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Powerful Leaders, No Apologies Episode 18 Podcast Banner


Show Notes

Debbie interviews Stephanie Everett, an authentic and accomplished leader in the legal field. They discuss Stephanie’s inspiring journey from a lawyer to a leadership coach, her commitment to authenticity in leadership, and the transformative power of coaching, along with insights on women in leadership and the importance of diversity and inclusivity in building successful teams.

[6:25] We could all use a coach

[14:31] Overcoming limiting beliefs in yourself

[24:21] Bringing your authentic self

  • Transcript

    Debbie Foster (00:03): 

    Welcome to the Powerful Leaders. No apologies podcast, a show about women who are ready to own their power and change the world. My name is Debbie Foster. 


    Beth Thompson (00:12): 

    And I’m Beth Thompson. Our guests are fierce and fabulous women who are making a difference in their personal and professional communities. Are you ready to be inspired? If so, stay tuned and also check out our website at affinityconsulting.com/powerful leaders. Here’s the show. 


    Debbie Foster (00:34): 

    Hi everyone. Welcome to another episode of The Powerful Leaders No Apologies podcast. Today I’m flying solo, my partner in crime in this podcast, Beth Thompson is not feeling well today, so she got a little bit of a break and we have a special treat for you today. I’m really excited to have Stephanie Everett on our podcast. Stephanie is actually part of the Affinity family here and has been on our list since the beginning, thinking about the other powerful leaders that we want to have as guests on our show. And it just happened to work out that this was really great timing for Stephanie to be on our show today. So Stephanie, I would like to introduce you to our podcast clan. 


    Stephanie Everett (01:18): 

    I am excited to be here. Hi everyone. 


    Debbie Foster (01:21): 

    So Stephanie, I’d love for you to tell your story. How do you get started in this crazy business? A little bit about the Lawyerist story and kind of how Lawyerist joined Affinity. Maybe we could start there. 


    Stephanie Everett (01:35): 

    Yeah, so I’m a lawyer. I’m one of those kids that everyone said you’re going to go to law school. It was just presumed my entire life and I did debate team and all, I guess I just liked arguing. So then people think lawyers argue. I now know that’s not really the truth. So I went to law school and from there I joined a big firm because that’s what I thought you did when you were in law school and made good grades and got an offer to do that. And I had an incredible experience. I really thought I’d retire at that firm. If you had told me then as a law student, this is what I’d be doing now, I would’ve really laughed at you. So from Big Law got a chance to start. My own firm also was never in my cards in my story that I had been writing for myself, but it turned out to be really this cool opportunity to go out with another lawyer and start something from scratch. 



    And it was during that process that I realized I really love business. I love figuring out business, I love creating these things and creating a team and having clients. And so we grew our firm from two to 20 and just under seven years. And that got some people’s attention. Quite frankly, my colleagues were coming to me saying, how did you do that? What are you doing? What’s working? And then it was in those conversations that I realized some things I thought were common maybe and maybe I had something different offer during my time as the managing partner of my firm, I had started working with a business coach. I didn’t even know that was a thing that people did at that time. And I thought this guy, and so I think I can say this to this audience, he was like a typical white dude and he was a nice guy, but I kept thinking I could do this so much better than him. 



    And quite frankly, that’s like a repeating story in my life of mediocre men that I thought I could do this. If that guy can do this, I can do this. So I got certified as a coach and hung out my hat as a now hey, I’m a consultant and a coach to lawyers. I didn’t even know what that meant when I first started saying it, but that opened up all these new opportunities. And so I led an incubator for our state bar in the law schools in Georgia where I was training new lawyers how to hang a shingle and how to develop a socially conscious law firm that introduced me to Lawyerist. I met the co-founders of Lawyerist, Sam and Aaron when I went to one of their events at the time, they had this amazing website. I mean we still have an amazing website, but I knew them because I was going to their website and reading all the articles there about how do you run a business, how do you run a law firm business? 



