Wondering what our purpose really is in the world can oftentimes be quite confusing, discouraging, or maybe even scary. This journey to find our greater purpose, but despite all the hardships and trials along the way, is worth it. Finding our purpose helps us unlock our greatest and highest potential– what can we be and what can do for the world. So, are you ready to chase your fears, dream big, and start your journey on unlocking your highest potential?
Aster Angagaw is a mother, a wife, a sister, a friend, an author, and a business leader who enjoys reading, exercising, gardening, and spending time with family and friends. She thrives on creating dynamic balance in her career, community, personal growth, self-care, and overall purpose to achieve sustainable success in her work and life. Aster currently serves as a member of the Board of Directors of Owens & Minor Inc., a leading healthcare logistics company. She also serves on the Board of Lucid Diagnostics Inc., a commercial-stage cancer prevention medical diagnostics company and a subsidiary of PAVmed Inc.
In this episode, Aster shares more about her life which has helped lead her to seven powerful and amazing dimensions of success for women.
What you will learn from this episode:
Discover what are the seven powerful and life-changing aspects you need to focus on and apply in your life
Learn how you can find your vision in life and be intentional with your actions
Understand what and how to avoid that which hinders you from becoming your best you
“There is always an opportunity for us to really empower ourselves to think of things that we can do ourselves, and be very, very intentional about our actions.”
– Aster Angagaw
02:46 – A passion project that helps women address the issues they face in life, work, health, and everything in between: what prompted Aster to write her book
03:46 – The book is meant for women business leaders but can also cater to both men and women from all walks of life
04:35 – Powerful women: How 18 remarkable women’s experiences can change your life and help you unlock your highest potential
05:36 – How Aster’s mother’s undying optimism and can-do attitude inspired her to write her book
06:57 – A little bit about history: How Aster boiled it all down to just 7 powerful aspects women need to focus on
08:42 – What are the 7 powerful and important aspects you need to know and how they can change your life
09:23 – Step-by-step: Aster suggests what is the step-by-step process on how you can go through the 7 dimensions without giving yourself stress and burnout
11:24 – One important key takeaway that can help you get started in unlocking your highest potential: Finding our own vision for our lives, defining what success means to us, and doing our part with clear intention to realize our highest potential. The message is really about self-empowerment and intentionality. I think the seven dimensions really help structure that thinking
12:16 – After committing to writing her book, Aster shares what the next move will be
“I really encourage everyone regardless of age and gender, to really be thinking about purpose. What is it that we want to be? And what is it that we want to achieve? And why are we here, right? So, it is not an easy process, but it is really worth doing.” – Aster Angagaw
“Identify your purpose and the best way to manifest it. And you will then design what you need to accomplish in all the other dimensions, and set a goal that you can measure your performance against.” – Aster Angagaw
“End of year is a really great time to start reflecting on things like this. Obviously, it will take longer than that, and it is an iterative process. But, it’s starting somewhere, and really thinking about purpose and start documenting and journaling, writing, reflecting would be very, very helpful.” – Aster Angagaw
“Finding our own vision for our lives, defining what success means to us, and doing our part with clear intention to realize our highest potential.” – Aster Angagaw
“There is always an opportunity for us to really empower ourselves to think of things that we can do ourselves, and be very, very intentional about our actions.” – Aster Angagaw
Ways to Connect with Aster Angagaw
Ways to Connect with Sarah E. Brown
Full Episode Transcript:
Aster Angagaw 0:00
Finding our own vision for our lives and defining what success means to us and doing our part with clear intention to realize our highest potential.
Dr. Sarah E. Brown 0:20
Hello, everyone. Welcome to the KTS Success Factor Podcast for Women where we talk about challenges senior female leaders face in being happy and successful at work. I’m your host, Dr. Sarah E. Brown.
Dr. Sarah E. Brown 0:39
Aster Angagaw is the seventh of 10 children born and raised in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. She is a mother, a wife, a sister, a friend, an author, and a business leader who enjoys reading, exercising, gardening, and spending time with family and friends. She thrives on creating dynamic balance in her career, community, personal growth, self-care, and overall purpose to achieve sustainable success in her work and life. Aster currently serves as a member of the Board of Directors of Owens & Minor Inc., a leading healthcare logistics company. And she’s also on the Board of Lucid Diagnostics Inc., a commercial-stage cancer prevention medical diagnostics company, and a subsidiary of PAVmed Inc. Aster has held several senior leadership roles in major corporations, most recently as president of ServiceMaster Brands, the $2.6 billion revenue franchise services division of ServiceMaster Global Holdings Inc., a leading provider of essential services to residential and commercial customers. Last year, Ms. Angagaw guided the sale of the division to a private equity firm for $1.6 billion. Prior to ServiceMaster, she served in a series of senior executive roles at Sodexo, a Paris-headquartered multinational diversified services company that has 440,000 employees, and over 20 billion in revenue. Welcome, Aster! It’s great to have you.
