Not your average speaker, her parents enrolled her in speech lessons when she was 5 years old. Sullivan’s speaking style is often described as “flavorful.” She uses props, live demonstrations, music and more, to encourage and inspire her audience. She is the owner of Yoga Therapy Bar a holistic yoga physical therapy studio in downtown Clemson, South Carolina which exclusively offers a specialty of yoga and physical therapy to improve physical and mental health and wellness of the mind and body. She is an expert in targeting physical and mental stressors for holistic stress management and self-care. She is a certified health education specialist, licensed physical therapist, certified hand therapist, certified yoga teacher, and yoga alliance certified yoga continuing education provider. She has 20 years of experience as a health and wellness professional assisting seniors, kids, adults, athletes, and those with special needs. Nekita Sullivan was born and educated in the Palmetto State of South Carolina. She received a BS in Health Science from Clemson, a BS in Physical Therapy, Master Health Science, and Doctorate of Physical Therapy from the Medical University of South Carolina, and a MBA from American Intercontinental University. Her favorite mantra is “be kind to yourself.” Her favorite activity is sleeping and she will challenge anyone to a sleep-a-thon. She is most comfy being wild, natural, and free wearing no shoes or jewelry with crazy hair. Hummingbirds, butterflies, and tulips gives her the cheesiest smile as Spring is her season. She is most proud to be a child of GOD. Her favorite bible verse is Matthew 17:20 if you have the faith of a mustard seed you can ask your mountain to MOVE and NOTHING will be impossible for you.
I am most comfortable speaking about the holistic importance of health and wellness to improve your mind and body by targeting physical and mental stressors. It is most necessary to be consistent with stress management and self-care for individuals, groups, organizations, and corporations. I have grown to enjoy speaking on all things related to business ownership, women issues, and diversity, equity, and inclusion issues.
More than 100 miles
I generally get paid for speaking but make exceptions
I was asked to be the keynote speaker at a Women's in Leadership conference during Women's History Month by Clemson University. My assignment was to speak an hour about how women leaders must be prepared to pivot during the most stressful times. My speech "Be Ready to Change your Shoes" presented how women leaders must change there shoes often to fulfill the many roles that this ever-changing world demand of us. I was not prepared for the response after completing my speech. One of the conference participants thanked me for sharing my most intimate, private details of the struggle. Two other participants came to me in tears thanking me for sharing my spiritual struggle as they were both dealing with there spiritual struggles. Finally, the conference committee thanked me for a keynote speech that was timely, motivating, and interactive and was most appreciative of my vulnerability and honesty. I shared my little ole' story and it had a positive impact on myself and everyone involved. It was most humbling! I am most grateful.
My sorority sister and I agreed to start our businesses during one of our girls trips. I began my journey in 2017. After many obstacles and delays often faced by African American women with obtaining funding I opened a multiethnic salon and spa on Valentines Day 2020. We closed 3 weeks later due to the pandemic mandated shutdown. While overcoming the trauma I decided to pivot and reopened a holistic yoga physical therapy studio 9 weeks later.
I am also most fortunate to have the privilege of providing pediatric physical therapy 3 days a week for kids ages 3 and older with autism spectrum disorder and other special needs such as down’s syndrome and developmental delay. Many of these kids are receiving Applied Behavioral Analysis or ABA in an outpatient setting or in their home. I am on a therapy team with Occupational Therapists, Speech Language Pathologists, Registered Behavior Technicians or RBTs, board certified behavior analysts or BCBAs, and board certified assistant behavior analysts or BCABAs.
Several of the kids that we treat are non-verbal. Some have devices to help them communicate. Many of them also have difficulty dressing, toileting, feeding, and more. Several of these limitations require a combination of ABA, OT, and ST. However, PT is overlooked at times unless there are significant physical issues such as frequent falls or the inability to walk requiring use of assistive devices such as a wheelchair or walker. I make recommendations to the ABA staff and parents often when I see kids sitting on the floor propped up on their knees, holding themselves up with their arms, w sitting, tripping when they walk or run, walking on their toes, changing speed awkwardly with quick movements, and holding rails with both hands when walking up and down stairs. Frequently I will receive a response from parents, therapists, or behavioral technicians and analysts that Jake can run, Jake can jump, or I don’t think that Jake needs PT.
