Connecting with Laurie McElroy on Discovering Your Values - Part 1

This week we changed things up a bit and decided to go through Values Discovery activities with one of our favorite returning guests, Laurie McElroy.  This is a two-part episode, where we ask Laurie to share times in her personal and work life when she felt most alive and energized.   We then proceeded to discern the common themes from her stories to help discover what really matters to her - her values.   We ended this first part by defining her top values with a few words.  Tune in next week for part 2, when we summarize and validate her top core values and talk about how to put them into action every day. 

Credits: Raechel Sherwood for Original Score Composition.

YouTube Channel: Uncover The Human










Alex: This week on Uncover the Human, we're going to be mixing it up a little bit. Rather than exploring a specific topic, we're going to get into something that we love talking about here, values.  So, values, we love connecting to many of the topics we've talked to you, but we don't as often dig into how one gets to values and why you would get to values. So, we picked out guests that we know and love. We have Laurie McElroy back on the show.

Cristina: She did a wonderful job, but going through some of the steps that we, actually, walk our clients through on figuring out values, which is, think of stories when you felt energized, finding out what the themes are, what are the common themes from those stories, and then start defining. What are the word sentences that define the values that come out of those themes? And then we continue that once we have the definition into now how do you live that day by day? How do you figure out when they're being challenged? What do you do?

Alex: We will have all courses available on this on our website by the end of October so people can start doing some of this work themselves. In the meantime, you're more than welcome to reach out to us. We'd love doing value’s assessment work and it's always just incredibly fun getting to connect with people on their values, as I think will be very apparent by this episode itself and this interview with Laurie. 

Cristina: Yeah. Enjoy it.

Alex: Welcome to Uncover the Human where every conversation revolves around enhancing all the connections in our lives.

Cristina: Whether that's with our families, co-workers or even ourselves. 

Alex: When we can be our authentic selves, magic happens.

Cristina: This is Cristina Amigoni. 

Alex: And this is Alex Cullimore. Let’s dive in.

Cristina: Let’s dive in. 

Group: Authenticity means freedom. 

Authenticity means going with your gut.

Authenticity is bringing 100% of yourself not just the parts you think people want to see, but all of you.

Being authentic means that you have integrity to yourself. 

 It's the way our intuition is whispering something deep-rooted and true.

Authenticity is when you truly know yourself. You remember and connect to who you were before others told you who you should be. 

It's transparency, relatability, no frills, no makeup, just being.


Alex: Hello. Welcome back to a very special episode of Uncover the Human. We're kind of mixing it up a little bit this week. But let's dive right into our guest here. First, we have Laurie McElroy. Welcome, Laurie.

Laurie: Thank you. Hi, everybody. Thanks for having me back.

Cristina: Welcome back. Third time's a charm.

Alex: So, we're doing it a little bit differently this week. One thing we've talked a lot about in this whole podcast is we talk about values. We talk about how that can help guide what we want to do. But we don't talk as much about how to discover that and getting into how to apply that to your life. So, we're doing a two-part episode with Laurie here, and Laurie has graciously agreed to let us explore her values with her and go and launch into how you find values, and then secondarily, how we apply those to life. So, thanks for being able to share this one with us, Laurie. This is a big undertaking.

Laurie: Yeah, you're very welcome.

Alex: So, let's dive in first to the why. Why would you want to do something like reevaluate some values or go through this kind of exercise?

Laurie: When Cristina and I were in our coach training program it was kind of the last time that I really went through and analyzed my values and spent time actually thinking about what are my core values and why. I found that exercise very liberating. very illuminating, very empowering, because I realized that when I show up in honor of my core values, I'm operating in my best self. I'm playing big, I'm fully showing up, I have access to who I am and what I'm about, and that feels really good.

That's kind of the last time I did it and I think about my values, though, a lot, like almost every week. I think it's because of that exercise and I go back to the exercise as a refresher on a regular basis. What else did you ask me, Alex?

Alex: I'm just curious, why you’re into it? And that's a perfect answer. It is something that ends up being valuable to just kind of help guide us in what we're going to do with life. And we actually talked a little bit before we even started the recording about how little emphasis there isn't that when you're growing up in school, this is kind of a good framework for deciding big life choices. We don't really get any piece of that growing up, but at least it wasn't common in my generation. So that was just not really how we talked about it.

Laurie: Yeah, like we talked about before we started recording, we think in terms of well, what can I make money at or what has my family been doing for generations or what is my guidance counselor telling me I'd be good at based on different courses in school, subjects I was good at. But we don't really, at least I never had the opportunity or experience of thinking about those questions in terms of how are they in or out of alignment with my values.

