Business owner Lelia Friedlander believes she was born into leadership. But she also knows she had to work hard to achieve the success she enjoys.
“It may have been born in me, but if I didn’t follow that, if I did something untrue to myself … if I didn’t work at it, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I wouldn’t believe what I do. So it’s both — it’s born in you and you make it,” she said during the Leadership Looks Like podcast episode posted online Sept. 4. “It’s a choice.”
The podcast was launched in June 2017 by Kri Edholm, owner of Leadership Excursion Co. and founder of the Spark Women’s Leadership Retreat. According to the podcast website, leadershiplookslike.org, the mission of the podcast is “to give leaders a platform to tell their story, share their challenges and be an inspiration to others.”
During Friedlander’s episode, she shared the origin story of her family’s business, TuffSkin Surface Protection. She and her husband, Frank, established the company that provides protective covering for natural stone surfaces in 2007 after owning Las Vegas Window Tinting for 24 years. The Las Vegas-based company serves mostly the hotel and casino industry but recently added cruise ships to its roster and has an international presence.
And it only takes a few full-time employees to serve that global network. There are less than 10 employees, including the “Core Four”: Lelia, Frank and their two children, Jake and Katie. And Lelia told Edholm that her children have been an important part of the company’s success.
“We’re doing it with the strength of our fabulous millennials,” Lelia said on the podcast. “Our children have come in and infused us with great ideas and energy and, not new ways of doing things, but different ways of doing things. … It enhances our business so greatly.”
The podcast also touched on the importance of communicating boundaries, motivation, what leadership means to Lelia, books she finds inspiring (“The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz, “The Choice” by Dr. Edith Eva Eger and “The Beautiful No” by Sheri Salata), community involvement and the need to focus on yourself instead of your competition, especially when facing a challenge.
“There are always challenges with business, but I think because of who we are, the challenges really become about who we are as people. The challenge isn’t about overcoming or finding a new solution out there; it’s about finding the block that stopped me from being the best person I can be,” she said. “Every challenge that comes up, it’s about: How am I going to look at how I’m going to address the situation? And I have to rise up. I have to become better. I have to take a look inside myself and see what’s stopping me from being able to address whatever the challenge is.”
The key is to find something that brings you joy because “joy is a spark of creative process. It helps us in our personal life and our business life,” Lelia said.
In the end, it’s all about choices and being intentional, even when life throws surprises your way.
“My life is very intentional, and has been for a long time,” Lelia told Edholm. “Of course unintentional things happen during the day, and I sometimes have to shift my schedule to take care of the emergency, and luckily I am able to do that. I have set my life up so that I can do that, so that I have the room and the space to be able to do what I need to do.”
To listen to the Lelia’s episode and other podcast episodes, visit leadershiplookslike.org, find Leadership Looks Like Podcast on Facebook (facebook.com/146310162392476/posts/940143129675838) or open the podcast app on your phone and search “Leadership Looks Like Podcast.”