What Does It Take to Be an Inspiring Woman Leader? – An Interview with Lori Kaiser, Kaiser Consulting (Inspiring Women, Episode 36)
To get to where you want to go, says Lori Kaiser of Kaiser Consulting, you must push out of your comfort zone and into the roles you know you need to fill to reach your goals. Lori joined host Betty Collins on this edition of Inspiring Women to discuss what it takes not just to lead and succeed but inspire others while doing so. Inspiring Women is presented by Brady Ware & Company.
Betty’s Show Notes
For me, an inspiring woman is simply a woman who can fill somebody with the desire or urge to do something worthwhile.
It’s someone who lives their life every day, based on the core of what she believes. And it influences me to be open, and maybe even change.
So, it’s someone who creates a better world. They have to live their lives on their terms. There’s something very motivating about that.
We’re all inspired differently, so take some time to think about it. How can you inspire?
I need to have others around me, who are better, and have different insights, so I can be better. I challenge you to dig deep and realize that you have a role to play in that.
You need to figure it out, and then do it.
Become that inspiring woman leader. I assure you that someone needs to see it and be influenced by you. And by the way, you might already be influencing other women and you don’t even know it.
With me on this episode is Lori Kaiser. She is a chief executive, corporate leader, visionary, and business strategist with a proven track record in assessing risk and creating solutions for Fortune 500 Company C-Level Executives and Boards.
As CEO of Kaiser Consulting, Lori provides clients’ value-based services that allow organizations to navigate transitions and successfully execute critical projects.
Women need to take more risk and be braver in career decisions. Lori gives us insight on that. Her passion about this subject shines throughout the episode.
Her advice to women on how to become an inspired leader. Ask yourself what is YOUR version of success. Be bold, take risks. Be a lifelong learner. And last, but not least, connect with interesting people.
Mentioned in the podcast was Shonda Rhymes and her book Year of Yes.
How Women Rise by Sally Helgesen and Marshall Goldsmith.
And the podcast How I Built This.
This is THE podcast that advances women toward economic, social and political achievement. Hosted by Betty Collins, CPA, and Director at Brady Ware and Company. Betty also serves as the Committee Chair for Empowering Women, and Director of the Brady Ware Women Initiative. Each episode is presented by Brady Ware and Company, committed to empowering women to go their distance in the workplace and at home.
For more information, go to the Resources page at Brady Ware and Company.
So, today, what does it take to be an inspiring women leader? How we need that, how women are looking for that every day, we’re looking out there to see, who can be that person? And I’ve been really fortunate, I’m in the Columbus, Ohio area, and we have so many really good women’s groups. We’re going to have a podcast on three of them tomorrow. And I’m just fortunate that I’ve seen quite a bit of women around me.
[00:00:30] Betty Collins
And who is that inspiring woman in your life? Thank them. Think on why they inspire you. Who do you inspire then? Because you have a role to play in this as well. So, women are not all the same, and what inspires you may not inspire me, but nevertheless, we all need someone who inspires us. And as a woman business owner, a leader, and and someone whose passionate; I’m passionate about the marketplace; I’m very purposeful about empowering women, and supporting the organizations that do that.
[00:01:11] Betty Collins
For me, an inspiring woman is simply a woman who can fill somebody with the desire or urge to do something worthwhile. It’s someone who lives their life every day, based on the core of what she believes. And it influences me to be open, and maybe even change. So, it is someone who creates a better world, and you just, you watch them do it. Inspiring women for me, they have to live their lives on their terms. That’s something that motivates me.
[00:01:42] Betty Collins
Again, we’re all inspired differently, so take some time to think about it. How can you inspire? And get on it and go, and who’s inspired you? And thank them. For me, I need to see other women who have been there and done that, it’s important. I need to be inspired on days when I just feel like giving up. Maybe just a little bit of affirmation. Okay, probably Betty Collins needs way too much affirmation, but sometimes just that simple nudge.
[00:02:12] Betty Collins
And I need to have others around me, who are better, and have have different insights, so I can be better. I challenge you to dig deep and realize that you have a role to play in that. You need to figure it out, and then do it. Become that inspiring woman leader. And yes, you, because I assure you that someone needs to see it and be influenced by you. And by the way, you might already be influencing and you don’t even know it. So, make it a stretch goal, that goal that stretches you.
