Adam Torres and Lee Ann Schwope discuss change and performance.
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Many entrepreneurs and executives are looking to reach peak performance in their careers. In this episode, Adam Torres interviewed Lee Ann Schwope, Partner at Amphora Consulting. Explore the Amphora Consulting methodology and new book Lee Ann recently released, Mission Matters: World’s Leading Entrepreneurs Reveal Their Top Tips To Success (Business Leaders Vol. 10, Edition 11).
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About Lee Ann Schwope
Lee Ann, partner at Amphora Consulting. Amphora Consulting is a boutique strategy consulting firm that engages with business-to-business (B2B) companies to help them attain their growth potential. Lee Ann holds a BS in Materials Science & Engineering from The Ohio State University and has spent nearly 20 years in corporate workplaces across the aerospace, defense, start-up, and non-profit industries. She offers expertise in areas including research, business development, sales, and strategic marketing capabilities.
Embodying her core values of authenticity and purpose-driven living, Lee Ann promotes women and girls’ access to education and works to advance the cultures of diversity, equity, and inclusion in STEM. Using her unique background in engineering and sales, Lee Ann also leads non-profit fundraising efforts.
As an agent for change, Lee Ann serves on the boards of the Ohio Aerospace Institute (OAI) and the Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence (OAESV). Lee Ann has been a Soroptimist International of America (SIA) member for 10 years and has served in a variety of roles including Soroptimist International (SI)President’s Appeal Coordinator, SIAFundraising Chair, SIA Fundraising Council Member, SIA DonorRelations Task Force, SI UNESCO Representative (Saudi Arabia), Region Fundraising Chair, and numerous club roles including President. She is a prior Board member of the Innovation Research Interchange(IRI), Battelle Japan, and Leadership Columbus. Lee Ann is the Past President and Board Member of the Women in Engineering ProActive Network (WEPAN) Board.
Lee Ann’s advocacy earned Battelle’s recognition as a 2014 Women’s History Month honoree for championing ideas to drive change and shape the future, the Outstanding Soroptimist Award in 2016, and 2013 Rookie of the year with Soroptimist of Columbus and Franklin County. She has also been honored by for her excellence in leadership, strategy, and sales by organizations including Women for Economic Leadership Development (Women You Should Know, 2014), Smart Business (Progressive Woman in Cleveland, 2017), WEPAN (President’s Award, 2018), and The Ohio State University College of Engineering Texnikoi Outstanding Alumni (2020).
A TEDx speaker and author of Perspectives: Authenticity in the Workplace, Lee Ann travels globally to deliver keynote presentations, and workshops delivering the Amphora Grassroots Strategy program and supporting employers who value diversity, equity and inclusion while creating a positive work environment.
About Amphora Consulting
Amphora Consulting is a boutique strategy consulting firm that engages with business to business (B2B) companies to help them attain their growth potential.
Amphora Consulting was founded in 2003. Their track record of success has spanned more than 75 clients including Fortune 500 companies, mid-size companies, startups and private equity-owned companies and some government entities.
Full Unedited Transcript
Hey, I’d like to welcome you to another episode of mission matters. My name is Adam Torres, and if you’d like to apply to be a guest on the show, just head on over to missionmatters. com and click on be our guest to apply. All right. So today is a very special episode. We are welcoming back to the show, back to the stage.
Leanne Schwope, who is a partner over at. And also I’m proud to announce an author in our recently released business leaders book. It’s a best, it’s a bestselling series. And first off, Hey, I just want to say Leanne, welcome back to the show. Thank you so much for having me again, Adam. I’m so glad to be here with you.
Okay, so these are my favorite interviews that I get to do when I get to bring the authors. I mean, we’ve been going through this journey for, I don’t know, a year or so. Take some time to, to put a book together, to get our thoughts together, to, you know, create this anthology series. And now we get to do the fun part, I like to say, which is promoting.
So excited to have you back on. But before we get into the book and what you’ve been up to and just. the update. We’ll start this episode the way that we start them all with what we like to call our mission matters minute. So the end we admission matters. We amplify stories for entrepreneurs, executives and experts.
