Lisa Vitale | The Journey to Leadership and Building Apps to Support a Service Business

Lisa Vitale 12:06

Yeah, we did do that. We, we started this journey, like I don’t know, two or three years ago, and we evaluated you know, do we? Do we just use Survey Monkey? Do we use call trucks do we use some other, you know, various out of the box, program applications and then weave them together to do what we do. And we evaluated each of them. And we thought about what it would take to to weave them together. And we were kind of at the point well, of like, that’s going to be almost as much as building our own. And we already know how to do it, we already have something to start with. And our survey tools looks just like Survey Monkey works just like Survey Monkey. So it was kind of like, you know, why would I pay someone else when I could do it at that point?

John Corcoran 12:54

Right. Right. Makes sense. And then you kind of talked about kind of some of the tensions between using an in house talent versus using outside agency. You Any other thoughts on that, for those who are, you know, thinking about these sorts of issues, creating their own app to serve the work that

Lisa Vitale 13:13

they do? You know, I could go back and say that using the in house probably wasn’t the smartest decision, but he was a known entity. And it did serve me well, for what I needed. I think where it got to be hard was when I realized that he couldn’t take us to that next level. And then we had to make that break. And that was hard. It’s hard to make the transition. So in many ways, I’m actually going through that right now. Because I’m very unhappy with the IT services company that we’re using. And we were talking to someone else I know that to consultant, he would work for us. He has his own consulting business, but we’re like, we’re thinking how do we make the transition from this IT services company to this consultant? And that transition? He’s the the the consultant was even like, I really have to think about this, you know, at what point do I do I take it over, because the plan was to have the current company, fix all the kind of major stuff that we need from a day to day standpoint. But there’s still a third of it that they haven’t fixed. And we’re four weeks and this is basic stuff. I mean, this is I’m not talking anything fancy. I’m talking way above minor bugs. And I think that what you need to do is look at each situation, look at yourself and your organization and your growth curve. And then you make the best decision you can at that moment.

John Corcoran 14:45

Yeah. And then also, you got clients that are upset because it’s not working the way that they want to get other clients that are upset because it’s a new system that’s different, even if it’s better. They like the way that they knew how it works. For, and I’m sure you’ve experienced because we just went through this, this year, developed our own some similar solutions, so experienced exactly what you went through. And then how do you, as a leader of this company, figure out how to guide your team on how to rectify things with clients, and when you should step in and when you shouldn’t step in.

Lisa Vitale 15:24

So I do have, I have a leadership team with three people, my Director of Operations, my director of sales, and my director of customer success, and I meet, I meet with the three of them every week, and then I meet individually with each of them every week, so I get a pulse together and a pulse apart. And I, I have been talking to them, I’ve also we have a stand up daily stand up meeting every morning, with everyone there, and we would give updates. And I would talk to people and say, you know, if you need support, let me know, I would also talk to the director of customer success. I’m like, What is your team need, and I was very supportive of whatever they requested. And I very early on, I said, you know, hey, you know, comp as many leads as you need to, for certain clients, like the first they were like, we just want to give everyone 10 free leads or whatever. And I said, Bill, let’s be thoughtful about this, you know, I’m willing to give that to anyone who needs it. I have one client, I just had to get 52 to keep them they were a big client. I said, but let’s choose to pick and choose, you know, those people that you really need to do it with. And then, you know, I also about three weeks, and they said, you know, we we definitely need you to write our clients and give us some cover. So I sent individual emails to all our clients and all our clients sales teams. And I will tell you, you know, like anything in life, you don’t really hear that much back. But I got five responses. And the five people actually liked the new system. They liked the new portal, they liked their part of the interface. And they were very sympathetic. They had all gone through cells.

