Leading with a Velvet Machete with Amber Hurdle

Amber Hurdle is the CEO of Amber Hurdle Consulting, a multi-award-winning talent optimization firm; she’s a speaker, author and podcast host of The Bombshell Business Podcast. In this episode, learn from amber About:

  • How self-awareness can kick start your Brand refresh
  • The “data’ parallels of global brands vs. personal and company brands
  • How to sharpen your brand with the “Velvet Machete”
  • Why self-assessment and continuous learning makes you greater

Transcript:Thanks to Jermaine Pinto at JRP Transcribing for being our Partner. Contact Jermaine via LinkedIn or via his site JRP Transcribing Services

The Leadership Hacker News

Steve Rush: In the news today, we explore the upsurge of the use of digital technology and whether it’s transferred power to the people. Sally Helgeson, who was cited by Forbes as the world’s premier expert on female leadership, discusses how homeworking facilitated by digital technology has reversed the balance of power from capital to people. In 1993, Peter Drucker published Post-Capitalist Society. It has extraordinary lessons for leaders today, as we seek to emerge from the confusion, the pain and disruption of our pandemic 2020 society. Drucker was referring to the fact that capitalism became the primary means of production to the scale and complexity, requiring significant capital investment. Capital had by far the greatest valley in the chain of production. So, it grew to become quite expensive while the cost of people and labour became relatively cheap. As a result, the primary means of production, which of course was industrial machinery had to be centralized in factories and later in offices, via computers and tech, which meant that most people could no longer work from home. These two factors combined gave power in those who either provided a capital for enterprise or investment, or indeed hired to exercise it, that is senior management, but Drucker foresaw that the economist of the digital technology would reverse this basic logic. The digital tools that made such a transformative impact over the last 20 years are vastly more dependent on human knowledge and creativity than on raw materials and heavy machinery. As Drucker said, those tools began to reverse the balance of power between people and capital. And since people began to own the primary means of production, which of course is our brains and our thinking. That’s what distinguishes the knowledge economy. And it’s the reason why a new idea can make a hundred years of what was seen to be thoughtful, intensive capital development, almost obsolete overnight. And it’s the reason why we now view leadership as something that should be distributed through organizations, rather than let the sole top of those leading the organizations.

This year, it’s taken on a fresh perspective as individuals around the world had to spend months working from home and organizations have had to adapt really quickly to this new reality. And it’s fortunate that technology has reached a point where it allows us to do this, and we can now see that the trend in working from home or working at home is already well underway. So, what will it mean going forward for the primary means of production? It will be engaged within people’s homes, places of where once we used to be housed prior to the industrial revolution. In short, Post-Capitalist Society that Drucker foretold almost 30 years ago is now suddenly and with force upon us, it’s consequences will reshape our organizations, our lives and for the next century, and as leaders now more than ever, we need to be thoughtful and help our teams reframe that perspective and consider what their mindset is for the future.

We may need to consider our homes as now our place of work. Stereotypes that we may have had such as stay at home moms or stay at home dads become obsolete and many more biases and assumptions could present themselves. But our job as leaders is to listen for those assumptions to challenge and to test them and to recognize that no longer capital will drive the future, but it’s our people themselves. That’s been The Leadership Hacker News. If you have any interesting stories or news that you’d like to share, please get in touch.

Start of Podcast

Steve Rush: Amber Hurdle is our special guest on today’s show. She’s a multi award-winning consultant and business partner, a brand expert and author of The Bombshell Business Woman. Amber, welcome to The Leadership Hacker Podcast.

Amber Hurdle: I am so grateful to be here, thank you.

Steve Rush: You have a really interesting backstory from team mom to CEO. How did it all start for you?

