The very things that people love about you will also be the very things that make them dislike- I had taken a job once before in an executive role. I was hired for my understanding of the role, my frankness, my ability to lead, and because I had been raised in the community. After settling into the role, being very frank and having a keen understanding of protocol and policy became a sticking point for outside forces to demand that I not be allowed to attend meetings. They simply were no longer interested in what I had to say. I learned quickly that your traits can be gifts and seen by others as a curse.
As a part of our series about strong women leaders, we had the pleasure of interviewing Ladi Goldwire.
Ladi Goldwire is a State licensed General Contractor and Building Code Administrator certified through the International Code Council. She has over 15 years of experience in the construction industry. Her primary focus has been in the creation and expansion of small to medium size construction firms. She has found a passion in hemp construction which is sustainable and economical. Ladi is extremely dedicated to mentoring and empowering women in business.
Ladi Goldwire is a strong black woman who stands out — literally. She is a female construction worker with over 15 years in the business. She owns BrinMar Construction & Development Group Ltd, a design build company. In an industry dominated by men, Ladi has learned how to be a strong, effective woman who likes to wear pretty clothes and shoes while pounding a hammer! She is well respected by her male peers for her “can do’’ attitude. Ladi is a firm believer and advocate for hempcrete — a sustainable building tool that is not widely used in construction.
BrinMar Construction & Development Group Ltd. (brinmarelite.com) is a Florida licensed General Contracting Firm headquartered in West Palm Beach, Florida. With several locations throughout the State, Brinmar is dedicated to giving it’s clients the most desired and hassle free renovation experience. Our tradesmen and women are the best in the industry with tried, tested, and proven processes that safeguards every step of the project.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?
My backstory is rooted in hard work, perseverance, and grace. I was once of the belief that I stumbled into my industry(construction)-that I found it. Deep thought has convinced me that it found me. I was, and am still very much a daddy’s girl. He was a block mason by trade and spent time hanging out around construction sites, which became my favorite pastime. Fast forward 30 years and here I am.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
There never is a dull day when leading a company. I am constantly finding myself in interesting settings. I would say that the most interesting is when people are taken off guard at the discovery of me (a woman of color) being in the construction industry.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting?
Once I ordered 270 cubic yards of sand for a project when we only needed 27. There was enough sand to replenish a beach. I definitely learned to triple check my orders moving forward.
Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Pay attention. Accept responsibility. Find humor in everything.
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?
Yes, there was a fearless community advocate who encouraged me to boldly pursue a career as a general contractor. That was almost 20 years ago and her name was Lynne Hubbard.
Can you share a story about that?
I had children very early in life while being very young. The choice to do so made it difficult for me to sort through what I wanted to do with my life. She made it a point to pour advice and lessons into me and to make sure I understood the importance of wanting to do the same for someone else.
In my work, I often talk about how to release and relieve stress. As a busy leader, what do you do to prepare your mind and body before a stressful or high stakes meeting, talk, or decision? Can you share a story or some examples?
I believe in the power embedded in silence. I try to get still enough to listen beneath all of the noise I found myself surrounded by. It usually involves me finding the nearest body of water or long car rides.
As you know, the United States is currently facing a very important self-reckoning about race, diversity, equality and inclusion. This may be obvious to you, but it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you articulate to our readers a few reasons why it is so important for a business or organization to have a diverse executive team?
First and foremost, fear can only be resolved with understanding. A desire to understand and to be understood is critical to working through barriers that race and diversity misconceptions can bring about. It is so important for organizations to encourage equality and inclusion because people need to see themselves and feel as if they are being included. The world is changing and being pressed to lean into a space of inclusion. I would love to add also that while equality is great, organizations should also be thinking race and diversity equity as well. Being treated the same and equal is always the goal but to encourage that persons of different races, backgrounds, etc. can secure an equitable stake in company growth and expansion is absolutely the gold standard.
As a business leader, can you please share a few steps we must take to truly create an inclusive, representative, and equitable society? Kindly share a story or example for each.
As a leader you have to keep yourself open to the possibilities of change.
You have to listen beneath the noise, trust in the hidden values embedded in different perspectives. Remain open to leading from the rear.
Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. Most of our readers — in fact, most people — think they have a pretty good idea of what a CEO or executive does. But in just a few words can you explain what an executive does that is different from the responsibilities of the other leaders?
An executive is someone who because of their senior status in an organization, has been charged with putting a plan of action into full motion. An executive has to pull together all of the resources and intel afforded to him, or her and create an environment, service or product that will ultimately appeal to consumers. An executive has to be tapped into their team and those leaders subordinate to them, and they have to be able to inspire them to crush company goals. It is the senior status that sets the executive apart from other leaders within the organization. Intuition and a willingness to accept the full gambit of responsibility in the organization’s failures and success that distinguishes the executive.
What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a CEO or executive. Can you explain what you mean?
Many people are under the impression that CEO’s by mere title alone are “sub-human” for lack of a better word. I believe that the title can sometimes be a barrier to authentic conversations with individuals within the organization. But, I also believe that it is the responsibility of the CEO to make the people within the organization understand the company objectives; creating excitement and enthusiasm around crushing company goals. CEOs are typically dealing with the same day-to-day concerns about life and impact that members of their team are and communicating the desire to connect is important.
