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Tips From The Top: One On One With Theresa Armour, Co-Founder of Burke Williams

I spoke to Theresa Armour, co-founder of Burke Williams, 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?

Theresa: I’ve taken ten years of piano lessons and can only play three songs. My husband says those are the most expensive songs he ever heard.

Adam: How did you get here? What was the inspiration behind Burke Williams and how did you turn into what it is today?

Theresa: The inspiration behind Burke Williams was as a mother of three young children; I often felt overbooked and overlooked. I had neither the time nor finances to take a much-needed vacation. Having been to destination spas, I searched for something similar in the city. Not finding it, the idea of creating a luxury spa experience accessible to busy, overstressed people who didn’t have the time for a traditional escape, was both intriguing and exciting. Bringing that experience to the city, so that people like me could escape for an hour or two and feel rejuvenated and appreciated, turned out to be even more needed than I had imagined. The concept was immediately well received and the “Day Spa” industry was born.

Adam: What failures, setbacks or challenges have been most instrumental to Burke Williams’ success and to your growth as a leader?

Theresa: I developed my leadership skills on the fly. Unaware of the importance of developing trust through accountability, openness and inclusion, and a staff that was growing rapidly, I lost several key people early on. I sought both advice and mentors and though that time-honored method of trial and error shaped the leadership skills I use today. This is a process, and I’m still a willing participant

Adam: In your experience, what are the defining qualities of an effective leader? How can leaders and aspiring leaders take their leadership skills to the next level?

The key to effective leadership is building trust; not nearly as easy to do as it is obvious. The road to trust is built on openness, vulnerability, transparency and 100% honesty. Building trust is a team effort that requires that all participants hold each other accountable to these benchmarks.

Adam: What is the best advice you have on building, managing and leading teams?

Theresa: Do not arrive at any situation with an already formed plan. Rather engage and inspire your teams to develop their own plan. If they feel it is theirs, their commitment and passion to execute a successful outcome are tenfold.  

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

Theresa: First, a leader knows that much more can be achieved as a united team or community, operating with values and integrity, than as an individual.  

Next, aim high. Set your sights and goals as high as you can and keep one eye always on that goal.

Finally, adapt. Keep your other eye on the moment. It will rarely be as expected so be prepared to be flexible and adjust your tactics keeping your goal firmly in sight.

Adam: What is your best advice for female leaders and entrepreneurs?

Theresa: The same that it would be for any leader or entrepreneur. Leadership is based on trust. Establish that first with honest, open and transparent behavior. Talk is cheap; your actions will determine the level of loyalty and passion you need from those around you to accomplish your vision. True inspiration will be the result of who you are and what you do, not what you say.

Adam: What advice do you have on working with family and working with your spouse in particular? What are your best tips on determining how to know if it is a good idea and how to make it work?

Theresa: This can be challenging. I try to always keep my priorities straight, and my priorities are my faith, my family and then my business. My husband and I agree on that, and we’ll always adjust the demands of business to the first two. Of course, we have our “business differences”, but because of faith and family, we always seem to work them out for what so far, has been the best.

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

Theresa: That truth is empowering, seek it.

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

Theresa: Everything we have is to be used in the service of others. The more we give, the more we get, so, repeat the cycle then give that too.

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

Theresa: I would like nothing more than to sit down with a nice cup of coffee and a great book. However, in our active family, I seem to more often find myself terrified on top of a double black ski run, zip lining in a forest or whitewater rafting. Reluctant though I may be, these “hobbies” have helped shape my appetite for risk.

Adam: Is there anything else you would like to share?

Theresa: Gratitude. Thank you for this opportunity!


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