[00:02:42] Betty Collins
It’s a pretty simple concept. So, today I have a woman who inspires anyone and everyone she knows. She certainly has done that with me. She’s extremely respected and admired, especially in Columbus, Ohio, I can tell you, and outside of that, she knows what it takes to live, and be a professional. She’s a CEO, but a wife and a mother. She’s an expert, she’s successful. She’s even a trendsetter, which we’re going to talk about, just the way she does her business plan.
[00:03:12] Betty Collins
And she’s a pilot and a speaker. That’s a pretty amazing woman in itself. You are inspiring, Lori, and you live it through starting this business, that lets people, mostly women, lead great lives, and allocate more time to get to do the things that are important to them outside of their careers. And of course, I love it, because when you tell your story about it, you talk about, “When many people told me it wouldn’t work, I was going to make sure it did.”
You’ve had things that win in the best place to work for five years award, with employee engagement, over 95 percent. That’s just huge. You have many large clients, and yet a lot of small ones. But you have Honda nationwide, Ohio State, Cardinal. These are big places, L brands, Huntington, and going on 30 years with nonprofits, donating $300,000 of services each year. And I know a lot of those are geared to women. I think this is a really big thing, you gave the commencement address at Miami’s University’s Farmer School of Business.
[00:04:22] Betty Collins
Seven thousand people were there, and I think you even thought maybe you were a little intimidated, right? Teaching at the Ohio State University in their MBA program. You’ve done things, always taking the time to meet and call a woman who reaches out to you, just like when I had this request for you to come and be on my podcast, you were right on it. And you’ve done a lot of hard work and slow work of advocating for social change for women and minorities. And you’ll talk a little bit about some of those groups that you’ve been on.
[00:04:53] Betty Collins
So, Lori Kaiser, welcome to my podcast. I am so glad that you’re here to share with my audience. We would love to get more insight from you as an inspiring woman, so I’m going to start with some questions. And the first one is, I have talked a little bit about you, but just tell me a little bit about you, your husband, those things. If you can just do that first, and then we’ll get into questions.
[00:05:18] Lori Kaiser
Well, first of all, Betty, thank you for inviting me on your podcast.
[00:05:21] Betty Collins
[00:05:21] Lori Kaiser
That was quite an introduction, so I hope I can meet expectations. Let’s see. So, I went to Miami University for my undergrad, and then I started my career at KPMG. And I loved being an auditor. I loved, oh, going to different clients, and working on different teams, and having different bosses. And it was a great job until it wasn’t a great job, when I decided to start my family. I didn’t really want to travel more than 50 percent of the time. So, I quit my job without a plan, and I’m not sure I’d recommend that.
[00:06:01] Lori Kaiser
Freaked my husband out a little bit. But my plan was that I was going to get a plan. And while I was figuring it out, I had some former clients call and say, “Hey, will you come out and do project work for us? You can work whatever days and hours that you’ll schedule, but you know us, and we know you, and we think it’d be great.” And so, that’s really how I started my business. Shortly, thereafter, within a year, I had way more work than I could do myself.
[00:06:30] Lori Kaiser
And so, I started hiring other people that looked just like me; had had a great career, didn’t really want the high number of hours and the travel, and public accounting. And this is early ’90s. So, they pretty much quit, because back then there was full-time work, and stay at home, and really not much in between. So, that’s how I started my business. And now, we have a company of about 80 people, and everybody at our company gets to pick the days and hours they want to work, so that they can have great lives and great careers.
[00:07:09] Betty Collins
I always love hearing it when you’ve told that at NAWBO events, or the Women’s Funds, things like that. Because in the ’90s, you’re right, it was one or the other, and there wasn’t balance. 2020, it’s like, “Oh, we have balance now. We’re at home, we’re at work.” It’s like that’s not what you were talking about, but you really gave women an opportunity to have some flexibility, yet contribute, and by the way, have a great career.
[00:07:37] Betty Collins
So, it’s why when I thought about inspiring women, you were definitely on that, because I know people who work for you and love it. So, talk a little bit about, though, you said, “My husband had a little heartburn,” maybe those are my words, but because you quit your job, and the plan was to get a plan. I’d like you to talk about women and risk-taking, because that was a lot of risk. Women need to take more risk and be braver in those career decisions. Can you just give us insight on that? Because I know you’re passionate about this.
