Amanda Smith: “Stay Resilient”

Stay Resilient — I have worked a full time job as a public school teacher the entire time I’ve been an entrepreneur. Now THAT is resilience. Things change and get challenging all the time and it makes some things really difficult. But I stuck with why I started this in the first place, to build community and […]

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Stay Resilient — I have worked a full time job as a public school teacher the entire time I’ve been an entrepreneur. Now THAT is resilience. Things change and get challenging all the time and it makes some things really difficult. But I stuck with why I started this in the first place, to build community and have an identity apart from being a teacher, a profession I also really cherish and love.

As a part of our series about women who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Amanda Smith.

Amanda Smith is an educator by trade turned CEO of her own company, To Gather LLC. Amanda is an expert in connecting, marketing, pitching business and cultivating community.

After a huge life shift in 2017 and a move to Dallas, Amanda was seeking a community for women that was inclusive and offered resources for career, life and business. She came up empty. So, she created one herself and named it “Dallas Girl Gang.” Today, DGG has an audience of over 50,000 women across the country.

Now Amanda is bringing “You Can Sit With Us ™” to life across the country through The Girl Gang Podcast, the Dallas Girl Gang community, and the Boss Vision Conference and coaching women who are building new businesses. She is passionate about bringing women together into meaningful communities and lifting one another up.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

I was a public school teacher for 7 years and I have always had a side hustle of some kind. In 2017 we moved back to Dallas and though I had grown up here, it was like I was starting from ground zero again with friends and networking. I started to network at events I would find through Facebook or Instagram and met a few great people I really seemed to click with. What I saw at these events, though, was everyone looked the same — quite frankly, all white women in their 20s. Living in a large metropolitan city, I knew there was a way to open the doors to all women. And in April 2017, I started a Facebook group to stay in touch with those few people I clicked with, named it Dallas Girl Gang, and it quite literally snowballed into what it is today!

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

Dallas Girl Gang, is a community where any woman can find their place. So you do not have to have a business, be a CEO, be a mom, be a blogger or anything. We are all inclusive and have something for everyone!

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I used to think I could do it all and looking back it is just so CRINGY! I feel horrible now but I see now I can laugh at myself too about it! It’s simply not true that you can do it all yourself.

We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

Dr. Cortney Baker — This woman is incredible. CEO, mother, wife, mentor, health warrior. She took me under her wing in the early days and mentored me so well.

Meg Wheeler — CPA turned entrepreneur, she was a coach I hired for a season and helped me really start to monetize well and build confidence.

Hannah Nieves — I could write a whole article just on Hannah. She has helped me double down on what I am great at, see my vision for what it really is and THRIVE. Hiring Hannah was the best thing I have done for my business in the last 4 years.

Natalie Franke- Queen of Community for REAL! I have always looked up to Natalie as she created Rising Tide Society and then merged with Honeybook. When we had her on our virtual conference this year, we really clicked and she was just so kind and is always so warm and open.

Jaclyn Johnson — This powerhouse has always been a visionary I seek to learn from. From her book, to Create & Cultivate events, to Work Party the Podcast and her joining us at our 2nd year of our conference, she’s taught me what it means to be a pleasure to work with, what it looks like to ask for what you want and that it is all possible.

Emma Isaacs- This woman reminds me that I know moving forward in life if we have children, Lord wiling, that I can still be kick-ass CEO and a stunning mother.

In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?

I think being “disruptive” just to do it is not always helpful and can be simply attention seeking. Also, I think that people often claim to be disruptive when really what they have done is watch someone else and simply copied them without really diving into their own passion and unique creativity.

I look at Apple and think about how when the first iPhone came out, how wild, crazy and innovative it seemed. We used to see and hear in old 80s and 90s movies jokes about holding a computer in your hand. And now we cannot do life without one in our pocket. I would venture to say it’s foundational to our way of life now. There’s definitely new-found downsides to having this kind of access and power at our fingertips all the time, but when used for productive efforts and ventures, it can change the world.

To me, Apple is a great example of what it means to truly be disruptive in a positive way.

Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

Stay Resilient — I have worked a full time job as a public school teacher the entire time I’ve been an entrepreneur. Now THAT is resilience. Things change and get challenging all the time and it makes some things really difficult. But I stuck with why I started this in the first place, to build community and have an identity apart from being a teacher, a profession I also really cherish and love.

Always Be Kind — I have encountered so many wonderful people I would work with any day of the week. Then I have encountered people I wish I never would have agreed to work with! Whatever you do, be ultimately kind and gracious. Kindness makes all the difference in business, anyone who tells you otherwise isn’t paying attention.

Prioritize Rest — In 2019 we hosted 40+ in person events, a conference, weekly podcast episodes and held down a client load — all while I was teaching full time. I highly recommend NOT EVER doing that. I ran myself into the ground because I felt like if I didn’t say yes and stay ahead I’d always be behind. I realized, and had mentors remind me, that our health is all we have. Nothing is worth letting your mind and body suffer.

We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?

We are revamping our membership program, Girl Gang Insiders. We’re expanding it beyond Dallas, TX to reach any and all women who want to join because our doors are always open. I am so excited to welcome more women into this community that we’ve created, our work doesn’t stop in Texas that’s for sure.

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by ‘women disruptors’ that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?

  1. Emotions. I think women are expected to control their emotions in professional settings regardless. Women in particular feel this pressure to be “composed” or logical to show that they don’t let their emotions control them. But, emotions are good and you should be able to release them even if you are at work, emotions mean you care. I definitely believe in being able to “cry at work” if you need to.
  2. Pressure to be a “stay at home mom” if you want a family. This is one I think about a lot, the pressure on mothers is ridiculous. I don’t feel like anyone needs to judge others’ decisions. There are plenty of successful women in business that are incredible mothers and wives, it’s doable and you don’t have to chose between being good at one and not the other.

Do you have a book/podcast/talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us?

Jaclyn Johnson’s book, Work Party, was hugely inspirational. It was a moment where I got real with myself, took action and dug in.

I also had a conversation with Emma Isaacs not too long ago on our podcast and she reminded me that “business can be simple.” We make it hard sometimes. Complicated with fancy words and social media stuff, but it can be SO simple if we let it.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Be a friend, make a friend. It’s really easy and everyone needs a friend, young and old.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Be a {freaking} pleasure to work with.” — Jaclyn Johnson. It sounds so simple, but it’s the hard truth and we need that today. I will always remind myself as I work with clients, host events, interview guests on our show, that being a pleasure to work with is #1 priority. In every email, phone call, meeting, event, we need to make sure we are being kind, honest, compassionate and of service to others. At the end of the day that’s what people remember.

How can our readers follow you online?

You can find me on Instagram @amandasindallas , @dallasgirlgang, my podcast The Girl Gang Podcast, and on my website .

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

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