Amber Hurdle: On the struggle bus? So just kind of going way back to the teen mom days, that seems so long ago, there was a big why, and that was giving my daughter every opportunity in the world that a child not born to a teen mom would have. And that is a commitment that I made in the hospital, indignant. That was mission critical, and with that, even though I stumbled and made a lot of terrible, awful, horrible, decisions, I did find a way to continuously fail forward in the interest of pursuing that big why. So, through that process, I had to learn at the time I had no idea what this current buzz term was, but I had to learn how to develop my personal brand so that I could position myself to get better shifts at work, to get a job I might not be fully qualified for to be able to attract the right people and opportunities to me so that I could raise this child who was brilliant and deserved better than what I brought her into this world into.

So as that continuously enabled me to move forward with success, I began to do various things to help support that, that in turn became things that I would help team members with or employees with or colleagues, or eventually when I went back to college, because I figured out there’s this word for this thing that I do and it’s called public relations. And then I discovered the world of internal relations. And so, I started using the same principles and the confidence that came with it because I knew that it worked because I’ve used it on me and everyone else. And now I’m dealing with senior leaders in my career and I’m helping shape their personal brands, like an internal publicist of sorts and increasing their influence. And it’s just gone from there, I’ve worked with celebrities, I’ve worked with, I mean, you name it, I’ve done it. And I’m 41 years old and abundantly blessed that I get to be the wounded healer that I get to be someone who can pursue her purpose through her vocation.

Steve Rush: That’s awesome Amber. And I guess part of that failing forward that you talked about ,was also maybe being brand aware at certain parts of your life. So, you could pivot your career accordingly. Would that be kind of fair?

Amber Hurdle: Oh, absolutely. You know, I was sitting at lunch with a childhood friend, someone who I’ve been friends with since high school. This was a few years back, and he was looking at maybe shifting his career a little bit. And he said, Amber, you’re just the Madonna of professional life. You’re constantly evolving and reinventing yourself. And I looked at him somewhat confused because I didn’t perceive it that way. And I said, help me understand that. Can you say that a different way? And he talked about the different pieces of my career and I just looked at him and I said, that is all me wrapping everything that I do into communication and engagement. That’s the vehicle, that’s what I do. I’m able to communicate. I can teach other people how to communicate. I know how to engage. I can teach other people how to engage.

And throughout my career, whether I was a celebrity event planner, whether I was an internal you know, employee relations person, whether I was doing PR work or whatever, fundraising and Scc College, it was all about communication and engagement. So it is that, you have to really clearly understand what your gifting is. You have to understand what uniquely makes you, you. And so, anybody can do communication and engagement, right. I can define and position, my value by saying, I can do that and that I can do that because I was forced to learn the hard way through my teen mother experience.

Steve Rush: Right, yeah. It’s huge lessons that you probably experienced much earlier in your life than most folk would’ve done. Right?

Amber Hurdle: Absolutely. I was chatting with a friend last night who is just so advanced. I mean, I just asked him like, why are you so smart? How did you get so smart? Cause you didn’t go to college or in your neck of the woods, you didn’t go to university. But he just has this wealth of business knowledge. And he said, you know what, Amber, you became an adult way early. You’re a decade ahead of your peer group. I started my first business when I was 17 and its those same principles. It’s just that dumb youth of learning the hard way and actually having enough energy may be to recover from the ridiculous mistakes that you make. But because we made them so young, it catapulted us forward into having a deeper wisdom around whether that’s life or business or, you know, anything like that.

Steve Rush: And academia of course, is not a prerequisite for entrepreneurialism. In fact, most entrepreneurs, I know actually have less of an academic background than the former.

Amber Hurdle: Yeah, because we never stop learning. We don’t go to school and then say, okay, I’ve learned everything I need to learn. I wrote everything I had to write. I’ve read everything I need to read and I’m sick of it, so the end. Again, and I have to credit my friend for kind of bringing that up last night. Good timing for this interview. When you’re an entrepreneur. I mean, I just think about this year alone, everything that I’ve had to go back and say, okay, now I need to learn how to do this. I need a refresher on that. I haven’t really learned this in probably about four years. So, what’s changed? I need to learn that. So, I’ve taken four different courses. I’m constantly watching YouTube. We have to do that to respond to the ever-changing business environment that we’re in. And when you think of learning or of my personal education or my personal intelligence being attached to formal education, you really missing out.

