Name: Lynne Leahy
Business: Fearless Vision Project , business coaching and consulting
Industry: Coaching & Consulting
Location: Sausalito, California, U.S.
Reason for starting: I started out my career with a few major mistakes. Actually I didn’t think I would have a career. I thought I’d just get married and have children and that would be it. Just make sure my husband would take care of me and the children. It was the 70’s and there weren’t too many female role models. When I ended up alone with 2 children to feed I had to find another way. I was 25. I hadn’t graduated from high school and I was living on welfare. I set out to change things.
It was the 70’s and there was public pressure on corporations to hire more women. I got hired by a Fortune 500 company in an entry-level sales position. It was ‘do or die’. In the next 12 years I became one of the leaders in the company but I was only one of 2 women in the whole international company and the more success I had the more corporate pressure, back-stabbing, and just plain wrong ethics I encountered. That is when I left with 2 other people and started a new company representing a Japanese manufacturer in Northern California. That was the first of 6 different companies that I started. All of them were profitable and sold.
How do you define success? At first it was paying the bills, feeding and caring for my 2 children, then creating a profitable business and providing employment for others. But it was also about competing and winning in the corporate world dominated by guys who drank beer, watched football and played golf together. I learned the game tactics pretty well but when it came down to smooshing with the guys I was out of luck.
Biggest Success: In 1997 I came across a business opportunity in the office equipment field. This was a field where I had ‘cut my teeth’ and the manufacturer wanted me to open up the Northern California market. The numbers were attractive and I knew I could do it but I needed help. My son who’d graduated from USC was looking for an opportunity as well and I asked him to move back to California. We started the business together and grew it into one of the largest independent water treatment companies in US. We sold it to an International corporation in the UK. Since then I’ve been able to help both of my sons start their own entrepreneurial businesses.
What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it? Staying active in the business world as I age. Being pushed aside as an older woman while I still have ambition and goals. I am addressing it by developing a plan to energize and unite women business owners to start a grass-roots campaign to build corporate wealth and power.
Who is your most important role model? Barbara Corcoran and Steve Jobs.
Edited by The Story Exchange