“If you think you can or if you think you can’t you are right.”
When I think about what life was like in Overtown (an inner-city section of Miami) where I grew up, many thoughts go through my head. The first is thankfulness to God. I didn’t become a product of what was going on around me, but instead was able to beat the odds. I think about how I easily could have succumbed to the unfortunate misfortunes of several peers.
Overtown, about 20 minutes southeast of Liberty City, was known as one of the worst areas in Miami. My community was a haven for drug dealing, a sub-par school system and prostitution, to name a few. These are some of the factors that made what I called home, a place where many chose not to venture.
I grew up the youngest of five siblings, Heavenly Williams (my maiden name). I know you’re probably wondering, why in the world did my parents name me Heavenly? I used to ask the same question, but never received the answer I sought. I began to tell myself it was because I was my parent’s special child. I was the baby and therefore, truly a blessing. It would take many years to see anything blessed or special about my name, other than the fact that the name “Heavenly” caused me to endure quite a bit of torment as a child. Other children would taunt me by saying, “Heavenly Father, full of grace…”, or “Is Heavenly your stripper name?”
I was fortunate to have an eye-opening experience in junior high school, when I decided to run for student body president. This is when I realized the power of “the brand.” My name stood out from the other candidates, and to this day I think that is what helped me win the election! I began to realize, my mother blessed me with a name that would set the tone for the rest of my life.
It was easy to remember my name, and I began to embrace my one-word moniker, similar to other one-name phenoms -- Prince, Oprah, Beyoncé. I became very popular, mainly because of my name. Who could forget it?
By the time I settled into middle school, I was simply “Heavenly,” and once they saw that name, they knew who it referred to. My brand had been established. This is when I began to see that I could use my name to my advantage, and the days of being teased and ridiculed were long behind me.
It became evident early on that I had a thirst for knowledge. I always want to know more. Being a “military brat” required us to move around a lot during the early part of my life. After settling in Overtown and moving from a top private school to a poor inner-city school system, I began to excel tremendously. Maybe it was because I was so far ahead in the other schools, but whatever the reason, the work I had in my new school was easy. It helped me build the confidence and get the grades I needed to stand out. It probably wasn’t fair, but this school made me feel smart, mostly because much of our curriculum was review for me. This was my first lesson in business. It didn’t really matter whether our lessons were remedial for me, what did matter was the mentality. I thought I could do it all and excel, so in reality I did! It was an early lesson that the right mindset is the first step to achieving any goal.
The average person thinks they cannot, therefore they don’t. I’ve realized this is a common mindset, as many people make excuses, procrastinate and ultimately give up when they come across obstacles. They don’t realize that in the midst of an obstacle lies opportunity.
As you continue to read this book, you’ll soon realize that I’m not your typical success story or canned speaker. “I’m a business maaaan,” as influential rapper and entrepreneur Jay-Z would say. I just happen to be a woman. What makes me unique is that I’ve been blessed with not only a unique name, but also the gift of speech and an uncanny sense of business that has afforded me an amazing life. The fact is that I’m a long way from perfect and a very long way from reaching my full potential in life, but