Jared Lafitte is a speaker, author, coach and consultant. He works with individuals to make significant life changes and with organizations to develop more effective leadership behaviors and cultural practices. Jared believes culture is what makes or breaks any organization; it’s the single greatest asset to any company, exerting comprehensive control over their engagement, productivity, market presence, financial health, and long-term success. He told me his passions are two-fold: helping organizations build truly people-centered cultures, preventing toxicity, and building environments that make people feel excited to come to work, and helping people engineer the changes they’ve dreamed of making but haven’t.
1. Humble Beginnings
Q: How did you get started and what or who inspired and empowered you to?
I started a private educational company, including music education, in 2009. I’ve always had a passion for training, coaching, and teaching, and my company quickly grew to several hundred clients and over 1,000 hours annually. In 2013, I shifted my focus from private education to work with corporate leaders after a very interesting few months with an executive in the IP-insurance industry. Originally, this man wanted private vocal lessons, but after spending several months together our lessons slowly transitioned into working on executive presence, confidence, commanding a room, and much more. Many of the principles involved in commanding a stage as a vocalist are identical to executive communication, commanding a room, building rapport, and more. I literally became his executive coach by accident, and the process was seamless! In 2014, he and his executive team successfully argued a case before the U.S. Supreme Court. He brought me in to work with his entire organization, and in my training process I began to see the connections between leadership, communication, and culture. One leader at a time, I built a method and philosophy for helping individuals and organizations become successful. I’ve been able to work with leaders within Fortune 500 organizations and startups alike, and the process has been an incredibly rewarding journey.
Q: What unique and creative strategies if any did you use when you were first getting started?
Relying on years and thousands of hours of private coaching and training before transitioning into corporate training, I knew the power of relationships, communication, and leadership in helping people grow. The process of leading a 21-year old college graduate through understanding their life path and the process of helping the C.E.O. of a 1,000-employee company execute large-scale initiatives is the same: become the person you need to be for yourself, learn to master your own thoughts, build genuine, authentic relationships with the people around you, and execute your vision.
So many organizations look to coaches and consultants to simply tell them what to do to make their companies more effective. But we don’t need to start with what to do; we need to start with who we need to be as leaders and people in order to accomplish our goals. What kind of person are you? What is it like to experience your leadership each day? What kind of relationships do you have with the people around you? Is there a deep reservoir of trust, character, and respect in the environment of your leadership?
The hard truth is this: organizations worldwide spend tens of billions of dollars each year on professional development, management training, employee perks, and the like, yet large-scale surveys consistently report that the majority of employees are disengaged. Something isn’t working, and it’s because many of the methods companies use to engage their people are focused more on processes and strategies and less on pure relationships. My approach in coaching and consulting is to focus deeply on the individual: who they are, what motivates them, how they communicate and interact, how they develop trust and get others involved. That’s what makes companies perform at their best, and surveys consistently reveal this. People follow people, not titles, as my friend Jordan Kemper says.
Q: What mindset distinguished you from others who were doing the same thing? How did you develop it?
I’ve always believed that people are very fundamentally similar once you get to know them. We have deep needs for love, connection, meaning, stability. We do what we do, whether operating a complex organization or whether we’re figuring out the next few months of our lives, out of deep-seated needs for comfort, control, approval, power, hope. With the thousands of relationships I’ve developed over the years, I’ve been able to sense patterns and understand enough about the human psyche that I’ve learned how change works. This has helped me get past barriers of not initially knowing the intricacies of a particular industry, not having insider knowledge of a particular product, and the like. For some coaches and consultants, this can be a barrier, but for me, it’s always been a challenge: "Even if I’ve never met you before, if we have a conversation, how quickly can we get to the root issue of what’s holding you or your organization back?” And I embrace it. People are people, and helping people improve and change is a universal process. Understand what makes people tick, and you’ll understand leadership.
3. What is your definition of success?
I’m a Christ follower, so my first definition of success would be obeying God and living out what he’s called me to. Additionally, I want to help as many people and as many organizations as I possibly can. Every day I see people and organizations in so much turmoil and pain, and I just want things to be different for them. If I can help create lasting change in a person’s life and help an organization become a thriving place where people feel safe, empowered and fulfilled working there, that would be success for me. Lastly, being able to do whatever, whenever, with whomever, is a nice definition as well!
Q: What do you think is the main reason why some people face failure when going after their vision?
I think people fail for a variety of reasons. Fear is a prominent one. We condition ourselves to think in certain ways about what we can or can’t do, and when we try break out of that mental mold we’ve made for ourselves, it’s so raw and unfamiliar that we can retreat back into old ways of thinking. I tell my clients often, “Fear is the brain’s way of trying to keep you safe. The brain is hardwired to protect us, and if your brain had its way, we would all be lying in bed all day and never take any risks. If you want change, you have to push back against old ways of thinking and call out your fears for what they are.” Also, we live in a generation that expects things to happen the first time we try them, and if they don’t, we give up. We’re pretty impatient. Most people fail because they don’t always realize that it takes time, patience, and trying different things to accomplish your goals. Tangential to this, we can be pretty entitled and self-important as well, and when the world doesn’t bend to exactly what we want when we’re going after our vision, we tend to fall apart. You have to be flexible and willing to adjust in order to achieve your goals.
5. What is the best piece of advice you have received or came across and would like to share with everyone?
One of my favorite quotations comes from Rory Vaden: “Success isn’t owned; it’s leased, and rent is due every day.”
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