We had the good fortune of connecting with Leah Fortson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Leah, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
I wanted to create something that aligned with my passions and values in a way that my traditional 9-5 didn’t fully capture. I also grew tired of being dependent on systems and individuals making decisions about my livelihood without knowing me or how their decisions would impact me. I wanted more autonomy and to assume the driver role in my life and finances.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I have a PhD in clinical psychology which affords me the opportunity to teach full-time at a private university. It is in this role that I get to train doctoral level students pursuing careers in psychology. I enjoy cultivating conditions that allow people to grow, learn, and develop the necessary tools for success and thriving. After assessing the years of my own training in the field of psychology, the work I was doing and continue to do with my students, and the relationships I was developing in faith spaces with leaders and influencers, I realized my passion in journeying with others. I have a motto – “I facilitate the creation of conditions that help individuals get unstuck, heal from the past, and overcome/silence the self-defeating mantras that impede progress.” I believe flourishing is possible for everyone but there are often barriers in our lives that prevent us from experiencing that flourishing.
My initial thoughts and feelings about starting my own business were of a disbelief that I had what it would take and fear! There was so much self-doubt I needed to overcome just to seriously consider taking this step. I needed really good people around me who were a little ahead of me in their entrepreneurial journeys – I needed them to show me the path forward, to encourage me when I experienced perceived failure, and to be a “within-reach model” of who I could become and what I could do. I also need accountability partners to… hold me accountable. I was building out a business plan while maintaining a full-time job, on top of all the other life demands. There were days I didn’t feel like doing anything, weeks when I didn’t make any progress. My accountability partners were faithful in reminding me of why I was doing what I had set out to do.
It hasn’t been easy! It’s not easy! Yet, I find joy in creating something that allows me to impact a wide range of people from different backgrounds and life circumstances. I give myself permission to celebrate the little wins and the big wins. I find so much contentment knowing that I was able to stop talking about my dissatisfaction and I actually did something about it.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Alright, get ready because we’re gonna be driving all over SoCal 🙂 There’s this cute little Mediterranean restaurant in Chino Hills that has incredible beef shawarma!
There are a couple amazing botanical gardens that I frequent – the Huntington Library & Gardens in Pasadena and the California Botanical Gardens in Claremont!
There’s this intimate beach on Balboa Island in Newport – it’s a well kept secret so there usually aren’t many people there. You can take a ferry across, find a good parking spot, and experience a leisure day soaking up some good sun.
AllTrails has a lot of great hiking options in the LA area. I fav of mine is the Griffith Park Old LA Zoo trail. It’s scenic, light, and historically meaningful.
I’m also a huge fan of coffee shops – the EastBrew Cafe & Bakery is a new find that I am absolutely obsessed with.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I have an incredible community of folks who encourage me and challenge me to be the best version of myself. This includes peer professionals in the mental health field, friends, family, my faith/spirituality, and my partner. A specific shout out to Dr. Monica Ellis-Blied for giving me the extra nudge I needed to pursue my goals with greater focus and drive.
@dacosta_collymore (IG Handle)