An Interview With Fotis Georgiadis
Be authentic. No one likes a fake or a phony. You don’t have to sound like any other speaker. You don’t have to dress like any other speaker. If you’re comfortable in jeans and gym shoes with a blazer, rock that! You have to have your own flavor, flare and flow! Why fit in when you were born to stand out? Sometimes I wear a dress with bright red pumps; other times I wear jeans, a blazer and stilettos! Be you!
At some point in our lives, many of us will have to give a talk to a large group of people. What does it take to be a highly effective public speaker? How can you improve your public speaking skills? How can you overcome a fear of speaking in public? What does it take to give a very interesting and engaging public talk? In this interview series called “5 Things You Need To Be A Highly Effective Public Speaker” we are talking to successful and effective public speakers to share insights and stories from their experience. As a part of this series, we had the pleasure of interviewing Tenita “Bestseller” Johnson.
Transforming pain into purpose is a gift that authorpreneur, speaker and book coach, Tenita “Bestseller” Johnson gives to everyone she encounters. She is a warrior of words with a fierce passion for guiding authors to expand their brand by showing them how to earn multiple streams of income from just ONE book. As the author of 18 books, seven of which have been Amazon bestsellers, she is living proof that sharing your story leads to your destiny.
Familiar with rising from numerous fires and coming out unscathed, Tenita has triumphed over suicidal thoughts, depression, low self-esteem, marital storms and blended family woes. She has also endured miscarriages and the still birth of twins the day after she married her husband. Each of these tragedies has added indelible layers to her resilience. With more than 25 years in journalism, writing and editing, she has a knack for creating narratives that are authentic and raw, yet endearingly relatable. She is a vessel with the ability to change lives and impact the world, thus she is a proud “book bully,” who relentlessly urges others to, “Write the book and get paid for the pain!”
When Tenita speaks, people listen with their ears as well as their hearts and souls because her transparency transcends pretense. She is a bold beacon of hope who inspires others to seek their highest peak. One of her proudest and defining moments was her appearance on Kirk Franklin’s Praise Sirius XM channel.
As the founder and CEO of So It Is Written Publishing, she has helped hundreds of authors birth their books in record time. The 12-year-old company excels as a one stop shop for the complete book process from conception to completion, not just editing. The editorial guru successfully helps people to pen books that will boost their brand, accelerate their paydays and bust open doors of endless opportunities. So It Is Written won The Sunrise Pinnacle Award for Diversity Company of the Year, in 2020, from the Rochester Regional Chamber of Commerce in Rochester, Michigan. For six years, Tenita hosted the Red Ink Conference in Atlanta, Detroit, Charlotte and Chicago. Over 600 attendees received invaluable information from industry leaders on how to write, edit, market and publish their next bestseller.
Beyond her books, her versatility shines in multiple areas, including her role as the executive producer of the hit stage play, When the Smoke Clears, which was based on her book, When the Smoke Clears: A Phoenix Rises. The play ran in 2017 and 2018 to sold-out audiences in downtown Detroit. She also served as the editorial director for Career Mastered Magazine and Hope for Women Magazine. Currently, she is the national president of The Aspiring Writers Association of America, a writers’ organization that works with writers worldwide to pen their next literary masterpiece.
Tenita’s passion for delivering bestselling books is matched only by her devotion to helping women and men heal from the drama, trauma and baggage of sexual abuse. Her 2021 anthology, HUSH: Breaking the Cycle of Silence Around Sexual Abuse, features eight women who lost their innocence and identity to life-altering trauma. She is a huge advocate and mouthpiece for those who have been sexually abused as she empowers them to release their pain instead of suffering in silence.
Her future plans include the release of HUSH II, producing her short film What Happens in This House, and completing the script for her feature film When the Smoke Clears. As a catalyst for positive change, she is a woman who has learned to live an intentional life of purpose while unapologetically fulfilling her God-driven assignments.
For booking or speaking engagements, email [email protected] or visit www.tenitajohnson.com.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
I grew up on the west side of Chicago until I was 9 years old, when my mother and I moved to Detroit. Born to a 14-year-old mother, I was raised mostly by my grandmother before the age of 10. She was my rock and my pillar. I’ve never met my biological father and, if he was walking down the street, I wouldn’t know it was him. I’ve never met him or talked to him. Once we moved to Detroit, we lived on the west side and I attended Detroit Public Schools, including Communication and Media Arts, where I picked up my love for writing, editing, and publishing.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
As a child, I didn’t feel like I had a voice. But I could always count on the pen and paper. They never let me down. They never talked back. They never rejected me. I kept many journals and diaries of my personal thoughts in a time when I didn’t feel like I had a platform to share my thoughts at all.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
I left a position in change management/communications at Mercedes-Benz Financial Services to go back to a contract position at a company I’d been at not once, but three times. This was at Raytheon Professional Services. I left Mercedes-Benz Financial Services making $37/hr to go back to Raytheon for $45/hr. On the surface, it sounded great. But six months later, I found myself sitting in my cubicle with no work. Not only was I a contractor, but I was a contractor making almost $50/hr.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I made the biggest mistake of NOT getting a deposit for the editorial work for my first client. I was afraid to take a deposit because I felt like once I accepted payment, I had to start right away on their project. But I screwed myself in the end. Once I completed the editing, the client was still paying me months later. I learned the hard way to get a deposit of at least half, if not the full payment up front.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
There have been many pivotal people in my career journey that have helped me grow and soar. I can’t pinpoint one person. It truly takes a village to build a successful brand and business. Early on my career, the Detroit chapter of The American Christian Writers Association, with president Pam Perry helped me hone my skills and get my first literary clients. Venus Mason Thues opened the door to my first speaking engagement on writing/editorial for books. Sylvia Hubbard and The Motown Writers Network also opened doors for new clients, interviews and speaking opportunities. I was later trained to self-publish not only my projects, but projects for others, from Valerie J. Lewis Coleman and Cynthia L. Hatcher. Most recently, my business success has been cultivated by Darnyelle Jervey Harmon, business mastermind and prophetic coach.
