Nola Theiss

What is the best business decision you ever made? Starting my business and keeping my business at home in 1982 when hardly anyone worked from home and women who did got no respect as having a real business. I was able to be available to my kids all through their childhoods and I hired other women who got that advantage as well. It was great to see my kids grow, the business grow and the self-esteem of the women who worked for me grow.

What is the best life decision you ever made? I remember when we first moved here, I was so astonished by how much there was to learn about this totally different environment that I decided I didn’t want to be indoors all day, translating and running my business. So my husband and I got involved in environmental, historical and city issues. That led to being on the planning commission, then city council all in the space of two years. Since then I’ve used the cumulative skills I’ve acquired in all of my careers in the work I now do with Human Trafficking Awareness Partnerships. Something obviously clicked with me and SWFL.

What’s the most valuable tip you can give to a high school freshman today? Pretend you are 10 years older than you are now. Try to act the way the grown up you would be proud of.

What’s the most valuable tip you can give to a college freshman? Again: Pretend you are 10 years older than you are now. Try to act the way the grown up you would be proud of.

What’s the most valuable tip you can give to a college senior? Whatever you choose to do for a living straight out of college will be a great learning experience, but it won’t be where you will end up. Don’t be afraid to take risks in your career and to make changes. Every job you do will teach you lessons you will be able to use in the next, no matter how unrelated they seem.

If you are really unhappy in your job, figure out what will make you happy, prepare yourself to make the change and do whatever you need to do to get what you need to get to your dream job. If that turns out not to be right, go through the process again. Life is long. I feel like I’m in my fourth life already.

Other than family members, who influenced you the most in your youth?  I had a great teacher in ninth grade who served as a mentor all through high school and college as he did for a number of kids. He served in WWII and had a broad worldview, but he was also a child of first generation American citizens as I was. I think I became a teacher because of him and he was my biggest cheerleader as I changed careers as well.

What is your favorite leisure activity? No. 1 is being with my daughters and their families: Elizabeth and her husband, Marc, and their three children who are 11, 6 and 5, and Joanna, who is newly engaged to Sean. Keeping up with them is not exactly leisurely, but it’s fun. My second favorite activity is reading. Joanna and I keep track of how many books we read/listen to every year and we both review audiobooks for an Internet review website: SoundCommentary.com.