The BLK Directory Podcast With Diamond Young

From Corporate Ladder to Business Powerhouse: Laurel Rutledge's Story

November 28, 2023 Diamond Young Season 3 Episode 4
The BLK Directory Podcast With Diamond Young
From Corporate Ladder to Business Powerhouse: Laurel Rutledge's Story
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

What if you could cut through the fog of scaling your business and step into a successful senior executive role with more confidence than ever before? This week, I'm thrilled to chat with the incredible Laurel Rutledge, a seasoned entrepreneur, coach, and chief navigation officer who has made it her mission to guide women-owned businesses and up-and-coming senior executives towards success. Drawing from her own rich journey in the corporate world, Laurel brings a unique perspective to our conversation, particularly around the importance of building a figurative tribe and a robust support system to bolster your business and leadership journey.

Laurel's transition from corporate roles to becoming a business powerhouse is nothing short of inspiring. She gives us a snapshot of her time in the corporate world, working in accounting and HR roles, and how her experiences shaped her understanding of the significance of trust in a team, the essential role of internal audits, and most importantly, the courage to leave when the environment conflicts with your integrity. Our candid conversation extends into the realm of visibility and the role it plays in achieving success in both corporate and entrepreneurial landscapes.

Get ready for an exciting roller-coaster ride as we follow Laurel’s journey of evolving into an impact-driven entrepreneur. Despite initial hesitations, Laurel embraced podcasting as a platform for sharing inspiring stories, which now resonates with a vast audience. She shares her mission of making a significant, positive impact on K-12 education and how she has consistently kept her business thriving over the last six years. Tune in for an episode filled with personal insights, invaluable advice, and an inspiring conversation with the phenomenal Laurel Rutledge.

Laurel Rutledge Website
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Speaker 1:

You're listening to the Black Directory podcast, where we focus on bringing black entrepreneur experiences to the forefront. Each week we will discuss the highs, the lows and everything in between. I'm your host, Diamond Young. Let's dive in. Hi everyone, Welcome back to another episode of the Black Directory podcast. I'm your host, Diamond Young, and we have a very, very special guest today. This is a long time coming. You all don't know, but I know she knows. We have Ms Laurel Rutledge here in the building. She's an entrepreneur, a coach, a speaker, a consultant, a radio, a podcast host. She kind of does it all. Basically, how are you? I am great.

Speaker 2:

I'm so excited for this conversation. Thank you so much for having me on.

Speaker 1:

Of course, of course. Fun fact we met at a podcast conference back in May 2022, if I'm not mistaken. It seems like a long time ago, but it's crazy because we realized that we both lived in Houston, so we were sitting at the same table. I went to this conference by myself. You know how that goes. You don't know if you're going to. Is it going to be awkward, is it going to be weird? I feel like I was welcome with just so much love. We just connected our whole table. Just really. We were going out to eat after. We were like, okay, this is cool. It was just really nice to just meet someone in the podcast space At this point. I didn't know anyone in the podcast space. Podcasting was still somewhat new to me, but I didn't realize what community really looked like when it comes to podcasting and how it's not just now a podcast community. Now we can pour into each other beyond it, but it was cool to have that thing in common outside of both living in Houston. How do you feel about when we first met? What do you remember from that time, man?

Speaker 2:

it was so cool because it was the same thing. I went by myself as well. When I got there and got to the hotel, I thought, okay, now I could just go home, because I was flying from somewhere else. I'm like, do I really want to deal with this? I thought, no, you spent the money, just go ahead and go the same thing. I just sat down at a table and my introvert itself like Laura, you're here, you need to talk to people, see what people are doing the same thing. We sat at this table, we started talking, found out we were the same place, found out people were doing the same thing LaGina, who's here, lagina Ray, who's here and has her own radio show and stuff. It was just not only a local connection but, as you said, just finding other people in this space that you just connected with. It was amazing. I really got some great connections out of that that I'm really excited about. I'm so glad I went and decided to actually show up at the thing Same.

Speaker 1:

It was so worth it. I think it was just so worth it. We can talk for days about that, just the one event being for Black podcasters getting that space for us. It was just incredible. If any of you are listening and you're into podcasting, check it out. I'm not sure when their next one is happening, but I believe it's annual anyways, it was just incredible. It's crazy how you can meet someone and you don't know that they're going to be in your life. I think that's a gem that we see shows up in life of like oh wow, who would have thought? probably showing up here. I will connect with them in these other ways. Again, just start building your tribe and your support system and all that stuff. We're going to get more into a tribe, but I want to take everyone through your journey. Tell us what it is that you currently do.

