Image description: Elly sitting on a comfortable peach coloured office chair, smiling into the camera
In this student spotlight series, we are highlighting some of our wonderful Virtual Excellence Academy members to share their journeys.
All the ups, downs and surprises on the way to building their dream business. Giving you a realistic insight into where this career path can take you and how it can impact multiple areas of your life!
Today we’re interviewing Mishelle “Elly” Asinobi Hurst, a member of the VEA since May 2022 who has been making waves with her skillful, specialized support for multicultural and neurodivergent clients.
Having transitioned from a corporate background with a rich skillset in operations and project management, Elly harnessed her superpowers as she shifted online to create a significant impact in the VA and OBM space. Doing the work she loves in a way that’s authentic to her, Elly’s determined and adventurous spirit continually opens new doors. Let’s dive in to learn her story!
Hi Elly! Let’s start with an introduction, who are you, and what do you do? (aka what’s your elevator pitch)
I’m an online service provider who provides customized support for heart-centered and neurodivergent entrepreneurs. I enable visionaries and thought leaders to stay in their zone of genius while complementing them with my superpowers–strategy and organization–and increasing their impact, so they can do more in our communities without the overwhelm.
Tell us more about yourself, where you are, and what’s piqued your interest lately.
I’m currently based in Arizona, where I live by myself, but because I’m a VA/OBM, I can travel pretty frequently to visit family on the East Coast, and take little adventures outside of the country. As a #tck, Third Culture Kid, I grew up in multicultural settings and I love to travel and immerse myself in other cultures. Lately, I’ve been really interested in “embracing authenticity,” both for myself and my clients. I work with a lot of multicultural and neurodivergent entrepreneurs, and creating systems and building communities that support and complement NDs and TCKs is so important to me. We are all unique snowflakes—and I mean this in the best way—and that is our greatest strength.
Why did you decide to become a VA, and how did your lifestyle change after pursuing this career?
As a ND–auDHD–I was climbing the corporate ladder steadily and was great at masking, but I was always looking for an exit plan. I loved the work I was doing, I loved the teams and communities I was building, working in operations and project management used many of my superpowers, but sometimes I didn’t like who I was working for, and how they treated their employees. As a VA in the OBM space, I get to do what I love, in an impactful way with clients I love collaborating with. My superpowers compliment my clients’ superpowers and together we make the world a brighter place with our shared values and visions.
You work with “heart-centered and neurodivergent entrepreneurs,” what drew you to the particular niches you serve?
As an ND entrepreneur and a heart-centered entrepreneur myself, it is important to me to help other ND and mission driven entrepreneurs succeed by creating systems and support customized to them so they can make our communities better without the burnout and overwhelm.
Coming from a corporate background, please tell us about your work experience and the transferable skills you brought with you when entering the VA space.
I spent the better half of a decade in corporate where I learned so many valuable skills that I now get to use as a VA. Some of these skills include time-management, the ability to prioritize tasks, excellent communication, technical know-how, planning strategically, problem solving, being organized, decision making, interpersonal and leadership skills, adaptability, critical thinking, teamwork and motivational skills, dependability, being deadline- and detail-oriented, conflict management, and so many more hard and soft skills.
Are you ready…
… for BIG change?
Specializing in marketing and strategy as a VA and OBM; what lights you up about this type of work?
I love being able to help other business owners connect with their people and their communities in a meaningful way. Creating customized systems for my clients allows them to do their best work consistently while reaching more people. Customized systems and strong community is at the heart of what I do, and it brings me so much joy to serve my communities with my skills and enable others to do the same.
Image description: Elly smiling happily into the camera
What are 3 tools that have become essential to your workflow? (Software, productivity apps, etc.)
ClickUp, Dubsado, and Canva! I love ClickUp because it is multifunctional and customizable. I love Dubsado because it helps me automate many of my processes and makes up for some of ND shortcomings 😅. I love Canva because it allows me to be creative while getting all my design related work done on one platform.
What soft skills did you come to realize were essential to your success online?
Adaptability and a growth mindset. With a positive mindset, anything is possible. Practicing imperfect action and being prepared for abundance and opportunity go hand in hand when leaping into anything new and unknown.
Like many of our outstanding VEA alum, you started by taking the 5 Day VA Challenge; tell us what that experience was like for you and how it impacted the course of your career.
It was an amazing experience and opportunity, and I’m so glad I took the leap and immersed myself in such and amazing program with a strong and warm community. I 💯 wouldn’t be where I am without the amazing DNK community, Hannah Dixon, and the DNK team. The VEA really prepared me to transition from what I believed was the only path at the time–a corporate career–to a growth mindset and the ability to see beyond the conventional possibilities. I went from a 40-50 hour work week to working for myself with amazing clients and building my work week to suit my productivity and adventurous nature. From in office to working from home, or wherever I choose that day, and I would never go back.
Since you started this journey, was there a ‘failure’ that turned into a valuable learning experience? How did you grow from it?
So many! And whenever there was a ‘failure,’ I would always feel like it was world ending 😂. My first VA client really needed an OBM or a specialized VA. We initially started working together with me as their VA to take some simple tasks off their plate but my duties continued to grow and move out of the scope we agreed on in my contract. At the time I was still working 40-50 hours a week at my corporate job, and doing admin tasks while also doing high-level strategy to move my client’s business forward, was so draining.
To top it all off, the OBM duties I was doing, an additional 10-15 hours per week, were unpaid–I know, bad move. But, I really wanted to help this client. Eventually, something had to give, and we had to go our separate ways as I was reaching burnout. My boundaries were basically non-existent, and while the client’s business was doing better, I knew our collaboration wasn’t sustainable for me. I felt like a failure because I couldn’t continue to help the client. This experience taught me to value my skills, time, and boundaries, while helping others is so important to me, its also important to work with others who value you and your contributions to their business development and mission. This is why shared values, vision, and mission is so important to me today ❤️.
If you had to name a highlighting moment in your online career that you’re proud of, what would that moment be?
When one of my business besties 😂 aka a client shares a win! I love the little wins and the big wins all the same–it feels like sharing good news with my sister and makes my entire day. Our strategy sessions also fill me with so much joy because my clients always leave with clarity and motivation to move toward our goal. I’m getting the warm fuzzies just typing this. I hadn’t realized the highlighting moments for me are often the small ones.
Where do you see yourself and your business, “Ellyvated,” 5 years from now?
I see myself helping more ND and heart-centered entrepreneurs make a bigger impact in our communities on a larger scale with even more adventure mixed in…I see myself loving every minute of it.
Image description: Elly smirking and looking upwards.