away. Not to run your business at all, make sure I’m clear, I’m not running your business, but I want to help. I know what it takes to go and I can help you get to the next level so that you can do your greatest version of what you want to do.

Melinda Wittstock:         Well, Kisha, that’s ideal money from where I sit. You want your investors to connect you to people, to help you close deals, to help you get to revenue, to help you negotiate some strategic partnership, or help you get the best A players, or the best talent, or whatever it is that you actually need. You know, that’s awesome. And every time I’ve ever raised money I’ve always qualified people in that way. Like, “Are you going to do that? Or is it just money?”.

Kisha Mays:                      Exactly. And like, I don’t get to watch TV much, but when I do I love Shark Tank. And when I watch Shark Tank, I look at the fact that most of them they’re cutting checks, they’re helping the companies they invested in. They’re making a phone call to the big retailers, or getting the cold packers for them, and they’re doing the stuff because it’s a win-win. If I get your foot in the door, once an entrepreneur opens just take off and run with it. If I get your foot in the door we both win. So, I don’t want to just give you a check and be like, “Hey, figure it out. Good luck.”.

Melinda Wittstock:         Yeah, “Great. Good luck. Come back when it’s 10x.”. Yeah.

Kisha Mays:                      Yeah, like, “See you. Come back when you cut me my next check.” No, no. I want to make sure that you win. Because if you win, I win. We both make a lot of money and it’s a good thing.

Melinda Wittstock:         Yeah. But then you need to work with people though that are coachable. And here’s an interesting thing I want to ask you about. I’m seeing women go both directions in this way. Either be absolutely non-coachable, because perhaps it’s insecurity, or whatever, or they’re trying to prove that they know what they’re doing. And underlying that is a fear.

On the other hand, being too coachable to the point we’re blown off course by a lot of contradictory advice. And I’ve seen both of those things happen. What do you think the root of that is, and how can women not do that? Either of them.

Kisha Mays:                      I think that’s a personality thing though. Maybe if you were an employee maybe you were kind of just flow with the wind and taking in too many other people’s opinions about what you should and should not be doing with your life, or with your career, or at your job. Or you got those who are just like, “I’m doing it my way. I don’t care what you say. I don’t care if you are my boss. I just want it this way,”. I find that’s partially a personality thing at least.

And for me that goes back to when I say, “I’ve got to be able to work with that entrepreneur.” If I can’t work with you, I’ll tell you. The one that’s too coachable, that means you have no focus. Like if you’re just all over the place, I can’t deal with that. I need you to focus on this. Let’s get this product and service sky rocketing, and then bring in the other ideas that you have for other products. Let’s start with one, build that, and then add another. Not just be all over the place and nothing gets done.

And then for the other part that you mentioned, I find it interesting. I’ll tell you that the biggest things that I’ve had was when I’ve had people who have applied for funds, and my team reviews applications, and it will be someone, a founder. And not just anybody who has education, because I didn’t go to college, I didn’t finish college. I find the ones who have a PhD, or an MBA, and they’re starting a business, not coachable for the most part.

Melinda Wittstock:         Oh, my goodness. Okay, so I have a phrase for this. “You can be right or you can be rich”…

Kisha Mays:                      Yes. Yes.

Melinda Wittstock:         It’s like there’s actually very little daylight between them, because I mean if you’re the academic or the PhD, it’s all about being right.

Kisha Mays:                      Exactly, yes.

Melinda Wittstock:         And in business I mean, you may be right for a split-second.

Kisha Mays:                      That’s it.

Melinda Wittstock:         And then there’s a new data point, or there’s something completely beyond your control. Right?

Kisha Mays:                      That’s it. I don’t really invest in those companies. As you’ve just said, you’re not coachable and have this idea that you have to be right, you’re right. And I didn’t get to where I’m at by, and I’m not knocking college, college is important. Please understand what I mean by listening. I’m not saying don’t go to college. I’m just saying if you really want to be an entrepreneur, it’s not something I feel like you can be taught in college. I feel like it’s something that you really learn through actually doing, and learning from others who are successful at it.

Melinda Wittstock:         I know so many really great entrepreneurs that dropped out of college. You don’t really need to go to college. Or the other one that I wonder about too is business school. Because everything that you’re taught in there is very kind of corporate, it’s just not really entrepreneurial. And maybe business schools are changing a little bit, but it’s better just do a bunch of info product courses. Right?

