Alumna finds passion and great success in the world of creative entrepreneurship
As a student, knowing what you don’t want to pursue as a career can be just as important as finding out what you do want to do. Graduating from Sheridan’s Office Administration program wasn’t Pauleanna Reid’s ultimate goal, but it gave her the tools she needed to turn the world around her into a classroom that helped her discover her true passion and ultimately, great success.
Reid is now a creative entrepreneur who freelances, acts as a ghostwriter for high-profile professionals, and advises, mentors and teaches others, all while managing public speaking engagements and working on her own novel. The journey to get to this point started with a belief in her ability to overcome any challenge.
Growing up, Reid lived with a learning difference that made navigating traditional teaching and testing methods in school especially difficult. When she entered high school, she received little help or guidance and failed many of her classes, creating a ripple effect of self-doubt, depression and anxiety.
“In my senior year I spoke to my guidance counsellor and told her I want to be in communications or journalism or be a writer in general. She, and all the adults in my life, told me that will never happen because my track record was really bad,” she says. “And so, I went into office administration and didn't see it as a blessing at the time.”
Subsequently, studying at Sheridan also proved to be difficult for Reid and frustration with her studies caused mental health challenges including depression.
“But what's really interesting is it wasn't because of Sheridan per se,” she says. “It was because of the constraints and labels and this black cloud that followed me from high school. I was under the pressure of having to choose what I wanted to do without any context, without the freedom or the permission to colour outside the lines or explore my creative expression. There was none of that.”
Although traditional learning methods failed her, she was always a student of the world, and the drive to pursue her creative passions always stayed with her. “I knew I wanted to be a writer because as I was being bullied and tormented in high school, the moments where I found a lot of peace was when I was by myself in the library or the cafeteria, doodling in my notebook or journaling,” says Reid. “Eventually I realized I wanted this feeling for the rest of my life.”
After graduation in 2007, she realized that Office Administration had given her skills that could help her achieve her goal of being a writer. She joined the corporate world as an executive assistant and acted as a sponge, soaking up the culture and learning on the job how to excel in high-functioning workplaces.
“One thing I learned, from reading and talking and watching, is that everyone starts at zero. And if that’s true, that means everyone has a fighting chance.”– Pauleanna Reid
She explains, “Now I work with high-net-worth clients, and one of the things that they love about my company and about myself is that I'm highly organized. I'm very analytical, I'm efficient, I'm swift. I work quickly. I'm responsive. I'm an effective communicator. These attributes were really cultivated during my time at Sheridan and in my 10-year career in the corporate world.”
Throughout her time in corporate offices, Reid was also reaching out to mentors, creating new relationships, and networking to build her writing portfolio. This eventually led to consistent freelance writing work, contributing to Forbes and Business Insider.
During this time, she was introduced to the world of ghostwriting and the gap that existed for it in the creative-writing market. “My first job out the gate was to write a speech for a high-profile celebrity supermodel,” says Reid. “I wrote a speech for her, and the team had no edits. That was my first indication where I thought to myself, okay, I have something here.” She soon realized this was a perfect opportunity to launch her business WritersBlok, where she provides ghostwriting services to high-profile leaders, celebrities, professional athletes and top executives.
Her many successes are a direct result of her consistent belief in herself and her abilities. For years, she flew all throughout Canada and the United States, on her own time, trying to make connections that would pay off in the long run.
“I knew I had to build pockets of networks in different parts of the US, like New York, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Atlanta. I would use up all my time off from my corporate job and travel. I would sleep in the airport and on friends’ couches,” she recalls. “I didn't have a lot of money at the time, so I was constantly hustling. I would have coffee dates from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. every day for four days straight, then come back home.”
Now, passing on all that she has worked so hard to learn is of the utmost importance to Reid. She teaches part-time in the English department at George Brown College, and started her own mentorship organization, New Girl on the Block. She has mentored over 200 women in 11 countries through her mentorship program and offers one-on-one services to help women realize their dreams. She says she thrives off learning and sharing her story to inspire others.
“You can learn something from everyone’s story. And one thing I learned, from reading and talking and watching, is that everyone starts at zero. And if that’s true, that means everyone has a fighting chance.”
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