My ultimate goal for kids with autism spectrum disorder is for them to be able to function daily at home, at school, and in the community to their maximum physical potential and not just get by. I always focus my pediatric physical therapy treatments with that goal in mind. It is important for them to be able to sit on different surfaces chairs, cars, and the floor. It is important for kids to be able to walk on different surfaces in their homes and outside at their school and in the community with their family and friends. It is necessary for them to be able to walk up and down stairs without falling. It is significant for them to be able to play with their families and friends throwing, catching, kicking a ball, and riding a tricycle or even a bicycle. It is necessary for them to be able to play on the playground which includes running, jumping, and climbing. They also have the potential to play recreational team sports in the community or at church. Their ability to do these everyday things makes life better for them and for their families, their caregivers, and their guardians. I often invite their family to participate in sessions for caregiver education and encouragement. I feel that it is my responsibility as a pediatric PT to celebrate their wins and also prepare them for the difficult times that life throws at them. Therefore, I need for kids with autism to know how to manage and respond to the physical pain that often comes from a bump or a bruise or a scratch or the mental and emotional pain that comes from a bully or lack of friends. My physical therapy sessions are holistic and also include health education and socialization situations so that they can experience and learn how to respond in awkward and uncomfortable situations. So I often team up with other therapists so that we can do group activities with the kids. It is an honor to be a pediatric physical therapist. I am most thankful that GOD has blessed me with the privilege to be a pediatric physical therapist for kids with autism spectrum disorder. Kids with autism and their families face overwhelming challenges. It is my desire to provide them a double-dose of compassion and I SUPER-SIZE it! Thank you for spending some of your valuable time viewing my presentation. Don’t sleep on PT for kids with autism. Let’s give them the best chance to function physically and thrive. Thank you all for everything you have done, everything that you are doing, and everything that you will do to improve the lives of kids with ASD and their families and communities.
Title: Introducing a New Member of the Entrepreneur Struggle Survivor Team: My Business Struggle Survivor Story
Target Audience: Harvard Business School Association of Boston
Question: How to survive the struggles during a business start up?
Intro: First question of the day goes to all of you? What does Ann Sarnoff, Michael Bloomberg, Sheryl Sandberg, and Henry Paulson all have in common? They are Harvard Business School alumni. Next question? What is the best age to start a business? A: age 25 B: 35 years of age C:45 or D: Only if you receive funding. Research shows that the average age of starting a business occurs between the ages of 35 to 45 with the median age being 45. Did anyone start their first business selling lemonade (prop) with their local neighborhood crew? How old were you? Mark Zuckerberg started facebook at the age of 19, Steve Jobs started Apple in his parents garage at 21 years of age, Jeff Bezos began Amazon at the age of 30, Sam Walton started Walmart at 44, Starbucks was started by Gordon Bowker at 51, and IBM by Charles Flint at the age of 61. At what age did you decide that you wanted to be a business professional? How old were you when you began thinking about starting your own business? What age were you when you actually started your first business? Was your first business successful? Did you have any struggles during your business start up? Did you survive your business struggles? Was it worth it? Do you have any regrets?
