Theresa Lambert: “I think a big step towards more equality and inclusion is to create judgement free workplaces”

I think a big step towards more equality and inclusion is to create judgement free workplaces. There are far too many labels that are being placed on people and too many assumptions and generalizations are made. An example would be an assumption that millennials are lazy, and they do not want to work hard, you may have heard that one before. Just because people have a different perspective on how a workplace should look like or what flexibility it should offer, doesn’t mean we have to label them, or generalize an entire group. I am a millennial, and I am anything but lazy, I do however believe that we need to find ways to have a more flexible and human approach to work. I do not believe in working 80+ hour weeks anymore or that you have to be available 24/7 to be successful.

Learning to take a judgment free approach and be open to new perspectives and viewpoints is what will bring equality to workplaces, but even more so have our society thrive and grow instead of staying stuck in old mindsets. For years, people have asked to be able to have remote workdays, yet in many Industries this was seen as unacceptable. The assumption was made that people would not complete their work at home. The Covid-19 pandemic has forced this to be something that moving forward, will be embraced. Organizations started to see how beneficial this can actually be. But it should not take a pandemic to initiate change. We need to learn to listen with empathy and be open to new possibilities.



As a part of our series about strong women leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Theresa Lambert.

Theresa Lambert is the CEO and Coach of Theresa Lambert Coaching & Consulting Inc., a coaching and consulting firm specializing in guiding successful but stressed out leaders to accelerate their growth and lead with elegance and effectiveness both at work and in life.

Drawing from her nearly 20 years of experience in the hospitality Industry and most recently her 6 year tenure as the General Manager of Nita Lake Lodge she brings both a real world view and proven applicable tools to support her clients. Theresa has been recognized as a business leader in Whistler’s Profiles of Excellence, featured in Hotelier Magazine and Beyourown, and spoken at Women in Hospitality Leadership events, including Empower Her. In her upcoming book “Achieve with Grace — a guide to elegance and effectiveness in intense workplaces”, she shares tools to help ambitious leaders who feel pressure to measure their success by validation or external results, to transform the way they work and live.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

Owning and running my own company has always been a dream of mine, but my path to get here was not a linear one. As a woman in business I always felt incredible pressure to be ‘successful”. My drive to achieve came from the need to feel worthy, to show the world that I could do it. That I was capable of creating amazing results.

I totally believed that hard work, long hours, chronic stress and exhaustion were just the price I had to pay for the success I craved. I had bought into the myth that somehow, to succeed in life, we needed to make sacrifices in other areas of our lives. That having a fancy title and earning a really good salary would actually make me happy.

I set out on a path to achieve greatness in my career and I wanted to get there fast… and, I did, but I paid a prize for it!

At age 29, I became the General Manager of a luxury Resort and in an effort to proof that I was capable, poured my heart and soul into this business; it became my greatest obsession. While I was incredible successful in this venture, the high intensity environment combined with the pressure to perform that I had placed on myself was enough to drive me to exhaustion. Hitting burnout only 3 years into this role, I knew I needed to find a way to achieve greatness but in a way that felt more graceful. I call it graceful because nothing elegant was ever accomplished in a rush.

My growth and success have always been very important to me. After deciding that I could not let the “roadblock” of burnout tear down everything I had worked so hard for, I started to study human performance and behavior. Realizing that what I was experiencing was not an isolated problem, I combined my hospitality and leadership experience with a coaching framework that would help others achieve a state of balanced energy and elegant results. I founded my company as a side-hustle while still running the Hotel and after doing both for almost 3-years, I decided it was time to dedicate my time to my business full-time. In January 2020 I embarked on this new journey and haven’t looked back since. So far, this year has been a wild ride, but it’s also opened up the time and space for me to fulfill another dream of mine which was to write and publish a book.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

The last months since the pandemic started have been challenging yet filled with growth. I had an entire plan around growing my company through speaking and attending in-person events and of course, as Covid-19 hit and changed our lives, this option literally disappeared, at least for now. It gave me an opportunity to reflect and to pivot to weatherproof my business. It really highlighted to me that the ability to pivot and create multiple ways to generate leads and revenues for my company is essential and that well, nothing in life is certain. By diversifying my offerings and embracing the digital world more than I had anticipated, I was able to find the clarity I needed to forge ahead. What also stood out for me, was the importance of leading with purpose. This is something that has always been a key competitive advantage in my eyes, but this crisis has made it something that I believe will now be a “must-have” for companies that want to thrive.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I recall a time in my early Senior Management years. I was in charge of the Revenue Management for the Hotel, setting rates and managing inventory (guest room availability). I made a mistake when changing the rates and advertised the Hotel’s presidential suite at $13 for one night versus $ 1,300. The mistake was noticed when a guest made the booking through our website, and when I saw it my heart dropped. I thought this must have been a mistake. In a panic, I went to see what had gone wrong, when I realized I had made a data entry error… I was terrified to tell the General Manager at the time, but he was very gracious about it and well, the guest was thrilled that one of their nights was essentially free. It was pretty funny. But this gets better! A few years later when I was the General Manager, a similar mistake happened. When the Revenue Manager at the time told me what had happened, I could not stop laughing. Sometimes mistakes just happen. This taught me to slow down, be humble and when things go wrong to remember that we are only human after all.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