John Corcoran 17:03

Interesting. Let’s talk about the business a bit. So you were involved with the business, the very beginning, your husband also is in the business, and he had a business partner. And about 1112 years ago now in 2009. You made a decision to buy out the business partner, and you were you met someone who’s going to help you sell the business. But you had an interesting conversation because that person told you something you weren’t expecting. So tell us about

Lisa Vitale 17:33

that. Yeah, yeah. So it was kind of contentious. So after three years, we finally parted with my husband’s business partner, and this consultant. His name is Paul Thomas. He’s actually a professor, I think of entrepreneurship at Northern State Arizona University. I think I have that, right. Anyway, he’s a great guy. And he has been CEO and President of many startups and companies. He hadn’t started a company of his own. But he met with us and he was going to help us sell the business. And after talking to me about for hours, he looked at me and he said, You should be running this business. Your husband should not he should be doing sales, which he’s really good at. And I was like, I started panicking, literally having a panic attack. I’m like, I can’t do that. I can’t do that. He said, Let me talk to your husband. And he spoke to us right

John Corcoran 18:22

there. What do you think he saw in you that caused him to say

Lisa Vitale 18:26

that? Um, I think he saw someone, I’m an integrator. I’m someone that makes things happen. I, I, I’m not as much of a visionary. But if you have a vision, I will make that happen. I have very good follow through. I’m very thorough, I’m very thoughtful. I’m very empathetic and very conscious. And I have the courage to make tough decisions.

John Corcoran 18:55

So given all those things, why did you have a panic attack? Seems like because to me,

Lisa Vitale 19:02

yeah. But I didn’t know I had those skills. You know how somewhere along the line, someone tells you, you have those and all of a sudden you’re like, Yeah, you’re right. I actually do have them. I had, I had forgotten. You know, I was I was a stay at home mom. You know, I was working with a business dabbling in it. But I was both mostly home with kids.

John Corcoran 19:22

So you were the CFO, but it sounds like it wasn’t all that time intensive.

Lisa Vitale 19:25

No, it was definitely not time intensive. So this changed my life. You know, I started coming in 40 hours and started working more and and focusing on the business. This has had been run mostly like to consultants who didn’t like each other. And then when I came in, we started running it like a business.

John Corcoran 19:42

Not much of a business then

Lisa Vitale 19:43

Yeah, right.

John Corcoran 19:46

Right. So it wasn’t so it wasn’t like a team of 30 people that you were supervising. Okay. And you built it up since that point.

Lisa Vitale 19:53

Yeah, yeah, definitely. Were there 16 of us now, at our high point, I think there might have been 18 of us We’ve had ups and downs definitely been interesting. Yeah.

John Corcoran 20:04

And talk about some of the other milestones along the way. I know that this individual, Paul Thomas wasn’t the only mentor that you’ve had along the way. You’re a big believer in both being a mentor and having mentors and coaches. So talk about some of the other coaches that you’ve had. Yeah.

Lisa Vitale 20:21

So I think, where my journey with coaching began was when I joined you about nine to 10 years ago. And that is a group where it’s peers coaching each other, and you’re trained how to coach and someone has a particular issue, and then you experience share around that issue. So I’ve got a lot there. And during that particular experience, and then, through that group, I’ve met a couple of different coaches who have helped me over my life. But where I think coaches took the biggest external coaches took the biggest writing, the biggest step with them is my husband is 65. And he wanted to retire. So he retired about two years ago from the organization. And I have very junior leadership team, the oldest persons 40. And I hired an executive coach for them, I wanted to coach my team up because also with my husband retiring, I want to spend time with him too. So I want to phase out. And that particular coach is Bill Flynn from Catalyst Growth Advisors, and he has really been instrumental in helping my team look out, instead of down a lot of teams, especially when they’re younger, they really want to have a lot of wins, you know, like a lot of to dues and check that off. And yeah, and it’s hard to get them to look outward to think where you need to go into to be that way. So that coach has been very, very helpful for me to you know, and we’ve, we’ve experienced tremendous growth this year, up 60% over last year, or 2%, over the year before, so very extensive from there.

John Corcoran 22:02

Well, and then talk about what role mentoring has played for you, you being a mentor to others.

Lisa Vitale 22:09

Yeah, so I am actually Wendy Pease’s mentor right now. I don’t know she told you that. Oh, no, she Yeah, I mentored her through email. I Yeah. It’s it’s an interesting experience to do that. And I mentored someone last year during the height of the pandemic, and they had an an exercise studio. So that was a very interesting experience. Challenging mentors. Yeah. You know, I’m like, I’m sorry.