Steve Rush: Yup, get it. A hundred per cent subscribe to that whole principle of continuous learning and evolution is just what makes you greater. So, in your consulting world now, you’ve managed to unite branding and science together to really help amplify that human capital when it comes to brands. Tell us a little bit about how you’ve done that?

Amber Hurdle: So, branding background, PR of course. The way that big businesses approach branding their marketing is how I approach that with individuals in terms of personal brands, as well as employee bases in terms of employer brands. And so, my velvet machete brand strategy believes that if you have strong leaders with strong personal brands, they can then lead strong employer brands where people feel really excited about coming to work. They understand where their gifts and their talents and their experience fit into the big picture. And when you have happy employees delivering at that peak level, then you have a strong business brand because your customers are satisfied. Things are getting done the way they’re supposed to be done. You don’t have as many errors or, you know, whatever that looks like you, you know that you have a strong business brand cause it’s from the inside out. So, with that in mind, let’s think about like Nike, Nike does millions of dollars’ worth of market research before they do any type of marketing campaign. And so, what they have to do is figure out from data, whether that is cookies on their website, tracking, you know, where are you clicking? How long do you stay on a page? Whether that is through loyalty programs, it could be focus groups, whatever. They have to have data. They’re going to take that data to understand the big picture what’s going on inside of their brand, how they can most efficiently and effectively market. And they’d start to develop ideal customer profiles so that they can speak into the emotions of their customers and potential customers. Now, why don’t we do that internally?

Steve Rush: Right.

Amber Hurdle: We need to do the same thing. We need to canvas our entire team. We need to understand who’s working for us. We need to understand what does that landscape look like so that we can speak to them emotionally about their contributions, about why they are with our organization and why we all share the same philosophies and values and that sort of thing. That is the bedrock of our culture. And then as we hire just like Nike creates ideal customer profiles and their messaging, their brand doesn’t change. Their “Just Do It”. Their brand doesn’t change at all, but their messaging changes. If they are targeting an elite athlete who might need some performance gear versus a soccer mom, who’s just going to wear her athletes aware at target, very different people, very different messaging, same brand. So, if you look at that from the perspective of your employer brand, you have the same brand. You are who you are, these are your values, you know? And so, you need to create ideal employee profiles for each position that you are hiring.

Steve Rush: It’s almost the same process that Nike is deploying isn’t? But just internally, with an internal lens.

Amber Hurdle: It is, and it’s so funny when I get invited into a company. I was recognized and I’m not tooting my own horn. I’m just saying, it’s not novel. But I was recognized by global gurus as one of the top 30 brand professionals thought leaders for 2020, because my perception of branding is different from the inside out. And I’m just like, to me, this is so obvious. If you have the data and you know where the holes are in your team and you know, behaviourally what type of person you need in that role and, you know, personality-wise, then you can start using data to help you make informed decisions, just like Nike uses data to make informed decisions. Now you can market, now you can recruit, now you can retain and keep everybody happy, just like we do with our customers. I don’t see the reach in that, but apparently, it’s a new thing to talk about.

Steve Rush: It’s an awareness thing, I think.

Amber Hurdle: Yeah.

Steve Rush: What you’re describing is just that internal lens shift. Now the five-step process that you’ve developed with your velvet machete, and by the way, I just love the visual metaphor. Velvet machete, I think it’s brilliant because I’m a visual kind of guy anyway, so I can almost see this really soft little machete coming down to me, but I know that it’s going to take me through proper rigorous five-step process. Let’s get into that and talk about how that can maybe help some of our listeners think about their own brand awareness. So, what are the five steps?

Amber Hurdle: Let’s just start first with the concept development machete. So, the machete cuts to the chase. It is a direct way of communicating and influencing, but the velvet wraps the message in a way that’s appealing to your unique audience. So just like Nike has different messaging. So does the velvet machete process. So, we need to keep that in mind, as you move through these five steps. Now, first and foremost, you have to become self-aware. So, as you’re building your personal brand, which is step number one, you have to be able to confidently define and position your value. You have to know what you bring to the table. And I’ve got of course, tons of exercises that get you to that point. But only when you understand yourself, can you start to move through the rest of these processes. So, step number two is then building supportive environments, creating systems and structures that uniquely support your efforts.

