Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in personal and business development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Judy Ryan, Founder and CEO of LifeWork Systems, located in Maryland Heights, MO, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
LifeWork Systems is a performance management company specializing in culture transformation since 2002. We expand the human potential to maximize performance. We create a new kind of workforce and organization in which all people within operate from accountability, internal motivation, and cohesive teamwork. Our proven, scalable system and implementation framework is on a digital platform and is consistent with the needs of today's rapid speed of change, diversity, technology, complexity, and trends toward teal, trauma-informed, and agile practices.
We transfer responsibility to each person for exceptional engagement, service, and success. Because we have a comprehensive, scalable system for culture change, we serve customers across a wide range of industries, including corporate, government, non-profit, education, and more. We can serve small, medium, and large organizations. What matters most is that our customers are a specific psychographic that understands and values that culture and business transformation is really people transformation.
Tell us about yourself
I have felt for a long time that our human systems aren’t working anymore – the way of superior vs. inferior, management vs. employees, or even adults vs. children. We need powerful, positive, and sustainable change. People are suffering needlessly, and answers to the need for systemic change have viable solutions. Future trends, challenges, and priorities require effective evolvement of conditions and conversations to meet today’s current and future life and work objectives.
My experience has been that for centuries, most authority figures, including executives, educators, and parents, adopted human systems (how people think, act, feel, and behave) originally designed for survival, conformity, and compliance rather than creativity, initiative, responsibility, and collaboration. These obsolete and counter-productive systems do not foster alignment, accountability, or positive social interest, in other words, when every person considers the consequences that they cause others.
I do my best to walk the talk in my work and personal life ever since I initially learned and applied Adlerian psychology, first when parenting my five children in the 80s and 90s and then in my work inside LifeWork Systems. I started out as a parent educator in the 90s and eventually as a business owner beginning in 2002 (20 years ago). I saw that changes needed in homes and schools were also needed in every kind of setting then and now. Healthy human systems matter everywhere and with everyone.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment is the development of a guided culture transformation process. It is comprehensive, immersive, scalable, and sustainable. People value my implementation framework, and that is proof that it works. Our process allows me (and other oversight consultants) to work with all the stakeholders in any organization, transferring responsibility for healthy culture and maintenance of it internally to people at all levels.
When we delivered school reform work (for example, and for which we were awarded for our outcomes), we worked with teachers, school administrators, students, and parents, all simultaneously. In this initiative, we were awarded because we helped more inner-city high school students stay in school and graduate from multiple at-risk high schools. We are able to make our culture change system fully distributive in any organization so that everyone from the CEO to the front-line staff are able to participate. I'm proud of our way of expressing our mission "to create a world in which all people love their lives."
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
One of the hardest things I experience as a business owner is getting the word out to leaders so they know what we can provide them. There is a learning curve needed for a certain kind of buyer in order for us to sell our comprehensive, powerful system approach. We seek leaders who are innovative and aware of today's trends and their own needs and gaps. They must be the kind of leaders who are committed to people development and continuous growth and improvement.
We find it challenging at times to help them understand the kind of culture model we provide and our particular change process, including the immersive nature of it. This makes it a little difficult to scale our business as quickly as we might be otherwise because ours is a complex and innovative sale. However, we are determined and positioned for rapid and service-oriented growth.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
I think what makes someone successful when starting, running, and growing a business are these three things:
- They must be passionate about the work they do and feel it to be a calling. It is true that when you feel joy in your mission, you don't work a day in your life.
- They must have drive and determination that helps them through the challenging times when they might otherwise quit. Some call this grit!
- They must have clarity that their products and services fit the needs of the marketplace or will fit them soon because they see gaps and changes in the way the world is evolving.
When you are aligned with your work, you grow and succeed more than someone with high intelligence, investments, and luck.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
This is a time when the wheat and chaff are sifting in every kind of setting. People are in more pain and are growing aware that they are not victims. This is obvious in our society's current trends, including the recent "great resignation." People are starting to want a win/win more than a win/lose, although quite a few in the win/lose camp are holding onto the known with a death grip! I have known for decades that this time was coming.
I used to say in the early days of building my company when marketing consultants would tell me, “You can’t appeal to business owners for reasons like ensuring their people 'love their lives.' They don’t care about employees that way. The time has come when if the leaders of an organization do not care about the happiness and development of their people, or the health of their workplace culture, or don’t know how to help everyone live from purpose and values, they will not make it forward." I am committed to stay the course knowing the world will eventually recognize the need to evolve. That time is now.
Where can people find you and your business?
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