Learn to keep white space. As CEO doing it all usually requires something to give and I wish early on someone would have told me “fight for white space”. My business is 24/7 because you are taking care of people, their lives and their businesses. It is a lot of responsibility. Fight for white space. I used to fly into NYC the morning and grind all day and then fly back. Now I fly in the day before, so I can spend a few hours in Central Park getting a workout in and a coffee. I love those trips now!
Today I had the pleasure of interviewing Chief Executive Officer Lou Taylor, a leader in the business management industry. For the last 27 years, Lou Taylor has sat at the head of Tri Star Sports and Entertainment Group, providing business management services to musicians, actors, entertainers, and athletes. Her company provides all aspects of business management services including: accounting, financial statement preparation, royalty audits, participation rights audits, tour accounting, production accounting and estate planning.
Taylor has built and maintained an environment where she, her staff and ultimately her clients could have the freedom to succeed without limitations. Taylor continues to grow Tri Star into one of the most sought-after business management firms in the sports and entertainment industry. She understands that the entertainment business is ever-evolving and that her practices must be forward-thinking, both in her offices and in her business tactics. In addition to her business management services, Taylor has been instrumental in the architecture and development of clients’ brands and businesses.
Notably, Lou participated in opening up Vegas Residencies for relevant artist including Britney Spears who sold more than 1 million tickets at the Axis Theater. Lou Taylor’s unique understanding of professional athletes has heightened her presence in the NFL and NBA as a highly esteemed educator, teaching financial responsibility through visuals and unconventional explanations. Presentations have included a live albino python and delivering one million dollars in cash via Wells Fargo for visual learning. Her goal for all Tri Star clients is to be financially healthy both during, and beyond their careers as performers/athletes. Lou believes to build and maintain a successful company, “you need to have the right place, the right people, and the right plan.”
Thank you for joining is Lou. Can you tell us the story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Honestly, I did not even know what a business manager was since the title is so unique to entertainment and sports. I believe that once you start doing what you are called to do everything inside of you screams “this is it!”. I loved doing both sides of a client’s life, personal and all the business ventures. Once I got my first job in business management, I knew I would be doing it forever.
Can you share one of the major challenges you encountered when first leading the company? What lesson did you learn from that?
The greatest challenge in the beginning was doing it all: literally you are janitor, client service manager and technician. All three of those roles were important and I found myself covering so many so I could reinvest in the business and hire quality talent. In the beginning you don’t have much to offer great talent — we are private, we were small, but the opportunity was what attracted others and some of those people are still with me 20 years later.
What are some of the factors that you believe led to your eventual success?
I am an endless encourager, I make myself available and present for others, some accomplished and some starting. The ones starting will someday be the decision-makers. I am also a gift giver, it is how I show love and appreciation. It is not about what people do for me it is about what I do for them. I think if you talk to anyone in the industry, they would say that about myself and my staff.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became CEO”?
· Hire before the need. In the beginning you are reinvesting in your business, and one of the things I learned later rather than earlier is hire ahead of the need. Most of the pain in scaling comes from not having the right people, doing the right job with the right plan. All three of these need to be met in order to successfully scale — when you don’t have the right people doing the right thing, you end up closing the gap which does not lend itself to successful scaling. It is scary in the beginning because as things get bigger and more complicated you need good talent. HIRE THEM BEFORE YOU NEED THEM!
· Identify outsourced coaching services early. At the start, a lot of the coaching came from me. As CEO you can do this when the organization is smaller. As you grow, you see a lot of things you know need to be addressed but you don’t have the margin to do so. When we brought in outside resources, we saw a difference and shift in the culture because everyone is being coached and coached in the same direction.
· Learn to keep white space. As CEO doing it all usually requires something to give and I wish early on someone would have told me “fight for white space”. My business is 24/7 because you are taking care of people, their lives and their businesses. It is a lot of responsibility. Fight for white space. I used to fly into NYC the morning and grind all day and then fly back. Now I fly in the day before, so I can spend a few hours in Central Park getting a workout in and a coffee. I love those trips now!
