Speaker, Media Contributor, Influencer
Shinjini Das, is a Keynote Speaker, Media Personality, Content Contributor, and Brand Spokesperson with a social media following of 41,000+. An empowering and a globally recognized versatile talent, she has been featured on various major news networks across the country. She is fluent in Spanish, and has been invited to speak to audiences from 10 to 10,000.
Shinjini recommends that anyone interested in pursuing the path of speaker, media contributor, and influencer first outline a viable niche as well as the definition of uniquely defined value, which should ideally be distinguished from all of the current offerings in the marketplace. “Ultimately, the brand is of highest priority, and we have to make every effort to ensure that our brand is not replicable in the eyes of the world because we provide differentiated value.”
Shinjini realized growing up that one of her most unique selling points was her versatility. She leveraged that background to create the powerful brand that she has today. “I would encourage everyone to look within themselves to pinpoint those unique selling points which the world needs in order to create a differentiated value.”
“I highly recommend utilizing Twitter to reach out to amazing influencers in your space to network and build relationships early and consistently.” Although Shinjini was new to the social media platform, she learned it and leveraged it to build connections both online and offline. Social media has been invaluable in helping her scale her brand. “Social media is one of the most vital touch points for the world to interact with you, and so it is critical that your social media presence conveys the authenticity of your brand.”
If you are looking to get into this business, one big misconception seems to be that all of your content is handed to you or created for you. “This could not be further from the truth, as I spend an incredible number of hours conceptualizing content and crafting strategies to most effectively translate that content via national TV interviews, speaking engagements, brand sponsorships, or keynote addresses.” There is a great deal of work that goes into this process.
While Shinjini says that being her own boss is liberating, she wants people to understand that it also means you could wind up working a great deal more than when you are simply an employee. She works roughly 18 hours a day, 90 hours a week to fulfill her duties as an entrepreneur. “You are the sole person accountable for your successes, failures, and everything in between.”
Kayla Mulligan graduated college 5 years ago and has been working with Aflac as an independent contractor for 4 years. Kayla is a successful agent and is a prime example of the flexibility an independent sales agent offers. “I love traveling, and since I am my own boss, I am able to build my own schedule and I never have to worry about vacation days. This means I can fly home to visit my family every Christmas or travel across the world. The flexibility has even allowed me to move to a new state without having to worry about the traditional obstacles associated with acquiring income.”
Millennials are all about pioneering their own path with little desire to, “work for the man.” Before you rule out the opportunity to work with large corporations, give Aflac a chance. “The hours I put in per week vary depending on what accounts I am working on at the time. Most weeks, I put in between 30-50 hours. Some weeks can be very busy, but then the next week you can take a little bit of a break. That is another perk – since I build my own schedule, I can work the hours I need to and take time off when I need to, which allows for greater flexibility for other events in my life.”
Aflac in particular beats to the Millennial drum when it comes providing the opportunity to build your own business and pursue your inner Entrepreneur. At Aflac, agents are fortunate to find a multitude of training programs and tactics to suit any personality type. You do need a license to sell insurance from the Department of Insurance (DOI) in the state you are doing business. Luckily, Aflac is there to help guide you through that process.
The company believes that not everyone learns in the same way, and chooses to offer programs that support various styles, thus allowing people to grow more quickly in their sales roles. “One of the things I love about being an independent agent is that while certain degrees can be helpful, degrees are not required or necessary to learn the business and be successful. Instead, it is based on the hard work you put in and the relationships you build with people and prospective customers.”
As an Independent Agent at Aflac, you have the opportunity to work from home, enjoy flexible hours, and earn commissions, renewals, stocks and bonuses based on your performance. New agents can earn up to $25,000 in bonuses in their first two years. “Aside from the idea of helping an individual or family through a crisis, I’d have to say when I began, I was most intrigued by the idea that there was no limit on the income I could earn; specifically, renewal income was very appealing. Renewal income is the commissions paid to me every time an existing client makes a premium payment, which I had never heard of coming out of college.”
Aflac has been named one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies for 10 consecutive years and its work with the Aflac Cancer Center is at the core of the company’s philanthropy efforts. Aflac has raised and donated more than $100 million since 1995 to the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Sixty percent of donations come from Aflac’s sales agents who contribute from their commissions.
“In the beginning, it takes a lot of effort to develop new clients and build relationships, and it can be challenging when you are still learning the ropes. But once you get through your first year, you start to see your efforts come to fruition. Referrals happen, your residual income builds and you start to grow your book of business, which makes the sometimes rocky start worth it.” Hard work pays off at Aflac; your personal performance can reward you with trips, awards – and a stock bonus gift of up to 3.5% of annualized premium. Also, the national Honors Clubs program allows Aflac agents to qualify for trips to amazing destinations such as Hawaii, New York, the Caribbean and more.
Social Media Strategist
Dede Watson, is one of the most sought out Social Media Strategists in the country and was named a Top 50 Social Media Power Influencer in 2012 and 2013. Dede works with multiple Social Media platforms. Dede works work with brands and experts from all over the country to build their online marketing strategy and has a true knack for building an engaged community in the social space.
This is something that you would never have imagined to exist not too many years ago! Social media was just a place to connect with friends and family initially. Now, a Social Media Strategist focuses on growing a community and works with their clients to ensure that their overall objectives are being met. “They are always looking for ways to increase awareness and ROI for their client. Every project and client is different.”
