The room was buzzing. More hugs than handshakes were being exchanged among some of Lansing’s brightest minds—a testament to relationships that have grown beyond mere business connections into genuine friendships.
“This,” I thought, “is why I’m here. I’m here for the relationships.”
And, these relationships — these connections — are what build this city.
One week before the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce and Lansing 5:01 awarded this year’s “10 Over the Next Ten” award, the elite circle of previous winners and current nominees gathered for this private event to share experiences and insights into what drives this region forward.
For me, each year this gives me pause for a time of reflection. How has our region grown? What has been my impact? Am I living out the intention behind being named one of Lansing’s ten to watch over the next ten years?
I’ve learned a lot of lessons in business and life since receiving the honor in 2017. And, even though many of these lessons are still a work in progress, sharing them gives us all a chance to reflect, learn, and maybe even make our own paths a little smoother.
Here are my top ten lessons learned since being honored as one of Lansing’s 10 Over the Next Ten:
- Balance is Key. Achieving work-life balance is not a checkbox you tick off once and then can move on. It’s a continual dance between professional responsibilities and personal needs. I also don’t believe there’s a difference between ‘work’ and ‘life’—it’s all life! I regularly take time to reassess my priorities. Sometimes that means tuning into what sparks my passion and shifting my schedule around it. At other times, it could mean outsourcing some responsibilities to focus on critical projects. Take time to adjust the scales regularly and balance what brings you joy.
- Define Your Own Success. In a world where the metrics for success are often defined by external standards—be it social media likes or revenue figures—it’s easy to lose sight of what truly matters. The first step in feeling successful is to define what that means to you personally. Whether it’s achieving a particular revenue milestone or having more time for family and hobbies, your definition will evolve as you journey through different life phases. It’s crucial to revisit and adjust your own metrics regularly. You can’t gauge your worth by someone else’s yardstick, so measure success by your own standards.
- Know Your Value. You have a purpose, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. It’s common to tie self-worth to professional accolades or personal milestones, but true value is about recognizing your own skills, experiences, and potential to grow. When you place value on yourself, it radiates outward, making it easier for others to recognize your worth. Lean into your value and the confidence that springs from it. Your belief in your own capabilities serves as a magnet, drawing in opportunities and relationships that can further enhance your life and career.
- Time is a Non-renewable Resource. Time management is an ongoing learning curve with high stakes. This is a work in progress for me — learning to say no, even to something that excites me, in order to be strategic about my commitments. It’s easy to get caught up in a whirlpool of endless tasks and meetings, especially when you’re juggling multiple roles. Prioritization is key. I’ve found that scheduling ‘deep work’ sessions and setting boundaries for ‘time off’ has made a significant difference. The aim is not just to be busy but to be effective. The return on investment for time well-spent is far-reaching—more quality time with loved ones, better mental health, and a higher quality of work.
- Giving Back is a Super Power. What we put out in this world, we receive back tenfold. This has been true for me in business. The notion is more than altruistic—it’s strategic. When we invest in our communities, we’re not just building goodwill; we’re fortifying our own foundations. A leader who gives is often rewarded with not just gratitude but also loyalty, higher brand equity, and even increased market share. By dedicating resources to causes that matter, we’re not just making a contribution; we’re making an investment—a down payment on our own future success.
- Relationships are Everything. It’s why I put it right in the name of my business! Life is all about making connections. Find your advocates and mentors—it can be someone on your own team or just someone from your personal life. Don’t just find people who are going to tell you what you want to hear. You need people who will help you figure out how to improve, how to grow. This diverse network serves as your personal board of advisors, people who genuinely want to see you thrive. The same is true with client relationships—it’s about connection on a human level. The people you connect with are not just stepping stones to career progression; they’re companions in your life journey.
- Embrace Challenges as Opportunities for Growth: It’s one of the cliches that make me cringe, even though it’s absolutely true! Whether it’s balancing professional commitments or the complexities of being a bonus mom, challenges have been my most rigorous instructor. Rather than avoid difficulties, lean into them. And, when challenges feel too big, it’s important to recognize when to lean on others for guidance. The experience gained often serves as the stepping stone to your next level of success.
- Network Beyond Your Comfort Zone. Even when you’d rather stay in — go. Most people would tell you I’m an extrovert. “I see you everywhere!” is often what I’m told. Truth is, I’m a strong ambivert who only wants to go out when I feel like it! Being an ambivert means that sometimes you’re energized by social interactions, and other times you prefer the comfort of your home. If this sounds familiar, or if you are an introvert, you are far from alone! But you still have to network beyond your comfort zone. It’s in these unexpected encounters that you often find new perspectives, valuable insights, and opportunities you never knew existed. So, even when the couch is calling, consider answering the call to connect with others. Your future self will thank you for it.
- Embrace Your Humanity: Transparency is a strength, not a weakness. Gone are the days when bosses had to act like emotionless robots. Leaders are at their strongest when they’re real people. Transparency is the bedrock of trust and strong relationships in any relationship, including with your clients and your team. We’re all juggling life’s ups and downs, not just the daily grind at work. We still have to be reliable, which means figuring out how to lead even when life is happening all around us. I work really hard to be transparent with my team and tell them when and where I need support. In return, they are just as transparent with me: when they are struggling, or need a break, they have a safe environment to express that and ask for the team support they need. Your team stands with you, not behind you. Cultivate a transparent environment for everyone to thrive.
- Celebrate Small Wins. Each nomination, not just the award, is a win. String enough of these together, and you’re looking at a lifetime of achievement — and a hell of a journey! In the business world, it’s easy to fixate on the end goal, the big project completion, the award, or the bottom line. But if you’re only looking at these major milestones, you’re missing out on countless opportunities for joy and growth along the way. Did you nail that client presentation? Win. Did you finalize a challenging phase of your project? Another win. By recognizing and celebrating these small victories, you create a culture of continuous achievement and positivity. Plus, this approach keeps you motivated, adding up to a lifetime of accomplishment.
Remember: you’ve earned your seat at the table simply by being you—someone committed to success, making room at that table for the next generation of leaders. the story is still being written, and the best chapters are the ones you learn from.