Ashley Fry - Leadership & Organizational Strategist
Ashley Fry is a Leadership & Organizational Strategist, passionate about creating workplaces that ignite and fulfill an intrinsic passion inside each of us. Ashley helps ambitious, budding leaders level-up their skill sets in leadership and their careers.
With a B.S. in Sociology and having held various Director and VP level roles in multiple companies, Ashley came to realize a simple truth about herself - she’s super 'in' to people. She thoroughly enjoys working with people, understanding what motivates and drives them, and helping them reach their fullest potential in whatever it is they're applying themselves to. She truly feels most alive when she’s connecting with her passion and her joy - empowering, coaching, mentoring, and guiding others.
Ashley partners with organizations and leaders to create their own experimentation-based cultures and value systems where employees are fully empowered and fiercely bought into their work. Through working with women to boost their leadership skills, she helps them achieve high-up positions at their respective companies. Ashley’s biggest passion is creating and fostering strong social relationships- and it’s these relationships that create greater connection, community, and joy. I’m so excited for you to learn more about Ashley, the inspiration behind her work, and to connect and follow along!
I'd love it if you'd introduce yourself, what you do, and what you're working on.
Yes- hi! I'm Ashley Fry. I'm currently a VP at an ERP software company on the central coast of California, and I also consult with businesses on their organizational structure and coach & mentor their budding and current leaders as a Leadership & Organizational Strategist. I'm passionate about creating psychologically safe, experimentation-based work cultures centered around learning, autonomy, and celebrating failure. I'm a remote-work advocate and champion for women rising to leadership roles in the workplace. I feel like we're on the brink of a whole new way of working, and am so excited to be a part of pivoting the old, tired ways of workplaces of the past.
How did you get started?
After college I started working for a tech startup in San Luis Obispo, CA. I just loved the energy everyone brought to the table everyday while working there. I met some amazing people, that I still keep in contact with, who really challenged me and taught me a ton about what it meant to work for a company where you’re passionate about the mission and work collaboratively together to get that job done. I found a passion for technology, but also found that I felt passionately for the social relationships we navigate at work. Why I defaulted to majoring in Social Sciences in college was definitely becoming more clear to me around that time. I quickly found myself in leadership roles where I loved diving in, helping people navigate problems, building highly productive teams, and mentoring those who were less experienced to get to where they wanted to go in their careers. I realized I really loved the people side of leadership- and if we’re being honest, good leadership is almost all about the people.
What inspired the work that you're doing?
I've had a couple people in my life who have shown amazing prowess in terms of flexing their social muscle and perfectly constructing teams that felt immense passion for what they were doing- who were 110% bought in. I kind of fell into working with both of these people but learned so much about what it meant to be a trusted and passionate leader from each of them. My high school yearbook adviser, Cynthia, was such a huge influence on my future leadership style, even though I didn't know it at the time. She loved that yearbook class like it was her first-born child and taught us teenagers amazing lessons around working hard (many times on nights and weekends- after all the school and sports commitments we also had), working collaboratively as a team, and caring passionately about the work you do. It's a culture that I've tried, since my 4 years working with her, to replicate. Secondly, a boss I had at the aforementioned start up in San Luis Obispo, Kevin, showed me what a leader looked like who not only had an amazing knack for understanding and talking with people, but also for building highly collaborative and communicative teams, serving up a healthy dose of self humility and humbleness, and really laid the foundational groundwork for how I led teams from then on out.
Lastly, we spend a ton of our time at work. I feel inspired to make work someplace we want to be- a place where we feel safe speaking our mind, where we throw in all our passion, a place where we form bonds and friendships that carry us through life, partly because of my own struggles. Being a mom of 3 boys 5 years old and under has proven to me that there are only so many hours in each day. If you're spending it away from the 3 little creatures you love more than even yourself in this world, you had better make those hours count. Spend them on something that lifts you up and makes you feel alive. Make it worth it.
What is your biggest passion? Do you feel like you're living your passion and purpose?
My biggest passion is creating and fostering strong social relationships- be it with my children, my spouse, my peers, or my colleagues. There's a plethora of research that shows us that humans are happier in their lives if they have strong social bonds and connections. I feel that in my own life- strong friendships and ties make me happier, more confident, and more easily able to weather the bad times. I'm passionate about making a dent on this world in this way, in any way I can.
What is your joy blueprint? What lights you up, brings you joy, and makes you feel the most alive?
I feel good at the end of the day if I was able to connect with someone in an authentic and genuine way. So often we're so busy running around, taking care of the tactical things we need to do each day that taking time to intentionally connect with either a friend, my husband, or my kids takes more effort than I'd like to admit- but if I force myself to slow down and take time for a moment or connection, that's when I feel like I'm living life the way I'm supposed to be.
How do you live intentionally? Are there tools/resources/practices that you rely on to help you stay mindful and grounded?
I definitely get caught up in the whirlwind of life just as much as anyone. It can be nuts if you don't take time to intentionally slow down and think about what you've accomplished that day and what the game plan should be for the rest of your time. I live and die by my to-do lists. In a world where there are constant distractions, I try hard to work on only one thing at a time and not let my brain convince me I'll be faster by doing a little bit of everything at once. I am very selective with push notifications on my phone- only allowing the true MVPs of my apps get any kind of notifications through. And I try really hard to, every couple hours, physically get up and walk away from my computer- take a walk, joke around with a co-worker, something to remove me from the monotony of my day's tasks, to intentionally rest my brain and slow down a bit. There's definitely more I could be doing in this arena, but baby steps is where I've started.
What would your younger self think about what you're doing now?
I think my younger self would most certainly exclaim, 'I had no idea what you're doing even existed!' School merely scratches the surface of the available professions available to us as adults, not to mention, the working landscape is changing at such a fast rate, exactly what I'm doing and how I'm doing it just straight up didn't exist when I was a kid. Crazy thought! 12, 16, or even 21 year old Ashley would definitely be proud of what I've achieved and done so far in my career. I feel like amidst listening to N'Sync and crushing hard on Jonathan Taylor Thomas, past Ashley would give me a high five.
Do you have a go-to mantra or affirmation?
One of my favorites is, “Be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars… and whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.” by Max Ehrmann. This quote is such a beloved reminder that, though we all get caught in the minutia and monotony of each day, everything will work out just as it was intended. It's a very calming thought that within the long timeline of our lives, most of the things we stress about now will all but be forgotten.
What is your biggest dream?
My biggest dream is to make a dent in making this world a better place. I feel like we're on the brink of something big and the workplace as we know it is changing in front of us. We spend so much of our time at work. I'm a devout believer in making work a place where people of all ethnicities, genders, and backgrounds want to be spending their time, are passionate about what they're doing each day, and truly feel like they are making a difference. A large part of this dream is making workplaces and leadership teams a place where women are as equally represented as men- and I'll be damned if I'm not raising 3 little boy feminists to help me with this cause!
Joy Corner is a new interview-style blog series brought to you by Seek The Joy Podcast. Our mission continues to be a desire to share your stories, truths, joys and inspiration in your words. We invite you to join our corner, and share your joys, passions, and moments of inspiration as we continue to seek the joy, together. Join this series here