THE BLOG

Women in Business Q&A: Jamie Lynn, COO of CrowdFranchise

07/23/2014 09:24 am ET | Updated Sep 22, 2014
  • Laura Dunn Social Media and Communications Professional, Founder and Editor of Political Style, Director of LED Media, Journalist and Author

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
I believe my life experiences have taught me to be a well-rounded leader. My job as a leader is not only to create and strive to reach goals, but it's also to guide, coach, mold, motivate, and strengthen while allowing my team to grow and mature on their own. Not to mention, this is a very similar to my role as a mother. It's to listen and learn, as I have done and still do as a student, daughter, wife, and sister. I try and model myself after my leaders, mentors, and teachers. I push myself to become greater with each day that passes. I believe all of these roles I fill directly correlate with who I am as a manager and leader.

How did your previous employment experience aided your position at CrowdFranchise?
When I was 18, I was a cashier for a large retailer. Having that experience keeps me levelheaded and down to earth about how employees view their jobs or roles, their managers, and the company they work for. I try never to forget my mindset during that time. Being a Manager for the past 8 years and a COO for the past 2 years helped me learn what is expected of employees to help create and build a successful company. It also helps me relate to their thought process, and better teach and explain the company's expectations of them.

How do you maintain a work/life balance?
It's definitely not something that comes easily; hard work and time management. I've learned you must constantly work hard to become the best in any of your life roles. I work very hard at being the best COO I can be. I try to make sure I'm always working harder or longer than my employees to continue to gain their trust as their leader. How can I expect them to believe in working hard for a company if their Manager is not willing to work twice as hard? At the same time, it's a constant effort at being the best wife and mother. I try to make sure I leave work at a regular time every day to show my children and husband that they too are priorities in my life. I make sure to always dedicate time to volunteering at their school, and to attend every single extracurricular activity they participate in - from basketball to gymnastics, and more. I believe in remaining very present and active in my family life. Without my family, what would I be working this hard for? Also, by having two daughters and one on the way, I believe in showing them that it is possible to be whatever it is their girly hearts' desire. Allowing them to see their mother in the work-world while still being home enough to raise a family will empower and motivate them to be strong women in the future.

What have the highlights and challenges been during your tenure at CrowdFranchise?
Being that it's such a new concept, the biggest challenges are building the structure from scratch and teaching people to understand and trust such an innovative idea. However, at the same time, it's such an easy concept to sell when it's something you yourself so strongly believe in.

What advice can you offer women seeking to start a franchise?
The best advice I can give to any woman seeking to start a new franchise is to learn. Learn as much as you can about any concept you decide to invest in. Do not rely on a man to make every decision for you. Learn to trust in yourself, your instincts and your educated decisions.

What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?
Respect. During my years of management, I faced a lot of challenges earning the respect of others. Because we as a society have been so used to having male leaders, it's very hard to trust that a woman is capable of leading in the best direction. It makes women have to work harder than men just to prove that we too can make wise decisions. Our voices have been ignored for so many years that until this very day, I must remain very stern, persistent, and must be ready to defend, back up, or present solid facts to validate my theory or decision I've made for the company. I have to often do all of this just to get my point across to all my fellow male leaders and business partners. I know men have a much less difficult time convincing his business partners or colleagues to support him. Although, I must say, I have accepted this battle. I understand it's always going to exist for women and I'm more okay with it now than I was even two years ago. It keeps me sharp and two steps ahead. The issue used to upset me and make me feel unequal or less of a person. Now, I can honestly say it makes me feel stronger, smarter and much more determined.

What are your thoughts on Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In book and movement?
(Have not read it, but I assume that it talks about the same struggles I go through.) I mostly read leadership books written by men. I prefer understanding their thought process and learning more about the challenges they face as leaders. I'm already very familiar with all the challenges us women face. I feel it makes me much stronger understanding men. However, after reading about Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In, I'm definitely interested in picking it up now.

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?
I rely heavily on mentorship. It's so healthy to have that someone willing to guide and lead you along life and your professional challenges. My mentor happens to be a man and he's been a very successful leader for over 30 years. The reason I have always been so drawn to him is his strong belief and practice in maintaining a consistent balance between family and professional life. His Buddhist beliefs that he would often share with me have also heavily influenced the way I led and managed people. He was one who has always taught me not to burn energy on stress and worry, as it will not change the outcome of anything, but to use that same energy to make decisions without the influence of stress and worry. He also taught me to live by this saying, "This too shall pass," and to apply this to both the good and the bad in life. You can see and appreciate the quality of life when applying this saying to every day's good, bad, high, and low moments. If it's a good or high point in your life, appreciate it exactly at that time because it soon shall pass. When it is a bad or low moment, do not dwell or let it take you down, because it too shall pass. I would say these are the wisest words I have ever received.

Which other female leaders do you admire and why?
Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton, of course. They have served as the main support for years. This is exactly my role. My job is to directly support the CEO. I often felt I related so much to them. While learning to be a supportive leader, I feel at times this may be even more challenging than being the person in charge.

What are your hopes for the future of CrowdFranchise?
CrowdFranchise is something I think communities have needed for years. I have witnessed in my own community the lack and need for many different types of businesses. The reason they never come to those communities is that business owners are just so scared to take that risk. CrowdFranchise will now put those decisions in the hands of the people in that community. Now the community can decide together on what businesses they know they need and will support. It also makes it so much less risky for any one single investor or business owner to become a part of a new franchise location.

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