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Leadership Lessons on Scaling, Mentorship & Decision Making W/Laura Terrell

By Anthony Taylor - May 30, 2023

What are some fundamental leadership lessons that apply to both the public and private sectors? 

In today's episode, we have a special guest to share her lessons learned. Laura Terrell, an executive coach with a diverse background in various industries, including a role as a special assistant to the President at the White House. Laura's experience spans practicing law, working in global law firms, serving as general counsel for a nonprofit, and advising businesses. She also has a passion for angel investing in women-owned or women-supported startups.

With such a rich and varied career, Laura's focus now is on helping individuals succeed in their respective domains through executive coaching. In this blog post, we'll explore some practical and relatable leadership lessons derived from Laura's experiences.


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Here are some key takeaways from our conversation with Laura:

Embracing a Variety of Roles: Laura's professional journey encompasses a range of roles, from practicing law to serving as a special assistant to the President at the White House. She emphasizes the importance of exploring different environments and venturing beyond comfort zones. As a lawyer, Laura understood the value of engaging with clients and gaining a deeper understanding of their needs. This led her to transition into executive coaching, driven by a genuine desire to connect with people and offer support.

Key Point: It's crucial to step outside your comfort zone and engage with others to gain diverse perspectives and insights.


Validating Challenges and Concerns: One of the common questions Laura encounters as an executive coach is, "Am I crazy for thinking this?" Many individuals feel isolated and unsure if their experiences are valid. Laura reassures them that their struggles are normal human reactions to challenging or difficult situations. Through her own diverse experiences, she can empathize with clients and validate their concerns. It's essential for individuals to recognize that they are not alone in their struggles.

Key Point: You're not crazy for experiencing challenges or finding certain situations tough – validation and empathy are essential in overcoming obstacles.


Exploring Beyond Initial Goals: When clients approach Laura for coaching, they often have a specific goal in mind. However, through thoughtful questioning, she helps them dig deeper and uncover the underlying motivations behind their aspirations. Sometimes, clients discover that their initial objectives may not align with their true desires. By exploring alternative paths and considering different perspectives, individuals gain clarity and make more informed decisions.

Key Point: Dig deeper into your goals and motivations to ensure alignment with your true desires and aspirations.


Learning from Golden Seeds: During her tenure at Golden Seeds, an angel investor group, Laura learned valuable lessons about building effective teams. Rather than shouldering every responsibility, CEOs should surround themselves with the right people who possess diverse skill sets. It's essential to seek advice from professionals who can provide specialized expertise and challenge the CEO's thinking. Additionally, having a solid core team, including a CFO, a sales and development expert, a legal and compliance advisor, and a chief operating officer, is crucial for scaling and growth.

Key Point: Building a well-rounded team with diverse expertise is vital for organizational success and growth.


Balancing Expertise and Resources: While having a team of specialists is important, startups and organizations with limited resources may face challenges in accessing top-tier talent. In such situations, leaders must identify their specific needs and seek out individuals who can provide the required expertise. Engaging advisors who possess industry-specific knowledge and can challenge existing assumptions is just as important as relying on personal networks for guidance.

Key Point: Seek individuals who possess specialized knowledge and can challenge your thinking, even if they are not part of your immediate network.


Other Key Points We Disscussed:

  • The role of resources and seeking guidance in personal and professional growth.
  • Building the right team with diverse expertise for effective decision-making.
  • Balancing the need for specialized knowledge with limited resources in bootstrap scenarios.


Conclusion: Laura Terrell's insights as an executive coach shed light on valuable leadership lessons. By stepping outside comfort zones, validating challenges, exploring underlying motivations, and building effective teams, professionals can enhance their leadership skills and navigate their careers successfully. Remember, leadership is a continuous journey of learning and growth. Embrace new experiences, seek diverse perspectives, and surround yourself with the right people to unlock your full potential as a leader.

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