Catalytic Leadership

Navigating Leadership Transitions: From High-Profile Attorney to Global Business Strategist, with Kerry-Ann Powell

October 09, 2023 Dr. William Attaway Season 2 Episode 12
Catalytic Leadership
Navigating Leadership Transitions: From High-Profile Attorney to Global Business Strategist, with Kerry-Ann Powell
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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Ever wondered about the exciting journey of a global business strategist who pivoted from being a high-profile attorney in Washington DC to embracing entrepreneurship? Meet our guest for this episode, the remarkable Kerry-Ann Powell, who shares her extraordinary transformation. Kerry-Ann discusses how her leadership skills were honed by observing her parents, stepping into leadership roles at a young age, and strategically evolving in her career. 

Our conversation with Kerry-Ann covers her experiences leading the fundraising efforts for the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial and how she founded her own strategic business and consulting firm. Discover how she leveraged courage, consistency, and strategy to navigate the challenges of fundraising amidst an economic crisis and domestic terrorist scare. She also highlights the importance of enjoying the journey to the top and embracing the unconventional people who accompany us on our path.

As we continue, Kerry-Ann dispenses some insightful advice on building a successful business, drawing a beautiful analogy with nurturing a bamboo tree. She emphasizes the significance of teamwork, strategic thinking, and self-leadership. Drawing wisdom from her favorite books, 'The Big Leap' and 'BE 2.0' by Jim Collins, she encourages us to remain ahead of the times and use our values and beliefs as a compass in our journey. 

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Speaker 1:

Welcome to Catalytic Leadership, the podcast designed to help leaders intentionally grow and thrive. Here is your host author and leadership and executive coach, dr William Attaway.

Speaker 2:

Hey, it's William and welcome to today's episode of the Catalytic Leadership podcast. Each week, we tackle a topic related to the field of leadership. My goal is to ensure that you have actionable steps you can take from each episode to grow in your own leadership. Growth doesn't just happen. My goal is to help you become intentional about it. Each week, we spotlight leaders from a variety of fields, organizations and locations. My goal is for you to see that leaders can be catalytic, no matter where they are or what they lead. I draw inspiration from the stories and journeys of these leaders and I hear from many of you that you do too. Let's jump in to today's interview. I'm so excited today to have Carrie Ann Powell on the podcast. Carrie Ann is a global business strategist, a speaker and a champion of small and medium sized businesses. Her varied experience of over 20 years as a Washington DC attorney, lobbyist and fundraiser positions her as an authority on what it takes to strategically succeed while confronting difficult obstacles. After raising $120 million to build the Martin Luther King Jr Memorial site, launched her strategic business and consulting firm, trafalgar Strategies. She and her team now advise business owners from various industries and countries on creating the strategies, the systems and the mindsets to thrive in business and in life. Carrie Ann, I'm so glad you're here. Thanks for being on the show.

Speaker 3:

My goodness, I'm so excited to be here, william, this is so wonderful Thank you.

Speaker 2:

I would love to begin with you sharing a little bit of your story with our listeners. I shared some of the hot points, but I'd love to hear a little more about your journey and your development as a leader. How did you get started?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, well, I think leadership. Oftentimes people feel that leadership is one of those things that you're born innately with or something. What did you notice that she's a born leader? But I believe leadership is taught and learned and, almost to be honest, you hear people talk about oh, I'm learning a language, versus I'm acquiring a language. Those of us who are native English speakers acquired English. We didn't learn it right Right Versus I'm learning Spanish right now and I'm gagging into you on acquiring it. Time, that's right. That's a great thing. I think that for leadership, I acquired it through watching my parents. My parents were strong leaders in their careers and in their communities and in our family, so leadership was a thing that I observed, and so then I sort of stuck it in and also was taught leadership. I took advantage of opportunities while growing up and as a young adult to learn leadership by being in leadership roles as a young adult and saw that. So I think my journey into leadership and being able to be particularly as a strategist was also acquired and learned, also both at the same time. So when I got out of university, my first real job out of college was I worked for the United Way in our local community and I was just like I was going to be a short stint. I don't know if you're familiar with the United Way back there. Right, it was one of the most sort of pillar entities in most communities, where they you know if you have international listeners, although they are an international organization, but for international listeners it's basically a nonprofit organization that raises money within the community from employers and employees and corporations and then they have a board of directors that divvy up the funds and give them to the local entities that need it. So that was my first job. I was sort of the speakers and tours person. Oh wow, it was kind of fun. It was like a six month gig and at that time I didn't realize at that time that I always thought of charity as a sort of like you know, people just volunteering and being all you know lovey-dovey and everything like that. I didn't realize there's an actual leadership role in business and role in around that. And so when I first did that for six months I was like I kind of got hooked at the idea of all these professionals doing this amazing work to like build our communities in a different entity. It's because you always think of sort of governmental entities and then we think of sort of that sort of the main place that you kind of think of, and then you think of sort of corporate entities, but there's that whole entity of civic organizations, civil entities that play a significant role in how we engage in life for the most part. So I left when I was finished with that. You know, in your early 20s you don't really think you think you're better than you're really. I walked into the office of the vice president of development and I said you know what? You should hire me as a division director because I would do a great job. I'll probably be the best division director.

Speaker 1:

That's awesome.

