Courtney Spence on How Children Ground You and Remind You Family Comes First

In Chapter 4 of 20 in her 2013 Capture Your Flag interview, social entrepreneur Courtney Spence answers "How Are Your Personal Experiences Shaping Your Professional Aspirations?" Newly engaged Spence shares how having her fiancee's 5-year old daughter has given her a more holistic perspective on life that puts family front and center. The experience allows her to take a step back and appreciate her family relationships and get a healthy separation from work. Social entrepreneur and storyteller Courtney Spence founded 501c3 nonprofit Students of the World (SOW) to shine a light on progress and celebrate the world's problem solvers. She is building a movement of next-generation storytellers and creative activists through the SOW program The Creative Activist Network. Spence is a graduate of Duke University.


Erik Michielsen: How are your personal experiences shaping your professional aspirations?

Courtney Spence: This last year has been one of a lot more personal experiences, I guess, I would say. I got engaged.

Erik Michielsen: Congratulations.

Courtney Spence: Thank you. I, you know, have now a wonderful 5-year-old child in my life that I love, and what it has done for me is it has grounded me in a way that makes me realize what’s really important. And, again, there’s a lot of theme my family for me right now, and, you know, the things that really matter are the ones that you love most. And so, when you go through difficult times in your career, in your company, they don’t seem as insurmountable as they might have seemed a few years ago, and I think that’s because I have, you know—with the kind of the blending of this new family of mine, I now understand so many more things about just life in general that I don’t think I could have seen or understood before, so it has been a pretty profound year for that.

Erik Michielsen: Tell me more about that.

Courtney Spence: Especially when there is a child that you love, this daughter that I love, I am fiercely protective of her, and I get scared sometimes, or I get, you know, inspired, or l laugh a lot more than I did before, I mean just the range of emotions that comes with that, and it comes with seeing the kind of stepping back and starting to see the generations of my family, and spending more time with my parents, and my siblings, and my cousins, and then my new family, There’s a lot of just real understanding of just what’s important, and you see it daily. You see it daily. And what it makes me wanna do is when I do go to work, or when I am working, or if I’m working Friday night on my computer, I wanna work faster, better, smarter, harder, because I wanna wake up Saturday morning, go to the park, and that’s just a new—that’s something that has been pretty new for me, so.