Why She’s Amazing
Connie Watt doesn’t want to be a princess. She wants to be more.
More than anything, Connie wanted to be a mom. She is proud to be the mother of a tight-knit family, including husband John; and sons JJ Watt, defensive end for the Houston Texans and NFL Defensive Player of the Year; Derek Watt, fullback for the San Diego Chargers; and TJ Watt, tight end for the Wisconsin Badgers.
In addition to raising three successful student athletes, Connie’s work ethic was evident daily as she advanced through her 23-year career at Independent Inspections, Ltd. and served as both Vice President and Human Resource Manager.
Now serving as the Vice President of the Justin J. Watt Foundation, Connie handles the organization’s day-to-day operations with the help of a dedicated group of volunteers. Under Connie’s leadership, the Justin J. Watt Foundation launched its first-ever event in Texas, the JJ Watt Charity Classic, in 2013 which has since become the organization’s largest annual fundraiser, including raising $1.6 million in 2016! Funds raised directly support the Foundation’s mission to provide after-school opportunities for children in the community to become involved in athletics, so that they may learn the basic character traits of accountability, teamwork, leadership, work ethic and perseverance while in a safe and supervised environment with their peers.
Connie gives tirelessly of herself and is a living example of the Foundation’s “Dream Big Work Hard” tagline.
We had a chance to ask Connie a few questions. We think you’ll agree that her ambition is matched only by her heart.
“I would like people to strive to be the best they can be and to motivate others to do the same.” – Connie Watt
Q & A
Q: When you were a young girl, what did you want to be when you grew up and why?
A: When I was younger, I wanted to do something with dump trucks and construction. I think it was because I liked to play outside in the sandbox up north and had a fascination with trucks. Then, as I got older, I wanted to be a hairstylist since that’s what my two oldest sisters were.
Q: What did people think when you told them that?
A: My parents got me a big dump truck for Christmas one year. It was awesome!
Q: Did people call you “princess” when you were a little girl and, if so, how did that make you feel?
A: They did not. I was a tomboy and proud of it! I loved to play in the dirt with trucks.
Q: How did you become interested in pursuing a successful career in business yet always putting your children and family first?
A: I observed my mom a lot as a child. I also wanted to have a good job, and I opened a savings account when I was 10 years old. I would walk to the bank and deposit birthday and babysitting money – only keeping a small amount out for an inexpensive treat or gift.
I have wanted kids for as long as I can remember so putting my family first was a must. I learned to multi-task and balance it with a great husband and family. The kids had chores from the time they could walk and talk. We did things together.
Q: What did you have to do to accomplish this?
A: I worked with tremendous people who noticed my drive, work ethic and attention to detail. They gave me great hands-on opportunities to learn, excel and move up in the business over the years. I started as a dispatcher, went out into the field of the inspection firm, came back to the finance department and ended my career with the company as a Vice President with the role of Human Resources Manager.
Q: Did you have a mentor or role model who inspired you?
A: I knew I wanted to contribute to my family by learning more. I respected and learned as much as possible from those I worked with and for. That way, when they took time off of work, I could fill in. I didn’t take the opportunity for granted and worked hard to make them proud and believe in my abilities.
Q: Did your family and friends support your aspirations?
A: Yes, they are very supportive and have been great advisors by offering knowledge, wisdom and tricks of the trade, so to speak. I have had great support from many friends in the business world. Without them, things would have been much more stressful, frustrating and challenging. I am very grateful and try to pay it forward with others doing the same thing now.
Q: Did you think about being called a “trailblazer” for choosing this path?
A: I did not. I just believe somewhere along the way it was in my make up to be a strong businesswoman. I work hard, hold myself to a high standard and stay accountable.
Q: What motivates you?
A: Changing lives, accomplishing goals and reaching for new ones.
Q: Of what are you most proud?
A: My three sons, and all they have accomplished. I am also proud to have been a part of helping kids have access to after-school programs. We’ve donated more than $1,853,555 to date, and that makes me very proud.
Q: What would you like people to learn from you?
A: I would like people to be open to other. Some people feel threatened by others’ knowledge instead of seeing it as an opportunity to learn and grow. I would like people to strive to be the best they can be and to motivate others to do the same. Give back when you can – volunteer and be kind.
Q: What three words would you like people to use to describe you?
A: Motivated. Accountable. Caring.
Q: What do you want people to know about you outside of your professional accomplishments?
A: I love to workout and had long before my sons began doing it. I also love horses and dogs. I enjoy being outdoors – biking, hiking, etc. The fresh air is so refreshing and a natural way to rejuvenate.
Q: What was something that someone told you that had a profound impact on you?
A: Life is like a hallway of open doors that are full of opportunities, and only you can close them. I was also paid a great compliment by previous co-workers whom I managed when they said that they appreciated that I listened to them and their ideas. It was important for me, as a manager and VP, to listen to those who do the work not just dictate to them how or what to do. I would answer phones, help with any aspect of their job and ask them how a new process might impact their work and how we can make things better TOGETHER.
Q: If you could eat lunch with one person, who would it be?
A: Sandra Bullock – she appears to be strong, independent and successful all while being a hands-on mom also.
Q: Which woman would you choose to have on U.S. currency?
A: Barbara Bush
Q: What advice would you give to a girl who right now wants to be just like you?
A: To observe others, work hard, accept constructive criticism and be a team player.
Bonus Question: What question would you ask the next Modern Day Trailblazer we interview?
A: When did you know you didn’t want to be a princess?
- The last book Connie read was Uncommon by Tony Dungy.
- Her go-to karaoke is “Sweet Home Alabama” by Leonard Skynard.
- Connie’s favorite sports team is the Wisconsin Badgers. That covers all of her boys!
- Her favorite quote is “Today I will do what others won’t so tomorrow I can do what others can’t.” by Jerry Rice.
- Connie prefers chocolate over vanilla!!!