🎙️Show Notes for Episode 071 of the IC PodcastJul 21, 2022
In this episode, I interview one of my podcast listeners turned independent consulting business owner clients, LeAnne Lagasse.
LeAnne Lagasse is an HR and People Ops consultant specializing in helping organizations assess and improve employee engagement and develop their people managers. LeAnne is an SHRM-SCP, a Gallup-Certified CliftonStrengths© Coach, and serves as Adjunct Faculty at Missouri State University, where she teaches professional communication courses to MBA students. Before launching her career as a consultant in 2017, LeAnne was a faculty member and the Director of Public Speaking in the College of Media and Communication at Texas Tech University, where she served for 14 years. LeAnne holds both a Bachelor's and Master's degree in Communication, and alongside her husband, Ben, she is a proud mom to three children and two pet prairie dogs.
Listen in as LeAnne shares a broad range of insights and strategies including how she's created a very strong reputation where ideal clients think of her immediately when they need a consultant who does what she does, how she's created a clear, compelling consulting services offer, and ultimately how she's been able to price her consulting services using a value-based pricing approach rather than hourly or time-based approach.
Press play to join the conversation.
- [01:00] What to expect from this conversation
- [02:14] Meet our guest, LeAnne Lagasse
- [03:31] LeAnne’s journey to becoming an Independent Consultant
- [05:50] Lessons learned from transitioning from an IC business partnership to a solo venture
- [10:37] How she has created and continues to build her reputation in the industry
- [15:36] How she gained clarity around her niche and offerings
- [21:24] Some advice for IC business owners wanting to transition to a value-based pricing approach rather than an hourly or time-based approach
- [21:50] Why and how LeAnne decided to hire a coach
- [00:00] How to approach capacity management in a sustainable way to avoid burnout
- [22:44] Tips and strategies to support you during challenging seasons of your IC business
CONNECT WITH OUR GUEST —
LeAnne Lagasse, HR and People Ops Consultant and Coach
LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/in/leannelagasse/
Website - https://www.leannelagasse.com/
MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE —
- Check out the IC Business Predictability Assessment: https://www.ic-scorecard.com
- Episode 065: Lessons Learned from Restarting an IC Business with Nicola Kastner - https://www.melisaliberman.com/blog/65
SEE WHAT I’M UP TO —
- Discuss working with me as your coach - Click here to schedule your consultation
- Take the IC Business Plan Assessment: https://www.icbizeval.com
- Check out my YouTube Podcast Channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCUrsHqeAFDkcI8Kqc4QssEQ
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**note: This is an automated transcript, so please ignore spelling errors and grammar mistakes*
Okay, I'm so excited. So welcome, Leanne, to the podcast today. And why don't we just start with you telling us a little about you and what your company does?
Well, it's I'm so excited to be here. I feel like I look so forward to every single time I get to talk to you. So thanks for having me. I am a former communication Professor turned HR and people ops consultant. And so I specialize in helping businesses engage their employees, retain them, and develop them, especially their people and managers.
Amazing is it's such an important time for right now, as it usually is. But it seems even more heightened for the type of work you do and the type of help you give to your clients in terms of retention and employee satisfaction and fulfillment and all of those kinds of projects. Yeah,
it is. The research right now is pretty alarming. When it comes to employee engagement, employee engagement, prior to COVID was trending up actually, in the United States. And then since the pandemic hit, it's sort of just been all over the place, but it's trending downward now. And then I think it's no secret that organizations are struggling to retain employees; employees have more leverage than they have ever had a lot of ways in terms of their, you know, ability to work remotely. Companies are so much more, I think, aware of their capacity to offer benefits that kind of align with people's lifestyles. And so there's so much competition out there. So organizations that are sort of staying ahead of the curve are diving into the research around employee engagement and retention and development. And so that's been, it's been fun. It's been challenging to sort of navigating that over the past few years.