So, if I know I am excellent at whatever, I need to create environments around me, whether that’s people environments, or how my workflow is set up, it could be spiritual or physical or mental environments that I need to put in place to fortify those things that are great about me. Now, a lot of people like to talk about strengths and weaknesses. I can’t stand to do that. I’m not a weak person. I’m also not amazing at advanced math. And so, I’m not going to say, well, that’s a weakness. It’s just not helpful. Me doing advanced math is not helpful to my mission.

So, with that in mind, I just bubble wrap that just like fine China. Beautiful, precious, expensive, valuable, fine China. It’s not weak. It just is fragile. And so, we bubble wrap it to ship it across the country. So, whatever is fragile in your toolbox of resources, we need to bubble wrap that. So, for me, I have a CPA, I have a bookkeeper and I have someone who handles payroll. Okay? So, they teach me, but that’s my bubble wrap. And you can do that in all areas of your life. But here’s the beauty. When you are very confident in who you are and what you bring to the table, and then you create all of these environments to really strengthen, being able to do that. And then instead of being like, oh, I wish I was more, blah, blah, blah. You just bubble wrap that stuff. Now, now you’re really moving forward with confidence. And my velvet machete leadership Academy is all about becoming a competent, compassionate leader, having that velvet machete balance. Once you have that in place and you are strong, your foundation is strong only then can you move on to mastering your communication. Because now we’re including other people. So, if you’re not solid is really difficult to begin to interact with others. So, you have to be able to speak with authority while listening with intent to drive results. So, I know who I am. I know what I bring to the table. Now I’m listening to you with intent. I’m being able to communicate like Nike in different ways for different audiences, with that velvet machete style that I have. And once I can master that communication, and I understand how to have a two-way conversation with my various key stakeholders, then I can move on to step four and truly mastermind engagement. And that’s when I use my self-awareness, my ability to understand what type of environments I need, my ability to communicate. And once I see and harvest the greatness in others, I can rally their support. And that’s where people get hung up. That is the billion-dollar problem. And I’ll tell you, I was with a client a handful of weeks ago, and she is a dynamo. I mean, she’s just amazing and has all kinds of experience and is pretty senior in her role. And she was stuck because she’d been working for months on something, but she could not get the buy-in of somebody that would move it forward, which would save the company a billion dollars.

Steve Rush: Wow.

Amber Hurdle: I’m not joking, billion with B. And so, we worked through how she could frame that in order to get that buy-in, to move it to the next phase of approval. She killed it. She not only got in that next phase, but she got the next phase and everything came to fruition. They’re following her plan. They’re going to now move forward, trying to save the company a billion dollars. She could not have done that without self-awareness, without the environments that she needed to support her, without understanding her communication style and how she needed to communicate to this initial key stakeholder plus the next round. And if she was unable to rally support from this person, that company would not have her extreme intention, her gifts, and the gifts of her team to save them a billion dollars with a B. So, once you’ve done these four things, now you can build influence. Now you can guide and focus people and processes towards success because now this person has everything that she needs. And so, everyone knows the goal and she can just rally that support. And then build on that, moving everyone together towards saving that billion dollars. This process is not like, oh, these are soft skills. And everybody needs to, you know, we need to increase our emotional intelligence. Blah-Blah-Blah fluffy, fluffy unicorns.

Steve Rush: Yeah, exactly.

Amber Hurdle: We’re saving a billion dollars here people, this is important.

Steve Rush: The one thing that I observe when I also coach execs is that this persona, if you like of soft skills presents itself quite a bit. And I always have the conversation that says there’s nothing soft about having great communication skills, being able to engage and influence people. That’s real hard skills. What about some of the baggage that comes with the language that we internalize with ourselves?

