How I lit myself on fire. (Not literally). by Becca Apfelstadt, Co-Founder and CEO at treetree
Last month, I had the honor of speaking with Women for Economic and Leadership Development (WELD) as part of the WELD Leadership Series about my passion for finding your own unique leadership platform within yourself and how to share it with your team.
As an entrepreneur, it was incredibly energizing to spend the morning with more than 60 smart women who are making an impact in Columbus. I shared stories and we worked through a series of exercises and dug deep to put words to what we feel deep down inside. We found those powerful phrases and words that are authentic and true and really get us going.
I was thrilled to be able to share what I’ve learned about the power of focus, the nuances of tone and how to honor my own non-negotiables. These elements are pillars of what has become my leadership style. Perspectives that took me years to cultivate and put words to.
And it all started with a spark.
How do we shine brightly?
On a special day away to dream, several years ago, I sat down to write what would become the manifesto displayed in a video that’s now treetree’s mantra.
During that quiet time, I reflected on working in a historically cutthroat and competitive industry where you’re almost trained to look around and see your colleagues as competitors. I wanted to keep that atmosphere out of the treehouse. If we’re going to be the favorite place employees have ever worked and clients have ever hired, we can’t have that here. I wondered: How can we build a culture and communicate to our team that we are going to make this place different?
The answer is to shine brightly.
I was flooded with excitement thinking about every individual shining their brightest and helping the person next to them shine their brightest. Together, we’d be able to identify the strengths in one another and lean on them. Together, we’d be able to light up the whole sky. Heck, we’re going to light the place on fire.
Because at treetree, we want to do things differently. That’s part of why I want to be in business for myself—to prove that we can. To prove that you can be successful in this industry and still have a culture where the icky stuff starves and gratitude sparkles. We can be the favorite if we all shine our brightest.
Finding direction and purpose
I shared with the WELD group that developing this language matters because your team cannot get where you want them to go unless you tell them. (So, you have to know first). I spent the first five years or so assuming that the trees inherently knew where we were going and how we were getting there. Silly me.
Now, knowing that our purpose is to Shine Brightly, we have an easy way to make decisions as an organization and to course correct. If something feels off, we can put it up against this and make a quick decision. As the leader, people expect me to make decisions. And that got easier once I had a bar established.
When those decisions come your way, will you know what you stand for? Will you know what ultimately and truly lights you up?