So much fun. All right, Leah, tell us a little let's start at the beginning. So tell us why did you become an independent consultant initially,
you know, it's funny because I don't know that I even really knew what I was becoming. I did it. I will say, though, when so my, my background is in communications. So I have an undergrad and a master's degree in communication. And when I went to start my master's program, I thought, I want to be a consultant and a trainer, but I wasn't thinking, you know, I was going to own my own business. I just assumed I would kind of jump on, you know, somebody else's consulting business train and, and I, so I started going to grad school for that, and very quickly, was put into a graduate teaching assistant position at the University of Texas Tech in Lubbock, Texas. And I walked into a college classroom and just fell in love with instructing college students and the curriculum I was teaching. And so I didn't leave for a long time. So I was teaching at Texas Tech from 2005 until 2019 when I finally left to pursue this full-time, but in 2017, my good friend, her name is Joy. And then she was also a colleague at Texas Tech; we had been talking for a long time about, Hey, we should start just kind of this side hustle like a side gig. You know, in addition to our really demanding full-time professor jobs, let's start let's, let's do a weird thing and start a side gig. And but you know, the time was timing was never, it never felt great, because we both had young kids. And again, we have full-time jobs. But in 22, late 2016, kind of early 2017 Actually, the story is, Joy had to go she got roped into this train, like professional development training through her husband's company. And she came back from it, and she said, Leanne, I went to this thing they brought in this person, and you know, they pay I know, they paid him this much and listen like we are infinitely more equipped to do this kind of training than even this guy. And he was good, but we should totally do this. And so we just sort of said, Alright, let's jump in and let's get started. And so we did and slowly you know, we started to get our footing and figure out how we were going to juggle this with our full-time job, and then at about six to seven-ish months in it became really obvious that okay, this is good, we're gonna have to make some changes either we're gonna have to pull back on the side gig or we're gonna have to jump all in and so, in 2018, we started kind of putting some things in place for me to exit Texas Tech. which was a job that I enjoyed in so many ways. And then, in 2019, I jumped and have been doing this full time ever since. So it's kind of full circle that I thought I was gonna end up in consulting. Took me a bit to get there. But yeah, I've been doing that full-time since 2019.
Amazing. And so tell us, tell us a little bit. So you started out with joy and working together as a partnership. And more recently, you've gone out on your own. And so you've got kind of the second iteration of your business. I'd love to talk a little bit about kind of the lessons that you learned in that journey and show you're applying those to what you're doing now?
Yes, so yeah, Joey and I, you know, we were 5050 partners from 2017 until late 2021. And then, for a lot of reasons, we both decided that we, you know, wanted to kind of close the doors on that business. And I felt still very passionate and very convicted about the kind of work I was doing. And knowing that I wanted to figure out a way to continue doing that on my own. But it was really overwhelming. It was really, it was really scary because I had had sort of this friend and this anchor, this partner, all of this time. So in terms of lessons learned, there are so many I feel like if you're a business owner, you're sort of every day is lessons learned, you know, but I think if I had to sort of narrow it down to, you know, two or three big, big lessons one, I would say that I figured out pretty quickly, that my natural tendency to want to do all of the things was not serving me well. And so just because I can do everything doesn't mean I should do everything is probably the biggest lesson that I learned. And you know, I didn't, we didn't start sort of thinking that that was going to become a problem for us. But we had one major offering, we were both certified through the Gallup organization to facilitate Clifton Strengths assessments and help teams really develop in that. And then what happened is we would get into an organization, and they would see a lot of fruit and a lot of return on their investment there. And so then they would say, Hey, can you all do this? And we would sort of look at each other and go, Well, yeah, we could do that, you know, we've got experience in that too. And so the next thing we knew, we had so many just things we were doing, and we were over-customizing to every single client. And you know, if if you are an independent consultant, I think you're always maybe going to struggle with that. But for us, it just sort of got out of control. So for me, that was a really big lesson is I have to protect myself from myself, you know, in this version, you know, to have my independent consulting journey as I've got to figure out how to simplify so that I'm doing what I'm very best at and where I bring the most value to organizations, and also not burning myself out. So that's kind of lesson one. And then, and I think the other sort of big lesson, which is so funny, because like the foundation of my entire business is helping organizations learn how to leverage their individual and collective strengths, which somehow I did not figure out, also applied to me and owning a business early on. And so I think the other big lesson I learned is I have got to sort of leverage my strengths and, and lean into those areas, double down in those areas, and really cut myself slack in the areas where I'm not strong. Either partner with somebody who is, you know, bring on kind of a consultant to help me in those areas, or just, frankly, eliminate some of those things I was putting pressure on myself to do. So those are probably the biggest lessons.
