Wonder Women is a blog series that lets me introduce you to amazing businesswomen doing remarkable work. Meet Natalie Loeb, founder and leadership coach at Loeb Leadership Development Group.
A self-professed “high i” (for Influence from the EverythingDiSC® assessment), Natalie is a dynamic entrepreneur whose work is grounded in years of training, experience and human compassion. Natalie and her team conducted the EverythingDiSC® assessment for the VTLO team, and she was the keynote presenter at our annual kick-off meeting in 2017. Natalie constantly reinvents her company’s training and coaching services so we asked her to bring us up to date.
Q: Tell me about your first job and what it taught you.
A: I’d like to tell you about what I learned from two jobs. The first is when I was in high school, working at a supermarket as a cashier to pay for my prom dress. One day, I was ringing up an order for a young mom holding a crying baby. I was trying to go quickly, but when the total came to over $100, I realized something was wrong because she didn’t have $100 worth of food in her order. Then I realized I had not taken the money from the previous customer and the two tabs were combined. I corrected the woman’s order, but at the end of the day, my till was short $40. I told my manager about the mistake I’d made, and I expected he would say, “That’s OK.” Well, I got fired. So my lesson was this: I did the right thing. I couldn’t overcharge this woman who was about to pay for her groceries. But I also did the wrong thing; I did not collect the money from the previous customer. I was not focused, and I let him go without paying, and I got fired. It taught me there are consequences for performance. You really must pay attention to what you are doing because there are consequences no matter what your intentions are.
The second one was my first job after college, working as a training assistant. I worked for a senior leader who was a great guy. One morning, he didn’t come in. When we hadn’t heard from him by 10 o’clock, one of the other leaders asked me to go to my boss’ apartment since he wasn’t answering his phone. When I got there, I found him on his couch having a heart attack. I called an ambulance and went with him to the hospital, and then returned to the office. I heard nothing the rest of the day about his condition. When I got to work the next morning, a co-worker told me my boss had died. Not one person in the office came over to me to see how I was. No one told me what to do. I had to go to another senior leader to ask for direction. He pointed to another desk and said, “Go work for him.” I quit a week later. This taught me a valuable lesson – you cannot ignore the whole person. When no one showed any demonstration of support or empathy to me, I realized that culture and atmosphere was toxic to me and I had to get out. Work is all about the people. In one job, I learned the task is important. In another, I learned that you can’t ignore the human side. People are the most important resource in an organization and you have to take care of them.
Q: From the lessons you learned early on, what path did you take to get to your current role?
A: I got a job working for a training and development manager who taught me the ins and outs of the business – how to design and deliver training, and how to do a needs assessment. That job launched my career, allowing me to spend my time impacting the people within an organization.
Q: What’s the most exciting challenge that you have in front of you today?
A: I was introduced to people who own a state-of-the-art horse farm in Cape May, New Jersey. A colleague said to me, you might want to take a look at this property – perhaps it could be a place where you could do leadership retreats. We had never done retreats and it piqued my interest. I was invited to visit the property and as soon as I entered it, the “wow factor” hit me. It is a magical place. The owners introduced me to people in Arizona who are doing equine-assisted leadership training. I attended a women’s retreat there and experienced the powerful impact of this training firsthand. What I saw happen in the activities with the horses is that self-awareness increases in a very short period of time. We decided to build a similar program to deliver at the farm in Cape May. We’ve now held three retreats and the response has been unbelievable. It shows me that people need a place and a space to be able to safely reflect on who they are, build new habits and to learn a lesson. The work was so powerful that we are creating our own leadership model around it. In 2019, we have been invited to speak about equine leadership work at two national conferences!
Q: What was one of the lessons you learned through your experience at the retreat?
A: In one of the activities, we speak about the role of dominance, or the “D” in the DiSC assessment. When I describe myself in terms of my DiSC style, I feel comfortable dialing up the dominance when needed. In one of the tasks with the horses, you had to display that dominant behavior to get the horse to move next to you. The instructor showed me that when you shake the horsewhip, it emits a certain frequency the horse will notice. You don’t touch the horse, you just shake the whip to create vibration. At a certain level, the horse will start to come along with you and feel your dominance. When I got into the ring with the horse and shook the whip and started walking, nothing was happening. The instructor kept telling me to dial my dominance higher, and I thought I was. Still the horse didn’t move. I tried again, and sure enough, he started to follow me. As I debrief that exercise, I learned that I sometimes I think I’m dialing my dominance up, but I’m not doing it high enough. As a woman, sometimes I’ve got to dial it up!
Q: What’s the one word that describes you best?
A: Inspirational. I really believe I am able to do that for others.
Q: What’s the one daily practice you wouldn’t live without and energizes you the most?
A: I have a Peloton bike and I will say it is not always daily, but I love getting on that bike. Even if it’s 20 minutes to myself, I find those instructors very inspirational. I need that time to allow my head to listen and follow and know I’m doing something for myself.
Q: When you think about your career growth, who supported you?
A: That’s my husband, Gordon. He has been my biggest fan and my biggest supporter. In 2008, when we lost our largest client and my business tanked, I was ready to go back in-house. Gordon is the one who said, “That is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. You are great at what you do and you’ve taken it this far and you have to keep doing it.” That’s when I went back to do my coach training and he supported me. He always reminds me how I can do whatever I want to do, and when I doubt myself, he reminds me that I can accomplish whatever I want to accomplish.