If I had to name someone that best embodies That’s Pretty Powerful, I would choose Angella Nazarian. So I couldn’t be more thrilled to launch this Power Point interview series with her as the first profile. She exemplifies what it means to be both an accomplished career woman in LA and a person who puts civic responsibility high on her to-do list.
To call Angella Nazarian “accomplished” would be an understatement. She was a professor of Psychology and a faculty member at Mount Saint Mary’s College, California State University Long Beach, and Los Angeles Valley College for eleven years. She parlayed her skills as an educator and psychologist to create a multi-faceted program that educates and empowers women to be leaders. And in doing so, she has successfully conquered a multitude of different media platforms from traditional media to new media. When she’s not on local and national news channels touting the importance of women leadership, she’s writing books on female leaders, launching an app for personal development, and hosting women empowerment events for an organization she co-founded called WOMEN A.R.E. And she helps run Y&S Nazarian Family Foundation.
You may recognize her last name.The Nazarian family has built a prominent name in LA through a series of successful entrepreneurial endeavors. Her brother-in-law, Sam Nazarian, founded LA’s largest nightlife and hospitality company, SBE.
(Power Point): You are part of a close knit group of LA women who meet regularly to discuss a number of topics. What gets accomplished at these meetings? What do you take away from these meetings?
(Angella Nazarian): I believe in the power of relationships. It is through relationships that we learn about ourselves, find and give support for our growth, and discover new perspectives in life.
With this in mind, I first organized and facilitated women’s groups that met weekly for 6 years. There was a tremendous amount of bonding and deep appreciation for one another, although were a diverse group.
Two years ago, I took this vision and broadened the platform to include a wider network of female leaders in our community by co-founding WOMEN A.R.E.
WOMEN A.R.E. invites thought leaders from different disciplines to discuss relevant issues such as: business leadership, social entrepreneurship, education, the arts and sciences, and health and wellness. Our participants not only feel uplifted and inspired by hearing about other women’s journeys but also have the opportunity to meet other like-minded women. Many have reached out and provided support for various initiatives that have been discussed in the meetings, so having impact is a big motivator for us.
Angella Nazarian, Wallis Annenberg (philanthropist), and Willow Bay (director, USC School of Journalism) at a WOMEN A.R.E event
David and Angella Nazarian, Brian Grazer (tv and film producer), and Chelsea Handler (tv host and comedian) at WOMEN A.R.E Inaugural Summit
Jacqueline Novogratz (ceo, Acumen) and Angella Nazarian at WOMEN A.R.E Salon Series
(PP): What recommendations do you have for women who want to create their own close knit support group? What key points do you recommend considering when starting a group?
(AN): From my experience, the composition of a group and the way in which we communicate its mission play a big role in its long-term dynamics. By having a clear mission, one can attract a group of members who share the same general goals and values—which is essential. Also, having a diverse group of members from different fields and backgrounds brings a great deal of energy and discussion to an organization. Finally, it is important that we set a particular emotional tone to these meetings, where people feel that they are truly benefiting from the experience. I always encourage feedback from participants and refine strategies as we grow.
(PP): What common traits did you find in the female leaders you researched for your book, Pioneers of the Possible?
(AN): The key ingredients for successful leadership has always fascinated me. This was in fact the catalyst for the intense research and interviewing I did on the lives of noble laureates, activists, and trail blazing women leaders for my book, “Pioneers of the Possible”.
What became apparent is that the most effective women are not perfect, and they are not bothered by this either. As a matter of fact, they instinctively concentrate on their strengths and talents and build a life and career around these strengths. How liberating and validating it is not too put too much emphasis on our weakness.
Also, many of these women did not start out knowing what they were going to do for the rest of their lives. Many started in completely different fields and had pivot points at different stages of their work. I must add though, they were all committed to following an often times ambiguous path that fulfilled them in the deepest sense.
Finally, what I discovered is that truly successful leaders are relationship builders and affect change in the world with the support of others who buy into their vision.
Pioneers of the Possible
(PP): I find it interesting that you recommend we demystify the essence of leadership. What do you mean by this?
(AN): In my decade long research on leadership, I can safely say that there is a leader within all of us. Leadership is not just about running multinational organizations or leading countries. It is not about being an extrovert either. Leadership is about bringing our most authentic and passionate selves to our lives and affecting change one person at a time. That is why I created My Personal Coach App…an App that assesses your strengths and engages you in daily challenges and inspirations
My Personal Coach App
My Personal Coach App
(PP): You are a “Pioneer of the Possible” in your own right. You have an impressive list of accomplishments both personally and professionally and have made contributions on both a local and global level. What do you suggest for people who may think your level of growth and success are beyond their reach?
(AN): Believe it or not, I never knew in my 20’s that I would be involved in such exciting projects myself. There have been a good many “pinch me” moments because even now there is a part of me that is still that wide-eyed 11 year-old girl. I believe that comparing ourselves, our needs and goals with others seems to be one of the surest ways of feeling “less than”. We all should nurture a sense of possibility for ourselves and our growth, knowing that each of us can make a unique contribution.
Seeking out mentors and spending time with people who you admire is a good way for us to get a jump-start on our path. Many doors open for us when we have the courage to take that first difficult step toward our goals. I often ask women “what would you do if you weren’t afraid to fail?”
(PP): I downloaded your app My Personal Coach and I took the personality test. I’m turning the questions on you now. Do you prefer your day to be routine or do you try to keep it spontaneous? While we’re on the subject of your personal life, what’s an average day like for you? What keeps you centered and grounded? How do you recharge?
(AN): I do tend to keep good amount of structure to my days, because it is the only way I can fit my priorities during the week. Just imagine, I could never write a book if I did not block out a significant amount of hours to doing research and writing. I try not to plan too much during the weekend so that I can have a sense of space and openness in my schedule. Going to galleries and artists’ studios is a highlight for me and keeps me inspired and happy on weekends.
During the week, I wake up at around 6am. It is the best time for me to read and write with no interruptions. After a breakfast with David, my husband, I usually schedule in my dance classes two to three times a week. Since I know I am not gym person, I have incorporated dancing as a way to keep fit.
I tend to spend the rest of the day working on the various projects— whether it is my non-profit, Looking Beyond, or organizing the details of the next women’s salon. As we all know, so much work goes into bringing great speakers and collaborating with our sponsors. I do quite a bit of speaking at conferences, so I am constantly working on new topics to discuss with my audience.
Evenings are spent with family and friends, which is one of the ways I recharge.
I know that my schedule will be more flexible when the kids come home from college in the summer. I will be ending my days earlier and blocking out time to spend time with them and travel— but nevertheless I will have an eye on my deadlines! We all juggle so much, but this is the blessing of having fullness in our lives.
(PP): You’re a woman always on the move. What’s next for you? What do you hope to accomplish in the next year? Over the next 3-5 years?
(AN): I am incredibly excited about writing about another group of 20 visionary women around the world. The research phase is coming to an end, and I will be writing the book this year. I have already uncovered more nuggets of wisdom to share with my readers.
I hope to establish a non-profit around supporting women’s thought leadership programs and initiatives. I truly believe that our voice and power is magnified when we engage others in our vision. I hope that in the next couple of years this non-profit plays a significant role in empowering other women and girls.
To learn more about Angella Nazarian, you can visit http://angellanazarian.com/