I think it's so fascinating. I can't tell you; it's almost every single consultant that I work with, including myself, that we're so good at what we do. And then when we have to apply, we either don't even realize this could apply to our own business, or we completely have amnesia and don't and don't know how. So it's amazing to see that as something that happens for us and kind, and you know, you've got such a good sense of humor about it and not letting it weigh you down. Just figuring out how to apply and work around it like he's
described. Well, and to your point, I think, you know, we're all we all sort of struggle with that. But then, once you think to hit your stride, sort of in your strengths. I mean, I've done that's where your that's where you're getting the most return on your investment, and that's where your clients are getting the most value from you. And so I got one story sometimes I'll share about this with my clients as I'm doing workshops is when I first sort of realized it at the beginning of owning a business? Oh, I think that the HR and the people ops kind of community is maybe my target audience, which I wasn't necessarily expecting when we started; I thought we'd maybe work more with small, smaller businesses, you know, your C suite level and we still do I still see I'm still saying us, I still do. But I didn't really anticipate the HR community. But when I figured that out, I started thinking, Okay, I need to get speaking at conferences in the HR space. And I was very anxious about that; In my role at Texas Tech, I was the director of public speaking. So I was over all the public speaking curriculum. So I'm not anxious, really, about public speaking. But I was really, really anxious about sort of navigating this new audience in this new space and feeling like I'm going to be viewed as this outsider. And they're going to think, oh, here comes this like, annoying academic type, who thinks that she's got something new to teach us, you know, and they were going to be resistant to that. So I went to my first HR conference, where I had been invited to speak, and I was so excited and nervous. And I made the maybe ill-advised decision, which actually ended up working out to my advantage. But I thought on the first day, hey, this person on this program is also going to be speaking on the same thing I'm going to be speaking on, I should go watch that, you know, again, probably about the best because I was already feeling anxious. And I struggle a lot, kind of with confidence when I'm navigating new spaces. And so you know, bloated up my stuff. And I go into this, this room where this breakout session is going to be and it's packed. And it's, again, the same topic. The topic was employee onboarding and kind of how you build engagement and retention through your onboarding processes. And so I sit down, I remember I was scrunched up in this row, and there are just people and they all there's this buzz in the room, I didn't realize that the speaker was a pretty big deal. And I wish I could remember her name off the top of my head, but she was sort of who I want to be in 15 to 20 years, you know, she's been on The Today Show, and she's written books, and she was this expert. And everybody was there to see her. And I remember sitting there thinking, What in the world am I doing here? You know, and then why would the conference, you know, people have brought me here, when they've got this woman who is so experienced, and so brilliant. And so I was sitting there, and I just felt like I was shrinking the whole time. And, When I left, I went back to the hotel room, I had already put my slide deck and all my presentations together. And, and I just felt so defeated. And then it was this aha moment. And I thought, Oh, my word. Okay, so I cannot compete with her in terms of not ever being, you know, competition. But in my mind, I just felt like, what value could I bring here that she didn't already bring? She's so brilliant and accomplished. But I thought, okay, so I can't compete in terms of experience. But what do I have that she doesn't. And it occurred to me, you know, what, I'm gonna run this workshop session, just like a college classroom. And I'm going to structure it like a, like I would a classroom session, which I've done a million times, I'm going to facilitate conversation, I'm going to talk less, and actually, open it up more for them to share their experiences. And yeah, there was content there. But it was me leaning into what I already did well. And it went so much better than I think it would have, even if I had delivered the more polished version of the speech because I was leaning into what I was good at. And I ended up. It was one of the most like the top four rated sessions at the conference. And I don't say that to, you know, to my own horn, except to say that the reason people loved it was because they got to communicate with each other and share their ideas. And that was a strength that I brought was it being able to facilitate that. And so, to me, it was figuring that out early, like, I've got to lean into my strengths that is, has, I think saved me so much heartache, not all the heartache, but a lot of the heartache over the years for
sure. I think that's such an important thing to recognize, too, that you were able to recognize that at the moment. Because a lot of times, we think that something about that strength is either we don't even realize we have it because it just feels so natural to us. Or we think that it's something, something's not right about it, and we should try to be that other person. And so for you to be able to pivot in that way and see that you see the strengths and embrace them is a great lesson in such a powerful story, I think, for everyone to hear.
Yeah. Well, it was a very impactful experience for me, and I do tell that story a lot because I think it would have been easy for me to sort of go in and just try to be like this woman was; she was a wonderful communicator and did such a great job. But I could bring this different thing to the table so that even the attendees at her session would have walked away with something different and valuable. And I think that as an independent consultant, figuring out what is that thing I do is unique? And where do I bring value that maybe others don't? And how I differentiate myself is huge.
Huge. Yeah, absolutely. Tell us. I see one of the strengths from my vantage point that I don't know if we've even said this yet. But Liana is one of my clients. So we work together, really, in-depth every week. I'm just curious. So one of the strengths that I see, from my vantage point in working with you and your business, is the reputation that you've built in the industry. And so I'd love to hear more about how you've created that, and how you continue to build that. It's something that I think a lot of independent consultancies is a little is can be more challenging, and it's something that seems to come naturally and powerfully for you. So tell us a little bit about that.
