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“I’d like to start a movement to align education and work” With Lauri Klaus, CEO of KeyedIn

I would love to see a greater connection between young students (H.S.) and career paths as education and work are not very much aligned…


I would love to see a greater connection between young students (H.S.) and career paths as education and work are not very much aligned today. There is a mismatch in our transfer from early education to college to getting a job. Providing more empowerment for our young students (who sometimes don’t have a lot of money) is something I’d love to do — especially with the children who don’t have consistency in their guidance from parents (like my Mom who was raised in an orphanage).


I had the pleasure to interview Lauri Klaus, CEO and Cofounder KeyedIn. KeyedIn is a Minneapolis-based company that helps organizations simplify business processes, improve performance and drive results through its innovative SaaS-based business solutions. Prior to KeyedIn, she served as Exec. Vice President of Sales and Services for Epicor Software, and managed more than 1400 sales and services professionals worldwide, generating nearly 200M in annual revenue.

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

My first job in tech was as a computer operator, working the night shift, and I confess to falling asleep one time (New Year’s eve shift). Sleeping cycles aside, I quickly realized that programming wasn’t my calling so I took what I had learned and moved to supporting the dev teams — bridging the gap between the science and the art. That grew into a career as a problem solver for very large companies, which I had great passion for, and for the teams who made it happen.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

Once I started KeyedIn, I truly missed my former team and leadership group built over the last 20 years. As I started a new company, initially, I wanted to bring every single person from my squad to the new venture … but couldn’t afford it. Employees, customers and partners — the whole community — had become a very central part of my life. Everyone knew about my children and who came first, but they also knew who came second.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I had a few unfortunate typos emerge in big moments. I recall sending an important fax to San Jose and spelled it “Hose”; and while in Chile during a big presentation trying to sell a global solution, spelled the country “Chili”. While participating in a consulting conference in Hungary, everyone was asked to sit down when you heard the number of languages you could speak and I was the only person to sit down after saying one language.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story? At KeyedIn, its core values and leadership approach have and always will be “Fairness, Consistency and Predictability.” KeyedIn is consistent, and is predictable to its employees, partners and customers who expect certain things from their software partner. The team works with good people every day and that is what creates positive product communities… and it is a community.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now?

KeyedIn has grown from a start-up to a mid-market company. When you lose count of marriages, births, losses, illnesses, promotions, and other life changing events among your employees, that is when you know you are no longer a small company. As KeyedIn grows, it still makes sure to acknowledge and appreciate every single important life event.

What advice would you give to other female leaders to help their team to thrive?

Get over the small stuff. Focus on what the objectives are for the company and on your leadership. As a busy single mother of four children, I chose to maximize my time at work, as I recognized the importance of doing something worthwhile if I was leaving my children every morning. It is also important to acknowledge when you don’t you know the answer, and be very responsive in finding the answer and getting back. Another bit of advice, make sure to give yourself some time alone, no matter what situation one is in.

What advice would you give to other female leaders about the best way to manage a large team?

Most importantly… be real. Know your team and their families and what they are probably thinking about today. It is important to listen to personal stories, as the team wants to be part of a group that cares. At the end of the day, the most important aspect to any of our lives is our families. Don’t be afraid to be a “female” and share compassion across the board. And at the same time, I am not opposed to a few swear words here and there to emphasize a level of intensity.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

My Mom. I had a lot of experiences in life that were challenging, but they are what made me want to fight very hard for my four children. When I was married, there were a lot of issues that I couldn’t handle alone but my mother, who grew up in an orphanage without her own mother, was always there for me. My Mom would look at me, no matter what age, and tell me that I was beautiful. I held those loving words close to me forever.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I am still trying to understand what “success” is. I want to encourage people to overachieve, to care about their jobs and care about other people. To keep pushing and always move forward. I feel very fortunate to have a great team at KeyedIn. I would have never imagined that they would build this global team that is leading the next generation of technology for businesses.


What are your “5 Leadership Lessons I Learned From My Experience” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. Be real. People will see through fake empathy in a heartbeat. It’s not fair and it is not productive.
  2. Be consistent. If you treat one person in one way, treat all the others the same.
  3. Be predictable. People will not approach you with the challenges of their day if they don’t understand how you might respond. Be welcoming, with an open door policy and compassion. Not a push-over… sometimes the truth hurts. But the truth is easier to discuss if in a F/C/P environment.
  4. Set the goals… plan the work and work the plan. Keep it focused and simple. If the plan is not agreed to then the plan won’t be worked. Have the tough conversations up front and seek out any objections to the plan before you get the team to run towards the goal. Remember, collaboration is what makes a great plan. But don’t collaborate after you have missed the plan.
  5. Recognize people are working really hard. Recognize the big and small achievements. Recognize the personal achievements. Recognize the direct and indirect impacts your team is having on you(?). It is always said “efforts don’t count, results do…”. Results come from when the team is working as a “team”.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

I would love to see a greater connection between young students (H.S.) and career paths as education and work are not very much aligned today. There is a mismatch in our transfer from early education to college to getting a job. Providing more empowerment for our young students (who sometimes don’t have a lot of money) is something I’d love to do — especially with the children who don’t have consistency in their guidance from parents (like my Mom who was raised in an orphanage).

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

The biggest and most impactful life lesson was when I made the decision to move with my parents to Dayton, Ohio. My family moved so many times when I was growing up, (18 times before graduating high school) that they offered to put me in an apartment in Minneapolis St. Paul when a move to Dayton for a job came up. So, at 15, I got a full time job (day old bakery shop) and with help from my Mom and Dad, got an apartment and stayed there. After a few months into my junior year, I realized I was starting to lose sight of career goals and even thought about quitting school (Day old bread pays well …) So, I moved to Dayton Ohio to join my family and enrolled in an executive admin program where I worked half days for a small manufacturing company — and got my start in business.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

On linkedin – lauri klaus

Thank you so much for these inspiring insights!

Originally published at medium.com

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