Nancy Lewis – You Gotta Have Faith
If Nancy Lewis had to choose one word to sum up her success in business and in life, there’s no doubt what it would be: faith.
A native of Fort Wayne, Indiana, Nancy grew up as one of three sisters in a family led by a single mother. Her parents had divorced when she was young, but Nancy’s mother, Vixie, raised her daughters with strong values. “She was a disciplinarian and she made sure we knew the value of education,” Nancy recalls.
Vixie’s deep-seated spirituality also had a tremendous impact on Nancy’s upbringing. “She had strong moral values, always studying the Bible,” Nancy says. “Faith was the substance of our lives. She taught us that when things don’t work out, look to God.”
As a child, Nancy was quite outspoken and had a propensity for questioning authority, which “got me into trouble sometimes,” she admits with a laugh. She also loved being in the spotlight, and her high school and college activities included singing in talent shows, participating in beauty pageants, and modeling, which she enjoyed so much that she wanted to pursue it as a profession.
However, Vixie encouraged Nancy to go to college for a more stable career, and so she graduated with a B.S. from Indiana State University, becoming a Medical Technologist who specialized in the study of blood. But Nancy wasn’t content.
“I was a circle trying to fit into a square,” she recalls. “My job was too regimented, too structured.”
Nancy’s breakthrough occurred after she’d moved to Atlanta to work at Emory University Hospital, when one of her jobs entailed teaching bloodtyping to students. Being in front of the classroom tapped into her love of the spotlight, while sharing her knowledge unexpectedly brought her a level of fulfillment that she hadn’t experienced up to that point in her career.
“I believed in always moving forward, stretching and growing, and if you’re not happy with what you do, find something that brings you fulfillment,” she explains. “My philosophy grew into, don’t just think outside the box, throw the box away, because when you do you are forced to stretch yourself to new limits.”
Sensing that she’d found a career path that fit her perfectly, Nancy moved forward, becoming an instructor for Dale Carnegie Institute. There, she began to discover and develop her talents. “God had given me an anointing to engage people with energy and enthusiasm,” she explains. “I’ve always had the ability to get people to work with me, to engage me.”
She enrolled in Georgia State University for an M.S. in Urban and Public Affairs with a concentration in Human Resources, and soon her career in human resources training was well underway. She worked for numerous corporations, gaining valuable experience with various corporate climates and individuals. “I’m good at valuing people, helping companies leverage the talent of all the people to bring them together to make the organization better. I’m always looking for the strengths people have and pulling those strengths out,” says Nancy.
In 1996, when Nancy was working in the Human Resources department at Northwest Airlines, she decided that she wanted to start her own business as a motivational speaker and business coach. “I’d meet people at corporations, and these businesspeople would tell me that I needed to start my own business,” she explains. So she launched Progressive Techniques, Inc., choosing the motto “Developing a Better You!” to reflect her belief in the possibility of changing one’s life and career through positive thinking and taking action.
“Progressive Techniques provides motivational speaking, workshops and seminars and one-on-one business coaching to Fortune 100, Fortune 500, government agencies, academia, small businesses, and entrepreneurs,” Nancy explains. “Our topic areas are leadership, diversity, customer service, human resources, and personal enrichment. We work with organizations that want to expand and develop their people potential and people who want more fulfillment in their lives and careers.”
Not long after Progressive Techniques got off the ground, Nancy married her “biggest supporter and cheerleader,” Rev. Kevin E. Lewis. “I am so grateful to have him as my soulmate,” she says warmly.
Although Progressive Techniques has faced some challenges since its inception 14 years ago, particularly after 9/11 and the recent economic recession, Nancy stays positive and strong in her faith. “I’ve been creating collaborations, building partnerships with other business colleagues, and doing a lot more business development than ever before,” she explains, adding, “I am truly blessed to have a very supportive network of family, friends, and colleagues.”
Not surprisingly, Nancy values making a difference in the community, and she draws on her talent for mentoring others. Two years ago, she started a program called Divine Young Ladies: Changing Hearts to Change Lives. “We work with middle school girls who may be misdirected with behavior and attitudes issues,” Nancy explains. “My team of volunteers works to teach character development, self-esteem, and learning how to love the skin you are in.”
Although no two days are alike for Nancy, a typical day begins with prayer with Kevin, exercise, and then work—meetings, networking events, or client lunches. She’s often reaching out to her contacts, making phone calls for follow-up and business development, and oftentimes she works late into the night on client proposals and contracts.
For Nancy, having a deep-seated spirituality, just like her mother’s, allows for endless optimism. “With God, all things are possible,” she quotes, and she lives by those words.