Amber Hurdle: That is why I call it a relevant machete. I mean, that doesn’t sound very soft. The velvet does, but that’s my way of bringing awareness to. This isn’t child’s play, we’re not on the strengths couch right now. This is an internal fuzziness. Now, anybody who works with me understands that I have no differentiation between professional and personal. We do not compartmentalize our lives. We are a whole person, and all of that is going on all at the same time. And especially if your career is a manifestation of your purpose, then now we’re really coagulated. It’s all put in a blender together. And so, yes, when we’re talking about our environments and when we’re talking about our personal brand, we might have to go into some deeply personal places, but at the end of the day, if you do the work, and that’s what I tell my clients all the time, you have to do the work. If you’re willing to do the work, then you’re empowered into that competent, compassionate leader. That leader who can influence because people see your authenticity and they are inspired by your ability to show them how their contributions fit into the bigger picture.

Steve Rush: I love that five steps, by the way. I think it’s a really neat way of just thinking about the process you need to go through. And like you say, this is not soft. This is proper work, isn’t it?

Amber Hurdle: It is, and I appreciate that feedback. Thank you.

Steve Rush: So, you’ve also turned to writing and you’ve authored the book, The Bombshell Business Woman. Tell us a little bit about what the inspiration was for the book?

Amber Hurdle: Sure. So, when I left corporate and I began working with organizations through consulting and training and speaking, I had several female friends, acquaintances who came to me and said, wow, Amber, you know, you really have branded and marketed yourself well. I’m really struggling with that in my business. And so, I find myself kind of having like a part-time job of helping friends to position themselves. And of course, my whole career is PR, marketing and that sort of thing in various forms. And I’ve owned other businesses where I’ve done this successfully. So being the type of person who likes to pay things forward, I did, but then it got overwhelming. And so, I thought, you know what, I’m just going to have a one-day bootcamp. And I’m going to invite some of my smartest friends who are former executives who are now independent and we’re just going to hash it out.

So, I did that and it was wildly successful. So, I thought, well, Hmm, interesting. We probably should do this again, but really dig in a little bit more. And so, I did, I had an offering of a weekly bombshell business bootcamp, and I took them through the different phases that I eventually put into the book. And I had people from five different county in middle Tennessee attend very faithfully and it was beautiful to see what they did in their businesses and how they collaborated with each other and how the whole strengthened the individual businesses. And so, at that point I was like, Hmm, I’m onto something here. So, I would love to write a book, but I’m still not super clear. I know what five-county worth of, you know, again, we’re back to data, right? So, I understand this subsection, but I live in the South and there’s just limitations to that.

So, I launched the podcast and develop the most beautiful relationship with my listeners. That was possible, they were so open with me. They would send me messages all of the time, they sent mail to my office, told me I listened to this episode. This is how I applied it. This is what changed in my business. I mean, it was like a market researcher dream. For me, it’s about, can I serve you? And is this working for you? But the reality is this is data. And now I can use it to inform my decision making. So, with that really intimate understanding of The Bombshell Business Woman, I was able to write this book. Because I wanted any woman with $15 dollars to be able to self-educate. So, we’re back to that, right? And I wrote it very much in a conversational style. The first four chapters were more about my personal life so that they can understand, like, if Amber could do it, I can do it.

I have no more excuses. Cause looking at Amber went through and then it’s very tactical after that. And I did that with intention, not because I was trying to give away the form and people were like, oh, you could’ve made a course about that. I’m like that wasn’t the intention of this book. The intention of this book was to give any woman with $15 dollars in her pocket and exact guide to get her business to where it needs to go. And so, the reward in that was people writing in saying, I’m on page, whatever, I’m in total tears. It’s as if you wrote this book just to me and I wouldn’t have been able to do that. Had I not had that relationship with my listeners where I knew where their pain was, where I knew, where they were stuck in their frustration. And in the end, I had a beautiful message from someone on Instagram. And she had a dream of selling her struggling yoga practice. And she wanted to open up a yoga retreat, Bali or some beautiful location. And she was really in trouble with her business. She wrote to me and said she started listening to my podcast. She listened to every episode twice. She read my book; she downloaded the workbook. She did everything that I told her to do. And not only did she get her business to a healthy place, she sold it for an absurd amount of money. And she sent me a picture of her yoga retreat in Bali or wherever it is and invited me to follow her social media accounts, to see it grow and flourish.

