Recent grad shows students how to build a business culture
By Rick Vacek
GCU News Bureau
Students in the Colangelo College of Business at Grand Canyon University got valuable insights into the working world from a recent graduate Wednesday morning in the first session of the CCOB Dean’s Speaker Series.
But this grad isn’t just working in a business — she’s running it. And it’s the way she runs it that made her talk special.
Natalie Speers founded Social Ally, a social media and branding agency based in Scottsdale, three years ago but didn’t start hiring employees until 2014, the same year she graduated from GCU with a bachelor’s degree in marketing. Now she’s thriving, and doing so with a philosophy that fits perfectly with the servant leadership and “Conscious Capitalism” ideals being taught in CCOB.
“I couldn’t have asked you to say better things about spirituality and building a culture,” Dr. Randy Gibb, the CCOB dean, told her afterward.
Speers already has six full-time employees, two of whom showed their support by attending her talk. It was easy to see why they were there when she said, “If you treat your employees right, they will treat your clients right. I don’t like the word ‘employee.’ They’re my family, my team, my allies.”
One of the employees, Matt Frank, also is a GCU student, a junior majoring in digital design. He started as an intern with the new company and worked his way up.
“As a millennial, I should have known all this (about social media),” he said. “Now, after working with her, I know so much more.”
The other employee who was there, Alyssa Guzman, said, “She’s so down to earth, you feel like you’re at home.”
Speers also has built great relationships with her business neighbors, as evidenced by the fact that Tara Coleman and Keri Leon, who operate a salon next door, were in the room as well. “She’s created an online presence for us,” Coleman said.
To further underline how she handles herself in the business world, Speers told the story of a client who had paid upfront but then, in her view, was mistreating her employees. She refunded the client’s money and ended the relationship.
“Like attracts like,” she said. “Your most profitable assets are your mind and your tongue.”
When she first started, Speers was working out of her home, and to this day she says she has never advertised, instead relying on word of mouth. She’s big on visualization, to the point where she said that while she was at GCU she “visualized what it felt like to help a business.”
“I try to intuitively adapt to what a client is trying to do,” she told the students.
Speers also is trying to help small entrepreneurs gain a competitive edge through webinars she has started doing in her Social Ally Academy, which she launched this week. She said the “show up” rate for her first one was 35 percent, almost double the normal amount.
Through it all, Speers has maintained a healthy humility and sense of wonderment about all that has transpired in such a short time.
“I never in my wildest dreams thought it would go this far this fast,” she said.
● For a GCU Alumni Spotlight video on Speers, click here.
Contact Rick Vacek at 602-639-8203 or firstname.lastname@example.org.