Reflecting On A Year Of Presidency - Lisa Vitale - Leadership in Action- Episode #61

Mark Stiles: Hey folks. Welcome back to Leadership In Action, your Boston chapter of Entrepreneurs Organization local podcast. Today I am thrilled to have this guest on our podcast. She is a marketing maven with over 20 years of strategy experience. She is a lead, Jen Legend, who is at the forefront of driving revenue for her company.

She has been an EO member for 10 years. She's currently our Boston chapters president and President of Simply Direct Drum Roll, please. Lisa Vitali. Lisa, welcome to the show.

Lisa Vitale: Aw, thank you, mark. What a great intro. I appreciate it. Or shall I say

Mark Stiles: welcome back to the show.

So folks, Lisa was on this show already. We could dig in there, but we're gonna talk about. Why did you join EO Lisa?

Lisa Vitale: So I joined EO because my husband and I started our business about 25 years ago. And in the beginning I was just, you know, just doing hr, not a whole lot of of work. And then in 2009 we bought out his business partner.

We met someone who suggests I become president of the company. My husband stepped aside, I became president of the company and all of a sudden the company became all. Omnipresent in my marriage. And, uh, I knew another EO member and he said, you one of you needs to join eo. You really need to join eo. And the more I heard about it, the more I thought, yes, I definitely need to join EO if I wanna keep.

Staying married to this lovely man. Uh, I needed to have an outlet. I needed to have a reality check. I needed to talk to other entrepreneurs because being an entrepreneur can be pretty lonely and, you have friends who can talk to you, but they basically go to work. Someone else Is in control of the finances.

Someone else is dealing with it. But as an entrepreneur, you have to be, it all ends with you. And then if all you're doing is talking to your spouse about your business, then it becomes very insular. You start losing perspective and. I wanted to get stories from other entrepreneurs about how they're running their business.

Is this something that other entrepreneurs are experiencing? Is it just me? Am I crazy? And I had the benefit of, uh, within EO you have forums, and in my forum there are three, there were three other people that were working with their spouses. So like, it was like a. Gold mine for me.

Mark Stiles: Oh my goodness. Totally.

Totally. Because you, we do run into folks who are partners with their partners, right. And that is a whole different dynamic. So you have three more, or had at that time? Three in. Yeah. That must have been amazing. So how, so tell us about that forum experience and, and those first few years of being part of eo.

Because, you know, before joining eo, You don't really know what to expect,

Lisa Vitale: right? Right, right, right. So, uh, and ironically, um, one of the people was also a, a female. So not only did I get the, I had one form mate that was working with his wife. I had a, a female form mate that was working with her husband. Oh, cool.

And her husband is about the same age as mine. My husband's nine years older than me and we've been kind of mirroring each other with, um, how we go through the business. They're disenfranchised with the business, them wanting to retire from the business, them retiring from the business, them failing at retiring from the business.

And, uh, it's been a great experience. Share along those and in our businesses have mirrored each other up and down and sideways and crossways and how to navigate that. How do, how do. Off board a spouse from your business and how to keep the business going and keep your marriage going. And so that, that's been very instrumental.

The other people that I know, they still work with their spouse, but there's also struggles with, um, you know, how much do they work? Who, who has what responsibility and, and that. The EO has also helped me with that understanding how to set clearer goals, how to understand, um, when to move forward, when not to, how to ask advice, how to talk to my spouse, how to have those very difficult conversations.

Mark Stiles: Uh, so, so your spouse is no longer working in the business. Uh, Not

Lisa Vitale: really. He's helping just a little. We, uh, like many people during Covid, our business, uh, grew tremendously, grew 40%, 60%. Last year we were down 10%. Mm-hmm. Uh, and so this year, uh, Um, I've been talking to him about sales and, and a few other things.

So I've been asking him for a little more help in that regard cuz he was our sales guy. Mm-hmm. And we have other people that do sales, but my function has never been that. And with the shifting landscape, I've wanted to, I need to get out there a little more. So I've just been asking a person some help and, and that's been challenging too, asking him to kind of come back.