Speaker 3:

And I love the fact that she just didn't poo poo me or anything. She just said thank you for saying that. I will keep that in mind. Anyway, that's awesome. And a couple of months later she called me in for an interview and said well, what do you think I'm going to be in the position? For division director position, and it's not for the largest numbers, not for the very big number companies, but for our donors that are a little smaller but would like to bring you in because I do see you have potential. She brought me in and within a year I moved up into larger, larger, what do you call it? You know, in sales it'll be like larger sales books, but you know, in nonprofits sort of like entities that gave more money, yeah right. And then I was training other division directors and basically, you know, it just became a thing and I realized I was good at it. I was very good at asking for large sums of money.

Speaker 2:

That's a gift.

Speaker 3:

I was also very good because of you know, obviously this is a large organization, millions of dollars running through. I had a book value of two million myself. So we were very strategic in the way that things operated. And so that's really where I started cutting my teach my teeth on strategic planning. And so I was. I had acquired some leadership skills, but I was learning also right, how to ask for large sums of money, because basically what they do is they paired us with. You know, you had a volunteer sort of a CEO of a company who had some very respect in the community in the city, and you and he and he, or you and her at that time was mainly in the he's, but you know, you and he and you and her would go and basically, you know, chat up the CEO of another company to get them to agree to donate large sums of money to the United Bay and also to agree to do campaigns for their employees to give, and so I observed how these individuals, how these two sort of titans of industry, were interacting. And I would just suck it in right and then sort of begin to play that out, because there's one thing, to be able to feel comfortable asking for large sums of money. It's another thing to know how the game is played. And so during that period of time in my life, I was learning a couple of things. I was learning how to be a good leader because I had a team. I was learning how to ask for large sums of money in the way that people would respond. I was learning how to be strategic and I was definitely learning how, how everything that we as individuals do affect other people, we're just. We're also connected. That it's just not. We're not. We're not on an island at all. And so anything that I did if I had a meeting, that I did a meeting very well, then that CEO would decide to give more money, which means that their employees would give more money, which means that we had more money to give to an agency like a domestic violence shelter, which was able to then be able to have a school so that the kids in the domestic violence shelter could have a larger education, which means that we have a more educated populace. So we're all connected. So that was the really the beginning of you know. I would say you know leadership obviously from home, because I learned that from my parents. Like that was the first sort of big old step into, into learning what it means to be a leader and what it means to make big moves Like what does it mean to have a big project, a big goal, big idea and be able to make it happen strategically and also through your leadership?

Speaker 2:

So absolutely fascinating, Carrie, to see that journey and that progression. And you didn't stop there, I mean, you know.

Speaker 3:

I did it. I did that for a few years and then, once you know, it's interesting again. You know oftentimes people, you know William and Noah. You talk to people all day long right, Interviewing, and obviously in the work that you do, and we always think we have a plan in our lives and we kind of we create this plan a bit within an isolated chamber, not recognizing that every path we take then leads us to another path. Originally I wanted to be a doctor. I went to school to be pre-med, but something happened. And do so well in physics, organic chem wasn't my friend. I was, like you know what I'm saying too, but nonetheless. So while I was there doing all of this great stuff, I began to learn more about some of the challenges that we were facing in our community and what was happening in the rest of the country at the time, because you begin to see, so, for instance, we have the largest domestic violence shelter in the Northeast, I mean in the Southeast area. I was like everyone used to like brag about it, like, oh, we've got the school on site, we can bring all of these women who have been domestically abused, blah, blah, blah. And my brain was like, but why do we have domestic violence again? Like reminding Right, right, how good this happens. And at the time I was never exposed to it, so I didn't know. And when I began to become exposed to it I really realized that this is a really big problem, the same thing with so many. There was this great organization that did consumer rights, sort of helped people get out of debt or understand how to purchase things differently and how to manage, get the best mortgage and those kinds of things. I'm like, well, why is it so difficult? That was the question. Like, why is it so difficult? Why can't just everyday people who be able to figure out how to do these things. So I began to sort of look and see oh, there's a whole other layer to this. There are policies that are involved with how we as human beings in our everyday life, whether they're local policies or whether they were federal policies or state policies. So I decided to go to law school and I became a Washington DC attorney and lobbyist and started doing a great deal of work along these issues, trying to tackle big problems from a federal level and see how we could fix them. And that's what I did for a number of years and really enjoyed that, until I found out that they were building a memorial to Martin Luther King in the National Mall and one of my good friends sent me. She was like she was actually was working with me and she's a lobbyist as well. And at the time I was heading up a program and because I was heading up the program, obviously we had to also raise money. I had to have comments. She was like you're like the best person that raises money in our, you know, all the other directors are like you know, how are you raising them? I'm like well, I'll tell you a little secret. There's this thing called the United Way Like oh my God, william, because it's like they are the people who are the best salespeople were the people who were raised Jehovah's Witness? I'm telling you they have no shop. They grew up very comfortable talking to people and they're just the best salespeople. Because they believe it, they're gonna go out and do it. If you hire someone, you're sales team that grew up with Jehovah's Witness.

Speaker 2:

I'm just saying it's gonna work Tips right here for business owners everywhere it's gonna work for you, okay.

Speaker 3:

Anyways, I was like so then I started doing that. So she knew that I had a history of fundraising and so she's like Carrie Anne. Did you know they were building my moral tomorrow? To Martin Luther King I said I had no idea, for real. I mean, obviously every city and state has a moral. Tomorrow. I came up with this on the national mall in Washington DC where we honor our presidents and our veterans of war. I'm like what. I didn't think this was happening. So they were looking for someone to do corporate fundraising. I said, well, I happen to know a little thing about that. So I put my hat in the ring, they hired me and then, a year later, they asked me to be the full chief fundraiser of the program. At that time we had about, I think when I came on we were probably at 28 million 30 million, depending upon the time that I count and me and my team, we ended up raising 120 plus million, because it was 120 to build it. Plus we'd raised another 8 million for all the celebratory stuff afterwards, because you've got heads of state and all that kind of stuff coming in. So, yeah, so that was really the journey, and so and I know I told myself, oh yeah, I'm just gonna do this for like two, three years and then I'm gonna go back to the law Probably years later, probably years later. You know, here I am and I started my business after we built it and you know, I was like wow, that's amazing.

