We had the good fortune of connecting with Amy Smathers and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Amy, is there something you believe many others might not?
Often I hear people say “It wasn’t meant to be” or “What will be, will be” in regards to their career or job search. They’re stuck in jobs that they hate or are stagnating in but they’re too afraid to take a leap of faith and try something new because it’s comfortable.
To that I would say that it’s important to build a track record in a company and establish your expertise, but when your work no longer aligns with your values or long-term priorities it’s time to find something else that does. If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that life is too short and too precious to spend so much time doing something that is making us unhappy.
Do you want to try a new industry? Start a business? Write a book? Collaborate with someone new? If that’s you, I want to encourage you to take the risk. Start slow: set up an informational interview with someone who has your dream job, and ask a lot of thoughtful questions. Start saving. Build your website on weekends until you have some traffic. Comb through LinkedIn to discover the skill sets you’d need. By taking small steps and setting some smart, realistic expectations of what it will look like, you can get there.
In the end, it’s a far bigger risk to get to the end of your life with a million “what ifs” than facing some temporary discomfort to pursue something greater that could be your biggest blessing. I started my own non-profit last year after ten years of dreaming and investing into it, and I’m so glad that I did because I know that we will make a tangible impact in so many people’s lives.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
When I first started my non-profit organization The Well Initiative I had spent over seven years in Washington D.C. working for all kinds of organizations, ranging from the State Department to large global non-profits and ministry, and was ready for a change. As much as I truly loved the work I was doing, I saw a large gap in the market: if churches are spending so much every year on global missions and humanitarian work, why aren’t we seeing more of a lasting footprint in the world? Is there a way that we can collaborate more strategically to make a greater impact?
It finally came to the point I was waking up every day knowing something needed to be done, and I wanted to be at the forefront of that change. With that, The Well Initiative was born with the mission of equipping and mobilizing the church to solve the world’s biggest problems. We help non-profit and church leaders think through big questions, like “What can I do?” and facilitate avenues for collaboration. We have a focus on programs that support vulnerable women and girls around the globe, whether that’s helping trafficking survivors or breaking cycles of generational poverty. What gets me up every morning is the excitement of meeting with incredible new non-profit leaders working on the frontlines and the knowledge that our work will have a profound impact in the lives of those who need support the most.
Looking back, I can see that a lot of people might have seen my decision to leave my work in Washington D.C. as a risk, or at least as a non-traditional choice. Since DC is known as the epicenter of politics, most people who move there for work end up staying for decades as they move up the career ladder. I had gotten my master’s degree in the field of diplomacy and was set up to do the same thing when I left to start my own organization.
On paper, it probably didn’t make sense to some people. Yet as a Christian, I believe that what other people might see as a big business risk God sees as an opportunity, and The Well Initiative has been just that. Behind the scenes, I had been prayerfully waiting for the right time to pursue my dream of starting a non-profit for over ten years! It turns out that moving when I did during the pandemic opened up all sorts of new opportunities and that leaving that kind of structured, resourced environment to create a start-up brought a new set of rewards: agility in our work, the flexibility of working remotely, and so much more.
Going through this experience has taught me so much.
First, I would encourage other entrepreneurs with something a good friend shared early on in my own journey: you have to trust yourself and be the biggest champion for your brand. As a Christian, I work for an audience of one. I’ve seen that if I’m secure in my identity as a daughter of God, others’ opinions of my work don’t affect me and I can move forward with confidence in who I am and what I know I’m on this Earth to do.
Next time I think through a “risk” or challenge – whether in my career or in my personal life – my hope is that this experience of starting an organization will give me even greater trust in God and my own abilities as a leader. Romans 8:28 says “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” and Luke 1:37 says: “For nothing will be impossible with God.” If I believe God truly orders my steps, then even the biggest leap isn’t actually so much of a risk.
Lastly, I also would encourage other entrepreneurs, or people aspiring to be entrepreneurs, to start serving today. There are so many needs around the world but we all can hold a small piece of the puzzle. Who can you support today? How can you make a difference in someone else’s life with what you have, where you are?
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
We just moved to Dallas a year ago and I’m still learning new things every week! While the weather’s nice I would definitely bring visitors to the Dallas Arboretum or for a long walk or bike ride around White Rock Lake. Then we’d have to stop for some great BBQ and Tex Mex (the more guac, the better!), and stop by Uptown or the Katy Trail Ice House at the end of a perfect day in our city.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I can’t neglect the opportunity to give thanks to my amazing husband, Chad, and to God!