If you are looking at a career in this area, you do not really need a degree, but you do need hands on experience. You need to know your stuff! Get familiar with as many social media platforms as you can. “Be active within the communities so that you are visible and experienced when you start working with clients.”
To be successful, you need to be able to show your client a return on their investment. It helps tremendously to be passionate about the brand or business you are working with. That is a tip that can only lead you into success. “When you are successful, you have made a huge difference in someone’s business or brand! But it can also be very hard to feel like there is always something left to do – like you are never finished at the end of the day.”
Not everyone is successful in this field. There are a lot of people who work in social media, but not everyone can drive results. “Take a look at their own social platforms and those of their clients. It is the best indicator of how they will perform for you.”
Dede has always had a strong work ethic, so the 50+ hours a week that she puts in, for her, is a no-brainer to ensure the success of her business.
Roberto Blake, is a Creative Entrepreneur helping businesses, brands and individuals market themselves effectively with engaging visuals and effective messages. Roberto has over 10 years of experience commercially in design and marketing, and he has helped brands, both large and small, achieve their goals and reach their audiences. His work has been recognized by various elite publications across the country.
In today’s world, you do not necessarily need a degree to do graphic design. “Your portfolio and presentations skills count the most and personality is a real factor, strong verbal and written communication skills go a long way.” You have complete control over every aspect of how and when you work; but, on that same line of thinking, because you are the boss – if you mess up, everything is also your fault. “Being accountable to yourself only works if you have the discipline to actually be accountable. It’s not something everyone can do.”
The hours that you work as a graphic designer ultimately depends on a variety of factors. Such as how much you travel, what equipment you have and use and what kind of experience you have. “Experience, hardware, software, and creativity are the variables in this industry that determine how much time you have to invest, so it will be different for everyone.”
Roberto sets himself apart as a designer because he differentiates the relationship and the experience. He is a designer that is entrepreneurial, very business savvy and has a background in marketing. He does not let the temptation to be an artist take over his instincts as a business owner. “I filter clients based on how serious they are about their business and creating value for their consumer and customer. Working with me means having a creative partner, not commissioning a ‘pair of hands’ or ‘idea guy.’”
Roberto calls social media his “magic bullet.” Because social media lets you be in all places at once, you are able to filter your relationships while creating a new pipeline of potential clients. “It has gotten me the largest clients I’ve ever had the opportunity to work with.” And just because you do not convert all of your fans into clients, doesn’t mean that they are not out there talking you up to your next big client. “If I could encourage designers to do anything to help their career, it would be networking and getting out in front of as many people as possible.”
Ashley Stahl, At 23, Ashley Stahl was working at the Pentagon in the counter-terrorism department. After a change of heart, a terrible job hunting experience, and a career change, now 29 years old, Ashley has built a thriving business supporting Gen Y women in their careers. In three years’ time, she scaled the business to serve thousands of job hunting clients around the world and is the country’s leading Career Coach to Gen Y. Ashley has appeared in many top media outlets and is a Columnist for a major publication.
While certifications and degrees are great, Ashley believes that coaching certifications are a waste of money. “The job hunting skill set I teach comes from a combination of high level mindset mentorship from leaders in the personal development world, alongside actionable skills I learned in my work doing counterterrorism for the Pentagon in Washington, DC.”
Before coming up with her own tried and true system and charging clients for her services, Ashley worked with tons of clients free of charge. “The result was that I was able to charge customers for my time, KNOWING that if they put in the work, they’d get mega results, be it clarity on their purpose, a job offer or more confidence.”
Most career coaches maintain a healthy private practice where they take on a handful of private clients working 30 hours a week. For Ashley, that just wasn’t going to cut it. Her vision was one of impact and she could not make that impact on the world by focusing only on a few clients. “I’ve been scaling the company online for the past 3 years. I created my signature online program for job hunters (my brainchild!) the Limitless Career Lab, with the goal of helping job seekers around the world master the job hunt and get paid what they’re worth.”
Networking and social media are a key part of letting people know you and your services are out there. Ashley writes her own column for a business magazine, her own personal blog, and she offers a free training to job seekers online. Social media is a huge resource when you are marketing yourself and your brand. “There are SO many high level corporate players hanging out on Twitter– people you couldn’t otherwise access. I also worship Linkedin– I think it’s the best job hunting tool of our time, and its valuation is worth every penny it’s quoted.”
It is always good to have a solid support system for your business, but Ashley says that one key thing to remember is that you are sometimes the only person who can face the challenges that arise. You will always be your biggest supporter – no one will ever love your business as much as you will. “I believe that external tools are great, but it’s my ability to help shift someone’s perception of themselves, and what’s possible that really create massive change for my clients.”
The beautiful thing about today is that you have the opportunity to carve out a career path that allows you to be your own boss, create your own schedule, and NOT work from a cubicle! With the foundation of a college degree or online school training, a savings cushion, a certain skill set, and passion to be your own boss, you too can be a Millennial Entrepreneur. With hard work, motivation and persistence, any of the 5 career paths you just read about, as well as many others, allow you to take control of your own destiny.
Aflac herein means American Family Life Assurance Company of Columbus and American Family Life Assurance Company of New York. Aflac agents are independent contractors and not employees of Aflac. To learn more about becoming an Aflac agent, please visit www.aflac.com/agents.
This post is sponsored by Aflac. I was compensated for writing it, but all opinions are 100% mine.