Women Worthy Of Note
Our occasional feature, Top Women in Business, highlights some of the women in and around Kentucky who are making an impact in business, the professions, politics and economic development. The intent is to recognize not the household names, but those in key roles whose work ethic and body of work are making important contributions to commerce—and life—in the area.
The 10 women featured in this issue are among the many such women The Lane Report editorial board has identified. From activist to entrepreneur and medical practitioner to executive, these women are forging their own paths, proving that hard work, perseverance and creativity pay off.
Dr. Nicole Freels
At age 12, Nicole Freels began working in the podiatry practice of her grandfather, Dr. Arthur O. Kelly. She spent summer vacations, spring and fall breaks working with her grandfather and fell in love with podiatry.
“It didn’t seem like work. He would walk door to door, giving hugs to all of his patients, talking about the success (or disaster) his garden had been that year,” Freels said. “I immediately said to myself, ‘I can do this.’ I have tried to emulate the small-town, calming and relaxed environment that he did so effortlessly.”
After high school, Freels attended the University of Kentucky and then the Ohio College of Podiatric Medicine in Cleveland, Ohio, her grandfather’s alma mater. She started her own practice 12 years ago, Lexington Podiatry.
Here’s more of her story.
Top accomplishment: Creating and building one of the most recognized podiatric practices globally.
The person(s) who most influenced or mentored me: My grandfather, Dr. Arthur O. Kelly, was a podiatrist and wonderful teacher. I was also very fortunate to have been raised by parents who were constantly encouraging me to be my “best self.” My mom signed us up for everything. I was raised on a farm, so a strong work ethic was your only option. My brother and I were exposed to a wide range of chores, all of which built character, grit and determination, traits I rely on daily.
My biggest challenge and how I overcame it: Starting with $8 in my bank account, a mountain of debt and deciding to open my own medical practice in the fall of 2008, one week after Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy. That decision straddles either bold or stupid. I’m going pretend that I was bold. Fortunately, my husband was able to supplement my “little” venture in the beginning.
My advice to younger women in business: Go for it. You never know unless you try. Don’t underestimate your abilities. Work around the clock, place all your focus and energy on accomplishing your goal. Trust your gut and don’t give up, even when you really want to. Don’t let societal norms hold you back. You are the master of your own destiny—you and you alone. Surround yourself with a core group of friends that support and relish in your wins.
Something I love doing: Travel! I love my patients, but traveling the world is my true passion.
One skill everyone should have: Exceptional customer service. Our entire office treats every patient as if they were family, because WE are a family. I love nothing more than to hear patients and our team members giggling in the exam rooms; it feels like I’m right at home.
The most important attribute I bring to my job: My husband says it’s my work ethic. I eat, sleep and breath Lexington Podiatry. I’m always looking for ways to improve the overall experience not only for patients, but for the team members as well.
Favorite book I’ve read recently: “The 4-Hour Work Week.” It taught me how to squeeze 30 hours out of a 24-hour day through efficiency tools and tips.
A song from my childhood/teenage years that I still rock out to when no one else is around: “Ice, Ice Baby” by Vanilla Ice.
If I had to delete all but three apps from my smartphone, I’d keep: Pandora (because I am always listening to music), Delta and Amazon.
What do I want to accomplish in the next five to 10 years? The sky is the limit. I’m always looking to do something more. Who knows, maybe I’ll be the next Dr. Pimple Popper?