Dawn F. Landry is a bestselling author and an award-winning and respected business professional. She has spent over half of her 28-year career in Houston’s corporate real estate industry, excelling in leadership roles including as an executive in business development and marketing within the region’s largest economic development organization, as well as international commercial construction companies.
In February 2017, Landry founded Authentizity, LLC, as an independent B2B growth strategist and a Gallup-Certified CliftonStrengths® Coach to provide consulting, training, and coaching services that optimize technical teams’ engagement and productivity. In August 2021, Landry launched BD Dynamics, Empowering the Technical-Minded. It is a self-guided, online course engineered to advance the intentionality and accountability of Doer/Sellers within the technical, service industry business development process.
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Tell us a little bit about your current projects. What exciting milestone would you like to share with our readers? (Don’t hesitate to delve into your achievements, they will inspire the audience)
Dawn Landry: In early 2017, as I began the early vision for what would eventually become Authentizity, there were two concepts that I knew for sure:
- There is only one “I” in business development, so helping technical professionals to Define Your “I” in Business Development™ was a foundational principle of my service offering; and
- A crucial component of the Doer/Seller process is to assist technical professionals with Identifying, Honing, and Articulating™ their individual value to their clients, their companies, and most importantly, themselves.
Through the years, I have had the great opportunity to work with hundreds of operations and engineering-minded technicians to advance their confidence, competence, and success in business development by creating a process that parallels their project management acumen. My philosophy is that each of us has our own DNA that is reflected in our outreach and relationship style.
With a near three-decade B2B strategic growth career working alongside technical Doer/Sellers to achieve exponential sales success, I have leveraged lessons learned and best practices from those experiences to develop the framework for Authentizity’s new, online Doer/Seller Course: BD Dynamics, Empowering the Technical-Minded.
There is no other consultant/company that provides a self-guided course to help operations leaders become more adept and successful in the client relationship/selling functions of their roles.
By the end of the 15-module course, participants will have utilized the 13 interactive exercises to create their own business development process, which is individually customized to their unique diversity, skills, strengths, experiences, and even industry and company needs.
To excel as successful Doer/Sellers, technicians must first have a solid, proven, and repeatable reputation at the “doing” part of their operations roles. It requires for them (as the operations professional) to be able to develop credibility, composure, character, and reliability to carry and advance the relationship to the close of the sale, to consistently execute the project, and then to rinse and repeat so they can achieve future, sustainable client retention.
BD Dynamics has achieved advanced praise, reviews, and reception from technical leaders within many global, technical, service-based industries such as architecture, engineering, construction, etc.
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up?
Dawn Landry: When I founded Authentizity in February 2017, I hit the ground running and had massive success early on. It wasn’t until the pandemic that my business slowed down and I had nothing but time and space. That’s when my true entrepreneurship was tested most. However, I never considered giving up
I know that highs and lows are inherent in times of uncertainty. No doubt about it, it is often darkest before the dawn. However, the common denominator in successful companies who can ride out the storm is an ability to retract, retool, and transform to evolve their superstar employee base and service offering to market demands.
Solid companies consistently become even stronger because of it. As with anything, we grow through the forging of the fires, if we are open to learn from the past and flex for our future.
What are the most common mistakes you see entrepreneurs make and what would you suggest they do?
Dawn Landry: As a leader, the worst possible thing that you can do is what I call “the Ostrich Approach.” It’s where you stick your head in the sand, hoping for the best. No; that’s the antithesis of leadership! It’s during these times when you must dig deep to muster all your strategic and creative strength. Innovative and tactical ideas are especially necessary when making staffing and other resource investment decisions.
However, take solace in knowing that our entire country (and the world) is in the exact same position as you and your company are right now. It’s not an embarrassment to have had to downsize through pay cuts, furloughs, or even layoffs, to ensure that your company survives. The benefit is that you have the opportunity to rebuild better and stronger.
When making these decisions, it’s wise to explore all departments, functions, assets with as much impartiality as possible. That is never truer than when it comes to talent; retaining the best and brightest is a given. In thriving times, every organization has what I call “mirror foggers” — likely great people, but unmotivated or unsuited for the position that they currently hold. Those should be the first to be considered in the first wave of your downsizing.
The strongest advice that I can impress upon you is not to dismiss your most gifted and successful business development and marketing talent and their proven programs over underperforming operations personnel. Trust me, down markets always ensure that you will be able to upgrade your underachievers with more experienced, engaged, and competent technical professionals.