Speaker 2:

I know I name like seven things, but so right now I am Laurel Rutledge, your chief navigation officer. I finally and I know we're going to talk about this whole timing and shifting coming into the thing that finally resonated is no, that's the thing, it's being trademarked right now. As a matter of fact, what I do is I help multi seven figure women owned businesses navigate that tipping point. So it's about five to seven years and about 15 to 20 employees where they have to move away from being totally accessible all the time. You just can't do that and continue to run your business as a CEO. So I help them navigate that connection of their business strategy and their people strategy to ensure they're achieving their goals. And then the second piece of my business is working with new senior executives and corporate, because I ran that Gauntlet right. I was one of only two African American women in senior executive positions in a global company of 17,000. So I know what it means to move there. And so, again, when you get to that senior role, it's not about what you know, it's not about what you've done, it's about how you navigate that space now in boardrooms, with senior executives, with your teams. It is a whole new world and you have to learn how to navigate that space, and so that's what I'm doing in that piece of my business beyond, like you said, the podcast, the radio show, that kind of stuff. But those are the real kind of pieces where I'm trying to impact those women business owners and then impact those folks who are new into that senior executive space, because you can be great there but it is a different world and you can't always find the support you need inside your organization.

Speaker 1:

That is so true. I remember, you know, just when I was working at Twitter, I was on the learning and development team and one of the things I was responsible for was our coaching program and at this point I'm like, what does that mean, what does that look like? And we had a whole program for kind of what you're talking about. But I see the gaps now and I see how you fill a gap right. So when I was there, we have these leaders where some of them it was their first time really filling in certain shoes whether it was a CFO, it didn't matter really like the level, it was a range and whether it was them really wanting to work on their executive presence or speaking, or there was going to be an acquisition. Like the business changes, right, there's always new things that the business is going through and you really need leaders just tapped in like really in the right mind space. But we're all humans, so it's things where it's like imposter syndrome, all sorts of things that I'm sure that they were going through, and we had to match them with all these coaches just around the world and it was so interesting. It got to a point where we start having leaders that say like hey, I want a woman coach, I want a coach that looks like me, because everyone was looking alike. Yes, yes. And I was like oh, this is so interesting to me, so I got a little taste from the outside of just hey, leaders need help too. Leaders need guidance as well. So what is it that made you feel like there's a gap, and I know I can really help to connect with that.

Speaker 2:

You know, there were two things. So one, in talking to my clients, especially those women business owners, you know, for me it's always about who you are, where you are, what you want and what it takes to get there. Those are the four key foundational questions, right? And it's all about whether you're building a business or you're building a career. It all comes down to strategy and people, right? So what I found was, in working with some of these business owners, those questions would come up about wait, you know, but I love my people and I really want to make sure that I'm available to them. But now my calendar is so crazy I don't have time to do stuff and I'm like, okay, well, then we need to fix that, well. But then I've got 20 people but I'm not sure they're in the right role and there's role clarity issue. I mean, it was the whole thing, right, and getting them to stop and get back to what are you trying to do, like, who are you, the person that founded this business? And I call it the founders intensive, right? Who are you to founded this business? What? What drove you? Right? Who are you and where are you? And then, what are you trying to do with that and let's go back and get you grounded there again and then get your people strategy connected to your overall business strategy, because it gets out of whack right, because we get really invested in those, especially those first few people. Right, the bootstrapped people with us. Not everybody can go with you to the next place and you can't retain the same level of accessibility in the same level of connection when you've got 80, 90, 100 people as you did when you have five, and so getting their heads wrapped around. It's not that you're mean now, it's not that you don't care. Now it is moving from emotion to compassion and being very strategic. So that's the first thing that happened. And then I started talking to people in these corporate spaces who were executives and getting questions and concerns. And here's the issue and I don't know, you know, how should I say this and how should I? I'm like, yep, you're in there because it'll, don't you think you're crazy and you're not crazy, but you do have to decide which battles you're going to fight, how you're going to fight them. You have to play chess and not checkers. You have to know when to call people on their crap and how to do it, because people will rewrite history in a minute and say, no, that's not what I meant, but that's what you said. And so it's that ability to to in those senior levels, to to navigate the nuances, Because that's what it is.