    And it felt like we had a lot in common and we shared same values and our stories were very similar in that way. So some conversations later they were like, Hey, do you want to come start a coaching community for us? And I thought, okay, that sounds pretty cool. Always take the meeting. Let’s see where this leads. So I joined the team in January of 2018 and we launched what we now call Lawyerist Lab, which is a place for law firm owners and administrators to really come and learn how does this thing work? How do I run the law firm as a business, as a healthy business? I mean lots of us are doing it, but we want it to do it. Let’s do it that much better. And primarily we were focused on solo small firms and that really kind of just then leads us right up to our merger with Affinity because we have known the folks at Affinity for a long time on lots of levels. I was a client when I had my law firm, Steve Best came, and he’s the one who installed all of our technology back in the day. So we had longstanding relationships with you and the team and it just made a lot of sense for us to join forces. 


    Debbie Foster (05:19): 

    Yeah, it’s funny, there’s a couple of things that you just said that I think are really, they were just kind of little parts of the story, but one of the things you said was taking the meeting or taking the call about, Hey, do you want to run a coaching community for us? I say that to our clients all the time. I say, you should make sure you know what you’re saying no to. Because sometimes the initial reaction is like, that probably doesn’t make sense, but it never hurts to take the meeting. And I think the other thing that I would add, which I always, I’ve told this story a bunch of times about when people ask about merging with Lawyerist, I say that Aaron and his wife had dinner in Columbus, Ohio with Barron, Aaron and Barron had dinner and the next day Barron reached out to me and said, the next time you’re in Minneapolis, you should meet with Aaron. 



    And I was actually in Minneapolis and I reached out to Aaron and we met the next day for coffee. And so it was just so funny how everything just aligned and what are we eight months into the merger and it’s been just I mean, transitions are always hard and there’s always things that you have to work out but so worth it, so worth it. And I’m really excited that we have you on our team and I’m really excited to hear a little bit from you about this idea around coaching and how sometimes we joke and say everyone could use a therapist from time to time, but everyone could use a coach too. And I’d love to hear a little bit about your coaching, the coaching side of things, maybe some coaching stories, ideas around women leveraging a coach and women leveraging a woman coach especially. 


    Stephanie Everett (07:04): 

    So much of our story of how we approach our business really comes from us like our own issues and we don’t recognize always when they show up. So I think one piece of coaching is having someone who can help you recognize when those tendencies are coming up, when that part of your story is coming up maybe in a way that you want it to, and so you want to do more of it or maybe in a way that you want to address and change. So I think that in a large part, when we talk about why you might work with a coach, it’s really so you can have that partner who can help you see the things that you can’t see. Somebody once said it’s really hard to read the label of the bottle when you’re inside the bottle. And I think that’s that perspective that the coach is able to bring that sometimes, especially if you don’t have other business owners or partners, sometimes you don’t always have someone at the same level that you can talk to or maybe you do, but just not, they’re not a helpful resource for you. So I think part of what we bring to that conversation is just that awareness and that ability to see things and ask you things that you might not even realize are happening. 


    Debbie Foster (08:19): 

    So tell me a little bit about Lawyerist Lab. We’ll really tell our listeners I know about it, but I want to have you just describe a little bit about what the lab program looks like because you just came back from Lab Con, that’s the Lawyerist conference, the Lawyerist Lab community conference, and I had the benefit of getting to read some of the accolades from the attendees and some of the really just such cool powerful feedback. And so I’d love for you to just share what does that program look like and why is it successful for the lawyers who join it. 


    Stephanie Everett (08:55): 

    Yeah, so there’s really a couple of things. First, in Lab I tell people there’s really three maybe major components of lab. The first is you get assigned a business coach. So you’re going to have someone that you work with regularly who’s going to help you do what I was just saying, help you feel confident about your decisions, help you sleep good at night because you know that you’re rocking it, you’ve got goals and you have a plan to hit them. And if you get lost or stuck along the way, you’re really going to have a way to get that help that you need. So there’s the coaching component. We also have, as you know, just a whole bunch of online resources and tools because sometimes what people need is just information. So you’ve heard I need a marketing funnel, but you didn’t go to marketing school, so what does that look like? 



