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  • Writer's pictureKatie Madyun

Power Women: Krissy Webb of Student ACES On How To Successfully Navigate Work, Love and Life As A Powerful Woman

Article written and published by Ming S. Zhao in Authority Magazine. See original article here!

The questions in this article and narration are directly quoted from Ming S. Zhao's interview with Krissy Webb.

A support system — My family, friends and co-workers are the biggest part of my success, it is because of them that I am successful. My husband is the definition of a partner, I am so very appreciative of him and how we work together. There is no “I” in team and I would not be in the position I am in today without my team and all of those who had a role on my journey. Find your champions.

How does a successful, strong, and powerful woman navigate work, employee relationships, love, and life in a world that still feels uncomfortable with strong women? In this interview series, called “Power Women” we are talking to accomplished women leaders who share their stories and experiences navigating work, love and life as a powerful woman.

As a part of this series I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Krissy Webb.

Krissy Webb is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of Student ACES, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to inspiring and developing young men and women of character, honor, and integrity. Krissy has been in leadership positions in the non-profit sector for over 12 years where she has dedicated her career to inspiring a new generation of leaders. Through Student ACES, she has positively impacted over 50,000 high school student athletes and has taught them leadership skills, values, and character education to be successful men and women in the classroom, the athletic fields and in their communities.

She is a certified instructor of Mental Health First Aid. Krissy lives in Palm Beach Gardens with her husband and twin daughters. If Krissy is not with high school students you will find her on the softball field with her daughters and the 10u Lady Gators travel softball team, she is the head coach.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood “backstory”?

Iwas blessed to grow up in Palm Beach Gardens, FL, with incredible parents who worked extremely hard to provide my two sisters and I with a loving home and a solid foundation of respecting myself and everyone around me. My grandparents (both sides) fled Cuba with my parents in the 50’s. The work ethic and dedication to start a new life in the United States is truly heroic. I am forever grateful for the work ethic they instilled in my parents and us as well.

Can you tell us the story about what led you to this particular career path?

I have always been involved in charity work and giving back to the community has also been a priority for me. It was in the community work that I built relationships and learned the ins and outs of charity work. Fast forward to 2012 I was blessed with two beautiful baby twin girls. A few months after they were born my dad and I were driving a U-Haul across the state of Florida. At the time, my dad was an executive with Florida Power & Light (35 years), and I asked him “who will my daughters look up to”? After a long car ride of talking about what the high schools are doing to prepare student athletes to be leaders Student ACES (ACE = athletics, community and education) was started.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

I cannot pinpoint one story. Everyday our students give me hope for the future. The adversity that they overcome and resiliency they build is so inspirational. Everyone always says that Student ACES changes the lives of students in the program, but these students have changed mine. They give me the energy to be the best mom, wife, role model, coach and Executive Director. The inspire me to continue giving back, provide perspective and influence me to put my best foot forward each and every day.

You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

  1. Work Ethic — In the 50’s when my parents were 5 years old my grandparents (both sides) fled communism in Cuba. They arrived in the United States with $5 in their pockets, they established a life in the United States becoming proud citizens. My parents and grandparents worked so hard to give my sisters and I an incredible childhood and family support system. They instilled work ethic in me, and I am eternally grateful.

  2. Integrity — it is extremely important to me to be a person of integrity. I pride myself on being the same person in every situation and doing the right thing when no one is looking.

  3. Respect — my parents taught me to respect everyone from a very young age and it drives me crazy when people are disrespectful to others. You do not necessarily have to like everyone, but we must respect each person.

Work ethic, integrity and respect are three of the seven guiding principles of our Student ACES program.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. The premise of this series assumes that our society still feels uncomfortable with strong women. Why do you think this is so?

I have been extremely fortunate in that my career has not been directly impacted by the notion that many still feel uncomfortable with strong women, however, I know many women who have experienced this directly and witnessed it myself and so I have much experience in the arena. At Student ACES, we pride ourselves in shaping the leaders of tomorrow and so we are extremely mindful of programming that assists our female students to be prepared to deal with these types of situations. We also teach all of our students about the importance of treating everyone as equals regardless of gender or race.

Without saying any names, can you share a story from your own experience that illustrates this idea?

At Student ACES, we have a program that works to teach our high school young women self-defense and confidence. A lot of the young women in our program have experienced trauma, couple that with social media and it leads to lack of confidence and dangerous behaviors. There is a young woman who is an alumnus of our program she has been through so much trauma with abuse and relationships most would give up, however, she continues to step up and overcome adversity. She is an inspiration to me and so many other young women.

What should a powerful woman do in a context where she feels that people are uneasy around her?

Wear her confidence proudly. Not everyone is going to like you so my advice would be to stand strong and worry about what she can control which is her attitude and confidence.

What do we need to do as a society to change the unease around powerful women?

Start with social media and media pressures. Society needs to stop forcing our girls to grow up so fast and stop putting unrealistic images for them to see. Women should not tear other women down, but instead build them up! I see it all too often with other moms who try to compete or gossip, but instead should just jump in and support.