That’s our mission. The end. What mission matters to you? Yeah, the mission that is most important to me is all around human rights, and I’m sure I sound like a broken record because it’s what I said the last time, but it’s true to my core, and I just believe every person deserves access to education and to food and to housing, and it’s our job as people.
People of society, especially of the United States of America to bring that to fruition. And so my main mission is how do we get people to have the basic human rights that they deserve on a regular basis? Love bringing mission based executives and entrepreneurs on the line to share, you know, why they do what they do, how they’re doing it, and really like what motivates them to get out and to make a difference in the world.
So great having you back on. And I want to, I want to still go back and I don’t want to I don’t want to assume that maybe some of our, our newer audience and newer listeners we’ve been blessed. The show’s grown. Very grateful. I don’t want to assume that the new individuals maybe caught some of our previous work.
So maybe let’s just take a step or two back for a moment and just go into your background and really how you got started on this path. Absolutely. Yeah. So I was fortunate enough to grow up with two parents who just kind of taught you to, to work hard and, and to have discipline in your life in a positive way.
And then I was surrounded by problem solvers. You know, my dad was owned his own business and he was a mechanic and my. My grandpa used to fix he was a farmer, but then he fixed farm equipment after he sold the farm. Then I had my uncle and my brother who were both computer science and engineers.
And I just really knew early on that I wanted to be an engineer and to solve problems. And so during that journey, I learned that what I could really do was translate what engineers were saying to people that weren’t engineers. And so that’s where the marriage kind of happened of how do you do sales and strategic marketing, which is what I absolutely love.
I feel like it’s. The best part of business where you get to solve really hard problems that otherwise might be missed because we can invent and solve so many things, but it doesn’t mean people are going to buy it. The example I always use is we could invent a thousand dollar pencil and it might last you your entire lifetime.
But the market for a thousand dollar pencil is like near to none, right? So let’s talk about what the market actually needs and how we develop that particularly. And then that grew into me learning that I wanted to start sharing my voice and I started learning more about diversity, equity, and inclusion when I worked for a large nonprofit contract research company.
And I went to an event where a woman was sharing her story about how she couldn’t put a picture of her family on her desk. at this company that she worked for because it was a pretty old school type company. And she was she had a partner and her wife and her kids, and she didn’t feel like it would be culturally accepted at that was about 12 years ago now.
I just kind of learned that I wanted to, I wanted to start being a voice and saying, how do you bring your authentic self to everything that you do? I’m really thankful for that woman sharing her story because it, it made me become a better person. Yeah, that’s great. And, and when I think about like somebody’s authentic voice and, and maybe to transition a little bit here I am a huge proponent.
And for anybody that’s been listening to this podcast for a long time, they know I’m always bugging people. Share your story, share your story. I don’t, and I don’t want to sound like a biased publisher here because we published books, but I don’t care whether you use a publisher, whether you, you know, do it on yourself on your own, whether you’re doing a podcast, I don’t care what you use.
I don’t care how the level of complexity, or if it’s. Perceived by some to be, you know, amateur doesn’t matter. Like, in my opinion sharing your story is, is the ability and the, the way that we all feel connected. And that’s really what moves the world is that shared experience, that connectedness. So now that you’ve been, and I don’t mean it as a plug for mission matters, but I just mean in general, as you’ve been going through this process with us of like interviews and books and things like that, of sharing your story.
Like, have you found anything along, along the way, along the journey? Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I wrote in the starting point of my book. So the acknowledgements and the overview of my book with you guys, that putting pen to paper on things and really writing your thoughts are, it’s Super challenging, right?
Because now you, you can’t take it back. You can justify it. You can try and explain it, but ultimately it’s written forever. Right? And so I think what I’ve learned is how to really refine the message that you have and focus on the things that aren’t the winds of change, but rather. You know, what are core to you?
What are the things that have existed for a very long time period? And that was super challenging for me. You have an amazing team and I am beyond thankful for them. Because I was going through a lot of change when I was writing my section of your book. And they were very supportive during that timeframe.
And I kept saying, I want to make sure that this doesn’t reflect where I am today, but who I am as a person, because those might be two very different things when you’re going through change. That’s great. That’s great. And when I think about what you’re saying too, I can think about some of the previous works that I’ve done and any other authors out there, anybody that’s created content, like it almost serves as kind of like these milestones in time, because there’s not, as we get older and, and I’ll, I’ll generalize a bit here, but as we get older, we kind of sometimes fall into routines, right?
