Women Of The C-Suite: Danielle Langton of Slagel Langton Co On The Five Things You Need To Succeed As A Senior Executive C-Suite

An Interview with Charlie Katz

Charlie Katz
Authority Magazine

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Family and friends won’t always get it. They may not understand your role, your business, or your level of commitment to both. And that’s okay. It’s not your job to convince them of anything. If they have questions, answer them without defensiveness, and then leave space for new relationships to form with those who do support you.

As a part of our interview series called “Women Of The C-Suite” , we had the pleasure of interviewing Danielle Langton.

Danielle Langton is a business strategy consultant who spent more than a decade climbing the corporate ladder before trading in her VP title to champion six-and-seven-figure CEOs as they streamline and scale their businesses. Her mantra for her own life and those she partners with is to create a life, not just a living — which she achieves through detailed, customized business plans that simplify operations while improving profitability for her clients. When she’s not working with her inspiring roster of clients, Danielle enjoys morning walks with her golden retriever, hanging out in the backyard after dinner with her husband (and a glass of Topo Chico + Casamigos Tequila Blanco), and exploring their new town of Austin, Texas.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

I worked my way up in corporate America for 10 years working for prominent, high-power businesses, from a Fortune 500 company to a tech start-up, eventually making my way to a Global VP position. I had everything I thought would make me feel “successful”: the 6-figure salary, the dreamy title, the proximity to other successful leaders. But after too many nights on the road, a toxic work environment, and finding my way in male-dominated industries… I realized the appearance of success didn’t equate to my personal happiness. I resigned shortly after to start my own business doing what I was good at: helping women scale their businesses and make more money, all while prioritizing rest, balance, and having a life outside of work, too. Now I spend my days partnering with 6- and 7-figure female CEOs to review their operations and install customized strategies that focus on profitability, scalability, and their own happiness.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

I have been absolutely shocked at the amount of referrals I get in my business from the relationships I’ve built. From former corporate colleagues to prestigious online business owners who share my name with people they know, I never knew how much referrals and connections would play a part in my business’s success. The majority of our current and past clients have come from some sort of referral.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Two months after starting my business, I launched a training program and honestly I don’t remember how — or if? — I promoted it. Even so, I projected that 100 women would sign up. After creating a 40-plus page slide deck and setting up my camera to go live and deliver the training, ONE person showed up. (Edie, if you’re reading this, thank you! I hope you learned something, because I know I sure did.) I realized we can launch any product or service we desire, but if we aren’t our own biggest promoters for it, our target audience has no way of knowing or caring about it. If the client isn’t aware, of course it’s not going to succeed! There is an immense amount of work that needs to be done to warm up an audience and get them interested enough to opt in and show up. Increasing their awareness is about consistently connecting with your audience and sharing, sharing, and sharing again what you’re planning to offer. Now I know better, and anytime we launch, the biggest focus is the pre-launch phase to make sure my audience knows what’s coming.

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 about that?

Right before launching my business, I enrolled in a business course that Jenna Kutcher promoted as an affiliate. By signing up for the course through her promotions, I was added to her own personal mentorship and mastermind group, where she led and coached a number of us students through the materials. I got to know her on a personal level through this experience and even went on her podcast, The Goal Digger Podcast, as a result to share some of my takeaways from taking the course. She is so genuinely caring, and over time, I feel like she’s become a lifelong friend now who truly believes in my success.

In my work, I often talk about how to release and relieve stress. As a busy leader, what do you do to prepare your mind and body before a stressful or high stakes meeting, talk, or decision? Can you share a story or some examples?

Good music can automatically transform my energy and relieve stress. Some of my go-tos are Khalid, Post Malone, and Justin Bieber. I know. You can call me basic; you’re not wrong! Singing and dancing are requirements to shift my mood, too. I also start *most* days by journaling in a future state, as if the desired outcome has already happened. I’ve found that picturing and imagining myself after my goals have been achieved helps me bridge the gap and feel more empowered to get there faster. And if I just can’t shake a funk, a long walk or a workout is always helpful to ease my mind.

As you know, the United States is currently facing a very important self-reckoning about race, diversity, equality and inclusion. This may be obvious to you, but it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you articulate to our readers a few reasons why it is so important for a business or organization to have a diverse executive team?

I always say, proximity is power. If we can have more opinions, backgrounds, walks of life, and diversity of experiences, race, upbringing, and education around us and within our proximity, we have the ability to learn from one another and be better because of it. Having a team where everyone looks and sounds the same and has similar life experiences does a disservice to the business. You won’t reach people outside of your worldview, unless you invite people outside of your worldview up to your table.

As a business leader, can you please share a few steps we must take to truly create an inclusive, representative, and equitable society? Kindly share a story or example for each.

Equality starts from the top. As leaders, it’s our responsibility to hire a diverse group of backgrounds, races, and skill-sets. It’s also our responsibility to lead by example: to continue educating ourselves on topics of inclusivity and representation, to talk openly about things like gender gaps and inclusive workplaces, and to bring in experts that can break down barriers and biases that most people may not even realize they hold. I’m personally leaning into learning about antiracism and true diversity in the workplace to ensure my own business is doing its part to invite in voices, businesses, and backgrounds that look different than my own.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. Most of our readers — in fact, most people — think they have a pretty good idea of what a CEO or executive does. But in just a few words can you explain what an executive does that is different from the responsibilities of the other leaders?

Being an executive requires knowing what is going on across the entire business while also hiring and trusting the team you have supporting you to catch your blind spots. An executive needs to be aware of the future vision, as well as what, when, and how to get there, and also what is happening in real time. They have to keep a tab on everything while also realizing they can’t be the only one in control of everything.