In my own experience, I have observed that often women have to endure ridiculous or uncomfortable situations to achieve success that men don’t have to endure. Do you have a story like this from your own experience? Can you share it with us?

Fortunately, I have not experienced this, and my experience has been completely opposite, the businessmen I have worked with over the last 15 years have been extremely supportive and encouraging. They have helped me get to where I am today.

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by women leaders that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?

I think it is the pressure to hold everything together or have a solution for every situation. Women have the pressure to be beautiful, in shape, and always put together. And, while we may put some additional pressure on ourselves, I do not think men face these pressures as often.

Let’s now shift our discussion to a slightly different direction. This is a question that nearly everyone with a job has to contend with. Was it difficult to fit your personal and family life into your business and career? For the benefit of our readers, can you articulate precisely what the struggle was?

Absolutely, my father and I started Student ACES, a 501c3 with the mission to inspire and develop high school student athletes to become men and women of character, honor and integrity through our character education programs, with just 32 students and built the charity to what it is today — directly impacting the lives of more than 50,000 students in less than 10 years! There were so many obstacles to overcome, especially when we were working to get Student ACES up and running. I was working before my girls woke up, when my daughters napped and at night after they were fast asleep. I am grateful for my husband’s support; however, it was not always easy. I struggled to balance quality time with him and work. My job is my passion, so it does not feel like work — I truly enjoy working so I have to be careful and work on balance. I was working with high school students, growing a charity, and raising twin girls I had to make sure my marriage was the backbone and foundation to success in the other areas. This was not and still isn’t easy.

What was a tipping point that helped you achieve a greater balance or greater equilibrium between your work life and personal life? What did you do to reach this equilibrium?

As the Executive Director and founder of a non-profit there is no job description. It’s amazing because I get to play a part in all facets of the organization, however, it can definitely be overwhelming at times. I am extremely appreciative of the team that I have the opportunity to work with as well as our board of directors. Family time is extremely important to me and while I consider all of the students of Student ACES my family, I still need dedicated time for my girls and my husband. It may sound odd to some, but I put family time on the calendar like a meeting so I make sure that I attend — I can assure you I don’t miss any meetings on my calendar! Picking the girls up every day from school is on the calendar as is their softball practice. We all need to breathe and take time for ourselves.

I work in the beauty tech industry, so I am very interested to hear your philosophy or perspective about beauty. In your role as a powerful woman and leader, how much of an emphasis do you place on your appearance? Do you see beauty as something that is superficial, or is it something that has inherent value for a leader in a public context? Can you explain what you mean?

I do not place emphasis on my appearance; however, I do things for myself that make me confident. The more confident I am walking into a room the more I prepared to tackle whatever might come my way. I love working out it is my stress relief and getting my hair done. I am a firm believer that my appearance impacts my work ethic.

How is this similar or different for men?

I touched on this in one of the earlier questions. I do think there is pressure on women to look good all the time especially executive women and I do not think that men face the same pressures as often. That being said my dad works out daily and eats very healthy because he chooses to do that. He is 65 and is in better shape than most 40-year-olds. I do not know how he does it, but to this day he coaches travel softball and baseball for all of his grandchildren. My mom is the same she is incredible, and they both encouraged me and my

sisters to take care of ourselves from the inside out.

Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your opinion and experience, what are the “Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed as a Powerful Woman?” (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. A support system — My family, friends and co-workers are the biggest part of my success, it is because of them that I am successful. My husband is the definition of a partner, I am so very appreciative of him and how we work together. There is no “I” in team and I would not be in the position I am in today without my team and all of those who had a role on my journey. Find your champions.

  2. Be vulnerable — Brené Brown says this best. If you have not read or listened to Brené Brown, I highly encourage you to do so! Ask for what you need, be willing to expose your feelings, say what you want, express what you think, slow down and be present. It took me awhile to realize I do not have to be perfect all of the time.

  3. My health — In order to show up at my best every day for those in my life I focus on my health. For me this is working out, regularly taking vitamins, eating healthy (this is hard on the run all the time), getting my blood work so I know what is going on internally.

  4. My values — It is so important to stay true to my values and not waver. It is so easy to get carried away with power or titles, however, humility and being humble is what makes leaders. Servant leaders lead from behind. Everyone is quick to put leaders at the top, however, I think leaders are the ones on the bottom ensuring the team has what they need to succeed.

  5. Learn — I surround myself with people who are smarter than me! My goal is to learn as much as I can on a daily basis. You stop living when you stop learning. You can learn something from everyone you meet. Take time to talk to people, everyone has a story. One of my favorite things to do is research — I love to do things myself first so I can teach it. When we started Student ACES I filed every document, learned how to start a 501c3 charity, I learned every detail. This was important to me to understand every component of the business so I could run the organization to the best of my ability and beyond!

We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

I would love to have breakfast or lunch with Carrie Underwood. She is a businesswoman and entertainer, but most importantly a mom and wife. Over time her values haven’t wavered, and she has been very vulnerable. She is a role model to so many young women out there. I would love to ask her the challenges she faces and tips on work life balance.

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