Brittany Franklin, founder and CEO of Sky High For Kids, a nonprofit dedicated to ending pediatric cancer, shares how strong leaders slow down to learn and empower others.
From Pageant to Nonprofit
Brittany grew up on a rice and crawfish farm outside of Lafayette, Louisiana. Since day one, she has had an excellent work ethic and a strong sense of responsibility. Putting one foot in front of the other is the stuff Brittany’s life is made of.
She had no idea at the time, but Brittany’s journey as an entrepreneur began when she entered a local cattle festival pageant in high school and won. The winners were expected to give back to their community, and Brittany became involved in fundraising for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital and Ronald McDonald House. That experience put a fire in her belly to make a difference in the world.
Today, Brittany’s nonprofit revolves around the question: What do we have to invest in to help kids battle cancer?
Leadership Means All Hands on Deck
Strong leaders aren’t created in a vacuum — they themselves are products of good leadership. Brittany attests to this, highlighting a few excellent leadership examples in her life, including her pageant coordinator.
She recalls that these role models:
- Never compromised on their ethics, values or morals — and taught her to do the same.
- Juggled multiple tasks with efficiency.
- Were people of faith.
- Were willing to do what it took to get the job done. No task was beneath them.
- Explained the reasons behind procedures.
- Helped people see the bigger picture.
- Genuinely cared about others.
Bad Examples and Mistakes Are Opportunities to Learn
Good leaders also take advantage of opportunities to learn what not to do. Brittany has learned that it doesn’t pay off to be the kind of leader who takes all the glory without doing any of the work.
[28:21] “The leader [needs to be] willing to get their hands dirty at any point in their career, no matter what their title is, no matter what powerful people you just went to dinner with last night.”
Through her leadership successes and failures, Brittany has taken away some major lessons:
- It’s ok to step back and soak in information slowly. You don’t need to react instantly.
- Give graceful feedback.
- Include your leadership team in your decisions.
- Hire people with your core values, even if it takes longer.
- Empower and trust people to execute your ideas (even if they don’t do so in the way you’d have done it).
[31:26] “Mistakes or failures for me become a bigger challenge that I just want to tackle.”
Trust Your Gut
Early on, Brittany didn’t have education, experience, or business mentors who held positions she wanted to be in one day. But she trusted her gut, and knew she could reach her goals anyway.
Learn from your mistakes. If you mess up, get back up the next day and persevere, no matter what. We’re all in this together — and you need others in order to become the best leader you can be.
- Sky High for Kids’ website