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The Jilly Academy

Want to Join The Jilly Academy? Read These Inspiring Alumni Stories!

What a whirlwind the last few months have been! We launched The Jilly Academy on April 6th, 2021 with Course One: The Brand Strategy and since then have also released Course Two: The Content Creator with Course Three: The Growth Accelerator not far behind on June 8th (TOMORROW)! The response so far has been overwhelming and this community continues to inspire me daily! Not to mention, our Alumni have been documenting their journey on social media while they work through the courses. 

And today, I thought it would be fun to hear more from our Jilly Academy Alumni about their experience as they make their way through the Courses through a Q&A series! A very special thank you goes out to the Alumni who contributed! They stood out to us for being interactive with our account, supporting fellow Alumni and showcasing their journey as they work their way through the Courses! 

I’d like to introduce you to:

Assi @assifrommali

Janelle @janellesilverhague

Kemi @naijacanadianbentomom

Breanne @breanneallarie 

Jadyn @jwatsonfisher

Jennifer @jayembarrie

Mikaela @mk.fyfe

Jam @iamjamgamble

Rachel @rachel.dyan.webdesign

Rebecca @mimotoronto

So, without further adieu, let’s dive into our Q&A with some of our amazing Alumni members who have been working their way through Course One: The Brand Strategy and/or Course Two: The Content Creator!

Jillian Harris for The Jilly Academy throwing a graduation cap in the air for the Alumni members.

1. If you could give a piece of advice to your past self after learning what you have so far, what would it be?

JANELLE: I would tell myself to celebrate my mistakes. From mistakes come so much growth and help you attain your end goals. I also believe I’m a better person from having learned from those mistakes.  

JADYN: It’s OK if you’re still figuring things out. Even some of the most well-known, most successful people have messed up, doubted themselves and started over at some point. If you do that, it doesn’t mean you’re a failure or that you can’t reach your goals.

MIKAELA: My advice to my past self would be to embrace the negative, along with the positive; to simply exist in both. My biggest life lessons came more from my shortcomings & mistakes. It’s realistic to embrace both, instead of taking negative SO personally, and wanting to ONLY attract positive. Both will ebb & flow! Unrealistic expectations on others & environments leads to disappointment, so try to look at situations objectively. 

2. What was your biggest takeaway from Course One and/or Two and why?

JAM: My biggest takeaway from this course is that I wasn’t thinking big enough. My other big takeaway is that there are things that were shared in Course One that I’ve never thought about. Like my brand values – I’ve never thought about this or written this down. Also, the Partnerships Checklist blew my mind. Navigating the influencer world as a woman of colour has been really interesting. A lot of the opportunities that are out there, aren’t really presented to us. So when a campaign does come up, it’s easy to say yes, just because you want to have a partnership under your belt. So we don’t ask these critical questions. Ex. how diverse are you, what are your commitments etc. The partnerships checklist is really making me evaluate the partnerships I’m getting involved in, and how I’m serving my community. 

RACHEL: Learning and re-learning, and coming back and back again to the foundation of your business can be overwhelming. But each time I do it, I learn something new. This time it was really understanding my core values and how they apply to my business. What was interesting was how my core values started to form in my head. I wrote them down like I was talking to someone else, but they were really messages to ME and how to conduct myself in my own business.

REBECCA: One huge takeaway that has made the biggest impact was definitely the goal setting session in Course One: The Brand Strategy. ‘Goal setting’ is a term often thrown around and although I had a general idea of my goals for the business, the goal setting session really helped to streamline and define both short term and long term goals. As a result, our business has a much more targeted focus and we revisit these goals periodically and when decision-making to ensure we are staying on track. Building off of this, the development of our brand positioning and values in Course One have been instrumental in ensuring we only take on opportunities that are both in line with our goals and brand values (no matter how amazing they may be!).

3. What would you say to someone who is thinking about signing up for The Jilly Academy?

JANELLE: I would ask them how committed and motivated they are to bring their business/brand to the next level. If they’re ready and willing to put in the work, I would tell them to 100% go for it as I’m confident they will find success by taking the Jilly Academy courses.  

BREANNE: DO IT! If I caught wind of someone thinking about the course, I would tell them to invest in their future. Not only for their business, but as a human. I would confidently tell them it will make them think beyond sales or followers. It will leave them thinking about what type of legacy they want to leave and how they want to be remembered. (Plus Jillian Harris is the teacher… it’s really a win win!)

JADYN: I was able to receive a scholarship for the academy; otherwise I would not have been able to take it. Going through part of it, though, it’s absolutely worth the investment. If you have the means and really want to start a business or grow your personal brand, this course features invaluable tips, tricks and resources that make it worth the investment. A lot of thought has gone into the academy, and I’ve learned more from the time I’ve spent working on it than I have in a long time.