Help but even having to draw very clear lines, like he, he would start talking about something else and I'm like, no, I really need this help only in this particular area. I mean, I wanna hear your other stuff, but this is really where I wanna have it, and, and. EO has definitely helped me be very clear about that, to understand the boundaries, uh, within bringing him back or when he was here full-time, you know, making sure that we, um, not that we didn't collaborate, but that we each had our own sandbox to plan.

Mark Stiles: I love that. I love that. So what is the business that you are involved in?

Lisa Vitale: So as a direct marketing consulting business, we do sales lead generation for high tech companies that sell really expensive solutions. Think Oracle, ibm, Google, Salesforce, and mid-market companies. We've been doing this, uh, you know, like I said, for 25 years and we've been doing it very similar, but that's just our general business.

Mark Stiles: Cool. Cool. So 10 years of eo, what? What does the next 10 years look like for you?

Lisa Vitale: N eo? Yes. Or right now? Uh, as, as Mark mentioned earlier, I am finishing up my year as EO Boston President. And that has been an incredible year and I have an incredible board, which Mark is on also. Uh, and, uh, it's. I've really grown as a leader.

I've learned how to run an a nonprofit organization, which I didn't have experience with before. Um, I have learned how to check my ego at the door. I'm in a room full of leaders and presidents, so how to, to gently coach them and guide them in the right directions. That's good for the organization and I really have.

Gained a lot of exposure to other chapter presidents, and I really like that. So I am now moving on to an aerial director position in the US East region, which means I become the coach and mentor for three chapters. I'm working with EO Charlotte, eo New Jersey, and EO C. So I help them with their summit meetings and I'm just there as a sounding board if they have any.

Problems or, or issues with their board or their admin staff. Uh, so that's kind of where I'm at. I, I, I, I actually don't see myself ever leaving eo. I really don't. You know, even, even, I know, uh, if I sell the business, I probably will end up leaving eo, but it has really become family. It's become part of my heart and soul.

I really love this organization.

Mark Stiles: I love that. I love that. And I love that you're sharing it with other regions. So EO Boston, right? So what did you, what is your most prideful accomplishment while being president?

Lisa Vitale: So, uh, probably keeping Jeff Kins on the board. He has been amazing underneath his tutelage and others definitely helping out.

Uh, we were able to implement a C R M. We were able to update our website. We were able to hire, uh, an outside marketing company to help us with those. Both internal and external communication. That is the newest thing that's happened, and we're only at the early stages of that. So I'm just really excited to have accomplished those three things because you know, as we often say, eo.

Is the best kept secret and, and we need to go out there and make sure that people learn about this wonderful organization and learn about the fact that it deals with so much more. There's a lot of business organizations out there, but this is not only business, it's personal family. It's you as an individual, how to grow, how to, how to be a better, you know, whatever it is.

Wife, spouse, mother, husband, you know, brother, sister, daughter.

Mark Stiles: It's so true because, and that's, you know, scratching into the, the forum model, right? Because the vulnerability and you dig in with these people where, for me, I didn't have that peer-to-peer, right? I didn't have the attorney groups that really thought like, Entrepreneurs and I didn't really know that I was allowed to be an entrepreneur by being a technical technician attorney, but having forum available to that.

I, I agree with you that there is, uh, there is something really special about forum, particularly with respect to eo. Obviously EO is amazing, but having that peer-to-peer confidential. Conversation, being able to get to that 5% and become really vulnerable and, and share, I mean that's really, that's really how you grow, I think.

Lisa Vitale: Yeah. Yeah. And I, and, and as I've said to my husband, there's nothing I say in my form that I have not said to my husband. Okay. But it does give me a better way of explaining it, of sharing it with him in a way that I've kind of tested out in waters that are, you know, little less, uh, uh, um, critical in many ways than chesting it outta my marriage so I can kind of do a dry run there so that, so that when I come back, I do have that clarity that you don't get

Mark Stiles: Yeah.

What about the next year for eo? Now I know the outgoing president is, is around, right? I mean that they, it would be nice if our United States presidents hung around to do a, a smooth transition, but I know you're gonna be around, like what are you hoping to see for the next, uh, year or two?

Lisa Vitale: So, um, I am definitely around, I'm around to help Glen out as much as he needs, and I've been working with him.