Kisha Mays:                      Yes. I mean, that to me is how you’re going to learn better. You’re going to learn better. They say education will bring the career, but self-education will make you a fortune. So, I feel like when you’re college, I’ve had people work for me who were handling the accounting and finance, and they’ve got MBAs, but they work for me. And again, not to degrade the work they put in, they’re very good at what they do. But I think to actually do a business, it’s a thing, as you had mentioned earlier, where you have to be obsessed. You have to be, not even just talking about obsessions, and finding what you want. But that thing of, “Okay, what am I going to do?” I feel like you have to go with it. You can’t just think, “I’m going to go to college, get this four year degree. It’s going to teach me how to start that business,”. And they do have marketing classes, as you said it’s more corporate.

It’s not like, what if he don’t have the corporate budget that the corporate market teaches. When the company has nothing, budgets and you have marketing. When you’re just starting you don’t have that same budget. What if you’re doing social media, what if you’re doing grass roots marketing. That’s not really taught. And I’m like, that’s something you really got to get out there, do the courses as you mentioned, online courses and whatnot that will teach you how to do the e-commerce business. How to market, how to build a mailing list. All these different things that are going to help you grow your business.

Melinda Wittstock:         Oh, gosh. Yes. And if you don’t know, and if you don’t really like to do any of those things, like hire somebody who’s really good at these hard things. Doing those things. I mean, you have to be really very honest about your own talents and abilities. I think a lot of us think we have to do it all. And maybe in that very early start up stage we’re trying to do it all. But there are certain things that are really your calling and what you’re meant to do and what you’re really, really great at. And moreover what you love to do. I kind of say hire the other stuff. The stuff that you’re bad at. The stuff that you’re in your zone of incompetence, because everybody has one of those. Right. And even the zone of confidence, where you’re confident but somebody else is excellent. Someone else is genius at what you’re competent at. Why spend time doing that when you should be doubling down on your strengths.

Kisha Mays:                      Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Melinda Wittstock:         And hiring your weaknesses not trying to master them. And I see a lot of women making the mistake of focusing in on the things that they’re weakest at because they think they have to cure some sort of deficit rather than saying, “No, no. I’m not great at that.” Or, “I don’t love that. So, therefore I’m going to make sure as fast as I can to hire somebody whose great at it.”

Kisha Mays:                      Exactly. And I want to also be clear too that, just to add to your point, that in the hiring you think you go back to that point of people fearing hiring employees or fearing the growth of their success. You can outsource. If you don’t want to actually hire the employees, there are tons of women-owned business who can do the things that you don’t love who do it excellent. And that way it lowers your responsibility legally. It helps you generate more income when you’re focused on the things that you love, that things that generate income. Rather than trying to do the administrative stuff or the operational stuff, outsource if you don’t want to hire an employee. And then you can build from there as you get stronger and build your business.

Melinda Wittstock:         Yes, yes, yes. You’re making me feel all warm and fuzzy. I love all this. This is great. No, but really. It’s really, really true. And anybody listening to this podcast right now. Gosh, take this to heart. It’s such valuable, valuable advice. Oh, my goodness.

And so, Kisha, were you always entrepreneurial? Like when you were a little girl did you do entrepreneurial things? Or how did you first know that you were an entrepreneur?

Kisha Mays:                      Interestingly enough, my grandmother, who passed away in 2017-

Melinda Wittstock:         Oh, I’m sorry.

Kisha Mays:                      Was an entrepreneur. Thank you.

She was an entrepreneur since she was in her 20s. And so, growing up… I grew up in a single parent household poor… That story you hear poor families… A single mother who works two jobs, going to school so my after… (Mom couldn’t afford daycare.) So, my after-school daycare was my grandmother at her beauty salon. She always had her own business whether it was a beauty salon, insurance agent, beauty school. She owned a beauty school. She owned real estate. She always taught me, “If you want to make money, you want to be successful, you have to work for yourself.” She also grew up in a time when women didn’t have any rights that we have now and didn’t have the abilities that we have now. So, she instilled that in me from a very young age. From childhood I instinctively knew. And I was never good at working for people. I don’t like being dictated to. I like to dictate to other people so I think I’ve known that since a little kid.

