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Profile: Ava Diamond, President, Diamond Success Group and Feisty Woman
 

Ava Diamond, president of the Diamond Success Group and a speaker, consultant, seminar leader, and author, is one of the lucky ones. Early on she knew what she was good at and what she loved doing: teaching others. And she was lucky to have parents who encouraged her interests, helping her set up a card-table in the garage when she was in elementary school and wanted to teach younger kids, and bringing home math and spelling workbooks to feed her thirst for knowledge. In 3rd and 4th grades, an age when many other children are focused on what game they’ll play at recess, Diamond began volunteering with Down’s syndrome kids in her elementary school. “It was just something I was drawn to do,” she says. “It’s been said that true success lies at the intersection of passion and talent, and I believe that.”

Today Diamond is an organizational consultant offering programs on leadership, teambuilding, personal excellence, change, success strategies for women, and winning with diversity. On her companion website, Feistywomen.com, Diamond offers a series of Great Quotes from Feisty Women books, seminars, and coaching geared specifically for women.

Like many girls of the Baby Boom generation, Diamond was offered few career options during high school: teaching or nursing. The lack of choice is one reason many Baby Boomer women discover only later in life what their “true” calling might be. “As a woman, if your passion was science or engineering, you might have been steered in another direction at that time,” notes Diamond. “Once your children were grown, you may have discovered your passion later. I was the first in my family to go to college. Some people are very goal-oriented, while others are more evolutionary. I’m the latter. For the most part I follow interesting opportunities where they take me.”

Diamond taught for several years, and then joined the corporate world as an internal consultant for a Fortunate 100 computer firm. She then worked as a change leader and in strategic planning for 10 years in the human resources department. “That’s the best experience I ever had with a company,” she recalls. “It was very collegial and I learned a ton.” Then in 1994 came a period of transition in Diamond’s career path. She joined Project Open Hand, Meals on Wheels project for people living with symptomatic HIV/AIDS, homebound seniors and individuals with other critical illnesses or disabilities in Atlanta, for a one-year stint as its executive director. Afterwards she took six months off to mull over whether she had the gift to open her own business. Self discipline and organization weren’t her greatest strengths, but she more than made up for those deficiencies in passion for her work.

In July 1995, she decided to take the plunge. “On the day I made that decision to open my own consulting business, my phone rang and I got my first client,” she recalls. “Someone who had seen me facilitate a meeting from the Atlanta Journal Constitution needed to bring some departments together to improve teamwork. I needed a computer, so I charged them what it would cost me to buy a computer. And that’s how my business started.”

As Diamond travels about in the corporate world, what does she see as the limitations for women in the workplace? “While there are certainly still limitations in the workplace, I think women are most limited by their own self-beliefs and self-talk. I’m not minimizing gender discrimination—it still exists—but we get in our own way a lot of the time. The pink and blue cultures are different and we need to become more bicultural. We need to move beyond negative self talk. Sometimes we even limit the goals we set and limit our success. We can be our own worst enemy.”

“I think many women in senior executive positions are still mainly in the marketing and human resources departments and not in the line functions. There are still departments and industries where it is unusual to see senior women in executive positions. The barriers are breaking down but there’s still a long way to go—and that’s why many women choose to start their own businesses.”

Diamond laughs when asked if she’s ever felt discriminated against. “I’ve never been conscious of it—but my friends tell me I probably just wasn’t aware of it,” she laughs. “I know that in the speaking industry there are some organizations that won’t consider female speakers, and I don’t market to those, of course.”

In terms of trends for women in business, Diamond sees the opportunity to open new businesses and be successful as extremely attractive to talented women. “When women face road blocks at work, they say, ‘I’ll move on.’ As organizations have downsized, corporate hours have become incredibly long. We’re at a stage in society where people are looking at self-actualization and how they want to spend their lives. They don’t want to devote 100% of their lives to the work thing. This doesn’t meet their expectations about advancement.”

Currently Diamond is finishing up a chapter with Stephen Covey and Brian Tracy for the special 10th edition of Mission Possible. The topic involves “how to reach one’s full potential.” She’s declared her passion for 2006 as “Rocking the status quo in business and in one’s life.” To balance out the “intangible” nature of her work, Diamond devotes free time to making jewelry and yard art, is a voracious reader, and loves to hike in her Colorado home.

 

For more info, go to www.avadiamond.com and www.feistywomen.com.