Speaker 1:

Yes.

Speaker 2:

And so it's how do I use my space, and especially as black women and then other people of color. It's all of this stuff right. If you bow up against somebody, mad black woman, she's just being emotional, she all the stuff.

Speaker 1:

We have so much more to think about before we even speak. It's heavy, the gymnastics. Yes, it's heavy. Open your mouth.

Speaker 2:

And so being able to create a space for people to put in a group setting right, where these new senior executives can, one, find other group of people who are new to, and two, to really go through those same things. Who are you? You didn't change who you are just because you now in a senior executive role. Let's get grounded in that again. Let's think about what your, your objectives are for this role and for your team, and let's create strategies around these situations that you're finding, so that you're showing up in your power and whatever that looks like for you. Right, cause, when you work with me, it's about no judgment. It's all about you and I am in place to serve you. So we're going to get you to where you need to be, cause my, my journey was different, just like everybody's journey is different, but my experience is the same. Right, there are some common factors that I can help you work through, because I've been there. I've been there.

Speaker 1:

It's almost like growing pains. As you were speaking, that's what I kept thinking about. It's like when you mentioned how you can go from the bootstrap team me and four or five other people to just want to scale Right, and it's like you know you're going to be in the business of scale and it's like not knowing what that's really going to come with. And it can be really hard to for one, a lot of people don't even have mentorship. Some people that's what they're lacking. It's like who do I go to? That's not going to judge me. You know things like that every. Everything that comes with that. Being vulnerable is another side of it, even if you find a person to lean into. It's like being honest with okay, like hey, I don't know if I'm the best at this. I don't know if I'm really playing in my strengths. What do I do with that, you know? So that's all I kept thinking about as you were talking is like it's the growing pains, and still they start to show a, even when I was playing in the amaesthe streaming. It's like with who I was as a leader in the beginning when it was five. Can I be the same person, or do I have to grow and str like is it going to change? And not feeling guilty about that. Have you seen that with clients where there's a sense of guilt as it comes?

Speaker 2:

to Absolutely, oh dang.

Speaker 1:

I have less time to talk all day with this you know person that you know works for me or whatever. Like what are you seeing? What are some common issues that you think leaders are kind of running into the most?

Speaker 2:

That's a big one. It's like I don't everybody wants a piece of me, right? Everybody wants time on my calendar, and, getting to that place where you can recognize one, you need to recognize your own energy sources, right, because you only have so much, so many resources time, energy, money. You only have so much, and the one that is not renewable is time, and so you got to really be a good steward of your time. And so when I talk to people about oh my gosh, you know, everybody wants to be on my calendar. I don't have time on my calendar. It's about reframing the conversation. It's not that you're not available. That's what people are going to feel. They're going to feel like, oh, I can't get to her. You've got to really reframe it and say you know what, because of where we are in the business, there are some things that I need to focus on as the founder of this business, because if the business is healthy, that means I can do more and more things, not only for the business but for you, and so I'm going to. You'll see my calendar get less and less available, because there are some things that I'm doing. You're not making any excuses, you're not justifying, you're not asking for permission. You are being as transparent as necessary to help people know that it's shifting. And then, when you do have people on your calendar, you are very cognizant of your time. Are you coming to talk to me because there's really something going on? Do I have decisions pushed at the right level? Because that's what I often find is people are not comfortable further in the organization of just making a decision. So everything gets pushed up, so a CEO or a founder or the next person down, or the next person down they're involved in the bowels of things that, had they taken the time right to train, to engage, to lift somebody up, for their confidence to be able to do the thing they could then lift up. So that's the whole conversation I have with them is where should you be operating? And then how do we design your organization including conversation, training, skill gap analysis, role clarity so that everyone is operating in their lane intentionally and then when you dip down, it's awareness. You know you're dipping down, there's a reason you're dipping down and it is intentional so you can pull back up. It doesn't become a habit where you just stay there. So it's really all about that, that comfort zone and that level of the executive of that founder to say, nope, I've got to operate differently. I am running a business Like a no choice. There's no choice right, and if I want the business to be healthy, I have to do something different. And then I need to bring my people along with me. But I also need to be okay that they're going to be some folks who aren't okay with that and they just may not be with me long term and I will love them as I help them be successful somewhere else. Right.

