Special guest on this week’s podcast: Todd Wilkowski.
Lawyer Is What I do, Leader Is Who I Am
“He said, “That’s a bold answer.”
We live in a hustle culture that’s all about “the grind”. It takes a singular way of thinking and tells you this is the path, and for some people, it is, and that lifestyle works. However, some people savor swimming against the current. They want to be entrepreneurs, have a small business, fill a need; Todd Wilkowski’s story is like that.
He had been working as a lawyer but just felt like there was something else he was supposed to be doing. An opportunity came about for Todd to interview for a position as the general counsel for a local company. He went through the extensive interview process, and at the last interview, when most people feel this societal tug to say the right things, he put all his cards on the table. Todd knew that he wanted to create real impact and influence in his life and career, and he didn’t see a path for himself on his current trajectory.
In this last interview with the CFO of the company, Todd was asked why they should bring him, a lawyer, on. He answered, “Lawyer is what I do, leader is who I am.” Todd told him that he understood how important it is that he earns the trust of those at the top and learns the business so that he could provide a wide value. He said that he wanted to know there would be a seat at the table for him.
The CFO responded, “That’s a bold answer.”
Todd became a lawyer not because he wanted to make money but because we wanted to help people. He wants clients to call him because they know that in that phone call, they will be met with support, feedback, and trust. In servant leadership, you give yourself away to create space for something beyond yourself, even beyond the thing to which you’re even giving. For Todd, what gets him up in the morning is the ability to strategize and build better relationships with clients. You have to leverage risk because it quite actually yields reward. If you eliminate risk, you eliminate the opportunity for growth and change.
Working with Small Business
Today, Todd serves as outside general counsel to private and family-owned small and medium-sized businesses. He could have easily stayed the course, ignored his call for servant leadership, and led a successful career of a different shape. Instead, he built a business as fractional general counsel so that small businesses can have that experience of internal counsel based on need rather than hiring full time. Todd’s path is rooted in learning how to give himself away in servant leadership. Turning your willingness to invest in others can become a path for a successful career rather than the alternate and more traveled route of focusing on getting yourself ahead. You can turn selflessness into a career.