April 20, 2022
Author: Heather Lowey
When a talk begins with the disclaimer, “I may cuss a little bit and probably will lose my train of thought,” you can guarantee it’s going to be entertaining. And lucky for us, we heard not only an entertaining story, but also inspiring one with a lot of great nuggets to reflect on in our own lives.
Ally shared her story through the premise of “No One Cares.” As in, no one cares that you had a bad haircut in your childhood. No one cares where you traveled. No one cares that you left a job after 9 months.
Shifting our focus from being so self-conscious and absorbed to realizing the time we spend worrying about what others think is wasted energy.
Enjoy Ally’s story from the lens of No One Cares.
Ally spent her early days with a bowl haircut and two younger sisters. Even though her mother gave her a mullet at one point, she admits to being raised by loving parents who were always there.
With great pride, she shared pictures of her mom sitting at a computer writing code (which she taught herself) with baby Ally, lying on a blanket nearby. Her mom started a software business in 1983 and it grew so much, her dad eventually quit his job at IBM to work in the business. The business was named Baker Hill, Baker is her mom’s maiden name and Hill is her dad’s last name.
“It’s pretty amazing. They worked together for 20 years, raised three daughters, and didn’t kill each other!”
Even though her parents had their own growing business, she marvels at the fact it never felt like they weren’t there. In fact, the Hill family did a lot of traveling – from trips to Michigan in the summers to RV trips throughout the year.
Ally also made a public apology to her mom for the years 2000-2010.
“These were my teen and early adult years, and I was not nice to my parents. So mom, this is my public apology.”
This was, by the way, said with a lot of laughter from Ally, her mom, and her sisters, all in attendance.
After graduating from Miami of Ohio in 2008, Ally was an Orr Fellow with Cannon IV. This is where she met her now husband, Zach, who actually replaced her when she moved on from the role.
Ally accepted a role with the Develop Indy where she traveled internationally to experience other cities and cultures. She credits the position in making her feel small in the grand scheme of a large world with a lot going on. Consequently, not to take herself too seriously.
From the advice of her parents and their own journey into entrepreneurship, they suggested experiencing sales. This led her to a sales job within ExactTarget.
Ally looks back at her ExactTarget experience with fond admiration. Learning so much there and even though at the time a large company, admitting it had a small feel to it. Many mentors and support people emerged from this experience.
However, when ExactTarget was purchased by Salesforce, she knew she wanted to shift into a smaller organization.
“I had this feeling of wanting to be somewhere that I could make a difference.”
This led to a 9-month stint with a company that shall remain nameless. Even in the darker times in Ally’s reflection though, she can see the opportunity. It was in this nameless company where she met Sarah Lacey, founder of Linking Indy Women.
LINKING INDY WOMEN AND LEADERS
Ally and Sarah became fast friends in what they will both describe as a tough environment. Sarah found the need to get local women leaders together in a space of community. Ally loved this idea and began supporting Sarah in the venture known as Linking Indy Women.
Ally also credits the time in her unnamed company as a great experience in what NOT to do as a leader.
“The leader in an organization, as well as your boss, is really important. More so than what the company even does at times. This effects your happiness and fulfillment big time.”
Realizing she was chasing the feelings of fulfillment she had seen while employed by ExactTarget, Ally made the shift into the start-up Sigstr. The appeal to this company being a part of the High Alpha ecosystem, so a place she could learn and grow not only with Sigstr but 10 other companies running alongside her.
The experience was both fulfilling as well as tremendous learning and growth in sales acumen. And then she became the first one to become pregnant as an employee.
“There was no maternity leave policy. It was an interesting time. But I feel really fortunate that they recognized the need and were able to give me a 14-week maternity leave.”
ALLY & ZACH’S JOLT INTO PARENTHOOD
Sydney, Ally and Zach’s first-born, came into this world in quite dramatic fashion. Ally continued to work at the end of her pregnancy but had a great fear of going into labor while at work. One day nearing Sydney’s due date, Ally was not feeling well at all and at the encouragement of her co-workers decided to head home.
Shutting down the offers to drive her home, Ally drove herself. Simultaneously utilizing an app to track her contractions. Admittedly, she thought the app was broken because it kept telling her to get to the hospital!
By the time she got home, they quickly realized she needed to be at the hospital. Her water broke and she was in back labor, which is extremely painful. She was also diagnosed with preeclampsia and HELLP Syndrome.
Both can be extremely dangerous for both mother and baby, and in Ally’s case it was. Sydney was quickly taken to the NICU and Ally wasn’t able to see her for a couple of days. Ally was very sick and describes feeling completely out of it for days. A scary moment when she asked her doctor, “am I going to live?” and the response back was, “you’re in the right place.”
Afterwards, Ally’s doctor shared it was the worst case of preeclampsia she had ever come across. Ally described herself earlier as being a very competitive person, however, this was a competition she does not wish to reign as the champion.
Ally also reflected on what a scary experience the entire situation was for Zach. Acknowledging that in the moment, she was really out of it, but he was living through this experience in real time. Not knowing what was happening with his wife and newborn daughter. His support in Ally’s healing as well as being a new dad was something Ally still appreciates.
MARRIAGE AND TRANSITION
Ally got really vulnerable with us and shared the differences of social media posts versus real life. Explaining how she and Zach went through a tough season in their own marriage especially as their family grew.
“Transitions are hard. Being a parent is hard. My best friend from college died of cancer and I remember being on the way to the funeral with Zach. We were literally questioning our marriage. Where do we go from here? These are the things you don’t see with pictures on social media, but they exist.”
But they worked on their marriage. And Ally shifted too. In fact, she became keenly aware of the things bringing her joy, like running, getting her anxiety in check, and thinking about what she wanted out of her career.
Zach, who was in attendance to support Ally, beamed with pride as she shared her story. Yes, even the embarrassing and humbling parts.
As their second girl, Sloane, entered the world in April of 2021, Ally realized she no longer wanted to be on sales calls where no one talked. No one cared. Cameras were off.
“No one cares. I’m done.”
This is when she launched a small business as an Etsy Shop, Athlete Bouquets.
Ally has run 45 half and 6 full marathons. How does she know the exact number? Don’t worry, she has a spreadsheet (said through laughter as she put the spreadsheet on the screen).
Ally founded Athlete Bouquets to celebrate the achievements of others. In her own journey to find what brought her joy, she had a realization moment of…
“No one cares, do what you want.”
Stop comparing. Stop worrying about what others will think. This is your life to live. Embrace it.
In summary, Ally left us with these key points:
- Ask yourself, why am I not accepting help?
- Marriage, parenting, work, life- none of it is perfect. Stop setting the expectation for yourself that yours has to be.
- Find what you like to do and lean into it. For Ally, that is running.
Thank you, Ally, for being vulnerable and sharing your incredible story!
Want to connect with Ally? Find her @allybrett or @athletebouquets