~ Leading With Liza ~
- 1: Where are you from?
My life's journey, from growing up with my grandmother in Florida to creating 'Leading with Lisa,' shows how determination and growth can really make a difference. When my mom passed away at a young age, education became my way out of tough times. I had a lot going on – working part-time, helping in my community, and even teaching myself Spanish. I never gave up.
Getting a scholarship to the University of Tampa was a game-changer. I was the first in my family to go to college, breaking a cycle. During college, I had the opportunity to study abroad in Europe. I lived in Ireland, England, and Italy, where I immersed myself in different cultures, languages, and fashions. This experience ignited my entrepreneurial spirit, fueling my desire to start my own venture one day.
After college, I worked at the Treasury Department, Congress, and later in healthcare, where I climbed the corporate ladder to the executive leadership level. Along the way, I saw leaders not always doing right by their teams. Then the pandemic hit, and I felt compelled to help in a greater way. My experience and passion have inspired me to promote values-based leadership as a powerful tool to combat the detrimental effects of bad leadership on companies. By emphasizing the importance of ethical decision-making, fostering a positive work culture, and prioritizing the well-being of employees, values based leadership has the potential to transform organizations by transforming the individuals who work in them. I wanted to help employees feel valued and be themselves.
That's how 'Leading with Lisa' was born. My mission is simple: caring for employees and letting them be real. This small change can lead to big transformations in people's lives and how they connect with others. My own journey taught me that education, being true to yourself, and sticking to your values can bring real success in life and work.
2: What schools have you attended and degrees have you earned?
My journey through education has been a vibrant mix of health administration, economics, and computer information systems, accompanied by some amazing international adventures that have truly enriched my growth as a person.
Starting off, I earned my Master of Health Administration from the University of Southern California in May 2019. This program gave me a deep grasp of healthcare management, policy, and operations. I'm incredibly proud of the fact that I maintained a perfect 4.0 GPA throughout this challenging program.
Before that, I dived into a diverse undergraduate education. In December 2004, I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and a Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Systems from the University of Tampa.
Internationally, I had some incredible experiences too. In 2004, I studied for a semester at the National University of Ireland in Galway, spent a summer at Apulia University in Rome/Lecce, Italy, and also got the chance to study at Huron University USA in London, England during the same period. These opportunities opened my eyes to various cultures, fashion, communities, and unique business and individual viewpoints. These experiences mean so much to me, and they've shaped the way I see the world.
My travels around the world, both for learning and personal growth, have become like a cornerstone for me. This is why I offer experiential capstone self-discovery trips to really accelerate learning for my coaching clients. My international travel experiences have given me a deep understanding of diverse perspectives from places like Ireland to Kenya. Learning about struggles and successes from different viewpoints has shown me just how complex the world is. Seeing the beauty of the world through different lenses when I was young ignited my curiosity and identity. My desire to explore and understand it all has turned me into someone who loves understanding cultures and believes in learning through experience. I didn't want to just study in another state; I felt a strong pull to explore the world, gather information, connect dots, and fuel my endless curiosity.
Looking back, my education has been a mix of accomplishments, exploring different countries, and always staying eager to learn more. These experiences have not only given me knowledge but have also lit up my passion to contribute positively to healthcare, fashion, marketing, business consulting, and technology. The choices I made about my education and fields of study helped me find my true self. Seeing individual expressions and meeting unique personalities during my travels and learning journey has been a true inspiration.
3: At what time did you discover you had great leadership skills?
Growing up, I faced the tough loss of my mother at a young age. But my grandmother became my rock, taking care of three kids on a tight budget, one of whom had special needs. Her strength taught me important lessons about being tough, graceful, and creative when life gets tricky.
When I was in high school, I learned the power of choosing a unique path, which shaped my life choices. And when I started college, I decided to explore the world for a broader experience. This led me to Washington, DC, where I learned a lot and got better at being a leader by working with different groups.
This part of my journey taught me something really important: even really successful leaders benefit from having great mentors and coaches. I saw that some leaders did well at work but struggled in their personal lives. This showed me that growing in every way is important. While working at big companies, I understood that being good at the job isn't enough – having good "people skills" and “relationship skills” matters too. I realized that the best leaders work on themselves, which makes them not only better at their jobs but also brings balance to their lives.
In the past year, I've seen how fashion can be a way to express who I am on the inside. I found that colors, patterns, and styles can show the world what's in my heart and mind. I knew I was being true to myself, so I got a stylist to help match my inner beliefs with my outward look. My stylist helped me show the world who I really am. It's like a mirror reflecting my identity and the image I want to share with others.
4: Who were the top 3 people who have encouraged you in your life, and how did they do it?
I owe a lot to the people who've stood by me – my cheerleaders, mentors, family, and close friends. They've been there every step of my journey, and I truly believe that having the right people on your team can inspire you to achieve big things, both in and out of work. The individuals I hold close each bring their own strengths to my journey, whether they're mentors or family, and each one has played a big part in where I am today.