Thank you for that; that means a lot coming from you. Um, you know, I would say when we, when we started, I think the fact that I had this experience as a professor, I was sort of, I sort of had some kind of inherent like, okay, she probably, you know, she isn't way out in the left field about most things, you know, she probably has some, some knowledge around this. Still, I was sort of navigating a brand new space and a brand new audience. And so I was teaching a lot of the same things that I've taught for, you know, 14 years, but just to a new group of people. And so for me in answering that question, I do think it's, it was good audience analysis. Again, those are skills I have acquired over the years in my educational background. And as a professor, I think it was a really good audience analysis; it was really, I think about putting myself out there as not an expert, even in the field of my target audience, but saying, Hey, this is where my expertise lies. And here's how I can partner with you and the work that you're doing inside your organization, to enhance or to, you know, mitigate, or whatever it is a boost, you know, and it's always been very important to me, when I'm communicating to clients and communicating with clients that they view me not as an as competition, you know, to their success. And sometimes that can be tricky because, especially if I'm working with a larger organization, there are times where I can sense some, you know, hesitancy or some skepticism even which is warranted. You know, if you're, if you're an HR leader, and you are day in and day out, like you, you sweat, you cry about these about your people. And then some, you know, former annoying professors try to come in here and say, Hey, you should do this. And you should do this, like that, that I have never taken lightly. I know that there are risks involved in that for an organization. And so I always have tried to communicate to the leaders, I work with the organizations that my role is to, you know, come in and equip you to help train you and help you maybe identify some blind spots that you have. And then I want to be able to backpedal out so that you are set up for success in the long term. And so I think that that interpersonally and communicatively is a big part of why people trusted me to continue working with them, you know, they might bring me in with a work a one day workshop. And then again, they say, " Hey, can you help us with this? Can you help us with this? And the reason that I think that they keep bringing me back is that they feel like I am for their good. And, and that's something that is very important to me. And then the other thing I would say in terms of just building a reputation is putting yourself out there for speaking opportunities. Again, that's a strength, and more of a strength that I have is public speaking and communication. So I figured out pretty early that I gotta put myself out there and be vulnerable. Now there are some parts of it that were harder.
I remember one time at the very beginning. Someone who a good friend who works in marketing said, You got to start doing like live webinars, you've got to start doing Facebook Lives, and this was pre-COVID. So we were, you know, as a culture, we were not as familiar with what it felt like to be on live video, and I remember just wanting to crawl into a hole and No, we're not, no, I'm not doing that. But we started doing that even before COVID. And I think it positioned us well when COVID hit; we were already familiar faces. On webinars on live video, at the time, we had a pretty active Facebook group where we went live every week. So those are some of the things that I did kind of tactically, I think that helped with that.
Yeah, that helps, you know, just being able to overcome that fear. And, you know, for you, being vulnerable being out, you know, being willing to put yourself out there even when it didn't feel comfortable, so that people recognize that face recognizes the name and attach it to, you know, as a particular challenge that they may need to solve. Maybe not right now, but in the future. And they think of you first when they think about who they might call to help them. That's the
that's the hope, right? Yes, one thing on that, I will say, Melissa is, I was nervous too, to do some of that live video, putting myself out there. Because I always felt like, you know, I need to be very professional and buttoned up. And not that I would be lacking warmth, but more on the professional side. But what was so interesting is that it was the weird, quirky, just off-the-cuff stuff that I think made people fans, and you know, these leaders. So that's another lesson I would say is people, they want to work with a person, you know, if you're an independent consultant, your personality is an advantage. You know, most of us, I guess, no, no, just using our personality can be an advantage. And so I think when I finally felt comfortable, sort of showing a little bit of that, or laughing or being silly, you know, and not to the point where people would question my credibility, but just seeing me as a human being made a huge difference in terms of, of how people I think engaged with us.
Yeah, I think that goes back. So you know, relevant, it's so relevant to what you were saying that people want to bring on consultants who they can trust and don't feel threatening to them. And that also is, you know, it's who do I want to work with this person on a daily or weekly basis, or whatever it might be. They get to choose that. And sometimes, you're not getting to choose your colleagues or peers when hiring employees. But you get to choose if you want to bring on a consultant or not. And so leveraging that personality and being willing to be willing to just be yourself and know that no, that is an advantage. I love the way you articulated that.
