Our guest today poses an interesting question, do you hide your voice? In today’s politically sensitive environment, often employees bury their voices and opinions in fear of insulting someone or receiving retribution. While we want to value the differences among us, Laine Lawson Craft is also a bold proponent for finding your voice and using it – with love. In this interview, Laine expresses her belief that people of faith can express that belief in the workplace, yet it doesn’t need to be inappropriate or insulting. Allowing that faith to be expressed through our actions can be the biggest gift of all. When we FEEL the needs of others and work to FILL them, we are providing the greatest service. I know you will find great value in today’s Manager Mojo Podcast.
YOU CAN READ THE TRANSCRIPT HERE:
Laine Lawson Craft
Steve: Hello and welcome everybody! I’m thrilled you’ve joined us and I’m really excited about our guest today. We have the dynamic Laine Lawson Craft with us and you’re going to enjoy her perspective on management and leadership. Now Laine is a publisher, an entrepreneur, an author, an inspirational speaker and an all-around funny and engaging person. I know you’re going to really enjoy her. Laine wrote her first book called Feeling God’s Presence in November of 2011 and she founded a ministry seven years ago called the WHOA Local Ministry that has now exploded into a global community called WHOA Women. She writes weekly as a part of that, speaks all over the place, and is now hosting a national television show that will soon be launched. She is working on her second book which hopefully will come out in the fall of this year. Laine is a lady that has a lot of business background and a unique perspective on how to deal with people and I really think we’re all going learn from that, so Laine welcome to the Manager Mojo podcast and I’m so glad that you joined us today.
Laine: I am thrilled Steve, this is so exciting, I love to share and love to have fun so I hope we can give your listeners some great tips and maybe get some inspiration today.
Steve: That is wonderful. I think we all can use that. So Laine, if you would, tell us first before we get into the management questions, tell us a little bit about WHOA Women — and that’s spelled by the way, W-H-O-A — WHOA Women, and why don’t you tell us a little bit about WHOA Women and some of the cool things that you’re working on right now.
Laine: I would love to Steve! Currently we have a national magazine called WHOA Women magazine and we have had Dolly Patton on our cover, we’ve had Justin Biebers’ mom, we’ve had Gretchen Carlson from Fox. We’ve had some superior covers that we are really proud of. So we have that and it’s available of course on all the iPhones, iPads all of that and online, but it’s also available at Barnes & Noble and bookstores and retail outlets all over the country and famous Christian book stores. So currently WHOA Women magazine is probably our most powerful entity of the WHOA community. We also have a WHOA talk show which is due to air very soon. We’re working on TV contracts, and that again is an inspirational talk show. It’s a talk show that gives a more conservative view of what we feel about America and all the topics and current things going on. And then we have WHOA local which we send to satellite nationally and just all kinds of things. We have an online presence with blogs and social media and we just love being able to reach out to people, inspire them, to encourage them and to hear their story. It’s all based on stories. Everybody has a story, and what we like to do is share our story. We have a faith-based input to that and we encourage others that they too may be facing something but they can get through it.
Steve: Awesome, awesome! So other than that you don’t have anything to do, huh?
Laine: Not one thing Steve, not one thing!
Steve: Let me start today with a little brief background. I know that you have been a business woman for quite some time and that you actually owned both an advertising agency for 17 years and you even started a wholesale jewelry business. Would you tell us a little bit about your business background and a little bit about what you did there?
Laine: Sure — You know Steve, as you can tell I was blessed with an outgoing spirit, so when I got out of college I had a dietician degree and I did not want to work in a hospital. Back in that day, which was back in the late ’80’s, there were not very many drugs on the market. So I really thought I wanted to be a pharmaceutical sales rep and they kept telling me, you are awesome but you’ve got to go get some experience. So I went out of college and worked for a radio station for 6 months selling radio time. During that time I made relationships, at 22 years old, with business owners that inspired me and encouraged me to open up my own ad agency. So at 22 years old, I started my own ad agency. It was open and thrived for years and at 9/11 — you remember 9/11….?