Steve Rush: How awesome is that!

Amber Hurdle: And again, you are too. We’re in unique situations where we can’t really describe the successes of our clients because it is so confidential. And so, I’m describing the success so that any listener who thinks I don’t have anything to say or who would listen to me, or I’m not educated enough, I’m not experienced enough. My encouragement to you is that, you know more than somebody else out there and that somebody is looking for somebody to lead them through difficulty or to get them to a next level. And so, if you put it out there, people will find you. Your tribe will find you, if you are truly authentically you and you don’t hold back, people will find you and you will help other people get incredible results.

Steve Rush: That’s so true, isn’t it? So true. And also, the whole philosophy of technology plays a big part in the book as well. There was one particular chapter in the book that really tickled me and it was a teaching Wilma Flintstone in the Jane Jetson world.

Amber Hurdle: Yes, [Laughing].

Steve Rush: Just tell us a little bit about that?

Amber Hurdle: The target audience for this particular book. And I’ll just give you the avatar or the ideal customer profile of The Bombshell Business Woman. She’s 42 years old, she has two kids. One is almost graduated. The other one’s in junior high. He plays soccer. She’s involved in everything. And, you know, she’s chamber of commerce, volunteers, good wife, great daughter, all that kind of stuff. And yet all she can see, even though everyone else sees her as a total rock star is what she’s not doing right. And one of the things that she laments over is that she’s just not good with technology. She doesn’t get the Twitter. The website blows her mind. Anything that would help streamline her business is frustrating. And so, what I loved, especially in that initial cohort of the bombshell business bootcamp that we did live over several weeks was I was able to show them how easy peasy things could be. And once they realized that it wasn’t overwhelming, they were able to implement it in their business. Thank God. Cause now in COVID, everybody’s using technology and virtual everything.

Steve Rush: Right.

Amber Hurdle: So, they had a little leg up there and it just took away that fear. And so, so much of what we don’t accomplish in life and in our businesses is because we’re simply afraid. And if you have somebody to walk alongside you to show you. The boogie monster is not underneath the bed, it’s going to be uncomfortable for a minute. And then you’re going to move past that discomfort. And just like, you know, when this particular avatar was somebody who was a hairstylist and she was in another salon and decided she could probably do it better herself. And so, she opened up her own salon and seven years in, she had 10 employees or contractors, and now she’s looking at her business going, oh my gosh, how did I do this? I’m not a businesswoman. I’m not a business person. I accidentally had success in my business. She doesn’t credit herself. And here’s everything that I’m doing wrong because I didn’t go to school to do this, that’s my person.

Steve Rush: Awesome. I love that. And if I’m a leader, listen to this. So, be that a woman or a man, because we’ve all gotten in a bombshell, what’s the first steps in unlocking that?

Amber Hurdle: I started in the book with that self-awareness with developing that personal brand because, you know, I say that I sell branding and I deliver confidence. And I just so believe that if you were confident in what you are capable of, you can get through those uncomfortable things. He knows like, oh yeah, okay. Well, I suck at math. So, I mean, not all math, but it no big deal. What can I do to improve upon this? And so, it just makes the fear go away. But I think the other thing that a lot of bombshell businesswoman or my bombshell boys as I call it, because I also got, you know, former military writing to me saying, it’s like, you wrote the book just to me. And I’m like, really is your name Am? because that’s my avatar name.

But it’s very similar struggles, right. I just happen to write it in a language that was, you know, really intentional for women, but having a plan. And I say that almost giggling in the year 2020 when we’re recording this, because we all had a plan going into this year, right.

Steve Rush: Well, yeah, that’s the irony of strategic planning is to think about the, what-ifs, the wildcards or scenarios and the great art of great planning is to think of the unthought.

