“Know Your Strengths and Continue to Enhance Them” Words of Wisdom with Lisa Lannon, Co-founder of Warriors Heart
“Self-awareness of strengths will assist you in becoming a better entrepreneur and leader.”
I had the pleasure of interviewing Lisa Lannon. Lisa is a Social Entrepreneur, Author, Investor, International Speaker and Mom. Lisa is the Co-Author of the Rich Dad Advisor book, The Social Capitalist. As a successful entrepreneur, she has built and sold six private addiction treatment facilities with her husband, Josh. She is the Founder of Brooke Property Management with investments including residential homes, commercial buildings, and apartment complexes. Her current business is Warriors Heart, which she co-founded with her husband Josh Lannon and Former Special Forces Tom Spooner to heal our warriors dealing with addiction, PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), mild TBI and other reoccurring symptoms.
Yitzi: Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
Lisa: To help our warriors (military, veterans and first responders) heal and reduce the high veteran suicide rate average of 20 per day in the U.S., we started Warriors Heart (first and only private addiction treatment center in the US for warriors only) in 2016 in Bandera, Texas. Prior to Warriors Heart, I was a Law Enforcement Officer in Las Vegas, Nevada. When I gave my husband an ultimatum to go to treatment or our marriage was over, he chose to get help. Since then, we have dedicated our lives to helping others overcome the grips of addiction by opening healing centers. We have now joined forces with US Army Veteran and Former Special Forces Tom Spooner to heal our protectors.
Yitzi: Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you started your company
Lisa: When we identified the property for Warriors Heart, the 543-acre ranch was not for sale. After searching for over a year in Texas, I knew we had to broaden what the facility would look like. Our previous treatment properties were in large residential homes, so I started looking at bed & breakfasts and ranches. When we came across Purple Sage Conference Center & Resort, I knew that was it, but it was not for sale. We had to convince the owners, Mack Energy, to sell it to us. My husband Josh, Tom Spooner and myself met with the owners and their team in their boardroom in New Mexico talking about who we are, what we do and how they built this amazing facility for our Veterans, but didn’t know it. After over an hour of questions, they asked for 30 days. I can happily say they sold us the property.
Yitzi: What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Lisa: Warriors Heart is the only private peer-to-peer treatment program in the country for our warriors (military, veterans and first responders). When we had warrior clients at our previous treatment centers, they were mixed with civilians and did not feel open to sharing. It was hard for them to talk in a group setting with those who did not understand the traumas of war or the front lines. Warriors Heart lets our warriors heal without the stigma they may feel in other programs. Our warriors come in and immediately feel the connection with staff and other clients in treatment. They are able to open up quickly because they can share what they have been through on a different level. One thing I hear over and over is, “thank you for building this, there is nothing like this for us out there”. They feel like they are back with a team, a family that understands.
Yitzi: 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?
Lisa: I have to credit many mentors and coaches in my success. One thing I have learned is successful leaders and entrepreneurs have mentors/coaches, different ones for different areas. The four that come to mind immediately were those who helped when Josh and I started our first facility.
Robert and Kim Kiyosaki have been big mentors to us. When Josh was fresh out of rehab, we were given the “Rich Dad Poor Dad” book. Robert Kiyosaki’s bestselling book started our road to financial education with new skills that we are not taught in school.
Chris Spencer, the founder of the treatment facility that Josh went too, has also been a mentor. While in treatment, Chris put an idea in Josh’s head that maybe one day he will want to open facilities too because Chris knew Josh would be going back to working in a nightclub environment. Josh ran nightclubs for his father in Las Vegas, and we knew this would not be a healing environment when he was sober. If he went back, it would only be a matter of time before he started drinking again. Josh asked Chris if he was serious about mentorship, and that started our 16-year relationship with him. He opened the doors to building a facility, policy and procedures, and licensing. We still talk to this day about trends, what is going on in the insurance world and ideas. Addiction is our competition, not other facilities. We love to work with other facilities as we all have referrals, and one facility may work better for one client than another.
Blair Singer is one of the best Sales and Leadership trainers in the world, who has also been an invaluable mentor. I’ve had some of my biggest breakthroughs with him at his events, and now as a friend. At one of his leadership trainings years ago, Blair got down to the heart of what was holding me back. It was not easy to go through, in front of a room of strangers, but the ah-ha’s and work that I did at that moment really empowered me to be a better me leader and business owner.