You have been blessed with great success in a career path that can be challenging and intimidating. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path, but seem daunted by the prospect of failure?
Don’t plan for failure. Plan for success. There should be no Plan B. Stick to the plan. There’s only one. That is the plan to succeed in all that you do. Many times, even what looks like failure to the outside world, is a launching pad for greatness in the future. Fear will always be present. Just don’t let it drive.
What drives you to get up everyday and give your talks? What is the main empowering message that you aim to share with the world?
I always aspire to transform the lives of others, not just conduct a transaction. I am intentional about empowering, uplifting and inspiring others to become the best version of themselves so they, too, can transform the lives of those around them. My main message is, “You have the power to transform the world through words.” We will say whatever we say. We will have whatever we say.
You have such impressive work. What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? Where do you see yourself heading from here?
I’m currently working on launching my 20th book project, Overcoming the Fear Factor: The Cut from Corporate to Creative, which chronicles my journey from being laid off to building a six-figure business. In addition, I’m working on producing a short film entitled, What Happens in This House, as well as a documentary, HUSH, both centered around breaking the cycle of silence around sexual abuse. I am also in the process of starting a non-profit organization to heal both men and women from the long-term effects of sexual abuse called The Monarch Circle.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Faith is taking the first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” No one in my immediate family has been an entrepreneur or business owner. There was no blueprint. I’m literally leaning on my faith in God to build the business, draw the right clientele to the business and even hire the right employees for the business. It’s all new to me, even though I’ve had the business 13 years. I’m still learning to take “the first step” at every new level of business shifts.
Ok, thank you for all that. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things You Need To Be A Highly Effective Public Speaker?” Please share a story or example for each.
1. Be authentic. No one likes a fake or a phony. You don’t have to sound like any other speaker. You don’t have to dress like any other speaker. If you’re comfortable in jeans and gym shoes with a blazer, rock that! You have to have your own flavor, flare and flow! Why fit in when you were born to stand out? Sometimes I wear a dress with bright red pumps; other times I wear jeans, a blazer and stilettos! Be you!
2. Be vulnerable. People gravitate to those people they feel like they know, like and trust. When I speak to entrepreneurs, I tell them about the months where I had no income and those days when I couldn’t buy groceries. When I’m empowering married women, I’m open about the many, many times I’ve said I was leaving my husband (and he said he was leaving me). On any stage, I’m an open book (literally, and yes, pun intended). There is nothing off limits.
3. Engage with the audience. Even if you’re in a room of 500, engage with the entire front row. Call up volunteers to the stage. Use the audience at certain parts of your presentation and speech. Be demonstrative. If a picture is worth 1,000 words, a live demonstration has to be worth 10,000. Whenever I get the chance, I bring several audience members onto the stage with me to demonstrate one of my points, or I engage the front row and put them to work from their seats.
4. Empower and inspire to leave a lasting impact. The late, great Maya Angelou said it best: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” When you leave the stage, people should be inspired to go higher. They should be empowered to tap into the greatness within themselves. They should be motivated to take action. Once you’re done speaking, the audience should leave considering what they need to do to create a greater legacy and leave a lasting impact on others.
5. Cultivate a culture of confidence. People can smell fear and uncertainty a mile away. You may have nervous jitters before you hit the stage, but be confident in who you are and whose you are. You’re the expert. Own the stage and dominate. Confidence is contagious. You’ll have a line of people waiting to take pictures with you and shake your hand when you cultivate a culture of confidence in the room and stand unapologetically in who you are.
As you know, many people are terrified of speaking in public. Can you give some of your advice about how to overcome this fear?
I’ve been speaking for more than 13 years on various stages. Fear never goes away. You’re going to have to learn to do it scared. Fear can be present; it just can’t drive you. Fear will paralyze you or propel you. You decide. Use it as fuel to forge forward into greatness. If you mess up, keep going. If you stumble, get back up. If you lose your train of thought, tell the audience you did and ask them, “What was I saying?” It’ll make them laugh, but it’ll give you time to regroup. Be human.
You are a person of huge influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
I would organize small group discussions in all major metropolitan cities for both men and women to work through the trauma of sexual abuse. I believe The Monarch Circle is the beginning of that movement.
Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have lunch with, and why? Maybe we can tag them and see what happens!
As a writer and author, I’d love to have lunch wit Tyler Perry. I’d love to discuss how his writing has to differ for film versus TV and TV versus books. He’s constantly coming up with new shows and new movies around tough subjects too many of us in the world choose to ignore. I’d love to one day do the same through my writing.
Are you on social media? How can our readers follow you online?
This was so informative, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!
Tenita Johnson Of “So It Is Written” On 5 Things You Need To Be A Highly Effective Public Speaker was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.