As I’ve been interviewing different women for the Women & the Ways We Work series, I’ve heard incredible stories, but nothing like the boldness of Angela LaPointe’s boldness and risk-taking through moving about the country and travel so much, as well as her drive for business and people. With that being said, I’m amazed at everything she’s said, as I’ve learned even more from and about her in my 17th interview.
I met her in January, at a wine tasting I was hosting for the 20-30 Something Raleigh Chicks. It turned out we had a similar interest and background in marketing and travel, except my travel doesn’t quite measure up to hers. However, I was about to embark upon a trip to Zambia, where I would see the fruits of U.S. aid, so it was incredible to hear how she’d adapted to different cultures, while working abroad. Angela has a Bachelor’s Degree in International Business and Management from NYU, but grew up all around the United States. After traveling abroad a few years, she moved to Raleigh in August 2016 after being abroad in Australia, New Zealand, and Southeast Asia for a few years.
- Looking back on your life so far, what did you want to be when you “grew up” and how has that evolved?
I was never one of those people that knew exactly what they wanted to do in life. I guess when I was little I always wanted to be a CEO of a big company mostly because I wanted to be the boss (oldest child syndrome) and I wanted to just prove that I could do it. Or I thought it would be cool to work for the World Bank because I’d always wanted to live abroad. Now that I’m older, I still think it would be cool to work at the World Bank, but I don’t really want to be a CEO. There’s a lot of pressure and stress that goes with a job like that. That said though, I do have goals of starting my own small business and one day being my own boss 🙂
- What do you do in your “day job” and why have you chosen that? I work as a product manager for a small SaaS (software-as-a-service) company. I kind of accidentally stumbled into product management but it turned out to be a good fit because I get bored doing the same thing all the time and it gives me the opportunity to do lots of different things. Between speaking with customers, working on designs for new features and running a software development team, no two days are ever the same and that’s what makes things fun for me.
- How happy have you been with your choices as you’ve explored the things you’ve done in life?
I’ve definitely made plenty of mistakes but, so far, I’ve been incredibly happy with my choices in life.
- What are your best sources for learning?
Recently, I’ve been addicted to podcasts — you can learn about literally anything on a podcast, plus it’s great way to kill time while you sit in traffic on the way to work! I also watch a lot of documentaries, read blogs and try to find mentors to learn from, whether they be people I know or public figures that I follow.
- What is your passion and why is it important to you?
My passion is travelling the world and experiencing all the amazing cultures and people you meet along the way. I have been lucky enough to travel to over 25 countries and still have a long list of places to go. The more I travel, the more I learn about other people, myself and just different ways to think about things. Through travelling, I’ve met some of my closest friends, learned new skills, pushed myself out of my comfort zone and had some of the most incredible experiences.
- I know you’re all about experiences. What do you devote your time to outside of “work?”
I love to rock climb, hike, or do anything outdoors when I’m not working. I’m also a bit of an adrenaline junkie – I’ve skydived, bungee jumped, run a Tough Mudder, and climbed a glacier. Aside from that my big focus recently has been house hunting for my first home and starting an online business with my younger brother.
- You’ve seen a lot! How do you feel most inspired?
This goes back to my passion for travelling; I usually feel most inspired after I’ve learned something new from the locals when I’ve travelled abroad. It can open your eyes to so many different ways of living a happy a life.
- What causes and organizations are you most passionate about?
I’m a big believer in women’s rights: things like equal pay for equal work, the right to choose what’s right for your body and health, and making sure that women have access to the best education. We’ve come a long way, but there’s still a lot of work to do to get women and men on equal footing.
- Who do you look up to personally or professionally?
Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve always looked up to my grandpa. He was one of the smartest people I’ve ever met and probably will ever meet. He spent his career working working with world leaders to advocate for better education for young people around the globe. He spent a lot of time in the Middle East advocating for girls, who otherwise would never have had the opportunity to go to school. He also spoke 5 languages, most of which were self taught. But despite his impressive career, what I looked up to him for most was his ability to connect with people. It didn’t matter if he was talking to the President of the United States or a 5 year old little girl, he had this amazing ability to always make you feel important and empowered. He was interested in hearing everyone’s story. If I could live half the life he did, I’d die happy.
- What are some of the biggest challenges you have faced?
My teenage years were pretty rough between moving across the country a few times and enduring a family tragedy that changed the course of my life pretty significantly. Adults often forget just how difficult it can be to be a teenager and that made those years even harder for me, especially with all the pressure to achieve in school and extracurriculars. Fortunately, I learned a lot and am a stronger person for it today.
- You talk about learning from other experiences and people. What is some of the best and worst advice you’ve heard?
Best advice – Do the things that scare you, they often turn out to be the best experiences.
Worst advice – Go to school, get good grades, get a good job, get married, have kids. That’s not exactly bad advice — for some people, that’s exactly what they want out of life and that’s fantastic! I definitely think you should try to do your best at any stage in life (like striving for good grades in school), but in my experience life just isn’t that linear and I wish I’d known a lot earlier in life that that wasn’t the be all and end all to have a successful life.
I love that.
Want to hear more of Angela’s story? Connect with Angela LaPointe on LinkedIn.
Thanks for reading Angela’s story. Share in the comments how it impacted you or share it on social media. Check out next week’s weekly post on Women & the Ways We Work. Missed the others? Take a look at my blog to read the others. Know someone you think should be featured? Can I help you or your organization with a storytelling project? Contact me and let’s chat.