Susan Appleton, founder of Appleton Communication, uses her decades of experience in professional development to help aspiring executives and leaders understand and develop the soft skills of leadership.
"In my last position at the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, I developed a leadership development program," she said. "One of the things that a manager said was that it wasn’t just the depth of the curriculum and it wasn’t the challenge of overall program, but she felt like she was able to get to that next level and impact the agency because of the coaching. I helped her to define and identify skills she needed versus what she thought she needed. When she explained how that was impactful for her, that's when the real lightbulb came on for me. She said I wish I had this when I first started as a leader. I would have been so much further along. It is hearing those kinds of responses over the years and experiencing the growth of many leaders that helped me to know that soft skills leadership, coaching, and speaking is not just what I do but who I am.”
As a coach and speaker, Appleton focuses on increasing leadership capacity, expanding emotional intelligence and helping clients overcome the fear of public speaking.
"We focus on those key soft skills solutions that increase professional and personal value by building high-quality relationships essential for leadership success,” she explained. "I've been blessed to do leadership and soft skills development for the past 20 years and see the gaps that exist in how leadership skills impact not only individuals but also companies. I've seen the deficiencies live and in color. That was one reason I wanted to move beyond doing it on corporate level and use the system I've designed in the entrepreneurial world. The vision is to transform lives by educating and empowering everyone that I touch master the art of communication."
Appleton's advice for aspiring entrepreneurs is to start now, build a foundation and seek out mentors.
"Don’t wait to pursue your dream but set a firm foundation," she said. "Often we have this great idea and thing that we do really well and say I'll be an entrepreneur and teach people how to do this, but you haven't thought about how you'll do it. You have to know not just what you're going to empower others to do, but how you'll do it and who you'll do it for. Take time while you're moving forward to really define those things and set the foundation so you can be really effective as quickly as possible. Get a mentor and people in your circle who are already where you want to be and become a student."