Steve: Of course, we all do
Laine: Well I had three kids in private school, I had household bills and 9/11 literally just took the breath out of marketing for everybody. The dollars weren’t there and so I immediately just thought, what am I going to do? I love crosses, jewelry, and things like that so I researched it, ended up….. You’ll love this, I used to go to Houston, Texas every Saturday on the red eye from Jackson Mississippi and come back on that same day with suitcases Steve, 4 to 6 suitcases, the biggest ones you can buy, full of jewelry that have been brought in and I would cart that and I started a business called Laine’s Wholesale Jewelry.
Steve: I love it
Laine: I ended up having a marvelous wholesale business that concentrated on hospital gift shops, small retail outlets and even casinos. It was terrifically successful and then my husband found success after many years in the oil and gas business and so I got to take a little break and as soon as I did, God woke me up one night and said wait a minute, you’ve got to go to work for me now, and that’s what I do now.
Steve: Awesome, I know that you know, what a great background for business and I can assure you that you’ve learned a lot of lessons over the years in terms of dealing with people and really encouraging and motivating them. So if you don’t mind now, share with everybody, maybe a challenge or two that you had in learning how to manage and lead people and grow these businesses. Of course I know that you use that now even in your ministry works, so give us your perspective on that.
Laine: I would love to Steve, and ironically you know you would think being the veteran I am that I would have learned a lot up until this point. I recently in the last couple of years have made some critical mistakes. So I think this is really important, and I want to encourage those that are out there that are running their own business or thinking about opening a business, the first thing I would tell them Steve that I, believe it or not, I’ve just learned, in the day we live today where you must have contracts with anybody we work with — yes first thing I’m talking about a contract that says, ‘Steve and Laine are going to work together for this period of time, this is the set amount’ blah, blah, blah. I have learned Steve, that people sometimes don’t hold their end of the bargain, and if you don’t have it in writing, you have nothing to stand on anymore. So my first #1 I would tell anybody is, before you do one business, I’m talking about even at your home Steve, if you have an air conditioner man coming in you know, get a contract saying I am coming in to do this for this amount of money and make him sign it.
Steve: So you learned that people don’t always do what they say.
Laine: Correct — and you know, that’s a given. We know that. I mean, you know, that’s human nature. But we’re at a point in time in business now that you’ve got to have all your ‘T’s’ crossed. It’s to protect you; it’s to protect you from people that maybe weren’t going to do it from the very beginning. But you’ve got that piece of paper that you can use and say well, didn’t you sign this? And of course they say ‘yes.’ I say that with all my heart. I say that because why fail if you could do that one thing? There’s nothing wrong you know, if you live in a state of truth, if you live in the truth, there’s nothing wrong in saying Hey, didn’t we agree to do this? Yes. Well do you mind if I put it in writing? And do you mind signing it? You have a problem with that? And if they don’t, then you know man this is awesome, I’m going to get them them and sign it and then you’ve got your piece of paper.
Steve: Awesome, well I can assure you that whether or not you’re either in a small business or if you happen to be — I talk to people about this all the time in corporate America where, they don’t always have written agreements with their employees but the problem is that, they ask people to do things but they never actually put those things in writing, they just think people are supposed to read their mind.
Laine: Correct, you’re talking about a job description aren’t you? I mean they’re hired to do one specific job they feel, or that’s why they took the job and then lo and behold they get the job and now they’ve got these extra requirements or vice versa you know, so there again wouldn’t that be great. Let’s just look at that Steve. If you were employing me you’d say Laine, this is your job description. Do you mind also signing that you agree this is all you’re being hired to do? Look if that’s what you’re hiring me to do and that’s why I’m working with you then yes I’ll sign it, do you see?
Laine: It just solves a lot of problems.
Steve: It’s so much easier in that whenever you really have common ground with somebody else.
Laine: Yes and if you don’t Steve, you’re automatically going to fight a battle, you know you already happen to work every day and make the living and all of that, why are you going to create more battles for yourself?
Steve: Yeah that sound like no fun.
Laine: No, are you waiting for my tip number 2? You’re waiting for my tip number 2?
Steve: I’m ready, go for it.
Laine: Tip number 2 – Do a background check on anybody you do business with.
Laine: I didn’t do that
Steve: What’s tip 3?
Laine: Tip 3 is, feel the need and when I say feel, F-E-E-L, feel the need of others, whether it’s a future employer or if it’s someone you want to go into business with or if it’s indeed a customer, feel their need and then fill it, F-I-L-L their need.