    So we have every component of your business, we have resources for it online, so financial projections and models and marketing help and templates for building a hiring plan and interview questions and templates to actually attract the right people for your job. So that’s the second big component. And then the third that you were hitting on with our conference is community. There’s something about doing this not by yourself. Just sometimes showing up and talking to another person is so powerful to know I’m not the only one. I felt something was wrong with me. Just having that network of people who are in it. And what we’ve done, and I can’t take credit for this, but my whole team, we have created this place of Lawyerist that is unlike anything else that people have experienced professionally. Usually when they come to our community, they’re just like, and we tell them this. 



    I’m like, look, I get it. I’ve been in lots of rooms with Lawyerist too. You don’t need to puff up your chest, you don’t need to prove that you’re the best, smartest, whatever person in the room. That’s not what this is. This is a place of real human beings where we’re going to be authentic, we’re going to be vulnerable, we’re going to celebrate our wins, and we’re going to be like, hell yes. We are rocking and we’re doing these amazing things and we’re going to say what we’re struggling with because somebody else in the room was struggling a year ago and they got through it and now they might have perspective or something that can really help you. And that is what is so amazing about the lab con experience. Somebody came up to me and actually said, you restored my faith in our profession. I can’t believe that this actually exists in this community. And I cried because I was just like, that’s amazing. I can’t think of a better compliment to receive than that one, and it really isn’t me, it’s just that we’ve put these amazing people in the room who are all willing to do it, and we’ve set that as the tone and that we just get out of the way and we let the magic happen. You told me a story once about 


    Debbie Foster (11:52): 

    Being in a group of Labster and someone presented their problem and you opened your mouth to speak and one of the other Labster said, I’ve got this, I’ve got this. I just went through this and I’ve told that story a bunch of times and I think that that is such a testament to that vulnerability and people being willing to share and not just talk about how everything is amazing, but really getting into the, that was a hard time and I got through it and this is what I did. And so it’s almost like a pay it forward kind of thing. You and the rest of the amazing team are pouring into these people and then they are pouring into each other and helping each other figure out what to do next. 


    Stephanie Everett (12:35): 

    Yeah, it’s really cool. I’m grateful for what we’ve done and for the people that are willing to come and be a part of it. And I don’t know, I’ve been a lawyer for a long time and so it’s easy to get stuck in our own head about things. So it’s nice to be able to create an environment where we can just be people and really help each other and uplift each other and celebrate our successes. I mean, I know with this show we talk about apologies a lot and especially for women business owners, and we talked about this last week at Lab Con. What’s holding us back sometimes is just our own heads because somewhere along the way we’ve been told we can’t, we’re not valuable enough or we can’t own that value. I’m sure you guys have, if I compliment your clothing, oh, I got it on sale. 



    I got such, it’s such a stupid thing. Well, imagine if you bring that I got it on sale energy to your business, and now you’re saying to prospective clients, you don’t even realize it. But subconsciously it’s coming out. And the way we talk about ourselves, the reason some people do really well is because they have that confidence that swagger. People are drawn to that. And I think for a lot of us, we are hesitant because we don’t want to be perceived as confident or arrogant, and so we don’t realize that we’re unknowingly holding ourselves back from our own success because somewhere along the way, our story was don’t do that. Don’t be all that you can be. 


    Debbie Foster (14:11): 

    Yeah. So I want to shift gears a little bit and talk about for you personally, obstacles and challenges. What has been hard in your journey here? Where did people count you out? What are the kinds of things that you’ve had to deal with as you’ve traveled this really interesting journey? 


    Stephanie Everett (14:31): 

    Yeah, I mean, I’m an achiever. My strengths quest, it’s like achiever, achiever, achiever. I’m very similar to you on the disc. I think we’re right next to each other, so I am going to tackle things, give me a goal and I’m going to run through it. So it’s hard for me to think of times when other people have counted me out because remember learning from a very young age, my father was always like, when you put your mind to something, you just go after it and you do it. And I’ve never been the smartest person in the room, but I was going to be the hardest worker, so I was going to outwork anybody to get where I needed to go. But if I’m being really honest with you and your listeners, a realization I had recently by doing some coaching work with people that I was coaching and all myself, I have a limiting belief because if I can just be frank, I make more money than my husband and I’m more successful than him. 



