Amie Palffy of Skylight speaks at the CSU Alumni Association Women’s Leadership Symposium


By Amie Palffy, CFP®, ChFC®, CLTC, senior partner at Skylight Financial Group

I was recently asked how it felt being a panellist at the CSU Alumni Association Women’s Leadership Symposium and I was eager to share as I gushed about what a wonderful event it was and how it left me feeling empowered and re-energized.

The reality, is that it’s not often that I get to meet and chat with a wonderful bunch of empathetic, like-minded female entrepreneurs and this was so refreshing in itself.  I spend so much of my time in a male-dominated world, with a small pool of women to grow with, that at times it can feel a little bit isolating. What I found is that I have so much in common with this amazing group of female leaders and it’s a great reminder that there are others out there who live like me.  They too, have crazy busy lives juggling the demands of their job while raising young children. They understand how chaotic life can be with so many things to squeeze into a day - everything from work, to getting uniforms ready, meals made, chores, homework, and after-school activities. (It’s good to know I’m not the only person who has no time to turn on a TV!) And they manage to do this while excelling in leadership positions.  I have a lot of respect for that.

What also struck me about our panel discussion (I was part of the Upstarts and Start-ups) was that we were all basically sending out the same message to budding entrepreneurs.  Our message was simple – if you want something, then just do it.  We all agreed that to be a successful entrepreneur you need to take chances, be open-minded, and understand that whatever happens you’ll learn from it.  Having the right mind-set and attitude is crucial.  We were united in our view that failure wasn’t a bad thing.  In fact, when we shared our stories there was so much commonality. We had all taken risks, had negative times, been naïve, but we soon learned how to laugh at ourselves, learn from our experiences and in the end we triumphed.  So for the “I can’t do this because…..” type questions which came from the audience, our collective response was to say that if you really want something then you have to go for it and find out.

Another big take away for our panel discussion was the need for entrepreneurs to find themselves a mentor.  I’m a huge advocate of mentoring so I wasn’t surprised to see that during the symposium I was quoted on social media as saying “Be authentic in who you are and what you are looking for.  Don’t be afraid to say “I need a mentor”.”  These words most likely rolled right off my tongue as it’s a piece of advice I regularly pass on to entrepreneurs starting out at Skylight as financial planners. For anyone considering entrepreneurship, I think that to be successful that they have to understand, and then live out, the difference between ownership and responsibility.  If they want to build their own business they need to take ownership and be their own person.  Nobody is going to tell them “how” to do it.  That said, mentors play a vital role in giving advice and direction.  I’ve seen some entrepreneurs who are so strong-willed and single-minded that they may shy away from engaging with a mentor or are too afraid to show any weakness and ask for help. Yet it makes total sense to learn from those who are already successful and there’s so much to gain.

At Skylight, for example, we offer extensive support and guidance (everything from structured training, experienced mentors, marketing and personal career development) to entrepreneurial financial planners just starting out.  We set out to create an environment whereby they can be their own boss but not feel alone.  In the early days what I typically see is that it takes new starts a little time to figure out who to ask for help and resources.  This is fine and to be expected.  In fact, finding a mentor needs to come together naturally and organically as it’s important that they find a mentor who is the right fit.  Typically this is someone they respect and someone who is interested in getting to know and understand them.  Then when they find that right person, they need to be authentic and genuine about what they need and are hoping to achieve.  My view is that this will set them off on a solid footing on their journey to becoming a successful business owner.

It was an honor to be part of the Women’s Leadership Symposium and thanks so much to the CSU Alumni Association for inviting me.  It was great to meet with so many inspiring local female leaders and engage in thought-provoking dialogue.  I hope with my renewed sense of energy that I, and my fellow female leaders and future leaders, can live up to the symposium’s theme of “Be Amazing”.

Amie joined the financial services industry in 2001 and serves as a financial planner and senior partner with Skylight Financial Group. She is dedicated to working to develop and impact the growth of other financial planners within the firm.  Amie was recognized by Inside Business Magazine and the Cleveland Professional 20/30 Club as one of the qualifiers for the 2008 Movers and Shakers- Top 25 under 35 Award and has received many other professional honors both locally and nationally.

Amie L. Palffy is a registered representative of and offers securities, investment advisory and financial planning services through MML Investors Services, LLC. Member
SIPC. OSJ: 2012 W. 25th Street, Suite 900, Cleveland, OH 44113. 216-621-5680.

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