Speaker 1:

That is a word I feel like just from what I've seen from the outside looking in. It's the decision making part that I think a lot of people get stuck on. It's like, again, as businesses grow, the decisions become heavier, as it has more impact. It's a delegation piece that you kind of were hinting at too, and I think we talked about this when I came on your show like the power of delegation but letting go. Sometimes you have that grip and you're just some people that could be their issue where it's like hey, you really don't have the time to sit in all these meetings like you used to, and to be in the weeds and all the details of things, and I think that can be, a hard place to navigate to is delegation the idea of controlling what that may look like when you're needed and when you're like you know what they got it, and really empowering your team to step in. Because what happens is, if you keep that control with you too long, your leaders, even people that are really qualified, they're going to start by the time you need them to make a decision. They're going to be like you sure, or they're going to be stepping in their self and then it's like, oh dang, when you really need them to step in a step up. It's going to be a transition. So I see why it's important to start that transition early, when you first bring them on and empowering them to feel good about like, okay, hey, you know a lot about this business, I trust you.

Speaker 2:

Yes, lean into it.

Speaker 1:

Yes pivot later if we need to. You know course, correct.

Speaker 2:

Yes, I tell people use the blood on the floor bone sticking out. I'm like, if it's blood on the floor bone sticking out, as the founder you probably need to be involved. If it's not, that you can probably fix it right. Give people a chance to Show you their genius and if something goes wrong, know that you're resilient enough to fix it now. You don't want to do something that's gonna cost you a million dollars or cost you 10 clients or whatever that thing is. That's blood on the floor bone sticking out, right. But if it's just something's delayed or, you know, maybe it's not as fast or something. Take a breath, make sure you are being very clear with your expectations of people. Train them, do postmortems right, here's what I expected and and instead of saying oh, that's wrong, especially if you're in creative spaces, say, help me understand how you got to that, because they may actually have some really great logic and you may be the one that changes Right. Your perspective is like you know what that makes a whole lot of sense, yeah, right.

Speaker 1:

Mm-hmm. That's so possible, it's so collaborative. It's a trust thing, it's a because when people really feel that you trust them, you they really get in their zone, like they really start to have fun with it. That's really that's what you want ideally you want it is feel like, okay, I can tap into my best self, my, my genius, but I want to switch gears for a bit. I know we're yeah. We're on a path, but I want to talk more about you and let's go back to when you were in corporate. What was that like? What did you do? How long like, take us through that, yeah.

Speaker 2:

Man. You know I was in corporate almost 30 years, right? So I came out of undergrad my undergrad is an accounting so I came out of undergrad and started an oil and gas as an accountant and, and in hindsight you know, they hired five of us new in May, right out of school, and in October they told us oh sorry, oil and gas business, we got to let all five of you guys go, but we want you to stay till April, right? So first job at a college, first layoff, thought, oh my gosh, right. And. And then I ended up being in in high-tech and Still doing some accounting, but more on the cost of counting side. And that's when I got into internal audit and really learned that I had a desire to think about logistics and how things moved and and what really made things go through Manufacturing. I mean, I just loved it. And then, after my MBA, I went back into, you know, manufacturing at first and internal audit, which, for those of you who are listening, if you're trying to figure out where you're going or if you're trying to move somewhere else, a great place to start an organization is internal audit only because and you don't necessarily have to be a financial person, but it's because you get a chance to see the entire business and how it operates, because good Internal audit organizations are all about being internal consultants. That's what they do. Yeah, here's our processes. This doesn't seem to be working. Let's talk about how we could do that different, not only from a compliance perspective, from a speed, efficiency, all those kind of things. So I did internal audit. Then I wound up at Deloitte, which was awesome because that was right after the in Ron debacle and I know I'm dating myself, but that was right after in Ron. I actually saw in Ron happened downtown Houston, saw people walking out with their boxes I was at the one at the time and and we were, we had started. You know, risk enterprise, risk management. That was one of the things that came out of that, you know, with Sarbanes, oxley and all of that thing, and you know it was fantastic. It was a fantastic opportunity. But after in Ron and Anderson, I thought I don't want to be a partner and I was a senior manager. I'm like I don't want to be a partner because you're in business with every other partner around the world in the firm true, yeah, no, and you have to buy in.

