1% Better S2,

Leah Olszewski – Developing Resilience & Courage from US Military, Entrepreneurial, and Domestic Violence Experiences – EP16 S2

July 13, 2018

Welcome to the 1% Better Podcast.

Leah Olszewski has had quite the journey so far. She is an award winning Entrepreneur, a Commissioned Officer in the US Army, holds an MBA & PMP and has just come through a very challenging couple of years personally. But, as you’ll hear, she’s looking forward to what the future will bring with focus and resilience.

During the interview, Leah talks me through the path life has had in store for her, touching on early years growing up, lessons learned during university, finally realising her ambition of becoming a commissioned officer, to becoming an accidental entrepreneur with her sister, and, in more recent times, dealing with domestic violence in her personal life. Thankfully, she’s a very strong and determined lady and is now focusing on the next chapter in her journey.

You should listen to this podcast as it’s always interesting, has many turning points and touches on so many valuable lessons that you can take something from. There is a summary of the topics covered below with details on how to connect with Leah at the bottom.

As always, thanks so much for listening in. I hope you enjoy the show.

We discuss:

  • Proudest Achievements – The Military & Efforts in Entrepreneurial Space
  • Growing up in Pennsylvania and them moving to Florida then moving to California – getting lots of benefits from traveling in these early years
  • At the Age of 12, seeing Top Gun and getting inspired to be in the military in some capacity
  • Initially planning to enlist in the Marine Corp
  • ROTC in University of Alabama – decided that wasn’t her right path – realizing she made a mistake – so she enlisted after college – backwards and then in 2003 becoming a commissioned officer
  • Once Leah got there, it felt right – it was when she was supposed to be there!
  • Standout Moments in the career in Military:
    • Made a good jump up to her potential in 2003 as commissioned
    • Active duty in a few locations
    • 2005 served with joint special operations command
    • Never thought she’d make it to the rank she’s currently at – now a Major (O4) – once you become a major, things change!
    • Discipline & being a rebel in many ways – mixing discipline and being a rebel during the years which can work well in the military
    • Separating Military life from personal life
    • Turning Points – 10 years ago – With a very special unit – great mission – but they didn’t take care of females primary
    • NCOs – other females can’t speak up – impacting work and mission
    • Coaching Question – key learnings & now can use and apply?
  • Life skills – positives & not so positive
    • Situational Leadership – keeping your own individuality
    • Learned a lot about herself and being true to yourself
  • Leadership – command and control
    • Not as much as you would think
    • The quiet professional – with high EQ is key – influence
  • Introvert v Extrovert leaders?
    • Depends on the field or branch – but it can vary – you see more
  • Military Mental or Physical Challenges
    • More mental challenging in the role – these push Leah far more!
  • Entrepreneurial Journey begins
    • 2013 – started with her sister – the idea for military apparall for women wasn’t a thing!
    • There was a problem & leah saw the solution and she could help with this!
    • FEMTAC is the company
    • Who better to solve this problem as both had the background in this space!
  • Was skills you could apply into the business?
    • Skills brought from Military
      • Endurance (not an overnight success)
      • Human & People Sills – you need people around you!
      • Team Effort
    • Skills to develop
      • How to brand yourself – as you’re so used to hiding out in military
      • Learning to stand out!!
    • Both having different set of skills to each other and working well together
  • PM skills and other skills applying to the business
  • Funding win & pitches for funds
    • Program Serquise university – New York – supportive military and entrepreneurship
    • Competition in Business Planner competitions
  • Developing presentation skills
    • Stepping outside of her body presenting for pitching – practicing so much!
    • Figuring out who you are – be true to yourself when presenting – never copy another person’s style!
    • Take the good stuff but find your own style!!
    • Fit the role, look the part, talk the part, it’s a right fit!!
    • Starting in 2014 when the funding started
    • Other pitches and winning
  • Facing a hugely challenging period in her personal life in the last 18 months
  • Overcoming the pain of domestic violence and making difficult decisions
    • Run towards rather than running away from challenges.
    • Problems in general – tend to run towards then – take them on!!
    • Pushing FEMTAC forward – wakes her up in the morning
    • Focused and eager to move this forward.
  • What the day/weeks look like?
    • Juggling another business and working hard to get things moving forward
    • Physical fitness
    • Working 7 days a week
    • Developing more structure in life
    • 1 hour – Goal setting
    • Backward planning – short term plans & longer term
    • Leaving room for forgiveness – some flexibility
  • Decision Making with her sister
    • Sometimes pull rank!
    • Skill sets complement each other
    • People for Leah & Megan is more behind the scenes – stable not as many issues
  • Mentors in the business?
    • Learning from both men and female
    • Women that have had business and sold them off
    • Lacked a lot of mentorship by women in the military career – strong women
    • Benefit of very objective mentors from men that are totally separate from the FEMTEC business
  •  Scaling FEMTEC?
    • Scaling yes but start with the very basics and then go larger
    • Global plan later
    • Some interest from Africa, European Law and others
    • A line not just for tactical use but in field based professions
  • Dealing with the fear that comes?
    • Dealing with Fear is the biggest question of her life now!
    • Fear of success as much as failure – ever day!!
    • How to deal with it?
    • I have the choice – do I want to live and move forward or not??
    • I have no doubt I will succeed
    • Talking about fear – raising the hand and asking the question in class
  • Book recommendations
    • Adult children of Alcoholics – help people understand themselves
    • What got you here, wont get your there

1% Better tips:

  • Be yourself and if that’s rebellious, it can be a good thing – it was for Leah in the military as it gave her an edge. The spark
  • Leadershp skills – be authentic
  • Learning to be less hard on yourself – changing this is difficult – as time goes one – not be so hard!!

You can connect with Leah via:


Please do let me know what you think via the feedback page or any of the socials – links below.

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