Amy Swift-Crosby is Goddess of the Week!
"I'm inspired by innovation. I love putting amazing people together and seeing how they think. I'm endlessly curious about how people know what they know or do what they do ... It's not just my job. It's really a burning curiosity that impacts my life and my audience’s life."
-- Amy Swift-Crosby, founder of SMARTY
Amy Swift has helped thousands of women launch their business. She is an expert at helping women entrepreneurs connect the dots to turn their ideas and dreams into reality and create profitable, sustainable businesses. She has an outstanding gift of being able to extract the genius in women -- helping them articulate what they know (but think they don't know). Amy has moderated dozens of panel discussions on the subject of entrepreneurship and has got some of the best interviewing skills I have seen!In addition to being a superstar entrepreneurial leader, Amy is a wife and the mom of two beautiful daughters. What a goddess!TB: You have called yourself “entrepreneur-obsessed.” Tell me more about that.ASC: I am obsessed with why people start their businesses and actually how they work. For instance, it’s not enough to know that they founded their non-profit because they really believe in breast cancer research. It’s really about “what’s the why behind the why?” I am really interested in this because I don’t think it’s enough as a business owner to just have a desire. I think you need to have tactics and real time answers about how you make your business work.TB: You are a leader helping women step into their own leadership as entrepreneurs. What lessons have you learned about leadership? ASC: Being a leader of something comes with responsibility. People want leadership - so leaders should wholeheartedly step into the role with the confidence that a leader-less group cannot go very far. Someone has to set the vision and create direction. Otherwise it feels like being stuck in an eddy on the river ... the leader is ahead of the current.TB: How would you describe your leadership style? ASC: Firm, but democratic. I’m an inclusive leader ... meaning I don’t make isolated decisions. I gather the people around me and other trusted voices to have them weigh in on certain decisions that I am going to make. Then on other decisions, I have learned so much through experience about how to make a decision quickly and efficiently and not ask for permission and not ask for feedback because that slows the process down.I think being a leader looks a lot more glamorous than it sometimes is. As a leader, you carry a lot of weight and responsibility. This is true particularly when you are running a community because the culture and the sensibility of that community are at the top of that food chain. It’s a lot to carry because if it goes poorly – or even if you are in a bad mood – it’s not really setting the bar in a good way for the people around you and the people who look to you for resources and inspiration.
"I don’t always feel like being a leader, but sometimes people kind of choose you ... and you have to decide whether you want that job or not. I decided that I did."
TB: Is there something you think men and women can learn from each other in terms of leadership?ASC: Men assume leadership positions with conviction whereas women sometimes hesitate because they don't want to offend, take control or be aggressive. You don't have to be any of those things to be a good leader, but you do have to make tough decisions and take a position.TB: When you are running SMARTY, what it is that you’re doing when you feel you are at your very best? ASC: I feel I am at my best when I am doing a panel discussion, or a video series, a Brain Circle or a Foundation course – and I am asking someone questions to extract their own genius and their own deficits so we can get underneath and find out how to solve them … and so that their information can benefit the wider audience, whether there are 10 people, 500 people, or a million people.TB: Is there anything you struggle with?ASC: I struggle with impatience. I want to move faster than I can and often get frustrated with myself or others. But the truth is that this is ultimately a strength because moving fast isn't always the best way to do something. Slow and steady has its place, especially in these times of uber-speedy communications.TB: How have you overcome some of your past struggles?ASC: I'm a big believer in asking for help. I don't think I’m good at everything, nor do I think I know everything ... but I know what I don't know and that's a good start. Fortunately, because of the SMARTY community, I'm surrounded by a lot of intelligent support. Through this network, I can tap into almost any resource I need. I feel very lucky.
"All the people who are part of the organization kind of love each other even though they may not even know one another. There’s like this SMARTY high-five going on."
TB: How has it been for you balancing being an entrepreneur with motherhood?ASC: I would say there really is no balance. Balance is a choice and by choosing real balance, something probably is going to give. I would say on some days I feel like a really great mom and a great wife and a great friend. And on other days I feel like a great business owner. But rarely do those two sentiments happen on the same day.I think it’s possible to have a day when you feel great all around, but the most important lesson for me out of that is that if I feel like someone did get short-shifted, I try not to have a punishing attitude towards myself about it. It’s not a question about whether I am doing the best that I can. It’s acknowledging that my best is good enough.TB: If you had a loudspeaker that could be used to reach every woman around the world, what message would you want to impart?ASC: “You don’t have to do it alone.” Another message would be: “There’s no one right way to do anything … success looks like a lot of different road maps.”TB: How did you come to name your organization SMARTY?ASC: There are a few reasons.First, when I used to go to networking events I would walk into a big, crowded room, and unless I knew a bunch of people in the room, I would end up meeting maybe one or two people – and it would make me feel dumb. Really, I felt like a loser because I wondered, “How was this event designed to be a networking event and I got myself all beautified, left the house, got myself to the event, and got myself a glass of whatever they were serving, turned around and thought, “Okay, how am I going to meet all these people?” Suddenly, I felt really intimidated by the huge crowd. So I wanted to create an organization where that never happened -- where someone greets you when you walk in, and then somebody else shakes your hand and leads you into the room. I wanted to create an organization where someone just gives you a break on trying to break the ice with other women who you might want to know. In other words, I wanted to feel SMART when I went to a networking event.Number two is about the how of a business. When we do panel discussions and other types of events, I am interested in the why, but I really try to get underneath how the anatomy of a deal looks, or why somebody structured something in a certain way.Thirdly, as a business owner when I look out into the marketplace, I see a lot of people talking to women with certain vocabulary that I don’t necessarily identity with. It might be the use of pink, or it might be the use of a certain vernacular that people think women identify with. I wanted to talk to women who have more of an ironic sense of humor and who wouldn’t likely join a networking group. The women who might think, “Oh, I’m not a joiner. That’s not really for me.” (Because that’s how I feel.) I wanted to connect with these women who can identify with a name like SMARTY and who can identify with a vision like SMARTY and say, “Hey, interesting. That’s looks modern. That looks like it could be my tribe.”To learn more about Amy and her awesome organization SMARTY, visit www.smartypeople.com. Tabby Biddle, M.S. Ed., is a writer, editor, and reporter dedicated to the empowerment of women and girls. Her work has been featured by The Los Angeles Times, USA Today, NPR, and other national media. She is a regular contributor to The Huffington Post on women’s issues and reports on the inspiring work of women changemakers. She lives in Santa Monica, CA.