Letter to My Younger Self: Amy Simmons
The powerhouse behind Amy’s Ice Creams, Amy Simmons, turned her sweet tooth into one of the largest ice-cream-parlor chains in Texas. If given the chance, here’s what she would tell her younger self.
Dear young(er) Amy,
I would like to congratulate you on a few things from the future! Way to go in trusting your affinity for schlepping ice cream and diverting from your degree path to pursue this adventure. I commend you for taking risks when you were young, for moving around the country and for collecting experiences.
Cheers to moving to Texas with no money, believing you could start a company before your frontal lobe was fully engaged. Way to question why instead of merely reacting to our country’s quest for exponential rapid growth. Congratulations on finding such an incredible city to plop down in with insanely creative and smart people. I think you should be proud George Bush affectionately called your company “irreverent” (perhaps not for the incident that precipitated such praise).
Your unyielding belief in people turns out to be a strength too, even if you get dinged now and again. Who knew a career as an entrepreneur would turn out to be a perfect match for you in ways you may not have anticipated? You will get to dabble in so many fascinating academic areas: law, marketing, graphic design, architecture, the psychology of motive and motivation, real estate, negotiation, accounting and finance. You will never be bored. You will always be working, but on the flip side, you will have tremendous flexibility, which turns out to be great for raising a family. You will be around young, creative minds that, though at times are frustrating, keep you on your toes. I am so glad you didn’t succumb to the misconception that the ice-cream company wasn’t “academic” enough. Your mom hiding Atlas Shrugged in your bookshelf, in retrospect, was fortuitous. It is up to you what role the company can play in your life, customers’ lives, employees’ lives and the lives of those in your community. You may not be able to see the big picture, but kudos on trusting your gut.
So, now that you think you’re “all that,” I’ve got some advice and a few warnings for you too:
Have a little more self-confidence, girl! Recognize the difference between pride and arrogance. Don’t worry about being different. In fact, embrace it, own it and capitalize on it! That is what makes you unique. That is what differentiates you and your approach to business. Trust yourself.
The fact that you had an unusual and bumpy childhood gave you insight into “the human condition.” This is priceless. Our self-confidence as women is so fragile. Find strength in your uniqueness.
You always treasured your parents, but maybe step back a bit on the judgment. It will bite you in the ass when you raise your own children.
You cannot be excellent at everything you do all the time. Take heed of the advice you will receive in your admission interview to the University of Texas’ Executive MBA program: The biggest problem entrepreneurs have is that you are used to being excellent. You will not be able to be an excellent daughter, partner, friend, entrepreneur and student all at the same time. Something will give, and it’s OK. Just remember to prioritize and prioritize daily.
You will find incredible freedom when you realize you don’t have to have all the answers. You are way ahead if you are asking the right questions.
Do not be intimidated by the language of finance. It turns out to be basic addition, subtraction and occasionally division.
Nobody was born knowing what EBITDA is.
Stop writing important notes on corners of tiny pieces of paper. They get lost.
Relax a bit and trust that your future will be co-created with the universe.
You will never be entirely in charge. It is better that way.
Don’t waste time feeling guilty. Try your best every day.
Honor people where they are. Revel in our differences. Partnerships are hard.
You are lucky to live in a town with great academic institutions. Use them. Do not underestimate Austin Community College.
Remember, life is a voyage, not a destination.
If you expect every day to be problem-free, you are going to be sadly disappointed. Define yourself as a problem-solver early. That way, you will love getting up every day because there is no shortage of problems to be solved.
And finally, don’t wait until tomorrow to look back with gratitude. Feel it today: gratitude for your family, gratitude for your community and gratitude for all the variables that make you, you.