In my series on people who are making a difference, I interview Dr. Theresa Ashby, Business Scaling Expert and Stratologist, who helps companies and individuals build their presence in the e-learning and digital product market. Through Kaleidoscope’s courses, workshops, and her book, Better Implementation Now: Eight Ways Great Strategies Fail & How to Fix Them, she is helping professionals realize their potential. Dr. Ashby’s career has not been a straight path, though. At one time she fought wildfires in California, transported by helicopter all over the state, as a volunteer firefighter.
Thank you so much for your time! I know you are a very busy person. Can you tell us a story about what early experiences brought you to your specific career path?
Well, my career hasn’t been a direct path, for sure, but it has been an incredible journey. I can remember when I was younger that I loved to build things. I built a super-cool treehouse! It wasn’t exactly up in the tree, rather more around the tree and on the ground. After all, I was only 10 at the time. I just wanted a place to hide, so I could read and create. Ultimately, my career has been all about creating something unique.
One time I built a wooden stand and attached a bicycle to it. Yes, I made a stationary bike for my mom. She loved to ride bikes but was busy taking care of four kids and couldn’t get out much. She wouldn’t have had the time to enjoy biking without someone helping her. Now, I spend my time helping businesses build a scalable business model that allows them to have the freedom to do some of the things they love.
I built my favorite thing when I was 12—a lectern. I am sure this is where I got my appetite for speaking from the stage. Of course, I had my two younger sisters and stuffed animals as my captive audience—now I try to captivate consultants and coaches with stories of possibilities of building a sustainable and scalable business.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you in your career or education?
One of my early career experiences was as a volunteer firefighter. As you could see, I didn’t exactly follow a direct career path. At one point, I was hired to be a part of the Helitack Crew—we were transported by helicopter to fight wildfires up and down the state of California. I am still a bit of an adrenaline junkie.
I went on an emergency call during my service, and we transported a patient to the emergency room. I was standing in the lobby in my full turnout gear and felt this tugging on my pant leg. I looked down, and there was a little girl, about seven years old. When I said hello to her, she looked up at me with these big brown innocent eyes and asked, “Are you a girl?” I must have smiled from ear to ear when I said, “Yes.”
She giggled and then bashfully whispered, “I didn’t know girls could be firefighters.”
Of course, I was delighted and explained, “Girls can be anything they want to be.” I often wonder what she is doing today.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting out on your career? What lesson did you learn from that?
I could write a dissertation on the funniest mistakes I have made! The one that stands out the most for me, is the time I was on stage. I looked down and noticed I had one blue shoe and one black shoe on. I guess that’s what I get for finding a pair of shoes I love and buying them in every color possible.
I can honestly say that this was my first lesson on how to improve your self-image from the stage after making a mistake. At that point laughing is the only thing you can do, and just calling it out helps the audience see you are just you—I instantly became more relatable.
What are some of the most interesting and exciting community projects are you working on now?
I am excited about this question because building digital communities has become essential for bringing together like-minded, passion-driven people to learn and grow together in today’s environment. The two community projects I am most proud of right now are our www.eteenpreneur.com and www.successcity.com. Eteenpreneur is for teens who want to learn skills to become entrepreneurs, and Successcity is for LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs who are ready to collaborate with one another as they grow their businesses. Both communities provide collaboration, content, and community.
What are 5 things you would tell your younger self?
- Be Bold. You might think that you have to know everything, but the truth is sometimes it just takes a bold move, a step forward, to make your dreams come true.
- Be Brave. When you are presented with a challenge, just go for it. Don’t let that little voice in your head talk you out of doing what you want to do.
- Be Brilliant. This is more about accepting your own brilliance. Get up every day and tell yourself you can do it.
- Be Balanced. This is a tough one. Our life has so many moving parts, but it is so important to take care of ourselves.
- Be Bright. Have confidence and know that you are the bright light that walks into a room, and you have so much to offer.
You are a successful person. Can you share some tips on how young people today can get ahead?
My advice is to find a mentor and be a mentor. I wouldn’t be where I am without the mentors I have had over the years. And as a mentor, I get to share all that I have learned over the years with others.
They say the new influencer is a #Givefluencer — how are you paying it forward with others in your life?
Definitely by working with teenagers who want to be entrepreneurs.
Is there a particular book that you read or podcast you listened to that really helped you in your career? Can you explain?
You already know that I love to read. But the classic book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie, is tried and true. I have read this book at least three times. Each time I read Carnegie’s work; I learn a lesson from a different perspective.
Because of the role you play in the community, you are a person of great influence. If you could inspire “good news” what would be your headline and 3 talking points?
We Can Build the Business We Dream of Even During Turbulent Times
- Pivot and offer services in an easily accessible format, such as e-learning courses and academies.
- Concentrate on ways you can help your client transform to new levels while working smarter, not harder.
- Focus on meaningful conversations and your contributions rather than simply making a sale.
How can people connect with you?
Email: [email protected]