Treat every client or customer as if they are your only one. As my business has scaled, I have trained every employee to treat every single client like they are our only one. People never forget how you make them feel and I’ve had clients refer their friends and family to my firm over 10 years after we represented them.
Aspart of my series about the leadership lessons of accomplished business leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Rosanna Berardi. Rosanna is the Managing Partner of Berardi Immigration Law and the CEO of High Wire Woman, where she helps working women create a blueprint to live their lives in a simpler way and take back their most precious commodity: their time.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us the story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Itook a summer job at the U.S./Canadian border in 1993 and went on to work for the former INS for five years. I was exposed to many facets of immigration law, and took a personal interest. As the daughter of an immigrant, I’ve always been drawn to the concept of “The American Dream.” When it came time for grad school, I knew I wanted a flexible degree so I decided to apply to law school. Little did I know that summer job would become the foundation for my entire career.
Can you share one of the major challenges you encountered when first leading the company? What lesson did you learn from that?
When I started my law firm, I only knew how to be a lawyer. I had no idea how to run a business. Overnight, I became the lawyer, HR person, tax specialist and cleaning person. It was overwhelming. I decided to enroll at a local business center for women to learn business principles and concepts. The lessons I learned at the center started my second phase of education (post-law school) and I’ve continued to take courses and learn new skills. When you aren’t sure how to do something, become an expert. Seek out resources that will give you the skill set you need to be successful.
What are some of the factors that you believe led to your eventual success?
I treat people with respect. My firm has scaled over the last fifteen years because our clients are the number one priority and we treat every client like they are our only one. The client experience is critical and our former clients are our best sales people.
In addition, I pride myself on working harder than everyone else and I’m not afraid to spend money on things that will make my personal or professional life easier.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became CEO”? Please share a story or example for each.
- Learn how to read financial statements. If you don’t know your numbers, you will not survive. When I first started my business, I only focused on the gross revenues. I quickly learned that the gross revenues are not an indication of your business’s success. Lesson learned, I now know the key numbers to monitor on a daily basis.
- Treat every client or customer as if they are your only one. As my business has scaled, I have trained every employee to treat every single client like they are our only one. People never forget how you make them feel and I’ve had clients refer their friends and family to my firm over 10 years after we represented them.
- Delegate, delegate, delegate. You can’t control everything that happens in your business and you’ll go crazy if you try. It’s essential you hire a team that you trust to manage your key duties. That frees you up to spend your time working on things that only you can do.
- Spend money where it matters. Write a check to go faster. Automate your life. Stop counting pennies. If it’s easier to have your supplies delivered to the office rather than going to Office Depot every week, do it. Time is money.
- Hire people smarter than you. Some people are threatened by a team that’s “better than them,”, but you want to have a team that is substantively smarter than you. You’re the brains of the business operation. Let your team do the nitty-gritty work.
What advice would you give to your colleagues to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Owning a business is like being on a permanent rollercoaster. There are constant ups and downs. It’s important to remember that bad things will happen (mistakes, terminations, loss of a client, etc.,) but as long as the good things outnumber the bad, you are successful.
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?
My father arrived in the US at the age of 14 as an orphan who didn’t speak English. Ultimately, he rose above the challenges, and discovered his American dream, opening a hair salon which he successfully ran for over 40 years. My parents showed me how to work hard and treat people right. They were always kind and compassionate and I’ve been inspired by the amazing personal and professional legacy they’ve built.
What are some of the goals you still have and are working to accomplish, both personally and professionally?
I’m currently working on becoming a legal analyst for a major news network. I love sharing my insights and expertise with the media. I also recently launched my second company, Hire Wire Woman, where I apply all the knowledge I’ve built over the course of my career as a busy lawyer, entrepreneur, wife, mom to help other working women find balance in their lives.
What do you hope to leave as your lasting legacy?
I want to be known for my kindness, generosity and zest for life. Every day is truly a gift.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would enhance people’s lives in some way, what would it be? You never know what your idea can trigger!
I would love to start a foundation for immigrant start-up businesses that would provide them with the training and business skills needed to successfully run a business.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Readers can follow me on LinkedIn @Berardi-immigration-law or on Twitter @berardiimmilaw