Rather, it’s times like these in which you need to invest in your organization, its brand awareness, and your efforts to rally around your best and most loyal clients, as well as possibly pursuing new clients and adapting to new markets. You can’t do that without seasoned business development and marketing advisors.
Here are a few suggestions as you leverage and align your strategy with your business development and marketing teams:
- Engage & Partner – Early and often involvement of your plan (including any new market strategy) hinges on the involvement, feedback, and follow-through of your marketing and/or public relations team members. Have you recently conducted a competitive or SWOT analysis? What does their research indicate?
- Internal Preparedness – Can they revamp/update your company qualifications, website, project sheets, and team resumes to appeal to your current, as well as any new target industries? Don’t forget about client referrals/testimonials. Those will be crucial as proofs for future work with new prospects.
- Exploring New Channels – Are there direct email activities, as well as social media, professional, and community outlets/channels to promote your company and your capabilities to deploy quickly? Strategically focusing your marketing and business development budgets will be imperative to survival. A best practice is to use marketing/public relations tactics that are of minimal cost and maximum exposure if executed creatively.
- Take Them Out of Their Box – What else do those creative minds suggest? Let them brainstorm freely. You will be amazed at what they present back to you.
You must respond quickly. The economic climate is changing sometimes day-to-day, so nimble responsiveness is imperative. Time and opportunity-tested, true leaders are like beacons shining through the night for those under their care.
My challenge for you as a leader today is to avoid the Ostrich Approach. Instead, put your shoulders back, hold your head up high and leverage every creative, talented, and reliable resource at your disposal to traverse these storms. I am convinced that if you do, then you will be successful.
Resilience is critical in critical times like the ones we are going through now. How would you define resilience?
Dawn Landry: If you examine the leading organizations which have the most longevity and overall sustainability with their clients, you will note that they all have one thing in common.
They are continually seeking opportunities to transform their businesses to ever-shifting market patterns. They also know how to proactively anticipate a client’s needs, and often become problem finders in addition to being problem solvers.
Those true innovators devote time, energy, and effort to their advancement, even during the darkest of days. Most importantly, they do so even when budgets are tight.
Why? Because they realize that they must continually repurpose/reinvent/restore themselves to build the resilience of their companies. As acknowledged through the acceptance of their service and/or product offerings by their clients, this evolutionary mindset ensures the success of their business development professionals and their efforts for true market penetration.
When you think of your company, 5 years from now, what do you see?
Dawn Landry: You’ve probably heard the saying “Rebel without a Cause”? Well, I consider myself a woman without a plan.
Don’t get me wrong. I have a general platform from which I provide Authentizity’s service offering and qualifications. I know my company’s capabilities, but I also understand the value that can be delivered to an organization when I am stretched beyond an “off the shelf” standard offering to flex and expand on behalf of clients, always leveraging previous lessons learned.
To do so, I must challenge myself as I challenge my clients — To Maximum Greatness. How did I become a business owner of a thriving consulting company, you ask? The easiest thing would have been for me to go back to my comfort zone and take a full-time business development job in another company. However, I knew, that I was bored and needed to advance my skill set by trying something new.
As my husband reminds me, he encouraged me towards this career path two years before I made the decision. As often happens, he believed in me before I could believe in myself. (It’s so much easier to see the talent and skills in someone else before you can yourself, right?)
You see — I AM THE UNLIKELY ENTREPRENEUR.
I never wanted to own my own business. My parents had owned a business when I was young, and I saw the challenges and difficulties that it brought to them. Being a business owner (in my mind) meant being poor, stressed out, and unhappy. I’m here to tell you that I was wrong.
The past 4.5 years have been the most exhilarating, creative, and rewarding time of my life. There’s something empowering about developing a business from the ground up to satisfy an unfulfilled niche in the market.
Do I always get it right? No, but I give it my all. One consistent question that I am asked is “Okay, what’s your plan? What’s next?” I don’t have that answer. I accept and surrender to each day as the gift that it is, feeling truly blessed with the wonderful clients that I serve. When the next opportunity is before me, I embrace it as I would an open door. I know that what I’m learning today will prepare me for that next challenge.
Delegating is part of being a great leader, but what have you found helpful to get your managers to become valiant leaders as well?
Dawn Landry: Leaders should seek opportunities to consult, coach/mentor, and train their management teams in identifying and articulating the unique, individual value that each team member brings to the organization, based upon their strengths, experiences, and individual wiring.
