On The Rise: Ayana Iman


Around this time last year I stumbled across an article titled Letting Go: I Quit My Job” as I was on my way home from work. Not wanting to miss the context, I held my phone tightly and searched for a nearby bench to digest every word the author Ayana Iman penciled down.  She was very clear on why following her own happiness was more important than clocking in. Since then, I have been a supporter of this amazing soul who  whose risk taking abilities has open new door of opportunities. Let’s find out more about Ayana Iman below.

Tell me a little bit about yourself. 

My name is Ayana Iman, I’m a 25-year-old professional speaker and aspiring life coach. I am the mother of one, a beautiful three-year-old girl named Ayo, the joy of my life. I hold a Bachelors Degree in Journalism and a Masters Degree in Strategic Communications. My professional goals include creating a conference in 2018 for the expansion of #AuthenticConvos, and helping 100,000 people cultivate an attitude of gratitude

Where were you 6 months after college?

6-months after undergrad, I was fired from my first post-graduate job and on the verge of becoming homeless. Soon after, I found out I was pregnant. Let’s just say the top of the year; including graduation, a great internship and travel were a stark difference than how it ended.

You launched an e-book on gratitude last year, how important is it to be grateful?

It’s very important to be grateful, especially because it is the starting point of all abundance. Gratitude remains when happiness fades, it keeps us present and allows us to experience some joy. It is the same reason my current situation looks completely different than 4 years ago. Instead of focusing on lack, I looked at the areas I was abundant, from the love of my family to my health; it all played a role in my progression.

54c1bb94-bc3a-42ff-81e6-9e09491ee16bYou are a serial entrepreneur, how do you stay on top of things while managing your personal life?

I am still in the beginning stages of my career building a foundation and learning how to become a successful entrepreneur. However, being busy comes with the territory, and I prioritize my time with my family, especially my daughter and boyfriend. They are very involved with my projects so it makes it easier to manage my personal life.

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I Get it from my Mama: 12 Things I’ve Learned from Her

I get it from my MAMA! Her smile, her walk and her intelligence. As we spend today celebrating our mothers, I want to take this time to highlight a few things I’ve learned from watching my mother work her magic over the years.

1. Dance when you’re happy, dance when you’re sad.

Dancing is rejuvenating and I’m glad my mother taught me how to move my feet. When was the last time you came across an angry dancer!? Think about it

2. Treat everyone equally and with respect.

I mean from the President to the homeless, everyone deserves respect because everyone is a human being.

3. Have 1 on 1 time with God.

I was raised in a religious home. However, my encounter with God didn’t really take place until I was in my late teens; that’s when I realized that I was not in control of my life as I thought I was. Whenever I’m in doubt, I just reach for my Bible just like she taught me.

4. Be Grateful and don’t  apologize for your blessing.

Know when to say please and thank you. My mother has taught me, that no matter how big or small the gesture may be, you must always say thank you.

5. Tunnel Vision 

She’s always reminded my sister and I to focus on what we’re doing, and not what everyone else is doing.

6. Have YOU Time

Treat yourself, take care of yourself and make sure you enjoy your company. If you don’t, who will?

7. Sacrifice is part of Life

I’ve watched this woman go from having an Engineering Degree, a successful  career in NGO’s, and switch over to the Medical field when we moved back to the States.  She manages to keep both her professional and  family life in line. She’s always been about the next move and as I’m writing this, she’s currently planning her Bakery Business Plan. (Need I say more?)

8. Be Optimistic

No matter how bad things may seem, there is always a new day around the corner.

9. Wear the dress, don’t let the dress wear you.

It doesn’t matter if you bought the most expensive outfit or the cheapest, it all depends on how you let your personality shine through it.

10. Anything is possible if you put your mind to it.

Both my parents believed in me and taught me to believe in myself and I love them for that. When I had trouble in school, my mother found a way for me to remember my citations by singing them to me.