Whether it’s, we go to work every day, we do this, we get a promotion, we, you know, all these routines. So. For us to just take a pause and a moment to like document our journey, whether it’s through creating content of some sort, like I do, I do a daily vlog and the reason I do it. So some people think probably that I’m that it’s part of like promotion and mission matters.
And this is like my job, but I do it so I can remember the people I’ve met. Things I’ve done it so that I can kind of look back, but I actually do it more. So for myself, I know that sounds selfish then, then maybe the, the audience for that particular piece of content, and it’s just a good way to remember, like what, what, you know, your life, in my opinion, not saying everybody has to do a daily blog, but.
Whatever it is to take that pause in that moment. And then now I can think about how I look back and I look at maybe like even my first book that was like seven or eight years ago. And I look at that and I read it or I have that moment in time. And I don’t know when you look at things you’ve done. I don’t know if you’ve ever maybe pulled up an old college paper on your computer or something and you’re like, man, I’ve changed or I said that right.
Yeah, my mom made scrapbooks for all of us kids and no way. That’s so cool. Made. She like save some of our paperwork that we had. And when I was in, I think second grade, maybe third grade, I wrote something down that was like, I think that women should be able to be president of the United States of America in second or third grade.
Right. And I’m like, I would have never remembered that had I not had that piece of paper. And I think about this with what you just described, because, you know, even back then I didn’t even know it, but I knew that I wanted equal rights in my life. Right. And I would never have known that had I pulled that up.
And I think what you’re saying is really valuable. And I don’t do a blog. I don’t love writing as much as you do. However, I do do a daily gratitude journal and those. Pictures are those memories. They do a great job. This app that I have of like popping up, you know, like not every like on a regular rotation, but it could be like four weeks ago or it could be six years ago and it reminds you of memories.
And I really love that because you remember people and things that you otherwise might have forgotten. Wow. I feel like that’s a LinkedIn post waiting to happen. You got to take a picture of that one. And, and if you, if you. Feel moved to, but I would love to see it. Like, I would love for you to share that.
Take a, take a picture, posted it. They just talk about that. You wrote that in second grade. Do that. Cause my mom’s coming in town. Actually, it’s a great, it’s a great, yeah. Yeah. And I mean, it just goes in line with everything that you believe in and that you do, it’s authentic. So when we talk about sharing your story authentically, like I feel like other people would benefit from that.
So that’s awesome. Now, again, not I’m over here telling you to do content. It’s okay. You know, I can’t help myself. Working with you and your team, because you’re always encouraging us to, to focus on the mission, to do things that matter and to drive us to the next step. And without that, I otherwise wouldn’t do it.
I’m sure there’s other people out there in the same boat. Let’s thank you. First off let’s let’s switch it up a bit here. So I want to I want to first start talk about a little bit more about M4L consulting and also rooted perspectives. So this is one of the things that, you know, kind of originally brought us together.
So maybe go a little bit into the business to start. Yeah, so I am so fortunate to be a partner at Amphora Consulting. So the background of that story is I was actually a customer of theirs for multiple years, and I was their primary point of contact. And I probably put, gosh, a couple 100 people through their program.
And at the time I had no desire to leave the corporate world. I loved it. I thought it was amazing. And then as I got a little bit older and family started encroaching on what you’re doing, I was like, Gosh, it really, I love the lifestyle that they have. I love that they can go in and help companies over and over again.
And so I reached out to our founder and managing partner, Jeff. And I was like, Hey, I’d like to come and work for you. And he was like, well, that’s great, but we don’t have a job. Not a lot, but then over time he reached out to me about six to 12 months later, I think it was probably about a year and it’s been a perfect fit ever since then.
My other partners are very intelligent. They have created amazing content about strategic marketing and how you take technology and bring it into the marketplace. And they have been so supportive about bringing me along for that journey. And I feel like I have such a great. Opportunity to be part of the team when I was a customer for so long.
So I had already taught so many people about these core principles and you know, the best part of it is I love my job and I believe in it and that’s the best of both worlds. So we’re a boutique consulting firm. There’s only a handful of us. And the biggest difference that we have from some of the larger firms is the partners do the work.
