Monday, December 7, 2009

Laurie Joslin

For more from Bigger Impact co-founder, Joseph Norman, visit
Enjoy the read about...Laurie Joslin...below! Thanks for your readership!

I met Laurie for the first time a few years ago at a Ken Blanchard event in Rochester sponsored by the Entrepreneur’s Organization – Western New York. On behalf of EO-WNY, she introduced Ken. I was immediately intrigued by her vibrance and sense of humor. Since then, I’ve participated as often as possible in sales and workforce trainings put on by her company, Unlimited Coaching Solutions. Laurie and her team are tremendous models of the strategies they teach. As a successful business owner, middle child of 14, and single mother of one, Jade, Laurie’s story is simply fantastic. It is an honor to feature, Laurie, a woman who I consider my friend and colleague, in this final issue of Bigger Impact Weekly. ~Joseph
I’d like to start with your experience as a single mother. As a successful business owner, I’m interested to hear how this life choice has affected your journey.
As you know, I’m very independent. I was still in college when I was set to have Jade. My high school sweetheart and I were together and it was a cute story, but we didn’t agree on a lot of things. Although we were together for a long time, I knew that it wasn’t going to work. Long story short, Jade was in 2nd grade when we split.
We all are on our own life path and we all need to learn different ways. I respect that we have our different views of the world. If I looked back at the relationships that haven’t “worked” for me, I can truly say that through all of them – whether they were significant other, friends, or with clients – I’ve learned so much from them. I truly appreciate the fact that I wouldn’t be who I am right now without those experiences.
Everyone has their own stuff going on. And, it’s not that I don’t believe in marriage, it’s just that I think marriage is a very antiquated approach because people change! Divorce is a new beginning for a lot of people.
It has been really interesting to raise a child as a single parent. I came from a blended family with 14 children. I had seen a lot going on in terms of communication and relationships. One of the reasons I chose to be a single mother, I saw a lot of damage happen from two parents staying together that shouldn’t have necessarily been together.
I felt like I had a better chance this way. And, growing up, Jade spent time with her father during high school and she really excelled. If it was just about me, I would never have let her go, but it was about her.
Let’s move on to your career path…
I grew up in Cortland, New York. While I was there I worked for Smith Corona for a long time…starting on the factory line. I was a single mother, getting my degree at the same time. I really got to experience all different types of jobs throughout that organization. I worked in Accounting while we went through a Chapter 11, and I spent time in Human Resources and on the sales force. At one point, I went on the Shop at Home Network for them.
Oddly enough, none of these moves were really planned. In fact, with the Shop at Home Network, nobody really wanted to do it, but I was always willing to just jump in and do something new. I had no training but I did it and I loved it!
To be uncomfortable to me was fun. It was learning. Little did I know at the time that this type of workforce development would be my eventual field.
When I started in school I was going to be an English teacher. But, because I was working at the same time, I got more interested in business so I switched to economics.
Then I met with a career counselor at Cortland who helped me discover that one of my core competencies was communication. So, I started taking communications classes and I totally loved it. Even Media Law!
Luckily, I got so many opportunities at Smith Corona. Many of my moves throughout the company were lateral, just to keep my job while the company restructured. Once, I inquired about a product development job and when I did, the coordinator gave me a manual and said, “Go home, read this, and give us a presentation on it tomorrow.” So, I did it and I really wowed them!
From that point, I moved quickly from product development to software to soft skills. And, when I found soft skills I absolutely fell in love.
I founded the training development program at Smith Corona and created a whole university of courses for them. I brought people in and created courses myself – not realizing what an opportunity that was at the time. It was like, “Hey Laurie, we need to do this but we have no budget. Can you help us?” That experience proved to be so valuable to me.
When Smith Corona was filing Chapter 11 for the second time, I could see the writing on the wall. So, I went in to see the CFO who I had worked for in the past, closed the door, and requested to get the courses I developed. Long story short, I got them and I got to start my business with a lot of intellectual property.
I’ve been inspired by some awesome people like Ken Blanchard and I consider myself really just a messenger. I have unique and creative ways of delivering that message, but if you go way back, in my opinion, people are saying the same stuff.
Please, walk me through the experience of starting the business!
In 1999, after a brief stint with Comp USA Training, I started Unlimited Coaching Solutions.
When I first started my business, I went from a very good salary to nothing. And, I’m the kind of person that jumps off a cliff then looks…so I had minimal savings. I knew that I wanted to do this so I went out there and did it. I’ve always trusted my ability to come out ok.
Jade was about 12 at the time. I was ripping her out of school, moving to Rochester, and I didn’t know a soul. It was crazy. We learn the best by throwing ourselves into a new job or new experience like that though. In fact, 70 percent of learning comes from that.
I did not have the road map when I started, but I was clear. It started with just me and slowly we built up to 6 at one point and now we’re back to 4 employees. The company has been pretty natural and fluent.
The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz is a huge part of what we do now and that happened through Ray Justice. In early 2000, he was a mentor and coach of mine. I was speaking to him at one point and I said, “I get this training thing but something is missing.” He said to me, “I just finished this book and I don’t know why, but you need to read it.” I trusted him so of the 10 books in my “to read” pile, this one went to the top.
And, as I read it, I had a movie playing in my mind of how exactly it would fit into what I was doing. It was amazing. So, I started down the path of contacting the author about using it in my training. He put me in touch with the publisher and they gave me permission to use it!