And I think it became more apparent in high school. I would buy candy wholesale, sell it at resale at school and do everything I can to make my own money so I don’t have to depend on others. And I paid for my own driver’s education. Paid for my graduation, my prom, paid with my own money. So, I think it’s been there and it’s just shown itself. I can’t tell you how many jobs I either quit or got fired from. I can’t tell you.

Melinda Wittstock:         That’s hilarious.

Kisha Mays:                      I swear to you I will be not good at that at all.

Melinda Wittstock:         You’re unemployable. Yeah.

Kisha Mays:                      I couldn’t take orders because I’m like, “Who do you think you’re talking to?” It’s like there’s a boss of their business but I don’t work with other people having to ask for a day off to travel somewhere or do something. No. I’m the boss. If I want to go somewhere I go. And I can take it because I run the show.

Melinda Wittstock:         Right, right. Oh, man. So, how blessed were you though to have that example of your grandmother. I had a very sort of similar experience, my aunt Bee, she was Canada’s first female stock broker.

Kisha Mays:                      Wow.

Melinda Wittstock:         And I watched her kind of create her own market because she couldn’t really get a look in serving any of the male clients. And so, she created her own market serving women.

Kisha Mays:                      Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Melinda Wittstock:         Like really educating women and teaching them how to invest and all of that. And she became the top performer at her firm doing that.

Kisha Mays:                      Right.

Melinda Wittstock:         Which is so interesting because if you take that back she was doing it in the 60s and 70s.

Kisha Mays:                      Wow.

Melinda Wittstock:         And I was just watching her do this. I’m like, “Wow, this is amazing.” And I realize actually how much that influenced me. I don’t think I realized until now where I feel like my own mission is so similar to hers. And to yours for that matter.

Kisha Mays:                      Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Melinda Wittstock:         I mean, I put a big launch out that I was going to invest 10 million dollars in the next 10 years in female founded businesses.

Kisha Mays:                      Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Melinda Wittstock:         It’s an intention. I’d like to make that number bigger but, you know.

Kisha Mays:                      Yeah.

Melinda Wittstock:         That’s definitely on track to be able to do that which is awesome.

Kisha Mays:                      Yes, absolutely.

Melinda Wittstock:         But when you have… When you have that kind of role model around you, surely that makes it a little bit easier because you’re sort of learning by osmosis. But most people don’t have that.

Kisha Mays:                      Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Melinda Wittstock:         Like they’re surrounded by people who are continually telling them to play a small game!

Kisha Mays:                      Right. I guess what I mean is an intuitive thing. Maybe you don’t have but you develop it. Or someone you have that you can look up to personally. In my grandmother’s lifetime, I swear, she had nine kids and a single mother and tons of grandkids. She took care of everyone. So, I think in her lifetime she’s a millionaire but she took care of a lot of people.

Melinda Wittstock:         Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Kisha Mays:                      Money was constantly going.

Melinda Wittstock:         She sounds amazing.

Kisha Mays:                      Yes.

Melinda Wittstock:         Like she’s just a SuperShero.

Kisha Mays:                      She just completely believed in me 100%, never doubted me.

Melinda Wittstock:         Excellent.

Kisha Mays:                      Never doubted that I could do it.

Melinda Wittstock:         She’s an X-Woman.

Kisha Mays:                      Absolutely, she’s an X-Woman. But I think if you don’t have that then you have to go to outside sources. Where I say, you think, online courses, online YouTube videos for inspiration. Even when I would have down moments, and still I have peace and value. How successful you are, you have peace and value. I look for those YouTube videos that inspire me. When I hear maybe Tony Robbins or Sarah Blakely, Oprah Winfrey speaking, I hear, I listen, I get inspired. I go do online courses and do webinars. So, you have a lot more accessible to you.

If you don’t have that family member support, there are other avenues that are accessible to you that you can take advantage of for free or very little cost depending on which route you go. And use that as your mentor. Mentor you, motivate you to do what you feel intuitively that you really should be doing. You’re just taking care of what’s going to happen. Move forward. “My family thinks I’m crazy.” So what?

Melinda Wittstock:         Yeah, honestly, I didn’t really, really have a big success in business until I finally invested in coaches.