Remarks: I opened on Valentine’s Day February 14 2020 and closed 3 weeks later due to the mandated government shutdown in March with the official start of the covid 19 pandemic. All of my employees left faster than Limu the Emu sprinting on the Liberty Mutual Commercial. I became a trauma stricken brick and mortar business owner while working full-time as an orthopedics physical therapist. I applied for the Economic Impact Disaster loan at the end of March and was declined. I applied for part time unemployment and was declined. I applied for the Payroll Protection Program or PPP and was declined. Later that Summer I did receive an Economic impact Disaster Loan grant that helped me make my monthly rent payment. I was so grateful. At the end of the summer, I was contacted by the local news to share my story as a Black female business owner and my struggles during COVID. My story made it to USA today (prop). People from all over the country began to contact me. Other business owners expressed their empathy due to their memories of their own start up struggles (without a pandemic). Community residents, friends, and family donated money to assist me. However, the stress and pain of it all was still so overwhelming. It became a burden. My business became my burden. I started having a strange anxiety response with all things associated with my business. One day I went to my room got on my knees and tried to pray and broke out in an explosive outburst of gut-wrenching crying and screaming. I cried so loud that I didn’t hear my father enter the room behind me until he put his hand on my shoulder and began to console me and hug me. That was another Steve Jobs like moment for me. (Do you all remember the Steve Jobs movie segment when Apple fired him and he drove in the rain to his parents house, went to the garage where it all started, and began to cry. Then his father entered the room behind him and started to rub his shoulder, hugged and consoled him?) My eyes have produced more water in the years during my business start up than my entire adult life. However, I continued paying the rent and working fulltime to pay business expenses out of my personal earnings while trying to figure out what the heck I was going to do next. One of my survival techniques was learning how to breathe through the anxiety and pain. Often I teach my students and patients such as those with Alzheimer’s suffering with anxiety or those after shoulder surgery or knee and hip replacements suffering with pain how to breathe through the difficult times. So I had to do the same.
Conclusion: Thank you Harvard Business School Association of Boston for allowing me to present My Business history and Struggle Survivor Story with you today. I truly believe that my history is not my destiny. My business journey has been turbulent. However, it has also allowed me to connect with some amazing people that I would have never had the chance to meet which now includes all of you. If there are any services that my business can provide for you, your family, your friends, your colleagues, your business, your community, or your organizations I would be most grateful. l I am most thankful that you all allowed me to share my story with you today.
One of the questions that I was asked as a panelist at the South Carolina American Physical Therapy Association's Annual Conference 2022 in Charleston, SC...
Question: What is one of the reasons why you became a business owner?
Answer: One of the great things about being a physical therapist business owner is that I get to use my best skills, talents, and abilities to be the best physical therapist that I can be instead of having to blend into someone else's system as an employee...
Theme: Women in Leadership - Redefining and Pivoting
Title: Be Ready to Change Your Shoes
Background: Women are the best drama queens on Earth. Our ability to dramatize in and out of situations qualifies us to be experts of change. We can go from mama bear mode, to sleep mode, to clean up mode, to side-eye mode, to boss mode, to loud-mouth mode, to activist-mode, or to sloth mode in a matter of hours or sometimes minutes. We have the versatility and ability to change multiple times throughout the day in order to complete all of the roles that life demands of us. Our expert change agent status qualifies us to be experts at redefining which is simply defining something again but differently…or simply making a change. Some of our redefining skills include the ability to: - rework, revisit, reassess, reevaluate, remake, reconsider, replace… we are skilled at changing. The pandemic demanded that women change and redefine ourselves during one of the most stressful times in our lives!
Problem: How do we change and redefine ourselves, jobs, roles, and relationships during a difficult moment in time or situation when the stress level is at full power? Do you fold? Do you give up? Do you stall? Do you have the right tools? Are you wearing the right shoes? What kind of shoes do you NEED to wear in order to lead and redefine your roles?
Solution: When the stress level is at full power women leaders must be ready to redefine and make calculated changes at the appropriate time! You must be able to change your shoes in order to successfully complete the task. Your shoes must allow you to: 1 Be natural, instinctive, intuitive, and discern (this is demonstrated as Sullivan puts on colorful converse that represents unique intuition). 2 Recreate or pivot (this is demonstrated as Sullivan puts on cross training Nikes) 3. Sacrifice & serve with humility (this is demonstrated as Sullivan puts on nude flats that allow her to blend in so she can pursue the goal of helping others and not calling attention to herself) 4 Recover, renew and heal…LET GO (this is demonstrated as Sullivan walks barefoot).
Conclusion: My challenge to you is to go out every single day and let your unique light lead, redefine, and shine. My challenge to you is to go out every single day and let your beautiful light lead, redefine, and shine. Look at the extraordinary woman beside you and repeat after me: Extraordinary woman go out every single day and let your light lead, redefine, and shine.