Ashley Wick wants you to embrace your gifts.
The lauded PR and brand strategist spent her early career gathering expertise from some of the most well-respected entities in fashion—from Vogue to Diane von Furstenberg. In 2010, she founded her own communications consultancy, Wick and Co, shepherding all manner of luxury lifestyle clients.
Most recently, she added a coaching arm to her company, specializing in propelling female leaders and entrepreneurs.
Here, she asks us to imagine the possibilities of a life with less fear, where we release the notion of some imaginary ideal:
Live The Process: What has propelled your career trajectory up to this point?
Ashley Wick: My first job out of college was at Vogue (in the art department; I have always been passionate about photography). I went on to work as a publicist and stylist for Diane von Furstenberg, and, later, for London-based luxury leather goods designer, Anya Hindmarch. In 2010, I founded my own communications consultancy. Through Wick and Co, I worked with brands and organizations I admire at the intersection of travel, design and fashion—my own areas of personal interest! I experimented, stretched and traveled a lot in those early entrepreneurial days.
Each of those wildly different job experiences taught me a lot about the ingredients for a healthy, empowering professional environment and the impact of strong (or fear-based!) female leadership. While I loved creative storytelling, I often struggled with the commercial elements of my role as a publicist in the fashion industry—do I really want to promulgate the need for more stuff? In the last five years, I realized I wanted to work with designers and founders on a more personal level, which is why I pivoted into coaching. I am much more interested in launching strong, female leaders than products.
I grew up in San Francisco with a very stylish mother (among many other wonderful qualities) who had worked in publishing as an editor for over 40 years. I remember marveling at the way she had built a role for herself that fed her curiosity and love of discovering new restaurants, hotels, art, design and connecting with people at the top of their field. And my interest in human potential was sparked by my father, who has excellent communication skills and worked with Werner Erhard in the 70s when Landmark was called EST. So, I guess you could say the seeds were sewn!
LTP: What prompted your recent move to Colorado from NYC? How has that shift impacted you?
AW: Space, nature, a close knit community and a slower rhythm. My life is unbelievably convenient and that allows me to maximize my time in ways that nurture myself and my family. It’s a luxury to be able to walk our kids to school and bike to work.
I was already coaching in New York City before moving to Boulder, but my approach to business has changed. I take better care of myself and, therefore, I have the capacity to take better care of my clients. You’ve heard the oxygen mask analogy a hundred times, but it’s true!
LTP: How do you to integrate your coaching services with your more traditional PR and brand strategy efforts?
AW: The coaching arm of my business is complementary to the public relations/brand strategy work that I’ve been doing for over a decade. They are cousins to the same mother: communications. One is internally focused, and the other is external. The coaching, more often than not, precedes and informs the PR work.
Photo by Jimena Peck
I have found that more self-aware and conscious companies have a greater chance at sustainable success. Without the right internal dynamics and healthy leadership, a great product can easily flop. It’s the people that make a business sing; and a strong PR strategy is only half the equation.
More often than not, my newer clients are drawn to both—they want to have sound internal and external communication. And, since becoming a coach, I show up in a completely different way: with less stress and more curiosity, empathy and power, which creates more space to be creative.
LTP: How do you specifically approach coaching female entrepreneurs? Can you share three top leadership tips based on what you feel most clients tend to need to improve?
AW: I help to empower women to get in the driver’s seat of their careers and their personal lives. People often ask me, “Are you a business coach or a life coach?” I wonder, can you really separate the two?
Every partnership is unique because it is tailored to each client’s agenda, but here are some quick tips:
- Practice deep listening: I’ve been watching the Democratic debates and nearly every candidate has mentioned that their plan is to go out and listen as much as they talk. Quiet your inner dialogue and desire to interrupt, and listen with your whole body as if you are shining a light beam onto the other person. When you direct your full attention and energy towards what someone is saying and emoting, it’s incredible how much more you can pick up intuitively and how differently they experience you.
- Know your survival mechanisms: Know what it is that you do when you are triggered, challenged or knocked out of presence, so you can shift back above the line to your essential character. Some of the most common survival mechanisms are auto-pilot, victimization and defensiveness. Sound familiar? The Enneagram Test is a great way to begin to discover the ways in which your personality type typically gets derailed.
- Get in touch with your all-knowing, wise self and cultivate that voice: Inside all of us is a “voice” that is confident, ever-loving and untouched by insecurity—a more evolved version of ourselves that we can tap into as a touchstone or guiding spirit. Here is a link to an Inner Mentor visualization from Tara Mohr that I have enjoyed.
LTP: What does happiness look like to you?
AW: Enjoying and using my own gifts instead of trying to attain some imaginary ideal. When my family and I are healthy and fully expressed creatively, emotionally and spiritually.
LTP: What does it mean to you to “Live The Process” and how can we all do that more each day?
AW: When I hear the phrase, I think about the aliveness that comes from living on purpose, which reminds me of this Patanjali quote: “When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bonds; your mind transcends limitations; your conscious expands in every direction; and you find yourself in a great, new and wonderful world.” Every day we are presented with choices that allow us to live more closely aligned to who we are, what we value and the impact we want to make in our community or out in the world. For me, fear often sneaks up and gets in the way. A Jamaican taxi driver once told me, “Don’t Worry Twice.” Of course, why would we ever waste time worrying about something until the moment when we really need to? What would be possible if we all lived with more verve and less caution?
Photo by Simone Bossi