    Objectively on paper, his IQ is higher than me. Remember I said, I’m not the smartest person. His IQ is way off the charts. He’s a genius, but I’m a smarter business owner. I’m a better, and he would say this too, if we were sitting in this room and we’ve always had that conversation and he’s always been very comfortable with the fact that, yeah, my wife out earns me, you go. But I realized that I was placing a limitation because I subconsciously was nervous about outshining him in this way because society or whoever my father says, like a woman isn’t supposed to do that. If I’m really being honest, my dad’s, I mean of course he’s proud of me and very happy with the life I’ve created for myself, but I am not following what he thinks a woman traditionally would do. And these things, these stories seep into our heads. This gets into us and we don’t even realize it. And so I had this aha moment in the last year or two where I was like, I’m holding myself back because I don’t want to make my husband feel bad or look bad about my success. And that’s not something he put, he did not put that on me. I put that on myself. 


    Debbie Foster (16:41): 

    Wow. I’m in that same situation at my house and have been, but I have always been so careful to talk about where my husband contributes where I don’t or wouldn’t be the best at doing. I’m positive he changed more diapers than I did positive, no question about it. Not only did he never miss a game for either one of our kids, I’m not sure that he missed a practice. He was just always able to be there. And I’m super grateful for that. And right now we have two grandkids and one of them couldn’t start daycare for some reasons that don’t really matter why, but he couldn’t start daycare. And my husband said, I’ll be pop’s daycare. And he had the luxury of doing that. And what a gift that has been to my daughter and son-in-law. It’s just been really cool. But it is something that can make you question or limit what you believe about what you should be doing. So I can totally relate to that and thank you for sharing that. Who inspires you? What inspires you? Podcasts, books, authors, Ted Talks. What’s inspiring you right now? I know you are an avid reader and an avid learner, so what’s inspiring you right now? 


    Stephanie Everett (17:58): 

    Yeah, I love all of them. So I, I do read a lot and I’m lucky that I also have a podcast, so that forces me to read because I get to interview so many of these amazing authors on our show, which is super cool. I dunno, I’m looking over at my stack of books. I’ve just really been digging deep into this idea of leadership. So I’m reading a lot of leadership books right now. I mean, I like everybody. I like all the classics, the Simon Sinek of the world and Pat Lencioni and Kim Scott with Radical Candor. I’m a big fan of all of the things that they’re writing about. I just recently got turned on to the new book that I just started, which is unapologetically ambitious and it’s written by this woman I know. So I am just starting it. But I love, we gave it out as one of our lab gifts to a lot of the women picked that we had about 13 different books to pick from. And so it really speaks to that idea of women especially apologizing. And so we should have heard that author on this show eventually. Like, oh, lemme read that. 


    Debbie Foster (19:08): 

    Yes. That’s amazing. So aside from the Lawyerist podcast, which I’m not going to lie, when we were talking about merging and I had listened to the Lawyerist podcast, but I hadn’t really ever connected, you’ve had Pat Lencioni on the Lawyerist podcast and some other authors that I’m like, how did you do that? I mean, I know that we’re in the middle of talking to someone else right now who I think is going to be a really impactful guest on the Lawyer’ist podcast. But aside from that one, what would be your next favorite? And this one too? Not this one, not that one. What’s the other podcast that’s like a don’t miss for you? 


    Stephanie Everett (19:49): 

    I listened to this one that might not be as well known. It’s Coaching for Leaders by Dave Stachowiak. That’s how he says it every time. I’ll have to give you the spelling for the show notes, but he also has some really good people on, and his whole point is that leadership is learned. You’re not born with it. He often gives me ideas and in fact, I’ve gotten a few guest ideas from his podcast for ours. So I like listening to that one. It feels aligned with some of the things that I like thinking about. I know you like Glennon. I just started listening to her though, so I can’t say she’s my favorite yet. 


