Christie Lawler is the Founder and Owner of CJL CONSULTiNG, a niche marketing agency that primarily serves the national hospitality industry, She is also the Founder and Director of The WITI Group, a nonprofit foundation that supports the future female leaders of the food and beverage industry through mentorship, emotional and financial support. Christie is also a host of the Lawler Out Loud Podcast, soon to be a published author, a public speaker and most recently she added inventor to her list of attributes as she just launched her own infusion line – JAB MiXOLOGY.
- CEO Hack: Meditation podcasts to help myself re-centers
- CEO Nugget: Be happy and trust yourself
- CEO Defined: Leading your team with empathy and support first
Do you want to learn effective ways to build relationships, generate sales, and grow your business from successful entrepreneurs, startups, and CEOs without listening to a long, long, long interview? If so, you’ve come to the right place, Gresham Harkless values your time and is ready to share with you precisely the information you’re in search of. This is the I am CEO podcast.
Gresham Harkless 0:29
Hello, hello. Hello, this is Gresh from the I am CEO podcast and I have a special guest on the show today. I have Christie Lawler si g GCJ. l consulting Christy is awesome. Have you on show?
Christie Lawler 0:42
Oh, thank you for having me. I'm looking forward to this.
Gresham Harkless 0:45
No problem. Super excited to have you on and before we jumped in, I want to read a little bit more about Christie so you can hear about all the awesome things that she's doing. And Chrissy is the founder and owner of CJ l consulting a niche marketing agency that primarily serves the national hospitality industry. She's also the co founder and director of the witty Group, a nonprofit foundation that supports the future female leaders of the food and beverage industry through mentorship, emotional and financial support. Christie is also the host of the Lawler outloud podcast soon to be published author, a public speaker and most recently, she added inventor to her list of attributes as she launched her own fusion line, jab mythology. Christy, are you ready to speak to the imcl community?
Christie Lawler 1:29
Oh my gosh, I'm so excited. Me too.
Gresham Harkless 1:32
You're doing so many awesome things. So I wanted to kind of rewind the clock a little bit here a little bit more on how you got started. Your CEO story will let you get started with all the awesome things are working on.
Christie Lawler 1:43
Yeah, and so I actually started this company back in 2009, while I was working on my master's degree. And I launched it started it. And it just, it kept me busy while I finished work on my advanced degree. But I had a wonderful opportunity to come up that I couldn't pass up. So I went back into the full time workforce and worked in national account sales. As a national account manager for two different global brands for about seven years, eight years. I don't I can't remember Honestly, it was a while ago. But when I that kind of grew a little tired and old. And there were some changes. And I launched back into working for myself in 2017. And then it's just been a beautiful uphill battle with a lot of awesome hurdles that have been able to jump over ever since.
Gresham Harkless 2:48
Yeah, absolutely. It always seems like the the entrepreneurial journey is that really high highs, sometimes not so high low hassle, high lows, and everything in between and all around. So I know it touched on it a little bit when I read your bio to just take you through through a little bit more on what you're doing your companies, your brands and how you said the clients you work
Christie Lawler 3:08
with? Yeah, absolutely. So I, I am the person or one of the people there's a few companies out there that do what I do. But I'm when you go to a chain restaurant, you see their beverage menu, that is my work. That is what we do. We work with these national organizations to craft their beverage program that speaks to their consumer demographic. So whether it's focusing on trends and jumping well outside of the box, or tweaking what already works through their operational specialties. We create these beverage training initiatives, beverage programs, menus, marketing calendar, and all suited around the food and beverage side of the hospitality industry.
Gresham Harkless 3:58
Nice I definitely appreciate that. And I think so many times I'm glad you you kind of articulate better or help us see exactly like what we do on a regular basis. Because I think so many times we don't realize all those things are kind of perfectly, I guess, plan and strategize to make sure that you are speaking to your clients and your ideal clients and customers.
Christie Lawler 4:21
Yeah, there's a lot of data and trend information and consumer data that goes into every single decision.
Gresham Harkless 4:30
Absolutely, absolutely. And so what would you consider to be what I call your secret sauce, the thing you feel kind of sets you apart or your company apart and makes you unique?
