We had the good fortune of connecting with Ashley Freeman and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ashley, maybe we can start at the very start – the idea – how did you come up with the idea for your business?
Like everyone, I’ve had my share of good and bad bosses throughout my career. This left me really curious about what leadership was, and whether there was a “right” or “better” way to go about leading people. I began casually studying leadership through books and videos, then more formally studying the subject when I entered an evening MBA program. Shortly thereafter, I became a first-time manager, and everything changed for me. It was then that I was applying all I had learned about leadership as I managed a team, and it changed my life and my career trajectory. I watched how amazingly well the concepts worked in real life — our team was not only healthier and experienced more meaning and purpose in our work, but the business outcomes naturally followed! This gave me an enormous passion for sharing leadership lessons with others so that their lives and work product could improve, too. The only question was how I would go about it, and after a process of elimination, I landed on launching what at the time was just a coaching business to help new and aspiring managers on their leadership journeys. Since then, the business has grown more broadly to facilitating workshops on interpersonal and leadership skills for a variety of audiences, group coaching, and coaching individuals through their journeys. It’s the best job in the world because every day, I have the privilege of helping people move from where they are to a better place.
What should our readers know about your business?
My company, Flourishing Work LLC, exists to bring out the fullest, most authentic version of people in their life and work through our coaching and facilitation services. We connect meaningfully with people to understand their personality and strengths, help them find clarity along their path, and remove interpersonal roadblocks that can keep them from doing their best work. Not only does the individual thrive as a result, but the organization does too. Getting here was certainly not an easy route, but every step was worth it. I am writing in more detail about my journey in my upcoming book about finding and living what I call your “career purpose,” but the short version is that I found entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart! There are fairly extreme ups and downs, and it tends to be only those with a true passion for what they do who make it through. My advice to anyone looking for more meaningful, purposeful work is simply to understand with great specificity what unique set of things you’re passionate about, and what gifts you’re blessed with to help you fulfill those passions. It’s not easy or quick work; it took about seven years for me to identify my career purpose and get to a point where I am doing this work every day. However, I promise the work is worth it, because the world stands to lose everything if you don’t share your gifts with us, too. It’s also extremely important work to do, because nobody else can do it for you. Nobody else can feel what makes you passionate or what repels you, and if you don’t do the work to figure out what those things are, there will never be anybody else in all of history — past, present or future — who can or will complete your life mission for you.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
As someone who was born and raised in Atlanta and lived here my entire life, I prefer to show out-of-town guests things that are unique to Atlanta. I grew up not too far from the Stone Mountain area so that park is an obvious choice, along with some of our headquarters, like Coca-Cola, Porsche Cars North America, and Delta Air Lines (and their museums/experience center). The city also has a rich history to explore — everything from its founding at the end of the Western & Atlantic railroad line, to civil and human rights, to hosting the 1996 Summer Olympics, but if my guest isn’t into history, we could walk along the beltline, visit Ponce City Market, and explore the many diverse food and drink options around the city. There are practically endless options to choose from, so as a host it makes it easy to cater to whatever the guest is interested in!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
The person who had the single biggest influence on my career was the best boss I ever had, Dr. Jim Hughes. When I worked for him, I was “just” an administrative assistant with a year or so of professional work experience, but he saw more in me than I saw in myself. He brought me into meetings and projects that went well beyond my job description, often for the sole purpose of the learning experience. He also took the time to share his personal lessons learned from many years in top-level leadership, many of which I carry with me to this day. Because he believed in me, his leadership served both as a launchpad to more advanced jobs that I didn’t previously realize I was capable of doing, and also as the foundation of my leadership style that I still employ today with the people I lead and mentor. I could never thank him adequately, but I work very hard to pay it forward. May we all have someone in our lives who believes in us and voluntarily spends their time to bring out the very best in us.
Jack Kearse, David Herring http://dscostudios.com/