Leadership is a delicate balance of personalization, empowering others based on their strengths, caring, and holding people accountable when it’s needed, believes Lauren Raimondi, the Founder & CEO of All Aces Promotional Staffing.
In the following interview, Lauren shares with us insights into her entrepreneurial journey, which can truly be regarded as inspiration for aspiring business leaders and entrepreneurship enthusiasts.
Below are the highlights of the interview.
Take our readers through your journey on becoming a celebrated entrepreneur.
It started in college. I began working as a brand ambassador and managing e vents while studying to be a brain surgeon at Boston University. I quickly realized neurology was not my calling, and I fell in love with the e vents and experiential marketing programs. I was working, so shortly after I graduated I decided to reach out to the companies I worked with in Boston and NYC to see if they needed assistance staffing. I had also taken all of the exams to be a financial planner at the same time, figuring one of the career paths was bound to be successful.
I had organic interest and success with the e vent staffing and decided to start All Aces Promotional Staffing. I wanted to create an agency that people would ha ve a seamless, positive experience with, and after not being paid from a couple of the companies I worked with, I vowed to treat my staff better in order to achieve great long-term success with my clients.
I launched All Aces Promotional Staffing as a one-woman show at the age of 24 without any experience working in an office, so it took a lot of trial and error to figure out what a functioning company is supposed to look like. As the business expanded, I was able to build a team of managers and office support and develop the resources and relationships to operate nationally with international partnerships.
In 2016, I received the honor of being accepted into the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program, a prestigious and intensive “mini MBA” program to help successful entrepreneurs further grow their businesses and become the best leaders possible for their team. This program gave me the tools to begin working more on my business, instead of inside my business, opening up management positions for my employees and allowing me to focus on things like expansion, new services, rebranding and strategic partnerships. My business has grown over 400% between 2016 and 2019.
How do you diversify your organization’s offerings to cater to your target audience?
As an event staffing agency, we’re both very niche and diverse – our national talent pool and internal staff team offers a wide variety of backgrounds and skill sets extending to technology, experiential marketing, live events, CPG, and project management. This has allowed us to work on a vast array of programs, from conferences and large sponsored events to street teams, in-store demos, and various experiential marketing projects.
This diversity allows us to plan for the unexpected, like this year’s pandemic, which clearly uprooted our normal flow of business. We could no longer rely on inperson experiences and certainly not large events, so we built an entirely new service line devoted to virtual events and digital experiences, offering virtual tech support, online brand ambassadors and social media influencers.
Have you drawn professional inspiration from other women? Tell us about someone who has inspired you.
When I was younger and first started the business, I didn’t have a role model, but I was inspired when I read Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Eat, Pray, Love” on a personal level. I get inspiration from both men and women, and two of those women include Barbara Corcoran and Laurie Grenier from Shark Tank. I’ve also been inspired by everyone in the 10,000 Small Businesses program, as I’ve watched everyone grow and overcome many obstacles.
What lessons have you garnered about leadership, entrepreneurship, and mentoring others?
Leadership can be very difficult at times, but I’ve found that being genuine and honest has always led to a loyal team of people that go above and beyond. Your people are your business, and if you don’t treat them with respect you can’t properly lead them. It’s easy to lead when things are going great, but the sign of a true leader is being strong and adapting when things go wrong.
I’ve always been good at reading people. It’s made me a great poker player, which is where our company name “All Aces” comes from. This skill has contributed tremendously to my ability to coach my team of employees and help them cultivate certain skills to expand on their positions.
In terms of entrepreneurship, I’ve learned that pursuing new clients is only one part of the equation. We can’t do it all alone, so building strategic partnerships to help scale and having the right team to bring your vision to life are key! I’ve formed referral based relationships with event staffing agencies internationally, event service companies, and individuals to grow the business and expand overseas. Surrounding myself with superstars that collaborate well and excel in their fields has gotten the company further and faster than when I was doing things on my own.
Mentoring has been a process of osmosis – setting high standards, guiding people, and leading by example. Since I had started All Aces Promotional Staffing as a one-woman operation, there are threads of my expertise in almost every job role of our company. Most of the work is executed in a way that expands on my experience – my project managers have become expert problem solvers, and my sales team has developed sharp instincts in matters related to pricing, negotiation and setting the programs up for success.
What is one thing you wish more people knew about women in the workplace?
That we are as collaborative as we are competitive – there are more women out there aiming to inspire and empower their female colleagues than one might think.
How do you achieve a work-life balance?
This can be difficult at times but finding time for what we love to do is very important! Being organized and focused with a game plan are key in achieving this. When I’m not working, I enjoy Kung Fu, playing the drums, cooking, and traveling, and I’m not afraid to shut down my phone on vacation. Now, I’m just coming back from maternity leave, having just given birth to a beautiful baby boy! I believe in working hard so we can enjoy all aspects of our lives.
What would you tell young women who are just starting to work? What would you like them to know?
Figure out what you want to do and either find a job or create an opportunity surrounding that.
Get clear on your core talents and cultivate the skills needed to be successful in these areas of strength. For example, if you’re great with people and want to be an entrepreneur, try to improve your sales techniques through books, articles, and coaching.
Find people and tools that can assist you in areas where you don’t have as much natural talent or skill. Value your time and work smarter, not harder. Learn the tools that will help you automate time consuming tasks. Everything is about teamwork; nothing is done alone.
Be confident and non-apologetic! It’s been said that women apologize too much in the workplace – be less apologetic and know that saying no is ok.
What would be your future endeavors and where do you see yourself in the near future?
Providing more international opportunities for All Aces Promotional Staffing and our clients by expanding our relationships with staffing organizations overseas Rebranding our company to include digital experiential and virtual event services as well as expert project management. We do a lot more than simply staff events, so we want our messaging to reflect this. On a personal note, be the best Mom I can be, take more time for my family and build a home in Italy one day!