While I haven’t ‘met’ Tammy; I consider her a friend.
I reached out to Tammy the Summer of 2019 about an opportunity. I wanted to take her key2Bme inspirational gifts to a weekend connection event for midlife women, FierceCon LA. I cold called her; but within minutes it became obvious we shared many loves; including a passion for empowering women and Broadway. Tammy put her money where her mouth is and donated a special key2Bme for each lady who attended the event. Needless to say they were a fantastic HIT with all the women who received one.
I am honored to bring Tammy’s story to the Kuel Life community this Sunday. In the midst of the current world chaos; it is essential to find ways to be inspired and hopeful. I promise; Tammy’s share will do exactly that. I present Tammy Nelson, Week 35 of my Share Your Story series.
KUELLIFE: What are you pursuing now, at this stage of your life, that surprises you or might appear to others as if it comes out of left field?
TAMMY: As a married mom of three, an insurance executive, and also an entrepreneur of an inspiring gifts company, this will surely appear to others as “coming out of left field: I am also an aspiring Broadway producer.
KUELLIFE: What’s a typical day like for you?
TAMMY: That’s a tricky question amidst the coronavirus pandemic because things aren’t very “typical” for any of us right now! That said, I am probably experiencing a bit more normalcy than some since I am still working full time on the executive team of an insurance company and, since my side business sells online, continuing my work as an entrepreneur. I feel very fortunate to be able to continue both, remotely, from my home and, while it has its challenges, I have been able to find lots of positives, as well.
Overall, in normal times, a “typical day” for me has a bit of an “Energizer Bunny” feel. My days start very early and end pretty late but, since I am working on things I love, it is almost all enjoyable. I have a personal motto of “All out – no regrets” and this applies to every aspect of my life so I throw my full energy into my family just as I do my work and my side passions.
KUELLIFE: With what do you struggle?
“Like many of us, I have a really hard time saying, “No” especially when what is being asked is interesting to me or will help someone out.”
TAMMY: I am interested in (and maybe overly passionate about) a lot of things! Because of that, I struggle most with overcommitting. Like many of us, I have a really hard time saying, “No” especially when what is being asked is interesting to me or will help someone out.
When I became involved on the producing team of a Broadway-bound musical about a year ago, I went through a period of self-reflection that was actually quite life-changing. It started with me asking myself if I was crazy! I mean, what did being a mom, an insurance exec and an entrepreneur have to do with Broadway? As someone who craves organization, meaning, and connections that tie things together in ways that make sense, I was starting to wonder how one person could be so passionate about all these different things that were seemingly disconnected. Was I crazy and scattered, running around in a hundred different directions?
While I asked myself this question, I knew that I wasn’t drawn to these things on a whim.There was some kind of magnetism pulling me toward these opportunities and I just needed to put my finger on it to make sense of it all. Fast-forward to the conclusion of this self-realization journey, I discovered my purpose in life — to empower others. And that discovery helped me make sense of all my roles AND (back to the point of this question) is what now helps me with this struggle. I bounce new opportunities and requests against my purpose and have found that I don’t overcommit as much and have a much easier time maintaining my focus.
KUELLIFE: How do you motivate yourself and stay motivated?
TAMMY: Since my last answer was so long and this feels almost like the flip side of my answer to that question, suffice it to say that getting and staying motivated is not a challenge for me — my challenge is maintaining focus.
KUELLIFE: What advice would you give fellow women about aging?
TAMMY: When my kids were little, I remember constantly telling myself, “Soak this in – it won’t be the same as they get older,” kind of implying to myself that it wouldn’t be as good. With each passing year, I was surprised at how great the new age was — different, but equally as amazing. Still, I kept telling myself the same thing. Surely the “terrible twos” got their name for a reason or, fast forward, the teenage years would certainly be challenging beyond my imagination. Well, all parents know there certainly are challenges at every age but, to my amazement, there was no age I loved any less than the last. Each new age brought so many new amazing things to enjoy and experience together. I feel the same way about “aging” myself. I guess I always thought getting older would be less fun than being younger, but I actually haven’t found that to be true at all. It’s all about perspective and embracing the present. Just as with kids, each new age has new challenges, but, if we open our eyes to them — awesome new opportunities, as well.
KUELLIFE: What does vulnerability mean to you? What has the ability to make you vulnerable?
“As I am further along in my career, I think it’s easier to try new things and not be afraid to say ‘I don’t know.’ ”
TAMMY: Speaking of awesome new opportunities that come with age or, as I prefer, being more experienced — a comfort with being vulnerable is one of them! As I am further along in my career, I think it’s easier to try new things and not be afraid to say “I don’t know.” When we’re younger I think we feel more pressured to show our competence and not look weak or inexperienced.
KUELLIFE: What are three events that helped to shape your life?
