December 2020… what a year it has been, a year I am ready to say good-bye to, a year that has caused a lot of grief and heartache.
I found it to also be a year of growth though— which yes, sometimes comes with growing pains, a year of introspection, of opportunity and of connection. Somehow, I have found that in this crazy virtual world, connections have come to be more important and more appreciated and so much more meaningful than it ever has been before.
Our next REfashiond Icon, and the last one of the year, is all about connections and growth. She celebrates in seeing others succeed and has built an entire culture around seeing other businesses grow.
Chrisie Ballard is the franchise owner of BNI SoZona, which is the Southern Arizona region of BNI. I have had the pleasure of knowing Chrisie for just over 4 years and watching as she poured her energy into connections, growth, education and support for her members.
For those that don’t know, 5 years ago (in February) I started my business… after 13 years as a preschool teacher and just beginning this new chapter, I had ZERO idea how to effectively run a business or connect to other business owners. One thing I did know was that I was going to need help. I joined BNI to help me grow my business, and it did! What I didn’t expect was how much it would help me grow as a business owner and in how I supported my community. This opportunity gave this woman (me) the support I needed to grow beyond the statistics and become a successful business owner.
One thing I can tell you “Chrisie Says” is that BNI is not for everyone. Whether you are someone who sees it as something for you or not for you, there is no arguing the incredible impact the she and the culture she has created here has made on the success of hundreds of business owners across Southern Arizona. If you haven’t visited a chapter, it’s easier now than ever as everyone is meeting virtually online! Visit, and discover for yourself if it works for you and your business.
So without further adieu, Allow me to introduce to you our December REfashiond Icon, Chrisie Ballard.
Interview with Chrisie Ballard
Jessica: What does RED symbolize to you?
Chrisie: Red has always been my favorite color. Always. And what’s funny is, I realized a couple of years ago I don’t have that much red in my closet. I have just always been drawn to the color.
I think it’s a powerful color. I’ve always been told that red is a good color on me, so I think that helps me feel more confident, too.
I think the word is really just, it’s powerful.
Jessica: What does Success REfashiond mean to you?
Chrise: Oh gosh, success refashioned.
You know, I think it means to me that, it comes in waves. It also means different things to different people. And Bill [Husband] and I were actually talking the other day and I was talking about when Sydney played softball and how sometimes it was so hard for me to watch dad’s coach my kid, because the dad had never played softball before, right, and Bill was like “What do you mean” and I said “well, success for a boy is winning. They have to win, to have fun, and for girls, they have to have fun to win.”
Success means different things to different people success isn’t always how much money you make, I did a podcast the other day and was asked, “what are you most proud of”, you know, the first thing that comes to my mind is the fact that I have a former husband and a current husband, who really genuinely love each other, and speak to each other and have helped me create a family that I didn’t know it was going to look like this! And yet it’s really amazing.
That’s a level of success that means the world to me.
So, I think success refashiond just means it doesn’t have to look any certain way for it to mean “yeah I’m successful.”
Jessica: Tell me about what you do.
Chrisie: So I like to say that I’m a BNI executive director.
I believe what we do is we create communities within communities. And now more than ever, people feeling connected to other human beings, not only personally but professionally, is more challenging than ever. And I’m so amazingly proud of this company and how, even though we are a belly-to-belly face-to-face organization and always have been, that we still have a platform where we can still see each other, be in each other’s spaces. You know, safely online and create those great connections.
I grew up, and I didn’t realize it for years, but I grew up, searching out people that had my back. Again, you know, personal development I didn’t really get it until November 4 of 2013, it was my aha moment. Um, and now I have this space where I get to watch that happen, which I love. And it happens for me too, because, you know, the members do end up becoming friends of mine and you know I have a killer team that rallies and is around me and has my back.
Probably my favorite thing about what we do is hearing the stories of, you know, somebody had a tragedy in their family and their chapter just, “We got you.” You know, “we got you, what what do you need, we got you”.
I love, obviously, the success stories where people are making a lot of money by being in the room. The ones that really touched me though, are the ones where, you know, we’ve got a former member that has COVID right now her whole entire family and they’re dealing with this and I’m watching it on Facebook, and I’m watching all these members from all of these different chapters step up, because she had this network. And they’re like, I’m dropping off food for you, I got you, what do you guys need? and I’m just watching the story play out.
That’s just who we are, we’re just different than some big networking organization.
We’re a group of people that really care about each other
and I don’t think you get that any place else except BNI.
Jessica: What would you say that you wish you had known when you first started out?
Chrisie: You know, in the beginning of this business, I searched out people that were like me. Because it was easier for me to communicate with them. And I pushed away some people that were much different, because you know, they gotten my stuff, and they told me what was up and I didn’t necessarily love that.
What’s hilarious now is the one of the gentlemen that I actually asked to be on the team is like one of our newest team members, and is a guy… and I’ve told him this… is a guy that pretty much every time I’m in the room he says something that irks me. And what I came to realize is, it’s because he doesn’t think like I do, he thinks completely differently, And he’s not being a jerk. He’s not pushing me to push my buttons. He’s being him asking questions that I actually need to be asked. And when I invited him, that’s what I told him.
And so I think I wish I would have been a little bit more open.
Jessica: What would you say is a common myth about networking?
Chrisie: I believe that the networking myth is that you attend a networking event, let’s play pre COVID for a minute, that the more cards you pass out, that’s what makes you a better networker.
And, in my opinion, over time and my experience, what I believe creates a great networker is someone that is a fantastic listener.
“Networking is more about listening
than about throwing cards and about talking.”
And I think if we all got into the habit, once the world opens up again, and we attended networking events and we only took five business cards…And we got super strategic as to who was actually going to get them, and that we only gave them to people that asked for them. We could actually change how we network, And I think we would be far more effective, and I think ultimately we’d make more money, because people wouldn’t feel sold to, they’d feel listened to.
Jessica: What’s your favorite word?
Chrisie: What’s my favorite word? Opportunity.
I don’t know if that was the word six months ago, but it sure is now.
You know, are you gonna take it, are you gonna leave it, what are you gonna do?
“What’s the opportunity?”
Jessica: Where Can People find out more or connect with you more?
Chrisie: Oh, you can always find us at BNISozona.com is the website you can reach me directly off of and it’s got my phone number on it. That’s a textable number, you know, even if you just have questions can always reach out, I’m very hands on and there’s not a stupid question in my opinion, there’s just the ones that are not asked.
So if you have a question, if you’re curious about something if you need something, I mean I would say we’re a huge resource in southern Arizona, if you need something from Maricopa, Arizona to Sierra Vista, Bisbee, we’ve got you covered.