Glen Grant is the incoming president. Yeah. And we've actually been working together, uh, prior to my being president. So we've, there's been a lot of continuity over the president's. I, uh, continuing to work as kind of like the pa uh, uh, a past president's council to provide some guidance there. Help with the vision as it gets evolved.

We've, we've had more annual visions in, in, uh, EEO Boston, and my year was pretty much served as an integrator, you know, getting things done and putting a lot of foundation in. And then I see, um, Glen being a little more visionary, focusing a little more on our events and making sure that we have. A, a greater breadth of events that, that serve all the different populations, you know, small, medium, large events, and, um, working with him and.

Integrating that and, and, and doing more outreach to get the forms more involved. The members more involved in, in the events within EO and also outside the chapter. I mean, there are so many great events, whether online, if you wanna listen to, there's a lot of great speakers that, uh, participate online.

There's this, there's the, uh, I just got back from going to the Gro Global Leadership Council in South Africa and. Yes, it is cool as it sounds. I got to go on Safari. That wasn't part of eo, but that was with a group of eos and it was a really, really dynamic, once in a lifetime experience, I would never have gone to South Africa.

Uh, it's a beautiful country. It's a really wonderful experience. So there's, there's, there's a little bit of everything for eo, uh, you know, and people in eo. There's, I think a lot of times we do focus, focus on form and there's a lot of value there, but there's a lot of value. I had dinner. At one place it was, um, I think there were 50 of us and I sat next to someone from Kuwait and from someone from Saudi Arabia was at another event.

And I sat across from someone from Russia. You know, I mean, I'm, where are you gonna get that in the same event? You know? It's just the exposure to people across the world is just

Mark Stiles: phenomenal. I love it. And then our upcoming event, nerve Nerve, which is the Northeast Regional is in Tampa this

Lisa Vitale: year. Right, right, right.

The, I think, uh, I wanna say like October 19th or something like that. And that, that, that'll be a lot of fun. I have gone to, I think that'll be like my fifth or sixth nerve. I actually served on the EO Boston Nerve Committee. Way back when, early on when I joined eo. It's been a while since we've had it here.

And again, that's another great event. Even though it's uh, if you don't necessarily get people from around the real world, you get people from across the regions. And that is another way to create connections across chapters. And I've known people that have gone to these events and started businesses with people that they've met at these events.

Mark Stiles: So if someone were to pin you down and say, what do you cherish most about eo? Could you pin it to something? Oh, that so much.

Lisa Vitale: There's so I know there, there, there is. And, and I, I, I know I just said there's, you know, there's more than form. It is really been form for me. Yeah. It, it, I, it has been. Through EO and just some people's presentations or people coaching you or hearing something.

I became reconnected with my birth father. I had, um, not seen him in 40 years and I hadn't spoken to him in about 35 years. And there was just this one presentation where someone said one thing about their relationship with their parent, and I went, oh. Maybe my father's not in my life because he loves me.

Not because he doesn't love me. And that was a very pivotal moment. It really shifted my mindset and it still took me many years after that. And I've reconnected with my father. I think it's been about three or four years now, and I wouldn't say it's not this great kumbaya moment. It definitely struggles.

There's a reason why we didn't have contact, but I'm glad I did it. Um, but I don't think I would've ever found my way there. And again, it wasn't like I was presenting on it. It wasn't even like I was talking about it, it was just this mind shift moment. And EO is so full of that, those mind shift moments.

I was sitting at Ner, uh, in Southeast Virginia, the other, uh, last, uh, September, and my business was struggling. You know, we'd had. We were, you know, downturn was coming. It's the fourth economic crisis, fourth time I've run outta cash and I'm sitting there like panicking and then some guy comes up and tells me, yeah, my company was 7 million and I grew it to 40 million.

And then I sold it. I almost went out of business. I bought it back. And he says, you know, all these big companies, you know how they did it, they leveraged debt. And I went, You're right. I didn't, I funded that $750,000, uh, expense outta cash. No one I ran out of it. So, I mean, there's always those little nuggets and aha moments and you never know.

And I came back saying, okay, you're right. I'm not a failure, you know, I just didn't take out a loan for three quarters of a million dollars. I spent cash. You know, that's

Mark Stiles: amazing. And I, and I can't. I can't disagree. The, the value that EO has had in my life is priceless. It truly is. The, the relationships are one thing, but it's that critical thinking.