This is such a difficult question to answer. There are some many wonderful human beings who have helped me get to where I am today. As I most recently transitioned into full-time entrepreneurship the person that comes to mind is Fiona Douglas-Crampton. She is the President & CEO of the Dalai Lama Center for Peace & Education. We actually met years ago at the WNORTH conference, a boutique conference for woman who are either on, or are aiming for a senior executive track. Over the years we have had many inspiring and powerful conversations, but as I started to transition into this new adventure, Fiona shared with me her insights around trusting that “the net will always catch you”. It’s something that has stuck with me as a daily mantra and also inspired a chapter in my upcoming book.

In my work, I often talk about how to release and relieve stress. As a busy leader, what do you do to prepare your mind and body before a stressful or high stakes meeting, talk, or decision? Can you share a story or some examples?

Being able to manage our stress is something that is so critical. My days used to always start with checking emails first thing, while preparing that morning cup of tea. But what I realized was, that I was starting my day in reactive mode, responding to anything that was coming at me. In a world that has somehow put a positive value on being available 24/7, this is such a stress feeder. We are all so used to being “busy” that it’s become uncomfortable for many of us to embrace silence and slow right down. To help me manage and combat stress, I practice something I call silent minutes. It’s a very simple morning practice, in which you simply do nothing. No tech, no podcasts, no doing. Just tuning inward and spending time being with your own energy. It’s my favorite part of the day in which I get to set the intention for my day, check in with myself, my body and how I want to show up today for myself and others. When I first started this, I could hardly bare 5-minutes. I am happy to report that I am up to 30-minutes now and sometimes even longer. Whenever I prepare for a meeting or have to make a decision, I choose silence and take some deep breaths. Silence has a powerful message, if we dare to listen.

As you know, the United States is currently facing a very important self-reckoning about race, diversity, equality and inclusion. This may be obvious to you, but it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you articulate to our readers a few reasons why it is so important for a business or organization to have a diverse executive team?

Like attracts like. And because of this, sometimes, innovation and creativity can stall, and a company’s progress can be greatly diminished because of it. A diverse executive team will bring a wide range of perspective to various topics. Especially right now, we need creativity and innovative thinking to be at the fore front. Having a diverse team, also sends a strong message to the entire organization. If you have a diverse team, you will be more likely to have the next generation of leaders see opportunities to grow with the company. For example, a male dominated executive suite, may send the message that women are not welcome at the table, simply because there are none. This also applies to a reversed scenario or when it comes to other minority groups.

As a business leader, can you please share a few steps we must take to truly create an inclusive, representative, and equitable society? Kindly share a story or example for each.

I think a big step towards more equality and inclusion is to create judgement free workplaces. There are far too many labels that are being placed on people and too many assumptions and generalizations are made. An example would be an assumption that millennials are lazy, and they do not want to work hard, you may have heard that one before. Just because people have a different perspective on how a workplace should look like or what flexibility it should offer, doesn’t mean we have to label them, or generalize an entire group. I am a millennial, and I am anything but lazy, I do however believe that we need to find ways to have a more flexible and human approach to work. I do not believe in working 80+ hour weeks anymore or that you have to be available 24/7 to be successful.

Learning to take a judgment free approach and be open to new perspectives and viewpoints is what will bring equality to workplaces, but even more so have our society thrive and grow instead of staying stuck in old mindsets. For years, people have asked to be able to have remote workdays, yet in many Industries this was seen as unacceptable. The assumption was made that people would not complete their work at home. The Covid-19 pandemic has forced this to be something that moving forward, will be embraced. Organizations started to see how beneficial this can actually be. But it should not take a pandemic to initiate change. We need to learn to listen with empathy and be open to new possibilities.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. Most of our readers — in fact, most people — think they have a pretty good idea of what a CEO or executive does. But in just a few words can you explain what an executive does that is different from the responsibilities of the other leaders?