John Corcoran 22:32

How do you feel about making hand sanitizer?

Lisa Vitale 22:36

I know, I know, I think she pretty well, that woman is amazing what she did to get through this fender, she’s gonna go go far. But it’s that journey, started with her and with Wendy, and also about the time I really started thinking about being a CEO, President Elect of EO Boston. And, and when I look back, I’ve been taking this journey, every step has been there, without a clear vision of that I was doing that it’s kind of in retrospect, I, I put together a 10 year vision with one of my coaches. And when I started reading through it, it was like, wow, you know, what is what am I going to do when I stopped doing this business? What’s my passion? What’s my mission? And I really want to, you know, help leaders, create leaders within your organization help bring them up so that you, you know, the age old, so you can work on the business instead of in the business. And I think that that’s kind of where I want to end up.

John Corcoran 23:39

Hmm, what are you most excited for? Now, business has grown tremendously over the last two years, as you look ahead towards the future. We’re recording this at the end of December 2021. So New Year’s is right around the corner. What are you excited about next year? Other than getting the app? working flawlessly? Of course,

Lisa Vitale 23:58

well, I was gonna say I’m actually most excited about this application. It is really cool. It is a really even the old one that was dying was a really cool application. And I don’t think we have monetized it enough in the sense that I think we’ve always thought of us as a lead gen company, which we are. But we also have this great tool. I could have been Survey Monkey, if I had the imagination, I could have been constant contact if I had the modulation, my tool did all this stuff. But I didn’t have that kind of imagination. So I want to look at it in a more creative, forward thinking way.

John Corcoran 24:31

That’s great. I want to wrap things up with the question I was asked, which is my gratitude questions. So I’m a big fan of expressing gratitude, especially publicly to those who you feel a bit indebted to so if you’ll go out, look around particularly at your peers and contemporaries, however you want to define that. Who do you respect? Who do you admire who are people that you would want to acknowledge for helping you along the way in your journey?

Lisa Vitale 24:59

There are so many because of the way Entrepreneurs Organization works. My forum, you know, there, there are five of us that have been together for 10 years, and they have helped me through child children crisis, my husband retiring, I was estranged from my father for 35 years, they help me, you know, get back in touch with him, help me through the business dropping a million dollars in 12 months, and how to overcome that and just and how to withstand growing 60% In a year, they’ve been phenomenal and that I can’t even name you know, it as a group. They’ve been really phenomenal to helping me.

John Corcoran 25:38

I’ve seen a lot of amazing things in a row. And I haven’t even been in it for for very long. But being estranged from your father from 35 years was we did your forum inspire you to men that they did.

Lisa Vitale 25:53

And one thing they did is there was a story when I was very much. I was angry at my father for not trying enough to stay in contact, even though I’m the one who broke it off. And one of my email form mates said to me because he had had issues with his father, he said, after his father passed, he realized that his father, his father gave more support to his brother than him. And he resented that he said, You know, I realized in hindsight that my father did that out of love. Not because he didn’t love me, but because he loved me. And that shifted my world. And I thought to myself, well, maybe my dad isn’t in touch with me because he loves me, because he’s respecting the fact that I said, Don’t do that, because it was very destructive to me, our relationship. And it, it allowed me to let him back. And it took a lot of years after that, but it definitely I changed. I forgave him. I moved on it Mr. Perry transformative experience, and it’s transcended my entire life.

John Corcoran 26:51

It’s amazing how that can have an impact in other areas of your life in business and whatnot.

Lisa Vitale 26:57

Yeah, it’s all intertwined. There’s no separate. Right, right.

John Corcoran 27:03

Lisa, this has been wonderful. Thank you for taking the time to talk to us. Where can people go to learn more about you and connect with you?

Lisa Vitale 27:10

Well, I am on LinkedIn, and our website is And we do have a Twitter account and Facebook. That’s pretty easily found. 

John Corcoran 27:24

Alright, Lisa, thanks so much. 

Outro 27:26

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