Speaker 2:

You know, living in the DMV area, I've had the opportunity to visit that side a number of times and whenever people come into town family or friends come into town we take them downtown and show them the sites, and that's always one that we stop at because it's so incredibly moving.

Speaker 3:

It's moving.

Speaker 2:

And incredibly, incredibly, and I grew up in Alabama and Birmingham actually, and so growing up in a place like there there's a great deal of history, and to be in a place like right there on the title basin and you're in that environment and reading those quotes, it's just, it's a very powerful place. So, you know, for those listeners who haven't had that opportunity to visit DC, when you do, do not do not miss this particular memorial, because it makes a difference. And when I read in your bio that you were you were like in charge of raising money for this I was like there's no way. That's so amazing. And so, just on a personal level, I really wanted to talk to you and to hear so many ways that your leadership has changed and grown and your impact has changed and grown over the years. That is so inspiring to me and, I know, to every leader who's listening There's-.

Speaker 3:

I'm getting a little teary-eyed, William. I stop, it's, it's it's got a little mascara on.

Speaker 2:

It's awesome. I think it's so important for people to understand that impact is really one of the highest callings of leadership and as you grow in your leadership, you will grow in your impact, and that's what I hear when I listen to your journey.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I, I you know, and I, I well, just to before I come on, that I you know, after building the memorial and I guess I should share this because people, I think, sometimes don't recognize that this is a normal, I think a normal part of building a big thing or pushing a big thing up the mountain I was a little lost after we built it. Now they asked me to stay on board to help to build an education foundation, which is now still there and it's great. So I, I felt good about it. So I spent about a year and a half, two years helping to build an education foundation around the memorial. But during that time, you know, I was like what next? Right, what is the next thing for me? Because I just I couldn't go back to the law. I had done this big thing and I know, although I love the law, I knew that wasn't my next step. I wasn't gonna go back, yeah, but yeah, I wasn't really sure what's the next step and I would often go to the memorial, particularly at the night time. I'm sure have you been down there.

Speaker 2:

Oh yeah, it's beautiful.

Speaker 3:

I would go down there at night just to sort of. It was really a spiritual experience for me being there at nighttime just to sort of be still and hear what it is. That was that my next step was, and it wasn't like it was like some voice from heaven telling me. But I used that period of time of feeling like I was just really still a bit in the valley a bit to begin to take first steps as to what it could look like. So I knew that I wanted to make bigger impact, but I also knew that I wasn't really sure I wanted to do fundraising per se. That was the next step, right. So everyone was like, oh, come and help to do this. I have a whole bunch of headhunters coming to me like come and do this, or a lot of folks who knew me. And, to be honest with you, this business that I have is actually a second iteration of the business. I originally did go into doing consulting for NGOs and their boards and actually did some fundraising as well from a consultant perspective. And I remember I was on a. I sort of had an office in Manhattan, an office in DC, and I was on a train from DC going to Manhattan for, like one of my favorite clients he was a celebrity who had an art foundation and you know it's just exciting to work with people who are doing really amazing things and I was gonna be doing a board strategy day and helping with fundraising strategy and so forth and as I was on the train going up, I remember, you know, I don't know when you had the quiet car and the Ocelot, I don't know if you said it word yeah, yeah, yeah. And I was, like you know, listening to some music and I was sort of writing some notes and as I was beginning to build the business and I saw in the future, I'm like if I build the business as it is, cause I had everything, I brought on a couple of team members by that and I was like I actually don't want this to be it Like I just don't want this iteration of just working with, you know, large NGOs on fundraising strategy to be the only thing I want to do, and but I wasn't really sure exactly how to transition out. I was still doing quite a bit of speaking and it just wasn't. I wasn't really sure. I actually took some time off and went to Spain and you know spent. I was like I'll just go there for a year and kind of do a thing and whatever. But the point is, what evolved from that was me just taking smaller steps and maybe you can sort of say, okay, what do I? What am I loving about the current, my current business, and what am I loving about not loving about my current business? And one of the things I knew I didn't want to do was actual fundraising anymore, even though you know I don't know if you've read that book- the Big. Leap by Gay Hendricks and, it's excuse me, gay Hendricks is a psychologist out of he works at, he's out of I think it's UCLA or Berkeley, one of the California schools that has a strong reputation, and he also does work with Titans of Business, large Fortune 500 companies and their CEOs, and basically the theory behind the Big Leap is we have and I'm gonna butcher some of the zones here, but there's a couple of zones that he considers people work within. So the zone of competence you can do the thing right. There's the zone of excellence, which you do the thing real well and you get rewarded for the thing. And then there's the zone of genius, where it's the place that most people don't move into, but it's the place that all of us have. But the thing is we get stuck oftentimes in the zone of excellence or in the zone of competence, because those are the two areas that we are often rewarded for. So if you are, you know. So, for instance, me fundraising, that would have been my zone of excellence. Right, like, stay there, you're good at what you do, just do it. And that's what I was originally. That's what originally I did. I sort of got sucked into that space where I know how to fundraise. People want me to come and help them with their fundraising and I could do it as a consultant. So I'm not on staff. So you know, you can charge a bit more and you can have a team and you can have all this great opportunities to sort of work with all these interesting organizations, which is what I really love. I love that, but to see where people are doing interesting things. But it was as I began to see that in the future I'm like this is actually not what's sparking me, and I don't think it's necessarily my excellence, my zone of excellence and or my zone of genius. And so from there I had to really start walking to what it was that I thought, and what was it that I think when I even when I'm not even doing it? What was it that people were asking me for? or responding to me about, or and again I do think to zones of genius change as we change. You know you're talking about impact, right? This idea of if we are beginning to grow, if age is just a way of expansion, then, and therefore our zone of genius, I think, expands as well. Nonetheless, at the time I realized I really was able, I felt my genius was helping leaders, regardless of what they were doing, to really be strategic about some of the things when they wanna have big things they wanna bring to life. And what does it mean to strategically do that? And also what does it mean to excellently and exceptionally execute it? Because the thing William and I have found and you know people used to think, oh, you guys built this memorial you must have had, like, this massive team. We had a very small team, but what we were and we always used to say this little joke, you know, we're not an Okie Doke operation here, you know. You know, you know, but we had a small team and but we and you know we had dysfunction in all of its ways, you know. So there's a lot of things that I often look at. I'm like, oh Lord, let me you know when I work with businesses and I'm like so this is what you're not gonna do right here. You're having periods, that and that's the worst. But then there are some things that we did well. One of it was execution. You know, once we came up with a strategy, we were gonna execute it to the hundredth percent. Yeah, and I and because most strategies I'm telling you fancy strategies, good strategies, money back strategies 67% of them fail because of poor execution. So I like to think of it as what does it mean to create a good strategy and a excellent execution plan so that you can really get the big thing done? And I think oftentimes, particularly when you start thinking about, like small and medium-sized companies, they have an idea of what you know, they have ideas of what they wanna do, but we always shrink it, and we do it in life as well. We shrink the ideas based on what we think we can do. The reality is that we can do a whole lot of things big. We have the capacity as humans to do crazy things right. We can go through the moon. We can do a lot of things. We've been able to solve many of the diseases that are on this planet. We've been able to do a lot of things. There's now technology that can clean our air. Did you know that? Yeah, there's now technology out there that can clean the air that we messed up.

