Who’s That BOSS: Kelly Smith Beaty
Get ready to move up to that corner office or start your own enterprise. JETmag.com is partnering with the award-winning The BOSS Network to bring you BOSS UP every week. This feature will highlight movers, shakers and rule-breakers across different industries, plus offer you career and entrepreneurial advice.
Kelly Smith Beaty is principal and chief strategy officer of Kelsher Communications, a full-service video production and public relations consultancy. Specializing in crisis, public affairs, and social change communications, Beaty has provided counsel to some of the world’s leading executives throughout the private, philanthropic, and public sectors.
Smith Beaty is also a former contestant on The Apprentice, a noted essayist, and a frequent media commentator. A graduate of Spelman College and American University, she has appeared in various media including The Huffington Post, The Tom Joyner Morning Show/Roland Martin Reports, Black Enterprise magazine, Arise TV, OK! magazine and more.
Smith Beaty is the consummate professional woman. Using her education in communications, she has been able to make a name for herself not only in her career, but in mainstream media as well. She is a woman whom all young ladies could learn from. Stepping out into entrepreneurship, Smith Beaty is poised, persevering and a BOSS on the move.
The BOSS Network: Walk us through your journey to success. How did you get to this point?
Kelly Smith Beaty: Wow! How much time do we have?! My career has been a meandering road, but I’ve been able to successfully navigate it by being both deliberate and open. I discovered at an early age that I am a strong communicator. As a young girl, I wrote well, I spoke well, and I had a gift for grasping and articulating complex ideas. Once I came to this realization, I consistently sought out opportunities to hone those skills.
After several internships, I discovered that that strategic communications was a viable career option and one that I could love. I went on to earn a M.A. in Public Communications from American University in Washington, D.C. and then continued up the East Coast to New York to begin a public relations career. Since that time, my career has taken me to more places than I could have ever imagined and I competed on The Apprentice. I’ve led brand strategy for an international nonprofit, and today I provide PR counsel to influencers and world leaders. It’s been and continues to be an amazing journey and I’m always anxious to see what the day will bring when I wake up each morning. If there is a secret to my success, I’d say it’s been deliberately following my gifts and being open to where they take me.
TBN: How do you stay on top of your game professionally?
KSB: I read everything. One of favorite former bosses once told me that, “we have to be voracious consumers of information.” That was some of the best advice I’ve ever received. We live in a dynamic world. As a communicator, my primary job is to provide people with information and help them place it in the context of what is happening in their world so that they make informed, impactful decisions. I get hired to help shape thought.
In order to effectively do that, I need to understand my client’s business, their audiences’ interests and concerns, the current business and societal landscape, and the forecasts for the future as suggested by emerging trends. The only way to glean this much information is to read everything. I read newspapers, magazines, books, journals, blogs, tweets, Facebook posts, billboards, milk cartons, and more. Even with all of that, most days I still feel as though I haven’t read enough. There is so much information in the world and so few hours in the day. There is an old adage that suggests that the best kept secret is the one that’s written in a book. That may be true for most people, but it can’t be true for you if you want to become, and more importantly remain, a BOSS.
TBN: How do you balance your personal life with your professional?
KSB: I am blessed to have a career that I love, so my professional life is very personal. I surround myself with like-minded people, which is great because most of my friends wind up serving as focus groups for campaigns I’m conceiving or new initiatives I may be ideating. In my 20s, I was singularly focused on my career, which made me a little one dimensional. I’ve traded in trying to be Superwoman, for trying to live a super life. I think that shift has made me a better friend, a better daughter, a better sibling, and I’m working on becoming a better partner (I still get dinged for checking my phone too much on dates, but I’m working on it!). My last grandparent passed away last year and it really made me realize that our time here is finite. There is more to life than work. There’s love, laughter, family, friends, memories, trials, and triumphs. I’ve made a more conscious effort to be present for all of life. When my time on Earth is over, I don’t want to get to heaven and overhear people talking about great life experiences that I missed because I was only working. I want everything that is included in my lifetime benefits package!
TBN: What advice would you give to a budding entrepreneur or career woman?
KSB: Find a way to help people. I truly believe that success lies in problem solving. Each of us has something that the world needs; figure out what that is and how best to deliver it. I view our gifts and talents as our tools. With our tools, we are prepared to fix at least some part of our society. Discover what your tools are and then sharpen them. After that, go out and change the world. We find success through service because people will always need something. Develop a reputation for being a masterful problem solver- for filling a need- and you’ll never have to search for a customer. Your customer, right now, is somewhere searching for you.
TBN: What’s next for you?
KSB: I’m very excited to have joined my father’s company and we have some very exciting video and PR projects underway. He started Kelsher when I was 6 years old and it’s named for my sister and me (I’m the Kel!), so it’s exciting that my career has taken me across the world and brought me right back home again. This summer, I’ll be launching an independent initiative that is going to take girl power to a whole new level. I’m all about women’s empowerment ,so this project has been a true labor of love. I won’t share too much before the launch, but I promise that when it’s time, the BOSS ladies will be among the first to know!
TBN: What does being a BOSS mean to you?
KSB: I think being a BOSS is having the freedom to live the life you choose. Being a BOSS takes sacrifice, courage, and a little bit of insanity, but in the end I believe it’s worth it. I don’t necessarily think that being a boss means you have to be your own boss though. Choose a career you love. Find a job that you enjoy. Devote your life to your family. Be the best gardener in your neighborhood. Whatever brings you joy- choose that. If you can wake up with a smile and go to bed with a smile, in spite of the challenges you encountered during the day, you’ve made it! Happiness is the calling card of a BOSS.