The extra time at home brings us an opportunity to reinvest in our most important relationships: our spouses, children, friends, extended family, and ourselves. Carving out time for meaningful conversations with those we love most allows us to maintain emotional connection despite the physical distance. Making time for ourselves allows us an open and safe space to process our thoughts and feelings, and to align ourselves with our goals. This investment in ourselves is important, as it will allow us to continue to support our families emotionally and financially.
The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. Many of us now have new challenges that come with working from home, homeschooling, and sheltering in place.
As a part of our series about how busy women leaders are addressing these new needs, I had the pleasure of interviewing Lee Anne Crockett, MBA. She is a Sales Director for a large manufacturing corporation and has been successfully leading teams for over a decade. Lee Anne has professional experience in CPG and manufacturing, as well as B2B and B2C sales. She is also a Leadership Development & Career Strategist, providing female leaders the “how to” tools they need to lead a purpose-driven career that achieves their goals.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?
I have always had a passion for sales and have been in service-related jobs going back to high school. I love being able to form genuine connections with people and strategize to provide them with a solution that solves their problem. I have also always been drawn to entrepreneurship — I concentrated in Entrepreneurship & Small Business Management when I got my bachelor’s degree from Boston University. After college, I was hired into a sales leadership role that required me to be an intrapreneur and run all aspects of my business, including selling and leading my team. Soon I was able to discover my third love, which is leadership & career development. From there, I was able to navigate my career with those passions in mind, making sure that each new career opportunity I considered allowed me the freedom to manage my own business, as well as to make meaningful connections with my customers and my employees. In 2014, I went back to school to pursue my MBA. I wanted to continue to cultivate my entrepreneurial skills, so I decided to attend Babson College, which is widely renowned for their program in entrepreneurship. During my time at Babson, I realized that starting a company of my own was a goal of mine. Since graduating, I have made a career move to a new sales role, and have, as of most recently, launched my own consultancy as a Leadership Development & Career Strategist.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started at your company?
My most notable memory since I started at my current company happened on my first day. I started on April Fools’ Day, but what happened was actually not set up as a joke. I did my onboarding at our corporate HQ, so that first morning I parked my car, went inside the building, and went up to the second floor. I rang the doorbell for someone to buzz me in, but no one was in the lobby (the doors were clear glass so I could see into the office). After a minute or so I rang again, and a man came wandering by. He had on cargo shorts, a sweatshirt, and had a more than a 5’o clock shadow. The office dress code was business casual, so he looked a bit out of place. On his way past the door, he stopped to let me in. I smiled and said good morning, and he reciprocated the courtesy. He showed me where to find the admin and I thanked him, wished him a good day and went on my way. Later that day, my boss brought up the CEO’s name in casual conversation, and I said something along the lines of “Oh, where does he sit in the building? Do I get to meet him?” My boss answered me by saying, “You met him already. He opened the door for you this morning.” Thankfully I was cordial! The lesson here is to definitely be friendly towards everyone you meet because you never know with whom you are speaking.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
I am! I recently launched my consultancy and am currently accepting clients as a Leadership Development & Career Strategist. I work with female leaders who feel overlooked and underutilized in the workplace. I help provide them with the “how to” tools they need so that they can lead a purpose-driven career that achieves their goals.
For many women, and specifically women of color, training and guidance in the workplace is not something that is readily available. Many times, women do not feel like they are truly seen, heard, or valued. These women are high-achievers and have huge ambitions for themselves and their careers. However, they have not been provided with training to show them how to perform in a way that can optimize the trajectory of their career path and no guidance or resources to show them how to position themselves for promotion. Over time, they burn out from trying (ineffectively) to get to the next step, or they get passed over and give up. This echoes my experience early on in my career and the experiences of several women that I know. I want to show women, especially those in new leadership positions that there is an easier, process-based way to super charge your career path through leadership development, and that there are resources and networks available outside of the workplace to help support that journey.
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?
I am forever grateful to my mother for instilling in me the importance of education, independence, and a drive to work hard and be better. She was a single parent, and for a long time she worked two jobs to take care of me and my grandmother. From a young age, she encouraged me to learn and read as much as I could. She explained to me that she did not attend college and told me that I had to get a bachelor’s degree so that I could take care of myself comfortably. She did not want me to have to work multiple jobs like she did. She joked with me that after graduating college, I could do whatever I wanted, but I had to bring her a bachelor’s degree. She is the first person who taught me that there is no ceiling. Unfortunately, she passed away when I was 19, but her spirit of persistence and resilience has been with me throughout every challenge I have faced throughout my life — graduating college early, taking job opportunities in male-dominated industries, getting my MBA, caring for family members with special needs, and most notably, working through the grief associated with her death.
The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. Can you articulate to our readers what are the biggest family related challenges you are facing as a woman business leader during this pandemic?
My biggest challenge has been working through the unknowns that come with being at home with your family 24/7. At the height of the Covid-19 quarantine, my niece was living with me and my husband full-time and we had my step-sons with us every other week, so we had a 17-year old, a 14-year old and a 9-year old in the house. They all had schoolwork to get done and in addition, my husband was taking college classes, I was working full-time, and working to launch my business in my spare time.
Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
I needed to lean on processes, schedules, and efficient time management more than I ever had before. On the weeks where we didn’t have all three children, I was able to work ahead and get more done to help offset any setbacks I would encounter on the other weeks. When we had all of the kids in the house, I scheduled time to help with their challenging classes during times I didn’t have conference calls and worked from my phone if someone forgot their laptop or their charger and I needed to share mine. I woke up early to get things done before everyone woke up and stayed up a bit later at night as well. It was difficult, but like so many other families, we did the best we could to make it work.
Can you share the biggest work related challenges you are facing as a woman in business during this pandemic?
I try to be as hands-on as possible when I work with my teams, my customers, and my colleagues. It has been extremely difficult to not be able to see each other in person. I’m used to being able to visit a customer to talk through a problem or close a deal, or to spend time in one of our manufacturing plants to help address quality issues. This hasn’t been possible during the pandemic.
Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
No one likes more calls or meetings, but I’ve been taking extra care and time to stay as close as possible with clients and coworkers. For me, this means additional check-ins, extra emails and texts — whatever it takes to make sure that I can continue to convey a personal touch and to assure that the lines of communication continue to stay open during this difficult time.
Can you share your advice about how to best work from home, while balancing the needs of homeschooling or the needs of a family?
I work best with structure, so I created schedules and checklists for everyone in the house. I prioritized tasks and assignments based on due dates, and scheduled break times for the kids to allow me to focus on my own work. Each family is different — job flexibility and child-care needs will vary — but sticking to a schedule can help take a lot of the overwhelm out of the situation.
Can you share your strategies about how to stay sane and serene while sheltering in place, or simply staying inside, for long periods with your family?
This is a tough one! With so many things going on in the house and in the world, it becomes challenging to remember to take care of yourself. I find that small amounts of time spread throughout the day are enough for me to be able to calm down and refocus. For example, on some mornings before the kids would wake up, I would go outside and read on the deck for 20 minutes or so. On other days, I would take a quick walk around the block, just to have a little bit of me time and re-center. When days were really difficult to get through, I would tag-in my husband to take over kid-duty and take a short drive just to breathe for a bit. Taking small moments throughout the day just to count my blessings and recharge my battery really helped to keep me going.
Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have understandably heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. From your perspective can you help our readers to see the “Light at the End of the Tunnel”? Can you share your “5 Reasons To Be Hopeful During this Corona Crisis”? If you can, please share a story or example for each.
Although it is difficult right now to maintain a positive outlook, there are several reasons to be hopeful during these times:
- People across the country are having more open and honest conversations than we have ever had before. Conversations about racial inequity and social justice are happening on a daily basis. We are breaking down the barriers of communication and coming together to align on a new future for all of us, where we all have a seat at the table.
- Covid-19 has created a shift in healthy habits. People are walking more, biking more, and spending more time exercising. Being home also creates opportunities for all of us to eat healthier every day.
- Most busy working parents see their kids before they go to school, and not again until dinner and bedtime. Working and doing schoolwork from home allows us to see a different side of our children that we never get to see: how they think about and do their classwork, how they interact with their teachers and classmates, how they learn in class, etc. This gives us a fuller glimpse into who they are as people, not just who they are when they are home with us.
- The extra time at home brings us an opportunity to reinvest in our most important relationships: our spouses, children, friends, extended family, and ourselves. Carving out time for meaningful conversations with those we love most allows us to maintain emotional connection despite the physical distance. Making time for ourselves allows us an open and safe space to process our thoughts and feelings, and to align ourselves with our goals. This investment in ourselves is important, as it will allow us to continue to support our families emotionally and financially.
- Overall, this is a time of reflection and rebuilding. Not only will we rebuild as a nation after Covid-19, we have a unique opportunity right now to rebuild our lives with a more solid foundation consisting of the morals, values and principles that we hold dear the most. Covid-19 has provided us with a time to stop the clock, decide who we want to be moving forward, and restart the clock with a fresh slate — new habits, new (more meaningful) connections, and new perspective on what it means to be grateful for health and life.
From your experience, what are a few ideas that one can use to effectively offer support to their family and loved ones who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?
The easiest and most effective thing we can do to offer support is to be available and to listen, and I mean really listen — with our hearts, not just our ears. We often listen to respond and not to understand. People who are struggling are not always looking for an answer to solve their problem. They need to feel seen and heard, and that by itself is comforting. Take a few minutes to call and check in with your loved ones. Pay attention to those you haven’t heard from in a while, and also those who make it seem like they always have everything together. You never know who is struggling behind their smile.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
A life lesson that has always been applicable to my life is “You can’t burn the candle at both ends.” My grandmother said this occasionally when I was younger, and I had no idea what she was talking about. As I got older, I realized that it provides a good gut check for me. I tend to take on a lot — a lot of projects, a lot of responsibilities, a lot of ambitions — and it can be difficult for me to know when to slow down. Burning the candle at both ends (to me) means that you can’t take care of others if you can’t take care of yourself. If you don’t save some for yourself — energy, love, encouragement, support, etc. — then you have nothing to give to others. It reminds me that I have to be my own first priority because you can’t start the car if there’s no gas in the tank.
How can our readers follow you online?
You can find me on Facebook, LinkedIn, on Instagram and Twitter @LeeACrockett, and my website www.leecrockett.com
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!