[00:08:11] Lori Kaiser
Yeah, I am passionate about it. I think one of the reasons that there’s a wage gap between men and women, is that men feel more confident raising their hands and taking on a new role, that maybe they don’t tick the box and have every skill, but they’re willing to take that risk to get ahead. And women, generally, want to be more qualified, be able to tick every box, and be 100 percent sure they’re going to be successful. And so, therefore, men are constantly stretching and reaching for higher goals, and getting there.
[00:08:47] Lori Kaiser
And so, I think women need to have more of that risk-taking, because it’s holding us back from getting the next raise or promotion. I think I always tell women that I mentor, who would you rather take a risk on? You’d rather take a risk on yourself. So, take jobs outside your comfort zone, and say yes to things you’re not 100 percent sure that you can do, but you’ll work really hard to make sure you get there.
And when you see yourself get somewhere that you never thought you would get, your confidence builds. And then you’re like, “Well, man, I can really do this.” Betty Collins is that story, when I came to Brady Ware as a CPA, an accountant, and then all of a sudden, I’m in women’s groups, I’m doing podcasts, I’m growing my business right and left, and I’m doing it in my terms, and on my way. And it was a big risk, going to a big firm, when you’re a generalist, and you’re not an expert, per se. You loved auditing, right?
[00:09:54] Lori Kaiser
I did like auditing.
[00:09:55] Betty Collins
That’s okay. I know about auditing, I know about- but it might- you just build confidence, the more risk you take, because you can see you do it.
[00:10:06] Lori Kaiser
Yeah, and I think you can start out small. I like to tell the story, when people first started asking me to speak in public, I would say, “Oh, that sounds really interesting, send me an email with all the specifics.” And then an email would come and I’d see the date, and I’d set up an internal meeting, so that I was busy, and I would email back, “Oh, my calendar is busy. I can’t make that.” Because the whole idea of speaking in public was really intimidating to me.
[00:10:36] Lori Kaiser
And so, I decided that I needed to get over that, if I wanted to grow my firm, and be a subject matter expert. So, I really started out very small. I called up my son’s high school, and I said to the accounting teacher, “Hey, do you want somebody to come and talk about careers in accounting?” And, of course, they said yes. And I thought, “Okay, first of all, it’s a high school, so they’re not going to be listening, probably. And if they are, they won’t know if what I say is right or wrong. So, that’s a very low-risk place to start.”
[00:11:10] Betty Collins
[00:11:11] Lori Kaiser
And so, yeah, I built up from there, to small groups, to 100, 200. And like you said, I did 7000 people last year.
[00:11:20] Betty Collins
That’s awesome. Caroline Worley, who you know, she got me to public speak, and I was petrified, just petrified. I thought, “What would I possibly have to say?” And there was an energy to it when I started it then. I’m still nervous to this day when I public speak, but it’s something- it’s a risk every time you get out there to do it. But there’s an energy to it, and a reward.
[00:11:45] Lori Kaiser
And the more you do it, the better you get.
[00:11:48] Betty Collins
It becomes a natural thing, maybe, or it becomes something that you could do it. And I’ll go to this next question, because when you start being able to be out there, and you could be on stage, you can be those things, you can have impact in a different way in your community, besides your work, besides your profession. It definitely has a big- it’s a big deal in community, and serving in organizations. So, your community involvement with organizations has been inspiring.
[00:12:17] Betty Collins
You’ve given your time, talent and treasure, as we always talk about. And part of that’s why people do, really, inspire and look up to you, and see you as that person. So, share the ‘why’ of NAWBO and the Women’s Fund. Tell us about these two organizations, and the importance of giving. Because it’s a role of an inspiring woman, is, we want more women to do these things.
[00:12:43] Lori Kaiser
So, I first got involved in NAWBO when I knew that I needed to build more of a network and grow my firm. I was a little nervous. I didn’t really want to take on that role, I really liked just doing client work. But again, you have to push yourself out of the role you feel comfortable with, and lean toward the role that you need to grow into. So, I chose NAWBO, and I started attending meetings, and NAWBO was super welcoming to me.