Yeah, there was one funny story about that I had had a, you know, kind of just discovery call with this woman who had found and seen me on a webinar. And then so, she sets up a meeting with her CEO. And as she's trying to introduce me on that call with the CEO. She says, Oh, I will I love Leann. She's so great. She's wonderful. And then she looked, she said, Okay, Leanne, how would you? So what exactly is it that you do, you know, and it was just, it was really funny because I think that's, that's it is, she's like, oh, I really, I like her, maybe I trust her, she seems relatable, I want to work with her. And we'll figure out; we'll figure out what she's gonna, what she's going to help us with, you know, and, again, that's the only call I've ever had. But I think that sort of speaking to that personality, and how important it is that people feel like you are relatable and conversational with them, as opposed to really buttoned up. And that was something I put pressure on myself at the very beginning to feel like I'm very professional and corporate. Now I'm not in academia. I'm corporate, you know, and that was very relieving for me to feel like I can be myself.
Yeah. And that it's an advantage. Yeah, yes. Yeah, absolutely. Another one of my strengths of your strengths I that I can see from my vantage point is the clear offering and niche that you've created. So touched on this a little bit in different ways here today already. But tell us a little more about how did you decide what exactly is the niche site as you would articulate it? I know you touched on that a minute ago. Still, to refresh our memory and then also, how do you handle the temptation that you know, you touched on this, the other things that I could do versus, you know, really focusing on what it is that you want, where you want your consulting business to go and turning our way work if you have to or in, you know, as a result of that.
Melissa? This was and continues to be challenging for me because I want to do all of the things, I have fun doing all of them, and so it was hard. I think that the way I ended up choosing the offerings that I have is that I thought through, okay, what are the projects that I did in the past? And I'm not great at reflecting, but this was an exercise, a thought exercise I put myself through; what were the projects I enjoyed the most. And what were some of those common themes and common, you know, services that I was providing in those favorites, those clients that I just could not wait to dive in and get started with them? And so what are those areas where I loved what I was doing? I felt like I did it with ease and excellence and enjoyment is a way that I will often describe this sort of process to my clients even is, you know, you're going to find the most energy and the areas where you're, you're having fun, and you're loving what you're doing. And so I made a list. I'm a list person. And so I made quite the like brain dump list of all the different projects that I did, and different pieces of that and we're trying to figure out, okay, what are the threads here? What are the things that I can't imagine not doing? And just over some time, and then considering even the market? And hey, what am I hearing are the biggest problems facing organizations now, as they think about their people ops and their HR? How do all those things align? And, so for me, you know, I landed on three major things. And keynote speaking is sort of fuel for my it's like business development. Me, I love keynote speaking. So you know, going and doing an hour lecture here or there, or, you know, an association meeting or conference. So that's a lot of business development for me; I help organizations assess their employee engagement within my three major offerings. So I listen to their employees get data around that, and I love it. And then a lot of organizations go well, what are we okay, so we got all this engagement data, but what does it mean? What do we do with it? How do we communicate with our employees about that, so I help them with a strategy around their employee engagement surveys and pulse surveys, just listening to posts that they take up. Secondly, I do people manager equipping, so organizations will bring me on to do one-on-one and some cohort-style coaching with their people and managers. So you've got an individual contributor who was phenomenal in his or her role and then suddenly gets promoted and figures out pretty quickly and often painfully that the skill set is very different from being an individual contributor to managers. So I help with that. And then the third thing I do, which is probably my favorite, is Clifton Strengths, assessments and training and development, which started me I mean, that was what Joey and I were doing at the very beginning of our business was just Clifton Strengths consulting. And so for me, all those tools in my toolbox helped me equip organizations with tools and strategies they need to improve engagement and retention and profitability, you know, and all of those productivity metrics that matter to them. And so it took me a while to figure out what I wanted and wasn't going to do. I remember Melissa, one time you told me, and I wrote it down furiously; you said, we have to get you comfortable with what you've decided not to do. And I was like, Oh, that was tough. And it's still hard. I still have clients that, you know, will say, Oh, well, can you do this for us? And I've had to say, No, I don't. And that's a hard email to send, but it also felt good. Yeah, do that.
That's great. Tell me as you pray; let's switch gears a little bit. So the pricing models you've created that go along with these offerings are value-based, and that's where most consultants want to get to. So you're pricing things off the value you're delivering to your clients rather than the time you're spending to deliver to the clients. So I'm just curious as you think about how you price things out and develop that business model. What advice would you give to other consultants who want to achieve the same thing?
