Finding Our Pinnacles
By Leah Boltz, Principal, Marketing, Business Development, Community Outreach
“Leah lifts those around her to try harder, reach higher and be more. Her energy is contagious and limitless. It must be the runner athlete in her that fosters her goal setting, rigor to train to be better, and stamina to achieve what she sets out to do.”-Tracy Vanairsdale, president, Bettisworth North
Two great quotes that have guided my life are Walt Disney’s “If you can dream it, you can do it,” and one from a bracelet that was given to me when I left my first job in the AEC industry, “Decide your own destiny.”
I always felt I had a calling or greater purpose but struggled to pinpoint that purpose. Those of us in professional services marketing are surrounded every day by engineers, architects, interior designers, contractors, scientists, etc. who’ve known from childhood exactly who and what they were destined to be. I found myself envious of those who just knew what their pinnacles would be while I seemed to be endlessly wandering, searching for where I was supposed to end up.
I hope that by sharing my path and the lessons I learned along the way I will help others in similar positions find their own paths and purpose, to reach their peaks and pinnacles. My goal is to inspire others to believe in themselves and intentionally pursue leadership in their firms and communities.
Becoming a Fellow is an important milestone in my quest for lifelong self-improvement and achievement of what’s possible. (I tend to feel lost and listless without a goal in front of me.) One of my greatest passions is also elevating others to achieve their highest potential. This is what being a Fellow means to me—sharing, mentoring, inspiring, and growing the next leaders to decide their own destinies, appreciate their value, and create their own positive impacts on the world.
As a Fellow and chapter advisor for SMPS Alaska, I also hope to connect Alaskans in the industry with each other and with resources nationwide to help grow our industry and our firms here at home.
For the Society as a whole, I expect to continue contributing to and growing new initiatives to bring new resources to the organization to help us keep advancing the profession and people in it on a national and even global level. I have had the honor of working with teams of incredibly smart people and mentors I now call friends on many rewarding projects. These include:
1. Co-founding the new SMPS Alaska chapter in 2011 and continuing to foster it into a sustainable, award-winning chapter and outstanding resource, with nearly 70 members and a vision for future excellence.
2. Co-creating SMPS MAX (Market. Act. eXchange.), a TED-inspired program providing continued inspiration and marketing-led innovation for national, regional, and local AEC audiences and beyond. 25+ MAX Talks are available online, with more planned for Amplify AEC 2023.
3. Co-creating the Path to Principal program with SMPS Fellow Adam Kilbourne. This program began as a series of 12 interviews and a single presentation for the Heartland Region Conference. To achieve maximum value for the society, we are now growing this content into a mentorship program and mastermind group for aspiring principals. The program has brought live and virtual content from across the country to audiences through two regional conferences, one chapter presentation, a Marketer article, and a website and workbook (https://pathtoprincipal.com). The goal is to help grow the number of SMPS members becoming principals and elevate their firms to achieve their highest potential through marketing leadership.
The SMPS and the AEC industry have taught me that nothing great is fully achieved alone. (As an only child, it took me decades to learn that lesson!) Only through building deep connections, collaborating, sharing ideas with colleagues, and empowering others with skillsets far beyond my own have I been able to contribute to the Society and my company.
In 2012, I was fortunate to attend Presidents’ Leadership Symposium prior to my year as SMPS Alaska president. Our theme for the event was to find our “personal, positive, passions” and to help others find theirs as well. That experience started my SMPS network, gave me the tools to lead and empower others, and provided training that launched a shy, timid girl into a public speaker, thought leader, and a partner in my company (one of the few marketing professionals in the state to achieve this role). I believe wholeheartedly that I would have left the AEC industry had it not been for SMPS and that experience.
These SMPS experiences have also empowered me in personal growth and allowed me to connect the dots to benefit my firm, partners, employees, community, and family. The skills and network I gained drove me to lead Parks for All, a personal initiative (inspired by my daughter) to build Alaska’s first fully inclusive playgrounds for people of all abilities.
In 2018, I was honored to be selected as president of Anchorage Rotary Club, and I agreed to live by and foster Rotary International’s four-way test:
- Is it the TRUTH?
- Is it FAIR to all concerned?
- Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS?
- Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?
My goal as a Fellow is to employ these same principles in my professional life—to contribute to the greater good. It is my turn to pay it forward to SMPS and my fellow members for their roles in changing my life for the better. This Society helped me build my career and my community, and I look forward to sharing this experience with others, elevating professionals both young and seasoned to achieve their next pinnacles.