In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by women executives that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?
Being seen as a formidable player in the game of leadership is a real challenge for women executives. For example, in my line of work as a General contractor and construction manager, I have often faced inquiries of experience and competence simply because I am a woman. For all of the things that I thought would be problems associated with my race- that has never really been the issue. I have met the most resistance because of my gender. Women lead differently. I like to believe that the difference in our styles of leadership in comparison to men serves as a benefit to the companies we are attached to. Intuition and the ability to reason with a third eye is a skillset that women can tap into relatively easily. I like to view the challenges laid before us as opportunities to demonstrate exactly what we can do when put to the test.
What is the most striking difference between your actual job and how you thought the job would be?
The difference would have to be rooted in access to everyday people. I presumed that I would be tucked away making heavy decisions for the company and would likely have very little interaction with staff. My actual job is uber dependent on the experiences and recommendations from the people with feet on the ground. It has become the highlight of what I do.
Certainly, not everyone is cut out to be an executive. In your opinion, which specific traits increase the likelihood that a person will be a successful executive and what type of person should avoid aspiring to be an executive? Can you explain what you mean?
I think it looks different depending on the industry you are in. In construction and specifically in this new lane of construction (hemp) I have landed in, character traits most conducive to success is having an open mind and the ability to think as if there is no box. There is the willingness to learn something new every day. A successful executive should be able to strike a healthy balance in trusting themselves but also trusting the data relative to industry success and failure. Finally, a successful leader has to have the ability to pivot quickly. If the year 2020 did not teach us all that we have to be ready to adjust at a drop of a dime, I am not certain what will. The difference would have to be rooted in access to everyday people. I presumed that I would be tucked away making heavy decisions for the company and would likely have very little interaction with staff. My actual job is uber dependent on the experiences and recommendations from the people with feet on the ground. It has become the highlight of what I do.
What advice would you give to other women leaders to help their team to thrive?
Do not expect anything to be easy however, don’t look for it to be impossible either. I believe whatever is happening to you is absolutely happening FOR you as well.
How have you used your success to make the world a better place?
Understanding that each experience is making me better gives me the fuel and ammunition- the motivation to make the environments I enter into better as well. This year was full of surreal moments. Black Lives Matter movements, unprecedented occurrences triggering tough conversation around race relations, gender equality among other things just really highlighted the layer of my personality that has always operated from a stance of advocacy. I attempt to use my voice and the very unique choices I have made by way of a career as a means to point out the inequities in our society. I have to start with what I can manage and in doing that I have chosen to home in on impacting my local community. If we all start there changing the world becomes far more tangible.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)
- The very things that people love about you will also be the very things that make them dislike- I had taken a job once before in an executive role. I was hired for my understanding of the role, my frankness, my ability to lead, and because I had been raised in the community. After settling into the role, being very frank and having a keen understanding of protocol and policy became a sticking point for outside forces to demand that I not be allowed to attend meetings. They simply were no longer interested in what I had to say. I learned quickly that your traits can be gifts and seen by others as a curse.
- I mentioned this earlier, but no one ever told me that “what happens to you happens for you”. This ended up becoming the entire premise on which I rationalized the ebbs and flow of being in leadership. When something unfavorable would happen, I would simply rationalize when dust settles that it would serve to the benefit of all involved. It always has.
- “Grinding” continually is unhealthy. Everyone is always asserting that to be the best and to remain at the top of your game you have to be in constant grind mode. While I believe wholeheartedly in mastering your craft and putting in ample time to position yourself within your career, I no longer believe it to be a healthy approach to enrichment and success to “grind” excessively in your quest to be the best. There has to be a healthy approach to obtaining and maintaining success. Somewhere in that formula you need to be able to carve out time for self, fun, family, and quiet.
- Success and the attainment thereof can be lonely. Be prepared for lonely days, nights, and seasons even. It is the nature of the beast. While pursuing my dreams of becoming one of the world’s most sought-after hemp construction experts, I have spent a lot of time alone. Initially, I spent countless hours on developing concepts and identifying loopholes for the time when this country would legalize cannabis throughout. Some people simply did not believe that the day would ever come. I was ridiculed and called crazy for wanting to dedicate my firm to being able to build with cannabis. Those times were often very lonely. However, staying focused on the possibilities and putting in the work regardless of how outlandish it seemed allowed for a time such as now. Cannabis is in fact on its way to being legalized country wide. The hemp industry is on track to becoming a 20B industry by 2024- out performing future tobacco and alcohol sales altogether.
- People only need to respect you. They don’t have to like you. So much of who I am was rooted in having people like me. I wanted to always put myself in a position to be helpful and to be well received. Although we have been conditioned to think people won’t do business with people they do not like but the reality is they will not do business with people they do not respect.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be?
I would love to inspire people to embrace green and sustainable living alternatives through hemp. I’d love to construct homes that are fire resistant, mold resistant, that promote clean air exchange, and that are environmentally friendly.
You never know what your idea can trigger.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“In the end it will all be okay, if it is not all okay then it is not the end”
The relevance of that quote to me and my life is that you always get to start again. You never run out of chances to try to get it right.
We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them
I would love to sit with Mark Cuban.