· Find someone outside of your organization that you can get counsel from. I don’t like counseling people, I want to lay out a process and then I want someone to execute. The weight that comes along with a service business can be heavy if you don’t make the right hires. Sometimes even when I have the right people, they need more, and I realize I can’t give them more. They are important to me, but I cannot always be that person. Having outside resources do that is very valuable! If you are large enough a great Human Resource Director can handle that for you — if not, take it outside so you have support.
· Don’t take it personally. Like anyone else you learn as you go, and the one thing I wish from day one someone would have said to me is “don’t take anything personally”. It is like a great therapy session when someone says something to you and 27 years later you still repeat it to yourself daily. Be professional and understand human nature. Human nature is about self- preservation. Love people when they come in, love them while they are there, and love them when they go out.
What advice would you give to your colleagues to help them to thrive and not “burn out?”
I implemented a little trick for myself — Monday through Friday, from 9 to 12, I don’t schedule any meetings or phone calls. My assistant is not allowed to book anything on my calendar. That gives me three hours a day to get done what I want to get done. White space is not just physical space it is also mental space to think and plan.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
It is hard to identify just one, as there are several key staff members who have all contributed in a way which I would say was invaluable to the organization:
Deedra Carrol, Robin Greenhill and Heather Kinder. Each have contributed in different ways, but all have done so in a way that without them the outcome might have been different.
Deedra is my Director of Touring. There are many sleepless nights that go along with putting up big productions and Deedra never (and I mean never) says no, and she does not ever quit. I admire that mentality — you move forward no matter what and you don’t stop until the job is completed. I could not even begin to qualify the millions of dollars our clients have benefited from as a direct impact from her skills and contributions to their live business.
Robin Greenhill is my Chief Client Officer. Robin’s role is to bridge the needs of our higher profile clients with the firm. That can mean anything from a major market tour, to business development to just helping me accomplish all of the tour’s travel needs. We have been together for more than 20 years and still laugh everyday (and cuss) about this crazy journey we are on together.
Heather Kinder is my assistant and she is probably smarter than I am! The clients love her — she is kind, smart and a great executor. When I say executor you have no idea what she gets done in a day in addition to managing my schedule. I could not list all the stories that we have!
What are some of the goals you still have and are working to accomplish, both personally and professionally?
Personally for me this year was losing weight. Over the years with travel and time constraints, I hit a place where I gained 20 pounds. One of my friends and client Virginia Davis (who manages Thomas Rhett) said to me, “Lou, what is your greatest asset?” After I thought about it, I said “I am my greatest asset”; she replied that I should take care of myself first. With that I lost 20 pounds and got back to my fighting weight and working out. It was a very timely piece of advice.
Professionally, we have developed a technology platform for business management that will be the first of its kind. I could not be prouder of that and all that we have done to get here — 2020 is going to be a crazy year.
What do you hope to leave as your lasting legacy?
I was on a plane ride with Kid Rock once and he was telling all of us that someday on his tombstone he hoped it would say “Bobby was a cool dude”, or something like that. I would hope people would say Lou was a lover and giver of good things. I don’t think there is anything better than making memories with and for other people. It is an endless passion for me! My husband and I also fund a school in St. Michel, Haiti called LakayTimoun. It is so rewarding to use our resources for the children in this village. We provide two meals per day, a safe place to play, a schoolhouse to learn in, a well for water and, in addition, an economic hub that employs locals and teachers. I just want to do as much good as I can and the definition of good is different for each person we serve.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would enhance people’s lives in some way, what would it be? You never know what your idea can trigger!
My movement would be a simple one — get people to respect each other.
Originally published on https://medium.com/authority-magazine/lou-taylor-5-things-i-wish-someone-told-me-before-i-became-the-ceo-of-tri-star-sports-and-7fb4d12d7465