By Hywania Thompson | Photographed by Kaia Calhoun
Susan Young says she was born with a servant’s heart and loves making a positive impact on the world. “It’s easier for me to give than to receive,” says Young.
And she lives up to it. Young doesn’t hesitate to support others. Whether it’s mentoring, planning friends’ birthday parties or helping someone in need, she’s there. “Every ounce of that woman thrives in bringing beauty to this world,” says Cheri Neal. Neal met Young at the National Speakers Association— Wisconsin Chapter and sought out Young as a mentor. Neal says her life has transformed in the three years she’s known Young—a speaker, author and founder of Susan Young International. She helps companies and organizations create positive change for positive impact.
Young spent many years working in real estate in Florida before retiring in her late 30s to become a full-time mom. While raising her children, she created self- esteem programs to empower children for success. Young designed 12 different trainings and received corporate sponsorships to put her program in schools. Then a Fortune 300 company recruited her to be an agency manager. Young began giving talks to law firms, title companies and others, using her speaking as a marketing tool to grow her territory. This work was a natural fit for Young, who says she’s been studying self-help and personal development for 40 years. “It’s always been a great passion of how we can live our best lives,” she says. In 2000, Young decided to start her company and began speaking full time.
When Young moved to Madison five years ago, she didn’t know anyone. As she began making friends, Young says she not only wanted to make a positive first impression, but also thought about what impressions folks were making on her. “When you make a fantastic first impression, you have the opportunity to create amazing friends,” Young says. Young began to notice why some people impress us and some don’t. She says she took a deep dive into this, which she breaks down in her book, “The Art of First Impressions for Positive Impact.” In the book, Young provides eight strategies to make great first impressions and foster strong, trusting relationships. “The number eight is infinity, it’s all encompassing,” says Young, “so is the art of first impressions for positive impact.”
Young doesn’t just speak on the value of being positive and changing your mindset, she lives it. Neal says she’s seen Young hit by some of the most debilitating circumstances. “The way she handles life, she is always looking for how to make it better, not wallowing in the ‘why me’s,’” says Neal. “The joy that comes from thinking of others instead of yourself makes life so much more flavorful,” Neal says of what we can learn from Young.
Young is driven by connection. “When I feel connected with others authentically, with love and respect, that gives me great fulfillment,” Young says. “When I’m connected, all things in life work better.”
Let Susan Young walk you through the eight strategies for making a positive first impression at BRAVA’s THRIVE Career Workshop Nov. 20, 8 a.m.–noon at the Promega BTC Center in Fitchburg. Register here.