By setting that good example, leadership is further prepared to empower those with whom they manage in other areas and levels throughout the company. Once employees understand and can articulate their unique value, then they are then able to “own” their accomplishments and stop setting roadblocks to their success.
What have you learned about personal branding that you wish you had known earlier in your career?
Dawn Landry: Many professionals assume that everyone thinks the same way that they do, and/or has the same value to provide as their colleagues and peers. They don’t treasure their unique worth. Additionally (and especially in emerging leaders), they don’t realize/appreciate that they have only one name and that they should guard it as a cherished gem.
They first need to do the work to Identify, Hone, and Articulate™ (IHA) their value to their organizations, clients, and themselves. Through exercises that embolden self-awareness about their unique strengths, experience, best practices, etc., these individuals can define their significant attributes.
What’s your favorite leadership style and why?
Dawn Landry: Leadership must be grounded in these fundamental and foundational components to initiate and keep long-lasting, sustainable, professional relationships:
- Authenticity in Early Inception – As much as we don’t want to believe it, the adage that a book is judged by its cover is quite true, especially nowadays. It is even more imperative to demonstrate trust, transparency, a genuine interest, and an ability to serve as a resource to others from the start.
Our contacts will test us in the small things before they award us anything of importance. What is your character conveying?
- Credibility in Cultivation – Studies have shown that before credentials mean anything to the audience at the receiving end of our pitch, we must foster rapport, reliability, and integrity.
Truly lasting relationships are marathons, not sprints. Follow-up, consistency, and sincerity are all demonstrated through years of advancement.
- Intentionality and Accountability throughout Maturation – Remaining engaged and in touch requires meaningful responsibility. Without a purposeful plan, years will elapse so reconnection may feel artificial.
What advice would you give to our younger readers that want to become entrepreneurs?
Dawn Landry: My advice to any entrepreneur is that she/he must be willing and prepared to be nimble to the shifting changes in any given market conditions, but especially in those that are unpredictable.
Consistently investing in your business, even during the challenging times of this past year when monies are tight and the outlook seems bleak reaps those most in long time organizational sustainability. A natural inclination when times get tough is to pull up the draw bridges and hunker down. As it relates to business, that tendency extends to not expending any dollars on research, development, education of staff, and ESPECIALLY not BD/marketing.
However, I’d like to counter that inclination. You may be missing out on an opportunity to position yourself and your company for rapid acceleration in revenue and overall organizational growth.
This counsel should not be misinterpreted. I don’t advise that you implement radical shifts, even if your competition is doing so. Now is the time to be a leader, not a follower. What I am offering is that you consider these three recommendations:
- Reflect – Is there some additional area in which your clients might benefit from an alternative, complementary solution to your already existing service or product line?
- Research – Are there existing internal assets and/or resources that are best aligned to easily ramp up this offering? What might the cost/benefit analysis be to your organization if you decided to move in this direction?
- Reach Out – Ask some of your best clients to test/validate your idea and garner their input, as well as early adoption.
You see, I have followed that resiliency-building philosophy since I started Authentizity in February 2017. As a solopreneur, I am Authentizity’s product, so I live my own Doer/Seller model. Therefore, Authentizity’s investments have included more training, learning, and service development/advancement for me. Those expenditures have reaped significant revenue in business development resiliency in the many market shifts since the company’s inception.
What’s your favorite “life lesson” quote and how has it affected your life?
Dawn Landry: The way that I answer this question is with two questions: Are you squatting in your life? Or, in which aspect of your life are you squatting?
As we enter the final quarter of 2021, it’s a perfect time to choose a positive mindset and visualize the future by motivating yourself — it’s never too late. The easy way out is to squat or quit, frozen in time with a regretful or fearful attitude. The pandemic is a great excuse to write off this year, as well as last year. However, I’d like to challenge you. What would it look like if you stretched and pressed yourself with intentionality and accountability in some new area that’s exciting to you?
That’s what I chose to do when I decided to use 2020 to author and self-publish a book, and then to create and produce an online course, BD Dynamics in 2021. I’m not special. I just don’t idle well and needed to have something tangible to show for this quieter time as I prepare for whatever becomes of our new hybrid environment.
I want to challenge you now to not let another minute go to waste.
- Pursue that dream in your heart.
- Or are you dreaming too small? How might you expand your service offering to serve beyond your existing reach?
It’s never too late. You wouldn’t still be here on this Earth unless there was a purpose for your life and for your organization’s purpose.
Jed Morley, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Dawn Landry for taking the time to do this interview and share her knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Dawn Landry or her company, you can do it through her – Linkedin Page
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