Cristina: I actually had an interview, it wasn’t an interview, it was like a conversation with the college students. I think she's a junior or a senior at CU. She got in contact with me through a mutual consultant friend. Her first questions, all her questions were really about how do I find a company that aligns with my values? How do I discover what my values were? I was shocked that a 20-year-old was talking about values. I was like, “Wait, don't we talk about values when we're 40 and lost in life and going through a midlife crisis?”

Laurie: I find that, yes, that's a good time to do it. I do that a lot with clients. Because when we started out in our professional career, maybe some of our values and the reasons why we're working are a little different than they are when we're 40, 45 and 50. Slowing down and having more time and more important, maybe than climbing the ladder, and all the financial milestones that we need. So, that is a natural time to do it. I have a lot of clients who are in that, 22 to 26-year-old timeframe, where they are starting to go, “Well, are the values I actually have mine? Or are they things that I have from my family, or from my community?” Or if they grew up with particular religious beliefs, or all these just things that I've adopted and taken on? I don't even know if they're my real values. So, how do I find that out?”

Alex: I guess, a great way of putting it, there are so many that we get basically handed down to us. We have inherited values from how we were raised and what we're exposed to. It's interesting that you mentioned that, Cristina, that there's a 20-year-old doing it, because either they've improved the curriculum, or she's just way ahead of the curve. I don't know.

Cristina: She's a good hire. That's for sure.

Laurie: Yeah. I have also found that kids, millennials, do think a lot more at least than I did when I was like 22 about the values alignment. Am I proud of the company's mission? I'm like done with that. Do they do things that I believe in? I'm not sure I gave that a lot of thought, 25 years ago.

Cristina: They’re definitely driving companies to be walking the talk a little bit more than “look at our pretty values in our website and our posters, and we do the opposite.”

Laurie: Yeah, that’s how it went.

Alex: So, what we wanted to approach is kind of showing how you can get to your values, how you can get out of your personal values, tests, help separate that a little bit from all of the values you feel like you maybe should have or can come from other people. And you brought up a great point, Laurie, that it can change a little bit over time, based on your life circumstances. There are some things that might feel like they run similarly year over year, but there's going to be something that changes a little bit just because of where you are in life. So, it's another good reason to kind of revisit and reevaluate these things, as well as making sure that they really feel good to you specifically, rather than something that you feel like you had to take on.

One of the ways we wanted to start this, there's a lot of different value exercises out there, and I'd encourage people to check them out if they feel like they want to try them out themselves. But the way we're going to do this one is we'd love to start with just some stories from you, Laurie, as personal or work oriented or not work oriented as you'd like, of times where you really felt particularly in flow or excited about things and just get a little idea of what was going on during those times.

Laurie: Yeah, the first one that comes to mind is when I worked at Target, it feels like a lifetime ago, I helped stores rebuild broken processes. So, I would go in when things had not been functioning properly for years, 10 years in one case. I kind of have a wrecking ball approach. It's like, “Well, whatever we're doing right now isn't working because I'm here. So, let's just, knock the entire thing down and let's fill it back up. Let's create that strong foundation. Let's work the processes, the way they were intended to work, and let's build something together that we can all feel proud of.” I loved that work, mostly because the people that I had an opportunity to work with, who were willing to work insane hours. I mean, roll up their sleeves and get physically, mentally, emotionally dirty with me. They worked the hard hours. They did everything that I ever asked them to really without complaining, without questioning, and they kind of really bought into it and went along for the ride and I was always amazed at how they showed up. They didn't have to. They’re hourly employees. I could have said, “Yeah, we're here what you're trying to sell, but we're not really buying.” I'll show up for my three shifts a week, and then I'm going to call it good.

But there were always enough people who bought into the bigger vision of what it would feel like to really build something that could last, could stand the test of time. So, that, I found extremely energizing and I felt full of purpose. I felt exhausted, because it was a lot of work. But there was also a real sense of pride, and also being able to see on a pretty consistent basis what we were building. See the actual results of the hard work. I think they kept showing up to fight the good fight, so to speak.

Alex: That's super interesting. So, what kinds of processes, just out of curiosity, some certain, maybe even just specific ones that you remember, that was just a total revamp? What kind of things were you working on with them?

Laurie: Probably the biggest change was what they call logistics, which really has to do with every piece of merchandise in the store, from the pilot comes into the store to how it goes to the sales floor to where it's back stocked. That is a massive undertaking. There are lots of people you never see, because they show up at two or three in the morning to unload thousands of boxes, and get them on the shelves before the store opens in the morning.

So, that was probably the biggest transformation in the stores that I was part of that process, just because it touches really every area of the store. Because if your shelves aren't stocked, or you've got a lot of stock issues, product issues, then the customer service people are going to be getting hammered daily. Why is this stuff not here? Why is your store a mess? Why aren't the things where they're supposed to be on the sales floor? So, if it affects really every area of the store. When things run smoothly, from a logistical standpoint, it really helps everybody else just be able to show up and do their job effectively and efficiently.