It’s much more about the big picture and long-term planning compared to the daily execution of plans. An executive creates the vision and leads the team by giving clear direction to all appropriate stakeholders. By communicating this vision in an effective manner, the team can then go ahead and execute that vision. It is all about enabling, motivating and influencing others to take action.

What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a CEO or executive. Can you explain what you mean?

A myth that I hear a lot is that in order to become a CEO or Executive, you have to have years of experience and knowledge. I am a living example that this is not true. I became a General Manger of a luxury Boutique Hotel without prior experience at that level nor a fancy degree to back me up. I had some prior knowledge around managing areas of a Hotel, but definitely not everything. Yet I was able to create tremendous success for the property. It’s not about the knowledge you have, but about your ability to lead and coach the team on executing on a vision.

Another myth that needs to be busted, is that as a CEO or Executive you have to be the hardest working person in the business. There is this invisible badge of honor that we seem to have placed on “being busy” and that somehow working more equals contributing more. That’s simply not true. In order to show up powerfully for your organization, your team and yourself, you need clarity. Clarity is found when we manage our energy productively. Impact has nothing to do with how hard or how much we work, but by the presence and intention we bring to anything we do.

Once you made it to the CEO or Executive level, there is nothing else to learn. A growth mindset and ongoing learning is something that I believe a successful CEO or Executive should embrace. Leading organizations, driving growth and innovation and leading teams through change requires an ongoing and changing skillset. When you make it to that level, the work doesn’t finish, it starts. There is no such thing as an end. This idea that you have “made it” when you reach that level is a myth. There is plenty left to do and learn, once you make it to this level.

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by women executives that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?

One of the biggest challenges is getting push back from members of the team after important decisions are made. I’ve witnessed this myself and I have seen it. When a male executive makes a decision, not everyone may agree, but there is little “visible” push back or questioning after the decision is made. However, female Executives, tend to get questioned or criticized on their decisions far more. It takes building extra skills to navigate this with teams and work on building trust and respect.

Another challenge I notice is how women are perceived and labelled. An example would be that still to this date, empathy and compassion are often seen as a weakness when in fact it is a leadership strength. Women have an innate ability to be empathetic and compassionate. This skill builds human connection, which in turn inspires followership. This should not be seen as a soft skill, but as a key competency on your leadership journey. Ego driven leadership is a blast from the past. This crisis and the changing needs of new generations require us to lead with empathy, compassion, awareness and openness. There simply will not be a place for ego.

What is the most striking difference between your actual job and how you thought the job would be?

Personally, I didn’t fully have an expectation of what the job would be. What I had hoped for, was to some extend that perhaps it would get easier over time. However, reality is that we live in a rapidly changing world, this requires us to constantly change what we do and how we approach situations, business development, innovation and change. There is a lot of focus on long-term vision, planning and providing direction to the team. There are few tasks that have a clear start and end date. This means, things are constantly ongoing, time management, productivity and knowing how to prioritize are key tools to have. When you are the one that is setting deadlines, you really have to shift how you approach your work. Running my own start-up company now, this has changed again. I have to be able to be the Visionary while also executing the plan.

Certainly, not everyone is cut out to be an executive. In your opinion, which specific traits increase the likelihood that a person will be a successful executive and what type of person should avoid aspiring to be an executive? Can you explain what you mean?

Being an executive requires a lot of discipline, mental strength and a willingness to lean into discomfort. Personally, I believe that in order to be successful you really have to be wanting to understand how to influence people, built trust and inspire followership. It requires you to do a lot of personal growth work and manage the stress and pressure that comes with the responsibility you hold as well as the expectation you place on yourself. These are all skills and traits that you can learn and get better at. I think, however, that you really need to ask yourself, if you really want this. As an executive you are leading teams — It is about motivating, influencing and enabling others to take action and contribute toward organizational success. You have to possess the ability to keep the big picture in mind, to have a helicopter view of situations before making decisions, to consider multiple outcomes before taking action. If you enjoy leading the way, be willing to take risks and get it wrong, enable others to succeed and are generally someone who is a big-picture thinker, this path is right for you. If you tend to enjoy getting clear direction so you can accomplish a goal, generally choose the path of least resistance and low risk and enjoy being in your own bubble, you may be happier in a managerial role.

What advice would you give to other women leaders to help their team to thrive?

Lead with courage, compassion and empathy. Be open to consider your teams perspective and listen actively. Don’t tell them what to do, coach your team to learn how to tap into their own knowledge and strength to help them make decisions and take action. Be open about your mistakes and what you learned from it. Built strong relationships and create trust. Own who you are, what drives and motivates you. Let your feminine side shine brightly and leave any ego at the door. Slow down, take risks and be willing to get it wrong. Lead in your own way and stop worrying about what others think or how your male colleagues would approach work. You have everything you need to be successful already, there is only one person who can do what you do, the way you do it. Own it!

