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Ashley Weisman of GreenLight Solutions

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Influential Women in Business Talk: “Good Girls” Don’t Make History In This Conversation Between GreenLight Solutions’ Ashley Weisman and LocalFi’s Kim Coates

We are so excited & humbled to introduce you to Ashley Weisman, a true leader and creator, whose journey to entrepreneurship is nothing short of remarkable. As the Executive Director of GreenLight Solutions, a nonprofit dedicated to sustainability, Ashley has made significant strides in both local and international sustainability projects. Today, she shares her story, insights, and the impact of her work with LocalFi’s COO Kim Coates.

Kim: What was the event that caused you to realize that you wanted to be an entrepreneur?

Ashley: This is a difficult one because I don’t think there was ever a conscious moment. I think when all of my classmates started applying for jobs a year before we graduated grad school, I just never got on that bandwagon. I didn’t see that as my path.

I always found myself as a natural leader in various settings, and always as a creator. So even when I didn’t know what I wanted to do, I knew I wanted to create something. I was up for that challenge.

At that time, I’d been a student member of GreenLight Solutions since 2016, from student Solutioneer, to Project Lead, to the very first intern working with the Founders, then as the first paid staff member. So after graduation, I could either go off and start my own path, or stay with GLS and bring our vision to reality. I chose to build the nonprofit and I’m so happy I did!

Kim: Can you tell me the details about what you do in GreenLight Solutions and what you’re an expert in… What are you known for?

Ashley: I got my Master’s in sustainability and now I lead GreenLight Solutions as its Executive Director. GreenLight is a nonprofit organization where we do sustainability projects locally and internationally. We help students launch their sustainability careers and businesses go green.

We’re making sustainability inclusive to the local business community, but then also filling the gaps in the marketplace for students to be able to get careers in sustainability. It’s very humbling to be able to give passionate people a platform, and the training, to be able to make a positive impact in sustainability.

Kim: That’s exciting! I’m curious though… Why did you want to get your Masters in Sustainability? What was the driving force and passion behind that choice?

Ashley: One part of my life that really sparked my passion for sustainability is being certified in scuba diving since I was twelve years old. Diving is life changing; it’s the ultimate way to be connected to nature. When I went scuba diving in Jamaica, I had dived the same reef a few years apart. When I returned to the reef, I was devastated to find it bleached and lifeless. The stark contrast was a painful reminder of how quickly our planet is changing. This experience, coupled with witnessing the dramatic effects of climate change in my own home state of Arizona, was really a wake-up call for me. These realities are impossible to ignore, and they fuel my passion for making a positive impact through sustainability initiatives.

Also, not many people know this, but I actually started college as a voice performance major. I was singing, songwriting, acting, and modeling for many years. When I was a freshman in college, I took a course in public speaking as a general education requirement. My professor talked about sustainability, the three pillars of sustainability (People, Planet, Profit), and the different careers in the field. I changed my major the following semester! He had a huge impact on where I am and what I’m doing now.

I was always connected to nature and felt compelled to do my part to make the world a better place. I found myself writing speeches about environmentalism, like I wanted to use my performance platform to use my voice for not only singing, but for change. So when I was exposed to the sustainability field, everything clicked. It wasn’t until years later that I realized how rehearsing was like pulling teeth for me, but now doing what I do, you can’t pull me away from my work; so I made the right choice! I still sing daily, but I think it was always meant to just be a hobby for me.

I was always passionate about the environmental movement. I just didn’t realize that I could do it for a living… that I could make this my life’s passion and my life’s work.

Kim: If people want to learn more, work with you, or get involved with GreenLight Solutions, what is the best way to contact you?

Ashley: You can contact GreenLight Solutions at GLSolutions.org. There are many ways to get involved at the individual and business levels.

For Organizations: Project Partners

Organizations can be Project Partners with GreenLight Solutions. If you are a small to medium business, and you’re passionate about sustainability, we understand that you may not have the bandwidth. You don’t have a sustainability department; you don’t have a sustainability manager.

GreenLight Solutions will give you a team of passionate, innovative students to help you meet your sustainability goals. You can partner with a Student-Led Sustainability Project team to help you implement sustainability practices in your business.

Green Events Services

We also have our Green Events Services, where event producers and venues bring us in to maximize the waste diversion for their events. This is currently only in Arizona, but it can be for an event with 50 to 50,000 people, and we customize our services for each event. We’ll do the recycling, composting, waste sorting, bin guarding, food donations; the list goes on.… Over the past two years, we’ve been able to divert 28 tons from the landfill!

Volunteer & Donate

You can also mentor students if you’re passionate about giving some time to young professionals, and you can also donate and be a part of the impact that way. Donations make our impact possible!

You can donate to help support GreenLight’s mission here: glsolutions.org/contribute.

Kim: Can you share what kind of impact GreenLight Solutions has been able to make over the years?

