Ahyiana Angel is the Founder of Mayzie Media, a podcast network curated for women, and host of the Switch, Pivot or Quit podcast. A traditionally published author, Ahyiana is a seasoned executor who eventually blocked out the world’s ideas of success, quit her highly coveted position at the NBA, moved to London and traveled the world for a stint, then followed her passion in writing to find her purpose in encouragement through podcasting. Mastering the art of note-worthy ideation, Ahyiana taps into her more than 12 years of professional business marketing experience to lend her thoughts on professional development, digital marketing, contemporary brand styling and more. However, Ahyiana enters her zone of genius when speaking to audiences about any of her 4 Ps: publicity, publishing, personal development and podcasting. Forbes, Black Enterprise, The Muse, Career Contessa, Create & Cultivate and more have featured Ahyiana and her work. The Switch, Pivot or Quit Podcast has been featured by girlboss.com, “The 6 Best Podcasts To Listen To For Career Advice” as well as entrepreneur.com’s “12 Women-Run Podcasts You Should Be Listening To.”
Who is Ahyiana Angel and what was your motivation for starting this brand?
I would say that I like to take chances, and I am a free thinker who does not get intimidated by new opportunities and possibilities. For me, that has been one of the driving forces in the direction my life has been going in because I made a switch, pivot, or quit. The brand of Switch, Pivot, or Quit came about from my own experiences. Everybody that knows me in my personal life knows that I am outspoken, creative, supportive, a good friend, and good listener, and that sort of plays into how I show up within my brand. So everything that happens with my brand and the things that I touch and build are true to who I am and how I want to show up in anything that I am a part of. I am now launching a media company called Mayzie Media because when I started in the podcasting space, I noticed that the top podcasts were not reflective of women or women of color. Me being the freethinking person that I am, I said I should really try to be a part of this space in a larger way. I wanted to create a hub for women to be able to consume podcasts, the content that would be most relevant to their lives, and the conversations they are having amongst themselves. That is how I got to the point where I am now.
Tell us a little about your switch, pivot, or quit story.
I started out of college doing an internship in Public Relations. I was unfamiliar with that world before that point. Through that experience, I realized that there were some things that I liked about PR that I was capable of doing. Things that worked with me such as being a creative writer, writing press releases, building relationships with people, and being a talker. That worked for me for a long time, and I ended up working in sports entertainment PR, working for the National Basketball Association. That was a stretch for me because I am not a sports girl. But, I am an entertainment girl and that’s what the requirement was. So there was an interest for me from the entertainment side and I loved it at first. I did the job and I worked at the NBA for 6 years. I was at All-star weekend, running red carpets, celebrity games, all these fun, all of the lights kind of things. At a certain point, I started wanting to tap into my hands on creativity a bit more. So I co-created a jewelry line. Through co-creating that line while working PR full time, I started feeling a void. I thought to myself, PR is not going to be the end for me. I was like, I need to think of what else I can do, what else I want to do, and what else could potentially be next for me? In the midst of all of this, I was running the jewelry business, staying up late, preparing for photo shoots, and working on new collections. It really excited me. In the midst of trying to figure out what was next, I was also trying to understand what I liked about some things and what I did not like about other things, mainly being my 9-5 and PR. I took all types of classes just to hone in on what was at the heart of all of this. Eventually, I realized that PR was not working for me. I wanted to do more and make an impact in a larger way. I ended up going in the direction of writing because I always had a story in my mind and in my heart that I wanted to tell. I finally told myself, “You need to go for it now. If you do not go for it now, when are you going to go for it?” And so that’s what I did. I went for it. Wrote the book and studied the industry of publishing. I was determined to get my first book traditionally published. It was a blessing that that worked out for me. I got a traditional publishing offer about 3 months after I quit my full time job. Then, everything else started to take shape. I really started to see where my gift could come into play in my life on a day-to-day basis. I did not really see that before, but I knew the whole time I was sitting at my desk on fifth avenue that my light was not shining the way that it could be in that position. I felt stifled and I would say that, but it’s hard to explain that when you don’t know why you feel stifled. I felt like my creativity was being stifled but I could not really express what else I could have been doing. So, it is hard sometimes when you are trying to convey that thought to people. In the end, I ended up quitting the job, got the traditional publishing deal, moved to London for a while, came back, and that is when the book was published. I got into the space of working with people, encouraging people, and tapping into what was already happening in my life. But, I did not know what was happening because there were a lot of people being inspired by my story, and my guts to quit and chart a new path. I really started paying attention to the fact that people were gravitating towards that.
