Following Her Dreams Led Amargos to Startup Junkie

by Jennifer Joyner ([email protected]) 136 views 

Jay Amargos has always enjoyed coaching others to reach their potential in their careers and lives.

Her parents instilled in her an enthusiasm for helping people, and the concept of doing that through mentorship was shown to her during her 12-year career at Arvest Bank, where she had a number of influential role models. 

“I saw the power of what mentoring did for me and wanted to share that with others,” she said.

However, as a banker, there were limitations to the number of people she could reach. “It was just in small pockets, whatever my career at the time would allow me to do,” she said.

In 2011, when Amargos was featured as a member of the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal’s Forty Under 40 class, she had recently left Arvest to see what sort of difference she could make leading the local chapter of the Association of Latino Professionals for America.

“Leaving Arvest was one of the hardest decisions of my career, because they were extremely good to me,” she said. “I just really felt like I had a calling to do something else.”

Although it was a step in the right direction, the work she did at ALPFA did not completely fulfill her desire to make a difference in Northwest Arkansas, a community she loves and has lived in since 1998.

She accepted a position as chief operating officer at Grandslam Performance Associates in Fayetteville after about two years at ALPFA. However, that position did not fulfill her altruistic interests, and two inciting events prompted her to make another career change.

In 2013, she became ill with what was eventually diagnosed as the autoimmune disease lupus, and in April 2014 she met Phyl Amerine, founding member of Startup Junkie Consulting in Fayetteville. 

Her illness provided a moment of clarity, Amargos said. “I decided that I really needed to do with my life whatever was truly my direction and passion and not take things for granted. I really wanted to focus on my family and do the meaningful work that I really knew I could do.”

When Amargos met Amerine, she was inspired by the work she did — both with Startup Junkie and in nonprofit — and the women began working together that July.

During that time, Amargos watched the Startup Junkie team help entrepreneurs get their businesses launched and products on the shelf — all at no charge to the individual.

“I saw how they were changing lives and how grateful people were to have a service that they didn’t have to worry about getting an invoice for,” she said. “I knew at that moment that was what I was I meant to do.”

Last October, the company created the position of executive consultant for Amargos, where she has put to use the skills she acquired throughout the years to mentor entrepreneurs and provide them with the resources available through the Startup Junkie network.

“I have really found out that that’s my purpose in life. It’s really what wakes me up in the morning and gets my belly on fire,” she said. “I’ve come to the realization that I will never do anything in life unless it fulfills my purpose and makes me happy.”

In particular, Amargos engages in empowering women, a mission she fulfills through Startup Junkie but also the nonprofit she founded, Intentional Strategies.

At Intentional Strategies, she and Amerine use their leadership development and mentoring skills as well as their access to a large professional network, to help women who have been displaced from their jobs or who are rejoining the workforce after taking time off to raise a family.

And, in addition to fulfilling her desire to help others, her work at Startup Junkie and Intentional Strategies has given Amargos the opportunity to heal and to spend more time with her family.

Johnny, her son with husband Carlos Amargos, has autism, and Jay Amargos says raising him has helped nurture her penchant for coaching.

“I feel like for the last 18 years my husband and I have been mentoring and coaching him. Through our persistence, and family and friends helping us, we’ve been able to get him to do things that doctors told us he would never be able to do,” she said.

In addition, Amargos said her son has taught her to “be more compassionate and not judge others, and to always look at things in a different perspective — which is what he does every day.

“By far, he’s my biggest accomplishment in life. No question.”