Amber Hurdle: Exactly, and that is exactly why when I teach my marketing process, which I call the red lipstick marketing blueprint, which all that refers to is you put in the minimum amount of effort for the maximum results. So, ladies, you understand this. When you’ve got to run to the grocery store, you might put on your sunglasses and some red lipstick, you look like you’re put together and you did not put on a full face of makeup. Other people can do the whole Kardashians, you know, I’m going to put all this layer of makeup on and it really doesn’t improve the situation much. And so, I think we all get convoluted in our marketing strategies and we’re trying to do everything and everything that’s, you know, every new email that comes in and tells us we should be doing this, every trend that sets off, then we get, you know, squirrel and we’re over there doing that.

What I encourage is that you take things three months at a time. Yes, you want to know your entire years’ worth of strategic initiatives, but let’s just mark it three months at a time. Because as entrepreneurs, we’ve got to be able to be agile. We have to know if this shifts in my business, or if this shifts in the market, I need to be able to quickly shift with it. So that is something that I teach. And whether that’s your strategic planning, quarter by quarter or your marketing plan, you have to be self-aware, you have to know what you are great at. So, you can be confident moving forward and where you need to bubble wrap things. And then as an entrepreneur, you need to be able to be intentional about your planning so that you can be flexible when things don’t go well. Otherwise, you’re starting from scratch and just flailing around in the middle of the ocean without any type of direction of where shore is.

Steve Rush: Super wise words, I can almost hear the inner bombshells being released as people are listening.

Amber Hurdle: I love it.

Steve Rush: So, this is where we turn the leadership lens on you. And we get to hack into your leadership mind.

Amber Hurdle: Okay.

Steve Rush: Not only you’re a great consultant and a business partner, you’re a CEO and a leader in your own, right. Amber for our listeners, just share with us your top three leadership hacks.

Amber Hurdle: Sure, I’ll tell you the ones that really have worked for me. One is assessments. Of course, I’m certified in two assessments. I’m also, fun fact. Professional astrology software because I think that’s God’s personality assessment for the world. I don’t think we can predict the future or anything, but I do think we can better understand ourselves. So, assessments that is a short-fit hack. Mentorship – you don’t know everything. There’s no way that you can learn everything. So, look to somebody who has been there, done that. Has made the mistakes they can share with you. Who’s had the triumphs that they can share with you, who can help you shortcut through life. And you will be in really great shape. And the third thing is really dialling up your people environment. And so that is surrounding yourself with people who think like you. Who have a vibrational energy that matches yours, when you’re around them, you feel edified and like you can move forward, and like, you can accept their feedback because you can trust that it’s within your best interest and it’s not somebody who’s just so scared of where you’re going and they don’t think that they can go there with you, that they’re going to try to hold you back.

Steve Rush: They’re super snacks, awesome. So, the next part of the show we call Hack to Attack. So, this is where something in your past, hasn’t worked out as well, maybe even screwed up, but as a result of the experience, now use it as a positive in your life, what will be your Hack to Attack?

Amber Hurdle: Well, we could go all the way back, I could give you like, you know, 38,000, my early teen mom days, but let’s just go to the beginning of this year. So, like most people COVID dramatically impacted my business. Prior to this year really did mostly professional speaking on stages. And then in-person consulting, so as you can imagine. Within 48 hours, my entire speaking calendar through 2021 was cancelled, believe it or not, I actually had a pandemic clause in my agreement who knew, but I did. But that wasn’t the right thing to do to hold people to this, I just feel like we’re all in this together. So, I gave all of those deposits back so they could refund their attendees. And then within probably about two weeks, because so many of my clients are in hospitality, hotels, and entertainment. They came to me and said, we really need to be let out of our agreement because we’re having to furlough our employees. And so obviously they can’t pay me. So again, doing the right thing, let everybody out of their agreements. And I was left with not a whole lot. So, thank God my husband and I have multiple businesses. So, it wasn’t disabling to my livelihood, but this is my passion, this is my purpose. So, I took a big step back and I was like, okay, the universe, God, whatever you feel comfortable as I tell you the story, and we’ll just say the universe for the most vanilla way of saying it, it just shoved everything off of my desk. It just wiped it all onto the floor. And then I was left with the decision of what do I want to pick up off the floor and put back on my desk, moving forward.

