February Consultant of the Month
Hailing from Atlanta, Keshawn Hughes brings 20 years of marketing and product management experience to her newfound consulting career. While studying for her master’s degree in strategic communications, she discovered neuroscience-based coaching, became a certified NeuroCoach, and truly enjoys helping people optimize their brains for better health and overall success.
What are you currently working on?
Starting this month, I will be contracting with PayPal as a Marketing Projects and Operations Manager. This is my sweet spot, as I’ve done project management for engineering and science-based teams, as well as marketing teams. I understand the visionary and creative aspects of marketing, but am able to keep people on target when there are lots of moving parts, external vendors, and internal stakeholders.
Keshawn’s Keys to Success
- Using well-developed skills to establish her consulting business
- Pursuing a new career based on a keen interest
- Engaging in relevant communities
- Bringing positivity and enthusiasm into her work
Why did you decide to become a consultant? What path did you take to become a consultant?
Once I discovered it was an option, I thought, this is what I've been waiting for! I had always worked full time for organizations and had great experiences professionally. I'm a curious, creative, and social person. Consulting has provided me with the opportunity to connect with different organizations, cultures, challenges, to dive in deep with them to resolve a need. It's what fuels my day and keeps me positive and enthusiastic about the work I do. I am a problem solver at heart.
Before 2020, I worked with companies to launch products or new versions of software. Then, I discovered and was so intrigued by neuroscience-based coaching – learning how to optimize our brains to be better leaders. It informed how I was as a leader within my company and my personal life. I was able to use those principles as I transitioned out of full-time work into this entrepreneurial consulting lifestyle, which is not linear.
I now help people be aware of and overcome unconscious bias, and also how to deal with burnout and manage stress. There is this Great Resignation, a re-evaluation where people consider their personal health and wellness and how they show up day-to-day at work. If companies don't provide a sense of wellbeing, people choose to go elsewhere. Companies are paying attention. They want to keep their great employees. They want their workforce to be well and happy. So I'm being brought in to engage, train, and inspire that kind of activity in their workforce. I love it.
What was your favorite project to work on? Why?
Rebranding initiatives are my favorite because they're the most transformational – when a brand wants to reposition or rename itself and build awareness and trust within the market, there's so much tied to it. In addition to the look, feel, content, and everything supporting the rebrand, there’s always a leveling up process in those projects. They start as one thing and end in another, still having the consumer in mind and wanting to provide the best experience.
What has been your biggest challenge about being a consultant? How have you addressed it?
Coming from a full time working mindset, which can be more regimented, routine, and predictable, I have had to adjust to stay in the flow of opportunities and ride the waves, the ups, and the downs. Community is a huge part of that – being able to talk, connect, and commiserate with people – and building relationships where opportunities may come.
How do you market yourself?
Through communities: EM Marketing, my alumni association, my Alpha Kappa Alpha network, and other marketing associations that I regularly share and have dialogue with. Since the beginning of my career transition, LinkedIn has also been huge in connecting with people. I set up Sip and Chat meetings to have a real, live dialogue, to build a relationship, to truly understand the person, what they do, what they're looking to do. If I had to do everything on my own, I don't know if I would be as joyful, motivated, or successful as I have been as a consultant. That community aspect is everything.
What are the things you like to do when the work slows down?
Have you heard of “The 5 Love Languages?” It helps in understanding how to meet another's need, to let them know that they're appreciated and cared for. I always say, redirect that to yourself. My love languages are words of affirmation and physical touch. So, self care is big for me. I’ll schedule a massage, do acupuncture, get facials, take a long Epsom salt bath – something to reinvigorate and have a healthy focus on physical wellbeing. I like to exercise, go to barre classes, walk in nature and be outdoors.
I spend time with my dog, my husband, and my daughter, finding joyful ways that I can play, because sometimes we can forget about that as an adult. We're so work oriented, but my daughter is five and she keeps me in my play zone. I have an active life outside of work and it feels like downtime because it's fun. It's not so driven or outcome oriented. It's just to be in the moment.
What’s one tip you would give to new consultants?
Get into a community of like-minded professionals that's engaging, active, alive, vibrant. EM Marketing is the most engaging marketing consulting community, which is so important. There's so much to learn. It's interesting to see other consultants' perspectives, what they're working on, but also answering their questions and showing up for them. One way that we can pick ourselves up is to support someone else and to focus on what their needs might be. You're not alone, you can do this, just stay encouraged.