Every moment there are things that happen. Sometimes they happen within your control and sometimes not.
Everyday Hero Carolyn Ascher has the skill to decipher between those two instances. If the occurrence was within her control, then she chooses to learn from it and improve upon it.
Ascher was a disaster recovery consultant with Iron Mountain for 10 years and then realized that she had a choice. It was through a series of determination and intention that Ascher became the owner and principal designer of Amlings Interior Landscape in Carol Stream, a position she has held for 12 years.
“I wanted an investment for my family and an early retirement so that I can fish and hunt and ski and golf and enjoy a healthy retirement with my husband while I still have youth,” Ascher explained. “I knew the only way to accomplish that was to attempt to take control of my destination. Shall I say, ‘Design my destiny?’ ”
Ascher was working on an event with Susan Roman at the Signature Room in the John Hancock building in Chicago when another opportunity presented itself as a choice. Roman and her friend Vallie Szymanski are the cofounders of the Ovarian Cancer Symptom Awareness Organization. The pair recognized a particular quality in Ascher and together they collaborated on the OCSAO’s annual golf outing and gala.
“Being a golfer, it made sense to chair their golf outing,” Ascher confessed, but then continued, “it’s with my powerful networking skills that I could make a difference. Susan Roman and all of the others who have passed away from ovarian cancer motivate me to make people aware and save lives.”
Ascher continued, “I really feed off of helping others. I feel successful when I’m helping others. A successful day is when I get to help multiple people in multiple environments.”
That need to help others can also be interpreted as leadership. Nominator Szymanski noted about Ascher: “What an incredible leader; she puts her whole heart into all that she does. At our recent 5K Dog Walk at Leroy Oakes Forest Preserve, she brought the food to be cooked, organized the ‘kid squad’ of Sunny the Hospice Therapy Pony to join us!”
Ascher has a theory on what makes a good leader: “In order to be a leader, it’s important to understand the group you’re leading. So, if it’s just one person that I need to lead then I need to understand what makes them click – what motivates them, what makes them passionate and what they need to be successful.” She continued, “And if it’s a group of people, then provide a variety of messages that are bound to trigger more than one person in your audience. Really, in a nutshell, leading is understanding what will add strength to the ones you’re leading.”
Ascher recognizes her own skills. She knows that she’s good at networking, and she thrives when she’s helping others. She’s intentionally put herself in situations where she can use those abilities and then tries to empower others also.
How does she do it all? Ascher confided: “I surround myself with heroes. I surround myself with productive heroes who share the same compassion for customer service, networking and day-to-day productivity.”
The Ascher lowdown
Who she is: Carolyn Ascher, owner and principal designer of Amlings Interior Landscape (12 years), Ovarian Cancer Symptom Awareness Organization (active four years, on board for two), the Magnificent Mile Association (active for 12 years and on board for nine)
Family: Spouse and two daughters and two giant dogs (Moose and Bear)
Hobbies: Golf, downhill skiing and hunting
Fun fact: She can ride a unicycle