REBECCA: The Jilly Academy is an exciting investment in yourself that can really help propel your business forward regardless of your industry or business model! Not only do you receive the extreme wealth of knowledge from Jillian and her amazing team, you also receive workbooks and incredible tools such as the Jilly Presets which help you really apply these lessons to your own business. In addition, The Jilly Academy community you gain access to is an asset in itself! The networking opportunities are amazing and the community is so supportive both in learning and sharing knowledge with one another.

4. How have you experienced growth professionally and personally since starting Course One and/or Course Two?

ASSI: The first course has helped me grow in the sense that I’m much more organized. I did not think about how impactful time blocking actually was until I went through it and specifically scheduled certain things that needed to be done. Course two definitely made me understand the amount of work and consistency that actually goes into building your brand and into presenting your brand to the world because that is the first view that they get. Another really great thing that I learned was not to say yes to everything and to always make sure that your vision and your mission align with what brands you want to work for/with.

KEMI: I now operate more efficiently and I am clear on what I want to do and where I want to go, the Courses have helped with guiding me towards my BHAG.

JENNIFER: I feel braver if I am being honest. Sharing my journey wasn’t an easy choice. The first time I had cancer I barely talked about it anyway. But this time was different. I knew there was a reason I was going through it again, and I knew I needed to help people. Still I wasn’t sure how. By joining a local Instagram for Business group plus the Jilly Academy I feel I have gotten the right support to pursue this new journey.I don’t want to be an influencer in a traditional sense, but I want to be able to influence my journey. I knew that Jill could be a GREAT mentor for this goal. Hearing her stories mixed with all the knowledge I am gaining on how to grow my business and social media from an influencer perspective has really helped me to be more confident to share my story not just for my social audience, but bigger.

5. In Course One: The Brand Strategy, we work on building a solid foundation – what has been your a-ha moment during this process?

ASSI: My aha moment in the first course was when Jillian mentioned that as long as you enjoy what you do and let you show up as yourself you’re always finding your niche and finding a brand that is authentically you is what people want. I think that is a woman of colour I’ve always struggled with trying to fit in a specific mould and realizing that I can build a lane for my own self, that was really impactful for me.

KEMI: VALUES VALUES VALUES!!! Understand your own values, then understand what value you provide, and create value around the first two values.

JENNIFER: That I didn’t really have a clear brand identity. Moving from corporate into a more personal/storytelling role I needed a rebrand. I did it visually with my website, logo etc. but I hadn’t don’t the work internally. I have now, I am crystal clear on what my brand identity is and as a result I am growing my business in the right way surrounded by the right clients.

REBECCA: My a-ha moment was definitely around the goal setting but overall the strategies learned in Course One all tie together so seamlessly to give you efficiency, clarity and direction! By defining where I would like to be, I have been able to use the other tools learned in the course to structure a clear roadmap with checkpoints along the way to keep me on track and the tools to be efficient in doing so. This has brought so much more focus to both my personal and professional lives and has really acted as an accelerator to achieving my ultimate goals!

Jillian Harris celebrating the Alumni community and The Jilly Academy with champagne.

6. It’s important to celebrate each WIN along the way, Alumni! What has been the biggest WIN that you have experienced since implementing what you have learned from Course One and/or Two?

BREANNE: One win I had since starting the course was I connected with another mom in the Jilly Academy Alumni page and we’re currently organizing a collaboration together! We both checked boxes in each other’s partnership checklist from module 1 of Course One: The Brand Strategy and I am so excited to get started with this awesome, small local business… who happens to be only 15 minutes away from where I live. Such a small world!

JENNIFER: For the Brand Strategy Course I think my biggest win was creating my new Vision, Mission, Values and Brand Identify statements. For the Content Creator Course right now my biggest win was booking our time for content creation (and sticking to it!) The other piece which was built on in the first course and carried through in the second course was ensuring my Brand Voice is consistent on ALL of my platforms.

JAM: The biggest win I’ve had so far has been clarity. In the first course Jillian talks about the goals she sets monthly and yearly, and how she does this regular planning and goal setting with her team. I’m in a position now where I have a team, and the biggest win I’ve had is that I’ve realized that we need to sit and plan. The style I’ve had up to now has worked for me, but it can only take me so far. So we really need to plan and be more intentional and set goals so that I can go further. And this clarity has been my biggest win. 

7. In The Jilly Academy we emphasized Time Blocking as one of our keys to success. How has implementing time blocking helped YOU?

ASSI: Time blocking is my new favourite thing to do when I work. It is my new favourite thing to do when I am even in creative mode because I time myself and I make sure I schedule everything that I need to schedule and it gives me time to adjust as well and make changes if that is needed. I am a planner so time blocking was truly one of my favourite things to learn about. And I can never go back again. I am a crazy time blocker and I’m alright with that LOL.