Yeah, that's a really good question. Again, I didn't even know that that was something I was doing until much later. We would laugh that when we started, we were just Googling things and were like, how do you run a business? We didn't know we were very passionate about this one thing, but we didn't know any of that. And I can remember just times when joy and I looked at each other like a client would say a term or an acronym, and we're nodding and just like writing it down because we don't know what that is. We're gonna learn. We're gonna figure it out, though. And so I don't know, we intuitively ended up doing value-based pricing. I don't know how I don't know where that knowledge base came from to start that way, but we just did. And it wasn't until years later that we realized that many consultants didn't do value, you know, based pricing. They were project-based, and they were doing more hourly stuff. So we didn't know. But what's interesting is that in all the years that we submitted proposals that were, you know, reflecting value-based pricing, we didn't have anyone ever ask us, Hey, we really would prefer to pay hourly. And so I think the advice that I might give is, if you're thinking about making that switch, know that there's probably not as much hesitation, you know, on the other side, as you might worry that there is at least that was not our experience, we never had anybody say, Well, this is odd how you've decided to structure this, you know, most people do, you know, hourly based stuff. So, that's one thing, and then I would say another kind of little quote that I love, is one time I was listening to a podcast and a woman, again, I wish I could remember her name, I cannot. But she said that her strategy is fear plus 10% for pricing. And I loved that I thought that was brilliant. And just as kind of a mantra, like fear plus 10%. And so actually had that on a sticky note in our office for a long time. Because it can be, I remember those first couple of times, and even now, I still feel this way, sometimes sending a value-based pricing proposal. And you just think, okay, your goes and you know, maybe they'll ghost me, maybe they won't. But so I would say leap because we didn't experience hesitation around that at all.
Yeah, that's amazing. One of my former colleagues from corporate, whom we've known forever has an Irish accent, so it sounds better when he says it. But he always says it's better to be lucky than good. And in some ways, right? It's like, it's so amazing. Somehow, you fell into this value-based pricing that many consultants make so much drama over how do I articulate this value? And you unknowingly went into that and didn't have I love how you pointed that out? There were no objections because you believed in it; you thought it was the quote, unquote, right way to do it. And that it made sense. And so as so much without the friction on your side, that client isn't reflecting that friction on their side, either.
Absolutely. Yeah, I cannot think of one time we had anybody say anything to us about that. Yeah, I take that as an encouragement. If anything
that is encouragement for sure. Right, exactly. Tell us if your game does share; let's talk a little about our coaching work together. So let's do it. Okay, tell me, why did you decide to hire a coach.
So when I wanted for a long time to hire a coach, but as you know, it's just there's, I mean, it was it never made it to sort of like the top tier of my to-do list, it was always like a would love to do that, but just never kind of elevated it up enough, unfortunately, but then when I started the transition of, you know, closing down the business that I was co-owning, and wrapping up all those projects, and knew, you know, okay, I'm pretty sure I want to relaunch independently. But that's, that's overwhelming to me, because I've had this partner and benefited from, you know, kind of the just having another person there to bounce my ideas off of and, and having somebody else who's to blame at the end of the day, you know. And so I knew I wanted to have someone experienced and who could help me sort of filter through a lot of my indecision. One of us talked about strengths. One of my strengths is not being decisive. I always sort of the second guess. And I'm kind of a risk assessor by nature. And that can be a strength, but it can also really get me in trouble because then I'm overanalyzing everything, and I'll make a decision that will drive my This drives my husband crazy. He's like, didn't you already decide this? I'm like, Yes, but here are the four other things I've thought of you. So I knew I needed someone to help me. And it was a difficult transition. It was, and I knew I needed help. And so that's why I decided to go ahead and jump in and try to find a coach.
So then tell us how did you decide what coach to hire?
Yeah. So you know, I'm pretty active on LinkedIn and, you know, there's like five gajillions, coaches on LinkedIn, as you know, and ends in varying levels of experience and competence. That's for sure, you know, but um, but I knew I wanted somebody who specialized in consulting and specifically with corporate, you know, corporate consulting clients and, and so I knew that I had a couple of contacts of people who did more sort of covert style, almost like masterminds, which I think I probably would have enjoyed. I could have gotten a lot out of it, but I think just where I was sort of in that transition was such challenging and grieving in a lot of ways that I felt like I needed some one-on-one attention and help. And so I filtered out those that were more group cohort style coaching. And then I was taking my son on a volleyball trip to Colorado. Funny enough, was, ironically, Oklahoma, maybe I lied, maybe I can't remember, we went to a lot of places. Anyway, I was on a long road trip. I live in Texas; I was on a long road trip. And I listened to sort of just all the podcasts in my queue. And I thought Kelly's there's got to be a podcast about, I mean, consulting, you know, and I found you, and it sort of binged, you know, 14 episodes or something on the way there and back. And was just like, I felt very much aligned with you with your approach. And you said you were like a list person, too. I could tell you where you're about very tactical, very practical. And so I just felt very much like this is a person that I would love to work one on one with. And, and so yeah, I signed up for a call. And the rest is history.