Kisha Mays:                      Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Melinda Wittstock:         And made sure I had mentors and all of that. In fact, it’s hard to really see anybody who does well without really always seeking coaching, always seeking mentoring. I don’t know, having access to that kind of inspiration, reading lots of books, surrounding yourself with people who are smarter or more experienced than you. If you want to master something figure out whose best at it.

Kisha Mays:                      Yes.

Melinda Wittstock:         And find a way to hang out with them.

Kisha Mays:                      Right.

Melinda Wittstock:         Those sorts of things are so important so you don’t necessarily have to have a relative like your grandmother who is so, so inspirational. I think this is interesting though for women who are entrepreneurs right now, who have kids. Because your story about your grandmother just makes me think, “Well, anyone listening here who has a business as a mom is setting this up for their kids.

Kisha Mays:                      Yes.

Melinda Wittstock:         We’re that role model: We can teach financial independence and things like passive income. We can really help them defeat that fear. All those sorts of things. And they watch what we do more than what we say.

Kisha Mays:                      Exactly. They’re doing what you do and not what you say. That it exactly.

Melinda Wittstock:         Right. Yeah.

Kisha Mays:                      But I think we have… I’ve seen kids that are on YouTube that are making millions of dollars reviewing products. Or they’ve created a product that’s been promoted on YouTube or Instagram. So, those parents that are entrepreneurs setting up for their kids… Setting the example, kind of being that mentor for them. But those we talked about earlier who may not have that parent who is an entrepreneur, I would look at these families that you’re talking about. They’re on social media at some point. If you have a successful business and successfully doing consumer products or services, you’re on social media. You’re watching that. You’re looking at them. And most people will talk about their stuff that they went through.

No one just takes off unless they came from a family of money. That’s different. Most people don’t have that advantage. So, you start from nothing and build. You use what’s in front of you. You… Maybe as a family you sit down and you watch Shark Tank each week or watch The Profit or whatever the case may be so you can be inspired. Or you maybe teach those kids what you would have done differently. Or what did you see that were mistakes that he was making in trying to get funding or whatever. Make it a family thing. I think that’s pretty cool. It sets the foundation, sets the tone. Whether the parent has a business or not, the kids will learn by doing.

Melinda Wittstock:         Mm-hmm (affirmative).

I love that. That’s wonderful. So, Kisha, you do so many things and you’re inspiring in so many ways. You’ve got this global company.

Kisha Mays:                      Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Melinda Wittstock:         That can’t have been easy. You’ve got to eight figures. You build eight figure businesses. You build nine figure businesses. You help other people do that.

Kisha Mays:                      Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Melinda Wittstock:         So, let’s fast-forward to now. You’ve built this global business. That can’t have been easy. Right?

Kisha Mays:                      Mm-hmm (affirmative). Exactly.

Melinda Wittstock:         Right. Eight figures get to the nine figures to really create something in many, many countries. What have been some of the biggest challenges along the way in getting there and going global.

Kisha Mays:                      I think the first part when I first started over 11 years ago. It was starting a point of… I was a control freak. I had to do everything myself. And letting go of the control and thinking, “I need help.” You can’t… You will not grow if you try to do everything yourself. That was the first thing. Little by little I had to trust others with my baby.

Melinda Wittstock:         Well …

Kisha Mays:                      Learn to do that. And then as you build… I watched some people in different industries. Whether it was more of a caste business. Whether it was beauty school, real estate… But in my business, I started off doing events and conferences and then it evolved to business development and marketing, e-commerce, branding and distribution globally and manufacturing. It evolved into all that but I had to learn by trial and error. Before I started 11 years ago, YouTube wasn’t what it is today. Social media wasn’t what it is today. So, it was a thing of trial and error. So, I took some pretty serious financial losses that I’ve learned from and I’ve pulled back big. But I could branch this where I made mistakes that cost me big bucks, honestly. And going through that process, you have to sit back, once you have that moment where it takes you off your feet first of all.

