Great success starts with a great purpose. Cathey M. Finlon arrived in Colorado over 40 years ago, driven by a vision of leveraging big ideas in business to create opportunities. After building her career in nonprofits and advertising, Cathey eventually took on full ownership of her advertising agency. Cathey found that leading a business not only shaped her higher mission to achieve success by helping other businesses but also served as a ladder for other women to activate their purpose and achieve success, too.
We sat down with Cathey and gathered her best four tips of the trade as a thriving woman in business.
1. Work with likeminded people instead of working to change people’s minds.
“As far as being a woman in business, I always felt respect. If I ever felt disrespected because our agency was woman-owned, I knew there were plenty of people who did want to work with us. Good people like working with good people. I never tried to change anybody’s mind—I just went and found somebody who was of like mind.”
2. Celebrate your ambition.
“I remember when I used to cover up my ambition. I liked winning, but I didn’t want others to see that I was hugely competitive. Becoming proud of that was an interesting experience. Because I was very ambitious and loved to work with people who had similar ambitions, the business began to grow.”
3. College isn’t just about what you learn. It’s about learning how to learn.
“My education gave me a lot of strength; it served me well. I needed to know the process of how to think; how to put disparate ideas together; how to be logical and intuitive; how to write clearly to communicate ideas.”
4. A strong sense of purpose can weather the good times and the bad times.
“Finding purpose in work is really important. For those women who want to start their own businesses, it is purposeful. You get to build everything under your tent through your values, your longevity, and your decades of work. On the other side of the coin, the responsibility of ownership can’t be delegated. There is no way to get out from under it, and there is nothing more exhilarating if you want it. I never took the responsibility lightly as a leader of staff. Having a good sense of purpose is important especially when times are not good. Embracing the bad times prepares you to embrace the good times.”
Cathey M. Finlon has contributed extensive expertise and resources to DSF in support of our mission to make college possible for Denver’s students. She shares, “I believe in creating a workforce that grew up here. That’s why I love DSF: That’s what we’re doing.”
Since our founding in 2006, Cathey has provided marketing expertise through her agency; she has served as board chair and interim chief executive officer; and she led the successful passage of the Prosperity Denver ballot initiative in 2018, which supports DSF and many other organizations throughout the Denver metropolitan area. In celebration of Women’s History Month, we are honored to recognize her as a pillar of DSF’s, our Scholars’, and our community’s success.