1. The “B” Word — When I was 8 years old, I called a friend to she if she could come over. Her mom answered and relayed my question to her daughter. What I heard next broke my heart but heavily influenced the type of leader I am today. I’m sure she didn’t realize I could hear what she said but I heard my friend tell her mom, “I don’t really want to, she’s bossy.” To this day, I loathe the word “boss” way more than the other “b” word and I am fully and unwaveringly committed to being a leader and not a boss.
2. My second love — My whole childhood I loved to dance and had planned on going to college to study dance and become a professional dancer. I had the college all picked out and never gave it a second thought until my senior year of high school when I took a marketing class and fell in love again. I still find ways to stay connected to my first love — dance — but my career in marketing, and experience as an entrepreneur, has been a more incredible professional path for me.
3. The power of kindness — People often ask me how I got involved in helping bring a new musical to Broadway. Long story (fairly) short: I saw an article about an inspiring woman who founded an arts-based education program to help underserved youth be empowered to find their inner superhero. I was so moved by her work that I sent her a handwritten note telling her so and included a small gift of my first product, key2Bme. She was touched by this note from a complete stranger (me) and we eventually connected by phone, then video conference and, finally in person. Eventually, my company started donating keys to support her foundation’s efforts. After working together for some time and becoming friends, one day we suddenly realized our mutual love of Broadway, and she floors me with the fact that she has created an original musical and is working to bring it to Broadway! It’s pretty incredible how one inspiring and kind act can lead to another and another and how connections form that are truly “meant to be.”
KUELLIFE: Who influenced you the most in life and why?
TAMMY: I’ve had so many amazing influences in my life — family members, leaders, colleagues and friends — but the person who influenced me most was my mom. She taught me the importance of following through on commitments, the joy of uplifting others, and gave me the greatest gift of all — to unequivocally believe that anything is possible. My mom passed away 10 years ago from cancer but lives on in my heart and actions every day. I’ll never forget what her best friend said to me at her funeral, “Your mom lived more life in 59 years than most people do in 90.” I guess that’s also where my “All out — no regrets” motto was born.
KUELLIFE: What is the best advice you’ve been given from another woman?
TAMMY: One stand-out piece of advice is a quote a friend shared on social media five years ago: “Discipline is just choosing between what you want now and what you want most.” This quote really stopped me in my tracks — so simple, but yet so profound. As I already mentioned, I struggle with overcommitment; so this idea of focusing on what I want MOST over what I want NOW has really helped me get my priorities straight. It helps me every day at work to put my efforts against the most important things versus the most immediately satisfying ones. It helped me lose 30 pounds and keep it off. It helped me launch my latest product, CONQUERing, earlier this year. (Side note: not really great timing for a gift product launch — right AFTER Christmas and just BEFORE the whole world feels like it stopped spinning — there’s a pun in there if you check out what the product does.)
KUELLIFE: What woman inspires you and why?
TAMMY: There are SO MANY people who inspire me every single day. My social feeds are flooded with uplifting people who spread positivity but, if pressed to name one that you would surely know of, I would have to say former First Lady Michelle Obama. She is so intelligent, compassionate and is the epitome of grace. I especially love her motto: “When they go low, we go high,” referring to her commitment to take the high road…even when others go to new lows.
KUELLIFE: Are you grown-up?
TAMMY: Hmmm…I always tell my husband, “You’re only as old as you act” and I tell my kids that I’ll still be driving around in a convertible with the top down until I’m in my 90s so I guess I’d have to say, “No!”
KUELLIFE: What do you do for self-care?
TAMMY: I make a point to schedule appointments at my favorite salon for hair, nails, and massages months in advance so they are just built right into my busy schedule. (If I scheduled them on-the-fly I would certainly not get there as often for this much-enjoyed pause in my busy days.) My job takes me to the NYC area every month; so the other main way I “treat” myself is seeing Broadway shows. Of course neither of these things are options right now in the midst of the pandemic; so I am finding other ways to break away from work — cooking with my kids, family game nights, “socially distant” walks and bonfires in the backyard to make my favorite — s’mores.
KUELLIFE: And last but definitely NOT least: What are the top three things on your bucket list?
1. Help bring the inspiring, empowering and entertaining SuperYou: The Musical to Broadway.
2. When my youngest is in college, transition to living and working from three locations: Cincinnati (where we live now) in spring and fall, someplace warm (location still TBD) in winter and Door County, WI (one of our favorite places on earth) in the summer.
3. Help empower 1 million people — yup, that’s what researcher/teacher/author Jim Collins calls a BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) — and yes, I’m kind of (very) loosely measuring my progress against it to hold myself accountable. Measuring this is not easy but achieving bucket list item #1 would help me make BIG leaps forward on this goal!