Pauleanna Reid is a celebrity ghostwriter and journalist. She helps high-profile leaders and doers turn their personal stories into powerful brand assets. Reid is a purpose-driven leader who is passionate about helping people see beyond the limits of their circumstances. She currently works as a Senior Contributor at Forbes, where she creates expert content related to the value of mentorship, the power of the leap-frog theory, and how to become the millennial woman world-class performers want to mentor.

Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like? Did you have any particular experiences/stories that shaped your adult life?

I grew up in a two-parent household in Toronto, Ontario, Canada with traditional family values. My father is a lieutenant in the Canadian military and a business owner. We didn’t celebrate participant ribbons in my household. I played sports my entire life. The expectation was to be the best, nothing less. That kind of work ethic is something that’s never left me.

I also grew up around family members who were public speakers and I always admired the confidence of women who could walk into a room and demand attention. It wasn’t until I experienced and had to overcome mental health issues that I found my own voice and began to use it. As I gave myself permission to speak, I discovered my purpose and began my career as a motivational speaker back in 2012. Finding my voice was the catalyst to starting my own company and stepping into my purpose.

What is something you wish you would’ve realized earlier in your life?

I wish I would’ve realized earlier in my life that every door and opportunity is open and available to me. I like to say that as long as I have a heartbeat, I have an opportunity to fulfill any dream I have. This is the same for all of us, but actually believing this is the difference between quitting and winning.

What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?

As a writer, there are always recommendations floating around about what your writing process should be or look like, but I believe that everyone has their own way of doing things. Especially when it comes to ghostwriting, which is a highly collaborative process. I think it’s important to understand that each project has a life of its own and you just have to roll with the punches. Your process to reach the finished piece could be one way one day and be completely different the next.

Tell me about one of the darker periods you’ve experienced in life. How you came out of it and what you learned from it?

My childhood was marked by relentless bullying about everything from the way I walked and talked to my body and the way I dressed. It was devastating for me. I was first diagnosed in 2010, but I lived with symptoms of anxiety and depression for many years. Before I learned how to live and cope with my mental health disorders, they almost cost me my life. The traumas and bullying I had experienced really pushed me to the edge. In my early twenties, I felt so unfulfilled, unmotivated and completely lost that I tried to end my life twice. That was definitely my rock bottom and I’m grateful to have survived.

That experience taught me a lot. I learned that there’s a reason I’m still alive – God has a purpose for me. I learned to stop trying to please others and that it’s okay to ask for help. Since then, I’ve worked fiercely to protect my mental health and thrive in spite of challenges. Thankfully, I’ve been able to draw on my experiences to speak powerfully about bullying and mental health, amongst other topics. I still struggle with anxiety and depression now, but today I know how to push through and get help when I need it.

What is one thing that you do that you feel has been the biggest contributor to your success so far?

Blocking out the noise. I always say that I’m not better than anyone, my focus is just different. When it comes to my goals, I have tunnel vision. Once I decide what I want, there’s nothing that will make me quit until I’ve got it. My work ethic is always on 1000, even when I’m unsure, and I’ve sacrificed everything from sleep to sanity to accomplish the things I’ve wanted for myself, even when others told me those things were impossible. I absolutely believe that that kind of dedication and resilience is my superpower and most definitely the biggest contributor to my success thus far.

What is your morning routine?

I wake up between 5 and 6 am and for 3 days a week I am working out by 7 am. I like to follow the 5 before 8 rule (cross 5 things off your to-do list before 8 am). Could be anything work or personal related. I also recite affirmations by Toni Jones. I review my goals daily and I work out 3x a week to help with developing mental toughness.

What habit or behavior that you have pursued for a few years has most improved your life?

Vision boarding and mentoring others. It was with the help of amazing mentors that I was able to get a clear vision of my future and become the woman I am today. Having experienced the value of mentorship firsthand, I believe that mentoring others is the greatest contribution I can make to the world. I founded New Girl on the Block to empower other young women to live their dreams and defy every limit that has ever been imposed on them.

As a mentor, I realize that my success and the success of my mentorship program is directly tied to the growth and development of the next generation of leaders. This drives me to continuously seek out new ways to empower and equip my mentees to reach their full potential and create a legacy that leaves a positive mark on the world. It also helps me gain valuable perspective from the young people I work with, in turn, sharpening the vision I have for my life.

What are your strategies for being productive and using your time most efficiently?

I rely heavily on my calendar. That means color coding and making sure to allocate something to every minute of the day. Whether it’s business, soul work, rest, or personal relationships, I’m not one to waste time and my calendar helps me to stay on top of everything from the moment I wake up until I call it a night. Even saying no to meetings that can be a simple email helps me tremendously.

What book(s) have influenced your life the most? Why?

Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss. With any goal you’re working to reach, if there’s someone out there who has already done it, it’s really important to grab a seat and take notes. Being able to learn from living examples helps me stay laser-focused on what I want to achieve because now not only can I see what that success looks like, but I also have the blueprint for myself.

Do you have any quotes you live by or think of often?

“The World is built by dreamers.”