Q&A With the Founder
Sheri West has over 20 years of executive finance and leadership development experience. Her education includes a BA Finance and Masters of Human Resources and Leadership Development from Michigan State University. Ms. West spent 15 years as a finance executive at General Electric Co., a $117 billion global company (NYSE: GE) where she was actively involved in the GE Women’s Network as a mentor. Four years ago, she founded LiveGirl to “pay it forward” and prepare the next generation of female leaders. Last year, LiveGirl had over 700 girls enrolled in its free of charge programs. She is married with three children (ages 17, 14, and 11) and lives in New Canaan, Connecticut, where she has served on the New Canaan Public Schools Board of Education for five years.
Question: What advice would you give your middle school self about confidence?
Aspire to be one of a kind, not one of many. The teen years are difficult, navigating middle school and trying to figure out where you fit in. I remember the pressure to conform. And LiveGirl has shown me how vulnerable middle school girls are today as they face adolescent pressures amplified by social media. My advice to my middle school self: “Be you! Believe in yourself!” It is empowering to let go of the fear and the “what if’s” and channel your positive energy to rule the world!
Question: What is one of your favorite family traditions?
Family dinners. On Sunday nights,we power down all of the devices, make a delicious home-cooked meal (My favorite is tacos!), and we eat and TALK. We talk about our roses & thorns, we talk about current events, and we talk about the week coming up. Then, we play a family board game or card game. (Up & Down The River and Euchre are family favorites.) We all look forward to this special family bonding time.
At LiveGirl we teach our girls the importance of accepting oneself even when you don’t feel so sparkly … Question: How do you respond when you receive a compliment?
A compliment is a gift! I let it wash over me and fully embrace the positivity. And then, I pass it on! #PassOnPositivity
We believe pursing a passion is a great way to build confidence for girls … Question: If you had free time to pursue a “passion project” what would it be?
Girl empowerment IS my passion project. It is an especially important time to empower our girls to rule the world. I enjoy reading about “makers”, girls and women who inspire the world, and I enjoy being a positive force in girl culture and mentoring girls.
An important skill we teach our girls is how to identify how she feels about a situation and ask for what she needs to make it better … Question: How good are you at communicating what you feel and asking for what you need with others?
(I think) I’m pretty good. I would say that I understand the value of social emotional intelligence and strive to label and express my feelings. I recently heard a talk by Dr. Mark Brackett (Yale University) and he introduced me to his Mood Meter app (where you chart and journal your emotions), which I have begun using.
Question: Social Media … Love it or Hate it?
Love it! Social Media is like Spiderman’ssuperpowers ... with great power, comes great responsibility. So, it’s important to use social media responsibly! But I love being able toconnect and build community with my LiveGirls on social media. I also love the ability to pass on positivity and inspiration @goLiveGirl. Also, I curate my feeds so they inspire ME! Some of my favorite follows are @Time @GirlsWhoCode @AMightyGirl
Question: What do you do to help balance your digital life and you’re your “real life”? Any tips to share?
Put down the phone! And talk to my kids! (ps. My tip is to actually “power down” your device, so you’re not tempted!)
Question: When you look out into the world, who do you see as great role models for girls?
Great question! I admire Amy Poehler and the Smart Girls community that she is fostering. She is providing an important voice right now during these turbulent, political times. And I admire Serena Williams and Beyonce for their fierceness and confidence to excel on their own terms.
We teach girls to embrace making mistakes … Question: Can you think of a mistake that you made that led to great things – an important learning or a new direction?
It’s more of a failure than a mistake, but I was cut from my high school softball team and I was DEVASTATED. But it forced me to try some new things (I eventually found track & field) and it also taught me the resilience to pick myself up and try harder!
Question: Do you have any tips for pushing through fear?
Face the fear! Realize that the uncomfortable feeling in your gut is there because you are putting yourself out there, being brave, and on your way to kicking butt!! Embrace the feeling as a rite of growing as a leader!!