Speaker 1:

Mark you Okay let's say Isn't that amazing?

Speaker 3:

Yes, crazy. So my thing is there are things we can do and also people like well, you know, that's really for the, you know, I don't know. It's always someone else out there that thinks that you know that you can, that can do it better, or whatever the thing is. But one thing I have come to realize is that the big things that have happened in life usually happen with just a few people, but few committed people. You know some crazy person that's willing to say, yeah, let's go ahead and do this thing, and then a couple other crazy people that we call followers, but they're actually leaders in their own right. Okay, yes. And so we, some crazy people that say, okay, we'll go with it. If you think about all of the major say political movements in the, you think of the civil rights movement, it started with a couple of people around it. The Memorial Foundation was three men sitting around a cough at breakfast table in their homes in Bethesda. Okay, wow, we start thinking about just any big thing that has really ever happened. It's really just because of a few people. I mean Christianity, right.

Speaker 2:

Right.

Speaker 3:

Couple of long crazy man called Jesus and then a whole bunch of 12 crazy guys, right yeah, Like it really is only small numbers of people that do big things. So we often think, oh well, you know, I'm a small business, I'm a medium sized business, I got the big dogs over there, they can do their thing. But nothing in life has ever really happened without just the small people. And I saw this one quote that, goodness gracious, my brain is too early in the morning. Hello Cuba, the guy who you book any. No, the island of Cuba, the country.

Speaker 2:

Oh Castro.

Speaker 3:

Castro, thank you.

Speaker 1:

There, you go.

Speaker 3:

Castro he's a quote that Castro said that he was just sort of talking about the movement and he said that he had X number of people that had come on board, but he would have done it with only just a few men. Because the reality is that that's really all it takes If you passionately believe in your thing and you are leading in a way that's not focused on you but focused on the thing. People come because they want to do things bigger than themselves, and so they do it right and they want to be attached to that if they see that it can work. And so I really often think about what, when you think about, ok, zones of excellence or zones of genius, it's really comfortable to stay in the zone of excellence, definitely comfortable to stay in the zone of competence, because you live a big, big fish, little pond, right that's right. But when you start branching out into the genius zone it's scary. People are going to look at you a little crazy.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah.

Speaker 3:

People are going to say well, why are you leaving this good safe job over here Back in DC they talk about the good safe job government job. That's right. That's right. That's right. Why would you say the good safe job government? Job over here and then branch out into this madness where we don't even see how it's going to even work. Right, but that to me, is what going into your genius looks like, and it's scary and it feels crazy, but it's where all the good stuff happens. If you can be consistent in that space, you can be courageous to step there. Then be consistent, because it's not going to just come overnight. So if you can be consistent in that space, be strategic and then make sure you have a couple of crazy people who are just as crazy as you to come along on it. And you execute well. Just execute well and I always think you can come up with any identity you can come up with right. Every company, every business, has sort of identity around its space. We were like we're not an Okie-dokie operation OK, we're not Okie-dokie, even though we were like what are we doing? Why are we doing these things? Like on the mountain, whatever you know. They were like what are we doing? Because the other thing that's the other really, really amazing thing about building a big thing is you have to. Everyone wants to get to the top of the mountain, right? Everyone wants to get to the peak, but I have found that the fun happens on the way up there, and I know that sounds cliche and all that stuff, but I'm telling you that is where the joy of life happens. All we could do is focus on getting to the top. We just want to raise the darn thing, build the darn memorial. Particularly when we went through all kinds of that major economic crisis. We had Katrina, which was taking all the money from. Obviously, it was important, right, but all that money was going towards building up New Orleans back again. So there was no money. It was one year, a couple of years, you know, in my heyday I was bringing in 20 million a year. One year I must have I remember. Looking at the numbers, it was 100,000.

