Interview of Edith Williams, aka, Edie, The Salsa FREAK!!
CEO and Founder of Black Belt Dance Franchise, Inc.

Q: Can you name a person who has had a tremendous impact on you as a leader? Maybe someone who has been a mentor to you? Why and how did this person impact your life?
A: My mentors have been:  Napoleon Hill, Earl Nightingale, Anthony Robbins, Louise Hay, Wayne Dyers, Abraham, and my husband, Nick.  All are filled with years and years of experience, which creates wisdom.  I don’t listen to “intellects”.  I listen to years of well-earned wisdom.  Other than my husband, most of my mentors are older than me – A LOT older than me.

Q: What are the most important decisions you make as a leader of your organization?
A: The direction of the company.  Are we barking up the right tree?  Are we climbing up the right mountain?  Are we making WISE decisions on who will be Regents and Senseis of the system?  Are our methods proved and solid?  If we were to stand up in a court of law, would our decisions pass a jury?

As an organization gets larger there can be a tendency for the institution to dampen the inspiration. How do you keep this from happening?
A: I make videos of me dancing with students to continue to inspire creativity.  I allow instructors whom I train to earn more money themselves at training others.   I provide tools for them to earn incomes themselves.  The harder they work, the more income they make.  There are no limits to this institution.  If run correctly, it is self-inspiration-driven.  The only institution is the limitation set forth in their own minds.  They can take the ball and run as far as they want with this business.  Some have.  Some won’t.  Some make excuses, some are satisfied with little.  Those that don’t take this business and run with it complain ALL THE TIME, with no effort to help us improve.

Q: How do you encourage creative thinking within your organization?
A: Money, and the ability to earn LOTS of it, if you run things the way we show you.

Q: Where do the great ideas come from in your organization?
A: Dancing with people.  Out in the trenches getting dirty with the rest of them.

Q: Which is most important to your organization? Mission, core values, or vision?
A: All three are very important.  Ideas and the concept of Creating rather than Competing turns me on.

Q: How do you or other leaders in your organization communicate the core values?
A: Email, manuals, videos, texts, phone calls, meetings

Q: How do you encourage others in your organization to communicate the core values?
A: Email, manuals, videos, texts, phone calls, meetings

Q: Do you set aside specific times to cast vision to your employees and other leaders?
A: I used to have weekly meetings, but then too many people got too busy and stopped showing up.  Now I just record videos and notes, and place them in place-holder links on the BBS Enterprise.  I record important info for Apprentices and Instructors to watch, rather than me having to repeat myself all the time.  I am into running a tight, EFFICIENT ship.

Q: How do you ensure your organization and its activities are aligned with your core values?
A: Communication.  Email, manuals, videos, texts, phone calls, meetings

Q: How do you help a new employee understand the culture of your organization?
A: Recorded videos.  I force them to watch it, and test them on it afterwards to make sure they watched the video.  Like our Apprentice Orientation video, and the BBS Enterprise Cloud Training video for them.   It’s about a total of three hours.  Saves me time, and prevents me from having to repeat myself over and over again.  I can now have free time to create rather than repeat everything.

Q: When faced with two equally-qualified candidates, how do you determine whom to hire?
A: Who is wiser?  Who can get along with people better?  Who supports and cares about others more?  Who looks me straight in the eye when I shake their hands?  Do they have a firm grip? It’s a feeling I get when I shake their hands.

Q: What is one characteristic that you believe every leader should possess?
A: Wisdom.

Q: What is the biggest challenge facing leaders today?
A: Lack of balls in men, and lack of grace in women.

Q: What is one mistake you witness leaders making more frequently than others?
A: They think they know it all and make decisions without a committee or Advisory Board (Regents).

Q: What is the one behavior or trait that you have seen derail more leaders’ careers?
A: Lack of respect, experience, and capital.

Q: Can you explain the impact, if any, that social networking and Web 2.0 has made on your organization or you personally?
A: To me, it has been nothing but a pain in the ass.  Now I have to announce six times on six platforms all my events.  Formerly, it was just on my website and email.  Now I have to announce ADDITIONALLY on FB and Twitter, Meetup, and Linked in to get any type of communication out.  I have to spend more money on administrators getting the word out on everything I do.  Now FB has banned me from sending out Event notifications to ANYONE because a couple people of the 7000 I have on FB complained I was doing to many events.  What a pain the in ass.  Then what’s the point of FB?  I’m not into gossiping, or seeing what other people have to say about their lives.  I really don�t care what people say about each other.

Small minds discuss people
Average minds discuss Events
GREAT minds discuss IDEAS

That sums up my beliefs.
Facebook is for the SMALL MIND.

Q: What are a few resources you would recommend to someone looking to gain insight into becoming a better leader?
A: Books / Audio from and taking the Dance Business Management Training Course.  (DBM)

Q: What advice would you give someone going into a leadership position for the first time?
A: Don’t get close to ANYONE. Don’t get emotional about your career.  Set in place an Advisory / Review Committee to help you make important decisions.  Work as a team.  Learn how to convey the PASSION you have for what you do.  Always ask Why?

Q: What are you doing to ensure you continue to grow and develop as a leader?
A: I listen to my Mentors, tapes, book, audio programs literally every day.  I am inspired by people like Steve Jobs and Thomas Edison.  Richard Branson is my personal business hero.  Tony Robbins lights a fire under my rear to get things done in a HUGE way, Louise Hay and Abraham calm me down.  Wayne Dyer makes me think, and Earl Nightingale and Napoleon Hill instil pure logic and humble spirituality into my brain.  My husband Nick keeps my feelings out of my company with logic and reasoning.  Seeing virtually impossible situations from a non-attached, non-caring person has been priceless to me this past year.  I found that people who are overly emotional and take things too personal are a detriment to themselves, those around them, and a growing company.   They are a waste of time and energy to everyone they come in contact with.