Speaker 1:

I mean.

Speaker 2:

And and there was just some cultural things around Professional services at the time. That just didn't sit well with me. And and one thing about my journey is I've always been in a place where I've learned something new and that's been great, but there's always been something that said, mmm, it's time, something, you know, something started feeling wrong and every time happened something. Somebody came and asked me To go somewhere else and so I ended up going to a casket company right, it was actually caskets and medical devices in the Indiana move back to the Midwest and Was doing enterprise risk management and then was asked by the head of HR for the casket company if I'd ever thought about HR. I'm like, absolutely, let's do this. And so my first HR job was me supporting nine 900 people in 91 locations. I was supporting the or the logistics organization, so I know what lean means, right and and it was still in manufacturing and he is still a mentor of mine today. He's the most phenomenal Nominal human and and even through that, you know, leaving there, going back to the medical device company still kind of an HR I just knew I needed to get home. And still stayed in HR for a while and in manufacturing. But then, when I got to the senior ranks, I thought you know, I'm not conflict avoidant at all. You can't be an HR and be conflict avoidant. I'm not conflict avoidant at all, but I don't want to be in constant conflict and there's some things that I can tolerate. I can tolerate Challenges. I can tolerate gaps in knowledge. What I can't tolerate is lion. I can't tolerate lacks of integrity. I can't tolerate rewriting history and then telling everybody else they were wrong. I can't tolerate saying we want to hire people because they got experience and then, when they get their treatment, I'm like their experience doesn't matter and their career just started when they got in the door. That I can't talk, okay. And so I just decided this isn't for me and I, at December 2016, I was looking around at my family. I had not slept on a Sunday in five years. I was traveling 80%. I'd agreed to 50. I was traveling 80%. Both look, both domestically and internationally. And I looked at my family in December and I was just Irritated that people were in the same room breathing my air. I mean, it was just and I thought it was bad. These are people I love. Right? This is my mama. I am not right. No, no, no, ma'am, this is not okay.

Speaker 1:

And you saw I was wearing on here.

Speaker 2:

I'm done, I'm done. Walked in that February to my boss and said in Germany. And I said I just need to let you know we were getting ready to do my performance review, right? And I said before we go there. I know they were not expecting I'm out, you've got till May and I'm done. And that whole process actually ended up funding the start of my company because they panicked they weren't paying attention, they wanted me to stay and I'm like I'm not staying, you can extend my departure date but I'm not staying, I am leaving, right. And they ended up just extending it till the end of December and and I was in, I mean I said I'd stay till December. I was 100% in. I didn't sit on the beach till December, I was here, we were doing a big project. I was, you know, focused and making sure some things were happening, making sure there was good transition when I left. But it was time. I knew I could serve bigger, I could serve broader, I could continue to speak truth to power and but I could do it in more places. And that's kind of what led me to to the entrepreneurship thing.

Speaker 1:

It was just, it was just time it was just time it was time, so you left, but did you know exactly what it was that you were gonna do? Or you were like, okay, I'm gonna kind of figure it out. What did?

Speaker 2:

what did that first six months look like Post leave oh honey, I left like I'm getting ready to start this business. March We'll be up and running. This ain't no thing. And that was January 2019, 2018. 2019, I'm like, well, I'm not going back to corporate, but we got to figure this out and I will tell you it is now. I'm in, now you're six, so thank you, jesus. I have been able to keep this business moving with a lot of self-funding right For six years, and it was not until really 2022, kind of that year of 2022, when I did some things in 2022 that I said this is it. And what is interesting that I want your listeners to think about is what I'm doing now is exactly what I said I was going to do in January 2018. When I did the first video for my website, I was like it's four questions who you are, where you are, what you want and what it takes to get there. It is strategy and people, whether you're building a business or building a career. Right, all of those things I said day one yes, I came out of corporate. Right, I came out of corporate and so while I had coaches cause I think every person needs some kind of mentoring coaches I had coaches that were really phenomenal, but they'd been in the services space, never in corporate. So while we were saying some of the same words, we were meaning something completely different. So it gave space for me to allow other people's vision of what I should be doing, what services I should be delivering to them, become the new strategy. Without even really thinking about it, I'm like, yeah, yeah, yeah, I need a product. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I need to be doing you know. And I'm like I see no, now, finally, this is really it. So if you're a product person, great. If you come out of, you know your corporate space and you came out of HR and what you wanna be is an HR consultant, that is probably easier and a quicker turn. That's not what I wanted to do. And so if you are gonna stay in the space you were in when you left corporate, one, get an attorney. Make sure you're looking at your employment agreement so you're not gonna run up against any kind of issues there until they completely disseminate right, non-compete. Make sure you're not gonna get yourself in trouble, get an attorney to look at that. But if you're doing that, then you're probably gonna have a faster trajectory. If what your entrepreneurship journey desire is different than what you've been doing for five years, 10 years, 20 years, 30 years in corporate, that's a little bit longer of a play and just be okay with that. Be okay with that.

