Success Through Being Humble, Open & Transparent with Lawrence Henderson


With Special Guest Lawrence Henderson

Episode Links and Resources

Episode Transcript

Can you be humble and confident at the same time? Well, we’re going to ask that question today and my guest thinks that, yes, you absolutely can, and it’s the key to business success. I’m talking with Lawrence Henderson, who is a coach and trainer who delivers social and culturally aware programs that shift the fabric of an organization.

Lawrence has an unquenchable desire to help bridge the gap for others in their understanding of identity and purpose, and he does that by speaking and connecting the dots from stage.

He gives people the tools to lead today and tomorrow and you’re going to get tons of fantastic advice and great insight in this interview. So let’s dive in.


Hey, guys, welcome back. I am so happy to bring you this new interview here with Lawrence Henderson. I’m excited to bring him on the podcast today. We’ve been chatting a little bit here and he’s got lots of great stuff to give to you. So, Lawrence, thank you so much for joining us.

[01:58] – Lawrence

Thank you so much for having me. I’m excited to share with your audience and just really dig into the topic today. Wonderful.

[02:07] – Gabrielle

OK, so tell us a little bit about you, where you come from, your background.

[02:11] – Lawrence

Yeah. So I hail from the great state of Ohio, but I am in Georgia by way of getting and transitioning out of the army. So I was an active duty army officer for 12 and a half years and it’ll be six years this January 30th since I transitioned out. And so I am into all things coaching and development, leadership training. So much so, I put myself back in school and getting a Ph.D. in organizational leadership, being a student of the craft and how influence in in people influenced the world and make it go round.

So I’m excited to to share a little bit of that and how I navigated there.

[02:56] – Gabrielle

How wonderful. So being in the Army, discipline is definitely not something you’re lacking in I would imagine?

[03:04] – Lawrence

Yeah, I’m pretty good at it.

[03:05] – Gabrielle

Yeah, you might have some some practice at that? When we were talking, you had mentioned something about being a hot business leader and HOT was an acronym, and I am so intrigued as to what that means. So tell us a little bit more about this hot business leader idea.

[03:23] – Lawrence

Yeah. So as you can imagine, being in the military and of course, I’m I’m also a preacher’s kid. Values were something that I  came out the womb with as most of us, and so HOT standing for humble, open and transparent. As I ventured into business and transitioning from the army, I was like, man, not too many people are too honest about this trick of entrepreneurship, of it’s hard. And I was listening to a message one day by a speaker and pastor that I follow.

And he was talking about his church being a HOT church. And I was like and he said, hey, that’s when I first heard it was probably three years ago now. And I was like, HOT. And I looked up and I love, you know, dictionary.com. And he spelled out humble, open and transparent.

I was like, aha. I was like, that’s a practice. And I put it into a framework for myself as a lived kind of experience to be a HOT leader. And what that means to me.

And so I’m on the verge of always trying to have HOT conversations with people and but it starts with me. I drink, I drink my own Kool-Aid first of what it really means to be humble and not lowly of self, but being confident enough to allow others in the space with me to be just as confident. Right. And hold space for that and not be intimidated by it.

Which can be something as entrepreneurs we find ourselves. All right. Who’s who’s the alpha in the room and whose pitch is better or whatever it is like. No. I can hold space because my thing is my thing and the mold got broken with me and so my thing is my thing. And I’ll allow your thing to be your thing.

Even if it’s spelled the same, we still do it differently because we’re individuals and unique.

[05:18] – Gabrielle

I love that. And you know what? I love that idea of being able to be humble actually coming from confidence rather than how we usually think of being humble as being, you know, thinking less of yourself than I love that little spin of that.

So being open and transparent, I mean, I’m sure that’s something that you probably both experienced and didn’t experience in the army there, but how does that translate to being a business owner and running a business?

[05:47] – Lawrence

Yeah, so I actually, like you said, I caught friction early in life trying to practice being open and transparent. But it was actually an early leader who told me he was like, you know, bad news doesn’t get better with time. And so if you don’t come forward with truth, with the situation as it currently is, with the facts, observe facts and different things like that, then you’re doing a disservice to the mission and the success of the mission and how I translated that to business.

