Curiosity and hunger are what drive Ally Love, the hugely successful Peloton instructor, CEO of the Love Squad and arena host for the Brooklyn Nets. At nine-years-old, Love could have ever imagined how her life would turn out. Love had just bought some ice cream from the truck passing through her block in Miami, when she got hit by a car, breaking a femur, scarring her face and forcing her to spend a week in the hospital, including several days in traction. Her doctor told her and her Mom that she would never become an athlete and would have arthritis most of her life.
“I was a really, really, tiny baby-like nine-year-old kid,” Love recalled, “so very fragile and it was through … being in the hospital for those seven days that I witnessed and experienced what is now my current faith… what I know God can do for me, and this ability to make decisions on my own, and there were moments where it wasn’t looking so good, and my mother had to let me know. You know you’ve got to continue to fight, if you want to live.”
Love describes her journey, quoting Sheryl Sandberg, the former Facebook executive, as a “jungle gym”. After overcoming her injury as a child, she fell in love with dance. She set her sights on getting accepted to one of the city’s prestigious schools for performing arts in Miami -the New World School of Arts. Initially, she received a letter saying she had been wait-listed. She was heartbroken, but days later she learned that the school had sent her the wrong letter. During her high school years, with the support of her parents, she dedicated her time to becoming the best dancer possible. Her dreams began falling into place. She received a scholarship from Alvin Ailey, the famed international dance troupe, and went on to receive her degree from Fordham University at Lincoln Center in New York.
Love recalls the conversations she had with her mother during her early days in New York, a place she dreamed of living in ever since she was a kid. She struggled making friends and adapting to the rhythm of the city. Her Mom suggested that she transfer to a school in Florida to be closer to home. Love empathetically told her Mom to never ask her to come home unless there was some imminent concern about her mental or physical health. She explained to her Mom, “If I do come home, I know myself. I’ll feel like I failed. I feel like a city ran me away; people ran me away from something, and I don’t want that feeling. I don’t want to live with that.”
Love battled through her fears and loneliness, making friends and eventually getting a modeling contract with the prestigious Wilhelmina Models, making great money and learning to love the city.
She later became a dancer for the New York Knicks, dancing in other dance troupes and performing with top named artists as Beyonce and Pitbull. She wanted more, but just didn’t know what that was. Her boyfriend, now husband, Andrew Haynes, encouraged her to tap into her love of reading. Love also recalled the great advice from her mother that she shares with others who are dealing with challenges and change in their lives. One of the core principles she has grown to believe is that you must be comfortable, being uncomfortable. Her Mom offered additional advice. “She’s like, if you’re uncomfortable, take a beat. Listen – you’re learning something. It doesn’t mean to run. It doesn’t mean change. It doesn’t mean leave. So, I think about anyone who’s dealing with that fear, or that wanting to be like, ‘Oh, my God! I’m scared. What’s next? I don’t know what’s next, or I don’t know I need to make a transition.’ … Take a beat. Stay where you are. Be steadfast.”
Love admits that Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People” and “How to Stop Worrying & Start Living” are two key books in her life that have helped find her purpose. She also spent time reading biographies and autobiographies about Oprah Winfrey, Ryan Seacrest and Padma Lakshmi.
Now, Love balances her daily life as a highly sought-after Peloton instructor, arena host for the Brooklyn Nets and CEO of Love Squad, a business she started to bring together women who wanted a safe space to listen, learn, and support each other. She’s already planning “Love Squad 2.0”. She lives her life and centers her work at the intersection of the “Three Cs”: camera work, community, and conversation.
While she is quick to point out that she’s never taken a course in business, entrepreneurship or leadership, she has learned through lots of hard work and loving her many jobs. Her style of leadership is grounded in those who understand how to lead from the inside.
“The best leader, you know, is amongst a group of people that arrive at a destination, and the people look around and say, ‘Wow, we made it.’” Love explained. “Leaders are able to bring out the best of people. … You figure out who’s the best in each of those areas. Let them contribute their best. Bring out the best for them. Let them do what they do well, and that the entire team moves to that final destination to that place, to that area of position a success. And everyone looks around and says, “We’ve all added a lot, and we made it, and I think that that’s what a great leader does.”