Steve: Cool so feel it F-E-E-L, feel the need that a lot of people would call that empathy
Steve: And then fill that need F-I-L-L, which means solve that problem.
Steve: Wouldn’t all of our relationships be better if we attacked issues that way?
Laine: Well it would, and basically you can, you know. You can transfer that to business or in just pure relationships, but — you know — how can I sell your product Steve, if I don’t know what your needs are?
Laine: I can tell you all day of what I can do for you, but if I don’t know what your specific personal needs are, then I might miss them all completely.
Steve: Right, very cool I like that. Yeah what else?
Laine: Oh I could talk all day, but basically I would say those top 3. If you would do those top three Steve. And the thing that really is on my heart, as I inspire and ignite people to do all that God has for them, but they must protect it. I would say that’s probably been my biggest failure, that I didn’t protect all my hard work. God has been gracious and things are great but if I could help someone else, prevent them from not having the contract with the employer, or not having that contract with someone, a sub that comes into your home. I had a recent incident — my sister recently hired a roofer and the roofer didn’t put the roof on in time and only had the tarp half on, rain came, went through the whole roof, all of her ceilings in the home fell down and we can’t find the guy. , so I mean you know if things happen even in real life — contracts are good to have, contracts are really good to have.
And a background check, because some background checks on a person can show you, hey have they filed their taxes? Are they accredited with their local secretary of state? Are they legal? I mean, those are some very important questions that you want to know before you do business with them. Even as an employer, as an employee or even if you know someone you want to contract out as a subcontractor.
Steve: Sure, sure no question about it. Well one of the things that I’d like your perspective on — I know that you’ve actually created your third different business now.
Steve: So even at 22 years old you went out on your own. Because I’m a father myself, I have two daughters, I think it’s wonderful to see women who go out and achieve the success that you have – they go for it. Do you find that women face special challenges in the business world, and if so how did you overcome them?
Laine: Absolutely, absolutely and you know Steve they just come out, you’ve probably seen these latest figures — and excuse me I can’t quote them exactly, but I believe saw them on Fox News — but I want to say there’s only like 3 states, very minimal states that are paying women more than men now. So women are still not paid equally, okay? I’m not going to fight that battle because that’s not my battle to fight, but it is a truth. A woman is not being paid equal to what a man’s being paid. So number one you just take that. Listen even in the faith-based genre; some people don’t look at women as equal to men, even behind the pulpit possibly. So women do have some things to overcome but I do know this, this is one thing that I’ve learned throughout the years. If you are anointed and you are gifted to do something, nothing can stand in your way except for yourself.
Steve: Let’s talk about that for just a moment, because I tend to teach people that you have to understand what your strengths are, and if you don’t know what those strengths are, how in the world are you going to serve other people? So when you talk about ‘gifted’, are you referring similar to what I talk about with your strengths? Tell us a little bit about your perspective on that.
Laine: Okay sure, well you know there are some things you can’t buy, you can’t buy somebody to be gregarious and outgoing if they’re introverted, correct?
Laine: So that would be a gifting from me, that I’m outgoing, I’ll consider that yes a strength but some people might see it as a weakness because they never shut up. I love to tell people, what do you love to do? What burns your heart out? What gives you passion for life? Someone may say well love, believe it or not, Laine, I have this special cookie. I love to cook. And I go to them and say, well start making some and give them to people and see what they think about them. You find what you’re passionate about then you take what you’re passionate about and see what in you matches that, do you follow me?
Steve: Of course
Laine: And you just start building that, you start building that. But the biggest thing, Steve — as you and I both know — I’m sure you know is taking the leap of faith. Everything I’ve done took me taking the first step. Even though it might be an anointing and a gifting, if you never work it out, if you never dip your toe in the water then you’ll never know.
Steve: Yeah the action is required of every great leader, they have to have actions. It’s not enough just to think it, you’ve got to take an action and you’ve got to attack whatever you feel led to attack.
Steve: You know you were talking about your passion and the things that you love to do. There’s an author that wrote a book called Start With Why. His name is Simon Sinek. What he was talking about is that if you really know why you’re doing things, then it certainly makes your job as a leader a little bit easier because you understand the passion behind it. Have you found the same that I have, a lot of people are taking management or leadership positions but it’s really not their passion? They’re doing it just to get a paycheck.