Aster Angagaw 2:32
Thank you for having me.
Dr. Sarah E. Brown 2:34
So, you have had a very illustrious career in the corporate world and held several senior leadership roles. What prompted you to want to write a book?
Aster Angagaw 2:46
Yeah, well, writing this book was a passion project for me. As I mentioned in my book, I’m passionate about issues involving women, health, and balance, which I’ve been thinking about for quite some time. So, in this book, I wanted to share insight that I have found in my own experiences, what I learned from my mom and the experiences of other women worldwide. As you can imagine, this was an ambitious undertaking that took me almost three years to complete.
Dr. Sarah E. Brown 3:18
Wow, I didn’t realize that! So the book that we’re talking about is entitled, We Are So Much More: The Journeys of 19 Powerful Women Across Countries, Class and Color. And it’s published by Lioncrest, and it just came out in November of 2021. So, tell us, Aster, who do you intend this book for? Who might be your target reader?
Aster Angagaw 3:46
So, my target audience are women business leaders, however, the learning from this book could be applied and is helpful to men and women in all walks of life. So, I kept my daughter in mind in writing this book, a college graduate starting her career. In my own life experiences, I often wish there was a book like mine I could refer to when I was faced with serious decisions that were life-altering. So, when designing the book format, I kept simplicity, practicality, and ease of reference in mind.
Dr. Sarah E. Brown 4:22
So, the subtitle is “The Journey of 19 Powerful Women Across Countries, Class, and Color”. Tell us a bit about how you chose the women that you’re featuring in this book.
Aster Angagaw 4:35
Yeah, so my book, We Are So Much More, features 18 remarkable female executives across 10 countries from Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, and South America. All global leaders from Adidas, Herman Miller, Mars Inc., Amgen, Sodexo, CBS, and many more. So, I’ve always been in awe of other successful women, especially women of color, knowing that their path to success was not easy. And I’ve always been curious to learn about their individual journey to success. So, these are women I admired– my colleagues at Sodexo and other places, my classmates from around the world.
Dr. Sarah E. Brown 5:19
Really interesting! And you mentioned in your opening remarks, and I have seen it featured in the book- by the way, I’ve read it, and I’ve really enjoyed it- that one of the inspirations for you and for the book itself was your mother. Tell us a little bit about your mother, and how she inspired you.
Aster Angagaw 5:36
Yeah, so my mother was an incredible woman of great industry and purpose. And I say that in my book, I’ve always been inspired by her undying optimism and can-do attitude. She had 10 children. And as I shared in my book, when my father became a political prisoner, because of his association with the emperor of Ethiopia, who was deposed in 1974, and all our assets were seized, she became a single mom who was forced to raise us with no resources. Such an event could crush anyone, but not my mom. She found a way to raise us to be confident and optimistic despite all my family went through. So, she’s been an incredible inspiration to me, my sisters, my brothers, to my friends, to our neighbors, to everybody! So, I’m always in awe of her.
Dr. Sarah E. Brown 6:32
She sounds like an amazing woman! In your book, you organize the themes of your book and the stories that you tell around seven aspects of a well-rounded, 360-degree view of your life. Tell us a bit about those seven aspects and how you boiled it down to those as being important to focus on?
Aster Angagaw 6:57
Yeah, so that’s a great question. It took me some time to get there. So, it wasn’t something that just occurred to me. Since my mother passed in 2001, I have become more and more reflective about her life and my life that was enabled by her. I wanted to honor her and her effort, so I reflected on that a lot. My first action after she passed was to enroll in graduate school. And my daughter was young at the time, and it was hectic to go to school while holding a demanding career and family. So, in my last class of graduate school, a professor asked us to write a career strategy paper, that was the jumping-off point for me, which really made me reflect on what I wanted to do or be, and how can I really honor my mom and live a life that is reflective of what she taught me. So since then, I have been reflecting on how best to structure my life. And the seven dimensions are the results of years of contemplation and thinking. And I really feel after so many years of thinking and practicing this seven dimension approach, I decided to structure my book around it because it worked for me. And in having conversations with these great women, it was even more clear that this was a great way to approach life and create this 360-degree view of life.
