Welcome to Quit Your Day Job — a series where we talk to incredible people who have parted with their day jobs to branch out on their own and follow their passions.
For years, Ahyiana worked as in Sports Entertainment at the NBA, but, upon discovering more of her strengths and talents, she went on to become a published author. Ahyiana is now the podcast host of a show whose primary goal is to provide "encouragement, resources, and inspiration for the confident goal chaser."
What's your current job description?
I am a traditionally published author who has written fiction and non-fiction work. I host the Switch, Pivot or Quit podcast — a result of my transition from a Sports Entertainment Publicist at the NBA to an author — and I do consulting work for individuals and businesses on all things Switch, Pivot or Quit as well as podcasting. Ultimately, I like to think of myself as a creator. I'm not big on limits so that makes me feel free.
How did you find your passion? Have you always known? Did this differ from your 'original plan'?
Passions and deep interests can be an evolving thing. I would definitely say that my passion of being a Chief Encourager with Switch, Pivot or Quit actually found me, and yes, it totally differed from my original plan as it was not even a thought previously.
I've always been the person that people turned to for advice, ideas, suggestions, information, and connections. One day I wondered why people always turned to me like I was some sort of expert, but when I thought about it, it was probably because I was always there for them with practical advice, solutions, answers and most of all encouragement.
Eventually, after transitioning from my publicity career, I really started to notice the impact that I was having on others and I really couldn't run from it, so I embraced it. I guess when I look back, I should have always known, but sometimes when you do things that come naturally to you it is easy to overlook those things as passions, strengths or talents.
How did you decide to leave your old job behind?
I really believe that my side-hustle of co-owning a jewelry company kicked off the itch for wanting more out of my day-to-day. I was living in New York and I'd been introduced to so many freelancers that were doing what they truly enjoyed daily and seemingly thriving at it. I knew that the freelance life was not all roses so I stayed in my comfortable PR position about three years longer than I should have.
During that time I also started to do the personal work to understand myself better and really explore my interests to find out what was next for me. Once I decided that I wanted to try my hand at being an author and writing a book I went all in.
Before giving my notice I had completed my manuscript but I didn't have a publisher so I was really believing in myself and taking a huge risk. It paid off and my debut novel Preseason Love was picked up four months later and published just shy of a year after being picked up under a Simon & Schuster imprint.
What was your transition process like?
I was honestly clueless throughout my transition. I was just working really hard and feeling my way through. I had plenty of big ideas that I tried to execute and some worked out and some didn't, but after dusting myself off I always kept going.
Once I solidified my book publishing contract I decided to move to London for a bit to allow myself the chance to explore, learn new things, meet new people and gain new experiences that could inspire me personally and professionally. That was one of the best decisions of my life. I lived in a hostel sharing a room with six men and women from all over the world—from Russia to Australia—for over a month, which was awkward for me but it increased my patience and openness.
Once I returned back to the States, it was just before my book release and I felt so empowered — like I could do and accomplish anything.
Post London, I planned and executed my own seven-city book tour (highly intimidating), taught a book publishing workshop in San Francisco, co-hosted "I Need New Friends" networking brunches from New York to Los Angeles and ultimately realized that all of this was grooming me to be the Chief Encourager and Podcast Host at Switch, Pivot or Quit. My transition had plenty of twists and turns but I think that true growth does not come from perfection or having it all figured out.
Did you/do you have a mentor? How has this helped you and what's your advice to someone looking for a mentor?
I've never had a real mentor, but it wasn't a conscious decision not to have one. In fact, I wish that I did have a mentor. I've always been so busy on the move that I think I just never made finding or connecting with a mentor a priority. However, I am surrounded by awesome people (friends and colleagues) who I bounce ideas and issues off of and they inspire me, guide me and uplift me.
The advice from a person who does not have a mentor, yet has been a mentor to many, would be to get a mentor! Do your research and be intentional when looking to connect with someone on a mentorship level. Know exactly why you want to have this person in your life and helping to impact your life. Look into local professional organizations, people that you currently do business with and LinkedIn is a great resource as well. Just don't come on too strong in the beginning. I would even leave out the word mentor and just begin developing an organic relationship. They will get it.
Many women suffer from "imposter syndrome" — do you? If so, how do you deal?
I have suffered from this at certain points in time but then I have to remind myself that I have the receipts. I've done the work. I'm very educated and experienced. I'm qualified and even if I'm venturing into a new or unfamiliar area then I'll learn, and in turn, kill it. Nobody started off as an expert. Most people are still secretly learning and winging it as they are interacting with us day-to-day. Some people are just better at hiding it than others.
How do you handle failures and rejection?
My journey with rejection started off working in the PR world because people tell you 'no' every day. However, if I'm honest, rejection never feels good but it's all about how you choose to process it and if you allow yourself to internalize it or not.
Sometimes, most times, it's not even about you or a direct reflection of you or something that you did or did not do. Sometimes it's about timing. I've heard it said that success absolutely has a percentage of luck involved and I believe that. As long as I've put in my absolute best effort, I can't let rejection phase me because it will not stop my shine! On to the next!
What’s your advice to someone who’s struggling or scared to follow their dreams?
Start by heading to SwitchPivotorQuit and picking up the Plot Twist Journal that I created because I've been there. Being scared is normal — we all feel it and face it. The key is that you can't let it paralyze you, stop you from being your best and giving your best to this world. The world deserves to see you shine and experience what you have to offer. Success is deliberate — action is optional.
(Images courtesy of Ahyiana Angel)