We had the good fortune of connecting with LaTonya Washington and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi LaTonya, can you tell us more about your background and the role it’s played in shaping who you are today?
I am originally from the Buckeye State of Ohio, now living in the State of California; I’m a long way from home. The way in which my background and upbringing yet impacts who I am today is one word…. STRUCTURE! My parents instilled in me, along with my 4 siblings, stability, balance and longevity. With that, it has given me the skill set to stick many things out, even though it looks dim and grim, to forge ahead, even though everyone else falls off the trail, and to lead others through valleys that seem unbearable. That structure has been the stepping stone of me going into business, going back to school is my latter years and opening up the gate to globalization. Life is messy and when you run an organization and/or business, people look to those who provide structure. Have you ever gone to someone’s office and all you see are papers stacked on top of one other, not to mention someone’s home and clothes all over the floor, on the floor in the closet. I’m sure your first impression was “darn, this person is messy!” So, if they are messy here, there is no one they can handle my needs the way in which I need them to be handled. People can no longer trust what you (I) bring to the table. Therefore, in my life that focuses in on human connection skills and a people initiative, there is no way I could help others, if I have not put my mask on first. I understand I have to be flexible, know when to pivot, and go back to my pillar of structure that gets me through the days of uncertainty.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
I have a few things happening in my life, I founded The Customer Culture, which provides training to Fortune 500 companies and universities on developing human connection skills so they are empowered to be customer focused. I am also the brand of LaTonya Washington, Customer Marketing Strategist, providing workshops and webinars for entrepreneurs and business owners to better understand and respond to customer’s changing needs, and creating strategies to attract customers. I am also the Founder of The International LIST (Lessons in Success Training) for entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs and organizational leaders. Last but not least, I am an Associate Professor at MSJC, where I instruct Social Media Marketing. I got here through blood, sweat and tears knowing that I had more to do in life than just work a “job.” Daily, I forged through and it was the passion of “purpose” that kept me going. It was not easy, because it was a risk to step out into the unknown which is why you must have people around you who are just as “risky” as you are and who encourage you. There are more people out there that will tell you to “stop,” than who will tell you “you got this.” The lessons I’ve learned along the way are to educate yourself on your industry, to cultivate your skills and your craft and to surround yourself with people who understand you. I want people to know that One of the things that I do BEST, is inspire and empower you to build a foundation and find your way in cultivating your MESSAGE! I am an ordinary person that purposed to step outside the box and do extraordinary things, such as leading others to their place of freedom.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
We first would sleep in and open up the curtains to the amazing light coming from the sun, with the hopes of a nice breeze coming from the water. We would then go for a ride up the coast off the 405 freeway, astonished by the amazing ocean and palm trees. We then would enjoy lunch at Gladstones off the Pacific Coast and enjoy great laughs. Then head up north to San Francisco, take in the breathtaking view while crossing the Golden Gate bridge right before checking into our hotel. Later that evening, we would head out for some night life on the San Francisco pier. The following day, it is a must that we do some shopping, head back to Los Angeles, then rest up for a fun day at Disneyland! We have so much to offer here in Southern California, it is crazy! I need a week!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would like to give a shout out to my family, particularly my son, Michael F. Washington, and my sister, Dr. Charsie Randolph Sawyer. To my closest friends, Ralph Lawson, and La Shaunn Spivey Angeletti.