As a Manager of Community Affairs & Grassroots for Southwest Airlines, my career revolves around communities. Southwest works diligently to make a difference in the communities we serve, but we know that in order to do that, you have to start with the people.

That is why we have community partnerships with nearly 200 nonprofit organizations that focus on education and/or leadership in some capacity. While many of these organizations focus on the general public, we also support a number of organizations that tailor their efforts to a specific part of the population. We currently support more than 30 organizations that focus on women. These organizations focus on the specific challenges women face. Whether that is women business owners, women in government, women in the workforce who are balancing all of their other responsibilities with a full-time career, or young girls who are trying to find their place in the world; Southwest Airlines is a part of that journey.

At Southwest Airlines, we know that when you have strong people in the community, there’s no limit to what you can do. Someone else who is acutely aware of that fact is Sheryl Roush. Sheryl, a successful business owner, has spent her career empowering and inspiring everyone she touches.

Sheryl Roush

Professional Speaker, International Trainer, Author, Business Success, Communication Skills, and Speaking Coach Sheryl Roush shared her business directives and road to success with Giving Back Magazine.

1. Where are you from and how did you get started?

I was born and raised in Chula Vista. It was at Bonita Vista High School that I was responsible for leading the 2,000-student body in Pep Rallies and I remember staying up all night, painfully nervous about being on stage.

2. Who inspired you to follow this career path?

As a business owner, I attended numerous networking events and saw the speakers at the meetings. One woman, Anne Boe, a San Diego speaker and author, presented and was having so much fun and got paid for it. I remember saying to myself, “I want to do what SHE is doing.” I found out she belonged to the National Speakers Association and I have been a member since 1990.

3. What is it that you do?

I help people believe in themselves, instilling hope and energizing positive feelings, through my presentations, books, messages and interactions. My coaching and encouragement helps others bring out their own brilliance – being the best they can be – at whatever they choose in their lives.

4. What is your key to success?

Perseverance. Believing in myself even when others may have doubt. Seeing the dream or goal in my mind’s eye of what IS possible, then finding a way to make it so. I’ve also been one to “think outside of the box” never believing there was even a box to begin with!

5. As an accomplished woman and winner of various prestigious awards, of which are you most proud?

The professional accomplishment I am most proud of is the Accredited Speaker designation from Toastmasters International, as it honors my speaking style and ability. I was only the sixth woman in the world, and 28th person (of the now 4.4 million members in 116 countries) to earn it.

6. As a passionate woman, which local non-profits are closest to your heart and why?

San Diego Zoo and Safari Park. My most passionate heartfelt nonprofit client. For the past 8 years, I have conducted management training and webinars boosting communication and leadership.

• Balboa Park Cultural Partnership. A new client and passionate non-profit entity, composed of 26 museums, theatres and institutions (including the Zoo)

• American Cancer Society. My brother, only 3 years older, lost his battle with Melanoma April 2011. Over the years, I have donated much to this cause.

• National Charity League. Our next women global leaders are being sculpted right now thanks to this organization.

7. What are some common problems that companies face and with your help they can easily change?

• Communication issues, interpersonal, teamwork, leadership, public speaking, customer service, low morale, negativity, beating burnout and stress, work/life balance and constant complaining.

8. What are some easy tips for individuals to maximize their public speaking skills?

• Visualize your success.

• Speak from your heart, not your head.

• Share real life experiences and stories.

• Know your audience, their needs, pains and concerns.

• Be authentic and have significance in your message.

• Connect eye-to-eye, heart-to-heart, not speaking over their heads.

• Be able to laugh at yourself, and the audience laugh with you.

• Don’t memorize your speech… flow with it.

• Join a local non-profit Toastmasters Club.

9. How has Southwest Airlines allowed you to achieve success?

Southwest Airlines is “my” airline, and I let clients know it when booking me to speak. I know when I fly Southwest, I can COUNT on them to “take care of me” and my business luggage, arriving on time, no excuses, no issues! It is a delight to travel Southwest. It is obvious that employee morale is high. Happiness and fun are authentic, visible and obvious. Empowerment is alive and 360-degree in action. Employee engagement soars with lightheartedness yet high accountability – rare qualities in an organization.

10. What advice would you give to someone who wants to start a business?

Do it. There is a dream inside of you that is longing to be realized. How much longer will you deprive the world of your gift? Your message is your service, and that service is an extension of your love. Bring it forth!