Interview with Strategic Solutions CEO, Nancy Aragbaye!
By: Whitney Grinnage-Cassidy
One incredibly important part of leadership is learning from those who are setting the examples for future leaders. Mentorship, especially for black women, is crucial because it allows for us to practice collaboration and “paying it forward” when it comes to our leadership.
So, I sat down with Nancy Aragbaye, CEO of Strategic Solutions to discuss her thoughts on mindsets, motivations, and visions in leadership.
Whitney: What motivates you? Where do you pull your energy from? And how do you keep going when things at Strategic Solutions (or elsewhere) get tough?
Nancy: I tell everyone about the power of a vision. For me, what keeps me going is my vision. Whenever someone has a vision, they have to understand that a vision is not about you. It is about others. And so, what keeps me going, and I literally say it to myself…”It’s not about you Nancy.” And that’s what gets me up in the morning…how selfish of me to not get up everyday and chase this thing to help people?
I think it’s something we need to teach younger people to adopt now. Humans have a spirit of entitlement. So, because we think we’re gonna wake up tomorrow, we think we have time, but in actuality everyone in this moment has the power to think of something beyond themselves…and then your work becomes meaningful.
W: Can you take me through your process of setting goals?
N: It’s like teaching. I am thankful for my teaching experience because as a teacher, we always had the end in mind. When you were in 8th grade, teachers were thinking about what you needed to get to 9th grade. And because of that, they had to break up the entire year to make sure they hit all of the marks to get you to 9th grade.
I look at that as business and I tell people, first of all, that I think 20 years out…because 1 year is not a lot of time. If you haven’t figured out what needs to happen and backwards plan it, you know, reverse engineer, you might miss the mark. Instead of planning your business, your business could be planning you.
W: What are your biggest strengths and weaknesses as a leader? What do you do to play to your strengths and improve your weaknesses?
N: I’m a BIG visionary. And I’m also big on execution. Because I have the ability to see beyond what’s currently here, that makes me a good leader. I’m also a connector…I see where people are and mobilize them to join me in a vision.
Sometimes, I would call it an area of growth, I have a spirit of optimism. [I have to ask] how do you ground things in reality. I also think I can take on too much. Sometimes this combination can lead to burn out. So sometimes it’s finding a balance between what needs to happen right now versus later. I’ve learned to put things in the prober bucket.
W: How do you balance work life and personal life? What do you do to destress?
N: That’s a really great question. There was one point where everyday I was giving myself. I had no boundaries, and I felt depleted. When you’re doing something out of passion, it’s energy draining. You’re literally giving yourself to something. So, I burned out one time. I’ve read all the books on balance and stuff, but I wasn’t practicing it.
So what I do now, minimum two days a week, I give one day specifically to my spiritual development. And I don’t mean religion; I don’t want anyone to confuse spirituality with religion. But, it’s about how do you ground yourself and truly connect with the energy within? Because I think a lot of business is tied to a spiritual side, the healing of your mind and soul and belief. It’s so important as an entrepreneur…Then, I have another day out of the week, and it’s just a Nancy day. I might go get a massage, but I don’t do much work. That pause allows for the creativity to flow’ it heals the mind.
There’s about 80% of thoughts that are negative. And the majority of those thoughts are repetitive. No wonder why we have so much anxiety, depression, discouragement…etc. Because these thoughts…no one is exempt from them. No human is exempt from negative thoughts. So you’re talking about, how do you intend to be successful and do the impossible if you’re not intentionally taking care of the spirituality in your mind?…When do you have time to heal your mind and fight negative thoughts?
After this amazing interview, stay tuned for our next blog where Nancy will dive deeper into LeadHERship and what that vision means to her.