Meet the Rule Breakers: The Best Way to Predict Your Future is to Create it

Posted on Posted in Career

In case you haven’t heard, “The best way to predict your future is to create it.”  Check out my interviews with women who forged their own career paths by refusing to follow traditional rules for success.

Ashunta Sheriff
As a celebrity makeup artist and founder of her own cosmetic line, Ashunta Sheriff has an impressive client roster including Taraji P. Henson, Ava DuVernay, Alicia Keys, Kandi Burress and Paula Patton, to name a few. She’s worked in TV, film, print magazines, advertising, and more. And she has her own product line that includes a Perfect Blend Stick, available in six shades, a Perfect Blend foundation brush, and more.


What traditional career or business rules are you glad you didn’t follow?
I’m glad I didn’t doubt myself. Just because I’m a makeup artist it doesn’t mean I couldn’t become an entrepreneur. I had to pump myself up. Remind myself that I went to Howard University and NYU, and I was an honor roll student. It’s my passion and how I provide for my family, however, I realized it was time to step out of my comfort zone and elevate to the next level.

When you first started in the business, what was your biggest challenge and how did you overcome it?
The biggest challenge was financing. I have tons of amazing ideas and not just in the beauty market. I create new concepts, gadgets all the time. Having the resources to make those visions manifest is the most difficult part.

Many trailblazers find themselves making their own rules. What rules have you set for yourself?
I walk to my own rhythm for sure. I do not follow any traditional business advice in terms of creating a plan. Most of my business advice is rooted in spirit and meditation. If I can visualize it I know I can make it happen. My mother always taught me from a young age that your thoughts have power. If my mind sees it I know I can achieve it. Sounds bizarre but it works for me. It may not be conventional, but it works. Starting my morning in gratitude and silence truly grounds my visions and then the day I put my thoughts into action. I use this technique in every area of my life because it works.


Zimbabwean-born Farai Gundan is an MBA graduate, TV and radio personality, founder of and leading expert on African women in media and technology. She’s contributed to a number of publications including Forbes, Forbes Africa, and Essence and she appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show.


When you first started in the business, what was your biggest challenge and how did you overcome it?

The biggest challenge as with most startups is getting the first customer, getting traction for your business (We thought we needed funding [but] bootstrapping humbled us and made us work even harder to get to that first customer.) so we overcame our own insecurities, particularly since we were “new kids on the block.” What sweetened our value proposition was that we knew the African market and could offer great value to brands looking to target that market, particularly online. That was also a big risk—since Africa was virtually an unknown territory to most brands—we worked twice as hard to deliver on our promises for great service because we had to overcome commonly held stereotypes about Africa.

Many trailblazers find themselves making their own rules. What have you discovered you do your own way?
The biggest lesson for me was to control our message—no Africa is not a hopeless continent but one that is on the rise. The challenges you hear about Africa on mainstream media? Those are opportunities because oftentimes, opportunities come dressed up as challenges. And the continent is open for business!

Note: Initially, I published this article for Black

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