Speaker 2:

Oh my goodness, oh my goodness.

Speaker 3:

That was that crisis year. Ain't nobody giving money at that time? Remember when things went down in 2007, 2008? Yeah, yeah, not a good time for many of us, but definitely not good for raising money for a memorial. I mean, it's just not on the top of everyone's list of priorities. So then we had a pause because there was a domestic terrorist scare. So we had to figure out a way to develop domestic terrorist measures and that took a year of working through all of the agencies and such, and I mean it was just. I mean there was a pause there. I'm sorry, but in anything sales, fundraising if you are having conversations with people to give you, to part with their money, to give you money, and they don't see any progress, you can't really sell a thing.

Speaker 2:

It's true, it's true.

Speaker 3:

Because they don't have vision. They know. Ok, yeah, I could see it. It was the crazy ones. We love the crazy ones, but for the most part, most people are not going to buy your product if they don't think that it's moving anywhere. Ok, so there was a time of period where that was. So there are going to be times when you are going to be like why am I here? Why did we do this? This is a hot mess, this is not moving along. So you have to come up with an identity within yourselves, around who you are, what you believe to be true, and really just kind of build a team around it. And no one left during that time. No one said I give up, no one slacked off on the work they did on a daily basis and when things are turning around, it started turning around. And we knew it and all the work we did when we didn't see anything growing no money was coming in began to sprout up. I think I don't know if you are a friend of Les Brown. Are you a friend of Les Brown?

Speaker 2:

Oh, I love Les Brown Absolutely.

Speaker 3:

Oh my god, love, love, love him. I mean like he must protect him at all costs. So he gives us one of his classic stories, because, you know, a lot of his stories are classic.

Speaker 2:

Good, oh yeah.

Speaker 3:

He's the one with the fast buddy, right. I don't listen to him, but he has one of his classic stories that I listen to all the time and it's called the Chinese bamboo tree. Have you heard that story? No, I don't think so, only in Les Brown voice. So I can't do it. That's right. But he talks about how there's a bamboo tree, a Chinese bamboo tree that once you plant it it takes nine years I think it's nine years for it to sprout. But you have to still cultivate it, you have to still water it, you have to feed it. You got to do the thing. But once that time happens, within a couple of weeks it just shoots up several feet, like, it's just like. And you could have said can you imagine being that one who has a Chinese bamboo tree and your neighbors are coming by looking at you watering the ground, all like you know?

Speaker 2:

Nothing there, right Nothing happening.

Speaker 3:

Like what's happening, and that is what I'm saying. The strategy, right, the strategy on the end is to build this strong bamboo tree. The tactic is you're going to water it. Another tactic is you're going to feed it. And then, what's exceptional execution? You're going to water and feed it every day.

Speaker 1:

OK.

Speaker 3:

So that's the execution. Now you don't want to skip a day Now, some days you might water it and maybe some of the water splatters over here you're not doing it well, that's. You need to optimize that. You know. Go ahead and make sure that the bucket you're using has a good sprout that can get to the plant, that kind of thing. But exceptional execution is doing it, doing it all the time, doing it every day when you decide to do it, and so you want to make sure that you got the strategy to build this bamboo tree. For whatever the reason is, you know, your reason for building your bamboo tree is different than mine, but we're going to build it.

Speaker 1:

That's right.

Speaker 3:

How do we? You know what are the tactics that need to happen? Well, first we've got to plant it, then we've got to water it, then we've got to feed it. And then how do we execute that tactic? We do it every single day, even for nine years, even when we don't see the thing right. And then nine years, bam, you know, you're looking up and you're like, oh, this is a huge bamboo tree. I didn't realize. So people always often say you know, hey, it's overnight success, yeah, it was an overnight success for nine years.

Speaker 2:

For nine years. You know that's so helpful and I think that's so true. Anybody who has started a business would resonate with that, because there are so many days, so many nights when you are watering the ground and you and you, you have to keep that belief, yes, that this is going to sprout in due season. This is going to sprout in due time.

Speaker 1:

Yes.

Speaker 2:

I love that, gary, and that is so fantastic.

Speaker 3:

Let me ask you, and don't do it alone, Do it, you know, build a team. I always say build a team fast, you know, if you have some folks who you know most of the folks that work with me, you know, are people who have have built a business and have a few members on their team and they're sort of in the process of scaling but even if you are early days in the business, build a team fast, because there's an African proverb I always like to say if you want to go fast, go alone. Yeah, you want to go far, go together. That's it. Build a team fast. I know people who I don't have any money coming in. Build a team. I'm going to die on that hill.

Speaker 2:

Yes, so good.

Speaker 3:

Build a team fast. So it's not just you watering, it's you watering, it's your team watering, and that looks different, right? So maybe you're up on the hill looking down and saying, hey guys, water over there.

Speaker 1:

Water over there.