You think you’re going to cry, you’re going to be out for a couple days. But once you get back up and reassess. Like, “All right, what’s the lesson in this? What can I learn so I don’t repeat this? And then you rebuild. I’ve had to rebuild three times. And in that three time period it’s like, “Okay, what now?” Now we want to go to Hong Kong. Now I want to go to Dubai. Now I want to go to Australia. I want to be in the Oceana area.” I want to do all these different things. Then again, when I go to each of these countries and I build in an annex, not knowing anyone. That’s the thing. I come to a country or an area or industry and I don’t know anyone. I kind of like that. I don’t use LinkedIn. I don’t use any of that. I go in not knowing anyone and having introverted me. Part of my character… My best friends say I’m very introverted. I have to somehow turn on and then go hard. And then at the end of the day I’ve got to recharge, I’ve got to shut down because it’s a lot to me. But it’s the idea of… That you mentioned… It’s the purpose and the mission. It’s something that’s bigger than myself.

And so, what’s the failures of losing a vast amount of money, having to rebuild and restart, having to go through all of these different things where… I think publicly 2009 was probably one of the first times I felt what it meant to be a sage. Have a mass appeal on a public scale. And I was at an event that got canceled at the last minute because of things that were beyond my control. But if the public… It involved celebrities and they were literally on Twitter. It was bad. It was bad.

Melinda Wittstock:         Oh, my goodness. Oh. So, what? You had an event and you just couldn’t follow through with it? Or what actually… Do you mind explaining what happened? Because it’s really, really good for people to hear this. That even when the proverbial hits the fan, there is life on the other side of it. Right. You are-

Kisha Mays:                      Right. Absolutely.Right, I actually wrote about it too in a book. I was like, “Someone can learn from this.” But it was an event where… They say you should always crawl first and then walk, and then walk before you run. I decided to go from crawling into running without learning how to walk first. And so, after starting a company and doing well. It was in New York and other markets. And New York is a pretty easy market to get into. You can get in there and be successful. You can literally go anywhere. And so, doing that and then crawling in.

And then 2009 comes and I decide I want to do this big three-day conference and I want a book. And at the time Jillian Michaels was on The Biggest Loser, a really popular show. Suze Orman was really, really popular. It was really effective. There was a line of speakers and then having Patsy LaBelle in a seat of honor. I had all these different celebrities attached to it and coming and courting and da-da-da-da. It was too big, too fast. The other part, I had before… If you don’t get anything in writing like concerts… I don’t care what I do now, everything is fine. I don’t care if it’s an affiliate agreement. I don’t care what it is, we do contracts on everything. So, I learned from them. And e-mails, if I say I’m going to contract for an event at $25,000… $50,000 and then the last minute you back out. And then I’m stuck like, “Well, you told me you would do this.”

Melinda Wittstock:         Oh, man.

Kisha Mays:                      And when you don’t do it, I don’t have the money to pay for this, and then the hotel… It was a combination of me going too big too soon and then not dotting all my I’s and crossing all my T’s when it came to all the sponsors and potential investors for the event which would have made it happen to have the actually funding. But in that process, most people don’t see the behind the scenes. What they see is the face of… You’re the face of… “I don’t know what happened. I don’t know what happened behind the scenes. I want my money back. I want…” You’ve got these celebrities that they want paid the rest of their money. And so, they’re telling people on Twitter, “Get your money back.” I can’t… It was rough. It was like [crosstalk 00:45:48]

Melinda Wittstock:         Oh, gosh. Because it’s like-

Kisha Mays:                      For like three days.

Melinda Wittstock:         So, I can only imagine right. Because the last thing in the world that anybody wants to do, especially an entrepreneur… We’re all about creating value for other people and so then what-

Kisha Mays:                      Right.

Melinda Wittstock:         And I can only imagine. I know whenever I’ve had a failure it’s really easy to fall into feelings like shame and-

Kisha Mays:                      Yes, all of that.

Melinda Wittstock:         And really self-incrimination and you lose your confidence. And you think that everybody hates you. And all that stuff.

Kisha Mays:                      Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Melinda Wittstock:         I mean, that’s really, really hard stuff. Feeling like dark night of the soul kind of stuff, right?

Kisha Mays:                      It was odd. I cried for like three days. And what really showed me who was really in my corner, who was only riding with me for the good times. And when the bad times came they disappeared. And it really showed me… Showed me who I am first of all. Like I know it’s going to take me some time to make this right. I was almost seven figures and then almost near bankruptcy. It took me some time to rebuild it.