What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a CEO or executive. Can you explain what you mean?

CEOs don’t have it easy because they’re at the top. They carry the weight of sustaining their team’s careers, the pressure of continuing to create impactful products or offers that solve problems, and the balance of constantly thinking about the business — especially at 2 a.m. — while wanting to also have a life OUTSIDE of the business, too. We constantly feel like we have to be “on,” and rest and unplugging doesn’t come easy for most CEOs… which is exactly why my business focuses on helping leaders build a business that allows them to have a life, not just a living. It’s a constant work in progress for myself, too, but I find that practicing boundaries and forcing myself to step away from work helps.

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by women executives that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?

It’s ingrained in women to think about how we present ourselves… our apparel, our emotions, our responses. If we’re too emotional or too feminine, it can be seen as a weakness in many workplaces unfortunately. I also hear so many of my clients talk about the desire to do and have it all, both a full career and a full family life, but we’re often forced to choose at times. I do believe both ARE possible, and we can be a present executive, wife, mom, partner, and friend without sacrificing personal happiness. It takes knowing exactly what you want and dialing in on your priorities, and not apologizing when you say no to the things that aren’t in alignment with that vision.

What is the most striking difference between your actual job and how you thought the job would be?

I think so many people start their own businesses for freedom and flexibility, myself included, but it’s not always the reality. There have been many days and weeks I’ve worked longer hours for myself than I did in a highly demanding corporate role. My desire to grow the business is my ultimate priority, but I also want to protect my time. Scaling in a way that is sustainable is something I thought would naturally take place and be manageable, but I’m realizing every opportunity and “yes” in business is ultimately a sacrifice somewhere else in my life. Sometimes that’s a good thing, sometimes it’s not, and it’s a balance I’m still figuring out.

Do you think everyone is cut out to be an executive? In your opinion, which specific traits increase the likelihood that a person will be a successful executive and what type of person should avoid aspiring to be an executive? Can you explain what you mean?

No, I don’t believe everyone is cut out to be an executive — I’ve witnessed firsthand what it’s like to report to executives who should not be. A successful leader is open minded, a good listener, decisive, and empathetic. If you don’t understand other people and don’t know exactly what you want, you’re going to have a hard time leading a team and making critical business decisions.

What advice would you give to other women leaders to help their team to thrive?

I believe in trust and empowerment when it comes to leadership. Allow your team to learn, excel, AND mess up. They won’t figure it out if you’re micromanaging or hand holding. Team members should also be able to focus on their areas of expertise. I’ve seen too many leaders try to force tasks onto team members who don’t care or don’t know enough about the specific responsibilities to do a great job, just because the person at the top won’t take the time to figure out the individual’s skills that could best be utilized for the good of the business. Leaders also need to have regular conversations about how their team feels about the work, and to learn how each member likes to be celebrated. Some may prefer simple acknowledgment, others may want time off, a bonus, or a gift. It’s like the 5 Love Languages — we all want to feel understood, seen, heard, and cared for, even at work.

How have you used your success to make the world a better place?

I believe that empowered women empower more women. When we step into our ideal workflow and leave margin for life outside of work, too, we’re able to lead with compassion, lean into our gifts, and lift up others to their full potential. I also believe this is the way for women to capitalize on their profitability. When we surround ourselves with bold women chasing their dreams and charging their worth, we feel empowered to do the same. I’ll keep chasing my dreams in hopes of inspiring at least one other person.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. Family and friends won’t always get it. They may not understand your role, your business, or your level of commitment to both. And that’s okay. It’s not your job to convince them of anything. If they have questions, answer them without defensiveness, and then leave space for new relationships to form with those who do support you.
  2. No one really knows exactly what they’re doing. Seriously, I’d bet even Jeff Bezos and Brene Brown are figuring it out as they go. It’s okay to try new things. Fail fast, and pour fuel on what is working. The only way to figure it out is to continue experimenting.
  3. Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you. It will feel intimidating, but you will learn at a rapid pace. Proximity is power; lean on the expertise and experience of others.
  4. You will contradict yourself. In fact, most humans do at some point. You are allowed to change your mind.
  5. Creating a living (wealth) doesn’t have to take away from living your life. You can have both. You can run an incredible business, make amazing money, AND have hobbies, family time, and rest away from work, too. Create strong boundaries from the start and be unapologetic about them.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

My life, business, EVERYTHING motto is: Create a life, not just a living. I fully believe we are not meant to work our lives away, and for what? Fancy vacations we don’t have time to take? We can and we should pursue both. You can make a great living, and you can enjoy life outside of work. It shouldn’t be taboo. And we’re all worthy of it.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“The greatest discovery of all time is that a person can change his future by merely changing his attitude.” — Oprah

This quote keeps me grounded when I feel like things are too much or too overwhelming. We ALL have bad days and bad weeks. But I also fully subscribe to the notion that what we believe, we attract more of. If we think life is overly stressful or that we’re not enough or that we can’t get ahead, that’s the reality we’ll continue to perpetuate. By believing that there’s enough room at the table and plenty of opportunity to succeed, and by choosing to go about life and business with this attitude of abundance, we can shape our futures in a powerful way.

We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them

Sara Blakely & Jesse Itzler! Sara is self-made and owns 100% of the private company, Spanx. She has never taken outside investment and hasn’t spent a dime on advertising. Sara was gritty and relentless to make the brand into the success it is today. She comes across as relatable, welcoming, and hilarious! And her relationship with her husband is #marriage goals. In addition to their many businesses, they do so much good in the world.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.

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Charlie Katz
Authority Magazine

Executive Creative Director at Bitbean Software Development