KEMI: I am more productive and less overwhelmed, since I started time blocking my days. I am able to stay on top of things and take control of my time.

REBECCA: Time blocking has allowed me to be so much more efficient in tackling my daily tasks and goals! By having an organized strategy and a specific time frame, I have found my productivity and focus have skyrocketed! It has also helped me manage my planning by realistically setting out a plan for the day rather than compiling an impossible to do list which can really be discouraging.

8. What has been your favourite/most helpful resource that was included in Course One and/or Course Two and why?

JANELLE: Course One: The Brand Strategy: The partnership checklist document. I never had one on paper, just in the back of my mind. Putting it on paper has made me feel so much more professional. Course Two: The Content Creator: The documents included for the brand shoot were SO helpful. I had my brand shoot before I saw the documents (of course lol!). Having seen the docs before the brand shoot would have been SO helpful. I already started a checklist for my next brand shoot in August and I know I will be much better prepared thanks to those documents.

MIKAELA: I really loved the Partnership Checklist in Course 1: the Brand Strategy. This took the guesswork out for me for how to solidify authentic brand partnerships. Being clear on your values with a brand & anyone in your life, is such an important life skill.

RACHEL: The mood board in Course One is great! I think that for creatives or visual folks like myself, mood boards are an exceptional way to tap into every aspect of your business. Images and colors can help you navigate things like your mission and vision statements, in a very conceptual way! Though I haven’t yet started Course Two, I think it’s MAGICAL that you share the Jilly Presets. I’ve been using Lightroom and presets for a couple years now, and I think that for anyone just starting out, that is the most valuable resource, especially when it comes to creating a cohesive online presence. 

9. Have you found it more beneficial to start with Course One: The Brand Strategy and build off what you learned into Course Two: The Content Creator?

KEMI: One of my favourite quotes by David Allan Coe says, “It is not the beauty of a building you should look at, it is the construction of the foundation that will stand the test of time.” To everyone thinking of taking the course, I recommend starting with Course One because that is where you get to the core of what you are building, if you build right from the foundation, you can build whatever you want to do. I love the way the stages have been organized.

JENNIFER: I think they could stand alone if you had to do it that way, but I would strongly recommend doing the whole bundle. Reason being I really do feel they build on one another. Although I have separate actions lists for both courses a lot of them link. I also think I wouldn’t have been able to go as deep with my learning as I have without having the foundational course first.

JAM: Absolutely. People are always so concerned about the aesthetics of their content, and not who the aesthetics and your visuals are for. So yes, it’s been beneficial to get clear on who I am, who I serve, and what my values are, as it gives me really good insight into how I’m going to create intentional content for the people I attract. 

10. What are you most excited to learn about in Course Three: The Growth Accelerator?

BREANNE: I am so excited to learn about how to pitch to my dream brand and make a press kit! Reaching out to brands scares the rosé out of me… so this will be so beneficial. I am also looking forward to learning the legal fundamentals so I can protect myself and my business going forward.

JAM: How to grow 🙂 I’m excited to push myself further. I think I’ve been playing it safe for a really long time, and I need to push myself and experience some setbacks. Part of growing is experiencing setbacks, and I think up to this point I haven’t really had many setbacks because I’ve been playing it safe. I’m excited to challenge myself to grow, and stop playing it so safely. 

RACHEL: I mean, you have all the puzzle pieces with the first two courses. I feel like the third one is gonna help launch my business into some ethereal outer space! This is where I feel like I was at coming in to the Jilly Academy. I’m so thankful to go over my foundation first, so I can make the most out of the Growth Accelerator! 

BONUS QUESTION: Alumni… are you comfortable sharing one of your Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAGs) with us?

ASSI: Yes – I would like to have a huge lifestyle brand that is focussed around my Malian culture and I want to be one of the leaders in fair trade from the African continent (it’s a scary goal but I’m excited to conquer it).

JANELLE: One of my BHAGs is to create a foundation to support children and families with academic or mental health challenges. A non-judgemental place where they can find financial and emotional support as well as encouragement.

KEMI: Yesss, heere is a picture. It is June 3, 2031, I am listed as a Non-State Actor Partner with WHO and also UNICEF. Non-State Actor Partners play a critical role in supporting WHO’s work.

JAM: I actually talked about them here when I took over the @jhthebrand account! My biggest one is to have the Slay the Mic Junior program licensed in schools all over the world – so that it’s available and accessible to kids across the world. 

Jillian Harris' laptop and goals notebook to inspire The Jilly Academy Alumni members.

Hearing from the Alumni makes me that much more excited for the launch of Course Three: The Growth Accelerator TOMORROW! It’s time to get into that CEO mindset and truly monetize your business or brand! Haven’t enrolled yet? You can find more information about what The Jilly Academy is all about by visiting our previous blog post (here!) or by visiting our website



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