This week, we’re switching things up on the blog with a Q&A with Lauren Sweeney, VP of Rise Up For You. She’s a transformational coach who has worked around the world and with multiple Fortune 500 companies, helping people elevate their human potential and their company’s growth.
Lauren is an amazing human. I had the opportunity to be a guest on her show, where we enjoyed a wonderful conversation because Lauren is such an activator and creative thinker. She has a heart for public service, while also being extremely disciplined and goal-oriented. She’s driven by challenges and has a passion for leadership development and collaboration, which I think we can all use more of in the world. She’s been featured on multiple podcasts and recognized in a number of magazines for her work on confidence, personal leadership, women in the workplace, and more.
Q: Can you share a little bit about your journey that brought you to where you today?
A: Before I worked for Rise Up For You, I had my own company. I coached women and we sold cosmetics. It was an incredible industry to learn those leadership and confidence skills and see them in real time. A lot of people, especially women, struggle to climb the ladder at a certain point in our careers. That’s what led me to working for Rise Up For You and doing the inner work that now I do with our clients.
Q: What was that moment you reached that really helped you make that transition?
A: In my career, there this was this carrot, this goal you just had to achieve. Everyone around me thought we had to reach that level. Once you do, you get the company car, the bonus, the status, the prestige, all of it. It was an expectation, but also something I wanted to do. So I climbed the career ladder, working so hard to achieve it. And one day I did it. I was like, Oh, I get the car. I get the bonus. I get everything that was promised. I thought that I would finally feel good enough once I had achieved all of that. That didn’t happen, but I couldn’t see that yet. It’s sort of like how you can’t see the label when you’re inside the jar.
Q: What did you do next?
A: That was when I started working with Nada Lena, who is our CEO at Rise Up For You. We talked about this idea of macro and micro confidence. In the United States, we’re taught that who we are is our titles and our skills instead of who we are [as people]. On the World Happiness Report, the US doesn’t rank very high because we really don’t treat people as a whole person. It’s all about our career and our titles. When we don’t have those titles, we feel like, Who am I? As I rose through the ranks, I kept thinking I should be happy, I’m achieving all of these goals. Then I thought, Well, I’ll climb this next mountain and then I’ll feel happy. But it just never happened.
A lot of people I’ve talked to are looking outside of themselves for the answers and that validation. But it’s already inside of us When we were growing up, we didn’t have those concerns about our titles because those worries are manmade. If we can get connected with who we truly are on a deeper level, it can shape and shift our world. That led me to doing my own inner work and then wanting to work for this company.
Q: I love that and I know that you’re helping so many people. It’s one of those pieces that I think is missing in corporate culture and trainings because we are always trying to get to the goal, the targets, the KPIs, and then moving to the next one. When really, it’s about the people who are accomplishing the mission. It makes sense to focus on the people and help them have these aha moments for themselves because it will help the team function a lot better. I would love to hear about the work you’re doing with Rise Up For You and how you are helping these organizations and teams.
A: People are craving those conversations of: How are you doing? What do you need? What’s working here? What’s not working? How can we collaborate? How can we be creative? What works best for you with your life? Do you want to be in a hybrid work environment? People are not looking for a once-a-year performance review, they’re looking for ongoing quarterly conversations at a minimum. We help companies look at their culture from the inside out and the outside in and do emotional intelligence assessments that help them understand from a 360-degree perspective, what is happening inside the company. We help them figure out their values, what’s important in their hiring, how to put their values in a key statement. Most small- and medium-sized businesses are really working in the business all the time, and don’t often have a chance to step and have a bird’s-eye view of their business. That’s what we do.
I was doing some work with an organization on their job description process, and I started asking them questions like, What core competencies are you looking for in people? How does that inform your training? How does that inform their development path and the skills you can teach? Of course, you want the requisite skills, but if a person and their values don’t align with the company, wouldn’t it be great to know that before you hire them? It’s night and day between when an organization doesn’t do that and one does.
Q: Do you have any stories that you’d like to share? Kind of like a before and after? And how things have shifted?
A: We worked with a company in the finance industry. Before we came to work with them, they hadn’t done performance reviews in maybe two, three years. There were some key missing ingredients in the culture, there wasn’t a lot of intention in the culture; they were kind of treading water. Now, fast forward to a little bit over a year later working with them. Quarterly, they have set performance reviews, they have a mentor map so that people know who they’re mentoring, and then how they’re being mentored. They know what Brenda needs versus Paul and they are having conversations and being really clear on the culture,
Our CEO Nada was an executive at a company before she started rise up for you. Sometimes when she would look at hiring someone, she would go into the lobby and sweep, or empty the trash, pretending she was somebody just cleaning the lobby. She would notice how the candidate, who was sitting in the lobby waiting to talk to her, would interact with her. What were their soft skills? Their people skills? How did they treat someone they didn’t know was the executive? When they would come up to her office and be shocked when they met her. All of this went back to their character and how they treat people and whether their values aligned with what she was looking for.
Q: I love that story about observing somebody a candidate in in the waiting area, and seeing how they interact with people.
A: It’s about connection. If you really take stock and think about every situation you’re in, like when you’re sitting in an Uber, are you immediately going to your cell phone? Is this person just a vehicle that is irrelevant to you? Or are you engaging with that person? When I was in an Uber recently, I met this wonderful gentleman from Nepal. He was sharing about his family and his upbringing and we were talking about yoga and philosophy. It was just such a heartwarming conversation. I’m sure he felt seen and appreciated because I sure did. When we are out and about doing the things we ordinarily do, we need to remember it doesn’t take more time to engage and connect with people. But the impact that it can have in an organization and in everyday life is remarkable.
It’s also telling that hyper-achiever, It’s okay, just relax. Take this time and connect right now. We forget to do that in our organizations, too. We think we’re too busy to engage. It’s important to understand what people’s hopes and dreams are, what their challenges are, how you might be getting in their way of achieving their goals.
When we pour into each other, the payback and the dividends are incredible. We need to bring intentionality to our organizations right now with those conversations that don’t have anything to do with the job at hand. It’s about those kinds of casual conversations of getting to know each other and caring about each other outside of the office environment. It’s about thinking, how can we create that even if we’re in a hybrid or totally remote environment? How can we bring intentionality? How can we bring in fun team building? How can we create an open office hour?
At Rise Up For You we’ll do leadership training, team building, breakouts that involve strategic conversations. We look at the organization and see what’s needed based on those EQ assessments, and then put those missing pieces back in.
Q: So if somebody wanted to work with you, how do they get in touch with you?
A: Our favorite platform is LinkedIn. You can find myself, our CEO, Nada and the whole team there, or you can go to our website, RiseUpForYou.com. There you’ll also find a lot of free resources whether you’re an individual, an entrepreneur, an executive, or running a company. Those resources on EQ, time management, public speaking, confidence, are all free downloads on our website.
The best thing that an organization can do is have a strategy call with us, where we look at the organization and see what is missing. What is something that’s really not working right now? What are your pain points? What are the things that are keeping you up at night or that you would just love to have solved? Then we can show you a proposal of something that would make a difference.