FIA NYC co-founder Lindsay Watson on redefining leadership

Dawn Ouellette Nixon//March 18, 2020

FIA NYC co-founder Lindsay Watson on redefining leadership

Dawn Ouellette Nixon//March 18, 2020

Lindsay Watson knows what she is good at. 

Lindsay Watson, co-founder of FIA NYC Employment Services, is redefining what it means to be a leader. -PHOTO/SUBMITTED

After eight years as co-founder of Allentown-based staffing agency, FIA NYC Employment Services,  with co-founder and CEO William Brown, she’s learned her strengths, and just as importantly, her weaknesses.

“I’ve gotten to know who I am and who I am not,” the recent Lehigh Valley Business “Forty under 40,” award winner said. “It’s been a journey. I’ve stopped trying to be someone else and I’ve embraced who I am.” 

Watson says that she’s discovered that her largest strength lies in offering support to others. 

“Why do I exist?, ” she said. “Why am I here on earth? These are questions I would ask myself,” she said. “In time, I found that I am here to support others, to help others achieve their dreams or set up their process to get there. And the beauty is that I’m really good at it. I may have different titles but that’s the core of who I am.”

FIA NYC celebrated its eighth year anniversary in January, an especially sweet victory, considering the challenges of running a start-up staffing agency at a time when Allentown was just beginning it’s turn around, Watson said.

“I wasn’t looking to move to the Lehigh Valley,” she said. “But William Brown has vision and my heart told me to follow it. He’s been my mentor and a trusted visionary for me for over 15 years. So I picked up and moved from northern New Jersey.”

Watson said that for the first few years that she lived in the Valley, all she did was work. It took time to develop relationships, she said.  Relationships have since become what she values most about living here.

“There is a culture in New York that is very different from here,” she said.  “I call it transactional versus relational. We are sitting down here having coffee together. In New York, I had to call, be put on a security list, and sometimes the people I was scheduled to meet just did not show up. Here people want to know the person, not just the business.”

Watson’s and Brown’s business has grown with the relationships they’ve built. FIA NYC, which specializes in “white collar” staffing,  has attracted high profile clients from the manufacturing, advertising, creative and real estate industries. 

As a staffing industry insider, Watson sees trends emerging among the workforce. 

“People care more about work/life balance now,” she said., “about About good benefits, tuition reimbursement, flexible time and working from home opportunities…Those are the things that we see job candidates looking for.”

Work/life balance is important to Watson, too. In her spare time, she enjoys learning about weather and calls herself “a true weather geek.”

Hurricanes, Nor’ Easters… this was a passion that turned into an obsession,” she said. “Now I’m the weather lady in my circle. I will notify people. ‘Go to church early or stay home, some bad weather is coming.’  I already knew we would have a mild winter and early spring. I’m already ahead.”

Watson said that she was inspired to volunteer with the Lehigh Valley division of the Red Cross because it combined her passions of weather, helping others and preparedness.

“I had to do something with this love for weather,” she said. “I want to help educate our community on preparedness.” 

Community is another passion for her, of Watsons and one of the reasons she makes going to church a priority in her life.  

“Growing up, the biggest thing I got from my church was a sense of belonging and community,” she said. “I still drive to New York City to attend my church there. Church is one of those things I need, that my life dictates to me. I connect with this church. It could be in Hawaii and I would get there.”

And yet, with her busy career and personal life, Watson is careful to remind herself that she can’t do it all and can’t control everything. 

“I’ve learned a lot of hard lessons along the way,” she said. “One thing I’ve come to understand is that my ability to support the strengths of others is a different kind of leadership.

I hope we aren’t limiting the definition of what leadership is,”  she added. “You don’t have to have 50 employees or have won leadership awards. You can be a leader in your own home, in your church…, with your friends. …You just need to shine with what you are good at and let that be leadership.”