You know, we have the experience and we roll up our sleeves and we’ll pitch the program to you. Find the program. But then we also actually do the work. There’s not junior consultants doing that. Yeah. That’s a, that’s a, that’s a big deal. So to get that, that one on one and that, that hands on approach that you take, maybe talk a little bit about the type of clients, maybe industries that, that you tend to work with.
Yes. So we do all B to B. So the B to C world is a total different animal and there are so many trained people that work in that space. So we kind of stay away from there. We work in B to B and specifically large companies that have multiple pillars of business is really our sweet spot because what we do is we bring that strategic perspective to merge all of that together.
And it’s so much fun because most people think that they work on strategy or they work on strategy. think that they work on their business, but really what they’re doing is they’re working in their business and they lose sight of the big picture. So we have two main programs that we do. The first is our flagship program, which is our grassroots strategy workshop, which is where we start to teach you and your team.
How do you create a strategic marketing plan and what are the pieces and parts of that, including voice of the customer value, selling value, pricing, all of those things, the customer journey map within there. And then the other thing that we can do for customers if they’re not quite ready for that is really focusing on what is your strategy?
And we call it strategy on a page. And so we go through a day or two day workshop where we help you say, here are the strategic imperatives that we absolutely have to do. Here’s what we are going to do. Here are things we might do. And here, most importantly, this is the list that people forget about.
Here’s what we’re not going to focus on. And it’s really important to have that list so that you know what you can say no to, so that you can focus on the big things that really matter. And, and typically how long are you, like, are you working with a company? Like on average, does this, is this like to, to create this type of change?
I’m guess it takes a little bit to go through these programs, right? It does. So before I joined the team, one of the largest clients that we had Jeff and the other partners worked with them for multiple years and it was truly like a cultural shift, right. But we do have examples and I just had a check in with a customer that we had about a year ago.
And we only did a. I think maybe an eight hour, maybe even a 10 hour workshop with them. And, you know, the feedback that they gave us was everything that you taught us is changing how we think about business, what we’re doing and, and so we can do initiatives on both sides. I have another client that I’ve worked with now for over three years because we’re really working with them directly on how to optimize all of their business processes and, and what their strategy is.
And, and so. You know, the beauty of working with a boutique consulting firm is we do what is best for you. But we always say that we want to work ourself out of a job. So we don’t do consulting to be there forever. Our goal is to do enough work such that you can bring someone on to take on the work that we’re doing for you when we hand that off.
And now to have, I mean, these are larger companies too. So to have a statement like that be said, that has changed the way we look at, or that way we do business, like that’s a big deal, like, can you maybe talk a little bit more about what goes into something like that? Yeah. So it’s really focused on how do you ask the right questions?
How do you challenge and create healthy tension in an organization versus unhealthy tension? How do you make sure that you’re carving out time so that you are working on your business rather than just. doing tactical work. And so we do that by focusing on the big picture. What is the market look like that you’re playing in?
What is your right to win? How are you sculpting and winning that going forward? And what are your main points of differentiation? And then training them on that value pricing, value selling and all of those things. And then lastly, we really help them with the sales process. And how do you make sure you don’t get value leakage?
So a lot of times customers just price on what the competitor is doing, or they say, well, it costs me 10 to build this product. And so I need to put my overhead on there, which is 20%. And then I need to make a little bit more money. So I’ll add another 30%. And then they get to, you know, being at 150 percent of the cost of making the product.
Well, that’s not value selling. That’s just you telling them what cost you need, rather than talking to them and saying, how much is this really worth to you? So many examples of customers that never went through that exercise and they gave away the store, you know, they could have charged more. They could have added more value to the customer had they sold it that way.
It’s great. Let’s let’s shift it up a bit here. I want to spend some of the time we have here on the book today. So your, your topic in the book rooted, rooted. Yes, that one. Your topic in the book. So rooted perspective. the way that you break this down. And I, I I like the way you do it. So you go through and I mean, it’s, it’s like the analogy of like a tree, essentially.