Christie Lawler 4:40
I would like to think that there's a couple things I'm egotistically driven. I did I made decisions when relaunching the company just a few years ago, that would set us apart because when you have a competitive set and you know what they do really, really well. You want to find what they're not doing where, where their their gaps in focus are. And since I've worked with her for every single one of my competitors, I was like this is you can say that I always needed on the supplier side, this is what I always tell her the gap on the buyer side. So we don't markup are outside services. So when we're printing menus, the cost that is being paid by the client is the cost that we're also paying. It's, there's no markup. And typically, it can go from 10 to 25%. markup. So if you're printing $100,000 beverage menu, the fact that it's only costing them $100,000. And it's not costing them $125,000. that's a that's a big ROI. So I wanted to create ROI as a point of differentiation. But I also wanted to make a social impact in our industry, because since this is my bread and butter, and this is where I've lived for my career, I really wanted to make it better and improve the areas, especially for women, that I saw opportunities. And so that's kind of the Genesis, part of it, a small part of it, of me launching my nonprofit foundation.
Gresham Harkless 6:20
Nice, I definitely appreciate those, obviously, the ROI piece is definitely a huge thing and be able to, to know the industries know the competitors, as you spoke to and know them very, very well. And be able to see what it was maybe lacking or maybe wasn't an opportunity that was taken advantage of and be able to do that. And I love the power that I think sometimes we forget that we have when we're CEOs, entrepreneurs and business owners, and not only able to obviously, create really phenomenal products and services. But as you touched on that that social impact, where a lot of times getting that opportunity to see something that it's not there, and be able to kind of not just create for yourself, but also create for so many other people and create and provide those opportunities so that other people can succeed as well.
Christie Lawler 7:06
Absolutely. And when I was really taking a looking, looking glass to the situation, I was like, What would I want? Right? Like if I were spending the money, where would I find the most value. And also, it's really important that my personal ethos bled into the way that the company operates. Because I want to be a full partner, just not a cog in the wheel, I want to be a member of their team. I want to integrate fully with their brands so that I understand their needs from a very basic and core level. So that when we're doing stuff, I'm not giving them ideas that don't work, I'm giving them ideas that are actionable.
Gresham Harkless 7:50
Yeah, absolutely. And it kind of sounds like correct me if I'm wrong, you're an extension to what their brand is and what they're hoping to accomplish, because you're so aware of exactly what they want to be who they are as a business and organization and probably individually. So that starts to become an extension of their brand. Because you're able to produce those products as a result of it.
Christie Lawler 8:10
Absolutely, I definitely integrate, I behave as though I'm a member of the team on their side, because it's the best way to understand what their needs are. And I'm lucky that I'm able to do that. Because a lot of times, it's your, you're too busy. And you just focus on the data points, and you don't really engage fully. And I've been on both sides where I've been employed by an employer, and I've been doing the work and I'm like I need to know more about this client, I need to be more integrated with their brands and their strategic direction. And now I can set the tone for that.
Gresham Harkless 8:49
I wanted to switch gears a little bit. And I want to ask you for what I call a CEO hack. So this could be like an app or a book or a habit that you have. But what's something that makes you more effective and efficient?
Christie Lawler 8:59
Well, I have gotten really into meditation podcasts to help myself recenter. And to one has better and more restorative sleep. Because I don't sleep a lot, as many entrepreneurs can attest to you're just you're constantly working right? You're constantly thinking your brain doesn't slow down. And oftentimes I will wake up at three o'clock in the morning and start working because I just can't go to sleep with all of the ideas in my head. That's not healthy, it's not sustainable. And I don't want to live that way. Even though I don't mind getting an idea that wakes me up in the middle of the night and it's something I can take action on. It's also just not productive for the rest of the day ahead. So I've found some meditation podcasts that have totally changed my sleep. And that restorative nature of my sleep now in the past few months. This is a new development has really impacted my ability to get things done in the waking hours.
Gresham Harkless 10:03
Absolutely. And so let me ask you this, what I what I call a CEO nugget. So that could be like a word of wisdom or a piece of advice. It might be something you would tell a client or if you happen to a time machine, you might tell your younger business self.
Christie Lawler 10:17
Yeah, absolutely. I should have done this years ago.
