Women2watch interview: Heather Harris
Who are you, what do you do, and for whom do you do it?
I grew up in Cincinnati and attended Wyoming High School. After WHS, I went to Denison University and played soccer and basketball there — I actually still hold the soccer record for most career goals — and graduated from in 1994. After Dennison, I moved to New York City and spent 20 years in Manhattan running brands or segments of brands, including Calvin Klein handbags and jeans, Chaps Men’s, and Donna Karan intimates. In 2015, my husband and our three children moved back to my home town of Cincinnati, OH. That same year, I took the role of President of CycleBar Franchising; the following year I was inducted into my high school’s Hall of Fame. Now that’s what you call coming full circle!
How did you get to where you are now?
This may be an unusual answer, but I credit fear and obsession with getting me where I am! By that I mean, that I have a fear of failure that ended up working to my advantage by motivating me.
Growing up, expectations of me were always high — even though I never realized it. I thought the anxiety building in me was normal. My young life was busy; people (coaches, friends, my teammates) all depended on me. I was always worried to let them down, so I put pressure on myself in the hope that that would not happen. I’ve also carried the weight of other people’s expectations, too: whether it was being on the homecoming court, making the varsity teams, being prom queen, or (later) meeting business objectives.
Once you show a consistent, positive trend in an area, it’s easy for people expect you to continue on that trajectory without failure. Additionally, my competitive nature meant I simply hated losing — even though now I realize I’ve learned more from my loses than my wins. So, I continually worked harder and harder.
Why do you do what you do?
What’s my driving force? Passion and purpose are my “why” in a society that highlights and rewards pure participation In the game of life, you either win or you lose. And there should be nothing wrong with wanting to win! We either win as parents, or we lose; we win in our marriages, or we lose; we win in our business or we lose. We should all want to win, but even when we don’t, we can always take a lesson from the experience. One of my favorite all time quotes is from Nelson Mandela: “I never lose. I either win or learn”.
Being a girl from Cincinnati and landing in the heart of NYC, there were definitely some challenges I had to overcome to achieve my goals! The biggest one was fear. Many of us struggle with fear. Fear is undeniable. What I learned is that living with fear is normal — we all have it. Being truly fearless means living with fear everyday and having (sometimes serious) doubts, but still moving forward to achieve your goals. That’s being fearless, and it’s something we all can achieve.
What’s your advice to aspiring Women2Watch?
I’ve been sharing this advice for years, and I truly mean it. Simply put, it is this: Empower. Give forward. Mentor. And don’t forget to take time for yourself. As a busy working mother of 3, I know firsthand that we woman always put ourselves last. In my family we say that if mom isn’t healthy, neither is the family. I offer a friendly reminder to all women out there, regardless of who or what you nurture in your day-to-day life. Taking time for yourself is one of the most important life lessons.
Inspiring words. Thanks Heather!
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