How have you used your success to make the world a better place?

My personal success has become my companies’ mission. To guide successful, but stressed-out and overwhelmed leaders to achieve a state of balanced energy and elegant results. I believe in inspiring transformation in the way we work and live, I believe in a world where we no longer feel the pressure to measure success by validation or external results.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. Manage your Energy NOT your Time — one of the greatest realizations I ever had, was that it is very difficult to manage our time, especially in an executive role. During my tenure as the General Manager of Nita Lake Lodge, and now in my role as CEO of my own start-up company, I often have to shift gears at the drop of a pin. Important things come up. This means at any given moment, you have to have a willingness to change what you do, to be flexible. I used to lose a lot of energy when this happened. If we shift focus from managing our time (externally influenced) to managing our energy (internally influenced) we start to become more productive. Instead of fighting the change, we can choose to embrace it, to be intentional with giving energy to whatever has come up and resolving it.
  2. Focus on the feeling you want to generate — As a high-achiever, I get a thrill out of smashing my goals. But the feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction would only last a few minutes — sometimes perhaps a few hours at its best. When I set goals now, I always focus on the feeling I want to generate first. Then I think of ways that I could experience this feeling now. I would ask, “What could I do along the way to move me towards the goal while also generating the feeling I am after?”. It’s changed the way I set goals, but it has also helped me to appreciate the journey we are on far more than accomplishing a result.
  3. You are NOT your results — This is a deep one for me and in my book “Achieve with Grace” I explore this far more deeply. In short, I have spent the majority of my life measuring my self-worth with the results I achieved. This meant I was on a tireless pursuit to achieve. As long as I would be able to have something to show for like a fancy title, a 6-figure income, owning a home, increasing revenues constantly, being good at anything I do and being able to proof it — I would feel worthy, I would feel as though I am enough. Consequently, I experienced a lot of stress, anxiety and ultimately burned myself out. When I finally embraced the fact that we are all born innately worthy, it shifted everything for me. It stabilized the foundation I stand on and I was able to own my confidence, abilities and strengths and lead from a place of poise and positivity. Game changer!
  4. Challenge your assumptions — This is a classic one for me, it’s so simple, yet so powerful. I can think of endless times early in my career where I would assume that a boss or co-worker is “mad” at me or that I have done something wrong. Yet what I learned is that unless you have proof or someone said to you “I am mad at you”, it’s likely got nothing to do with you and everything to do with them. This also taught me patience as a leader, especially when it comes to resolving conflict. We can’t assume that one person is right and the other wrong. We need to seek out proof first. Assumptions can lead to reacting, often irrationally, to an incident or situation. It can cause stress and anxiety and even more issues. Instead if we take a step back and check that assumption, we have an opportunity to respond thoughtfully, to choose how to proceed.
  5. You ALWAYS have a choice — I spend a lot of my years leading large teams believing that I had to be or act a certain way to be successful. I believed that working long hours, chronic stress and being “always on” were just the prize I had to pay to succeed at the executive level. I did not see any alternative to this. I felt stuck in this unhealthy mindset. I believed I had no choice, consequently I prioritized work over everything else. While this approach worked for a very long time and created some solid results. It was not sustainable to keep working at this pace. When I finally recognized that there had to be a better way, I realized that how I show up at work and in my life is my choice. Making it a habit to ask, “What choices are available to me right now?” helped me shift this view in a big way.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

I’d like to inspire ambitious leaders to transform the way they work and live. To break free from the pressure to measure success by validation or external results. To stop comparing and instead owning their feminine powers, to achieve success with grace, ease and confidence.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“If we wait until we are ready, we’ll be waiting for the rest of our lives.”

~ Lemony Snicket

If I would have waited until I was ready, I would have never said yes to the General Manger role at age 29. I would not have decided to leave my career in Hotel’s behind to jump into full-time entrepreneurship, becoming the CEO of my own start-up company. I would not have written a book.

Whenever I have a big life choice to make and I don’t feel ready, I remind myself of this. A motto for my life is “progress trumps perfection”. It is directly correlated to this quote from Lemony Snicket. Just own it, go for it, try it, get it wrong, fall down, get back up — your life is the adventure you choose. You just have one live to life, make it count and don’t wait and let it slip away.

We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them

Jacinda Ardern — to me she embodies my philosophy to “achieve with grace”, she is a prime example of a powerhouse leader who owns her femininity and shows the strength it can bring to leading an entire country while inspiring the world.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.


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