LC Johnson



Duke University - Bachelor of Arts in Women’s Studies

As a women’s studies major, LC Johnson studied the prejudices and inequalities many women — especially women of color — face in the workplace. Still, for most of her undergraduate studies, LC couldn't bring herself to claim the title of feminist.

Today, there's no doubt LC is an advocate for women and a force of positive change. Upon graduating, she worked as an incubator to help entrepreneurs launch and grow their startups and saw some of the gender dynamics she so intimately studied play out firsthand. She started her blog Colored Girl Confidential as a place to explore these issues and now, LC is an entrepreneur herself, running her blog and working consulting, speaking and coaching jobs.

Want to get a taste for LC's style, personality and ability to lift your mood? Check out Colored Girl Confidential's video, the Red Lipstick Manifesta. It's very much inspired by the notion that successful women don’t just blindly follow the rules — they're rebels; challenging the assumptions of what everyone thinks is possible, chasing down their “unrealistic” dreams and eventually creating lives and careers they love. Just like LC.

Follow through on what you say you're going to do. Underpromise and overdeliver.

What inspired you to launch Colored Girl Confidential?

I’ve always had a passion for women’s leadership and career success, even before I had a career of my own! As a women’s studies major in college, I learned about the prejudices and inequalities that many women -- especially women of color -- face in the workplace.

After graduating and getting a job in the male-dominated sphere of entrepreneurship (I worked at an incubator that helped entrepreneurs launch and grow their startups), I began to see some of the gender dynamics I had studied in school playing out in front of my eyes. So I started the blog Colored Girl Confidential so I would have a place to explore issues at the intersection of race, gender, leadership and life.

What does your job involve on a daily basis, and what types of responsibilities do you have in your position?

I run an online blog and business, which means that I spend a lot of time writing content for the blog, responding to readers and connecting with other awesome women locally and online. My business is all about building relationships, so that’s what I spend a lot of time doing in one form or another. When I’m not doing that, I’m working on curriculum for new courses or coaching programs that I’d like to launch later this year.

What is your favorite part of running your site?

Definitely connecting with my readers. I love seeing comments and receiving emails. Many of my readers reach out to me to let me know that my work has touched them in some way and that means the world to me. (So if you read my blog -- or plan to after finishing this article -- feel free to drop me a note. I respond to every one!)

What challenges keep you awake at night?

Finances. Being an entrepreneur isn’t always glamorous, and probably one of the least glamorous parts of the job is that for the first year or so, money comes in unpredictable bursts. I’m working on ways to build consistent monthly income streams, but right now I have a portfolio of projects (coaching, consulting, speaking, etc.) that help pay the bills.

I love that I'm able to do work that I love and the freedom of being my own boss, but sometimes I miss the steady paycheck from my last job!

Is work/life balance ever a problem with you? If so, what is one no-fail tactic you use to create balance?

My husband would definitely answer "yes" to this question and he'd probably be right. As a solopreuneur with perfectionist tendencies, it sometimes seems like there's always something that needs to get done. My schedule doesn’t look like it did when I worked a more traditional 9-to-5.

Since my husband is in graduate school, we take advantage of our flexible schedules by scheduling lunch dates or afternoon movies or all day hang-out sessions on Fridays. However, this often means working on the weekend or in the evening when he’s studying. My secret to creating balance is trying to stay as present as possible: when I’m working, I try to focus on that. When I’m not working, I try not to check emails or think about my to-do list -- “try” being the operative word here!

Was there ever a moment in your career where you’ve thought, “I can't believe I have this job?" What was it?

I can’t think of any one moment, but every day I wake up excited to go to work and that's a renewed reminder of how blessed I am to be building a career that I can’t get enough of.

What are some of the rules you live by?

I don’t have set rules, but I do have quotes that I adore and that inspire me. My current favorite is by Audre Lourde, a famous African-American feminist: “When I dare to be powerful -- to use my strength in the service of my vision -- then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.”

What qualities does one need to possess to be successful in your line of work?

I think three of the biggest qualities it takes to be a successful entrepreneur under the age of 30: confidence, determination and follow-through.

The confidence part comes from my need to be taken seriously, even as a young person, and especially as a young woman. When I first started out in business, I used a lot of diminishing language: calling my business a “project” instead of a business and feeling like I needed to overexplain or justify my work. This definitely reflected the fact that I was less confident than I should have been and probably cost me some opportunities.

The second part of the equation is determination. Building a business is hard, but you just can’t give up. You have to be able to motivate yourself because no one else will fight for your dreams as hard as you will.

The final quality is follow-through. Follow through on what you say you're going to do. Underpromise and overdeliver. This helps build your business credibility and personal integrity.

Who is your biggest influence?

I always love this question because it gives me an opportunity to talk about how awesome my mamma is! My mom's definitely my role model. She built an extremely successful, extremely non-traditional career based on her passion and disregard of words like “no” and “you can’t,” all while juggling four small children. Even though I’m married with my own business, my mom remains my hero and one of my biggest cheerleaders. We talk pretty much every day.

What one piece of advice do you wish you could tell a 21-year-old version of yourself?

Stop rushing. You’re too young to know everything, so stop trying to “figure” your life out and just live.