Power in the Palm of Her Hands: Nicole Balistreri and USCCA

Lisa Buyer
February 11, 2020
Power in the Palm of Her Hands: Nicole Balistreri and USCCA

Boom goes the dynamite. Nicole Balistreri has boosted her career with a recent move to Social Media Manager at USCCA – a membership organization that provides self-defense education, training, and legal protection for responsible gun owners. A passion and dedication to social media and digital marketing fueled this opportunity. Nicole now leads a team of dedicated social media strategists who have a passion for gun rights and education. The organization seeks to constantly better its employees while helping others. During her first month on the job, Nicole participated in courses ranging from gun safety to personal development. How’s that for providing a well-rounded approach to those in a position of power?

Here’s the scoop:

Social Media Manager, USCCA

Home Base?

Southeastern Wisconsin

Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

My career has had many twists and turns – and like a true Gemini, I have had to try everything out and experience a variety of industries. I’ve worked on both the agency and client-side and ran my own business – you name it, I probably touched it somehow.

I’ve always been a natural communicator and had varied interests but my core values remain. This led me to seek out career opportunities that cater to my interests and strengths but also aligned with my values. At the heart of who I am, I am a catalyst and a liberty seeker, I want to walk along the cutting edge while promoting freedom for everyone. My role with the USCCA is amazing in that, I get to promote individual liberty as well as champion issues like safety for women.

When did the Entrepreneur light bulb go off?

Despite being an employee of a great organization, I do consider myself an entrepreneur in that, we are constantly looking for ways to grow and change. We are fast-paced, and strive to innovate in our space. For me, I knew this was my preferred environment pretty early in my career – I had a job where there was little to no opportunity to innovate or push the envelope, and I was restless and unhappy. I knew at that point, I needed to be somewhere that allowed me to move quickly, and try new things. Having my own business was amazing – as I had an intense amount of freedom. I could write the story, and I did!

What advice would you give other women wanting to start a biz?

You have to pursue a career path that is congruent with who you are as a person – and supports your values, not just your surface interests. If you’re inherently a “helper” – you will feel most satisfied with a business or career that allows you to do that. If you’re like me and you’re constantly seeking the next cliff to look over – you need to be in the business of innovation and change.

How do you bring goodness to the world?

Listening with the true intention to understand is in my opinion, the way to bring happiness to others. In my personal and professional life, I seek to constantly become a better and more intentional listener so I can be a better mother, partner, and servant leader to my team. Professionally, I know that every day we are working to make people safer, and that is what motivates us to push our business further each day.

Nicole Balistreri

None of us can achieve success without some adversity along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful to who helped get you to where you are?

I have been on a journey, let me tell you! I will spare you the gory details – but success is not a straight line, as cliché as that sounds. The one thing that took me through my professional challenges was always mentorship.

Mentorship is so valuable. Full stop. Finding a mentor in your field that is willing to coach you, support you, and help you through difficult professional challenges is honestly in my view, a major key to long term professional success. I had a mentor early in my career, Nicole Fraley, who is now an executive with Victoria’s Secret. She ave me SO many great pearls of wisdom, countless advice, and was never more than a phone call away ready to open her contact list to help however she could. Honestly, she’s probably responsible for shaping me into the professional I am, today.

What are your “5 Leadership Lessons I Learned From My Experience” and why?

  1. It is your job to work yourself out of a job: Your team is there to learn from you, and to become better. If your team succeeds, you succeed. In all things, seek to elevate and train your team.
  2. Listen more than you talk: This is hard! When you are a natural communicator, it’s difficult to let others take the lead. As a leader, your job is to LISTEN, and then lead the team in the correct path. Not to dictate while they listen.
  3. Balance in all things: Your job is not everything. You are a person with a family, friends, and interests. Being a good leader means being a balanced one – and encouraging your team to be balanced as well. Burnt out staff do not produce great results.
  4. You can teach skills but not passion: never pass up someone for a role just because they lack specific skills if they are passionate. You can teach skills, but you can’t force someone to care.
  5. Know when to apologize: As a leader, you are responsible for modeling behavior and creating team culture. Did you drop the ball? Admit it. Did you snap on someone? Let them know you’re sorry. Take corrective action with yourself, not just those who work for you.

Favorite “Life Lesson Quote”

It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.

We often have to have difficult conversations in life. We have to coach our team, we have to talk to difficult clients, we have to deal with family issues. Speaking your truth is important, but speaking it with true positive intention is vital.

Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why?

I’m going to have to go with a past historical figure, Marie Antionette.

She is one of history’s most misunderstood figures – she was essentially a child bride, forced into a relationship that she didn’t want and was ultimately very painful for her, and was ultimately killed as part of a changing French government. I have always been fascinated with her story as she was both a flamboyant figure, but also a tragic one. She was a reluctant cultural leader, and I’d love to ask her about this.

Secret Talent?

I fancy myself a pretty accurate Tarot Card reader.

Zodiac Sign?

Gemini sun, Cancer Moon, Libra rising

Currently reading?

“What the Heck is EOS?”

Where will social media in five years?

This is always an interesting question. I think we’ve reached an interesting point wherein, people are seeking out more meaningful connections and content. We are seeing this reflected in things like Facebook’s focus on groups, and brands focusing on micro-influencers. Consumers are interested in a more genuine, personalized social experience and brands will have to adapt to become a part of this.

I also suspect, we are going to continue to see expanding interest in data privacy and safety – as consumers become more digitally savvy, they are aware of how valuable their data is. I would expect social tools free from invasive data collection to develop and become popular.

Favorite drink order?

Unsweetened venti iced coffee, heavy cream, one stevia!

Favorite Instagram Account?

@elsarhae – She is a YouTuber who lives full time in a Scamp trailer as a nomad with her boyfriend (seriously, check out their YouTube), and I find her content inspiring. It motivates me to focus on what truly matters in life, not material things.

Must-Have Technology?

My Google Pixel 3XL

Favorite Way to Decompress?

Meditation! I love to just get into a comfortable position with my crystals, light a candle, and try to turn my mind off. I also absolutely love gardening and yard work, or spending time snuggling with my daughter watching cartoons on Saturday morning!

Twitter Handle

… no comment :)

But you can follow me on Instagram! @nicole_elise_b

Women you Admire?

My mother, who is an extraordinarily hard worker who did it all – executive, mom, wife. Also, my daughter, who inspires me to slow down and be more creative.

What are you most excited about for 2020? Share something you want to promote or the latest news/launches for your brand.

The USCCA is absolutely killing it right now. We have so many great educational programs in process, and we are only expanding and developing more.

I’m really looking forward to developing programs focused on women’s safety and women’s issues, as this is personally important to me. I’m also looking forward to our upcoming USCCA Expo, where we host over 15,000 attendees for training and seminars about responsible firearms ownership and related topics. Our membership is so diverse, and our members are some of the best people you’ll ever meet! It’s wonderful to be able to support them every day with great content.

Connect with Nicole through social or at the upcoming USCCA Expo in Kansas City.

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