Speaker 3:

You know we need to. You know, oh, switch over here. We need to bring a tarp to whatever we need to do right, and then you seem to do the thing, because you can't just be in the business, watering, watering, all day, all day, when you're not being strategic. You have to be deciding, oh, what is the strategic direction that we are moving the team in? And if you're in it watering, watering, watering, then you're not above it looking down and seeing OK, yeah, that's where. That's why I, you know general's, back in the day, when you know war fear was a thing you know, I always think of, like you know old, like you know you have the battles of, like the Revolutionary War, for instance. You know I'm a big fan of Outlander. I know all women love that show, so it's because of history notes, because of Janie, but anyway, no, I love the historical elements of it. Anyway the show right now is the early days of the War of Independence. Ok, and you know, you see these, these generals and everything, and you're like, how did they battle on the field? You know, because you think of warfare now, today, and it's so different than warfare back in that day. And you know, I heard someone say generals and stuff were always on the hill, on the higher part of the hill, always looking to see what's going so they can send the messenger down to the troops to tell them. You know, tell the captains and the tenants. I know I don't know all the names of the different ranks, but the people who are leading down on the down on the ground to do a thing shift west, shift north, retreat, do the thing. If you're the owner of your business, you're the leader of your business and you're sitting there watering, watering, watering that thing which is really important, mind you, must happen all the time, it must happen every day in order for this to work. But that means that you're not on the hill looking down to the side. Ok, what patches are dry? What areas do we need to kind of do a thing, to do a switch? You might realize that the way the tactic is executing is not that great. Maybe we should, you know, pivot a bit. Whatever the thing is, you're the one who needs to be looking at that, and if you're only working in the business doing the thing, then you don't have the capacity to be strategic and to be a strategic leader, and you can't tell who's exhausted because you know you're working along with them and you're just kind of watering, watering, watering. Then you don't know what strengths people have and what's going on. But if you're above, you can kind of look and see oh my goodness, that person over here is real good at that. That person's exhausted. Let's shift them out. It allows for you the capacity to be able to move the organization and conduct it in a way that makes it more effective. So when the, when, the, when the bamboo plant does spread up, it spurts up and all of the, all of the bamboo ones are looking the same and you know all the little stalks. You know it looks good.

Speaker 2:

How do you stay on top of your game, like, how do you continue to level up with new leadership skills? Your journey is varied and wide and so many different experiences and inputs, but the carry on you're going to need to be a year or two, five years from now needs to have grown. Yeah, I just.

Speaker 3:

It's so interesting you should say that, because one of the things that I've been contemplating this past week is what? What does it look like, not just for me, but also for the business? Right, and I'm always thinking about that. I think it's some. What's his name? Abraham, I forgot his name, but he's one of those business gurus always says you know, you sort of look at your business a bit like it's this. You know, I always say it's an entity outside of yourself. He always has sort of look, think of it like a hedge fund. It's like. You know, the purpose of business is to produce value. You put some things in and then it generates value. It generates value to the owner. It generates value to the employees, to the customers, to the state, to the investors. Basically, it's a value generating entity outside of oneself, to all of the stakeholders and folks that are connected to it. Now, so you're always having to tend it. You have to be the person who you are today to tend. It isn't the same person that needs to continue to bring it forward. Now there are some theories around, like leadership in business. Some people feel that you should, as a if you're the entrepreneur that began the business at some point, you need to bring someone on who is more of an executor, and then at some stage you bring someone on who is a sustainer, and there's really four roles, but I'm forgetting one of them. But this is concept of, you know, the lifespan of the personality within the business. It sort of goes like this when someone else comes in and goes like that, and then there's this and that's how you can sustain a business. I also there's another theory around it. So that's the idea here is the entrepreneur kind of begins to walk away a bit once he's kind of done the thing. And I am truly an entrepreneur, but I do believe in terms of personality type. I mean all of those, but in terms of my style of personality but, nonetheless, there's also a different school of thought that if you are, you know there's sort of three roles of an entrepreneur, a business owner. You have the entrepreneur, which is person, like, say, the risk and like the big things. There's the kind of talent on the person who's really the face of things, does the thing, you know whatever the thing, does a dance, whatever. And then there's kind of the manager slash, you know, sustain a person, okay, and the idea is instead of it feeling like you have to sort of do this, walk away, and then you know whatever. It's kind of like you need all three people, you need someone to be all, you need someone to represent each three entities, each three entities of that working. So if you are sort of a full on entrepreneur, meaning you love risk, you love, you know building teams, whatever then you want to definitely immediately, as soon as you can, bring someone on who loves the. you know who's going to be the face that the actor you know, yeah, yeah, the talent and the, and then you need to bring someone on who's going to be the manager.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 3:

