My Mission is to ignite energy and creativity and generate AH-Ha moments to awaken purpose, passion, and potential to make great things happen.
I am Susan Neustrom, Ed.D., author, speaker, coach, consultant, and educator dedicated to helping people leave their comfort zone and accomplish great things.
For 22 years I worked in banking advancing from entry level to assistant vice president. That is, until I got the “itch” to change. What I deeply desired was to follow my calling and transition to nonprofit leadership providing critical services to people who experience barriers to success. My passion stemmed from many years of volunteer work helping those who were homeless, victims of domestic violence, women experiencing crisis pregnancy, the unemployed or underemployed, seniors on a fixed income, and people with cancer. As each year past, I grew more restless to move but never really had the courage to take action to create a life with greater meaning and purpose. While I had many fears about making a drastic change, one fear in particular left me immobile. I was a high school dropout, therefore, I felt powerless, defeated, and inadequate.
However, my desire to change continued to grow stronger and stronger. I knew I had to face my fear of failure, step out of my perceived comfort zone, take a risk, and make a life changing decision.
With this intent in mind, at age 48, thirty years after dropping out of high school, I enrolled in College of Dupage and passed the GED test. Finally earning my GED became my greatest Ah-ha moment and for the next 10 years, I pursued an education earning two Associate degrees from College of Dupage, a Bachelor of Science in Management from National Louis University, a Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership/ Training and Development from Lewis University, and a Doctorate in Education in Organizational Leadership from Argosy University. My dissertation, The Dyadic Relationship between an Executive Director and Board Chair during Turbulent Times is published in the Journal of Nonprofit Education and Leadership.
As a result of taking action to change, in 2006, my vision of transitioning from banking to human services became a reality and I was invited to work with adults with developmental disabilities as Director of Day Program Services and later as Director of Human Resources. In 2010, I became the Executive Director of a nonprofit, delivering educational programs to incarcerated men and women in a county jail.
In addition, I am an adjunct professor of business and writing teaching undergraduate and graduate programs at Benedictine university, National Louis University, and Argosy University. I am a keynote speaker, panel presenter, and workshop facilitator at many universities, conferences, and organizations.
Certainly, breaking away from a 22 year routine, my defining identity, as difficult and painful as it was, became one of the most important steps in leading me toward my vision. At the same time, I learned how to move from working for a living to doing my life’s work, a life filled with purpose, passion, and unlimited potential. In my new book, ‘“The Comfort Zone Illusion-Leaving Your Comfort Zone Is Not So Hard After All”, I offer concrete steps to break down limitations, create an action plan, and achieve even the loftiest goal.
I reside in Woodridge, IL with my husband, two dogs, and a cat. I have two children, a son and daughter, two granddaughters, and two great granddaughters. Without a doubt, I am a lifelong Beatle fan and believe that my motivation to pursue my dream was really inspired by the Beatles’ ongoing determination to break down limitations, see beyond the “what is”, and never let go of a vision. I will admit that, even to this day, I still experiences bouts of Beatlemania every time I hear a Beatle song.