An interview with Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program alumna TaChelle Lawson, President of FIG Strategy & Consulting.
First things first – tell us briefly who you are and what you do.
My name is TaChelle Lawson. I'm President of FIG Strategy & Consulting based in Las Vegas. My firm does diversity training, DEI strategy, and executive DEI coaching to help organizations leverage the power of diversity to improve company culture, tap into new markets, and drive profits.
How would you describe your negotiation style?
I like to think I have a partnership style—we're both going to give more than we want to make the deal in peace or we'll walk away to avoid working at war.
How has your perspective on negotiations changed?
My "aha" moment came from me being more interested in closing the deal than doing my due diligence and charging appropriately for my work. … I immediately implemented my worth into the conversation. I know my competitors and the advantage I bring and have made that part of my negotiations.
How have you stayed motivated in the face of the uncertainty and challenges resulting from Covid-19 and the economic fallout?
Staying motivated hasn't been easy, but I do it by remaining focused on the old "Rome wasn't built in a day" mentality. Many of us are starting from scratch, and for me the pandemic changed my business model for the better. Prior to, I was in the red ocean fighting and clawing to even get my foot in the door and still never quite advancing. Now, I've carved out a niche by specializing in diversity strategy, primarily for the beverage and hospitality industries, giving me a blue ocean.
Who is your greatest source of inspiration?
I've been inspired by several people, men and women, but my internal inspiration came from my grandmother. She was the most fearless, opinionated, and savvy woman I've (ever) known. She taught me to be unapologetically who I am and never to settle for "good enough." She made me believe I could and would do whatever I set my mind to, as long as I was willing to put in the work.
My external aspiration is DVF (Diane von Furstenberg). I love everything about her. She positioned herself to be her own boss so she didn't have to play by others' rules, (and) designed for women with the intention of selling confidence—not beauty. She's who I aspire to be like.
How do you nurture and grow your relationships while running a business?
This certainly isn't easy, but it is necessary. I view this as part of running the business, so I join councils, associations, and local networks and connect with other professionals. I invite others out for coffee and cocktails (virtual or in-person), share links, and provide resources. This, for me, is one of my primary focuses as a business owner.
With all of the distractions in our daily lives, how do you stay present and engaged?
I stay present and engaged by staying plugged into issues that concern me as a woman, black woman, and small business owner through networks I belong to, podcasts I listen to, and causes I support. For me, it's important to protect what I get involved in so I am able to engage meaningfully when I do.
What are three tools you recommend to anyone trying to start their own business?
Mentor, book club, off-day. The mentor is critical because we get so attached to our own ideas or thoughts that we sometimes can't see the forest for the trees. The book club has been so powerful for me because it makes me accountable for continuing my education, showing up, and contributing to thought leadership. Lastly, a consistent off-day to not be the business owner, but the person.
What has been your biggest learning from the pandemic?
I wasn't challenging myself enough, and I'm capable of much more. I was put on this earth to make a difference, and, prior to the pandemic, I was taking the path of least resistance.
What is a piece of advice you wish you could give to your younger self?
Don't marry him. Go to Dartmouth.
Favorite quote: "Don't be afraid to give up the good for the great." -- John D. Rockefeller
For more information on FIG Strategy & Consulting, visit www.FigFirm.com.
editor's note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.