Gresham Harkless 10:24
That would be something you would tell your younger business Oh,
Christie Lawler 10:27
oh, god. Yes. Oh, yes. To do that. Yeah. But are you? Are you looking for another nugget?
Gresham Harkless 10:34
Yeah, if you have another one. And that's that
Christie Lawler 10:36
that's one that's a great no get? Yeah, that's a great nuggets. The other nugget that I often have to remind myself of, that I often share with others is you just have to trust yourself. Stand on your own ground always. Because if you don't trust yourself, no one else will. And why should they? So trust your gut, go with it. Especially if you're an entrepreneur, or a founder or CEO, or you're launching any kind of business or brand, trust your gut, you're going to get advice from everybody. And that's wonderful. And it's always useful. But always go back to what you feel is the right direction for you. Because at the end of the day, if you're in business for yourself your own, you're the only person you're going to answer to.
Gresham Harkless 11:30
That's extremely powerful. Because I think Yeah, you're absolutely right. I think so many times, we forget, like who we have to answer to at the end of the day, even at the end of you know, our business day, our lives and everything and the person that's using in the mirror is the person that you have to know, did you really, you know, do all the work that you could do to try to make things happen? Did you really trust yourself when you had the opportunity to do that? And I think so many times, it can get so noisy, that we start to measure ourselves according to other people or other metrics or other things, or this person or that person that sometimes we lose ourselves in that voice that you kind of spoke to as well.
Christie Lawler 12:05
Gresham Harkless 12:07
Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. So now I want to ask you my absolute favorite question, which is the definition of what it means to be a CEO. And we're hoping to have different, quote unquote, CEOs on this show. So Christine, what does being a CEO mean to you?
Christie Lawler 12:19
That's a really, really good question. Because it's kind of difficult. I love difficult question. I think I don't call myself a CEO. Because I feel like you have to have like, like 10 people on your team, at least to be a CEO of anything. But I, I am a founder and an owner. And that's the title I've given myself. But I feel like to be in that position of leaving a team, no matter how small or how large is to lead with empathy, and support first. So that is, I've always put my team ahead and their needs ahead of my own. I know that if their needs are met, we'll all meet our strategic goal. And I can't do what I do without the people in my network, and on the teams that are supporting the ideas. And I also really, really, really want to always take ideas from others. Because just because I'm in the leadership role per se, doesn't mean that I have the best ideas are the best ways of doing things. And I really find that the great ideas come from interesting places. Like, we can't always have the new best idea every single day. And that's where our team comes in. So listen to them, support them, help them, love them, treat them like they're your family, or your best friend, make sure that all of their personal needs are met so that when it comes to work, they're there for you. And you build that loyalty and trust and mutual respect.
Gresham Harkless 14:16
Absolutely, I love that I love that empathy. And you know, of course, how important it is to not just have a team, but empower the team, listen to your team, you know, all those things that sometimes we can forget, in the saying is, is you know, teamwork makes the dream work. And when you have a vision, you have a goal you have somewhere you want to be. And we're almost nowhere without our team and the people that we have around us in order to make us be successful and sometimes look even better than sometimes we might, we might always seem to be. So I truly appreciate that definition and I appreciate your time even more. What I wanted to do is pass you the mic so to speak, just to see if there's anything additional you can let our readers and listeners know and of course how best they can get ahold of you. Find out about all the awesome things that you're working on.
Christie Lawler 15:01
Absolutely, I mean, the best way to reach the company or myself is through our website. And that's CJ l consult, plural Comm. And that's where they can find ways to reach us, they can find out about us, they can find out about our products that we've created, they can find out about our nonprofit foundation. And it's all in one place. And honestly, that's because it makes it easy for me to manage the website itself in one place. But no, I would just, I would just love the opportunity to work with more people and learn more about different companies and their needs and how how what we do can make a greater social impact in our world.
Gresham Harkless 15:52
Absolutely, and we'll definitely have the link in the show notes as well to to make it even easier as well. And I truly appreciate you Chrissy for all the awesome work that you're doing and, and reminding us of what as well to have the impact that we can have socially in a lot of the ventures that we have and things that we don't see in the world or in the business world or outside of that as well too. And then how we can you know, make an impact from the vantage point that we are so I truly appreciate you again and I hope you have a phenomenal day.
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