When I talk about doing that self work and as an entrepreneur, I was my biggest hurdle. And there’s a book by Gino Wickepin called Traction, where there’s a personal assessment at the beginning of that book where it really gives yourself like you have to score yourself off of your capacity to actually be either help or a hindrance to your business. And my score was a thirty six out of one hundred. And when I really began to peel that back, I hadn’t been honest with myself.

I hadn’t been open. I hadn’t been transparent with what I desired to do as a business owner. There was just some things that I just absolutely hate. Right. And again, but early on, you don’t have the money, you don’t have the resources to hire people. And so it turned out to be I had to have an open and transparent conversation with how much actual time did I need to allocate in these different spaces so that I was honoring my business and not just let them fall by the wayside or half doing them or doing the crazy multitasked thing and not really giving it it’s just do particularly around marketing and stuff you help your clients with.

And so I had to be open to getting that feedback from others. Again, I gave permission to give me feedback about what they were saying, but also being transparent about what processes that I just didn’t want to do within my business. And so that was, that was a tough pill to continue to swallow until I had to up my game, up my capacity economically so I could actually divey some of that work out.

[07:58] – Gabrielle

Yeah. And you know that awareness piece is so big, you know, just being able to honestly say to yourself, what are your strengths, what are your weaknesses and adjusting your goals or maybe what you want accordingly, like I remember, would have been about two or three years ago I sat down. And of course, when you’re in the online marketing space, you get bombarded with a lot of these messages about scale your agency, growth for growth sake.

And it’s just like big, big, bigger and better all the time. And I had to sit down and say, is that what I really want? And it turns out no I don’t. I have no desire to be a millionaire. I have no desire to have all this fancy stuff. What I want is what I want. And it’s totally different. And it’s OK to have those wants as my goals.

[08:41] – Lawrence

And you just hit something there Gabrielle – y’all, it’s OK to make adjustments.

That was one of the biggest things early on because I was so goal driven that and you talk about scaling like I mean, me and scaling used to have fights because I just feel like there’s some like I’m having this visceral reaction to trying to think bigger. They grow more like what’s my thing and to make those adjustments and to honor myself. Right. And let me tell you something. All you out there that are hustling and grinding, I’m going to fight, you. No, are you working on the right work?

To me, that scaling – actually having a conversation with yourself to say, are you working on the stuff necessary to help grow your business to the extent that makes you happy? Why did you start in the first place, and the last time I checked, I didn’t start this thing full time to be up at all hours of the night and day and can’t figure out and remember what I was up for. That doesn’t sound sexy at all.

So you have to honor that adjustment.

[09:54] – Gabrielle

Yeah, adjusting and pivoting. I mean, the one thing about pivoting I’ve always said is when you do a pivot, you’re actually still moving forward, adjusting your direction, right?

[10:04] – Lawrence

I love it.

[10:34] – Gabrielle

I love this idea that we were talking about before, about being both humble and confident at the same time. And it’s still kind of throwing me for a little bit of a loop. But so how does it really show up? Because I know a lot of the times you think we’re like, OK, we’re going to market our business. We’re going to do sales in those kind of promotional activities. So how do I walk that fine line of being humble but knowing I’m good at my stuff but not seeming like I’m bragging?

Do you have any tips for u? Around that.

[11:02] – Lawrence

Yeah, I do. I do it. So it’s going to sound crazy. So that’s where the modality and skill of coaching has aided me in my ability to to come off humble into where confidence as curiosity and not arrogance and really as I’m engaging a client and it’s that needs assessment. And so I’ve made the needs assessment a real life way to have a conversation with someone as I’m trying to find out what are your pain points?

Right. We’ve heard that one as a business owner trying to find out somebody’s pain points, what’s frustrating them or different things like that. And as I begin to describe what I do for people, I inform what I say based off of what they said their need or their pain point was. And so I then in turn become the answer without saying I’m the answer. Right. And I’ll describe it in story form. Right.