There are three groups of people in particular who've been foundational in my life's journey:
1. Suzanne Blackburn, my mentor, has been a constant support from the start. She's boosted my career, always believed in me, and helped me get better. When I was unsure about getting into the USC Master's program, she told me that leaders face challenges together and taught me how to learn from tough times.
2. Reconnecting with my paternal family opened up a whole new network of support. They've given me strength and confidence to face anything that comes my way. Their unwavering encouragement has pushed me to live by my values and be strong in the face of challenges. Before this, I didn't realize how important it was to know myself and fully embrace my heritage.
3. My college friend Heather is my biggest fan. She celebrates my wins and pushes me to go beyond my comfort zone. Her positive influence has shown me how important it is to keep growing and believing in myself. She's been a real champion for me. More recently, my close friend, Lizeth Alvara, has been both an inspiration and an advocate for me, and I’m so grateful for her. She is a positive force in my life, deeply rooted in her faith, down-to-earth, graceful, and a high achiever. Additionally, as a fellow Latina, Lizeth understands the challenges I face as a minority and female business owner, and I appreciate her support as I continue to grow and expand Leading With Lisa.
All these amazing people have made me who I am today, and I'm truly grateful for their unwavering support.
5. When did you establish "Leading With Lisa and why?
The whole idea came from my strong love for smart leadership and the way changing and growing can really make a difference, especially from my time working in healthcare. I've seen that when leaders care about others and lead in a thoughtful way, big and good things happen. Our company believes in this, and we're here to not only help people we work with, but also to help companies and leaders do their best.
As I've grown in my career and in my personal life, one thing has stayed the same: being real and true to yourself is super important. When people, whether they're workers or bosses, understand themselves and what they want to give to others, they become really comfortable with who they are. And this doesn't just affect them – it goes way beyond that.
I've seen lots of people, companies, and teams struggle to figure out how to be good leaders in a world that's always changing. The usual ways of leading often just focus on goals and numbers, and forget about the human side of things. That's why I wanted to create a space where personal growth and being a great leader go hand in hand.
At Leading With Lisa, we bring together leadership and personal growth so that leaders and their teams can do well and make a positive impact. The journey so far has been amazing, and I'm really excited about the great changes we're bringing to the people we work with.
6. . In your opinion, what are the core traits which need to be established to become a successful leader?
From what I've learned, being a successful leader means having more than just professional skills. It's about having a bunch of qualities that help people lead well. Let's talk about the main qualities I think are really important for becoming a great leader, using the LISA model.
Life-long Learning (L): Good leaders are always growing. They know that learning isn't just in school – it's a lifelong thing. Leaders who are open to change, learn from what happens, and keep getting new knowledge can make smart choices and lead in a flexible way.
Integrity (I): Being honest and having strong values are super important for real leadership. Leaders who are truthful, ethical, and follow their good compass build trust. They're clear about what they're doing, take responsibility for their actions, and show their team what's important.
Strengths (S): Effective leaders discover their own strengths and recognize the unique talents of their team members. Everyone has special skills. Leaders work on enhancing these skills rather than dwelling on weaknesses. When leaders match skills with tasks, the team performs better work and stays interested. Our goal is to nurture brave leaders who show courage in both their work and personal lives. Strength, in our view, means being firmly rooted in your values, having confidence in your worth, being open to vulnerability, speaking honestly, and acting with integrity. All of these qualities require significant courage and personal development.
Awareness (A): Self-Awarenees and knowing your values is a big deal for leadership. Leaders who get their strengths, weaknesses, feelings, and reasons are ready for problems. When leaders understand their values and stick to what they believe in, their choices mean something more and they get better results.
I made the LISA model to help out businesses, people, and leadership teams. These qualities help leaders reach their own goals and guide their teams to success. It's about knowing that leadership is always about getting better, and with these qualities, people can make a big difference at work and in their lives.
7.What do you look for when choosing your winning team?
I pick teams that fit with my brand’s strategic vision and believe in the same values and philosophies that I do. Having a good team vibe is super important because it affects how well we do. I want other pros who are on the same page to do great things together. Whether I'm working on a fashion project or choosing a marketing team, I look at some important things to make sure we're a strong, values-driven, and quick moving team:
1. Same Values and Philosophical Fit: I make sure the people I work with have the same values and ideas. This helps us work together really well.
2. Skills and Experience: I go for people and groups that know a lot and have done a lot in their area of expertise. They've done great things before, and that helps our whole team.
3. Reputation and Respect: I like working with people who everyone in their field looks up to. This makes our work more professional and credible.
4. Strategic Partnerships that Work: I believe in teaming up with different experts like photographers, marketing professionals, legal support teams, and more. Teaming up with them makes our skills better.
