In this post, I introduce you to Chasity Kuttrus – Partner and Executive Coach at Executive Elements. Executive Elements is a women’s executive coaching service that offers private and group leadership coaching as well as seminars, retreats, and conferences in Columbus, Ohio. They also develop custom programs for companies looking to give their women executives a leading edge.
Chasity and I met in 2011 when we were both participating in Leadership Dublin. She continues to be a great mentor and supporter. During our last meeting I learned she is from Upper Sandusky, a small town near Republic, Ohio. That was a sign that she was meant to be the next featured guest on From a Small Town to Making it Big!
Where did you grow up? Upper Sandusky, Ohio – population 6,500. Upper Sandusky is a very rural community formed on farming and manufacturing. Chasity’s parents still live in the house where she grew up. Chasity’s ancestors were part of building the North Salem Lutheran church.
What has been your geographic and professional journey since you left your small town? Chasity left Upper Sandusky to attend The Ohio State University after high school. After she graduated from Ohio State, she worked for Arthur Andersen/Andersen Consulting in human resources consulting and her job took her to Chicago. She then worked for CompuCom Systems headquartered in Dallas. She eventually returned back to Ohio to work for NCR in Dayton, Ohio. It was there that she married her husband, Jack, and bought her first home. Even though she was back in Ohio, her work often took her to Atlanta and San Diego. Chasity moved back to Columbus, Ohio, in 2001 to start Ray & Barney Group, a business that outsourced IT, HR and recruiting for mid-sized companies. In 2009, she launched Executive Elements.
Chasity never thought she would have the opportunity to travel and explore as much as she has through her professional career. She said she had the benefit of having her foot on the career accelerator until she was 35 years old, which is when she had her first child, Katie. Having this runway for her career gave her time and experience to learn about and lead complex businesses, which has afforded her flexibility in her current business.
What memories do you hold of your time in Upper Sandusky?
Brothers Baseball Games behind Westinghouse
Riding her bike to her grandparent’s
What is the single most important lesson you took with you from your small town upbringing? The greatest unspoken lesson from growing up in her small town was work ethic. The example was everywhere in her family and community members who worked tirelessly on farms and in manufacturing plants. Chasity doesn’t remember her grandparents ever taking a vacation. She jumped into the work scene at the age of 13 when she mowed many acres of property that her grandparents owned. In high school, she began working at Woody’s Restaurant, where she continued to work throughout high school and college. Although the restaurant is now closed, it holds great memories for those from the area – including me. (Side note: Woody’s Restaurant was where my family went for “fancy” occasions. I had my first filet mignon at Woody’s.) Not only did Chasity work there, but Woody’s is also where she went before homecoming dances, prom, and where she held her wedding rehearsal dinner.
Chasity said adopting the same type of work ethic she witnessed growing up in Upper Sandusky is what allowed her to get promoted and recognized at a young age. This work ethic and commitment allowed her to accelerate her career.
How have you brought the small town spirit with you in life? Chasity says that in a small town you are never lost in the crowd. In order to build this sense of closeness that happens so naturally in a small town, Chasity looks for individuals who share her values of responsibility and accountability. This helps her build a tribe that she can rely on and call upon like she would have called upon her support system in a small town.
Connecting others is a theme that carries through Chasity’s professional and personal life. Through her work, she connects professional women with one another. She is active with women’s organizations in central Ohio like Women at the Table (WATT), she’s a strong supporter of The Women’s Fund and WELD (Women for Economic and Leadership Develompent), and previous board member of the YWCA.
In her neighborhood, Chasity and her husband have served on their homeowner’s association board for the past ten years. She said this started as a way to determine who might be good babysitters for their kids, and has now turned into a way to make where they live feel smaller.
What advice would you give to kids who are growing up in your hometown today? The reason Chasity shares the following advice is because for a long time she didn’t believe it was possible for her.
Anything is possible and you can be anything you want to be.
When she was younger, Chasity had two goals: 1) To wear a business suit every day and 2) To start her own businesses. Despite setting these goals, she still had doubt that this was possible for her. Finally, with a combination of confidence, solid track record, and optimism, she decided to launch her first business when she was 30.
The week Chasity graduated from high school she remembers feeling uncertainty and anxiety about leaving for college, like many kids. She wasn’t sure what to expect at a large university and large city. At the same time, she had feelings of hope and excitement for what could be next.
Fast forward to 2017, and it’s evident that Chasity has manifested the advice for herself. She’s taken the best parts of her small town upbringing – work ethic and tight-knit community – and combined them with knowledge and experience to prove that anything is possible – and that you can go from a small town to making it big.
Do you know someone who has a great small town success story? Contact me and let me know!