Nikki Fuchs played Wonder Woman growing up. That’s her in the adorable photo below. She had a tiara, a lasso of truth, and (of course) her mom Jane made her magic cuffs! Then, she used her superpowers to save the world and catch villains. Today, this real life Wonder Woman uses her superpowers today to encourage other people to do more, try more, and be more.
It is a pleasure to introduce you to this week’s real life Wonder Woman, Nikki Fuchs!
KR: Please tell us about what brings you joy and fulfillment.
NF: Professionally, I love helping the underdog win. This shows itself in many ways.
- Creating systems or interpreting interactions to ensure employees with limited English skills have the same chance to succeed as their native English-speaking peers.
- Spotting a diamond-in-the-rough operator who doesn’t “fit the mold,” and patiently coaching, challenging and advocating for her. Sometimes all she needs is to be seen!
- Taking a group of trainers and teaching, guiding, and often pushing them to form a team of learning professionals aligned to the business.
Personally, it’s all about the senses.
- Sound: There is no more beautiful sound in this world than my children’s laughter.
- Taste: Is it possible to love tacos as much as Minnesota hotdish? I’m pretty sure it is.
- Smell: Purple lilacs, northern Minnesota lakes and the Avon lipstick my Grandma Doree wore.
- Sight: My husband is one heck of a salsa dancer. That’s how we met. Any day I can dance with my husband is a good day! Yeah…not really about sight, but who cares?! It’s tons of fun.
KR: We all have inner superpowers. What are some of yours?
NF: I learned to teach Spanish completely in Spanish. I needed to boil the message down to its simplest unit, use visuals whenever possible, and repeat myself over and over. I had to speak at a level just one notch above my students’ language ability. This ensured they were stretching to learn more, but the conversation wasn’t completely over their heads. I encouraged them to use the language. I didn’t make a big deal about mistakes. The only rule was they had to try.
So how is that a superpower? Sure, I’m bilingual, and that’s cool, but my real superpower is my ability to read the audience to determine their language level (in training and business), and break complex concepts down to a level one notch above where they are today. I paint vivid pictures both literally and figuratively to ensure no one gets left behind. Then, I challenge my team members and mentees to do more, try more, and be more.
KR: Can you tell us about an influential woman in your life and how she inspired you?
NF: I’m really lucky. I’ve had strong women around me my entire life. My sister, aunts, friends, and workmates have all been my mentors. I can’t speak about mentors without mentioning Toni Quist. She’s been there for me professionally for more years than either of us will admit. Look her up!
If you want to talk about Wonder Women, I must tell you about Jane Fuchs and Doris Sundstad.
Jane Fuchs is my mom.
- We called her the papier-mâché mom. We did arts and crafts. She was the den mother for my brother’s Boy Scout troop. She raised four of us, often on her own, because my dad was on the road driving a train.
- Mom once dumped a plate of spaghetti (or maybe it was beans) on the head of Dad’s friend because of the way he was speaking about other groups of people. Jane didn’t mess around!
- She taught me that if someone is hungry, you share your food. To this day, I keep snacks in my car in case someone on the side of the road is hungry.
- She went back to school at 35 and got her masters in speech pathology. She taught in the Moorhead school district for 20 years helping children with disabilities learn to communicate.
- Now, my parents are happily retired and spend half their time on the Pacific coast of Mexico.
While mom was all about hugs and cookies, Doris Sundstad was the pull yourself up by your bootstraps Grandma.
- She was a business owner and office manager when women “weren’t supposed” to do that.
- She was tough as nails and she taught me that if you wanted something, go get it! Stop making excuses. Just do it.
- She taught me “there is no j in education.” Diction matters.
- Grandma died when I was a kid, but whenever I smell Avon lipstick, I think of her.
My mom and grandma were definitely yin and yang, but they taught me that true strength is about balance.
- To be strong is to stand up for yourself and others.
- You can be tough and kind.
- You can be the papier-mâché mom and the boss.
KR: If you could have one super-human power, what would it be?
NF: My boys, Ruben and Gael, are HUGE superhero fans, so we talk about desired superpowers a lot.
My answer is always the same. Strength? Speed? Nope. I want the ability to clone myself. How cool would that be? Just imagine…
1. Nikki #1 goes to work.
2. Nikki #2 cleans the house.
3. Nikki #3 plays Barbies and Roblox and talks about whatever 14-year-old boys talk about.
4. Nikki #4 goes on date night.
5. Nikki #5 goes to the gym.
6. Nikki #6 lays on the couch and watches competition cooking shows.
BEST SUPERPOWER EVER!!!!
KR: What do you do for fun? What are your hobbies?
NF: You already know that I love to dance with my husband and watch competition cooking shows from all over the world.
I’m also an avid consumer of audiobooks, I love Scrabble, and I bake a lot. My youngest daughter, Albertina, is my sous chef.
KR: Knowing what you know at this stage of your life, what words of wisdom would you give to your 20-year-old self?
NF: This is tough. I made really dumb mistakes at 20…and at 25…and yesterday, but all those stumbles taught me how to get up and dust myself off. They also put me on the path that has led to the beautiful life I have today.
My oldest daughter, Meghann, is 24. She looks, talks, and acts just like me. The advice for Meg and my 20-year-old self is the same. Who am I kidding? It applies to me today!
Focus on balance.
- Drive is important, and so is relaxation.
- Planning is important, and so is letting things unfold naturally.
- Being the best is important, and so is lifting others up so you can share the pedestal.