You’ve probably heard Ashley Albert on commercials for Lucky Charms, Coca-Cola and McDonalds. As a voiceover artist, she’s also brought characters to life on animated television series like Daria (MTV), Courage the Cowardly Dog (Cartoon Network) and Bubble Guppies (Nick Jr.). She’s also frontwoman for the award-winning children’s rock ‘n’ roll band The Jimmies and the founder of a line of custom Twitter ID jewelry. And she’s also the founder of an artisanal matzo company. And did we mention she recently became the co-owner of what may be New York City’s and Chicago’s first shuffleboard club — a business she started after falling in love with the sport while on her way to judging a barbecue contest in Florida?
Artist, entrepreneur and Northwestern Mutual client Ashley Albert has several professions, multiple interests and more ideas than she can use. She talked to us about what inspires her, how she inspires others and the big idea that connects it all.
LLD: You’re involved in so many things. How do you summarize what you do?
AA: My business card says that I’m an “idea-man.” It refers to the fact that my superpower is coming up with ideas and seeing how they could work.
LLD: How do you decide which ideas to pursue?
AA: For a long time, I didn’t. There were so many ideas that it was hard to decide which ones to follow through on. Over time, I’ve realized that what really interests me is making meaningful connections with people. Knowing what truly makes me happy enables me to instantly filter out ideas that don’t align with my purpose. For example, any idea that would require me to sit alone in my apartment isn’t going to be right for me, because it won’t lead to more connections with smart, funny, interesting people.
LLD: What do you do with the ideas you don’t use?
AA: I’ve started what I call a “follow-through farm.” I give the ideas to really smart, capable people. I advise them from behind the scenes and help them use my connections with the understanding that they need to drive the project and make it their own.
Look at it this way: If you’re not pursuing something that’s going to enrich your life and bring you ultimate joy … then isn’t staying where you are a failure?
LLD: Tell us about your band, The Jimmies. Now there’s an idea that has connected you to thousands of people.
AA: I’ve gotten a lot of fan mail from parents who say that their daughters walk around the house singing Jimmies songs. It makes them so happy that their kids are singing the message to themselves even if they’re too young to fully understand it. It makes me really happy, too, because there’s no higher goal for me with The Jimmies than to let little girls know that they can be funny, smart and interesting.
LLD: Do you have a favorite Jimmies song?
AA: I know that I’m fully and authentically expressed in all of The Jimmies’ songs, because I laugh out loud when I write the lyrics! However, there’s one song called “Bonfire” that feels like a personal anthem to me. It’s about strife, struggle and being strong. I choked up during recording because it felt like a victory just being there in the studio singing the song.
LLD: How do you balance everything?
AA: I get great joy from almost everything I’m doing; so little of it feels like “work.” So much of what I do is intertwined: My work life, my social life, my creative life all come together like the swirls on a giant sticky bun!
LLD: How do you plan for everything?
AA: One of the things that I love about my wealth management advisor, Lou Cannataro, is that, in all of the years I've been with him, he's never once tried to push a product on me or advised me to funnel my money into funds or money markets/stocks, etc.
He knows that I'm often cooking up my own projects to invest in and quite often that means recommending that I sit tight and stay liquid, so that I'll have the funds I need at the ready when I want to pursue an idea. His confidence in the value of investing in myself gives me the confidence to push forward. He truly helps me make financial plans and that's invaluable. Plus, when he does tell me that he thinks it's a good idea for me to invest in something, I'm much more likely to listen to him.
LLD: What have you learned along the way?
AA: I am a recovering perfectionist … an aspiring “good enough-er!” Finding a way to accept that things can be done “not my way” and still be done well was a hard lesson for me to learn. If you want your idea to grow, you need to learn how to trust the people around you and encourage them to find their own version of excellence.
LLD: Bringing an idea to life seems like it contains an element of risk. Are you a risk-taker?
AA: I wouldn’t call myself a risk-taker — I recognize that there’s a difference between emotional risk and financial risk. Something I’ve realized about myself is that I can’t do anything halfway. So by the time I’ve decided to pursue an idea, I’m confident that it’s a really good idea so the emotional risk in my mind isn’t really there.
LLD: What are you working on now?
AA: I am now knee deep in closing a deal on a building in Chicago for the next Royal Palms shuffleboard club! With any luck we'll be opening our doors to the unsuspecting shufflers of the Windy City by early summer 2017. I also just accidentally started an artisanal matzo company … because y'know, it seemed like a good idea at the time. (Spoiler alert: It WAS a good idea … we have orders from stores in 20 different states already! Including Whole Foods!). And, I got a (rescue) dog, Elliott … he's a PRINCE.
LLD: Any advice for others who are on their own road less traveled?
AA: I often tell people that the only difference between them and me is that I had ideas and I followed through on them. A large part of inspiring others is helping them understand that the only thing they really have to be afraid of isn’t failure as much as it is not following through on the ideas that are important to them. Look at it this way: If you’re not pursuing something that’s going to enrich your life and bring you ultimate joy … then isn’t staying where you are a failure?
LLD: How can people learn more about you and your interests?
AA: They can always see the ridiculousness that I'm up on Instagram and Twitter with @Pluckypea (and for even more me-ness, there's always @RoyalPalms on Instagram (@RoyalPalmsClub on Twitter) and @MatzoProject everywhere!
Ashley works with Northwestern Mutual Wealth Management Advisor Lou Cannataro.
This article contains profiles of certain Northwestern Mutual clients, their personal financial needs and how Northwestern Mutual met their needs. The personal financial needs and results of the clients shown may not be representative of the experience of other clients. Also, working with a Northwestern Mutual financial representative or any other financial services provider is not a guarantee as to future investment success.