Yeah. Tell us a little bit about what it was. So I love that full circle moment. Right? You found me partially through the podcast. And here you are, on the podcast. I love those full-circle moments. Yes. Tell us a little bit about what it was like working together? The Good, the Bad, the Ugly, whatever, you know, there.
was no ugly. And the bad was only bad because I made it worse. Because of my own, just again, maybe indecision, right. But you were so encouraging and helpful and helped me clarify many things. One, one thing I would say, you know if you're thinking about, you know, working with Melissa is that there's such a like poise and just You're so calm, and I would I feel like I would get on, and I was always looked forward every single call I was so excited about. But I always felt a little frantic, just because that was I was in the process of rebuilding everything and restructuring everything. And you were just calm and poised and kind of you know, hey, like, we'll experiment with this. And if this doesn't work, we can try this. And that is just like mind-blowing to me because that is not how my brain works is I'm sort of, I'm going to make this decision. And I'm going to stick to it for 20 years, which is why you know, I was in such a challenging place, I think in the first place with transitioning out of my business, and you were calm, and so thoughtful and clarifying such a good listener. And so that was incredibly helpful. One of the funny things, I was actually just telling somebody this the other day that I wasn't expecting, because I'm just not a big again, I'm not big on like reflecting and doing a lot of thought work, which gets me in trouble. Obvi, you know, obviously, and I remember, there was this sort of very tactical exercise that we were working through, and I had, it was like a document a vision planning, you know, and you're I was working through it. And you'd said, Okay, so as you're working on this document and answering all these questions, then also work on this site document. It was, I think, inner critic, journal maybe is a camera exact title of it. Yep. But I remember thinking, like, mindset work; I'll do this mindset work stuff, you know. But, but what was funny is, as I was working on it, it was like, Okay, what's your, you know, sales, like your average sales, you know, cycle length and, and I like, oh, gosh, I don't know that. And then, I'm over here and the inner critic journal going, you know, a real business owner would have this data. And so it was so helpful. And then being able to look back and say, Oh, my goodness, these are all the things that that are sort of going on in the back of my mind all the time, as I'm trying to build content as I'm trying to make decisions about strategy, as I'm thinking about how to work with clients. Like there's all this stuff running in the background, these tabs that are open almost in the background of my mind that I'm not even aware of because I just am such a like Check, check, check the person and move past it. So that was incredibly helpful. Hard, so that's why I say the hard stuff.
But so, so helpful.
I felt very sad. Forwarded and guided, which was a huge thing that I needed in that process of transition for me. So it was such a good experience and highly recommend, you know, finding a coach, Melissa, you know, who can bring that expertise and experience but also is just interpersonally very warm and calm. If you're a, if you're feeling frantic, like me, Melissa mostly remains a good match,
I appreciate that my coach has the same thing happening because I know on those calls in the same way, so I appreciate that. Also, a full circle is such an honor to work with; you have been such an honor to see where you started from, which was kind of a blank piece of paper. I'm ready to start the second iteration of my business; what is that look like? And, and how, you know, what am I crafting here to where you are now with? As you know, we talked earlier, before we started the interview, about the pipeline you've created, the set of clients you've created, and the visibility into your revenue. And so incredible to see how far you've come. And I can't wait to see where it takes you. When one question I'd love to dive into here before we wrap up is you've got a lot of irons in the fire, LeAnn, you've got your kids, your family, you've got, I think of so being a part-time professor, and also the business that you're running. So tell us a little, and then of course, as we're recording, this is the summer. So that adds a whole nother level to it. As a mom. So tell us a little about how you're thinking about that, how you're approaching your capacity management, and how you're balancing everything in a way that will help you run this sustainably without burning out?
