From Server to CEO

My name is Lacie Ward and I'm the co-founder of Lum A Terra Media—a socially conscious public relations and creative brand strategy firm incepted to highlight the businesses that are changing the world and educating the public on utilizing their purchasing power as a vote towards the future they want to see. We are dedicated to helping businesses choose more sustainable practices, ensuring cohesive brand design elements and garnishing targeted media hits.

As young entrepreneurs starting our first business, my co-founder and I had a LOT to learn, but luckily many of the skills we needed to succeed were already ingrained in us. We did not acquire these specific skills through higher education, or working at top-performing PR firms, nor through any type of mentorship...we acquired these skills at the restaurant we worked at together while in college.

...ok, stay with me now — it'll make sense, I promise.

1. You've Got to Have Tough Skin

I have never met a client as difficult as some of the guests I dealt with dining at my restaurant. Incorrect food orders and long wait times bring out the worst in people (#Hangry!) and as a result, has made me very good at defusing hot situations and not letting others’ emotions get the best of me. Don't get me wrong, I had plenty of "I just need 30 seconds to cry in the walk-in freezer really quick and then I'll run their drinks" moments, BUT they became few and far between as I learned not to take it personally.

When starting your business, people will tell you they hate your logo, how your business isn't unique, it costs too much money to start one, etc. Being able to field these questions and comments with a smile on your face portrays confidence in your business and more importantly, confidence in yourself.

(Photo Credit: @server_life)

2. You've Got to Embrace Your Fears

Cheesy, I know. There are a lot of steps when starting a company that will make you feel uneasy about starting a business and unsure about whether or not you can do it. I remember having to fill out the form for our business name three different times due to typos—I was so nervous and didn't feel like I had a right to be in that office.

This very familiar feeling brought up the memory of my first table I served, frantically writing down every syllable they said, terrified I missed something. This fear is a GOOD THING. This fear is simply a reflection of how much you want your business to succeed.

3. You've Got to Be a People-Person

Many will argue that this is a personality type and not an actual skill you can learn, which is partially true. Some people are naturally more talkative than others, but that is not necessarily what makes one a "people-person". Being a people-person is really all about reading people, not how many words you can get into the conversation. Being Communication majors in college, we know firsthand the importance of active listening. Every restaurant manager I ever had used the phrase "anticipate the guests needs," at some point or another...A.K.A. anticipate when they need another cocktail, if they’re on a date vs. quick business lunch...the list goes on and on.

This goes the same for running a successful agency—anticipate your clients’ needs. For example: if you're introducing yourself and you can see your lead losing interest, read that and adjust your conversation accordingly by getting right to the point. If you know your client is already working with a social media agency, skip over that portion of your services and highlight how important an effective PR strategy is.

Everything in life comes full circle at one point or another. The digital marketing world is an ever-changing market, and it is important to remain open to learning and absorbing new information throughout your entire career path. The lessons and skills that will help your company may be hiding where you least expect them—like in a random sushi restaurant across the street from the dorms.

Shameless plug for our former manager... if you're in San Diego, check out It's Tabu Sushi. Tell them Lacie and Hannah sent you. ;)

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