[00:13:18] Lori Kaiser
From the very first meeting that I walked into, it was a group of people that were supportive, who wanted to see you succeed, who were willing to share, not only the things that had helped them be successful, but also share mistakes. And I found that that was a great way for me to start what I considered my stage of working on my business, and not in my business. And then, so, I actually joined NAWBO, pretty quickly, I went on the board there and became the treasurer, and was involved on the board for several years. And that was great.
[00:13:56] Lori Kaiser
When my board term was up, I moved on to the Women’s Fund of Central Ohio. I’m very passionate about women and girls’ leadership, making sure that they’re as economically stable. There’s a lot of families in central Ohio, where they don’t know where their next meal is coming from, and there are- women who head up those families need help. And I’m still very upset about the fact that women still only make 78 cents for every dollar a man makes. So, I wanted to be able to work on social change, and really move some of those barriers.
And it’s so important for women to understand that you just don’t go to NAWBO and become the president. You go to NAWBO, and organizations like it, or you join the Women’s Fund, and organizations like that, partially, yes, for self-development and business development. But you really do go there because we need to inspire women. And so, it’s just part of being that inspiring leader that you are and others could be. It’s a huge, important role that you played in both of those organizations, and that other women can do it, and they need you. So, who, Lori Kaiser, inspired you? Who influenced you? I’m sure there’s more than one person, but who would come to your mind?
[00:15:33] Lori Kaiser
Yeah, many people, for sure. So, my dad was an entrepreneur. He started many businesses when we were growing up. So, he’s always somebody that I saw as willing to do something that other people weren’t willing to do. And that definitely helped me when I decided to turn my consulting into a real business, and even after people told me that it wouldn’t work. And then, also, my mom; my mom was a lifelong learner. She went back and got her undergraduate degree when I was in elementary, and her Master’s when I was in high school, and she was getting her PhD when I was in college.
[00:16:10] Betty Collins
I felt like I was really the King of the Hill when I got my four-year degree and my CPA license. Never going beyond that.
[00:16:19] Lori Kaiser
But you know what? You continue to keep your CPEs up, learning new skills. I think it doesn’t matter if you’re earning a degree. There’s so many ways now that you can grow your skill set, with LinkedIn learning and all sorts of webinars. And learning and growing has never been easier with all the things that are available on the Internet.
[00:16:43] Betty Collins
And also, the whole learning aspect, and I’m sure that you find this as well. As you go to prepare a speech, or you are on a podcast, or you, Betty Collins, start a podcast, what I have learned over three years of doing this podcast, is just, all this perspective from other women that I’ve interviewed. And that in itself is, again, you’re putting yourself out there, but it’s a way you learn without getting a degree, and then you, again, just go, “I could be more. I can do more. I can have more impact.”
[00:17:17] Betty Collins
But I like, always, hearing that, when people can talk about their mom and dad, that those were definitely people that inspired you. With all the challenges of today’s world, no, we’re not going to talk about COVID, and we’re not going to talk about politics and all the things that are going on. What advice do you have to women on becoming that inspired leader?
[00:17:39] Lori Kaiser
I would just share what has worked for me, and some of my core values. But I think that each woman has to decide what her version of success is. So, that you know what you’re aiming for. Some women, it might be, “I want to make more per hour, so I can work part- time and be home with my family.” Some people, it might be, “I want to switch careers or industries,” or it might be just to get that next promotion. So, you’ve got to decide what it is that you want out of your career. And then I also think you need to be bold and take some of those risks we talked about earlier.
[00:18:17] Lori Kaiser
I think that it’s helped me to be a lifelong learner, and be curious. And also, I’m really interested in people; I always want to hear somebody’s story, how they got where they are today, where they want to go. And I would say, be open to the things that you’re most interested in, and let them guide your choices. And I always like to say that I’m super persistent. If you don’t like where you are, then you’re really not done, just keep at it. And be grateful for all the things that your life has brought you.
[00:18:55] Betty Collins
Very nice. Very good. That’s for anybody, what you just said. Whether you want to lead or not, but we all lead in a different way. So, I cannot thank you, sure, for being here today, taking time to do this, and sharing your perspective. I’m truly, truly grateful. I have two questions, one is, where can we find you on social media? Where’s the best place? We are going to have things attached to this podcast about you, but is there anywhere you would want to direct the audience in regards to your business?