Quitting your job is a scary thing. It is intimidating and it is also the type of thing where people do not do it all the time, so people will question your decision and wonder if you are doing the right thing for you. People are not used to operating in the position of the unknown. They need to know how they are going to make money and what they are going to do from day to day. I try not to tell people to quit on the podcast. I tell them to do what they feel they need to do because I don’t know their situation. But a lot of times, that is the answer for people because it’s not really about the quit, it’s more about taking action.
What is your vision for Mayzie Media?
To create a community for women around podcasting. Not just a community in the sense of people who are creators of podcasts, but people who are consumers of podcasts. Life throws a lot of stuff at women. I keep hearing women say, “Where could I find female led podcasts that don’t have a bro culture going on? I’m sick of hearing men tell us what to do. I’m sick of them chiming in.” I had one young lady say, “If I have to hear another middle aged white man tell me that getting up earlier in the morning and drinking a green juice would solve all of my problems, I’m going to scream.” So, my vision for Mayzie Media is to create a hub that shows up alongside of the major podcast producers, in the space that commands the same type of attention that they do. When somebody’s programming commands attention, that means that a lot of times, their voice will be heard over other people. I want our voice to be heard. I want our story to be told. I think there is a lot of opportunity available within podcasting. There is a lot of programming that has not been touched on yet and I have at least three tiers of programming that I want to release under Mayzie Media. So, there is a lot to be done and I think there is a lot to explore in the podcasting space when it comes to women and amplifying our voices in podcasting.
When can we expect more from Mayzie Media?
The very first show is called “A Milli” and that launched September 25th. The feedback has been great so far. There is going to be exciting women and names included in the conversation. I wanted to come out with this podcast first to show the strength of women in terms of the business sector, and how we can show up and play just as well as any man. These women are all women who have amassed a million plus in some area of business whether it is in personal finance, subscribers, sales, revenue, funding, followers, you name it. It is no small feat to amass 1 million of something. A lot of them are game changers. They are changing their industry, changing what it looks like to be in their industry, and are really involved in diversity and inclusion conversations. So, I thought this show was the strongest to lead with. But, as the year comes to a close, another show will be released called “Booked”. “Booked” deals with women authors who are talking about things that closely relate to us becoming better individuals in this world. Most of them are non-fiction authors. Their books may talk about self-help, personal development, and finances. Anything that is going to help enhance us and help us show up as stronger women in our respective worlds that we operate in. The top of the New Year we are going to have a show that would be a bit more of lifestyle programming. Things will start to roll out over the next two years. But what I can say is that the content buckets that we are going to focus on is beauty, spirituality, business, health, and wellness. I want it to be things that can feed women in one way or another. Mayzie Media is like the audio version of you having a brunch date with your girlfriends. It fills you up in those ways.
How do you do it all and with such excellence?
The way that I operate is based off of my training. I have always been in companies where there is an expectation to produce at a certain level and people are watching. So I operate in my business as if people are watching. I always maintain a level of professionalism, and try to be on top of things. I see how operating in that way gets you further. It makes people want to work with you, trust you, and speak highly of you. These are all things that go towards building your personal brand.
Some days I do not feel like I am doing it all. There are some days I do not get things done that I wanted to get done. But, I do my best to execute on what is within my scope, and if I need to hire some things out then I will. What drives me is that I want to leave a legacy that shows that as people and women, we can show up for each other. You rarely see people cheering others on, congratulating them, and being a support system without having an ulterior motive. I want us to show up for people without looking for something in return. So, when it comes to trying to do it all, there are a lot of things that I try to cram into my day. But I also understand that there are things that I will not get to and it will be there the next day.
What were the main challenges you faced?
