Meet 35 Under 35 Alumna Sarah West

Written by: Brady Drake

Photo by Hillary Ehlen

Owner, Light Consulting & Coaching – Class of 2011

Can you give me a brief background on what you do and your journey?
I’m all things finance and leadership.  My career has been in various parts of finance from banking, investments, insurance, to CFO. It was through my leadership roles that I really became the person I’m supposed to be in helping make complex business light. 

What advice would you give to someone trying to start their own business?Surround yourself with a support group.  Nothing will prepare you for the rollercoaster you are about to get on and how lonely it’ll be, especially after being part of a larger organization and team and you start off as a solo-preneur.  Your friends and family will support you emotionally, but it’s all on you.

How do you try to help people succeed through your business?
In so many ways, there are many financial ramifications to decisions in how you are set up legally, how and when you use bank financing, how to invest in people and in capital. At the end of the day, as a business owner, you don’t want to think about those things. You just want to serve your clients, after all, that’s why you went into business.

How does getting involved in the community help people flex/build their leadership skills?  
A big part of leadership is emotional intelligence and empathy. Service humbles a person and develops your empathic mindset so you can more efficiently lead our ever-changing workforce. 

You provide executive leadership coaching and the tools necessary for people to reach their maximum potential – what are some things you learned during your experience in the program that you now utilize when working with your clients? 
#1 – People specifically just need someone to believe in them, to tell them yes you can when self-doubt creeps in.  #2 – Be genuine in your relationships, mostly in your appreciation.  Send that email to that person’s boss telling them how great they are, because they ARE!

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Brady is the Editorial Director at Spotlight Media in Fargo, ND.