Laine: Correct, and you know that’s probably the most difficult thing in life, I think Steve. Because there’s a reality. We’ve got to pay our mortgage, groceries and our debts. But then we’ve also got to look in the mirror at night and say, ‘Am I doing everything I’m created to be and do?’ So there is a very large struggle. I have a lot of empathy for those that may not be in their passion but they’re making their paychecks. So again, what I encourage that person to do today, if they’re listening and you’re struggling. Maybe you’re making a six figure income, let’s say, but you’re miserable inside when you look in the mirror and you lay down your head at night. So what I would inspire and encourage you to do is start figuring out what it is that makes you tick and start reaching out and researching and finding out how that can be possibly matched with a job, maybe without that much money but fulfilling something that money can’t buy, and that is your happiness.
Steve: Absolutely, and I just don’t understand how anybody can be happy unless they’re doing those things that they’re really passionate about.
Laine: And that’s why everybody is so grumpy, Steve! That’s why we have road rage, and that’s why we have people that are so ugly at the grocery. They’ll run over you to check out. I mean seriously, people are very angry and upset and unhappy. I think a lot of it is because they’re not doing what they are gifted and passionate about, but could be that nobody’s encouraged them to do that. Maybe no one has never said, ‘Hey you’re unhappy, what is it? Is it your job? What is it? Identify what it is and then help them. Encourage them to overcome that, whether it’s a new job or a new prospective. You know I think this too Steve — I’m sorry but I’m preaching now — if we can just help change perspective, I know at one point, as I share with you Steve, I’ve had great success, my husband and I have had tremendous financial success. Everything that I have done for WHOA Women has been philanthropic. They are LLC’s. They’re growing businesses and you know you don’t see it turnkey for quite some time.
So the magazine and the television show and all the things you see were seeded by Steve and my personal money. I say all this to say there was a time where we were struggling. We were really, really struggling. And we finally had to surrender and just stop and say, wait a minute, let’s go straight to our Maker and change our perspective. Let’s change our prospective and ask Him what we need to be doing, Because only God can really fulfill you. I don’t care what anybody says. I’ve been on both sides now Steve. I have had nothing, I’ve been hundreds and thousands of dollars in debt, and now I have everything that money could buy. I have homes and all sorts of things. But nothing can buy you happiness, nothing. No money…..
Steve: Alright I understand that. You’re bringing up a great, great point that really doesn’t get talked about much. You’re a passionate, faith-filled lady and you trust God. Yet a lot of my listeners, a lot of people that are in business, it’s almost as if they feel like when they go to work that they have to leave God out of the conversation. I think it’s because people think that if they talk about God then they’re actually sharing a witness. But if we look at God, and we look at God throughout the entire world, it’s what do you do. How do you help people that your actions help people see God through other people?
Laine: Correct, I say it’s living the life Steve. You’ve got to live the life.
Steve: It is! So I want encourage people not to be afraid to be who they are. But I want them to understand that other people are looking for them to either demonstrate and live what they believe or not. I think so many people are unhappy at work simply because their manager never once demonstrates to them that they actually care about them as a person.
Laine: Why, that gets back to that feel and fill.
Laine: You know that can be from that point of view you know, do they feel the need of that employee and are they filling it? Are they giving grace and mercy and other things that you need every day from management?
Steve: It’s an interesting paradigm to me that they think that if I show people empathy — if I’m nice to people — then that actually is showing that I’m weak. It’s actually the opposite isn’t it?
Laine: It is yes. A strong leader always has a sympathetic and empathetic heart, absolutely. Without a heart Steve, what are we? Without a heart for caring for others what are we really?
Steve: Good point.
Laine: And I’m just going to tell you — you know I’m bold. I’m going to tell you now and I will go to my grave telling you, without God in the equation in any part of your life and Him being first in that equation, nothing works. Nothing. Not business, not relationships — nothing works without God being first in the equation. This is a relationship, a God that loves you, he created you, there’s a purpose he made you to be here. The God that’s got love that will never leave you and never forsake you. But I’m just very bold on that, both my husband and I, in our business, in our personal life. Our marriage almost fell apart Steve, after 17 years of marriage. We restored and reconciled our marriage because of the love of God in our lives. And so you know, you’ve just got to have God in the mix. You can’t have him at the end of the mix. You’ve got to have him the very first in the mix, and then everything you do will fall into place. But I’m not saying it’s always going to be easy.
