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Navigating Adversity and Leading with Purpose

Autumn Manning’s life story is a testament to resilience, adaptability, and the pursuit of a higher purpose. Raised in California and Arkansas, Autumn’s childhood was marked by constant movement and responsibility beyond her years; a series of experiences that preceded her being recognized as Austin’s Best CEO in 2018 and for a time until recently, serving as a Partner at Motley Fool Ventures.

Born into a family of five children, her mother’s adventurous spirit led them to relocate frequently, experiencing new places and people every seven to eight months. With her mother working double shifts as a nurse to support the family, Autumn found herself not only adapting to change but also shouldering the responsibility of caring for her three younger sisters.

Reflecting on those formative years, Autumn shared with Adam Bryant and The New York Times, how she learned to be adaptable and go with the flow. The constant relocation meant she never fully unpacked until adulthood. The independence she gained from working part-time jobs from the age of 13, such as washing dishes and waiting tables, provided her with valuable life skills. Waiting tables, in particular, taught her the art of serving people, a lesson that would shape her leadership style in the future.

Autumn pursued a degree in Psychology in college, fueled by a lifelong fascination with human behavior.

This interest in understanding what motivates people and drives change would become a cornerstone of a leadership philosophy emphasizing the importance of clear communication and setting a compelling vision for the team. She believes in articulating the “North Star” for everyone and breaking down the path to achieving common goals. Transparency and trust are key components of her leadership approach, and she acknowledges the ongoing challenge of breaking down silos within an organization.

Self-awareness is another crucial aspect of Autumn’s leadership journey. Recognizing her intensity and passion, she actively communicates her intentions to ensure her team feels empowered to speak up. Instead of being perceived as an interrogation, her questioning style aims to uncover the full scope of problems and potential solutions.

As the founder and CEO of YouEarnedIt, a platform designed to enhance workplace culture and recognition, Manning made an indelible mark in the realm of employee engagement. With her unique blend of adaptability, passion, and a keen understanding of human behavior to the forefront, she embarked on a mission to redefine corporate culture, placing employee well-being and engagement at the heart of organizational success. The company evolved into WorkTango after its 2018 acquisition by Vista Equity Partners.

“As far as the work we do,” speaking of YouEarnedIt, “it feels like it’s a dream job. YouEarnedIt’s software platform enables companies to build better cultures, drive engagement across their people, and deliver more powerful bottom-line results.” Through that experience and since that time, Autumn has implemented unique strategies to foster a positive corporate culture. Quarterly “M.U.B. meetings” (Make Us Better) encourage employees to contribute ideas on how a company can improve. Additionally, she conducts “stay” interviews, engaging with team members regularly to maintain open lines of communication and address concerns before they become reasons for departure.

Such experiences, in life and in work, in developing a leadership philosophy, and having worn hats as a Partner at Motley Fool Ventures she brings a holistic perspective to growth and performance optimization through Faana, a new venture, we’re going to know better, on Humanizing Software; join us this week as we dive into conversation with Autumn on Episode 66, November 14th at 11 CT

[Above photo thanks to Austin Business Journal]

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