By Shelby Deering | Photographed by Kaia Calhoun


IT SEEMS APPROPRIATE that leadership coach and motivational speaker Susan Young recently relocated to Madison from the Sunshine State. After meeting her, the first impression inevitably will be that Young is a breath of fresh air.

And that’s an apt description, too, of the changes she helps her clients make. Groups large and small from around the country call Young to help them break free of personal challenges and grow exponentially.

Young called the beaches of Destin, Florida, her home for more than 15 years until she started a new life here with her partner Daniel, a chiropractor.

“Madison is such a wonderful, amazing city, and there are so many opportunities here,” she says.

Her life in Florida was very different from the one she leads today. She had a booming real estate career and lived in a million-dollar waterfront home with her husband and two children. But she couldn’t shake the feeling that she was meant for something else.

“I became involved with a youth program, and I was one of their annual speakers every year to empower young people with leadership skills. I loved doing that so much, but I was busy making money in real estate and I didn’t pursue my real calling for speaking and training,” Young says.

In 1997, Young got the opportunity that jump started her speaking career. She was asked to co-host a statewide television talk show that was similar in format to “”The View.”

“It helped me to start finding my voice, that I had an opinion that mattered and was valuable,” she says.

But she still felt that she hadn’t reached her full potential. As the millennium came to a close, Young began to feel burned out in her life and her career. After moving to the beach to try to be a stay-at-home mom, she still felt a longing for something more, ‘That’s when she founded a nonprofit through which she developed programs for children, and her passion to help others grew into a successful speaking career.

Although Young has experienced her fair share of challenges—the loss of her father to cancer, her marriage ending and raising two children and an adopted teenage nephew alone while pursuing her master’s degree—Young now draws upon those experiences to create the content of her speeches and empathize with her audiences.

Young has presented to and created training programs for large corporations like McDonald’s, Sandals, Morgan Stanley, and Northwestern Mutual. She believes that all of her work matters if she can simply improve the life of just one person.

“If I was speaking to 300 people, 500 people, 1,000 people, and I changed one life for the better, it was worth it,” she says.

Young’s colleague Tina Hallis, a former biotech scientist reinvented as a positive psychology speaker and entrepreneur, has nothing but glowing things to say about her friend.

“Susan is an incredibly giving and outgoing person. She is always amazingly friendly and helpful, on the stage and off. She is one of those truly heartfelt, generous people who is super-optimistic and upbeat. She is a super-fun and dynamic speaker who shares from her heart. I love to watch her in action.”

“That action includes completing three motivational books which will be released in 2016 — “Let’s Goal Girls,” “Shift, Shed & Shine” and “”The Art of First Impressions for Positive Impact.”

“I can create a life to be anything I want it to be. It’s been my lifetime dream to be an international world changer, speaker and author,” Young says.

And it looks like she’s well on her way to doing just that.

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