So it sounds like this. Yeah. Wow. That’s amazing that you’re having struggles, interacting with, you know, conflict and different things like that. Man, I just supported a client, that very thing. Their leaders and their managers were having issues. They weren’t seeing eye to eye. And I just created this environment, almost a mediation, if you will, to where I sat them both down. And I just really for the first time, helped them hear each other.

Right. And defined what respect looks like for each other. And so that was a great exercise that I use with a client and just go and do simple things like that to where it sounds so totally different as a practitioner than a you know, this one time at Band camp, like inside. There you go. Here you go. I got a six figure gig. Yeah, I just had a contract with the CEO and I was the executive coach.

No, this is what I do. And I began to speak in doing in practitioning as an informed language for the people I interact with. And so there’s a huge difference. And I’m always listening for Doer’s. That’s why when I have conversations with with any guest on my podcast, I’m going to look for practitioners. Not looking for anybody who read a chapter out of a book and now you want to go on a stage.

I’m looking for somebody who’s actually rolled their sleeves up. They put some coveralls on it and they got their work boots on and they went for it and they continue to go for it every single day. And they got some sweat equity involved. Right. They have some sweat and investment. So that’s how I kind of do that exchange.

[13:38] – Gabrielle

I love that. So really just tying it back into your past experiences and being able to say, oh, I’ve done that before, here’s just a story about how I did it.

[13:48] – Lawrence

That’s that’s it. And there’s a there’s a book I love in coaching called The Power of Story, and as entrepreneurs and as solo partners, you need to get good at telling your story. You need to get good at telling people why what you do is your thing. And again, what informed you? What situation did you find yourself in where the reason why leadership is my thing, because I had sucky ones. But what I didn’t know was the effects of having that many bad leaders over that many years, what toll that took on me and I had some baggage.

And so as a practitioner, I’m also coaching myself. I also have a coach. I think coaches should have coaches. Because to me it’s all about upskilling. And as solopreneurs, what’s the community look like? And are you sharpening the saw as you seek to be somebodies answer. But are you getting answers for yourself and supporting your own self car

[14:49] – Gabrielle

Absolutely. I’ve always been a firm believer in having two types of people around you, ones that are at least a couple of steps ahead of you and ones that are a couple of steps behind you, because you can relearn yourself by teaching the ones who are behind you and you can learn from the ones ahead of you.

It’s so funny how our own experiences shapes and you talked about telling stories and a lot of us get kind of caught up in “well my story is not really that interesting. You know, I went to design school and I graduated and now I do design work”. Right. But there’s so many different other stories we can tell. We can tell the stories from our clients. We can tell the stories from our projects. We can tell the stories from our pets, you know.

[15:32] – Lawrence

Yeah. And it’s in in how I use the power of story. To help me remind me, right, and you talked about having two types of people, you know, a couple of steps behind, a couple of steps in front, I believe what you’ve gone through is your resume, right? It’s your past performance and it’s your thing. It’s what makes you unique. It’s what makes you potentially the answer to my issue. And if I don’t know that story, if I don’t know the one about your pet and you don’t know that I have a pet going through that same thing, then business is all about know, like and trust.

And if you don’t share or you don’t put yourself in a position to share, I don’t even know if I want to know, like or trust you. And again, this is a communal thing even in business. And we’re asking people to pay money, they buy you before they buy from you. And that’s that’s just been the approach I’m taking, so I kind of laid it out there a little bit with the openness and transparency, that’s where that openness and transparency comes in.

[16:43] – Gabrielle

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. You have to not be scared of letting yourself into that equation because people buy from people. You don’t really buy from a faceless corporation most of the time unless it’s something they absolutely need and they don’t care.

[16:56] – Lawrence

Exactly right. And that’s what you go to Wal-Mart for.

[17:02.] – Gabrielle

What other ways does it look like to be fully transparent as a business owner?

