women / Women in Business

Meet Woman in Business Jen Lawrence

Meet Jen Lawrence, Consultant and Author, Engage the Fox – WE Magazine February Woman in Business"Meet Jen Lawrence, Consultant and Author, Engage the Fox"

Tell us about your business (what product or service you provide and who your target audience is) I help companies improve their critical thinking skills by teaching employees how to think strategically. Having a good thinking process helps you make better decisions that are more likely to be implemented successfully. I’ve recently published Engage the Fox: A Business Fable About Thinking Critically and Motivating Your Team, which outlines the thinking process we teach to corporations and to university students. The book is written as a fable (think The Wind in the Willows) since fiction is a great simulator for the thinking process. I’ve been told it’s a lot more fun to read than the average business book too.

Please tell us what being a business owner means to you and why you became an entrepreneur in the first place? I took some time away from the workforce to have kids after working in banking and running a not-for-profit. While I was at home, I built a couple of online brands and did a lot of freelance writing to keep my head in the game. When I thought it was time to go back into the corporate world, I did one of those on-ramping programs for moms. After being told that I’d likely have to take a big demotion and cut my hair if I wanted to rejoin the corporate world, I decided that an entrepreneurial path might suit me better at this phase in my life. I’m grateful for the career counselor who looked at my resume and advised me to do my own thing.

What or who has been your greatest influence in business and why? Kelly Cutrone, who runs People’s Revolution, is a huge influence. She runs her business on her own terms, refusing to be defined as just one thing. I love that.

What would you say is your greatest professional accomplishment to date? Getting Engage the Fox published was a huge accomplishment. The publishing world is like the wild west these days and there were a lot of things to consider so it feels amazing to see the book in my local bookstore.

What’s the best advice you have received in business that you wish to pass on to our readers? Have a very clear vision of what you want. Life throws a lot of obstacles and opportunities our way and it’s easy to get sidetracked. I have a big vision board that I keep in my bathroom so I see it several times a day. With a clear vision in mind, it’s easier to make decisions that bring you closer to meeting your goals.

What has been the most effective marketing initiatives or programs you have used to promote your business? I love social media. It’s great to be able to engage with potential clients and readers directly. It’s a very democratic process. I’ve blogged since 2003 and a lot of opportunities have come my way because of my writing.

What one thing have you learned as a small business owner that has served you well over the years? Enlist an unofficial board of directors. There will be areas where you have no expertise and you need to know people who can tell you how to navigate areas that fall outside your knowledge base.

Are there any resources or tools you’d like to share with other small business owners that have helped you run your business? If yes, please describe (and include links if available). The web is your best friend. People are incredibly generous and instructions for everything from designing a website to developing a marketing plan to setting strategy can be found online. Even if you are planning on hiring a professional to help you (which, as a consultant, I highly recommend!) doing some upfront research will give you the language you need to ensure you hire the best.

Do you have any new projects coming up (or have you just completed a big project ~ reached a milestone, etc.)? If so, please tell us about it. I’m now starting to work on my next book, which is a leadership guide for women and the companies that want to successfully engage their female employees.

What do you do for fun/relaxation? I read, write, ski, exercise, and hang out with my family. I’m also a huge movie buff and a fashion magazine addict. I have the kind of work that can be 24/7 so I try to force myself to get away from the computer screen from time to time.

What is Number One Business Goal you plan to accomplish over the next year?

I’d love to get Engage the Fox into the hands of more people since I believe that if you know how to think, everything else in life becomes pretty straightforward.

You want to write a book on…. how women can thrive in business on their own terms. I come out of pretty male-dominated industries and while they actively hired women, a lot of women did not stick around to make it to the senior levels because we were asked to sacrifice too much of ourselves. You can have kids, have long hair, be emotional, wear stilettos, and still rock a boardroom. I’d like to see all sorts of styles accepted in the workplace. That’s true diversity and allows you to better serve a broad client base.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers? If you have a dream, go for it. I’ve run into lots of people who say, ‘I want to write a book/start a business/blog/travel/learn to ski’ and I’m always telling them to do it. It really is that simple.

What’s the best way for our readers to connect with you (feel free to include the links to your social networks and websites)? You can find me on my business blog, engagethefox.com, and on Twitter at engagethefox.

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