Speaker 1:

No, and I love what you're saying because I think sometimes we think okay, I'm making my leap, I have my plans. Some people already have it written out. This is the plan, yes, but sometimes it either it's a few scenarios. Sometimes you do what you said you were gonna do and then it's like, oh, I'm either not happy, or maybe I need more capital, or something. Like it's like a wall comes up where it's like oh, okay, maybe I have to change course, or you go down another path. Like you said, people are gonna throw suggestions at you, even for me, like after they lay off, people are like oh, do you do graphic design? Do you do websites? Do you do that? Because you may have touched things throughout time.

Speaker 2:

Yes.

Speaker 1:

But I'm like I don't think I wanna do that. I already know right now I'm not gonna be happy doing that, Right Right. Y'all are gonna be happy, like whoever the customer is, but I'm not and it's just, it's so interesting. I think it's just important to give yourself that grace of have the plan but create a little wiggle room. But don't forget you know why, you know your purpose and why you're doing something, but know that it may not be like exact. What do you think?

Speaker 2:

Absolutely, absolutely. Because you know again, as you said, there's some people who are like crystal clear, and that's what I talk about. Get really clear on your vision, right, but your clarity on the what is different than your clarity on the how. The how changes. Right, make sure your what is clean, the how, will take care of itself, cause I, for example yes, I come off as very extroverted, right, I've got a radio show, I've got a podcast, I've got a show on fire side, I've got all these things. I'm out, I'm speaking, I'm doing stuff. I am introverted, I like being with just a few people or in my house. And I knew because of when I started, remember, my business started in 2018, the COVID hit, you know, the Rona hit in 2020. And it's all online and all of that. And I didn't have a picture on my LinkedIn. My only Facebook page was my personal page. I went on Instagram at all. None of that. I just was not a social media person and I still don't love it. Right, I'm not. That's not my jam. I do it because I need to. It's under duress at this point, but in 2019, I thought you know what, laurel, if you're, if you're really serious and you really want this business to work, you've got to be more visible and I put down an intention in 2019. I'm going to be more visible in 2019. I got more intentional about my podcast, cause I started my podcast in 2018, right, but it didn't really take off. Yeah, it's been a long time it didn't really take off.

Speaker 1:

I didn't realize how long you've had it.

Speaker 2:

Okay, yeah, it didn't really take off until started in November 2018. Didn't really take off till 19. And I got really intentional and consistent in doing that. I. And then I went on a radio show. Somebody asked me to be on a radio show and from that I got offered to have my own show. That I first said, oh no, I don't know, let me think about it. But it was like are you nuts? Of course you're going to be the radio show. So I put the intention out there, knowing what I needed to. And now the radio show is three years old. The podcast is going to be four years old right In November of this year. I've got like more people on my email list. I've got people all over the world listening and tuning in because I showed up.

Speaker 1:

You do Like a lot of people and it's amazing. Yeah, because I find what your numbers are. You were talking about it at the conference, yeah, so I tell you, we're sure listeners are up again.

Speaker 2:

So my listenership when I first did it was was really low. Now, on listen notes, I'm liking the top 10% on listen notes of podcasts globally. I just got a chartable all podcasts, global reach. I'm like number 14,000 or something out of the millions and millions.

Speaker 1:

Right, thank you Lord. Right, so it's coming.