Miguel Ruiz, Jr., don Miguel Ruiz, & Laurie (Left to right)
How has The Four Agreements impacted your life?
At that point I began to participate in their trainings. Me being all business, I thought I was going to learn how to apply these materials in the workplace but it ended up touching my life in a very personal way. My life dramatically changed.
My relationship with my father improved. It was never bad, but I was the middle child of 14 so I got lost in the shuffle a little bit!
He is a self-employed carpenter and he was in Rochester working on a special job at the time so I let him stay at my house. He saw the book on my coffee table and said, “What is this?” I said, “Just read it…and if you want to discuss it, I’ll spend the entire weekend with you.” Now, I was single at the time so this was a big deal!
He read it and he said to me, “Wow, if I read this earlier I never would have needed Prozac!” My father is a Veteran. This experience started a whole new relationship between us with a common interest!
If you can help people be successful in their relationships with people, the workplace benefits. It’s really just a venue to reach people with the message. It’s all just empowering people to make a difference. To me empowering is a mix of inspiration and the resources to act.
Tell me about how you got started with the EO-WNY?
I got started with EO-WNY by a great guy, Ralph Dandria, a partner of ITX. I was at a party and we got talking. He wanted some training and he said, “Wow, you’d be a great candidate for EO!” Right away people were so generous. And, generosity to me is an attractive thing. That is EO for sure. One of our major objectives is to provide the best learning opportunities possible not only for members, but for the community as well.
It’s an organization that truly wants to help entrepreneurs grow.
Tell me more about your training packages.
Something else that I’d like to share with you is the concept that we’re using in our business. It’s a concept we call “GRIT.” It stands for “Generosity, Respect, Integrity, and Truth.”
Those are the core of what it takes for authenticity as a human being. These things drive human relationships. GRIT happens to work well because the American way is toughness. That speaks to so many people!
I’m writing a book which is half done right now and the working title is something relative to “Getting your GRIT together.” It’s about creating a workplace that people want to be at! We want to spread the word!
We take everything that we do experientially and we change that to fit into different organizations. We do not change the flow of the material, but we do change the language and some of the activities involved. Remember, I consider myself a messenger, or a translator. I tailor the information to connect with accountants, lawyers, or construction people!
A lot of training companies will specialize in an industry, but we don’t do that. We’re specialists in people. That is our philosophy. The Four Agreements is one differentiator and customizing our message across industry is definitely unique in our marketplace. The real impact you need to make in an organization is on an individual level. We help people see what’s in it for them.
The best part about this stuff to me is that you’re never going to master it. We’re constantly learning, so the more we can lighten up and have fun with it, the better off we’re going to be! Fun is a core value of mine!

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