Yeah, it's a great question. I think, in part, I have always been a very structured and routine person. So like when I need to calm myself down true story. I am like working in my calendar, my planner, I mean that that's just the kind of person I am. So what has always sort of worked for me is time blocking. And I have two days a week. And I've sort of always tried to do this. And again, it's not perfect every week. But I try to have two days a week that is just reserved for kind of backstage stuff. So I'm not engaging with clients those days, except for email correspondence or stuff like that. But those are my days where I do all of the back-end things. And so that helps me not get too far behind in some things that really matter. But then otherwise, I'm so structured that I will be like, okay, Monday afternoons, I do this specific thing, okay? Tuesdays, these are the five tasks I do Wednesdays, and that stresses some people out. My former business partner's joy is very creative and innovative. And so her strength was not as much an organization because she brought so much in so many other things to the table, but she would always she'd be like, if you get your calendar out, I'm like, Ah, but so that's one thing for me is that is the time blocking and kind of themed days. The other thing I would say that is been really important for me over the years is I try as best I can to have one day a week that is sort of like my Sabbath, like I don't work at all, at least one day a week and, and sometimes that Saturday, Sunday, sometimes it's Friday, I try to have a full day where I'm not working. And that is, for me, sort of an act of trust to say there's always more work to do. There are always more things for my checklist brain to want to check off. But But I trust that that work is going to be there and I'm going to be okay laying it down for a day. So that's a way I don't keep myself from really burning out. And then to your point about the summer, most of the time, you know when my kids are in school, I have three kids. And they're sort of all over the place with activities. I work really hard not to work in the evenings when they're home. And that means sometimes I mean even an hour or so after they go to bed, but that's very important to me again, it's the summer so all bets are off. Now. That's not the case over the summer, but those are some of the things I do. But the last thing I'll say about this is that capacity planning is has been such a good thing for me to go through that process because I'm really good at calendaring. But I'm also sort of a high achieving brain, and so I will I will calendar myself, you know, too much. And so knowing this is how many jobs like how many projects I need each month to meet my goals and I'm going to start have, if I meet that I'm going to have to push these clients back, you know, and say, hey, I can start in September instead of August, which is challenging for me. But that's been so good for me to feel the freedom of that kind of to know what my capacity is.
Yeah, yeah, to have those guardrails kind of that business model that we sketched out that business plan. It also, I think, helps you tell me if this is wrong, but I think it also helps to, to really get that line of sight into the overall revenue for the year. And so then you're not constantly feeling like, well, I don't want to leave money on the table. So I'll say yes to everything, and then you end up burning out from that perspective.
Absolutely. I know what I need. And I know that if I structure things that way, I'm going to be delivering the most value to my clients anyway. Because I'm not going to be showing up with too many tabs open, right? Now.
Definitely stealing this. I love it so much. I usually have 50 tabs open on my computer. So it's the same thing in our brain, right? All of these subconscious thoughts going on, and most of them are not in our favor. Yeah. Yeah. So good. I love that visual. So I'll attribute it to you anytime you have a good memory? For sure. Tell us what else we've covered so much ground today; you've shared so many strategies and tactics and tips and mindsets. Tell us Is there anything else we haven't covered that you wanted to share?
You know, I think the only other thing I would say is, in addition to working with a coach, which was again, so valuable, and I cannot recommend it enough. I also would say that if if you find yourself in a season where you are really struggling, you know, or you're transitioning out of an environment that was challenging, that I also say, go find yourself a really great counselor, that was another thing that I did that I sort of was, I had sort of like the coach and the counselor working, you know, in tandem, which was so helpful and just brought different perspectives and different value to the table. I think as a business owner, it's so much heavier sometimes than we realize, and we put so much pressure on ourselves that there's a lot to unpack, and even in counseling or with Melissa, you know, with you, I would say something and you know, my counselor, or you would go like, Hey, okay, let's, let's backtrack. And like you just said this. Let's talk about that, you know, and so if you are in, you know, in a period of transition, you know, Coach is so valuable, but also if you have the margin, you know, getting a counselor can really help you with some of that some of the really hard parts of what you've experienced, I can't recommend enough because that is those two things I credit with the coaching and the counseling I credit with really I think helping me transition well, in time will tell but transition well through the past year, which was challenging.
Yeah, so many of my clients have counselors, therapists, just you know, I think it helps them to get further faster and a lot of complementary sort of like seeing themes, it themes in personal life and professional life. And just being able to blend all of that together can be so empowering, impactful.
Absolutely well, because there's some things that you know, your counselor can speak to that your coach can't and vice versa. So like, my counselor can't say, Hey, here are some tried and true strategies for lead generation and consulting businesses. She didn't know that I needed help with that, too. But she didn't know. I think, you know, for me, and I realized that you know, and I feel so fortunate to have the resources that I do to have coaching and to have consulted or to have counseling, and I realized not everybody may be in that place, but as much as you can, and have margin, I highly recommend it because it made a huge difference for me.
Amazing. Leon, thank you so much for being here. I feel so grateful. The podcast brought us together, and that's I've been able to work with you; and I appreciate the time and the transparency and vulnerability of what you shared today. I know it will help so many other consultants out there as well to achieve their own business goals. So thank you so much.
Thanks for having me. This was a highlight of my day as I love it.
Love it. I do. All right. I'll talk with you soon. Okay, bye. I