Yitzi: How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
Lisa: Our Warriors Heart team gives back every day by healing those who are suffering from the darkness of addiction, PTSD and other co-occurring disorders. We serve those who serve, and continue to serve us.
I’ve also been blessed to speak internationally with Kim Kiyosaki (Rich Dad Company CoFounder, Author of “Rich Woman” and Real Estate Investor) to women on entrepreneur success tips.
Yitzi: What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I launched my Start-Up” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)
Lisa: Since Warriors Heart is not my first business startup, I will go back to the beginning. However, a lot of the lessons continue to carry over to present day. Life is a continuous field of learning, and I do my best to always learn new things. Warriors Heart is my seventh healing facility, and there is always something new to learn.
1. Mistakes offer Great Lessons — A lot of great lessons come by trial and fire and making mistakes. One of the best ways we learn is from mistakes, hopefully not painful ones, but those happen too. We are taught in school that mistakes are bad and often can become fearful of not doing things right. I know during school and for a while after, I was afraid to speak out because an answer or idea would be wrong. But it is like learning to ride a bicycle or ski. When we make mistakes, we get back up and learn what didn’t work and try it again. In business, there can be some costly mistakes, and this is where mentors and coaches come in. It’s important to learn from others mistakes, but don’t be afraid to make them too.
2. Take Time for Personal Development — I think I got a good start on this because I had started on this journey when Josh was in rehab, and we did a lot of healing work together. Being an entrepreneur is a roller coaster ride. Being able to handle the emotions of a business is key. From income loss to handling employees to upset customers, they can cause a wide range of emotions moment to moment. Taking on personal development and developing myself not only made me a better leader, but also assisted me in handling the emotions that arise. Find different seminars, courses and experiential trainings to attend. The more you increase your emotional intelligence and develop self, I found the easier it is to handle business, relationships and life. We can’t control others, but we can control who we are and how we lead.
3. Build a Strong Team — You don’t have to know all the answers, or be the expert in everything, but you want to know who to ask. In the beginning, it may just be you doing all the work, that’s why I go back to coaches and mentors. You want a team that is in alignment with the same mission and values, and it makes doing business a lot easier when your values are similar. Not all team members are employees or contractors. Team members include your CPA, Attorney, consultants, and others. Sometimes when we think of team, we think of immediate staff, this expands out to everyone who you assists you.
4. Know Your Strengths and Continue to Enhance Them — Self-awareness of strengths will assist you in becoming a better entrepreneur and leader. There is this great survey that helps you find your character strengths. I came across it when I did a book study with some of my best girlfriends, The Happiness Advantage. The survey is free, and you can sign up for a newsletter. https://www.viacharacter.org/www/Character-Strengths-Survey When Josh and I started our first facility, we were both all in, doing everything. It took a while for us to figure out what we were naturally good at doing, and then we played on each other’s strengths. He led some aspects of the business, and I others.
5. Know Your Weaknesses — When you know your weaknesses, you can find team members who are strong in this area. I was taught that we want to enhance our strengths. And while it is good to work on our weaknesses, it’s better to play on our strengths. For example, my follow-through is not strong. I am a quick start and have staff that are strong in follow-through. They are the ones to make sure certain things get done or implement something that we want to establish. I have to have strong deadlines for projects, otherwise I can procrastinate on them. This is definitely a strength when under pressure of a deadline.
6. Get a Bookkeeper Right Away — Knowing your financials is key. The better you have your financial books in order, the easier it is to make decisions. Business plans and projections are great, but they are also fluid, always moving. Having a bookkeeper (make sure they are knowledgeable in the field) that can be honest with you, with where you are and project/budget accordingly is a big part of startup. Meet with them at least once a week and have your numbers as “real time” as possible. With online everything in today’s world, this tracking is easier. Know your numbers.
Yitzi: Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. :-)
Lisa: I’d love to have private breakfast or lunch with Sir Richard Branson. I think he is a brilliant entrepreneur and philanthropist, who has fun while doing it all. I always look at how can I play a bigger game (do more as a business, do more good in the world and expand my thinking). Sir Branson does all of this, and it looks effortless. I know it is not as effortless as it looks, but I admire what he does and the person he seems to be. To control 400 companies, it can be hard to imagine how all that is done.
Yitzi: This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!
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If you would like to see the entire “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me” Series In Huffpost, ThriveGlobal, and Buzzfeed, click HERE.