Dr. Sarah E. Brown 8:36
And you want to tell our listeners what some of those dimensions are?
Aster Angagaw 8:42
Yeah, so the dimensions are career, community, growth, self-care, money, play, and purpose. And these are like the key dimensions that I felt we need to be very, very intentional about setting the goal around them, you know, measuring our performance against them, you know, through sets of periods of time. So, these are the seven dimensions.
Dr. Sarah E. Brown 9:11
And tell me what you anticipate a reader of your book doing with these seven dimensions? What’s the process that you would suggest that a reader go through with these?
Aster Angagaw 9:23
Yeah, I would say start with purpose, right? I think that is something we don’t always give a lot of thought to until it’s a bit late in life. I really encourage everyone regardless of age and gender, to really be thinking about purpose. What is it that we want to be? And what is it that we want to achieve? And why are we here, right? So, it is not an easy process, but it is really worth doing. It took me quite some time to figure out that my purpose is to really help and inspire others to achieve their highest potential. And that really guides what I do and how I structure the seven dimensions. So, I would say, identify your purpose, and the best way to manifest it. And you will then design what you need to accomplish in all the other dimensions, and set a goal that you can measure your performance against. That would be, you know, a great process I would go through. Obviously, I went through many different iterations to get to this but that’s what I would like to share.
Dr. Sarah E. Brown 10:33
I happen to agree with you on that. I think it structures your decision-making process on how you select roles, and it selects where you focus, regardless of the role that you find yourself in at the time. So, I think-
Aster Angagaw 10:46
And- sorry. And especially during this time, you know, the end of the year, as you reflect on what you want to do the following year. You know, the end of the year is a really great time to start reflecting on things like this. Obviously, it will take longer than that, and it is an iterative process. But it’s starting somewhere, and really thinking about purpose and start documenting and journaling, writing, and reflecting would be very, very helpful.
Dr. Sarah E. Brown 11:15
Mhm. So, what would you say is your key takeaway for the reader? Or what do you want to leave them with your last word for the reader now?
Aster Angagaw 11:24
So, the key takeaway would be finding our own vision for our lives, defining what success means to us, and doing our part with clear intention to realize our highest potential. The message is really about self-empowerment and intentionality. I think the seven dimensions really help structure that thinking. We often feel very helpless when we are put in a situation that we feel is beyond us. But it is often, you know, there is always an opportunity for us to really empower ourselves to think of things that we can do ourselves, and be very, very intentional about our actions. So, I would say the message is self-empowerment and intentionality.
Dr. Sarah E. Brown 12:13
Great! So, Aster, what’s next for you?
Aster Angagaw 12:16
Yeah, so I was very focused on- you know, I told you, it took me about three years to write this book because I was, you know, pursuing a very, very busy career. And I just had an opportunity this past year with pandemic and all. And after selling the business, I had an opportunity to really sit down and finish this book. So, I’m so grateful that it is done! And I hope to be joining an organization very soon, sometime, hopefully, in January. The timing is really great! I have accomplished what I set out to accomplish around the book, but hopefully, the book will reach as many people as possible. That’s my goal, and that’s something I will continue to promote. But I would love to be able to go do something where I can make a greater impact on a larger population.
Dr. Sarah E. Brown 13:07
Well, best wishes to you, and thank you so much for being here. I want to commend this book, We Are So Much More: The Journeys of 19 Powerful Women Across Countries, Class, and Color, written by Aster Angagaw and published by Lioncrest Publishing. And, Aster, thank you so much for being with us today.
Aster Angagaw 13:27
Thank you for having me. Thank you, Sarah.
Dr. Sarah E. Brown 13:30
Thanks for listening to the KTS Success Factor Podcast for Women. If you like what you’re hearing, please go to iTunes to subscribe, rate us, and leave a review. And if you would like more information on how we can help women in your organization to thrive, then go to www.sarahebrown.com. You can sign up for our newsletter, read show notes and learn more about our podcast guests, read my blog, browse through the books, or contact us for a chat. Goodbye for now.