So flowers and seeds, pods, seed pods, leaves, branches, trunk root and like roots and legacy. So how do you want, how do you want to tee this up? Okay, well, twofold, threefold, actually. I like folds. Go ahead. I’m in for the folds. So, number one, you could ask my mom, like, what any type of tree is, or what any type of bird is, and she could tell you in a heartbeat.
Really? Wow. But like, I’ll send her the worst picture in the world, and I’ll be like, It was smaller than a Cardinal, but it was red and it was doing this. And she’s like, it’s probably this bird. And I look it up and I’m like, that was the bird I saw. No way. So my mom is like my inspiration to always thinking about nature and how that nourishes us.
And, you know, I just love that she has this. knowledge that I feel like so few people have, especially when it’s her job. I mean, she was a teacher. She taught second grade in kindergarten. I mean, she has no reason to know every bird in North America, right? Number two, and she’s the kindest woman in the entire world.
Like, I hope you get a chance. I hope she comes to our book launch because number two, I work. with an energy coach. And, you know, we always talk about root plush fill and how trees and nature can really help you, you know, bring your energy to the right level. And so there’s that second piece within there.
And then there’s a third piece that when I was talking with your team about what I really wanted to share and how to work through that. The giving tree came up the book from many of moons ago that we all probably read as a child. And, you know, you and your team helped me figure out how to merge those thoughts together in this beautiful way of saying, let’s not get by beauty, but rather think about where the foundation is and what that means for you.
And as I get older, I just think that’s so important because it’s so easy to get distracted in life. It’s really easy to get distracted by the wrong people or things in your life. And so that’s what rooted perspective is all about bringing those It’s three things together to really allow people to find themselves.
Hmm. Now, obviously there’s many takeaways in the book and in the chapter. What’s, if, if, if there was like one central that you’d like the readers to walk away with, like, ah, like, what would that be? So the rooted perspective, the main takeaway that I hope people have is really focusing on yourself.
If you’re not taking care of your foundation and how you’re going to flourish and grow. You’re going to lose yourself and when you lose yourself, it’s really hard to get back to where you were. And I will say that it’s a beautiful journey to get back there and to find yourself all over again and to learn more about you.
However, if we could keep that front and center and make sure that we’re nourishing ourself first, it’s the same thing that they talk about on an airplane. Put your air mask on first and then help the passengers next to you or help your children. That’s really hard to absorb because I think most people are good natured.
And the first thing I would do if you were sitting next to me on the airplane is being like, Adam, get your mask on. But what I have to do is put my mask on so that then I can help you and I can help other people clearly. Right. And I think that’s really the beauty of all of it. There’s a second piece to that, which I love about it, which is no matter how lost you get, you can always reroute yourself and find it all over again.
And that is my journey in writing this section. Hmm. And what I, what I like about this is that this philosophy, I mean, it, it kind of, it, it applies obviously to our personal lives, but to business too, like as a business. So it’s for businesses as well. Like there’s no, there’s kind of like the, it fits in both scenarios.
It really does because, you know, we, we, we have a, we have an opportunity when we have a job that we love that we can say we can wake up and go to work every day and love what we do, but not everyone has that. And let’s be honest, no matter how great our job is, no matter how much you like working with us authors, you’re still going to get emails from people like me that says, Hey, Adam, I know we had it scheduled for this day, but we have to move it.
And you’re going to be a little frustrated, right? Not me. I’m okay. Maybe somebody else that has to reschedule it on my team. Hillary, it’s okay. No, but, but me, I’m fine. Go ahead. Like Hillary, right? Like, how do you include it in? It’s actually what the outcome is, not all bumps in the road. And I think that’s really important for us.
So it’s a really silly story. And I spent way too much money to figure this out, but I used to love hard shell tacos. Thank Okay. Like I thought that eating tacos meant that you had hard shell tacos, but I had evolved to a family nature where we ate soft shell tacos and eating tacos because I didn’t really like soft shells that much.
I mean, street tacos, maybe a different story, but soft shell tacos were not my thing to learn. How important hardshell tacos were for me in order to love eating them. And that may sound crazy, but if you’re going to have taco night, every single person around the table should love what they’re eating.
Yeah, I needed to learn again that I loved hardshell tacos. And I think for anyone who has gone through a journey of change, they will completely understand what I’m saying in that statement. I understand number one, number two. So you’re back on hard shell tacos. I just need to confirm this. Yes. Never going backwards again.
