Toronto·Start-Up City

This celebrity ghostwriter turns 'shy girls into fly girls' with her mentorship program

Pauleanna Reid describes herself as a millennial business owner who fought for her dreams and won.

'I love helping people see beyond the limits of their circumstances,' Pauleanna Reid says

Pauleanna Reid has founded several companies, including WritersBlok — a communications agency which provides ghostwriting services for high-level executives, professional athletes and celebrities. (Paul Borkwood/CBC)

Pauleanna Reid describes herself as a millennial business owner who fought for her dreams and won.

After dropping out of college and surviving a suicide attempt, Reid went on to publish a novel, become a contributor at Forbes, and found several companies. One of those businesses is WritersBlok — a communications agency that provides ghostwriting services for high-level executives, professional athletes and celebrities. 

She's also behind an international mentorship program that helps women find their own voice.

"There have been times where I've been in rooms and because I don't have a college degree, people make their assumptions," she said. "That's why I work extremely hard and I work overtime to make sure I'm always ready for any situation and any conversation."

Start-Up City: She made it. Now she's helping others succeed

4 years ago
2:37
Pauleanna Reid is a writer and CEO who's mentoring other women on their path to success. 2:37

'I took it as a sign'

Reid's passion for writing has been a constant throughout her life. In high school, she would spend her lunch hour alone in the library or the cafeteria writing in her journal. She was frequently bullied and she battled what would later be diagnosed as depression.

Writing helped her escape.

When it came time to graduate, Reid told her parents she wanted to pursue further education as a writer. She remembers their reaction clearly.

"They were like, 'Hell no. No.'"

Reid had failed Grade 11 and 12 English courses and wasn't particularly strong academically, she says, so her parents pushed her to study business administration at Sheridan College instead.

'I took it as a sign that God was giving me another chance, and I told myself that this was my life and my dreams were worth it,' Reid said of surviving a suicide attempt. (Submitted/Samantha Clarke)

Soon, her struggle with depression became overwhelming. She would miss weeks of class at a time, her grades slipped as a result, and she wasn't socializing. She told herself if she couldn't do what she wanted in life, there was no point in existing.

During her second year of college, she attempted suicide. During her recovery, she started to put into action what she wanted her life to look like. 

"I took it as a sign that God was giving me another chance, and I told myself that this was my life and my dreams were worth it," Reid said.

She started asking for help, sought out mentors, and became involved in The Remix Project — a Toronto-based non-profit organization that mentors marginalized youth through music, photography and graphic design.

Through the organization, Reid was connected with a mentor and ended up publishing a novel called Everything I Couldn't Tell My Mother. From there, her writing career took off.

Reid's novel, Everything I Couldn't Tell My Mother, was published in 2014. (Paul Borkwood/CBC)

Founding the company

Reid said she started booking flights to New York and organizing meetings with people she admired. A few years ago, a financial executive asked her for help writing a speech, and the idea for WritersBlok was born.

The company provides ghostwriting services, including speeches, social media captions, news releases and memoirs. 

"The term [ghostwriter] is very popular in the music industry, but people don't think of it in the context of which I work," Reid said. "They always think, 'What? My favourite celebrity doesn't write their own sh-t?'"

"I tell them no, none of it. It's not that they're not brilliant, they just don't have time."

'The power of someone believing in you can mentally and physically change the game,' Reid says. (Paul Borkwood/CBC)

Reid said the concept behind WritersBlok is to help people to properly articulate themselves and build a personal brand — something she also has a hand in outside of the company through a mentorship program she co-founded.

"Mentorship is such an important part of, not only my journey, but every successful woman that I know. The power of someone believing in you can mentally and physically change the game."

'Shy girls into fly girls'

New Girl on the Block is a mentorship program for millennial women in transition. So far, Reid has mentored more than 150 women in eight different countries, including homeless youth, sex workers, and Olympic athletes.

"We turn shy girls into fly girls," she said. "I don't think I personally know all the answers, but I think I have the backbone — the courageousness and the strength — that I can lend to women who are trying to find their voice."

Reid has mentored more than 150 women in six different countries. (Submitted/Aleksander Nikiforov)

Reid gives women advice in areas like time management and confidence and helps them establish goals for the future.

"It's all about your perspective," she said. "I love helping people see beyond the limits of their circumstances and understand what's possible for them if they just shift their mindset."

Start-Up City is CBC Toronto's five-part digital video series that spotlights some of the GTA's most innovative start-ups.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Julia Whalen

Associate Producer, CBC Toronto

Julia has been working in journalism since 2012 — first as a newspaper reporter in Moncton, before making the move to Toronto to work for CBC. She's particularly interested in social issues, health and the creative community, and is a proud Maritimer and dedicated fundraiser for type 1 diabetes research.

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