We had the good fortune of connecting with Keya McClain and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Keya, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
I love acronyms. I create acronyms to make work fun and creative. In fact, I’ve created an acronym to describe my philosophy behind my risk taking. Risk is: Realizing Its Sacrifices Keenly. So for me, I realize there is first sacrifice in my risk and it is done with enthusiasm. I am excited to take risks that feel necessary for my growth and equally, my mistakes that lead to growth. At the edge where it’s scary is where I thrive. As I did a preview of my life decisions it was full of memories where I’ve risked quite a bit. I learned that the reward is in the risk and that is intoxicating for me. When I started Community College over 20 years ago, I took a risk quitting a higher paying customer service job to start my educational path. It was a risk because I was a young single mother and money was definitely a priority. However, the risk was worth the reward because as I was completing that program and about to enter the Undergraduate Program I was hired with one of the largest law firms in St. Louis with my initial opportunity generated from risk. Although I wasn’t making what I was making at my previous job, I had a foot in the door to showcase my experience and education. This was risky, yet it paid off in the end. What I desired long term was going to take sacrifice, commitment and risk. It led me to eventually working at some of the largest law firms, the US Federal Court, teaching college and starting and running a business. In 2015, I started a non-profit called Empower2Be without any knowledge of running a non-profit organization. In 2015 I took a solo 7 day trip to Phoenix as a sabbatical/spiritual trip. In 2016 I sold or gave away belongings and moved to Dallas, Texas alone. When I started my business I was clueless about how to start a business and I invested a lot of money. Those are just a few of the risks I’ve taken over the years. I take risks and make sacrifices necessary to achieve success. This requires confidence, discipline and patience. In fact, it requires that you realize how beneficial taking risks can be for you and your success. Playing it safe is dangerous to me because it doesn’t show you going past the limit, your limit = The Comfort Zone. I am petrified of the comfort zone, therefore, there are many risks taken. Recently, I took my first vacation in over 4 years. In fact, my significant other treated me to a trip to Vegas. I am not a gambler. In fact, I have a hard time thinking about losing money to pull a lever or push a button. On the other hand, I am a gambler with my gifts. Consequently, I will put it all in for my gifts so if I were playing poker (which I don’t know how to play) I would push all the chips in and bet on my gifts. So, in other words, my risk taking has led me to flourishing in my career and my personal life goals. Risk taking has led to the soar of my life and I have no regrets for taking risks. By realizing the importance of sacrifice, I learned the value in risk taking. As a coach that works with aspiring entrepreneurs/authors I have noticed a trend with many of my clients and even the potential clients. Many don’t want to take risks because of fear of rejection or even redirection. You may learn in the jump, pivot or redirection that what was on the other side was worth it and beneficial. Often times, I ask the question “What can you do different that you haven’t done because your facebook memory is going to confront you?” The risk is worth it and it has played a huge part in my success, growth and resilience.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Professionally, I have worked in the legal field for 20 years. I’ve worked in various roles such as data entry clerk, legal secretary, paralegal, Assistant Case Manager for the U.S. District Court in Missouri and paralegal instructor. I obtained an Associates in Applied Science for Paralegal Studies, Bachelor of Arts in Legal Studies and Master of Arts in Legal Analysis. It was not easy and there were obstacles and challenges, however, it was a great reward in the end. Through my hard work and sacrifice I have been able to have great successes in my career. I started doing open mic night poetry over ten years ago and it started out as a hobby. After three or four years I decided to create a business by writing books, coaching and speaking using my poetic and creative writing skills. This led me to self-publishing 5 books, contributing as co-author on 2 books (1 is a #1 best seller) and coaching and leading others to writing, publishing or just making the necessary adjustments in their lives to propel forward. I recently started a poetry production show called Message that highlights poets and can be seen virtually or live in person. I’ve learned that relationships are the most important, yet the most delicate. As an entrepreneur and a woman I want other aspiring female entrepreneurs to know that having a strong personality, ambition and drive will be misinterpreted at times. Find a tribe that will see your vision, know your vision and support that vision. It is important to know that people will come and go. Appreciate the moments, learn, grow, do not burn bridges and forgive, but forge ahead. Having a competitive spirit is not a bad thing until it is a bad thing. Maintain professionalism, ethics and sincerity and your reputation will proceed itself. If I could leave you with one thing about my story as a business owner and my legal career it would be “resilience.” Despite the many obstacles over the years my resilience only grows. The resilience is the fuel that energizes you to take the risks.
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?
If my best friend came to visit I would have to take her to DJ’s Steakhouse in Addison for brunch. We would go to Deep Ellum for some walking, shopping and to have a few drinks. We would definitely go to Shell Shack or Nate’s for dinner and enjoy a seafood feast. Klyde Warren Park would be on the agenda for a food truck lunch and chat in the park. Shops at Legacy for some great shopping is definitely on the agenda. I am a cigar smoker so we would visit some of my favorite cigar lounges all over the Dallas and Fort Worth area. There is a hip hop brunch in Frisco at Common Table that we would have to go to. Pre-covid for night life it would definitely be Vinetti’s. The Dallas Art Museum for some great art and history would also be on the agenda. The Bishop Arts District is filled with amazing shops, food and a cigar treat.
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?
The relationships that I’ve been able to form over the years have been an important aspect and contribution to my growth and success. There are so many people that I can call out, shout out and pay out!! Those people know who they are. My teams over the years, family and friends who have consistently supported me are recipients to my shoutout. Relationship building is one of the best and essential parts to forming long lasting relationships with people who will support you a lifetime. I have been fortunate to create, build and cultivate many lifetime relationships and continue to make this is a priority. So, Shoutout to every single person that have contributed to every part of my success and growth. In November 2020, I loss my grandmother and she was a huge supporter and extremely proud of me. Shoutout In March 2020, I became Auntie/Momma and my nephew is a huge support and is starting to follow in my footsteps. Shoutout My mother has always been a big support. Shoutout to one of my biggest fans and supporters, my significant other, Derrick. Shoutout to my son, Corey.
Will Ligon Photography Greg Jones Tonya Shotz