To Amy Franko, leadership means reaching out a hand to help someone else, or casting a stone across the water to create a ripple effect for others. Her experience as Founder and CEO of Impact Instruction Group is a platform she uses to do both. We recently spoke with Amy about leadership, how she’s giving back and what she hopes you will take away from her presentation at this year’s National Women’s Business Conference.
Q: Tell us a little bit about you.
I drive results for organizations by elevating their most important asset—their people. My firm, Impact Instruction Group, works with Fortune 1000 and middle market companies to deliver strategic programs for leadership development, custom learning and developing sales teams. Early in my career, my experience within large global organizations such as IBM and Lenovo shaped my skills as a big-picture thinker and leader. Now, I bring fresh perspectives to clients, while always aiming to achieve their business goals. In addition, I speak across the country on the topic of leadership development.
I serve on the board of the Girl Scouts of Ohio’s Heartland. I’m also a member of the Women for Economic and Leadership Development and was named a WELD Woman to Know in 2015.
Q: What’s next for you and your business, and how will you get there?
As an entrepreneur, you’ve got to love what you do. In 2016, I turned to my passions for inspiration—business development and motivational speaking. The result: a repositioning of Impact Instruction’s core services to include programs for the development of sales teams and a heightened focus on speaking engagements. With a strategic marketing plan in place, we look forward to a staged rollout and new opportunities to help our clients thrive.
Q: What are some areas today where you see women entrepreneurs leading the way?
Women are leading the way in business. The number of women-owned firms is on the rise. We are generating more revenue and employing more workers. In every state and every sector, women are making an economic impact. But it’s not all about work. Women are proving to be game changers when it comes to integrating work and life. I’m proud to be from Columbus, which ranks as a top spot for female entrepreneurs to work and live!
Q: How have you led the way in your business and community in the past year?
Kevin Spacey once said that if you’re lucky enough to do well, it’s your responsibility to send the elevator back down. It’s my goal to demonstrate resonant leadership across all aspects of my life. In the community, I’m dedicated to developing and inspiring the women around me. I volunteer as a member of the Board of the Girl Scouts of Ohio’s Heartland—an organization dedicated to building tomorrow’s women leaders. I also love to inspire and connect women through the Women for Economic and Leadership Development. In business, it’s through my entrepreneurial vision for Impact Instruction Group and coaching members of my team to be their best.
Q: In what areas do you hope to see women leading the way next?
We’ve come a long way, but we’re not there yet. For instance, we know that gender diversity helps boost the bottom line, but too few organizations elevate women to the C-suite and boardroom. A recent survey revealed that only half of corporations had women in leadership positions, and 60 percent had no female board members. That leaves a lot of room for improvement. Women are also under-represented in STEM fields, which are growing and offer high-wage jobs. Thankfully, efforts are under way to encourage more girls to go this route.
Yet another opportunity for improvement is for women entrepreneurs to build scalable businesses. Many of us still are one-woman shows, made possible by bootstrapping our way. I encourage women to think bigger, and take on smart debt in order to grow.
Q: Why is a conference like this one for women entrepreneurs critical?
When you attend an event like the National Women’s Business Conference, it’s an investment in YOU. It’s an ideal venue to expand your network beyond your own backyard by meeting new mentors and creating new, strategic partnerships. Too often, women don’t make professional development a priority. It’s inspiring that an organization like NAWBO, with a more than 40-year history, continues to see value in this type of program.
Q: If women walk away from your presentation with one thing, what do you want it to be?
To quote Mother Teresa, “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” I want to inspire a ripple effect. If every woman who attends my session takes away one strategy and applies it to her business—to become more influential and impactful—it will create a tremendous ripple effect across her network. I challenge participants to act on at least one piece of advice that touches them and inspires them to cast a stone into the water.
Q: How will you lead the way this year for your business and all women entrepreneurs?
2016 will be a pivotal year for Impact Instruction Group. My goal is to leverage my talent for speaking and teaching to help other organizations drive results through sales training and leadership development. I’ll lead the way through this business change, and I am committed to having the courage to also say no to opportunities and offers that don’t directly serve our new purpose.
Q: Who is one woman from the past or present who inspires you when you think about leading the way, and why?
When it comes to grit, determination and inspiration, Diana Nyad has got it in spades. I admire her courage and tenacity to achieve her long-time dream of swimming from Cuba to Florida without a shark tank—finally succeeding after failing four times before. Her message is never, ever give up. At 66, she is vibrant and strong. That’s the kind of woman I aspire to be. Pick up her book, Find a Way, and I guarantee you’ll be inspired, too.
You won’t want to miss Amy and all the other amazing speakers who will be at the National Women’s Business Conference, September 18-20 (Annual Membership Meeting on the 18th and the Conference on the 19th-20th), in Columbus, Ohio.
Don’t delay…Early Bird Registration ends on July 1st.
View complete conference agenda here.