[17:09] – Lawrence

Yeah, and to be clear, right, you’re not throwing everything, you know, don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater kind of thing when it comes to transparency. Right? You’re scaling and you’re using what makes sense based on a scenario and the situation that you’re communicating in.

A useful way of business transparency is it’s in interviewing my previous corporate job and being in H.R. there was the STAR method, situation, task, action, result.

Situation, task, action and result. So in storytelling, there’s always these elements. And so as a business owner, when you’re being transparent, what was the situation? What was the task or what the thing you were performing, what were the actions you were engaging in and what were the results?

The transparency comes with the good and the bad results. And so the story in transparency comes in you being OK with revealing the good and the bad, the scars. Right. That’s what people connect with.

They connect with other humans. And if you seem like you’re all buttoned up, then you begin to see that people have these kind of biases that will be created about your value and your worth or if they can afford you or do you start making them make all these little crazy decisions. But I do it in such a way that to help you understand without me saying it out of my mouth that I get it. I get it. There is going to be nuances, but here’s the one thing I’m going to do because of my values, I’m going to respect where you are and it’s going to be my job to help you discover what working with me looks like so that it feels right for you.

Right. And then I’m also going to honor you in another way with integrity. I’m going to tell you to your face like I’m not, if you know what I mean. You need to reach out to Gabrielle, she’s better. What you’re asking me for, I’m OK. Goes back to humility. I know the perfect person for you. And that’s where community comes in. And it only can happen when we stop pressing in a lot of areas. When I was pressing and I was trying to say everybody was my client and all the rest of these things, I was pressing.

I was trying to hold on to too much and I was burning myself out and so nothing made sense. But now my clients are my clients for a reason. But I have a community of people who I allow to support me and I have them in a Rolodex. I say you know what, that sounds exactly like this person, this person or this person. I’ll give you their information so I can get out the way. And I’m OK with that.

[19:54] – Gabrielle

Oh, I love that. Yeah. And knowing when you’re a good fit and when you’re not, that’s key.  I love this, this has been a great conversation, and I don’t know if I can say love any more in an interview, but so where where can people find you online Lawrence?

[20:12] – Lawrence

So if you’re on LinkedIn, I would love, love, love connections on LinkedIn. You find me there. My full government name, Lawrence E. Henderson Jr. on LinkedIn. But across Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, it is @bosslab if you just want to reach out to me directly to my email, it’s my first name. Lawrence@bossconsultingllc.net

[20:42] – Gabrielle

Wonderful. OK, so last question that I like to ask everybody who comes on the podcast – do you have an activity or hobby that you like doing in your spare time or just for yourself?

[20:54] – Lawrence

Yes. So this one’s a new one so it’s hot off the presses. So a couple coach buddies of mine. I’m in a cohort around positive intelligence and one of the things around positive intelligence are creating this space, particularly around what they call P.Q reps or positive quotation reps.

And all it is, is taking a couple minutes sitting still, getting centered before you go into meetings. Right. That’s the approach I’m taking with these P.Q reps. And what it does is it clears my mind of anything that I’ve had going on up until that meeting. And I’ve been using them as meeting preppers for the past week now. And it’s been amazing going into a meeting clear and free of whatever previous meeting you were in. And so that is a super new one, hot off the presses doing P.Q reps. So if anybody is desiring as particularly as solo partners and business owners before you go in from client meeting, to client meeting, you do yourself a favor. Shed yourself your mind of that previous meeting, however it went, so you could be clear for the next thing. And so that’s what I’ve been doing.

[22:09]- Gabrielle

Oh, I love it. It sounds like something I do a grounding exercise kind of thing that’s similar. It just washes it all away.

Well, this has been such a fantastic conversation. Lauren, thank you so much for coming on the podcast. We are going to put all of the links to Lawrence’s profiles and website down below so you can go check him out, give him a follow. And thanks so much for joining me today.

[22:32] – Lawrence

Thank you so much for having me. And let me know how else I can support the community and any activities y’all have going on. Please, please, please tag me so I can share.

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