Speaker 2:

I just hit 15,000 downloads on the podcast. Yes, you know, so it's. It changes and I think as you said it is, it is deciding what it is you want, what you want, and understanding how it may come to you and how you get there may be different and giving yourself some grace. That's so important that it may shift. It's important to know that that's okay.

Speaker 1:

But that is so real, whether you know, if you're listening, whether you're on the corporate side or the entrepreneurship side, getting stuck on that. How can have you stuck for a long time? Because I remember I just was like, but this isn't the route that I had written down. I thought I was gonna get there this way, like in this vehicle that's this model and this color and this car is supposed to take me from A to Z, you know, and that pivoting is so important and just knowing that, as long as your destination is the same, like you know, if you feel like no, this is for sure the destination, this is the purpose, it's what I'm meant to do. You have to really let yourself kind of go through the motions of the how, but as long as you're moving, then technically it's great. But I've had another guest and y'all have said something similar in the sense of the things that you're doing. Now it's not the things that you set out to do in the sense of speaking or like that kind of route, like or that method to getting closer to your audience than she was saying how she knew she liked events, so she was doing events that she would kind of kick off things and do the hosting. People were really gravitating when she would speak so they wanted her to keep speaking and they were like, oh, have you ever thought about writing a book? Like when you tell your story here and there's really Good, and she's like I never thought about writing a book or have you ever thought about speaking? It's like really people. It's interesting that discernment. Sometimes people will mention things and you have to kind of figure out what's something where you're like is this confirmation I keep hearing the same right or no? like I'm just not doing that. Like I hear y'all but no, and it's crazy how I sang yes sometimes Can Bring you really closer to what you're trying to do. It's just not what you expected, or it may be something that was out of your comfort zone or just what your bucket list, but it's like, oh, you know what. I'm glad I said yes, yes to this.

Speaker 2:

Yes, and that that old saying, you know, luck is when Preparation meets opportunity. Right, and so a friend of mine asked me to be on this radio show. She couldn't do it and somebody needed a guess, and I was like sure, and and I was gonna show up, right. I was like, oh, it's radio, I'll just, I'll just put my t-shirt on yeah, I was like, no, I've not met these people before. Walk into the studio. Oh, by the way, there's a camera there. There's a camera there we live from, like what it's. Luckily, I had like, I was dressed up, I was nice, I was professional, I was you know all these things and because I showed up and decided to be prepared right, I was ready, I was willing to be there I said, yes, the producer saw something in me, based on what she was wanting to do with the studio and where she wanted the studio to go, that made her say you know what? I think I need you on the air and and so, being being able, even if your initial thing is Is oh, I don't know, I had to go back and be reminded by someone else. Laurel, you said you wanted to be more visible in 2019 and it's showing up.

Speaker 1:

Oh, you're getting what you asked for. What you asked for it's like you don't know, but it's like what's technically this is still you know. Like that's amazing. I love Journeys and stories where it's like the timing or it seems like something where when you said, yes, you would have never thought all of this would come after. It's like okay, I'm gonna do this one thing, that one Tuesday or whatever day, and that was that like. So it's always so interesting when it's like it opens up this door.

Speaker 2:

Or it's like I'm glad I was just supposed to be visibility for the business, right? I wasn't talking about being a podcaster, I Was just doing that. To get other people to buy my own thing right. That I didn't want to be really doing, but somebody else convinced me I needed to do Right. So now I love it. Now I absolutely love it, because I'm like you. I love hearing people's stories Right what their journey is and how they got there.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, it's just in the process. That's really what it is and trusting that all rows are gonna lead to where you're trying to go anyways, and being yes. Okay with that. So for you so far in your journey. What are you most proud of?

Speaker 2:

Oh, you know, at the top of that list is that I am here six years in. I am here six years in and it is not perfect. It's not even close to where I want it to be or where I know it will be. And I'm still here and I'm still working and I'm still moving and I am. I am clearer now on the people I need around me. Right, it's utilizing the skills that I have. Because you again you hear you got a scale. You got to build your business in a way that you can scale. You got to have team. And if you're going to scale, you got to have team. And I had to say stop. Yes, if you want to scale, you got to have team, because you're limited by the amount of time you can have. But team doesn't mean W2. Team can mean I'm going to hire other service providers and that's going to be a contractual relationship. It works great.

Speaker 1:

We move on. That's what we were talking about.

