My Story: Su-Lauren E. Wilson
Or, ‘Who are you? And why should I listen to what you have to say?’
Ha ha. I get it. Believe me. I never knew I could climb mountains either.
As the child of small-business owners, pharmacists, and general “go-getters,” I have always been a leader. I couldn’t not be a leader if I tried. But I love it. I love to lead a team. After trying to figure out my own path after college — and starting and closing my first retail business — my mother (for whom I have worked since junior high!) asked me to come work for the family business. She wanted to retire and needed a family member in the office to help oversee and to work. And work I did.
For five years, I worked every job imaginable for Finnegan Health Services, our Arkansas DME (durable medical equipment) company. I started in customer service and worked my way up: I became our ostomy specialist; I became our compliance document manager; I became our bookkeeper; and then, I became our chief financial officer (CFO). Now, I am the majority owner of our expanding family business. I take a lot of pride in that. But, I take more pride in the fact that I earned it.
My résumé has said CFO since the first day I came to work for the Finnegan line of businesses, but it was just a title for a long time ... I had to earn my role. I had to earn the trust of our long-term manager. I had to earn the trust of our customers and other staff. And, I had to earn the trust of my parents. In my family, nothing is ever just handed over.
But as leaders know, getting to the top of one mountain only clears the view of the rest of the range.
What came next was evolution — an endless chain of business- and life-altering changes that shifted my course forever.
On the professional end: I decided to take our business national. So, at the end of 2010, I led the launch of FinneganMedicalSupply.com, the e-commerce website you’re visiting right now. It was a big gamble for the company and many people were skeptical of the decision. I knew in my gut, though, that it was the right choice for Finnegan, one that would help secure its future. The process of creating an Internet startup has been both a terrifying rollercoaster ride and the most educational experience of my life. Parallel to all this work on the web, our original “brick and mortar” DME company was, at the same time, experiencing tremendous growth of its own as the result of several mergers and acquisitions.
My personal life was not exempt from this change, either. Between 2010 and 2014, my husband and I renovated and bought an old, but wonderful, home and welcomed two children into the world. For a few years, we were happy with our lives ... until of course, we weren’t. I woke up one morning in 2014 with that familiar gnawing in the gut.
My husband was unhappy at his corporate job. My children were babysat by the television too often. I was cranky and tired. Something had to change. I had to change. My husband had to change. My work had to change. There was no balance. I started taking a personal development seminar and, in taking a personal inventory, I saw the path my family was headed down. I knew we had only one chance to make this work for our marriage, our children, and our livelihood.
I recruited my incredibly skilled husband to come work with me, for the family business. The work load was immense for the first few months. We both wrestled with our respective roles and our new professional dynamic, figuring out how to make it all work. Our family life still suffered. And then…
We began to see the peak of another mountain.
Upon seeing the (metaphorical) clouds clear, I knew I had to run with this. So, never being one to dip a toe in, I dove deep.
If I was going to lead my team up to the peak of this mountain, I knew I needed help and resources. And to be able to ask for that help, I knew I had to better myself. I signed up for several Coursera classes, researching our target market and methods to reach them. I paid good money for personal development seminars, coaching, and leadership training. I bought and borrowed every book I could by Tim Ferris, Brian Tracy, Dale Carnegie, (my mentor) Chalene Johnson, and anyone else I could find. I became a health and wellness coach and an accountability coach to my friends and strangers.
I loved every minute of it.
My family began to respond. My personal life began to respond. My business began to respond. And when I say respond, I should say respond positively. Things are looking up!
So I might not be a doctor, or a pharmacist, or have professional letters behind my name. But, I have something that many doctors and pharmacists don’t have — immersion in the pharmaceutical and medical supply industries since literal childhood. Through years of experience, I’ve learned to understand the intricacies of: health care coverage, the application and use of medical supplies, compliance requirements, caregiver issues, patient needs, state and national regulations, customer service, the ins-and-outs of running a retail and wholesale business, and so much more.
You can trust me when I say something. I have so much faith in my years of expertise that I am opening up my LinkedIn profile, so that you can see my evolving résumé. You can read what I write on our blog, and you can see my advice on our social media outlets.
I want you to trust me, not because I say to, but because I show you that you can.
And, as always, feel free to reach out through our comments section. You can ask me anything about myself or my business. I am always here to help.