In 2002, Amy Antonelli was at the forefront of technological breakthrough in Silicon Valley. Her startup company had recently been acquired by Apple. As she witnessed the long-anticipated integration of the Internet unfold, Antonelli worked side-by-side with Steve Jobs as a spokesperson for Apple’s top executives. Just two years later, a devastating tsunami hit India and she suddenly found herself working in a leprosy colony for the next seven years. What would motivate someone to trade in their Lamborghini lifestyle for life in an Indian leprosy colony?
On December 8, 2019, we had the pleasure of interviewing Amy Antonelli on our podcast, Measuring Success Right. The interview caught a glimpse into her unique life experiences which embody what it is to discover one’s purpose. She commented, “I think that finding our purpose is never a one-time event; I think it’s literally the work of our lives… We do it over and over and over again.” Here is a brief overview of some of those defining moments and lessons learned:
Lessons from Steve Jobs
From her years spent with Steve Jobs, she learned that integral to entrepreneurial leadership is the ability to engage others in a common cause and to articulate it well. She attributes Apple’s success not only to Steve Job’s ability to “capture the vision,” but his ability to communicate to others that they are vital to the vision’s success as well. Antonelli has sought to adopt these leadership patterns in heading her own corporations.
In 2016, she became the CEO of Deseret Network International, the parent organization of Humanitarian Experience for Youth (HEFY), a nonprofit service organization that offers humanitarian expeditions to youth ages 16-19. After just a few years of operation with Antonelli’s oversight, the startup program grew 312% and has expanded to reach 36 global locations with an anticipated 4000 participants each summer.
What is the secret to her success? She explains, “We run this non-profit like a business; we’re very data-driven and operate according to metrics. We look at the product we produced a lot like we look at if you were running a for-profit business and if it performs to a certain level of expectation that we have (which essentially is world-class), then we keep it; if it doesn’t, we jettison it. And I’m proud of that.” Even though HEFY is heavily data-driven, it is not any less driven by love. Because HEFY is 100% self-sufficient, Antonelli has more time and resources she can dedicate to creating a life-changing experience for kids. “Our goal is to export love… None of our projects are fake projects to give kids some kind of experience. We’re very against voluntourism.”
What Matters Most
Despite her years of experience training with the best of the best, her faith has always been the standard by which she measures success. She has learned to never get caught up in finding the “purpose of your life,” but to be open to heavenly guidance. She pleads with the youth of this generation, “Yes; listen to the smart people around you. Learn from the people who are wise. But at the end of the day, the thing that matters most is that you can hear the Lord and that you’re willing to do what He tells you to do, even if it’s insane things like moving to leprosy colonies in India.”