On Mondays, I want to spotlight young adults who are accomplishing their dreams. I think that it is important to show that we’re not all Tweeting, Facebooking, and Instagraming our lives away. Some of us are actually living and conquering life.
I am so excited to feature Ms. Kioshana LaCount. I have grown up with (and competed with) this lovely woman. She is incredibly intelligent, talented, witty, and a strong woman who is an inspiration to women of all ages.
Kioshana LaCount is the owner of The Excellence Initiative, LLC, a career education and coaching firm based in Gadsden, AL. The Excellence Initiative provides clients with an innovative, leading edge approach to career education through such services as: online GED preparation, resume and interview consultation, coaching for special populations (veterans, LGBT persons, etc.), and more. The company also has a keen focus on youth development, and will soon be unveiling youth entrepreneurship and personal branding components. Kioshana has over 11 years of experience in working in the career services and life skills fields, teaching and empowering people both young and old to work at continually improving their lives. Her professional career spans the corporate, government, and non-profit sectors, and she has served in such positions as Resource Development Coordinator for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Northeast Alabama, Parent Educator for the United Way of Etowah County, and, most recently, Lead Career Transition Specialist for the U.S. Department of Labor’s Job Corps Program. She serves as Regional Director for the Network for Women in Business, co-author of the book “Network to Increase Your Net Worth” and the creator of the blog www.JobSnobbing.com. Kioshana graduated first in her class from Alabama State University’s College of Business Administration, where she holds a degree in Marketing and International Business.
I had the pleasure to ask Kio a few questions. Check out the interview below:
What inspired you to start the Excellence Initiative?
I was inspired to found the Excellence Initiative because of my day job, actually. I am a career coach for the US Dept of Labor’s Job Corps program, which is a job training program for teens and young adults who have socio-economic or educational barriers to employment. My job is to assist completers of the program in finding and maintaining employment after they separate. I noticed that with many of my students, and with other people that I worked with as a freelance coach in my off time, that there was a serious disconnect in what employers were looking for and what they had to offer. Many times I saw clients who lived in areas where jobs were very scarce, or they simply didn’t have the skill set to meet the requirements of whatever positions actually were available.
I have over 11 years of experience (including volunteer and professional positions) in working to assist young people to better themselves through career and life skills training. I’ve worked for some really great programs in the past, including the Boys and Girls Clubs and United Way, in addition to Job Corps… but I still felt that there was more that I could do, and that there were still some needs that weren’t met.
Thus, I (along with my partner) started Excellence GED, an online GED prep service. From there it has grown to what the Excellence Initiative is now, offering: individual/group coaching, workshops, resume and interview building and assistance, and personal branding. The services we now offer are more broad-based, and we serve clients from all across the employment spectrum, from those who are just getting started in the job market to those seasoned professionals looking for additional development or a career change. It’s really been a great ride, and I’m looking forward to seeing it continue to grow in the coming years.
Tell us about your contribution to Network to Increase your Net worth:
Network to Increase Your Net Worth was really something that just kind of fell into my lap. I had been in contact with Toni Coleman-Brown (the compiler) about working with her Network for Women in Business, because I wanted to found a chapter in the local area. I was accepted as a member and eventually named Regional Director for my area (Alabama). The opportunity to collaborate on NINW was something offered only to the Regional Directors. When Toni told me about the book project, I immediately jumped at the opportunity.
The premise of the anthology is networking advice for women entrepreneurs. Of course, my portion of the book details my personal area of expertise, “Leveraging Community Service as a Means of Networking”. Basically, it’s about how to grow a business and/or advance your career through community service. Community service is something that I’ve been passionate about and heavily involved in since my early teens, and so I talked about my firsthand experience with how helping others has helped me grow my own business, make connections, etc. I also give advice on options for exploring service opportunities in your local area, and give readers information on ways they can get involved, regardless of age, interest, or amount of time available to commit.
We started writing in June and completed the book for publication by the end of September. I have really loved getting to know the other women, and was fascinated by the breadth of information that we all had to share with the readers. It is truly a great book, and I am really proud to have been a part of it.
What projects are you working on now?
Right now I’m working on my first solo book, which is set to be published in January of next year. The book, titled “Job Snobbing” is a career development guide for young professionals. It details my personal method for career development, as well as why we as young adults need to focus on developing careers instead of chasing “jobs”. I’m really excited about being able to share this with a wider audience, and am looking forward to its release.
I’m also working on a web series on entrepreneurship/youth entrepreneurship that will be published on my blog – JobSnobbing.com
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
In ten years I see myself as completely self-employed, and living a location-independent life. I plan to make a career as an author and coach, and I envision myself traveling around the world for speaking engagements and offering my skills and services to a diverse clientele. I would like at some point down the road to teach college, but probably only in an adjunct capacity, because I don’t want to be tied to any one place for a long period of time.
I’m working now toward achieving those goals by implementing several changes in my everyday life. I practice writing daily, committing to spending at least 20-30 minutes developing my craft each morning. I’ve also decided to resume work on my MBA, and will be re-entering graduate school in January after taking a brief hiatus to re-evaluate and re-assess my goals and priorities as it relates to additional education.
Do you have a bucket list? If so, what are the top 3 items on the list?
I do! My list is fairly lengthy, but the top three things on it are:
- 1. – Visit every continent in the world at least once (except Antarctica – not interested in going to Antarctica). I’ve already knocked out four continents during college, so I’ve only got two left to go before I can check this one off my list. I plan on visiting the other two (Australia and South America) before I turn 30, so I may need to revisit/expand that goal.
- 2. – Learn a new language. I am obsessed with words and communication, and I am fascinated with languages outside of my native English. I am decent at Spanish and French (nowhere near fluent, though), and I know a handful of words in less popular languages, such as Korean, Japanese, and Wolof (the native tongue of Senegal). What I would really like, though, is to become fluent in a different language. That actually leads me to my next item…
- 3. – Live abroad for at least a year. I’m sure you see a theme developing here – I was bitten by the travel bug when I was in undergrad at Alabama State. During my four years at ASU, the college sent me to seven different countries for varying lengths of time. I’ve visited Spain, Senegal, Korea, Japan… and I’ve absolutely loved it. I love America, but I’m always fascinated by the centuries and centuries of history that other countries have that we simply cannot compete with in the US. I want to live as an expatriate at least once in my life, preferably somewhere in Europe.
What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?
“F*** what other people think – do you.”
And yes – that’s a direct quote, from a mentor of mine from college.
What is your main goal for your life?
When I was in 11th grade, I read a quote by Maya Angelou that has become by mantra. It goes:
“This is my life; this is my one time to be me. I want to experience every good thing.”
I believe that we are all in a state of perpetual evolution, and I want to make sure that I am always growing, pushing myself harder, going further, developing myself and doing what makes me happy. My two priorities in life are to die with as few regrets as possible and to have lived a life that meant something to the people I leave behind. Everything else is just details.
What three adjectives would you use to describe your life?
Honest, kinetic, and mine
After speaking with Kio, I feel like I want to go hire a travel agent, take a year off from reality and travel the world. This isn’t feasible for my lifestyle right now, but this interview alone has inspired me to loosen up a little and also live life freely and passionately.
Kioshana can be contacted via:
Email – email@example.com
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/#!/coachkioshana
LinkedIn: Kioshana L. LaCount
Kioshana is available for speaking engagements to small or large groups, as well as hosting workshops and providing individual coaching sessions. Please contact her at Kioshana.firstname.lastname@example.org