I love it. There’s a, there’s a win here today. I’m in hard shell tacos at the book launch parties. I’m in, I’m in. So, so I want, I do want to also spend a moment or two. So on M4A Consulting, there’s a book that I, I believe the founders of M4A Consulting, correct me if I’m wrong on this one, but the founders wrote called Grassroots Strategy.
And that’s, that’s a way that the audience and people that are more interested in maybe going a little bit deeper in the philosophy, like they can get more more info on it and kind of the methodologies. Can you maybe elaborate on that? Yeah, so the best quote from people that we had review the book is that it’s a mini MBA.
And so we really would love for people. That study finance or study engineering or study chemistry for them to pick up grassroots strategy before they go to the workplace because this is all the stuff that is missed in our education right now. Now, if you go to school and get an MBA, you’re going to learn a lot of these things.
We would argue that you might not learn it in such a collective way, though. So what grassroots strategy really does is it helps you understand that you can develop and design anything, but how are you going to bring that to market? And what are the key things you have to think about with that? And we’ve done that from experience after experience.
And so this program has evolved over the last 20 years, so that really adds value for the customer. And what we focus on is not doing it for you. But rather showing you how to do it. So once you do it a few times, you can then implement that and it can be part of the culture of your company. It’s great.
And we’ll, we’ll be sure to put links to all this stuff in the show notes. And I definitely want people to pick up a copy of that as well. Well, Leanne, I just have to say it’s. Been great having you back in the show. I’m just, I’m looking forward to and thrilled to continue to promote this book and everything that you’re doing over at M for consulting and otherwise.
That being said, I mean, what’s next? I mean, what’s next for you? What’s next for the firm? Yeah. So I’m working on a full book now, so I’ve written two sections. It’s one with you guys and one with another entity. And so now I’m really ready to roll out the carpet and write my own thoughts. And it’s really a great combination.
The philosophy that I have around, you know, what is an authentic driven life? How do you leave a legacy of what you’re looking for? But also sort of how do you evolve and change as you grow through life? Because we’re all handed things that we necessarily didn’t. Sign up for. And so how do you work through those and how do you figure that out?
And I’m really excited about it because while I’m at type a recovering perfectionist engineer, I do have a lot of empathy and I do have a lot of thoughts about, you know, how we can be kinder to each other. And so I really found that writing helps me combine those two things. And I do think it helps me on my journey of becoming a recovering perfectionist.
Oh my gosh, I love that recovering perfectionist. I mean, that’s one title I’ll never take. It was enough. I’m the, I’m the just go after it. I don’t know. Perfectionist is not what somebody would call me. Actually, I’d be, I’d be consistent. That’s what they’d call me. Hey, that is a really good attribute to have.
It’s all I got. I don’t know. It’s okay. I hope so. Oh, well, Leanne, again, as always a pleasure. If somebody wants to connect, by the way, and follow up and just and kind of go further into the methodologies or to also follow your story. I mean, what’s the best way for them to do that? Yeah, so a couple things.
The AmphoraConsulting. com, which I’m sure will be hyperlinked in the notes. And then LeanneSchwab. com really talks about the work that I’ve done, the books that I’ve done the workshops that I can present specifically. For women who work in the STEM field to help them with the differentiation that we have versus others that work in that space, especially if you’re in a double bind scenario.
And then lastly, I have, I try to really post as much as I possibly can on LinkedIn. And so that’s the best social media platform for me. I would love to say that I’m a great tweeter or Facebook user, but it’s just not true. I’m just a little bit too old for that. And now that it’s X, what did we call it?
Is it still? I don’t, I don’t know. I’m confused. I don’t know. It’s brand new. Who knows? All right. Well, not to digress. So for the audience, Hey, first off fantastic. So for the audience as always. Thank you for tuning in. We’ve had a lot of fun. Hope you have to as well. If you haven’t hit that subscribe button yet, hit subscribe.
We have many more mission based individuals coming up and we don’t want you to miss a thing, Leanne. Really? It has been a pleasure as always. Thank you so much for coming back on. Can’t wait till we get to do this next. Thank you. Me too.