A little bit about me

My Story

Angela has worked since she was very young, and she has had many jobs – from waiting tables to coaching executives at Fortune 500 companies. Throughout her life, she has been willing to do just about any job. Except laundry. Angela doesn’t do laundry. In fact, she calls herself the “least domestic person you’ll ever meet.”

A self-made woman, Angela has always been an entrepreneur. As a kid, she didn’t want to babysit like all her friends her age were doing, so she started her own lawn mowing business. Her dad was a bit of a perfectionist about their lawn, so Angela mowed in perfect diagonal lines and made a lot of money doing it. When asked what she wanted to be when she grew up, Angela says she was torn between being a preacher, a movie star and owning her own business. And if you think about it, she is all three (check her out on Youtube!).

While she didn’t grow up in a religious home, faith and spirituality have always been important part of Angela’s life. She recalls being very young, laying on the hood of a car outside her family’s apartment looking at the sunset, remembering that moment as the one when she knew that there was something bigger than herself.

Angela grew up in a lower middle class family in a not so great suburb of Kansas City. She and her peers went through metal detectors every day at school and walked the school halls along with neighborhood gang members. They didn’t play in the parks because that’s where the drug dealers hung out. Early on, education wasn’t so much about math and science and reading books as it was about self-preservation.

Angela’s father made education a priority in her family, and despite working and going to school full time, he always did homework with his children at the kitchen table. A very significant influence on her, Angela’s dad role-modeled so many of the positive attributes she continues to demonstrates in her own life: perseverance, strong work ethic and the importance of education. In addition to her father, Angela fondly remembers her childhood best friend; a boy who taught her how to ride a bike and play football, as well as be courageous in tough times. Their relationship began in elementary school when this knight in shining armor (or maybe scuffed up sneakers), protected her from the bullies so she could safely get from the bus to her house after school.

Angela attended college at the University of Central Missouri and lived in Missouri her entire life, until a friend invited her to go skiing in Colorado. It was on that trip when the whole world seemed to open up for her, and she jumped in with both feet. Angela moved to Denver, got a job, went to graduate school, and met her future husband. It was there that she started working in training and development for Aggregate Industries. The organization desperately wanted and needed leadership development and gave her complete support (and funding!) to change the culture. Angela could really see that developing leaders truly made a difference throughout the whole organization, and it was during that 5-year ride that she began falling in love with leadership development – and she hasn’t done anything else since. This was also the time when Angela first met, and started working with, Personify Leaderships’ other co-founder, Michelle Cummings.

Angela and her husband, Rick, moved to Houston after he was transferred there with his company. During her few years there, Angela continued to develop leaders and organizations as the Vice President of Organization and Leadership Development for the Oil, Gas and Chemicals division of SGS North America. But after 12 years in various executive roles, Angela decided it was time to leverage her expertise and hang up her own shingle. So she started Invested Leadership, a consulting firm focused on Executive and Organizational coaching and performance. It was also in Texas that Angela and Michelle, who had continued working together from time to time, started having conversations that eventually led their business partnership – and Personify Leadership.

After 6 years in Houston, Rick was promoted again and transferred to Fort Lauderdale, Florida where Angela and her family live now. While she misses the snow skiing and the magnificent Rocky Mountains, Fort Lauderdale rivals Colorado for Angela’s favorite place to live (so far). For such a large city, there are wonderful niches and neighborhoods that are really very close knit. Angela describes the way they all look out for each other as “tribal,” and despite the area being transient in some respects, there is also an intense feeling of community. Angela loves the “melting pot” that her two children are growing up in, with neighbors from all over the world, including Cuba, Russia, Central and South America. It’s a beautiful and diverse community, and it doesn’t hurt that the ocean is very nearby.

Even though the beach is less than a half-mile walk from her house, Angela usually runs there. She started running when she was about 25, and no matter how hectic her schedule is – and it often is very hectic – Angela makes time for it. A deep thinker, Angela often finds herself “in her head,” and long runs allow her to get out of her head and into her body. Running is also a time that Angela gets to be social. She belongs to a running club with other moms from her children’s school, and they pick a few races a year, for which they train and compete together. She has completed 2 marathon and 15 half marathons all over the country. The endurance that it takes to run that long and that far has been useful in all aspects of Angela’s life. She describes it as “mind over matter.” Every time you think you don’t have anything else left, you turn a corner, and you see the finish line. And you keep going.

Despite being really good at so many things, Angela has yet to reach one of her life-long goals: learning Spanish. She took classes in high school, attended an immersion program in Costa Rica, and spent a month in Spain, but she still has not been able to pick it up. With some humor, but without apology, Angela is projecting this onto her children: they will learn Spanish!

If Angela could live anywhere in the world, she would choose Switzerland (where, by the way, they don’t speak Spanish). She has always wanted to live internationally, and Switzerland is not only scenically beautiful, it’s also very culturally rich. Angela admires the self-policing environment, applauding the upstanding citizens of both French and German backgrounds, who don’t need much outside accountability. The Swiss culture is very much in alignment with her own appreciation of both beauty and personal accountability.

Angela just completed another item on her Bucket List: writing a book. Over the years, she has had the great pleasure of working with so many leaders who have shared so many incredible stories with her, and this book is a medium for her to get those stories out to the world. She recalls waking up one morning with a tremendous sense of urgency that “it was time.” And she just started writing. Every page she writes, every nugget of wisdom she offers, continues to deepen her own learning about leadership and courage. Her wish is to empower other leaders with these stories about leadership and courage. “The Courageous Leader: How to Face Any Challenge and Lead Your Team to Success will be published by Wiley in March of 2017!

A self-described intense individual, Angela says she can’t do something “just for fun” and that you shouldn’t bring her to a party if you need a good laugh. However, she credits her two children, Will and Cate, for helping bring more lightheartedness to her life. She also describes how easy it is to be completely selfless with them, finding herself capable of complete and total unconditional love. Her children are her teachers now, encouraging her to be silly and light. She even admits having a good time (she didn’t say “fun”) splashing in puddles and dancing around the house with a princess hat on her head.

If she had “all the time in the world,” Angela wouldn’t do anything in her life differently. But maybe, from time to time, watch a movie from beginning to end in one sitting. Without pausing.

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Connect with Angela Sebaly, the Co-Founder & Chief Executive Officer of Personify Leadership.