    Debbie Foster (20:28): 

    Oh my gosh. I love that we can do hard things podcast. I actually have a sign up in my office that says we can do hard things, but it’s not really connected, but I’m reminded of it all the time. But I do love that podcast. So something else that I really admire about you, and recently there’s been a very recent example. You just brought two new coaches onto the team and you have said to me multiple times things like, I’m going to learn things from them. They’re amazing coaches. And not everybody would feel that confident like a lawyer bringing another lawyer in and going, uhoh, this person either does it differently than I do or does it better than I do or knows more than I do. I’d love for you to talk a little bit about how you brought those two coaches in and some of your revelations as you were doing their onboarding. 


    Stephanie Everett (21:24): 

    So we just continue to add rock stars to the team, and yes, I want to hire people that are better than me. That should be everybody’s goal. And does it mean that sometimes I sit and say, wait, what’s my value? Of course I have value, it opens up. Now they can do great coaching and I can go build a new course or I can go build out a new program for our team or something completely different that I am great at doing. So I think it’s recognizing that you don’t have to be all things for your business and you can really hire these smart people to fill these roles. I will still do coaching because I do love it. I love connecting with people, but they are amazing. And I know we talk about inclusivity a lot. It was super important to me to bring different voices to the team. 



    And so we succeeded in that they represent diverse voices, they have different backgrounds. Sapr traveled all over the world, grew up part in the Fiji Islands and part in the us. Her experience with that, it brings something different to the team. It’s new voices, it’s new perspectives, and we know these things are true. All the research is out there, but it’s often hard to execute. And so we were really honest and open in our job posting about, Hey, we really care about diversity and we know we could do better. If you go to our website and look at our pictures, you might think, gosh, they could do better. And yeah, we are trying to do better. And just saying that in the job posting, everyone that we interviewed mentioned that part of our job posting and said, that made me want to apply here. Just that authenticity that you acknowledged, oh, this is an area where we could do better. 



    And then throughout so far, they’ve only been on the team a short period of time, but just in the onboarding, they were asking me questions that were so thoughtful and made me see some of the places where I need to grow and learn. And it was like, oh yeah, and they’ve already brought new energy to the team because that’s who they are and they’re just not going to hold back. One of our core values, as you know, we share it is, I mean it’s the company’s core value is grab the marker. And we want people on the team that are just going to come in and grab that marker and be like, I’ve got this. I’m going, and that is what they are doing, and I just want to hire more people like that. I’m like, can we just replicate that? Because the success the team has already, I feel like it’s all contributing. So they started the 1st of August. We just had a record sales month for our team, and I know that they might not realize it, but their energy contributed to it. We stepped up our game a little bit because of it. And so don’t be afraid to bring smart, amazing people onto your team because it does really kind of just change the dynamics for everyone and kind of gets everybody going. And I’m like, okay, let’s go. What are we going to do next month? So 


    Debbie Foster (24:21): 

    I love that. All right, our final question, what is your leadership superpower? 


    Stephanie Everett (24:27): 

    I just bring my authentic self to work every day. What you see is what you get, and I’m willing to share what I’m awesome at. I know what my strengths are, and so I know when I can contribute those strengths to the team. At the same time, I’m willing to admit what I’m not great at, what I’m still learning, where I need to improve. And my team that resonates with them so much, and they have said that and they appreciate that, and they know that I’m a real person. I’m approachable. I don’t even know how to not be myself. So I’m like, look, guys, I’m figuring this out just like you. There’s no C E o. I wasn’t born with these qualities. I don’t know. You just get stuck in these places and you’re like, I’m doing the best I can. And there’s something about that attitude that I think people appreciate, at least the people that I work with, they don’t need me to be anything more than what I am. 


    Debbie Foster (25:25): 

    I love that. And you’re totally comfortable in that skin, and that’s a really cool leadership superpower. Authenticity. Stephanie, thank you for being a guest on our show. This was really awesome. I loved hearing the stories, and we’ll post links to everything that we talked about in the show notes. And thanks for listening to this episode of Powerful Leaders. No apologies. 


    Beth Thompson (25:50): 

    And that’s a wrap. Thanks for listening to Powerful Leaders. No apologies. Be sure and subscribe to our show and help us spread the word by sharing our show with your network. 


    Debbie Foster (26:00): 

    And check out our show notes@affinityconsulting.com slash powerful leaders for resources and ways to connect with us. See you next time.