[00:19:28] Lori Kaiser
So, you can find my business at kaiserconsulting.com. And we’re always looking for more talented people that like our model, the part-time flexible work model. And then I’m mostly on LinkedIn. I don’t do a whole lot of other social media, other than that. But I’m pretty active there.
[00:19:47] Betty Collins
And then what podcast or book would you recommend to my audience today?
[00:19:53] Lori Kaiser
One that’s really impacted me recently was Shonda Rhimes book; Year of Yes. It’s a very interesting book where Shonda Rhimes goes and spends Thanksgiving with her sisters, and she’s in the kitchen, and they’re all making the food, and she’s bragging about all the things that she’s been invited to do, and parties that she’s been invited to. And one of her sisters says, “Well, you need to stop bragging, because you’re never going to do any of that.” And she went home and she thought about it, and she realized that they were right, that she was letting her fear control the things that she did in her life. And so, she had a whole year where she said yes to everything. And I read that book, and I was really inspired, and I decided that I was going to have a year of yes.
I have not heard of that, I will have to definitely research that. Thank you, definitely, for sharing that. That’s the one I haven’t heard of. So, very good.
[00:20:51] Lori Kaiser
And then there’s a book that I like right now, that I’ve been talking a lot about, called, How Women Rise. And it’s basically about habits that women have that might have been helpful for getting men to where they are in their career, but might be holding them back from getting to the next level. I also like a lot of entrepreneurial podcasts, like How I Built This, and Masters of Scale.
[00:21:17] Betty Collins
I’ve heard, How I Built This. I have not used it though, or I have not listened to it. But you’ve inspired me to do that. So, great, great choices. Thank you so much.
[00:21:28] Betty Collins
Well, I am Betty Collins, and I’m so glad that you have joined me today. Inspiring women, it’s what I do and I leave this with you; being strong speaks of strength, but being courageous speaks to having a will to do more and overcome.
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Betty Collins, CPA, Brady Ware & Company and Host of the “Inspiring Women” Podcast
Betty Collins is the Office Lead for Brady Ware’s Columbus office and a Shareholder in the firm. Betty joined Brady Ware & Company in 2012 through a merger with Nipps, Brown, Collins & Associates. She started her career in public accounting in 1988.
Betty is co-leader of the Long Term Care service team, which helps providers of services to Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and nursing centers establish effective operational models that also maximize available funding. She consults with other small businesses, helping them prosper with advice on general operations management, cash flow optimization, and tax minimization strategies.
In addition, Betty serves on the Board of Directors for Brady Ware and Company. She leads Brady Ware’s Women’s Initiative, a program designed to empower female employees, allowing them to tap into unique resources and unleash their full potential. Betty helps her colleagues create a work/life balance while inspiring them to set and reach personal and professional goals.
The Women’s Initiative promotes women-to-women business relationships for clients and holds an annual conference that supports women business owners, women leaders, and other women who want to succeed. Betty actively participates in women-oriented conferences through speaking engagements and board activity.
Betty is a member of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) and she is the President-elect for the Columbus Chapter. Brady Ware also partners with the Women’s Small Business Accelerator (WSBA), an organization designed to help female business owners develop and implement a strong business strategy through education and mentorship, and Betty participates in their mentor match program.
She is passionate about WSBA because she believes in their acceleration program and matching women with the right advisors to help them achieve their business ownership goals. Betty supports the WSBA and NAWBO because these organizations deliver resources that help other women-owned and managed businesses thrive.
Betty is a graduate of Mount Vernon Nazarene College, a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, and a member of the Ohio Society of Certified Public Accountants. Betty is also the Board Chairwoman for the Gahanna Area Chamber of Commerce, and she serves on the Board of the Community Improvement Corporation of Gahanna as Treasurer.
“Inspiring Women” Podcast Series
This is THE podcast that advances women toward economic, social and political achievement. The show is hosted by Betty Collins, CPA; Betty is a Director at Brady Ware & Company. Betty also serves as the Committee Chair for Empowering Women, and Director of the Brady Ware Women Initiative. Each episode is presented by Brady Ware & Company, committed to empowering women to go their distance in the workplace and at home. For more information, go to the Resources page at Brady Ware & Company.
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