Trained as a counselor with a masters degree in social work, Loren Margolis had plenty of experience helping people gain personal insights that enabled them to develop and grow. She took that perspective into the corporate world, where she worked at Time Inc., Columbia Business School, and New York-Presbyterian Hospital in various talent acquisition, coaching, and leadership training roles. “In my last role, as head of leadership development at New York Presbyterian Hospital, I started to get a lot of feedback from the leaders that I was coaching,” Margolis recalls. “They kept saying to me, ‘you’re so good at this, you should start a company.’”
Becoming an entrepreneur was never in her grand plan, despite having grown up with an entrepreneurial father. “He was a gourmet food broker and was actually the one who brought granola to the masses,” she recalls. And in one of her roles at Columbia Business School, she supported MBA students who were aspiring to start entrepreneurial careers. Margolis taught them the communications skills they’d need to sell themselves and their products in order to grow their businesses and themselves as leaders.
When she finally decided to launch her own firm, Training & Leadership Success, in 2015, the motivation was part push and part pull. The push came from positive feedback from her employers, and the pull came from a growing realization that many of her managers had been less than inspiring and that she “wanted to create a workplace where managers knew how to manage.” She had worked in many industry sectors, so she tapped her professional network to land her first clients, targeting leaders who wanted to “accelerate their leadership and have a greater impact on their organization, and teams who needed some help in driving their performance, communication, and their collaboration and cohesion.” Her business grew steadily through word of mouth and referrals.
“[Through Newsweek Expert Forum], I have built partnerships with people who have done some work for my company and I’ve also gotten recommendations on topics such as web design. It’s a wonderful community to thrive in.”
At any given time, Margolis has twenty or so projects in progress and works with a stable of ten to twenty contract consultants who help serve her clients. Since her business offered virtual learning programs and used Zoom extensively well before March 2020, the pandemic changed very little for Margolis in terms of how she operates. “But because a big part of our business is healthcare providers, there was a time period where they, of course, couldn't do any development, because they were saving lives,” she says. Now, though, there’s new emphasis on building resilient workplaces; deriving meaning from trauma; innovation; and transformation. And in the wake of some clients’ lost revenue during the pandemic, she’s also acting as a “strategic thought partner,” offering insight on how businesses can innovate and pivot.
Six years into her entrepreneurial journey, Margolis can easily identify some of the perennial issues with which leaders typically need help: identifying strengths and blind spots; transitioning from “buddy to boss”; inspiring and motivating others; giving effective feedback; building trust and influences, to name just a few. However, she has decided that it’s time to tweak her business strategy a bit, so she can move on to the next level. “The market is different, the workplace is very different, so I need to innovate,” she says. That process drove her to think about one of the reasons she started her company. “In my career, there have been many times where I did not perceive the place where I was working as psychologically safe,” she recalls. “I sometimes felt uncomfortable speaking up.” So Margolis is starting a certificate program in psychological safety as part of an initiative to “hone a niche” which will now involve helping leaders create inclusive and psychologically safe workplaces.
Margolis has been impressed with Newsweek Expert Forum’s Expert Panels, often finding that the question topics jibe with those posed by her clients. “I think they really have their ear to the market,” Margolis says, referring to Newsweek Expert Forum. Joining the forum has also helped Margolis gain new business. “I have found that contributing [to Expert Panels] really gives me credibility with current clients, and I have gotten new business. So it’s a wonderful way to get your voice and expertise out there to the audience you want to reach.” She also makes a point to connect with fellow members on LinkedIn and to tap their expertise. “I have built partnerships with people who have done some work for my company, and I’ve also gotten recommendations on topics such as web design,” Margolis says. “It’s a wonderful community to thrive in.”