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5 THINGS I WISH I KNEW BEFORE LEADING A COMPANY

Amy Westby serves as the Executive Director of Strategic Initiatives, Education, and Philanthropy at the National Society of Leadership and Success (NSLS) and its NSLS Foundation. Recently she was interviewed by Authority.com for their insightful leadership series, "5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Began Leading My Company." 

In a poignant, reflective conversation, Amy shares that her love for the education field is a passion that goes back to her girlhood. She reveals that she would line up her stuffed animals into "classroom rows" and "teach" them all about life-related things as a child. She always knew she would become an educator, even then.

Today, in her role at NSLS, Amy oversees the programming and advancement of education for thousands of students each year who are committed to leadership development and positively impacting their communities and the world. 

THE POWER OF TENACITY

As Amy recalls her early pursuits in education, it quickly became evident that she did not wait for opportunities to find her; she was proactive. Through a myriad of experiences, she learned that her genuine curiosity and tenacity were powerful tools that fueled her professional journey. 

Sharing post-graduation memories, Amy shares, "I had a wonderful hiring experience as at the time, school districts were clamoring for educators, and I could pick every course I wanted to teach. I chose to teach History and English for 11th and 12th grade. I even asked for an extra open period to lead the school's extracurricular activities, such as the National Honor Society, Model United Nations, Service Learning, Student Government, and the prom committee.”

Amy believes to pursue a passion, you should spend as much time as you possibly can learning everything about it. At the beginning of her career, that's what Amy did. She found numerous teaching opportunities, spent time with students, and volunteered on the Blue Ribbon Committee, which made her part of cross-department collaborations. In essence, hers is an example of focus and determination over a fear of the unknown.

REACHING SUCCESS THROUGH RESILIENCE

Many professionals struggle to strike the right balance between their personal life and their career. While pursuing her dream of working in education, Amy was no exception. She acknowledges trying to balance both is no easy task, but as a single mother raising a daughter, she learned the art of being resilient.

In her case, dedication to success meant each day dropping her child off at daycare, driving an hour to work, and working all day. At the end of the day, she would head home, spend time with her daughter, put her to bed, work late into the following day - and do the entire routine all over again.

Looking back, Amy believes she got through these times because she understood that our current circumstances don't last forever. To ensure that, Amy was always planning ahead. She would forecast out the whole year and plan her next career move. Additionally, her two-hour commute each day provided personal, quiet time to focus on her goals. It also gave her time to be thankful for her healthy family and what she thus far had accomplished.

Amy shares, "I am a planner, and a big takeaway for me during this period of my life was the importance of organization and coordination – in my personal and professional life."

5 THINGS I WISH I KNEW ABOUT LEADING A COMPANY

From student to junior teacher to admin and onto management roles, Amy's journey to Executive Directorship of the NSLS is a testament to setting long-term goals, staying focused, and putting in the work. However, Amy is clear that there are still things she wishes someone had told her along the way that might have helped in her earlier days of professional development.

The five things Amy wishes someone would have told her about leading a company are:

  1. Confidence

  2. Stick to the basics

  3. Build relationships

  4. Networking

  5. Ask for help

During the interview, Amy shares why asking for help would’ve been so helpful: "I came out of school so eager to show what I was capable of and how great of an employee I was going to be – that I forgot to learn how to ask for help." 

Learning to ask for help is a lesson Amy wants everyone to embrace, sharing, "It's made a difference in my life, and it is a really great skill that doesn't always come naturally for many – but is a real blessing when it does."

Read the full article on Medium.com to learn more about what Amy wished someone would’ve told her earlier about leading a company.