A seasoned entrepreneur with a range of expertise, Annette Walter is a woman who will give us all a run for our money. She currently champions two businesses, has started and/or grown 15 companies, runs a blog, emboldens a family–and that’s just on the surface. One of her companies is iEvolve Consulting, which offers personalized development for their clients through services like team coaching and retreats. The other is Timber Industries, a supplier and installer of heavy-duty products like pallets and carpentry. Annette Walter conquered the field and shines as an example for more women to take charge. Her demeanor is humble, straightforward, and recklessly honest, making her an endearing video cast host. She makes taking the world as an entrepreneur seem simple.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I was raised in an entrepreneurial family. Although I was born in Baltimore, and grew up on the surrounding Maryland area for most of my life. I am one of three children with a brother who is 6 years younger and a sister who is 6 years older than me. Because we are so far apart in age, I always joke that my parents gave us each our own time to shine. I went to an all-girls catholic school growing up. I am still close friends with many of the girls from that school. We have a special bond. Attending the same school since your nursery years will forge a unique friendship. Today, I have an awesome husband, Shawn, and two boys Wyatt, 9, and Jamison, 8. They are my world, and I simply adore them.
Who/What inspired you to venture into business consulting?
Actually, my business coach. I started working with a coach personally in 2009 to help me grow, sell the company I owned at the time, and weather the post-2008 economic climate. When I started working with my business coach, I began a journey of self-awareness and reflection. It helped me become a real leader. It was hard, but growth always requires some degree of discomfort.
I learned two important things during that journey. Leaders set the pace, and the best coaches have lived what you are going through. Leaders set the pace…. It is always a leader’s responsibility to carry the team, take the fall, and engage in reflection to help steer the team towards growth. I also realized the importance of working with a coach who had owned, operated, failed, and succeeded widely as a business owner. He knew the sleepless nights and passion of my entrepreneurial spirit. Business coaching isn’t confined to a textbook. It’s thinking outside the box and sticking with people for the duration of the journey. Ironically, business coaching has challenged me to become a stronger leader while helping other business owners become better leaders themselves.
What is your typical day like & how have you adjusted to the current pandemic?
We are adjusting fairly well. I seem to be going to bed later and waking up slightly later in the morning. This is simply because we don’t have to be out the door at 7:05 a.m. to get the boys to school. I am not my usual 5:00 a.m. self because, now, the boys start virtual school at 9:00 a.m. I have been going live with “Coffee & Biz Talk” at 10 a.m. each morning. It has been a wonderful way to connect with my community and document this journey. I have found there are times during this pandemic when my days seem to melt away with Zoom calls. I have both iEvolve Consulting and Timber Industries, my national pallet company which I own and operate. So I have been on more Zoom calls than I ever thought possible. I have committed to moving my body for at least 30 minutes a day and getting outside with my boys daily. We have been eating dinner as a family every night as well. It has been a nice routine.
What do you think has helped you the most with your success?
Being optimistic and tenacious. I heard Simon Senek speak about optimism. He said, “Optimism is the ability to believe that there is good at the end of the bad.” I have been through a lot of failure and curveballs in my career. I believe it is my optimism and tenacious personality that have allowed me to be resilient and persevere.
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve overcome to achieve your goals?
At the beginning of my business career, I had the false belief that I always had to be a hard-core professional at work. However, as I progressed through my career, I found showing up as yourself and offering empathy are the best ways to connect with people. Also to run a successful business with a successful team. I learned much of this through business coaching and leadership training myself. I recommend it for everyone in a position of leadership. Or, any professional who is passionate about growing their business. Showing up real is when things start to click.
How do you reward yourself after a hard day’s/week’s/month’s work?
I value self-care. Sometimes that looks like treating myself to workout clothes or new earrings. But more often than not, it looks like fueling my body with healthy foods, getting some fresh air, or soaking up some Vitamin D. I also love to celebrate with my team. I like to spoil them when I can and encourage them to practice self-care regularly!
What advice can you give to our readers?
Ask and show up. If you know what you want, you can have it. But achieving your goals will require hard work and showing up on a consistent basis. You need to know what you want and what to ask for. Then, show up consistently to make it happen.
Who do you look up to or admire?
My dad is my hero. His advice growing up was always, “common sense.” He would shout these words as I left for a party in high school. And he still tells me this when I hang up the phone on my way to a meeting. He says it all the time. My dad also says, “Don’t take any wooden nickels.” This means to be cautious in your business dealings. He inspires me to have a “Can Do” attitude. He is my hero, my everything, and my vault where I can go to share and process anything on my mind. My dad listens to, loves, and encourages me, and often that’s all I need.