Motivational speaker and entrepreneur Amy Rees Anderson was the guest speaker for the Profiles in Leadership event March 21 at Taylorsville Redwood Campus.
As Rees spent the evening summarizing her achievements and failures, her advice to those in attendance was to stay positive and always look for opportunities.
Rees was born in Portland, Oregon but grew up across many states with her family of ten. She attended Brigham Young University before dropping out. At the age of 23, with her family in mind, Rees decided to change her circumstances by asking herself the question, “What would I do if I weren’t afraid?”
After raising $20,000 in seed capital from family members, Rees was working out of a 10-by-10 foot room when she founded Medical Software Solutions Inc. in 1996. For six years, the firm developed and managed software to store patient and insurance information.
Rees insists that opportunities ought to be looked for in other’s complaints, and the area which you hope to serve is best served if it’s familiar to you personally.
“I knew healthcare,” she says. “I had been brought up working in healthcare offices and medical offices. … I hated getting up in a medical office and making a copy of an insurance card and I thought, ‘Why can’t they just use software to do this?’”
During her time at MediConnect Global, Inc. — a later iteration of her original company — Rees focused on and experimented with being a good leader. In search of a way to better communicate with her employees, Rees began a candid and personal daily blog.
“If I just be real, that’s a little scary, because they think as the boss or the leader you have to know it all, but you don’t,” she says. “And in fact, people respect you a whole lot more when you are just real.”
Besides continuing her blog to present day, Rees is an author and a regular contributor to Forbes magazine and The Huffington Post. Several other publications have also noted her accomplishments such as USA Today, Bloomberg Businessweek and The Wall Street Journal.
Rees has used her entrepreneurial spirit to become founder and managing partner of REES Capital, an angel investment firm that gives money, support and guidance to companies in exchange for ownership equity or convertible debt.
When Rees asked the audience if they considered themselves lucky, only few hands went up among the masses. She then explained a case study that gathered people who described themselves as lucky and unlucky. According to Rees, those who said they were lucky were more likely to win the specified challenge, which was spotting a caption in a newspaper that said to collect a cash prize.
“What that taught us is that people who consider themselves lucky generate their own good fortune because they’re looking for the good in everything,” she says.
Rees lastly praised the idea of goal posters and what they represent.
Goal posters can be a physical board or a slideshow with images that represent what you will be, what you will have done, or places you will have visited in the future. Rees has included meeting the owner of Microsoft, traveling the world and finishing her education on her posters.
“About four weeks in, I got a call from SLCC saying they were going to give me an honorary Ph.D.,” she says. “You can call me doctor if you want to. My kids won’t, but I’m trying to get them to.”
More recently, Rees has set broader, more selfless goals like helping the less fortunate. She is currently making that happen with her charitable IPOP Foundation, meant to encourage entrepreneurship in children and adults alike.
Visit Student Life and Leadership for more events and leadership opportunities.