We had the good fortune of connecting with Simyona Erica and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Simyona, is there a quote or affirmation that’s meaningful to you?
“To whom much is given, much is required.” And many times what is required feels inequitable. As a Christian black woman educator and entrepreneur, the hats I am often asked to wear may feel a bit heavy. Hats that require me to look a certain way, speak a certain way, even act a certain way. Lucky for me, my shoulders were built for weight. Not for the weight of the world but for the challenges and obstacles that are sure to appear anytime you are living a life of service and purpose. Often times, we look to others as the heroes in our stories. We look to them as the ones who made it out or up that corporate ladder or through that glass ceiling. But the truth is that the minute we decide to share our own personal stories for impact, influence, and income, we are able to join this collective of heroic humanity simply because we had the audacity to believe much higher than our fences, our circumstances, and our plight. The plight has not been easy. In fact, it has been downright hard. In online education, there are a handful of people who look like me, sound like me, or face the invisible barriers that stand before me each day. I truly believe that my duty here on this earth is to serve and educate people, especially women, who have been told their entire lives that beauty and success do not look like them. But they are indeed exactly what this world needs. This world needs representation of all humanity. This world needs full lips, skin with an extra dash of melanin, and voices that echo the ones who have created change. One of my favorites comes from Langston Hughes who instructed me to “Go home and write a page tonight. And let that page come out of you.” These are the pages in our stories. These are the chapters in the books that will make history. My only intention is to be a part of the movement. A part of the change. And to encourage others who are underrepresented in our history books to do the same. This is why much is required. But I am up for the challenge.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I am an educator and an accountability coach. I teach women of faith how to organize their overwhelm and create better habits to accomplish their God-given assignments. I’ve been an educator for 7 years and I recently launched my online course Start To Finished in 2019. I love it because I get to spend my days moving entrepreneurs, authors, and creatives closer to the finish line, closer to making their dreams a reality and seeing real tangible results! I have always wanted to position myself for upward mobility. Always wanted a chance to make a bigger impact on more people. So I thought I had to grow in the company I was in and at some point, I realized there were really only two positions at the “top.” Both of those didn’t seem big enough. And both of those seats were filled by people who didn’t look like me. I knew that the people at the top would continue to use my talents and abilities to further their dreams, not mine so I started to think outside the box. Knowing that other people would never position me for greatness. I decided to grant my own access to the life I wanted. So I created my own position by transitioning all of my skills as a classroom educator to an online course creator so that I could have a bigger impact and position other women who also wanted more than what was being offered. I am most proud of teaching women to believe in themselves. To reach higher, dream bigger, and adopt growth mindsets. I position the underrepresented women in my tribe to think on their own through productive struggle and to get to the finish line even if giving up seems like the best option. These women come from traditionally marginalized groups and non-traditional homes, most often homes broken by difficult childhoods, loss, or systemic barriers. These women have overcome the odds and make up a part of the culture that is not represented in the mainstream narrative. The part of the culture that says, “I am not the hand that I was dealt.” I have now taught these women how to step into their power as leaders in their respective industries and to do hard things like becoming authors when they know nothing about the world of publishing. This is all because I know that our minds are the most powerful of all the tools we have and there is a strategy to finishing. I am a “real” teacher. I don’t do fluff. I do strategy, action, and results. And I practice what I preach, I live Start To Finished every single day doing hard things, uncomfortable things, and things that scare the crap out of me even while living with the chronic condition fibromyalgia. And it takes much more than motivation. Honestly, people are high on motivation right now. I think motivation is necessary but incomplete if used as a tool to get people in action. It’s a great start but people need tools, strategies, plans, and accountability to actually do what they say they want to do. They leave revived on Sunday, excited on Monday and end up defeated by Friday. And this is especially true when you feel like you are fighting harder than other people. When you are fighting to reach a level of success in spite of your race and gender and not because of it. I’ve noticed, as a woman and especially a woman of color, that men put me in the box they want me in and when I just don’t fit, they get nervous or combative. It’s never stopped me. I use my power as a woman to be soft when I need to be and strong when it’s necessary. I am able to gracefully outwit the best of them and get them to see a side of the coin that doesn’t mirror theirs. The best advice I can give is: Never apologize for who you are and don’t shrink in a room where your ideas are needed. Make people hear you even if they choose not to listen.

Any great local spots you’d like to shoutout?
So breakfast would have to be at the Luxe Hotel on Sunset at Sirocco. It is so delicious and has everything you could possibly want in a weekend breakfast buffet. And if you’re a little apprehensive about buffets right now, I would definitely go to the brunch at The Rooftop Grille at Montage Beverly Hills. Next, we would stop by The Grove to get some sunshine and do a little light walking. This is the perfect place for new moms like me who need room for my son’s stroller and all of his toys. After a walk and some light shopping, we would drop off my son and head on over to Vector 90, a dope coworking space here in the heart of Los Angeles. This would give us a chance to talk about the latest things we have going on in our businesses. My best friend has a non-profit for young girls, selfeSTEM.org, created to fight racial and gender injustices in the STEM industry. And we would wrap up the day in my kitchen. No one cooks a home-cooked meal better than my husband Kyle! Bon Appetit!

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My shoutout is for my mom, Marguerite B. Smith. She raised me by herself and never once made me feel like I was missing something. She taught me that I am the key to my success and no one else. It is especially gratifying to know that she has become an author now. And with my mentorship! She has gone through my program, Start To Finished, and was able to put into action the goals that she longed to achieve. She has proven to me that you can accomplish anything at any age and that with humility you will be able to learn something from the person to whom you once taught everything.

Website: www.starttofinished.com
Instagram: SimyonaErica

Image Credits
Kaye McCoy (last photo only)