Being a one woman show means that everything falls on your shoulders. I just do what I can. I give myself a break. Some other challenges are people taking a chance on you. Sometimes when you are new to the space, people don’t want to take a chance on you. But, I keep pushing through. A lot of times, you have to prove yourself to people. That does not mean that you have to work from a space of proving your worth. It just means that you have to work in such a way so they see that you are not stopping or slowing down. Eventually, they are going to have to respect you. Eventually, they are going to have to act like they see you. Eventually, they are going to have to acknowledge you. Eventually, they are going to want to work with you. So, you just keep going and maintaining at that same level of excellence and eventually, you are going to overcome that hurdle of being the new person.
As much as social media brings opportunities within the landscape that we are operating in right now, it also brings challenges. There is that idea of looking at the next person who is in a similar space and wondering if there is more that you can be doing or wondering if they are better than you. These are things that play with people’s minds every day. It is a challenge to have to constantly affirm yourself that you are good enough and doing great things. Before social media, we did not know what people were doing in other states. We only knew if it made the national news. But now, we are seeing everything that is happening and being produced by everybody and it can give you a sense of anxiety. Being grounded and trying to establish your why will help you to go further.
How do you keep yourself grounded?
I have people around me that I can speak to. If I am feeling anxious, I have people that I can call to talk it through with. They will challenge me, make me think about things, and help me get to a point where I can backtrack and see that it is not really a big deal. It is important to have a good group of people around you that can be a support system, be a listening ear, and can give sound logical advice.
Name a few of your accomplishments, and tell us which one you are most proud of.
I graduated from college. My dad always says that people think that graduating from college is the norm but it’s really not. You are exceptional if you graduated from college because not everyone has the follow through to make it through school and dedicate themselves to something in a way that they can get a degree.
Moving to New York was also an accomplishment because it is always what I wanted to do. I pushed myself. When there was no way, I made a way.
Getting a job at the NBA was an accomplishment because it was a tough interview process and it felt like a dream job before I got it.
Writing my book, getting an offer to have it traditionally published, and actually having it published were accomplishments.
Moving to London was an accomplishment because that is something I never thought I would do. I think if I thought about it more, I would have changed my mind. The biggest accomplishment there was solo traveling. Navigating through Spain all on public transportation and not being able to speak Spanish were accomplishments.
Launching the Switch, Pivot, or Quit podcast and Mayzie Media were accomplishments because I could have easily gotten bogged down with how much other companies were getting as far as funding. I’m not getting funding and I’m not looking for any. Launching Mayzie Media is the one I am most proud of because the expectation is greater and it is more visible. There is a different sense of achievement behind it when things go right and there’s also people watching so you feel like there’s more on the line.
What are your recommended books, podcasts, and resources?
- “Do Cool Shit” by Miki Agrawal
- “The Success Principles” by Jack Canfield
- “Take the Leap” by Sara Bliss
- Style Your Mind with Cara Alwill Leyba (podcast)
- The Mastery Sessions by Robin Sharma (podcast)
- Words Well Said by Amber Wright (podcast)
What advice would you give to individuals following in your footsteps?
Research. Do your research, but not to the point where you paralyze yourself. Operate from a space of excellence because when people do not know you or what to expect from you, it makes them start to think favorable upon you when you start to give them excellence. Keep going no matter what. If certain things don’t work, try something else. Follow your gut and your instinct because you know yourself better than anyone else, so you know what will and will not work for you. Let go of the sensitivity because a lot of us can be sensitive in different ways and don’t even realize it until we are in certain situations. There is no place for overly sensitive people in business especially someone who wants to show up in a prominent way. You cannot run around being sensitive all the time because it is not always about you. The reason someone said no is not always about you. It may have nothing to do with your qualifications or personality. You have to let that go.
Everybody has to go through his or her growth season and just because you want to speed up your growth season, it does not mean that that is how it is going to happen. A lot of people who are looking at other people on social media and looking at the results of their efforts today are not conscious of the fact that they were putting in the same effort back when you were not thinking about doing what they are doing. But now that it is appealing and it is on your radar you want what they have right now. But no, you have to go through your building and growth season, and that takes time. That also requires some level of you proving yourself. This stuff does not happen overnight. You cannot step onto any scene and think that you are going to be the shit on that scene when you have done nothing to establish that. You have not sacrificed anything, you have not been through anything, you barely even know the players, and you think you are going to be the shit? No, that is not how it works.