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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Networking: Cultivation of Opportunity

By: Denyel Beiter

Editors Note: Denyel Beiter is a 2009 SUNY Geneseo graduate. She is currently employed at the True Community Development Corporation in Buffalo as the Americorps Vista. She was the president of Democracy Matters at SUNY Geneseo.

One of the most important characteristics that we each possess as part of the human race is the ability to connect with each other on an intimate level. This is what separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom. The ability to build relationships and to feel united with one another allows us to feel bigger than ourselves, to feel like a part of something, and most importantly, it allows us to be shaped and molded into someone we never dreamed we could be.

One of the most important lessons I have learned in the first few months of my career is the significance and impact of networking. By networking and establishing relationships, we find a little of ourselves in others. We can rely upon these relationships as steps to different opportunities in our personal and professional lives.
This is not to suggest that we use each other solely for our own benefit, but to merely extract and reciprocate goodwill and community.

As I write this article I think of this past week when I had an epiphany about the significance of networking. I work in a non-profit organization in inner-city
Buffalo where I help to run a job readiness program. A major component to the program is teaching the importance of networking. One young man in particular, who comes from a low income neighborhood, has been in and out of jail, and is unemployed, took advantage of a networking opportunity right away. After telling him my experience with working on job readiness initiatives and skills, he became wild eyed and set up an appointment with me so that I could council him on writing his very first resume.

He came into the office on time and ready to work.
We worked together and collaborated ideas and information that needed to get across to an employer. I taught him the basic structure and detailed tips of a resume. He taught me that by helping others and building relationships we can truly change lives. He began to cry, hug me, and tell me that he could not believe that someone would help him and take the time to care for him. His eyes widened and he said, “Now I have an opportunity. Now I have a future.”

Author and public speaker, Bob Burg describes networking as “the cultivating of mutually beneficial, give and take, win-win relationships. It works best, however, when emphasizing the 'give' part."

I challenge all readers to keep networking. Whether it is for personal or professional reasons, we are human and we are here to interact, encourage, and motivate each other. When we collaborate, our ideas and output can transcend expectations and goals. We all have gifts to share as well as room for improvement.