Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in business development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Kristen Lampert, Leadership Coach of TalentRise, located in Chicago, IL, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

Founded in 2008 to serve organizations experiencing industry disruption, change, or rapid growth, TalentRise is known today as a leader in talent consulting and executive search. Through organizational effectiveness, leadership assessment, development, and strategy alignment, we assist companies—ranging from startup and high-growth mid-market to global organizations— to improve their business performance through talent optimization.

A selection of the industries TalentRise serves are as follows:

  • Retail/E-Commerce/Hospitality
  • Consumer/Industrial Manufacturing
  • Private Equity/VC Funded Startups
  • Professional Services
  • SaaS Technology & Fintech
  • Non-Profit & Associations
  • Financial Services
  • Healthcare & Medical Devices

I joined TalentRise to build out their executive integration program, "Fast Start" Coaching. We launched Fast Start Coaching in 2020, and this three-month executive coaching program is designed to accelerate the onboarding experience for C-Suite executives and is an included benefit for all TalentRise retained search placements. We have seen the impact—of fostering self-awareness in our candidates and clients to create a lasting, long-term, and successful hire.

I was excited to join a company that wanted to bring candidate assessment tools and coaching to the forefront of executive search. I think it's a misperception in the recruitment industry that using data-driven behavioral assessments like Predictive Index in the search process slows down or creates more work for recruiters. At TalentRise, we see these tools as incredibly additive to understanding the whole person at work, enhancing our overall assessment of candidate fit for a search on which we are working.

We coach our clients on how to look beyond the resume and into our candidates' underlying motivations and drives to seek potential alignment for their company. Many of TalentRise's clients are growth-stage portfolio companies referred by their Private Equity or Venture Capital investors. Partnering with high-growth firms requires nimbleness, speed, flexibility, and accuracy in our work, often leaving little room for error.

Tell us about yourself

It took years to hone my craft as a leadership coach. I started my career in Human Resources, leading talent management and ultimately serving as the head of HR in male-dominated private equity-backed environments.

Often working as the only woman in the C-Suite, I quickly learned how to turn empathy into a superpower. So many women I coach today dim their light (or natural skills) to accommodate an overly masculine leadership team. Through years of practice, I learned to shine bright as a female leader by demonstrating curiosity, assertiveness, empathy, and grit. We know now in business that emotionally intelligent leaders are an asset to every organization.

Stepping into a leadership role at TalentRise to develop the firm's signature Fast Start Coaching program was a natural evolution. The firm gave me the platform and voice to cultivate emotional intelligence and self-awareness in leaders managing a career transition.

We know shifting roles can be incredibly stressful, especially at the C-Suite level. I built a world-class program focused on helping leaders manage stress more effectively and integrate thoughtfully into their new employer environment. I live for the results of my clients.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

It's hard to pinpoint a single accomplishment. As a coach, accumulating small goals leads to incredible client outcomes. The work I'm most proud of is seeing my clients shift their perspectives or mindset. There is something magical about seeing a manager who feels limited by imposter syndrome at work transform into a confident, capable, and self-assured leader. Coaching individuals, regardless of title or compensation, to unlock doors previously closed in their minds is awe-inspiring work. I feel so grateful to bear witness to these personal transformations daily.

What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?

As a business owner and coach, practicing what you preach is one of the most challenging tasks. I train my clients to recognize that when you reach for something big, that is the time when your saboteurs (or self-limiting beliefs) get louder.

Everyone, even coaches, faces self-limiting beliefs that can put you in the space of homeostasis. For me, it's leveraging social media and being authentic among a larger audience. I know now that if I am feeling a bit of exhilaration and anxiousness about a given idea, it means I'm heading into a good space. To truly dream big, we must hunt for the tension between joy and fear. So many people play too small or give in too early. The key is to push through the fear and trust that there is always something to be learned from even the most challenging experiences.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

A study done a few years ago by Mercer asked how self-aware CEOs felt they were. 85% reported that they were self-aware. The research scientists then went to their friends and family, asking about their behaviors, and found that only 15% of CEOs were self-aware.

  1. Know Yourself - The #1 tip I recommend for any business owner is a lifelong commitment to knowing yourself. Spend the time learning more about who you are, what you are good at, what you struggle with, and how you connect with others. Self-discovery opens the door to understanding others better. A more profound curiosity and insight into yourself can deepen awareness of your impact on others. So many C-Suite leaders get self-involved instead of self-evolved. Commit to learning, growing, and adapting to those around you.
  2. So many leaders I work with bought into the idea that to achieve what they have in life, they had to suffer or sacrifice something else important to them. This all-or-nothing mindset can motivate you to achieve but won't lead to sustained happiness. Sacrificing your health and meaningful relationships only yields short-term rewards, while the long-term consequences are brutal. Honor that life has seasons and that the goal is to find harmony between work and life, not balance. Learn to put your oxygen mask on first by caring for your mind, spirit, and body. This is the only way you can sustainably add value to your company.
  3. Resource Yourself - Being a solopreneur is a lonely job, but it doesn't have to be. Cultivate a robust support network to elevate your business. Identify mentors, advisors, coaches, consultants, and friends that each serve a specific need in your business ecosystem. Invite them to hold you accountable to your goals and ask for help when you're struggling. One of the best things about being human is our natural desire to want others to succeed. Often, it's being vulnerable, admitting where we are struggling, and reaching out that can yield quantum steps in growth.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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