11. Do not let anyone else dictate your happiness.

“Nope not even your mama!” she will say.

12. Be Classy at All Times

When people compliment me on my sense of fashion, ambition, poise and craziness, I say thank you but in reality, I want to tell them to thank my mother and all the beautiful women that raised me.  From time to time I would peruse her album and get ideas, asking her,  “ Why didn’t you save these dresses for me?”

A holiday cannot begin to compensate for all the sacrifices our mothers have made, so remember to always celebrate your loved ones, not just on holidays but everyday.


Industry: Digital Production

Hats: Founder and Editor-in-Chief, I Don’t Do Clubs, Digital Production Manager at Ebony Magazine

School: Savannah State University

Major: B.A, Mass Communications

In the past couple of weeks, you might have come across “30 Best Summer Trips for Black Professionals In 2015” from the blog, “I Don’t Do Clubs”, floating around on your social media networks. If you’re a social butterfly like me, this list was a saving grace. The woman behind the list, is Genese Jamilah, the Editor in Chief “I Don’t Do Clubs.”

20141105_201318Before becoming the go-to woman for young professionals who are looking for a “different way to party,” Genese moved from Atlanta to New York City, where she set forth to find where young professionals, commonly known as ‘yo-pros,” like herself were hanging out. Since entering her new venture, Genese’s blog has gained the attention and trust of young professionals across major cities in the United States. Besides managing her blog, Genese is also the Digital Production Manager for Ebony Magazine.

  1. We know you as the Digital Production Manager at Ebony, events connoisseur and blogger, which title do you enjoy more? 

It has to be Editor of “I Don’t Do Clubs”. It’s my project, which captures my voice; I don’t report to anyone. Although I love what I do at Ebony, blogging has helped me reach out to an audience that has become part of my family, I feel like I am helping others connect and network.

  1. Where were you 6 months after you graduated from Savannah State University? 

I was contemplating on my next move, which was moving to New York City. Although I love being in Georgia, I always wanted to experience the NYC scene.

  1. Where did you work prior to Ebony?

I interned at CNN, worked at Six Flags Corporation, where I oversaw 16 websites and also managed Scholastic.com – the parent’s editorial section.

IDDC_logo_no_tagline    4. Fast forward to 2011, what sparked the idea to create a blog?

At the time, I was working at Hot 97.1 and I was rubbing shoulders with bloggers all the time and I was intrigued by how they were using their platform to share information but also monetizing it. So one day I picked up a book called “Angel’s Laws of Blogging” by the blogging maven Angel Law, which focuses on utilizing a blog as a business venture. From choosing the right name, to managing comments the book covers the basic and vital parts of blogging. I ended up reading the book within a few days because I was stuck in the house due to Hurricane Sandy. I would definitely encourage any bloggers out there to read this book.

  1. How do you monetize on your blog?

At the beginning stages of the blog I used Google ads, however once I was overwhelmed with submission I started charging $12 and eventually created sponsorship and speaking engagements packets.

  1. Do you notice a change on how millennials are networking?

Millennials are creating more ways to network which each other by merging it with an activity, which makes it comfortable to talk to strangers and exchange information. Regardless of the new methods, networking demands keeping in touch in order to keep the relationship going.

  1. Did you ever imagine the blog being such a huge success?

At first, not really. However, I realized that it was appreciated when others who shared the same sentiments as me, sent messages about how much they love the idea and also the events I promote.

  1. What are your top three favorite places for happy hour in NYC?
  1. What advice would you give to an aspiring editor or writer?

Decide early on which route you want to take whether it’s the technical/ coding or writing aspect. Internships will definitely help you find which one best fit you.

  1. Imagine you are writing a letter to your younger self; what would you say to her?

Dear Genese,

Don’t be afraid to move; don’t limit yourself. Think beyond New York, California, perhaps? What about going abroad? You overthink things; go with the flow. Things will work [out] eventually.

Stay connected with Genese

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