Ashley: I’m proud to share that over the past decade, GreenLight Solutions has trained 370 students and implemented 90 sustainability projects.

With our Green Event Services, we’ve diverted 28 tons from the landfill in just two years! That means over 80 tons of greenhouse gasses have been prevented.

With our Student-Led Sustainability Projects, 90% of our alum say that GreenLight is their number one talking point in interviews. It’s the reason why they get their first jobs. Many sustainability jobs need a few years experience, so our alum are able to get these jobs right out of college because many of them have four years of experience in GreenLight projects. GLS alum get that competitive advantage.

Kim: Thanks for sharing a little bit about GreenLight! I’m going to switch gears to pick your entrepreneur brain and ask you, if you could teach just one lesson to female entrepreneurs, what would that lesson be and why? What have you gained from that lesson?

Ashley: Good girls don’t make history. We are taught as we grow up to be polite, to raise our hands, to not disrupt, go for the white picket fence…

It’s important to own your space and to own your voice and to have the confidence to fail because you’re going to fail over and over… and to have grace for yourself to continue down that journey and have confidence in everything that you say and do.

Kim: Wow..that’s powerful!

Ashley: Absolutely. I believe it’s interesting, though. I’ve seen such a gap in not only how men and women are treated in the professional field, but also sometimes in how they’re subconsciously viewed.

I think that as long as you come into a room, you have clarity, you have a vision, you have a plan on how to get there, and you’re firm, then you have nothing to worry about. Just stand your ground. Own your space. Own your voice. Own your seat at the table.

Kim: It is interesting to just recognize even in today’s age, we still have these subconscious societal biases. In your experience, what unique strengths or perspectives do you feel women bring to the world of entrepreneurship? And how have these strengths influenced your journey?

Ashley: I think every woman brings her unique strengths to the table. Just owning that unique strength is crucial, which could be communication skills or emotional intelligence.

For me, I feel that I bring a kind of maternal leadership into an organization. I’m the org cheerleader for everyone in our organization. I always say that if I’m leading and I can help everyone in the org reach their full potential, while serving our org mission, then I’ve done my job. I think that unselfish ways of leading are unique to women in business.

Kim: What’s one habit that you’ve developed that’s made a really big impact on your success?

Ashley: Prioritization. I ask myself, what are the three things that can move the needle for our organization today? Then, I prioritize and get those three things done, instead of the 20 things on the list.

I used to just get the 20 things done and then I would wonder why we’re not advancing as an organization. It’s all about the progress towards the guidepost that you’re working towards… the five year goal, the ten year goal.

Kim: That’s pretty spot on. Isaac and I teach our team a similar habit as well: If you can get just one thing done today that would make you feel like this day has been super productive, what would it be? Then, do it.  

So let me dig a little deeper: We talked about habits, and you talked about prioritizing. Do you have a system that you use to identify the top three most important things to move the needle?

Ashley: I used to do traditional strategic planning where you’d have your annual goals, but that was not iterative enough. As a business owner, you know that the current state of the org changes monthly, if not daily; so the goals and the strategy also need to change constantly throughout the year. Orgs look so different by the end of the year, so the traditional ‘annual strategic plan’ often gets put on a shelf.

So instead of the traditional strategic planning, I have 60-day cycles. For the 60-day cycle, I’ll have main goals. Then I will have two-week sprints to make sure that I’m achieving consistent progress. This also narrows my focus, and helps you to understand what you and your team can actually get done in two weeks, or if you’re being unrealistic about your goals and taking on too much.

You also need to understand what’s realistic for you as a human when you’re trying to have a work-life balance. That’s been a big pivot for me because I used to set too many goals, too many priorities…This system has really helped me to prioritize.

Kim: So what are one or two of the most impactful books that you’ve read that you would recommend to any entrepreneur?

Ashley: It’s High Performance Habits by Brendon Burchard. I love not only his book, but his podcast and app. His app also has the Daily Fire, which is a short pep talk everyday to help you get you in the right headspace.

His whole business is based around studying the most successful people in the world, whether it’s in business, a highly successful mother, an athlete – anything.

The habits of these people look the same. And the most successful people in the world aren’t just born with this ability to have these habits. That’s a myth that needs to be busted. Success comes with a set of habits that anyone can learn.

Brendon talks about necessity, necessity being that obsession with becoming the best that you can be at whatever you’re doing. Energy, clarity, productivity, influence, courage. These are all the different kinds of topics that he talks about and the skills that you need to learn.

Kim: If you want to connect with this powerful woman in business, Ashley Weisman, connect with her on LinkedIn or get involved with her company, GreenLight Solutions by visiting their website:

Ashley Weisman: https://www.linkedin.com/in/awsustainabilitycatalyst/ 

GreenLight Solutions: http://glsolutions.org/ 

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