Speaker 2:

It's the how, and so I am most proud of being able to still be here and and and knowing it's like like a switch flipped, like I just I know that, I know that, I know that this is where I'm supposed to be and this piece of my business is going to make an impact. And I now know and have articulated and put it out in the universe and it will not. It will not if it doesn't happen, it won't be out of lack of trying. Is that my deep Y is this hundred million dollar foundation that I intend to build is going after K through 12 education. So part of my, part of my profits is going to fund that and then I'm coming. You know, mackenzie Scott, I'm sending you a note, right, bill and Melinda Gates, amazon and T-Mobile and all y'all, we're going to build this because we have got to do something about education, because that is the great equalizer. And we got all this rhetoric about indoctrination. With the 1619 project, the indoctrination is happening in K through 12. When people like Texas Education Association take over the schools in Harris County, we see you. We see you Lewis County, diverse County, we see that right. And so combating the narrative and combating the rhetoric is so important and giving kids, regardless of socioeconomic status, and access to an exceptional, free, public K through 12 education. I feel like if I don't do something in that space, I have not done what God has put me on this room to do. And so my first, why? Let me get these founders to where they are not writing big checks, that they are building the businesses that they love and having people around them that they love, and these executives, especially executives of color, that they are able to navigate those spaces. Let me do that. That's the, that's the stuff that I can do in my zone of genius. And then let me do that heart, passion work, that social enterprise work, which is, is is doing what I can to impact K through 12 education. And it took me till this time, right that, five years perparing to get to year number six, to get good and clear and okay with. That's what I'm going to do, and the people that need this are going to find me if I keep showing up and I'm like, yes, oh man, that is such a word.

Speaker 1:

I love that because it's like you have your goals and the things you're after. That are like on the business side. But it's also like, oh, how can I give you? I have impact. That's beyond me, that's beyond the business, like what's the? If I leave this earth, I want to make sure I do this. So I'm just so happy that you know you share that with us. I know you're going to reach that and do that and I'm excited just to support. So before we go, I just want you to share with everyone. How can we support you and how can we find you?

Speaker 2:

Awesome. So you can find me on my website. So, Laurel Rutledge, all one wordcom and it is going through a refresh, but there's a pop up right now where you can get on my mailing list and you'll see everything there. And I'd love to have you on my mailing list for my weekly kind of emails and updates. And then the other thing that you can do is really support the, the podcast, go download and listen to it. No, listen to the radio show. That really does make a difference and I want to hear from you. Right, If there's something you want me to talk about, send me a note. I'm on social. I'm either Laurel Kay Rutledge or I am the Rutledge perspective on Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, all of that. But again, you can get to me on my website. And then the last thing is to to get to me. If you know of a woman founder, multi seven figure business owner who's got that tipping point, tell her to get on my website. Let's just set up a call. And if I'm not the right person here's my commitment to all of you. If I'm not the right person, I'm okay with that, because it's not about me, it's about you and I've got a great network so I can absolutely connect someone. So know that if you're referring someone to me and it's not a fit, I will make sure to do what's in my power as a servant leader to get them to someone who is. So if you know that person who needs that, you know I am the chief navigation officer and I can help you get there with love and support and with truth. And then if you are a senior executive, new to the senior executive ranks, we're going to be starting that group, that group session, here soon. So just get, just connect with me, get on my mailing list and that's the easiest way. So go to girlroutledgecom.

Speaker 1:

Yes, and that's why she is amazing. As you guys can see, she has such a it's genuine, it's sincere, it's not, hey, give me your money, let's go which, hey, I'm off for people getting to the back Right. It's just cool when you can feel it and you can sense of like, oh, wow, Like when someone's really truly aligned, they're in alignment, they found their purpose and they're doing the work that they feel led to do. So I'm just so happy that we had some time today and that you were able to just kind of bring us into your world and share and just take us on that journey of how you got to where you are and just the impact that you're making. And it's amazing work and it's so necessary and it's so needed. So thank you so much for being on the Black Directory podcast and I already know we're going to talk again soon.

Speaker 2:

Absolutely. Thank you so much for having me. I just this was a blast and we absolutely have to do it again.

Speaker 1:

We will. We definitely will Thank you. Thank you for spending some time with us Enjoying the show. Be sure to subscribe and leave us a rating and review Until next time.

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