I actually did that event later in the year and had like Wendy Williams and Elizabeth Hasselbeck and local speakers on a smaller scale when they had the event. I rebuilt and did it. It took a month to do that because I had a point to prove to myself that, “You are not going to give up. You’re not going to believe those point who don’t even know you who are talking trash about you. Don’t know what happened behind the scenes. Don’t care to ask.” People make assumptions. Right? They see one thing and just assume the worst. And that’s fair, whatever. But they don’t know what went on and what I thought. I had to keep going. I had a point to prove to myself and to everybody else who doubted me. You know, kick rocks. That’s kind of how I felt and I rebuilt and I did it.

But that to me was one of the points where it was like, I saw who was really in my corner, I saw who was really for me, I saw who gave me this opportunity to explain what was going on not just disappear. You know, “What happened? Help us understand.” There were a lot of brands who were involved and people are protective of their brands. And again, as you can see, ten years later it’s still a thought for me. Mind you, I’ve achieved great things beyond that ten years later. But it’s a reminder to me. Like, “Okay. Cross all your T’s. Dot all your I’s. And do an agreement on everything signed. Because I don’t want any misunderstanding of what they might have said they do and don’t do.

And I tell others… And also I call failure “Lessons Learned.” I wrote a book called Failure to Fearless and it’s still on Amazon. And it’s giving this lesson and others that I have encountered in my business journey so people can learn from them and hopefully avoid the same mistakes that I made. Because I learned a lesson, I won’t repeat it. So, I don’t lose regardless. Either I win or it’s a lesson learned.

Melinda Wittstock:         Mm-hmm (affirmative).

I love it. I love it. So, here you are now. You’ve got this global business. You’ve helped other people create eight and nine figure businesses just like you have as well.

Kisha Mays:                      Yes.

Melinda Wittstock:         You’re investing in all these women. My goodness. Where do you see yourself in ten years, Kisha? You’re doing such amazing things right now. What are the big impacts that you want to see from your work?

Kisha Mays:                      Just three things. So, first thing is… I set a goal to come up with this Angel Fund, which we recently launched. It’s to help one million women entrepreneurs generate a minimum of one million annual revenue by December 31st, 2025.

Melinda Wittstock:         Mm-hmm (affirmative). I love it.

Kisha Mays:                      That-

Melinda Wittstock:         Chills.

Kisha Mays:                      That will have a trillion dollar impact on global economy. It will change the stats of 1.7% of women who make seven figures out of millions of women-owned businesses. We’ve got to change that. And I will have an impact directly and indirectly on other aspects of our economy and of our world.

And then the second part of it is, achieving that goal. Here’s the thing, since I was like 18, 19 years old I loved that Forbes 400 list. You know, the book that comes out every year, the 400 richest people in the world. I have bought a copy every single year religiously since I was probably 18, 19 years old. And I’ve always envisioned myself on that list. And so that’s the list I’m gunning for, in less than 10 years.

And the third thing is making sure that Just Fearless is a brand that’s in multiple industries, but at the same time the underlying mission is to inspire females. Everybody doesn’t want to go global, that’s fine, but I want to inspire you to do something different. I want to inspire you to, whatever that fear is, to act in spite of it.

So it’s a threefold thing of, how can one million women generate a million? We can ask for 400 lists, but I can do more in philanthropy and investing by doing that. And then third part, make sure that you inspire. You may not like me, for whatever reason, because you always have haters. When you’re doing good, you have haters. I have them, believe me, people still talk, it’s ridiculous. But your point, the more successful you are you encounter that. At least you’ll either be inspired or you’ll respect me, I don’t care if you like me, I could care less. But I do care that you’ve been inspired or at the very least you respect me and you do something because of it.

Melinda Wittstock:        I think women often we care so much about whether or not people like us and it prevents us from doing big things in the world. When in fact, my goodness, I mean just even when we think of marketing. Great marketers say that marketing is really about repelling as much as it is attracting.

So when we put that big vision out there and we dare to dream and we go for it, and we’re really clear about where we’re going and what we’re going to achieve, we attract the right people to us. But we also repel people, actually I’m gracious for that now because I think, “Gosh, those are the wrong people,”. It doesn’t really matter, I don’t have to serve everybody, I have to serve the people who want this, who are going to be advanced and as you say, inspired, and just let go of all of that. And I think that requires some, oh I don’t know, let’s just say personal growth, to get there. That business growth and personal growth, I think of the same thing at this point.

