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Spoiler alert – I’m a Kat Cole fan, and have been for some time…. So if I sound a bit like a sycophant… well, you’ve been warned. If you weren’t in the room when Kat took the stage, do yourself a favor and don’t let that happen again. There were so many lessons and incredible takeaways, not only from Kat’s experiences in business, but her experiences in life.

That’s one of the things I most respect about her. She shares both personal and professional stories because if you’re always open to learning, there are lessons to be taught from the most unexpected places.

Kat spoke candidly about her family growing up. When her parents divorced, she asked her mom, “What took you so long?” Her father was an alcoholic and her mother wanted better for Kat and her sisters. Kat recognized the need to leave before her mother may have, because the people closest to the action know what the right thing is to do, far sooner than others may know.

How many times have you seen a solution to something because you were the closest to the action? Have you ever missed an opportunity to make positive change because you weren’t tuned in to the people closest to the action? I would wager to guess your answer to both questions is, “yes.” We’ve all had experiences on both sides of this situation.

The key is to stay close to the action. Compress the time that it takes for everyone to realize that things need to change. And if you stay close to the action, then it’s your responsibility to take action. Staying with the status quo doesn’t work.

1404845804-how-kat-cole-went-from-hooters-girlThis is just one of the lessons Kat shared when she took the stage. She’s lived a really incredible life with lots of experiences. The important piece is that she learned from each of those experiences and made those lessons a part of her journey moving forward. We all have the opportunity to lead a life filled with curiosity, learning and constant improvement. Kat inspired me to look at my own life’s journey and the stories I’ve collected. There are more lessons there than I realized.

Above all, Kat’s story and her leadership path are uniquely her own. She didn’t follow any set formula and frankly did a lot of things that were probably considered to be a bit unorthodox. But she got results and kept improving. It takes strong women to break the “rules” and have the courage to use her voice to ask, “If not me, who? If not now, when?” She is an example of what it means to truly change the face of leadership in this country, not only as a woman but as a proponent of conscious capitalism and doing business differently.