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Getting to Know - Lorri Kelley posted by: Dana Helms

WithIt opens the year with a new president, Lorri Kelley.

Lorri Kelley is the CEO and Founder of Lorri Kelley Advisors, INC. a strategic consulting firm dedicated to providing services and guidance to companies and individuals who are passionate about and committed to achieving business excellence. WithIt jumped at the chance to get to know Lorri a little better and introduce her to our members, supporters and sponsors… as if they didn’t know her already!


Let’s get started!


Who or what inspires you and why?

LK - You know, my daily inspiration comes from a variety of places and areas, but I make it a point to begin each day intentionally looking for it. It could be something as simple as sitting outside watching the sunrise and taking a moment to intently enjoy it, reading from a few of my favorite websites like the Power of Positivity, getting my ‘business head’ connected by checking out Fast Company and Inc.com sites, and being very disciplined about committing to my morning devotional time.  I can tell you from many years of following this formula, my mindset is in a beautiful place as I begin most every new day.  And, with the business world as challenging as it is currently, this investment of time each day is so critical to my mental well-being and success!

Over the last few years, I have made it a habit to severely limit my time engaged in social media posts and sites that create so much negativity and bad energy. It just puts me in a place mentally that is so dark and void of life.  I am now determined to stay completely away from any type of communication that pushes the message of what I should be against.  I choose to focus my time on what I am for.  And, I am finding that this particular list of what I am FOR is quite long and exciting, and a lot more healthy!

What types of people do you work best with and why?

LK - Honestly, I believe I intentionally work well with a wide variety of people, particularly those who are on a life-long journey of learning.  I sincerely believe that we must learn something new each and every day to stay relevant and engaged.  So, I love to journey along with those who share that passion.  I love to engage with people who have accomplished things that intrigue me and specifically in areas where I’d like to be challenged.  Finally, I love to be around people who I believe I can help make the path easier for them to accomplish all they dream of.  That is an important act of service for me that gives me the chance to give back just as so many did for me throughout my career.


What is one of the biggest challenges you have faced in your career so far and why?


LK - My single largest challenge in my career has turned out to be my single best learning opportunity.  Coming up in our industry in my early 20’s and 30’s in such a male-dominated business – with all of the unsavory activities and propositions that came along with it – all while trying to carve out a path for myself to advance my career where I wanted it to go, would have to be my pick. Through all of that I gained a resiliency and toughness that prepared me well for so many opportunities that I was given as a result of that experience.  This to me is the perfect example of taking something dark, oppressive and challenging and turning it into a foundation of grit, strength and determination.  This young girl from Kansas stepping into a world I had never experienced made me become a much different but better person as a result of it, and I’ve never looked back to change a bit of it - not even once.  That part of my life really has made me appreciate all that I have accomplished since.   I also clearly knew there wasn’t anything I couldn’t handle after surviving that extraordinary time! 


What’s something you have worked on that you are proud of and why?

LK - My proudest moment is knowing that my sons, 34 and 28, are so proud of me and all that I have accomplished throughout my career, all while knowing there has never been and never will be one thing I wouldn’t sacrifice for them.  This is so important to me because as a professional woman, I wasn’t the traditional stay close to home Mom.  I traveled a great deal when they were young which created a great deal of guilt and angst for me.  But I look at them now, and see the amazing men they have become, and how terrific they are as partners with the beautiful women in their lives, and how they support, encourage and love the successes they are achieving.  I am honored that hopefully I gave them the proper example of what a strong and successful woman can do. And, how important it is to have a wonderful strong and supportive partner in your life to cheer you on just as I have had over the last 37 years with my biggest fan, my husband Keith.  


What has been one of your greatest rewards in business?

LK - That’s an easy one!  Having the chance to be a part of a dynamic, energetic and talented team of people in the various companies I have had the honor to work for, and the amazing results we achieved.  I look back at my time with Rowe Furniture, Home Elements and Palliser in particular, and all of the extraordinary results we achieved, and I am so proud of that.  There were so many hard days/weeks/years of hard work, and sacrifices all over the place, but the commitment for excellence was astounding.  The relationships I have built as a result of all of this remains to this day and I am so humbled to have had the chance to experience it all. 


Looking back at your younger self what is some advice if you met you in an elevator?

LK - Here are a few thoughts in no particular order: 


      * Stop worrying about all of the things you have absolutely no control over. There is enough stuff you have no choice but to worry about so don’t pile on with other things that may never happen. 
* Don’t waste the time, energy and brain power to come up with a worst-case scenario plan.  I have done it many times and haven’t needed to implement it - ever.
      * When speaking negatively about someone else to someone else, choose your words to speak as if they were sitting across the table from you.  
      * Prepare – Prepare – Prepare.  And then prepare some more.  Invest the time to be ready at whatever you set out to do, and you will be amazed at how good you feel, how successful the outcome will be and calm you will be when it’s showtime!
      * Do whatever it takes to silence the voice in your head that says you aren’t good enough, smart enough, pretty enough or popular enough to be successful and achieve your goals.  We are our own worst critic and that negative energy will suck out every bit of confidence you need and deserve. Look inward for encouragement, not outward for acceptance, because if you look there, you will routinely be disappointed. 
      * You can only be responsible for you and not the rest of the world.  Don’t accept anybody else’s monkeys to be dumped on you.  Take care of yourself and leave everyone else’s issues with them. Encourage others but don’t attempt to solve their problems for them. 


What is one word you feel best describes you? Why?

LK - Passionate!  I do nothing half-way.  I either do it or I do not.  If I am energized about something, there will be no one more passionate about doing it, and doing it well, than me.  I would love to hear what other words those who know me would say it would be!


What is the most important part of being president of a women’s organization?

LK - The honor and responsibility that goes along with it.  Being selected as President of WIthIt is sincerely one of the greatest honors of my professional career and I will work so hard to make sure I leave this role better than when it was granted to me. 


Regarding WithIt, what goals do you hope to accomplish during your time?

LK - Two things – our focus for 2020 will be Engagement and Evolution.  As I wrote in our first newsletter of 2020, we need to increase engagement within the organization.  We will only be as good and relevant in our industry as we collectively decide we will be, and there is great strength and power in a group of women all working towards the same goal. I would love to see a significant increase in involvement by many in this organization, and we will all work hard to hopefully see that happen. 

We must also Evolve and increase our relevance as we interact and network with each other.  We have some work to do here and there is a terrific commitment internally to make that happen, through the various ways we communicate and interact together. 

Finally, I am so excited about the exceptional group of women that are on our 2020 Board of Directors.  They are so amazing and will lead this organization beautifully into the future!


You are a big reader. What book are you currently reading or would suggest someone picks up, like now?

LK - I must say I am a big fan of non-fiction!  I love to learn about a time or a moment in history when I’m reading – back to that discipline of learning something new each day!  I also must admit that I am fascinated by the British Monarch history, and just finished the book Victoria, the biography of Queen Victoria who occupied the throne in England from 1837 – 1901, the longest reigning monarch until Queen Elizabeth surpassed her.  What a terrific read!  She was up against some significant odds then as well considering how little say women had about basically anything during that time.  They were treated as the property of the men in their lives, so her reign and leadership were particularly significant at that point in history.  Isn’t it great that through thousands of years of monarchy, the longest-reigning and toughest of the bunch of them are two women? 


Color us inspired Lorri! Thank you for opening up and chatting with us.


Cheers to a great year,

WithIt Social Team

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