Kisha Mays:                      Absolutely, because you’re going to have to have [inaudible 00:52:22] energy, everybody’s not going to want your service but you’re there to be of service to people who need your service. And there are seven plus billion people on the planet, someone needs you. Not just someone but some people need you, so don’t be deterred if there’s someone who’s talking behind your back. I’ve had people who write things about me that are not true, had people write negative reviews and never worked with me. I’ve had that happen and you have to brush it off, you have to have thick skin because the more tougher you get sometimes people want to come for the person who’s at the top spot.

So just being willing to like, “You know what?,” as you said, “I’m not for everyone, but I’m for the people who need me, and I am of service to them,”. Keep that in mind so you’re not distracted with all the ignorance in the background.

Melinda Wittstock:         Oh, gosh. So very profound, and very true. And just to wrap up, I have one last question for you, because I think it’s very interesting right now where women are stepping up and creating businesses that are actually able to solve major global challenges. There’s kind of a philanthropic aspect to, or we could call them conscious capitalism or evolved enterprise kind of companies, where there’s part of the business model has a social impact.

And my thesis is I think a lot of women are uniquely suited for that, I think one of the reasons we go into business in the first place is to solve a problem. And so when you’re investing one of the things that I’ve noticed is the companies that actually do that get better returns as well.

Kisha Mays:                      Yes, excellent.

Melinda Wittstock:         Do you think women are uniquely suited for that? Do you think we’re going to g            o change the world?

Kisha Mays:                      That, honestly, that’s a goal. There’s an underlying mission for that 1 million women goal that I mentioned earlier. I feel like in, I know you mentioned that there’s an aspect of it that we’re suited for, and when we do that we’re not only directly impacting our economy with our revenue and passes you pay and all that stuff. But indirectly with that, you change generations, communities, cities, countries, families. Absolutely, there’s no doubt. And that’s what I push because I can see what you just mentioned. I can see that, I can see how-

Melinda Wittstock:         Yeah, me too.

Kisha Mays:                                     -if we had more women in power, things would be a whole lot different in this world. I’m not [crosstalk 00:54:46]-

Melinda Wittstock:         Oh, yes. Oh yes, I know. We don’t have to go to the politics thing but my God, you’re right.

Kisha Mays:                      Just, in general, we’d be better off as a world.

Melinda Wittstock:         Generally, yes we would.

And so, Kisha, you’re doing amazing things. How can people find you and work with you?

Kisha Mays:                      Yes, so they can go to herstorymade.com. Herstory, a play on history, so herstorymade.com, or they can go to justfearless.com you can say connect with my team, our business, our initiatives. And on social media my name is Kisha Mays, I’m on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and my company’s IAmJustFearless on all the social media outlets. So, either way.

Melinda Wittstock:         That’s wonderful, and you have a special offer for our listeners today too, it involves a WINGS coupon I hear.

Kisha Mays:                      I do, I do, I do. For those that join the HERstory Connections platform, which is if you’re a business owner, or a freelancer, and you’re in business, or you’re a creative, or you’re in literary, you want to be a part of this. It’s a platform to help you make more money and create more standard income. And exclusively for every WINGS podcast listeners, you’re getting 5% off with WINGS. And the annual membership each year base price 30 dollars a year. Most people spend more than that on Starbucks within a week. For 30 dollars a year you’re getting 5% off using the coupon code WINGS, plural, W-I-N-G-S, WINGS.

It’s an amazing cause that I want to help reach that 1 million goal, that’s why I want to help you get to 1 million. So I encourage you to join, take advantage, annual membership with events, with online courses, and webinars, and discounts and special offers. Offers to our members. Just a variety of stuff to help you be the best possible version of your business and yourself.

Exclusively for WINGS podcast use the coupon code WINGS at herstorymade.com.

Melinda Wittstock:         Wonderful. Kisha, thank you so much for putting on your WINGS and flying with us.

Kisha Mays:                      Thank you, I feel like a butterfly.

Melinda Wittstock:         Yes, we’re out there transforming the world, so what better than a butterfly?

Kisha Mays:                      Absolutely.


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