It's that digging deeper. It's that 5% that we talk about, right? It's are you willing to go there? Are you willing to examine that closely into who you actually are?

Lisa Vitale: Yeah. Yeah. You know, I, I was just reading, um, there's an X E O or Bob Glazer who has a, a, a weekly email. It calls Friday forward. It was about failure versus failing, and, um, I was, Feeling like a failure after the last year or so, and I've shared very deeply with my forum and they reflected back to me some really great things again, you know, just another moment of, you know, I'm not a failure.

I may have failed at some things over the last year, but that doesn't make me a failure.

Mark Stiles: I love that. And the, the thing about it is, is, you know, b and i, great for what it is, right? So business to business networking or the Chamber of Commerce or charitable endeavors. But to find that group of like-minded individuals that I've been seeking, not really knowing, I've been seeking it, not knowing that it was actually out there.

Is where the gold really lay because entrepreneurs do think differently. There's no question about it. And a lot of times when talking with somebody, you know, it's not hitting, you know, the connection is not being made because you are not thinking the same way that that person's thinking. But with eo, there is a dna, there's a, there's a, a common thread that.

Connects entrepreneurs and it's nice to have that community to share with.

Lisa Vitale: Yeah. Yeah. It takes a lot of courage. I mean, every day I'm risking it. I'm risking it all. I'm out here, you know, some it. Sometimes feels more than others, but it takes a lot of courage to dust yourself up, show up, be here, you know, put a brave face on it.

You know, I've only got $2,000 in the checking account, payroll's due next week. What do I do?

Mark Stiles: Right. You're not telling your, your contributors, you know, you're not gonna have those vulnerable conversations. Yeah. We're, we're about a week away from turning the lights out here, folks. Yeah. Yeah. Like that's not a conversation they're prepared to have with you.

Lisa Vitale: Right. And, and eo, you know, and I've had many conversations with how do you manage your way through that, right? Because everyone in my form has been there, you know, at one point or another. And how did they, what did they do? Who did they talk to? How did they, what were the strategies that they used? And, uh, you know, it can be very tactical.

And like I said, it could be very emotional, like getting in touch with your father or a long lost relative. But it can also be very tactical in that regard. It's, it's a very well-rounded organization.

Mark Stiles: Well, coming full circle back to one of the questions we always asked a lot of the, um, guests in the beginning was, you know, what is a misconception?

What is a myth, a misconception of being an entrepreneur?

Lisa Vitale: Oh, that's a good, that's a good question. Um, I think a myth is that, um, It's easy to run a business that it, if you have a great idea that it'll just all fall into place. That if you ha, all it matters is it's a really good idea and everything else is there.

And it's not. I mean, the, you do have to start with a good idea, but then you need to do all the foundational work. And again, that is one thing that EO can help you with. You know, you have to figure out who's your financial planner, who's your accountant, you know, who's. Uh, who's your payroll company? Who's your lawyer?

I mean, all these people I work with, I've all gotten through one way or another, through some connection, Neo, and, and for me, it takes out some of the guesswork about whether I could trust them. And I've, I've definitely had people that I've referred, been referred to by EO that have not worked out. So I'm not saying it's Pollyannish and that everyone that anyone in EO refers you to will be, you know, Perfect.

Uh, but it's not, I mean, I've had, I've had some pretty big doozies, uh, but overall I find it much more comforting to have my peers recommend people that they work with and they'll share more with you. Like you get a different, you know, and they'll even share some of the ugliness with you, you know? Right,

Mark Stiles: right, right.

What about the, um, the board? Tell us a little bit about the board and the, for the. For the audience listening that is part of Boston eo or they're thinking about joining eo, what's the value about the value of being on the board within EO Boston?

Lisa Vitale: So I joined the board within my second year and for me, um, I was able to really understand how EO works more.

It has all these different facets. There's this global entity that I didn't understand and basically it's kind of like, think of a corporation with divisions and, and, you know, war I division in Boston. And it allowed me to understand how the organization works. It allowed me to connect more. It also allowed me to, when, when I started, I started off as forum chair, which meant means that once you join EO, I help.

