The relationship that young people have with books and reading help shape who they become. Entrepreneur, speaker, and debut author Tiffany Lanier reflects on how her beginnings with literature made her the woman she is today. The defining moment arrived when she was in the third grade at one of her parent-teacher conferences.

“The teacher told my mom she felt like I was illiterate,” The Morning Shift Co. founder tells SBC. “I think it was actually a very big turning point for me and my life because I do remember struggling. I had Hooked on Phonics, I had all of those things growing up. And, so, I was definitely challenged just reading to grade level. But, at least as I remember it-and maybe it took a little bit longer-but it feels like after that discussion with that teacher I just completely did a 180.”

Not only did she make the fourth grade, but she’d also made the honor roll before then. In the fifth grade she became an award-winning student-author. This continued throughout middle school and high school where she was awarded for her poetry.

Though she managed to prove herself and earn accomplishments, the Florida-based CEO continued to doubt herself after that meeting with her teacher. “It’s almost a traumatizing experience to be told that. For a long time, even though I would win these awards from time to time, it felt almost like it was a fluke, like maybe imposter syndrome to some degree. ‘I know this is happening but is this supposed to be happening? Can I really do this? Can I really write this? Can I actually speak on these stages?’ All of that has been a thought in the back of my mind at some point throughout my career. What I can say to that is I never let those thoughts stop me from trying.”

While she did not foresee becoming a published author, she was later inspired in 2020 to do so. Her newly re-launched picture book I Can’t Wait to Vote was conceived out of her desire to educate and excite children including her own about the voting process. The gorgeously illustrated book by artist Olika Nikolskai is a faultless walk-through of said process. Readers learn along with ‘Autumn’ (who’s based on Lanier’s daughter) as she accompanies her parents on election day.

“My goal with I Can’t Wait to Vote, particularly for children is that they’re so engaged with their parents around this discussion from a young age, that by the time they turn 18, of course they’re gonna register, and of course they’re gonna vote,” she says. “They’re not second-guessing it; they’re not wondering if they should or ‘Is it worth it?’ or ‘Does it matter?’ It’s been ingrained from a young age that ‘This is a part of my civic duty to uphold the democracy in which I live in.'”

Check out the conversation to learn more about Lanier including her entrepreneurship, undercharging one’s own services, her experience as a self-published author, tidbits about her craft, the best quality in an entrepreneur, and more! For more information, visit her official website and Instagram.

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