And so that's the other theories, that you stay in it but you just bring, you, build your team around it. So there's that and then there's this. I think you can do a hot pod of it right, but in the end I really think that whatever it is that we do, we need to sort of think about how you can evolve with it, because what isn't the whole point of anything? You grow when you evolve and you strengthen, I believe, leaning into your strengths but I also think a part of life is broke. So the answer your question I would I often do is I often I put myself in environments where they are kind of people that are way more further along than I am. Yeah, put myself there and I kind of feel like I'm my, you know, like I'm 12 years old again, wearing my mother's shoes. Both my parents were clothes horses. Okay, my dad is passing, my mom still is and she is, so so I just, you know, I think I was wearing heels at age six, little cute, little, you know, little shoes that they give a six year old, and I just, I love me some heels right now. I did a little ankle spring a couple years back and I can't wear them as much, but I still do love stilettos. So my point is them. You know I always just wear them. Shoes around my mom's high heel shoes, you know, and you don't. You know you feel, you know you're not you haven't grown into it yet, but you know, you kind of. You know you're kind of. They're like look at me, I'm so cool and I'm like I'm going to go right on the like. The things are hanging down to my knees and whatever. The point is them. I try to put myself in environments where people who are way further along, so that I can. It's almost like being on top of the mountain and seeing over the hill a bit, and and and that goes back to being the general right, you can see a bit over the hill. Okay, that's what I need to be thinking about being. That's when I'm trying to lead this. And then it stretches me a bit and I feel insecure in those spaces because I'm like, oh, look at these people who are doing all those big things and you know, but that's the only way that. That's the one I've always done in my life is always been in spaces where people are always bigger than me or older than me or more advanced than I was in, whatever the thing was, and then I sort of observed and I'm like I could do that, I could do that. So that's one thing. The other thing is I always I, you know, I've done some work, so I know my, I know the areas of my life that have particular woundings and and hurts and traumas, and I'm very aware when they are being sort of irritated, right.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 3:

And so I always know, I know what my body feels like when I am making a decision or I'm feeling a bit of a way, but it's not coming from anything of wisdom, it's coming from my younger spaces or coming from the places of myself that have been who I have. Yet, you know I have healed but it's still tender. You know you still have these little wounds and they have. You know, the scabs there.

Speaker 2:

This car yeah.

Speaker 3:

But if you do a thing to it, you kind of still feel it Sure. Yeah. So I think to you know, just being able to, to, to know when, know when you are being, you're making decisions or you're reacting to something that is hitting some tender spaces that haven't completely healed, so I'm not reacting but I'm just like, oh wait, oh wait, why did that? So I usually I've, I've practiced, I learned this practice a number of years ago, where if I'm sitting in a meeting, particularly because you know when you're interacting with people, that's when things happen and they're like, well, I'm going to go and be, you know, like go to Bali and just kind of like you know be, that's great and everything and that's very important, but reality is it's like it's only when you're interacting with humans. So you know, I, what I would do was, if I'm sitting in the meeting and and I find myself like reacting and we all know the triggers that we know when our heart jumps or stomach flips, whatever the thing is, and I always sort of like you know you're in a like a high stakes meeting you have, you don't have time, you cannot be, pause and say, oh, in herself it's wrong with you, exactly. So I would always wait, but I would make a note, check that out and when I would go home and I would be able to have my in my internal time, I'd always sort of asks this questions what's going on? What was it? Why did that get? Why did I triggered? What's happening? And then that's when I realized what you know and I and I and I do all kinds of techniques to make sure that I'm being able to put the truth right because again, our subconscious mind will give you all kinds of like. Oh yeah, madness. Oh, because they said those are the, but what's the truth?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and then?

Speaker 3:

eventually the soul, like you know, if oftentimes it's hitting my younger self, so I'll allow my younger self to have a voice and that usually says, well, they just hurt my feelings because, you know, when she said that, like, wow, okay, so now you know that what's happening, it's, you know, and I'm, and I love my youngest. If I love my youngest, I love them to just go play and have a good time, but you are not driving this bus, yeah, yeah, you're not dropping the bus, so I'm going to. It also gives me opportunity to heal and to stretch, because the more I heal, the more I expand. So, and then the third thing is that I do is for me. I oftentimes, you know, I'm always reading to see, sort of like, what are different ways to lead and to make impact, and because I realized, like my brain, I, you know, I grew up at a certain time and space and ideas and thoughts were of that time and space. Well, our collective consciousness has evolved since that time and space, but we, we, we, we like, we like certainty, so we want to know that that, well, that's what it was at that time and space and so that's how it is today, but it's not right, yeah, yeah. So what I try to do is is kind of figure out. You know, I think it's Thomas Jefferson that says, in matters of style, go with the trend. In matters of substance, stand like a rock. So I often say, okay, you know, and I have younger folks on my team and they're fantastic and they have all these fantastic ideas and I think it's fantastic, it's great, I love it. So they help me in matters of style. They're like, yeah, carianne, nobody's doing it that way, and I've got five nieces. They help me in fashion. They're like Auntie Carianne, no one hearing that anymore.

Speaker 1:

That's awesome.

Speaker 3:

No, I try to stay. I try to say okay. In matters of style, I'm gonna go with the trend. However, in matters of substance, I will stand like a rock. So I'm gonna like this idea of oh, you know we couldn't get so-and-so, you know we couldn't get this confirmation. Well, did you pick up the phone and just call?

Speaker 2:

Call right. It's wondering because Novel idea right.

Speaker 3:

You know, because what we are gonna do is respect the fact that other people are busy.

Speaker 1:

Yes.

Speaker 3:

And they're not here. Certainly our lives are not the center of their lives. So, if you're sending, well, I sent a bunch of emails and I sent them messages on LinkedIn, or yeah, but did you call? Because in the end, we're trying to get the thing done, done, right, bingo. So I also think what are the things of substance that I know to be true and I'm gonna hang on to those things. So that and those are, you know, what are my values, what do I believe, how we operate with people, how do we respect people, how do we interact with people, and so I go with style, I stand with substance, and that allows me to expand a bit in how I lead. So you know, and they're like you know, carrie Ann, that's gonna take you so much time If you just do it this way, I'm like, oh, I'm gonna do it that way. You guys know better than me, right? I try to stay abreast of what's happening in the world. Like when AI happened, I interviewed a guy on AI stuff and then I said, okay, I'm gonna spend six weeks with you and you are going to teach me everything you know about AI so we can put into the business. So you know. So I wasn't like scared about the whole thing or whatever. You know, that kind of thing we don't have time for that. We're trying to build it as a, so I think that is all something Trying to assess where you need to like. I know we wanna have search and see all the time and we wanna this is what I know to be true over here. It was, but the world has changed. The collective consciousness has moved on. There are other ways of thinking and doing and being. How do you do that, as well as not throwing the baby out with the bathwater? That's a journey of leadership, but I think it's an important one.