5. Focusing on Our Goals: My team and partners all work on the same four main things: coaching and growing people, helping companies, working with the government, and joining up with communities (like modeling and influencing).
Even in my modeling and fashion jobs, teamwork is always on my mind. I believe in the power of working together and forming strong partnerships. The combination of my passion for fashion, my admiration for the industry, and my smart collaborations is what drives me. Recently, I had the opportunity to collaborate with celebrity designer Ean Williams. He styled me in Corjor International SS2024 for Copa Style Magazine's October fashion issue, and I couldn't have been happier.
8. Why is it important to clearly define your goals before moving forward with a project?
Setting our goals from the start is really, really important before we begin any project. I like to compare it to how we handle relationships. Both in our personal life and at work, having clear goals is the key to success in relationships. Think about how we deal with family, friends, and even people we work with – it's all about goals. When we know what we're all trying to do together, it helps us see if we're on the right path.
This understanding is super important because it helps us figure out if we're moving in the right direction to get what we want. Without a clear goal, we might just drift around without any real purpose. But when we have a clear goal, we know where we're headed and what we're working for.
Having clear goals is like making sure everyone's reading the same book. It gets everyone, like team members and partners, on the same page and working together. This stops misunderstandings and helps people work together better. Most businesses I work with want to know how they're doing and if they're getting better. For me, I use my own goals to see if I'm moving in the right direction, and if not, I make changes. I also love being creative and curious when I set goals! I'm interested in learning about people's life stories to understand how their experiences have made them who they are.
When we see why our work is important, we get more motivated. Clear goals give us a sense of meaning and a reason to try hard and do our best. I've also seen that clear goals build trust in relationships – with friends, colleagues, family, and even in romantic relationships, all of which match up with what Leading With Lisa stands for.
9. Please tell us about your wonderful work at "Leading With Lisa?"
Here at Leading With Lisa, we're all about conscious leadership and the amazing changes it can make. We're a company that focuses on conscious leadership, which means we want to help leaders be amazing while also making things better. Our main goal is to help people, companies, and teams do their best by working on themselves.
To me, helping leaders and companies grow isn't just about teaching them skills. It's about making leaders who are really connected to their own experiences, values, and what they stand for. I wanted to make a company that helps people be true leaders, lead with their hearts, and make good things happen – not only in their jobs but also in their lives and for the people they lead.
Our main thing is to help people feel strong. I give them special advice and plans to help them do their very best, no matter if they're at work or not. I know that getting better is the base for good leadership, so I focus on knowing yourself, understanding your feelings, and growing in all ways.
For companies and teams that want help with leaders, we have special classes and coaching sessions that help people talk and work together better and know what they're working for. We ask leaders questions that make them think about how they can make relationships better. We teach them how to handle their own feelings and also make sure they have good support systems at work and at home. It's all about finding balance, and our way of doing things is all about learning forever.
By starting with great leaders, we make sure the whole company becomes a better place. We help make a nice work culture where everyone can grow and do well. We also help people who want to be better leaders by themselves. One thing that's really cool about Leading With Lisa is that the big lessons don't stay at work – they go back home with everyone, including the leaders and all the team members. It's a win for everyone!
10. What does the future hold for Lisa and her personal development system?
The possibilities are endless! In the world of leadership, my aim is to keep working with teams and companies to help them reach their goals with purpose. I also want to change the way individual brands and businesses work, so they can make a big impact and be successful in their communities.
Conscious leadership really shines when leaders focus on leading well, taking care of themselves, and working together in a good way. My plan for the future is to help different groups – individuals, companies, the government, and communities – learn these strategies and be awesome leaders. I want to see a new generation of workers and bosses who make positive changes both at their jobs and in our communities. It's really amazing to see how different industries can change for the better, and it's great to be a part of that.
I'm also teaming up with a group of four awesome women entrepreneurs called the Women Who Manifest. With Leading With Lisa and these other successful women, we're creating a space to help and lift up other women. Our goal is to give women the tools and confidence they need to turn their dreams into reality and do their very best.
Through different events, conferences, and workshops, Leading with Lisa is helping Women Who Manifest bring this vision to life. We want to help people grow, feel good about themselves, and make strong connections. Together, we know we can make our dreams come true and find lots of opportunities.
My life story isn't just about what I've done. I've also faced big challenges and hard times in my community. That's why I want to give back. Leading With Lisa helps with leadership coaching and finding your true self – not just at work but in every part of life. But I want to do more. I dream of creating something that helps people from underprivileged backgrounds and low-income areas who want to start businesses. This project would expose them to the support they need to succeed, just like I needed when I was starting out.
I would like to express my gratitude to Ron West for his unwavering support, mentorship, and advocacy of our Leading With Lisa movement. Ron has played a crucial role in our journey, providing invaluable guidance and encouragement. His dedication and belief in our cause have been instrumental in our success.