And while that was painful and frustrating and hard, it was beautiful. And I was able to really get decisive about what I wanted my business to look like moving forward. I was able to be a start-up with eight years of hindsight, and I was able to be a start-up with a beautiful, amazing network of awesome people. And I have had to grind harder this year than in a long, long time, probably since my days at Gaylord Hotels and at the same I have grown more this year then I can remember. And so, I’m moving forward with an extreme sense of gratitude for what that reset did for me. And I’m not saying it’s even easy yet. It’s not, but I see where I’m going and I’m having those short-term plans and I’m bubble wrapping, everything that needs to be bubble-wrapped. And I’m keeping that positive thought process. I’m seeking my mentors. I have my people environments in place. And I’m standing on my personal brands that I can move through my own process of the velvet machete leadership process.

Steve Rush: And you can hear all of that coming through as well. And your mindset is to the untrained ear may not be very obvious, but to my trained ear, your mindset is beaming growth, open, positivity, and promotion. So, well done you!

Amber Hurdle: Thank you. Thank you.

Steve Rush: The last thing that I’d like to take you to is give you the chance to do some time travel. So, you get to now bump back into Amber at 21 and give her some advice. What’s it going to be?

Amber Hurdle: Stop being so damn hard on yourself. You are an amazing human being. You are full of gifts. You are perfect the way that you are. You don’t need to change anything. There’s nothing to fix. You just need to figure out who you are at your core, and then you need to become more of that. And as long as you’re doing it in service to other people, you’re going to be okay.

Steve Rush: Super advice. And for other people listening to that, that’s a great message too. So, for folks that have been listening to us talk today Amber, but I know they’re going to want to listen to your podcast and find out a little bit more about the work that you do. And of course, developed machete and the bombshell businesswoman. Where’s the best place we can send them as they finish listening to this.

Amber Hurdle: Absolutely. I would love for you to visit amberhurdle.com/leadershipquiz. And you can take a quick quiz. It does not require an opt-in. Although I’d love to have you in my community. Is a quick quiz to allow you, to see the type of leadership personality that you have and how you show up, I will tell you what makes you the most influential and also what you might want to consider bubble wrapping. And I love this because even the more quiet leaders really get rallied around and they can see how amazing they are and that they don’t have to be that big personality leader. And then if you go to amberhurdle.com, you can find the bombshell business podcast there, and then also opt-in for when we launch Velvet Machete Leadership Podcast.

Steve Rush: We’ll also make sure there is links to the leadership quiz and all your other links are in our show notes, when we’re done too.

Amber Hurdle: And reach out to me on LinkedIn. I love getting to know people and following what you’re doing in your career.

Steve Rush: Amber, you’ve been an absolute, amazing guest. There is some super stories that you’ve been able to share with our listeners today. And on behalf of everyone that’s listening in and on behalf of The Leadership Hacker Podcast. Thanks for joining the show.

Amber Hurdle: Thank you so much. I just appreciate the opportunity to get to know you and serve your audience.

Steve Rush: Thanks Amber.


Steve Rush: I genuinely want to say heartfelt thanks for taking time out of your day to listen in too. We do this in the service of helping others, and spreading the word of leadership. Without you listening in, there would be no show. So please subscribe now if you have not done so already. Share this podcast with your communities, network, and help us develop a community and a tribe of leadership hackers.

Finally, if you would like me to work with your senior team, your leadership community, keynote an event, or you would like to sponsor an episode. Please connect with us, by our social media. And you can do that by following and liking our pages on Twitter and Facebook our handler their @leadershiphacker. Instagram you can find us there @the_leadership_hacker and at YouTube, we are just Leadership Hacker, so that is me signing off. I am Steve Rush and I have been the leadership hacker.

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