We had the good fortune of connecting with Amy Kan and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Amy, how do you think about risk?
The way I think about risk has changed significantly over time. I used to be afraid of it. Probably like many people, I use to think about everything that could go wrong and doing that would stop me from taking any sort of action. Now, I think less in terms of risk, and more about the challenge of stepping out of my comfort zone, of being fearless. When I do something that feels uncomfortable, I know I am growing. Of course, sometimes you have to weigh up your options and I’m not suggesting that I ignore risks. Instead, I ask myself, “what is the worst case scenario?” But then, I also ask, “what is the best case?” and “what is it worth to me to take action?” That approach has worked well for me — especially on some of my bigger decisions. In 2002, I moved to Los Angeles from London with my husband and 11-month old daughter. We had no family here (he is from the UK and I am from NY) no friends, and we had no jobs. We just did it. A risk? Sure. But again, we asked ourselves, what’s the worst that can happen? And our answer really wasn’t that bad compared to the adventure of trying. In 2015, I gave up a corporate career in marketing after more than 20-years, and pivoted to executive/leadership coaching. Not only was this the start of a new career, but also my first time as an entrepreneur. It’s not easy but it’s more rewarding than anything I’ve ever done in my career so far. I’ve learned that what we think of as risk is mostly just fear. It is a reason we give ourselves not to move forward. The thing is that we can’t tell the future. So, if you don’t take that step, you will never know what could have been.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
I help companies achieve gender equity on their leadership teams through the leadership development and coaching of women in their executive pipeline. My work centers around the idea of authentic leadership. I want people, women especially, to get over the idea of “following the leader” and “faking it until they make it”, and instead see, trust, and be who they naturally are, embrace and hone their strengths so that we/companies can reap the benefits of real diversity of thought. In my corporate life, I was often the only woman at the table and it was a disadvantage. Whether it was the dual role I played as primary caregiver for my children, or being excluded from bonding activities with the CEO who loved a game of basketball when he came to town, there were opportunities I missed out on, that were available to my male colleagues. Luckily, I had some terrific bosses and mentors in my career who advocated for me and gave me opportunities to shine. This is why I am so passionate about the work I do as a coach for women. It has an amplifying affect. If I help one woman advance as an authentic leader, she then becomes an advocate, sponsor, coach and leader to others. I am excited to see gender equity and diversity become a priority for many companies right now and, aside from being the right thing to do, the data backs up the fact that companies with diverse leadership teams and boards, perform better. Unfortunately the coronavirus pandemic is predicted set back gender equity significantly. According to a recent study from LeanIn.Org and McKinsey, 25% of women leaders is considering downshifting or leaving the workforce altogether. My hope is that companies are recognizing this and acting quickly to find ways of supporting and retaining their female employees before it’s too late.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I’ll take my imagination to a pre-pandemic world… For eating and drinking, we’d definitely head downtown. I am a native New Yorker, and the food scene in DTLA reminds me of the best of NY. Sadly one of my favorites has closed – that was Baco Mercat. Other great spots are Factory Kitchen and Bestia. When it comes to downtown, there is always a new place to try so likely, we’d go somewhere we haven’t been. Closer to home (the eastside), Union in Pasadena is the best restaurant in the area. I’ve never been disappointed. Highland Park has some great eating and drinking spots as well. Joy for casual Tawaiinese (yum!), Cafe Birdie and while I haven’t eaten at Otono, the gin and tonics are out of this world! Our daytime itinerary would include the Huntington Library and Gardens, an amazing place whether you like to be outdoors or are more of a museum goer, there is something for everyone. We’d hit up the Pasadena Farmer’s Market on Saturdays which always impresses out-of-towners with the amazing variety of fresh produce we get here. Of course, we’d go to the beach, Zuma probably, to show off to our out-of-towners, why we live here, we might head to the Getty for the building and the views, or if there are teenagers involved, Third Street promenade in Santa Monica. Of course, if we have visitors around the first of the year, there are the Tournament of Roses events, and if that includes a Michigan game, we will be there. (Go Blue!)
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
So many deserve credit for helping me get to this place. First, my husband, Chris Kan who was the first to say that I didn’t have to do what I’d always done in my career, that I could do something completely different. (Of course, I didn’t believe him at the time.) Also, my coach training program, iPEC, which completely opened my eyes to a new way of thinking and continues to do so, and finally, my tribe of fellow coaches — the most supportive, open and generous group of professionals I’ve ever met.