Think Different. Two commonly used words in the English language but when put side by side you might think of names such as Steve Jobs, Martin Luther King Jr, The Wright Brothers, Albert Einstein or Mother Theresa. We think of these names because these people were all trailblazing leaders that became globally known for thinking differently. I imagine that many of them looked at the status quo and thought, “This is not enough”. Their vision and dreams for the future were far too important to allow failure or judgements to hold them back. It was their “think different” attitude that allowed them, unlike others, to leave a legacy that lasted for generations. It is people like them that motivate me to do as Robert Frost suggested, “take the road less traveled” and follow my passions, dreams and vision for creating a better tomorrow.
I grew up in a family where going to college was an expectation, not an option. In the fall of 2003, I received early acceptance to Arizona State University with an academic scholarship for having a 4.0 GPA. At the time, my main motivation for attending ASU was because it was radically different from the small town I grew up in. I sought change and that is exactly what I got.
As a young student, I quickly learned that change can be good but too much change, can be overwhelming. The fast pace lifestyle of a student attending one of the largest Universities in the country can often leave you feeling reduced to a student ID number, 1000797856. After two years, I decided it was time to transfer to a smaller private school back home with a degree program more focused in the direction I sought.
I enrolled in the Portland Art Institute, which was again, a radical change for me. I was back in a small classroom environment but at a very liberal art school filled with creative minds. I was seeking a degree in advertising because I was intrigued by learning how psychology and sociology, when paired with art, affects human buying behavior. At the time, the thought of a “traditional job” felt stifling to me because I felt drawn to entrepreneurship, but the timing wasn’t quite right.
When I graduated in 2009, during the economic recession, finding a job in my field was extremely challenging and after some time I took a job in the mental health field. Interestingly enough, it reminded me of my love for psychology and human behavior. While working in treatment, a coworker of mine started a Mary Kay business and invited me to try the products and hear about the business opportunity. That day, it was like the gates of heaven opened. I felt the business was a perfect fit for me because it gave me the independence of being an entrepreneur but also a guided path if I chose to develop as a leader.
If you are familiar with Strengths Finder, my top 5 are activator, strategic, woo, communication and responsibility. I was a recipe for success in the company which is why I earned a car and became a Sales Director in record breaking time. However, what I found was it wasn’t the money, car, prizes or prestige that I loved the most. It was the people. I loved helping people achieve their goals. I loved helping them go from where they were in the present, to where they wanted to be. To me, there is nothing more fulfilling than that. That was my true passion and calling.
After much thought and contemplation, I made the decision to act upon my strengths full time. I left Mary Kay to start a leadership and team development consulting company and completed the International John Maxwell Coaching Certification. I have been running my own business called Break the Norm Leadership, for the last two years. I work with business leaders helping them develop their skills and abilities to lead with influence. I also work with teams focusing on dynamics, collaboration, communication, identifying team strengths and points of weakness to help improve overall performance. Through these experiences, I have seen the need to equip our future leaders, our youth.
My dream is to work within our education system to teach leadership skills earlier in life. I am a big believer that leadership first starts within. By teaching leadership skills early, I believe that we will not only make an impact in the business world but can also reduce suicide rates, violence and depression. I want to be a part of helping our youth be “think different” leaders and a Master's degree is my first step towards getting there.
After researching several Master’s programs, I am most interested in the Master’s in Organizational Leadership at George Washington University because it focuses on project based work, that can be applied to real world situations. I believe this program will be extremely educational for me and I am most excited to be surrounded by like-minded leadership thinkers. Through my experiences, I know that my best ideas come through thought provoking discussion and collaboration. I am looking forward to improving my leadership understanding and abilities through this program, in hopes it propels me further in my personal and career goals.
Thank you for your time and for considering me to be a part of the Master’s of Arts in Organizational Leadership program at George Washington University. I hope together we can collaborate and be “think different” leaders. As Mahatma Ghandi said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world”.