In each “On Leadership” column, Allen Lima Leadership Executive Director Matt Childers talks with a regional business leader. This week, he profiles Lyn Mulcahy, Owner of Lyn’s Academy of Dance.
Matt: You grew up in the Lima/Shawnee area. How were your early years?
Lyn: I was probably the typical high school kid. I went to Shawnee High School and participated in a lot of school activities. It was a great era to grow up in because I could do cheerleading, run cross country and track and do a lot of different things, including dance where I own the studio today.
Matt: Tell me about the influences of your parents, John and Marilyn Fisher.
Lyn: Well, my dad was a salesman. I saw him working very hard, traveling and pushing his cheese (Fisher Cheese) for many years. My mom really ran the household. Monday through Friday she ran five kids to five different places, schedules, events, dinners, laundry, she got it done! I am probably more like her. They were very good influences on me for sure.
Matt: Did you know dance education was where you would end up professionally?
Lyn: I always knew I liked dance. I knew physical education and working with kids would be a focus. When I went to BGSU, I started taking dance classes right off the bat my freshman year, and I was also on an education track. So, I just merged those two areas and fell into the dance education program. It was great!
Matt: How would you describe BGSU’s dance education program?
Lyn: At the time I went, it was a very strong program. We had the dance program, but it was tied into the school of Health, Human Movement & Education. So, we received a strong background not only in dance, but in all the core education classes. Unfortunately, now it is only a minor program.
Matt: Did all paths lead back to Lima and having your own studio?
Lyn: My senior year, some of my fellow classmates and I thought about working on cruise ships, looking at master’s opportunities and looking at other opportunities. I just happened to be home the last part of my spring break the last year of college and received a call from the then-owner of my now-current studio. Barbara Ann Lloyd gave me a call and shared an opportunity with me. She was planning on relocating to the Myrtle Beach area with her family and retire. She made it very easy. Rent the building, give it a try, see what you think, and I very blindly said, “OK, I will try it.” (laughter) And 26 years later, I am still trying it!
Matt: How is leading young women different today than when you first embarked on this journey?
Lyn: The kids are the same. Mostly I have girls and a few boys, but mainly girls. The technology is the biggest change over the years that I see, the technology that the kids use to communicate.
Matt: Has the dance education changed? What types of dance do you offer at Lyn’s Academy of Dance?
Lyn: We really offer everything. From tap classes, jazz, hip-hop, clogging, point and tumbling. I am really lucky, as I have four instructors that have their own specialty and different area of expertise. We can capitalize on those professionals.
Matt: As the leader, how do you hire your team?
Lyn: I have been really lucky, as all but one instructor have been a former student of mine. I look for their background in dance, education and experience. They are all very qualified. I share that with my current students, the great credentials their instructors have.
Matt: What’s your best advice for young ladies?
Lyn: Pursue something you enjoy doing. Don’t do anything someone else wants you to do. Do what you want to do in life. If you find something that you love to do, I believe you can find a career to make it work!
Matt: You have had some powerful success stories come out of your studio. Can you share?
Lyn: Angela Kahle had a great career with Radio City Rockettes. Lena Lauer lives in New York and has had a very active dance career. She has had a couple of major jobs. She recently was coordinating with The Joffrey Ballet Modern Dance Program. We have had former students tour with Up with People. A current instructor, Liz Howard, is in her final stretch of getting her master’s in fine arts degree from St. Mary’s College in California. She is also the director of dance at Ohio Northern University. We have had so many. I get to live through them!
Matt: What is the most important piece of leading young women?
Lyn: I always tell my instructors, “We are here to teach them dance, give them the best education for dance, but really, we want to teach them to be strong women!” We have some girls who start in preschool and stay with us through high school. It’s great to see them grow and gain courage and confidence. I have been lucky to have some professional dancers come through the studio, but I really want all of these young girls to have confidence, not only in dance and on stage, but in life. Confidence! Have lots of fun, but most importantly have confidence.