Place you into a forum. So I got to meet all the new members very intimately, and then I got to meet all of the moderators who, each forum has someone who moderates each, uh, uh, meeting for about a year. So I, I got to know all the members very well. And the other thing that it did is it, it pushed me to go to events.

That's not, that's something outside my comfort zone. And, um, by doing that, I ended up going to more events and I felt comfortable going. I didn't need to have a posse there with me. I just showed up and I would, I would know a bunch of people. And overall, being on the EO board and then moving to be president and then moving to the regional council has been a way to push myself to grow.

Push myself outside my comfort zone. I find that when I do that, I bring way more back to my, myself, my family, my organization. I have become a much better leader. I am so much more confident and competent than I used to be that I, I was very, very, um, Uh, very much an introvert and I'm not.

Mark Stiles: Wow, that's cool.

I lo because you mentioned that early in the conversation is that, you know, we're scaring ourselves every day. Right? Every day we, we show up and doing something fearful and outside the comfort zone. I love that because knowing you, I wouldn't have ever tagged you as an introvert knowing that I know,

Lisa Vitale: I know, I know you

Mark Stiles: Well, speaking of that, like what do you all do for fun outside of work and eo.

Lisa Vitale: Um, outside of work in eo, I do love to read. I read fiction. I must say I have an aversion to self-help books. Uh, I, I tend to like to go to watch speakers or things like that and get my, uh, content that way. Uh, I love to garden. I run. I run about 15 miles a week. I hike, um, my daughter's coming home from California and we're hiking Mountain Mount Musa.

Ah, cool. Which I've heard is a pretty challenging, it's a eight hour hike, so looking forward to that. My husband and I like to travel, you know, kind of some of the typical stuff there. Go away. Uh,

Mark Stiles: I love it. so Lisa, we are going to miss you on the board. I really appreciate your leadership that you've brought to Boston and. And really shown me how this board, uh, can operate, um, and how it, it works so effectively. And, and I'm looking to, uh, really kind of run with what you're, you're doing with Glen's leadership next year.

We're looking forward to some really fun stuff, but I'm hoping that you're gonna be right there, uh, you know, sharing experience as well. But if someone were to want to get in touch with you and talk a little bit more, they're hearing this and they're like, I really. I'm connecting with that person and you know, I heard what she said about what she does for her company, so I definitely need to get in touch with her.

How would they best get in touch with you?

Lisa Vitale: Well, you can get in touch with me on LinkedIn or my email is L v B, that's L as in Lisa, B as in Victor, B as in boy. Simply, just like it sounds. So that's a good way. Email me if you have any questions. Simply

Mark Stiles: Direct. Simply Direct. That's such a great name.

Lisa Vitale: Yeah. Yeah. Uh, we, I can't take a whole lot of credit for that. My husband ended up buying it from someone that he, uh, uh, used to work for, who then came to work for us, his ex-business partner that we bought out, and we got the name, which is a great

Mark Stiles: name. It is a great name. Simply, Direct. I love it. Yes, just like

Lisa Vitale: it sounds.

Mark Stiles: Yeah. Well, Lisa, thank you so much Again, thank you for all of your service to our board here in Boston, to our community in eo, but also for sharing so vulnerably here today. Really appreciate you.

Lisa Vitale: Thank you so much, mark, for having me. And thank you for joining the board. You're, you're starting your journey with a brand new board position.

I've gotta give him a shout out. We now have a governance, governance board position, so it's gonna be, uh, an interesting journey as they as, as we all figure out exactly what that entails. But thank you so much for doing that, and thank you for having me and. Thank you, EO Boston. I have really enjoyed being president this past year.

Thank you very much for giving me the privilege to serve you. And I am not going anywhere. I am now gonna be able to bring back all kinds of global information, so it will help our chapter grow

Mark Stiles: so Great. Well, thank you folks for listening. If you enjoyed this content, if you know somebody who's thinking about joining eo, please share this with that person.

We would appreciate it. Thanks again for joining. This has been another exciting episode of Leadership in Action. We will see you soon.

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Reflecting On A Year Of Presidency - Lisa Vitale - Leadership in Action- Episode #61
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