“Get up and go harder!” has become Tiphani Montgomery’s personal mantra over the years.
The best-selling author has a true 'started from the bottom' story. Becoming a teen mom at 17 and dropping out of college at 25 (when her GPA hit an all-time low of 0.0) was an unlikely recipe for success to say the least. It wasn’t until Montgomery took matters into her own hands at 26 by selling 2,500 copies of her self-published poetry book in a month that she found her purpose: writing and inspiring others.
Today at 32, Montgomery’s life is far different than she could’ve ever imagined. The woman who was once written off as a failure by others is now a successful motivational speaker and contributor to The Huffington Post. But what makes her truly remarkable is her refusal to give up when all else fails and her dedication to helping others find the courage to chase after their dreams. For instance, she recently launched a program called, “Knocked Up, Now What?” for teen moms, where they learn about financial literacy, life enrichment skills and how to overcome adversity. Here, Montgomery discusses her advice for aspiring authors and entrepreneurs, as well as her upcoming projects.
EBONY: You had to overcome a lot of obstacles, in order to get to where you are today. Everyone has a turning point in his or her life. What was yours?
Tiphani Montgomery: I was a 25-year-old college dropout who was broke with a daughter to raise alone. Working a 9-5 was never an option, and I had let go of my dreams to be a hustler's wife a few years prior [laughs]. Once I realized that I had no other choice but to become an entrepreneur, the ‘how’ became much easier. The only thing at the time that I considered myself good at was writing books, and that's when I made the decision to self-publish my first poetry book called, Hate Me Bitch! which I wrote in an anger management class [laughs]. I ended up selling 2,500 copies. It was a hit from the start, and that's when I realized that I could actually make a living off of my love for writing.
EBONY: When you first became a best-selling author, did that give you a sense of validation?
TM: No, not validation. Oddly enough, I learned to not seek validation from anyone or thing no matter the occasion. Why? Because if I [had] never gotten on the bestsellers list, would that have been a reflection of how great a writer I am? [Of course not], but some authors devalue their craft because it wasn't awarded on a list. I validated myself the moment I used my tax-income check and self-published my first poetry book and sold 2,500 copies in a month.
EBONY: Let’s discuss your upcoming projects. Are you currently writing a new novel? If so, what can you tell us about it?
TM: I am working on a new fiction series and right now, I’m waiting on my characters to talk to me. The Millionaire Mistress, which was my last series, was a huge hit, so I’m making sure that this one is better!
EBONY: Whenever you approach a new novel, where do you draw your inspiration and ideas?
TM: Life. I have some interesting characters in my real life, so coming up with inspiration is as easy as talking on the phone with friends. I'm also in silence a lot, and I get ideas from that small still voice that speaks to me when I'm committed to listening.
EBONY: The publishing industry is a competitive one. What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
TM: My advice to aspiring authors is to self-publish your book first. You won't find too many major publishers who would be willing to publish an author who hasn't proven themselves and who has no platform. Take the time to build your readers and prove that your product sells, and the publishers will come looking for you.
EBONY: Since March is Women’s History Month, what entrepreneurial advice do you have for women specifically?
TM: I'd say just go for it. Don't let society box you in to what entrepreneurship is supposed to look like. Experiment. Take chances. But most importantly take action! Study everything you can get your hands on in regards to money mindset, psychology, marketing, sales, intellectual property, etc.
EBONY: There are a lot of people who want to turn their lives around but don't know what to do or where to go. What would you say to them?
TM: If you don't like being treated like crap, get out of that bad relationship. If you don't like being disregarded all the time, learn how to be more assertive and stand up for yourself. If you don't like living from pay check to pay check, learn how to change your perspective about money from ‘it doesn't grow on trees’ to ‘there's more than enough money out here and because I use my gifts and talents to serve the world, it comes to me easily.’ Whatever your problem is that makes you feel bad, do the opposite. It sounds simple, but it has worked wonders in my life.
EBONY: When you look back at all your accomplishments, what are you most proud of?
TM: I'm proud that I've come from being a teen mom and a college drop out to being a best-selling author seven times, but I'm most proud of myself that I didn't let the doubts and criticisms of other people shut my dreams down.
Princess Gabbara is a recent graduate of Eastern Michigan University, where she studied journalism. Her words have appeared on/in Ebony.com, Essence.com, Clutch Magazine, The Glamazons Blog and elsewhere. You can read more of her work on her blog. She also tweets at @PrincessGabbara.