School: North Carolina A&T State University
Major: Bachelor of Science degrees in Accounting and Business Economics
Founder and CEO of ACT Inspires INC.
Have you ever thought, “What is my purpose in life? What is my passion? Where do I go from here?”
While many people struggle with these questions, few follow up on the sentiments behind them. This, however, was not the case for successful Deloitte Tax LLP manager, Akilah C.Thompson, who made her mark in the world of accounting at a very young age. After years of working in corporate America, Akilah threw in the towel, following a rotational trip to India. Akilah simply did not feel as if she was fulfilling her purpose. She walked away from a six figure job and a comfortable life, to embark on a journey to inspire “others” to unleash their BEAST and become their absolute BEST. Read more on her journey below.
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
I was raised in Long Island, NY and I left the area to pursue my Bachelors in Accounting & Business Economics at North Carolina A&T State University. After spending six years in corporate America as a Tax Accountant, I decided to pursue my other talents, and started my trademark company ACT Inspires Inc.
I am now an inspirational speaker, teen guru and certified life coach, which allows me to literally transform lives. Under ACT, I aim to inspire people through speaking, acting, modeling, fitness and writing. I am also the Executive Director of a nonprofit, Generations Inspired Inc, where we focus on empowering youth and young adults to achieve their fullest potential through innovative, interactive, informative, and inspirational programs. Under Generations Inspired, I created I AM BEAUTY which is an empowerment program for teen girls 11-18 years of age, which has now blossomed into six to ten week development boot camps, girl talks, coaching, and much more.
Where were you five months after graduating from North Carolina A&T State University?
I was a Tax associate at PricewaterhouseCoopers, where I had the opportunity to work with large entertainment clients such as Omnicom and Viacom providing them with corporate tax compliance services. During this time period I began volunteering on the New York National Association of Black Accountants (NABA) board. Under the supervision of NABA board member, Natara Holloway, who is now the Vice President of Consumer Products for the NFL, I created and spearheaded flagship NABA NY events such as “Meet the Firms” and “Reflect and Inspire.”
Let’s cut to the chase, what made you take the leap of faith, to leave corporate?
Honestly, I was at the point of my career where I was praying to get fired. I had totally lost the fire and desire to be constrained to my cubicle for some weeks almost 100 hours! I would have dreams of wanting to get the call that it was my last day. I normally strive to be an overachiever, so this feeling of almost wanting to fail was alarming and I knew it was time to move on. So I did.
Who helped you during your transition period, after leaving Deloitte?
One of my good friends Otwan, who had also left corporate America to start his own company, supported me in my decision. He told me “Akilah you’re talented, ambitious and you know how to network. You don’t need a 9-5. Do this… write down everything you know how to do well and research how much money you can make. Once you do that, I can assure you that you won’t feel like you need to ever work for anybody. To this day that was the best advice anyone could have given me.
Tell me about your latest projects.
I will be partnering with Hempstead High School to have a girls summit titled ”Keeping it 1000.” which we will discuss teen issues with a 1,000+ girls. Also, I have the “I am B.E.A.U.T.Y.” Girls Guide and a blog coming out this fall.
What does the phrase “My Freshman Year of Life” means to you?
It’s anytime you embark on new territory and have to learn the ropes all over again. It’s an adventurous time of exploration and self-discovery. This is my third time being a freshman, first being a freshman in college, and then being a freshman in corporate America and now as an entrepreneur.
What advice do you have for people who are at jobs that they don’t like?
- Discover what gives you joy and satisfaction. Passion will lead you to your purpose.
- Find out if you can use your passion where you are currently working.
- Do something about it! If you are working somewhere you hate , ultimately it will start effecting your psyche and confidence. Anytime you get to a place in life where being mediocre is cool, it’s time to go! Get to the heart of the matter and do something about it.
If you were to write a letter to your younger self about being an entrepreneur, what would it say?
Don’t be afraid to lose everything and everybody to gain everything and everybody.
Akilah C. Thompson
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