Speaker 2:

So good. Is there a book that has made a big difference in your journey that you would recommend that listeners put on there to read list?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, so I actually really do think the big leap is a good one. The big leap is good for people, even if you're not in business, but it's really about how you are operating in your zone of genius within the world. Yeah, and the first thing I often do when I speak with business owners is okay, what's your life plan, what's your thing? Because you're building a business. But if there's no alignment between the business vision and the life vision, I always say you gotta tweet the business vision 100%. I mean, your life vision is all what it is. It comes from your innards, it comes from your, from your, you know, Yasso or whatever.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah.

Speaker 3:

So if your business vision doesn't align with your life vision at this stage of your life, then you wanna realign that, but I think it's really important that you are operating in your zone of genius. I want everyone in the entire world. That is truly my value. My mission is to get people living up to their fullest purpose on this planet. I think we have dumbed down that because and I think that's one of the reasons we see all of this hurt and pain happening is people aren't living up, they're living down, and I feel like they're continually living down. So live up to what you are really truly called to do. That's one of the reasons why I really like that book, the Big Leap, and, in terms of business, I'm going to really recommend BE 2.0, jim Collins. I'm a humongous fan of Jim Collins.

Speaker 2:

Me too.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, okay, right, love him and so obviously all of his books are fantastic. But BE 2.0 is sort of a love story to entrepreneurs and to small and medium sized businesses, and I think I guess one of the reasons why I love it is because the idea here is you know, one of his big books that's very much more popular is built to last, right, sure sure. And people always think well, you know, he talks a big, his sort of thing is about big business, but they've misunderstood him. He came from his whole thing when he was, I think that UCLA, at Berkeley I always can be just I don't know which one he came from, but oh, it's Stanford. Who's at Stanford? And he taught entrepreneurship. He's all about entrepreneurship and small. The reason why the whole built to last sort of you know several different books coming out of that was about because he was trying to scientifically study what were the components of businesses that lasted, what were the components that were that they had in common, as a way to be able to almost mimic or export those thoughts, move them into small business so that they can build, because every big business was once a small business. Yeah, that's right. Exactly so. A lot of people misunderstand his posture, but the built, the BE 2.0, is almost a love story.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, it's true.

Speaker 3:

Those of you who love it to entrepreneurs, to small and medium sized companies, because it just distills down some of the core issues, the core things. And, to be honest, a lot of my methodology in my business is very informed by him, by his work, because I just I think it works. I've seen it work in my business and my clients' businesses but I've seen it work in my own, so I'm a big fan of that. But that would be one book that I would recommend people read. So Big League Gay Handlers and BE 2.0, jim Collins.

Speaker 2:

Love it.

Speaker 3:

No, you asked for one, but I gave you two.

Speaker 2:

Give me two. It's a bonus. I love it. Yeah, kari, and this has been such a fantastic conversation. Thank you for being so open, so transparent and so informative. You've shared so many incredible insights today. Thank you for that.

Speaker 3:

Kari, thank you for having me on your show. It's such an honor and I love sometimes talking with people to sort of riff about sort of life and business, because in the end it's all together, isn't it.

Speaker 2:

That's it exactly. I know folks are gonna wanna stay connected with you. What is the best way for them to do that?

Speaker 3:

Well, you know, I kinda hang out on LinkedIn a bit.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah, there you go.

Speaker 3:

So find me there, connect. I'm also on Instagram as well. I really do love Instagram too, so if you wanna connect with me, connect with me on LinkedIn or Instagram, send me a message, say hi, okay, tell me you're in Williams Crew.

Speaker 2:

That's right.

Speaker 3:

And I'd love to connect. I really think that having those connections, human connections, is really, in the end, the most important thing.

Speaker 2:

Thanks for joining me for this episode today. As we wrap up, I'd love for you to do two things. First, subscribe to this podcast so you don't miss an episode, and if you find value here, I'd love it if you would rate it and review it. That really does make a difference in helping other people to discover this podcast. Second, if you don't have a copy of my newest book, catalytic Leadership, I'd love to put a copy in your hands. If you go to catalyticaleadershipbookcom, you can get a copy for free. Just pay the shipping so I can get it to you and we'll get one right out. My goal is to put this into the hands of as many leaders as possible. This book captures principles that I've learned in 20 plus years of coaching leaders in the entrepreneurial space, in business, government, nonprofits, education and the local church. You can also connect with me on LinkedIn to keep up with what I'm currently learning and thinking about. And if you're ready to take a next step with a coach to help you intentionally grow and thrive as a leader, I'd be honored to help you. Just go to catalyticaleadershipnet to book a call with me. Stay tuned for our next episode next week. Until then, as always, leaders choose to be catalytic. ["catalytic?

Speaker 1:

Leadership"]. Thanks for listening to Catalytic Leadership with Dr William Attaway. Be sure to subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts so you don't miss the next episode. Want more? Go to catalyticaleadershipnet.

Leadership Development and Strategic Success
Journey of Leadership Impact
Power of Committed People
Building a Bamboo Tree
Finding Leadership Inspiration and Recommendations
Catalytic Leadership