Ashley Cash is a wife, mom, and corporate girl who likes water with her whiskey and a little trap with her rap. She has spent decades in corporate–managing teams, hiring, firing, and moving up the ladder for big brands like Whirlpool and Coca-Cola. She’s seen first hand how decisions get made and she’s ready to give us the inside scoop, but first she reveals who she is and why she loves empowering women.
HerStory: Where were you born and raised? Ashley: I was born in a very small hospital in Helena, Arkansas. I lived there for the first couple months of my life. Shortly after my parents split up and my mom and I moved to California and lived with my uncle for a while. While we were there she met the man that I call my father and they got married and had two more kids together. We lived in California until I was about 10 and then moved to Memphis.
HerStory: How was the transition for you and your family? Ashley: One of the reasons we moved to Memphis was because my mom wanted to be closer to my grandparents and family is very important to us. So I was a Cali girl turned Southern girl. It was great!
HerStory: Tell me about your experience as a teenager. Ashley: I have always been that girl who was sort of an overachiever. What I recognize about myself now is a lot of that actually came from being someone who really liked praise. I figured out really early that when you make good grades, participate in a lot of activities, and act a certain way that it’s a really quick way to get praise and be liked, so a lot of that drove me in high school to be the best. Another part was my mom, she was that person who would always say you don’t need to be bringing C’s home because you’re not average and having her not ever accepting anything less than 110%, I think really was the driver for me.
HerStory: Did you ever veer off of the good girl path? Ashley: I definitely was not perfect but I maintained it. I was very focused on going to college. My parents told me early on if I wanted to go, I was going to have to figure out how to get there. I knew what I had to do and I wasn’t going to let anyone or anything get in the way of that.
HerStory: What type of relationship did you have with your biological dad? Ashley: I didn’t at all, and it was one of those things that I thought I could compartmentalize at times but I realize now that some things will manifest themselves in ways you really don’t realize or understand why.
HerStory: How did not having him around affect you? Ashley: I really never talked about it and with my stepfather being around I didn’t necessarily feel like I had a void. I didn’t think about it a lot then but I think about it a lot now and I have learned to really make peace with forgiving him.
HerStory: How long did you live in Memphis? Ashley: I lived in Memphis and finished high school there. I attended The University of Tennessee and this is where I met my husband. We started dating towards the end of college. I got engaged, quit my job and followed him to Jackson, MS, all the things your mother tells you not to do. We got married and shortly after we moved to Dallas, TX and never looked back.
HerStory: Tell me about a time in your life when you were completely lost, like what am I on this earth for? Ashley: So, even as a little kid, like 6 or 7, I would always wonder that like why am I alive. I had a nerdy curiosity. I would wonder if there was anyone else like me. I’ve always wondered even before I could connect that purpose to God. I would say the period in my life when I really felt like I didn’t know what the crap I’m doing would be in 2014 when my stepdad passed away. He had been sick for a couple of years and of course anytime you lose someone it’s hard but when you see someone not who they were, not having a good quality of life, it is really tough. You have all these thoughts about how you should have done more and you really don’t know where to direct that. My husband didn’t get it and wasn’t really supporting me the way I felt he should have so it was a big strain on our marriage and I really wasn’t happy with my career at the time so it really was like the perfect storm.
HerStory: What did your stepdad mean to you? Ashley: He was the guy who wanted me when my own flesh and blood didn’t. I remember the last days when we said our last goodbyes and I remember thanking him for being my dad and for raising me because he could have opted out. I always loved and respected that about him, that he did what another man wouldn’t.
HerStory: How impactful was this time in your life for you? Ashley: I did not know then but what I feel like I can piece together now is that God was preparing me and putting me a position to go to the next level in my personal life and career.
HerStory: What made you decide to become a career coach? Ashley: I was having all of this success in my career, moving up the ladder, getting promotions, and then finally one day I was like, I know all this and I want to help other women. I want to help women feel like they can negotiate for what they deserve and not worry about if they ask they might lose the opportunity. I really wanted women to know that you can be bold and ask for what you want. I wanted to help empower women. I wanted to help them win.
HerStory: Why is your brand so important to you? Ashley: My entire career I’ve been the only black girl in the room. I have experienced and been exposed to a lot especially focusing on how decisions are made, particularly for women. The discussions on who we’re going to hire, how much we’re going to pay them, what people feel like women deserve or don’t deserve and how women are perceived in the workplace and how those perceptions impact them in terms of career, particularly in terms of salary made me want to educate and empower women in this area.
HerStory: Tell me about your consulting agency. Ashley: I help women get hired and get paid. What happens is people learn to justify why they can pay us less and unfortunately there are some women who are not comfortable with asking or speaking up about their salary. They have gotten comfortable with not advocating for themselves and one of the hesitations I hear all the time is because they don’t know how to ask. So instead of rocking the boat, they settle with just being happy to be there, and they end up betting against themselves. Being in those rooms, hiring and firing with management teams, knowing what happens before a performance appraisal, knowing when salary budgets really get done, made me want to help them know how to get hired. Women are the hardest workers because we go to work and them come home and clock into our other two or three jobs. We work hard and smart at catching mistakes and fixing them. Women are naturally wired to clean up messes. Sometimes it infuriates me because we are not getting our due and so what I do is help you with the tools on how to negotiate and advocate for yourself. I teach you how to go in and nail an interview so that you are getting the jobs and the salaries that match what you are bringing to the table, while also helping you feel confident and empowered to do it. I can tell you all day long how to negotiate and what to negotiate for but if you can’t do it because you don’t feel confident about it or you don’t feel confident about what you bring to the table, you’re not going to be effective. I want you to feel like yes I am a badass, yes I deserve these coins and I’m not going to accept any ole thing and yes, I can talk about my accomplishments without being afraid of sounding cocky. I’m confident in what I can do, I’ve been doing it since 2016. It really does feel like my ministry. I love the work that I do and I love the clients that I serve.
HerStory: What intimidates you? Ashley: I feel intimidated when I don’t feel like I’m prepared or if I’m not an expert on a subject. I have learned that it’s ok if I’m not the smartest person in the room and that it’s ok to sit in a room and be silent. I always thought I had to prove myself but I think it was a defense mechanism. I’ve definitely gotten better.
HerStory: What empowers you? Ashley: Knowing who the plug is. I know the source, so I have this confidence because I know if anything happens for me God has willed me to be there, no matter what anyone thinks and that makes me feel pretty damn unstoppable.
HerStory: At the end of every interview, I always ask every woman to answer the same question. To help leave your impression on every reader, in hopes that they will be able to identify their purpose through yours, please answer the question Who Am I? Ashley: I am worthy.
Ashley’s group coaching and mastermind, Search to Salary starts February 5th! She will be showing women step by step how to streamline their job search, nail their interviews, and negotiate the big bucks!