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Tips From The Top: One On One With Summer Vasilas

I spoke to Summer Vasilas, founder of Waxing the City, about her journey and best advice

Adam: Thanks again for taking the time to share your story and your advice. First things first, though, I am sure readers would love to learn more about you. What is something about you that would surprise people?

Summer: I’m an introvert, through and through. When looking at the characteristics that make up an introvert, I undeniably check every box. I am not sure if this is something that would surprise my inner circle of close friends and family; however, I think this would shock those not as close to me. I don’t present myself as introverted in my professional life.

Thanks again for taking the time to share your story and your advice. First things first, though, I am
sure readers would love to learn more about you.

What is something about you that would surprise people?

Summer: I’m an introvert, through and through. When looking at the characteristics that make up an introvert, I undeniably check every box. I am not sure if this is something that would surprise my inner circle of close friends and family; however, I think this would shock those not as close to me. I don’t present myself as introverted in my professional life.

Adam: How did you get here? What failures, setbacks or challenges have been most instrumental to your growth?

Summer: Believe it or not, I was a “super senior” (5th year) high school student. When I was seventeen, I was faced with a decision of dropping out of school and getting my GED or going through the “embarrassment” of repeating my senior year of high school because I was not eligible to graduate with my senior class of 1996. This was truly a life altering moment for me because it made me take a deep look into how I got into the situation and what I wanted to do about it/how I could change my life. 

I needed to make a choice that I knew at that time would be instrumental to my future. I decided to forgo the possible embarrassment and complete another year of high school for several reasons. The first being, I wanted my diploma, not a GED and secondly, I needed to prove to myself that I was capable of doing it. I was in that situation because of poor choices I had made, not because I lacked the intelligence or was not deserving enough. 

I often look back on that experience and tell myself in tough times that I can do whatever it is that is causing me doubt in myself. If I put my mind and heart into whatever I am facing, and it is something I really want, then I can and should go after it. No one ever said life was easy, no one said owning a business would be easy and no one said starting a franchise would be easy. Just like no one said parenting or marriage would be easy. The success and enjoyment that I’ve experienced in my life have been through passion and perseverance.

Adam: In your experience, what are the defining qualities of an effective leader.

Summer: I believe there are four qualities a leader needs to have. The first being humility, I think this quality is crucial to any successful leader. By having the willingness to learn from both people and experiences, along with accepting defeat and allowing yourself to grow, can truly make or break a leader. The next being courage. By being courageous you are willing to break through your fears. If you do not possess courage you will constantly be wondering, “what if” or looking back on a situation wishing you would have gone out of your comfort zone. Thirdly, it is always important to be curious and have a growth-focused mindset. Always try to learn something new. How boring would life be if we simply stopped learning? Times are changing and the world is always evolving, change with the world and those around you. Last, but not least is perseverance. Keep going, even when you think it would be simpler to just give up. You need to have a fire in your belly in order to get to where you want to be.

Adam: How can leaders and aspiring leaders take their leadership skills to the next level?

Summer: Current leaders and aspiring leaders need to create and execute a personal growth plan. Find time to invest in yourself through reading books, listening to podcasts or taking courses that will enhance you as a leader, friend, parent and significant other. You should have both, personal and professional skills, that you’re itching to develop. Investing in yourself will ultimately benefit your team and can never set you back, only help you succeed.

Adam: What are the three best tips applicable to entrepreneurs, executives and civic leaders?

Summer: Take Care of Yourself – The days of working 9 to 5 are something of the past. Not saying you need to work yourself into the ground, but 9 to 5 just is not practical now. It is crucial to exercise regularly, eat healthy and find time to relax. Otherwise, you will end up being less productive and setting yourself back.

Hire Character, Train Skill – Build a team that shares your vision. It is simple – great people make a great company. You cannot train a person to have the same views as you, but you can train a person to work in a certain way.

Never Stop Improving – Continue to learn and improve yourself. Never settle for mediocre and keep an open mind to new skills or possibilities.

Adam: What is the single best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Summer: “Dowhat you love or what you are passionate about and you’ll be successful.” I followed my heart into the beauty industry. Within the industry I have continued to follow my heart, which has taken me in so many different directions. At first, it was getting my esthetics license and working in a spa from there I opened my own waxing salon (Waxing the City) to then owning five locations in two states. This ultimately led me to franchising the company and now there are over 100 locations. 

I’m continually listening to what makes my heart sing and following suit. I have no regrets at this stage in my life because of the advice I was once given and choosing to act on it. However, I have found that as easy as it sounds, it often times takes a lot of courage to follow your heart.

Adam: What is one thing everyone should be doing to pay it forward?

Summer: Always help someone pursue their dream. What better way to pay something forward than helping someone accomplish their dream? Look back and reflect on all the people that helped you reach your end goal. If you are lucky enough to find yourself in a position that allows you to help someone realize and achieve one of their dreams – offer your help.

Adam: What are your hobbies and how have they shaped you?

Summer: I’m a huge reader and I always have been! I won an award in middle school for reading the most books in one school year. Reading for me is more than a past time, it’s a way of life. Books and stories have helped shape me into the person I am today. It helps me open my mind to new things and ways of being. 

Being a mom is definitely one of my most favorite and more challenging hobbies. I have four kids, Teddy (20), Lexie (17), Grace (5) and Michael (2).  Every day is a new adventure with them. I often joke that there is never a dull moment in our household! I am continually being shaped and transformed because of their love and existence. In order to  keep my body healthy and strong, I run. I’ve ran about six or seven half marathons so far. I love the challenge of training and running a half marathon. The distance is perfect for me because it’s not overly time consuming to train, but still allows me to push myself forward. Through it all, I know I am taking care of myself so I can take care of those around me.

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