The Year She Leapt

The first in a series of profiles of everyday superheroes

“I can’t wait to show you the next evolution. It’s going to be a game changer. It’s going to change the way women think about mentorship. I can’t wait to introduce it.”

The excitement that Stacy Cassio radiates is palpable. When we talked, she seemed freed up, lighter. I felt magnetically-charged by learning about her dreams and goals. Her mantra: “I’ve never met a woman I couldn’t learn from.”

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What Stacy has taught me: it doesn’t matter how you exit the airplane. Gravity is going to take hold, either way, and pull you directly to your destination.

Stacy had already stated that 2018 would be the “Year She Leapt.” Little did she know what she had set in motion. Like a parachute pulled before she was ready to jump, it yanked her right out into the big blue sky.

Anticipating a big year myself, I reached out to Stacy in January 2018 after gaining so much encouragement from her messages on Medium and Facebook (intended for women, but her writing still spoke to me). After learning about the similarity of our journeys, I asked Stacy to be my accountability partner. We agreed to virtually “hold hands and leap” from our current positions working for others to investing in our own visions.

We started out strong but about a month into 2018, the currents in the stream of life took over, interrupting our grand plans. Our hands loosened their grip and we each drifted back to our separate journeys.

When I opened her email a few months later, I was shocked to read that she had been fired from her job. She was a model employee! She had been a self-starter since she started working at 14. Frankly, it didn’t make sense.

Stacy didn’t leap; she got pushed!

This is the moment when this Wonder Woman showed her power: Stacy decided not to get “another job.” She committed to her vision to grow a mentoring network for women. Almost a year later, she hasn’t looked back. The path that she was meant to take opened up before her. Stacy is now the full-time CEO of Pink Mentor Network.

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I caught up with Stacy about a month into her new stint as the CEO of her own empire.

“When I lost my job, I had this amazing support network.” Stacy had created that network for herself. It was like a future version of Stacy told her to set up Pink Mentor Network, because she was going to need the support.

“The hardest piece for me has been my new ‘hours.’ I don’t have any! I can work when I want to. It’s so strange! I’ve been working since I was in 4th grade. I was always working.”

I asked her how she broke out of her small town upbringing in Kansas. Was it when she decided to take a job as a Nanny in New York?

Actually, she said, “I could have done it earlier but I needed that outside force.”

For such a self-starting, hard-working woman, the little shove of an outside force has played a big part in Stacy’s story.

This is how we met: Stacy’s writing is so beautiful, so clear, such a window to her heart, that I felt like I knew her before we even spoke.

We each traveled life journeys that brought us into the alumni network for Seth Godin’s altMBA. In that intensive program, we strengthened the part of ourselves that makes the choice to “ship” our work, to put our ideas out in the world.

We learned to overcome the obstacles that keep us from using our voice, to hit the “submit” button on that application, to publish that post, to open our business.

What is Stacy’s greatest superpower? Creativity.

“I don’t think of myself as a creative person, naturally. I do see a natural resourcefulness in myself. I’m able to connect dots and create metaphors very easily. I can take an experience that I had in one industry or with one person and think of that in a larger context.”

“I think of creativity as a practice. It’s a skill! It has to be developed. Even if you can only do it a couple minutes a day, just keep doing it. There’s a path there for you if you follow that passion. Eventually, it will all make sense.”

“I haven’t given myself time to let that flourish.” The biggest obstacle? “Stress. Stress hurts creativity, doesn’t give it room for it to flourish. Saying ‘no’ to what’s not you is so important… then the door can open to something that is really me.”

As the Founder and CEO of Pink Mentor Network, Stacy is determined “to disrupt and revolutionize the way women think about mentorship and how we receive it. It started 18 months ago when I was searching for my own mentor…. It’s very difficult to find a mentor with as much as women have in their lives right now.”

“The way my life has unfolded and the opportunities and mentors I’ve had along the way; I’m SO incredibly thankful. My parents were high school sweethearts, lived in the same town their whole lives, they never had that I-want-to-get-out itch that I always had. And they don’t totally understand it, still to this day. But that girl could never have imagined this life. She just had to go and do and meet new people.”

“I don’t really know what it is, why I feel like I needed to explore. I’m definitely an independent person and I’m stubborn. My husband will tell you that! And so I had to learn things the hard way.”

“I’m very determined. If I see it, I’ll go for it. I’ll do everything I can to make it happen if I truly believe in it.”

“I feel that way about women’s mentorship. I didn’t know that was going to be my passion but the more I got into it, the more I realized that women are having a difficult time building the relationships that get that vulnerable in a workspace. Our work environments don’t allow us to get that vulnerable. It’s been an interesting evolution now creating what’s next in Pink Mentor Network to create that safe, non-threatening space where a woman can really help another woman.”

Stacy is a powerful example of a Wonder Woman who has embraced her superpowers and chosen to work on developing her less-prominent strengths. As a result, Stacy has created a career that lifts other women up. I have learned so much from her and I’m honored to call her a friend.

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Robert Zeitlin