As a writer, Pauleanna Reid has always recognized the power of vulnerability.
The owner of a flourishing ghostwriting company and a senior contributor for Forbes, she’s mastered the art of extricating emotional conversations and turning them into impactful stories. It’s this superpower that she says saved her from drowning in more than $50,000 worth debt.
“I think with most things, when you share vulnerable parts of yourselves, it kind of opens up or gives other people permission to do the same,” she shared with Essence. “So I’ve normalized that conversation because in my household, it wasn’t necessarily something that was brought to the forefront.”
As a fellow journalist, I’ve followed Reid’s growth journey as a burgeoning and now established writer/founder via her enrapturing social media storytelling. She often shares in-depth career advice via Instagram and doles out wise virtual guidance to her followers. So, it was quite the surprise when I ran across a recent Instastory post stating that she’d been $50,000 in debt just a few years ago.
Reid shared that five years ago, before her full-service ghostwriting agency WritersBlok was fully established, she was working at a company earning $65,000. Being that she’d left college early and didn’t earn her degree, she shared it a was a decent salary for a single woman living in the greater Toronto, Canada area. But it wasn’t enough for the lifestyle she was trying to lead.
“When I was 30 years old —I’m 35 this year— I had a very interesting conversation with a collections agent,” Reid shared. “And like most women that I know, I was keeping up the facade. I was rocking $1000 purses with only a couple dollars in it. I was covering the tabs for all my friends at dinner. I was taking trips I couldn’t afford and opening credit cards and taking out loans that I couldn’t keep up with. The Jones. Right. And at a certain point, I just broke because I had collections agents calling me constantly because I was so behind on my payments. And so typically, you know, when the agent calls you, they’re not trying to get personal. They just want their money, and that’s it. But I had one agent, God bless his heart. He says ‘Ma’am, I don’t mean to overstep my boundaries, but you’re way too young to be going through this.’ ”
She said the call took no longer than 30 seconds, but it changed her life forever.
Soon after that conversation, Reid said she took her financial future more seriously. “The first step I took to get my finances in order was to get real with my situation,” she shared. “At 30 years old. I was in $52,000 of debt despite making $65,000 in my corporate career as an executive assistant for President CEOs. The math isn’t mathing, you know what I mean? I laid out all of what I owed in a spreadsheet and prioritized what need to be paid first.”
She then realized that despite what most personal finance gurus might advise, saving her money wasn’t the solution. She needed to make more of it. “I think a lot of people have passions and side hustles and all these things going on, but I knew that I had to figure out I needed to hone in on one thing, on one skill, and maximize it. And that’s when I started to take my writing career seriously instead of freelancing to owning. But how was that possible? God damn.”
Shortly after this revelation, she realized her gift for accurately depicting other people’s stories was not only her ticket out of debt, but to multi-millions. Leveraging her personal relationships she’d made through the years. She began ghostwriting speeches, books and articles for high-powered individuals. In 2017, she decided to launch her company and now, it has grown into a team of women of color that are, as Reid describes them, “content ninjas.”
“I lead a team of nine badass women of color and we support world leaders and doers, helping them turn their personal stories into brand assets,” she explained.
It’s safe to say that she’s come a long way from drowning in debt and earning $65,000 a year, a sum that Reid says she now earns in one month. “I’m never going to be embarrassed to share my story because it could lead to someone else’s testimony.”