Steve: Well, nothing is ever easy as it? Life’s meant to be a challenge.
Laine: It is and let me tell you, I’ve found that it is probably the greatest thing, Steve that I know you probably have found too. In my darkest hour is when I’m closest to God anyway. When I don’t know what the forecast of the business is. It’s at those points that I used to think, ‘Oh you know, this is just a trial and tribulation.’ Now I realize this is something I need to learn from. What do I need to learn from this? That’s a perspective change. I used to look at it thinking ‘I’m being attacked.’ Now I want to know what I need to learn from this, so that not only I can apply it, but I can also tell somebody else what I learned, so they don’t have to go through it.
Steve: And what great advice for any leader. Ask yourself what you need to learn and what can you apply? That’s great advice for all of us to take in everything that we do, whether at work or home.
Laine: Yes relationships – anything — yes absolutely.
Steve: Laine I’m just curious — You’re obviously an outgoing person, and yet a lot of women don’t have your ability to just step up and tell people what they think. Tell me, how would you encourage people to be themselves?
Laine: Well you know Steve I’ve got 3 children. I’ve got two boys and a daughter and they are young adults. Two will be graduating this year and my daughter will be in two years. Specifically the other day, I looked at my daughter and I said, “You have got to learn to speak up for yourself.” And I think that’s where it starts. If there’s something going on, whether it’s at work, home or wherever, and it’s not right for you, then you’ve just got to speak up. So I encourage first and foremost to have a voice, Steve. Everybody deserves a voice. Now we may not agree. You may have a voice and I may have a voice and we may agree to disagree, and that’s great! But at least we both got to voice it. So I encourage people to have a voice. Have that boldness to have a voice, because everybody is equal. Everybody gets equal time down here. God favorites no one, so nothing makes you better than anyone else Steve. We’re all equal down here, and that’s important.
Steve: I totally agree. When you do step up and claim your own voice. I find that a lot of managers and a lot of leaders in companies truly don’t know what their voice is. They’ve suppressed their own thoughts for so long that they don’t feel comfortable even talking about it. So just listening to you today and actually hearing how bold you are at saying what you believe in and expressing your voice, it’s great training and great encouragement for all of us, no matter whether we’re in a secular job or a spiritual or leadership position in a ministry somewhere, it really is all the same. What is your voice and are you listening? Are you willing to stand up and say what you believe and do?
Laine: Let me just add something to that. What do you have to lose, Steve? Fear is probably the number one thing that keeps you from acting. Fear is the number one thing that keeps you from speaking. What I’ve learned to do is work out that fear to the end. So let’s just say, I can’t think of anything real quickly but because I know we’re running out of time, but if there’s a fear you have, I just encourage you today, do not hold on to it. Surrender it immediately and say, “I don’t own this. I’m going to give it to you God,’ and move on. But my point to you is, if you don’t speak up, that’s the biggest failure. That’s my passion. What is it going to hurt for me to be bold today? Nothing! Somebody might be offended. Somebody might not completely understand me, but I did it in love. So I had nothing to lose. I encourage anybody that you know is frightful or has fear, to really get a handle on that. It’s False Evidence Appearing Real. So walk it through and walk it out and you’ll see it’s how I say Steve. Go to the worst case scenario, and you know what you get when you go to that worst case scenario? You think, well that’s not so bad, and then it gives you encouragement and strength to be bold.
Laine: Because the worst is not so bad.
Steve: Well I’ll tell you, Laine Lawson Craft, what a great, great conversation today. That’s a great place to end it. Let’s be bold. Let’s be ourselves. Let’s be the leaders that we were meant to be. I want to thank you and I want to wish you the absolute most success through the WHOA Women Network and we look forward to seeing you when you get your national show aired. That will be fun, and Laine what’s the best way for people to connect with you?
Laine: Sure there are several ways, Twitter @lainecraft, I have a website lainelawsoncraft.com and then of course whoawomen.com. You can buy the magazine there and you could sign in for my weekly letters, WHOA Notes. You can get magazine subscriptions, blogs and all you need at whoawomen.com. We’re also on Facebook..
Steve: I want to encourage our leaders, our listeners today to do that very thing and Laine, thank you so much for being with us today. It’s been a real pleasure.
Laine: Absolutely, thank you Steve!