By Latasha M. Ford
In an exclusive interview with Latasha M. Ford,… CEO of I AM the Collection, Multi-Million Dollar Brand Strategist, Astute Founder of I AM Academy, Iconic Entrepreneur and Transformational Speaker, Jai Slaughter invites us into her world with candid conversations and informative insight as to what makes an entrepreneur successful. Jai shares with us those necessary words of wisdom, keys to branding and financial advice for those whom are embarking upon the entrepreneurial path.
Oh God! So, who is Jai Slaughter you ask? Jai Slaughter is a Transformational Speaker, Multi-Million Dollar Brand Strategist and CEO of I AM the Collection. I travel all around the world teaching influencers, entrepreneurs, and creatives about how to build successful brands through the power of I AM. I AM steered from May 30, 2011 while I was working at an airline. At the time, my boss came over and said something to me that was very racist, and in that moment I had to make a decision, either walk away in efforts of calming myself down, or pop back off at him. So, I began to gather myself. I got up and walked to the bathroom, looked myself in the mirror and began to say to myself, “I AM not what he said,” “I AM beautiful,” “I AM intelligent,” “I AM worthy,” “I AM a superwoman,” “I AM wonderful,” “I AM, I AM, I AM.” God spoke to me telling me to create a collection of I AM, making very clear to me that it’s not to speak to where I currently am but to where I AM going. I AM allows for me to live life out loud and live life in purpose. I use the power of those two words to give the trajectory of my life.
How do you define entrepreneurship? What does it mean to you?
I would define entrepreneurship as a mindset! A mindset and vision to own your own life. You are in control of your life. When you think of entrepreneurship, freedom comes to mind. Because ultimately you are your own boss.
Do you believe that knowing power lies within you ultimately leads you upward towards that path of entrepreneurship sooner rather than later?
No, because entrepreneurship is a journey. It isn’t something which simply happens overnight. You don’t just wake up one day after leaving your job and start your own business. Because again, it’s a journey. Entrepreneurship requires a certain type of mindset and mind shift. It took for me to be a part-time worker and a part-time entrepreneur during certain seasons of my life, because there are certain steps which are necessary towards building your own brand. But yes, it’s very imperative for you to be in tune with the self-power which lies within you. You also have to be willing to do the work. You have to be ready to change your mindset. Working for someone and having the mindset of entrepreneurship are two different things. You have to be ready to adopt the mindset.
Prior to the incident you experienced at work on May 30, 2011, did you know that entrepreneurship would become of you? Have you always known that you were going to be your own boss?
That’s a good question, Latasha. Well, since I was a young girl, I always knew that I would be a leader. I always knew that I was a sore-thumb but never knew exactly what it was that I would do in life. I was always the leader of the bunch but did not necessarily know my purpose. Honestly, I thought that it would be me doing hair and owning my own salon. I thought that I would own salons all over the world; only later to learn that I was called to do much more than just hair. But that was the day which transformed me from the inside out. On May 30, 2011 at 2:30pm, I AM was birthed within me.
What are three things that you intermix within your day-to-day living and daily routines? What keeps you going?
One, the fact that I woke up and God gave me yet another day, that’s first and foremost. I always, always pray. I say my I AM’s daily and meditate upon them. And I look at the students in my school everyday, my tribe; my students are my tribe! Pray, Speak I AM over my life everyday, then go to my tribe to see what it is that they have going on. Because they are a sheer reflection of me. I always take a glance at my tribe because it reminds me of who I AM.
So, you mentioned your students-your tribe… Tell me more about this area of your life.
Oh, absolutely! So, when God told me to create a collection of I AM, I didn’t think that it would consist of a whole school. I thought that it would be a girly, girl thing… like, lipsticks, tee shirts, bags and things of that nature. Not a school! But I AM Academy is an international school and it’s a number one school because there is no other academy like it. I AM Academy was not in my mental capacity. It’s one of those things that God geared me towards creating. I look at the students at my school everyday, both humbled and in complete awe because that’s my legacy. We have a macro session which happens every third Wednesday of the month. And we have micro sessions that are centered upon everyone’s area of expertise. At my academy you gain a ton from one another, you network, you mingle, you work together, you graduate and feed off one another. Might I add that graduation happens on the water… It’s simply amazing.
Success and entrepreneurship are both defined differently in the eyes of others. So, what does success mean to you? How does Jai Slaughter define success?
Success means to me, being holistic and well-grounded. Success is when your mindset and spirituality are both solid and in tact. Success rings spirituality, financial stability, health and wellness for me. Success isn’t money! Money comes and goes. Success allows you the opportunity to live and have a healthy balanced life.
How significant of a role do you feel money plays in trying to establish your own business and/or brand?
Money plays an important role when you have a relationship with money. But when you are building a brand and have a relationship with money, you’re able to understand that money works for you and you not for it. This leads to having a more successful business and brand. A lot of us allow money to control us. It takes a lot of growing and maturity for you to understand that you tell money what to do; money doesn’t tell you what to do. You have to have a relationship with money and be able to have the capability to tell money how to work for you. This ties back into the power of I AM. I AM a multi-million dollar brand. It is important to have a relationship with money first.
Who are the role models that you look up to? Or, have looked up to in the past?
Yes, oh yes! Pastor John Hannah and Lisa Nichols are both my go-to people. And Oprah Winfrey, of course. I have yet to cross paths with Oprah Winfrey but it’s definitely on my bucket list. And, Lisa Nichols, yes that is my mother’s mentor. I do believe that Lisa Nichols will be the path towards my meeting Oprah Winfrey. I’m so confident that I will get into the same room as Oprah one day very soon. And when I am in the room with her I AM going to be ready. It will happen!
What are three challenges and barriers that you would share with up-and-coming entrepreneurs?
Be sure to get a mentor and/or coach, expect to get rid of your old life, maybe including some old family members and friends, because everyone will not understand the new you. And be sure to have 3 circles: a humble circle, a balance circle, and a reach for the stars circle.
In closing, where can we look for you within the next couple of months? Where can we expect you to be?
All over the world! Jai Slaughter will be all over the world. When you open up your emails and social media accounts, you’re going to see Jai. When you turn on your TV you’re going to see Jai. When you open a magazine and tune into your local radio stations, you will either see or hear Jai. Thanks for everything, Latasha. You are so awesome. And just a few short words of wisdom: I AM.. are two of the most powerful words that you could ever use. But what you put after those two words is what you will become. So be careful as to what follows those two words – I AM.