Cristina: It sounds like both the processes and what was energizing you it's very much around community and people working together.

Laurie: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, they're my family, for sure. They had no real reason to follow me. The first time I had the position of being in charge of logistics was in the store in Spokane, Washington. I literally, on the first day, just said I've never done this before. I literally have no idea what I'm doing. But I’m pretty certain that what we've been doing isn't working. So, if you're willing, let's just knock all of this down and just start literally with the basics. If you guys have suggestions, you tell me because you've been here.

So, I was just really honest with them. I literally have never done this before. But I promise that I will be here every day, I will be working shoulder to shoulder with you. I will be emptying garbage and unpacking boxes and sweeping floors just like the rest of you. I think that that allowed me to build trust pretty quickly in the people who worked with me every day, because they saw me kind of walk the talk and I wasn't just sitting up in the cafeteria drinking coffee, screaming at everybody over the loudspeaker. Why are you guys not done yet?

Cristina: I just read an article, actually, that talks about how the leaders that people want to follow instead of the leader that people have to follow, which again, then they wouldn't be leaders or just bosses. But one of the big differences is getting their hands dirty, like being in the trenches with the people doing whatever needs to be done no matter what. A key trait is when you're a leader that's in the trenches to help, you become a helper. So, you kind of let go of your authority and title and entitlement and whatever else you think you need to have, and the people become your bosses in a way because you're there to help them.

Laurie: Yeah, and I will, Crristina. That's an important point. Looking back, I think that was true of me in those situations, is that I saw my role as making their roles easier. So, if that meant I was throwing freight off the truck in the morning because somebody didn't show up and that's what I was doing. If a particular area of the store in terms of pushing the freight out to the floor, if somebody didn't show up, then I mean I'd go and work in each department. I would voluntarily go around with an empty cardboard bins and sweep right so that other people could just focus on their jobs. I really do think that that collaborative environment and really all of us being willing to step in and help each other out, was unusual, because it was always like, “Well, that's not my role, or that's not my department, or I’m new, I'm not new. So why would I sweep?”

I think that it allowed me to kind of say none of us are above the sweeping. We're all going to just pitch in and be flexible and help out where we need to go.

Alex: It's really a good point. It’s like you separate yourself from that or say, like, “I'm not going to be doing this sweeping”, it does then become something that implies it is a lesser task or something or something that is less important and you're then above that, which then means whoever does pick up the broom, is by default, less important. That's a pretty brutal stepping stone to try and get people to feel motivated, as well as just accomplish anything. What is the real goal here? Is the real goal to tell people what to do? Or is the real goal to fix the logistics at the store? Those are two entirely different things. If you can buy into the goal that it shows, maybe there's something larger.

Laurie: I think so. I remember just this vision came to me one day, I got called out to Salesforce. I was the only executive in the building and I was filthy. I had been working probably 16 hours that day. I mean, I had dirt and dust head to toe, I mean, all over my face, my hands. My hair was up. I used to put a bunch of pens in there because I needed to find things constantly. I literally walked up and this lady was like, “You're the one that's in charge?” And I was like, “Yeah.” She's like, “Okay, never mind.” I was like, “All right, well, I got a crate to put away, so I’m good.” But I'm sure that when I literally came up, and I mean, I have dirt on the front of my pants, my shirt, everything was dirty. I still remember that and just kind of laugh because again, I would have a similar response. Why is the one doing this kind of work the one up here trying to help me? You should be nice and clean and walking around with coffee.

Cristina: I know nothing about what it's like to do your people's jobs.

Alex: Don't tell them that. Don’t just act like you know.

Laurie: Yeah, it reminds me of a line from this book on leadership that seems kind of funny. But Leadership Secrets of Attila the Hun. It's a great book. People, if you've never read it, I highly recommend that. It was a family favorite. But I think one of the quotes in there is something like “people will follow you like into the depths of hell, if you give them something to follow, some ideal.” If you're a leader and lead them there, they'll go in there freely. I found that to be true.

Cristina: Great quote.

Alex: It makes it sound like it has to be something like saving the planet or getting all the plastic out of the ocean or something. But it's really just about, “Hey, we're in this together. Here's something that we can all do that will make all of our lives better and that could be to the logistics of the store. That could be just making sure things are clean. That could be making sure there's something that is there to improve everybody's life.” And then, it kind of implies there's something more here than just yeah, this is the eight hours a day I'm obligated to spend here because then I can punch out the card after eight hours.

Laurie: Yeah, absolutely.

Cristina: So, what are some other stories from your experience that you can think of where just felt that type of energy.

Laurie: I get that energy a lot, like I have seven nieces and nephews, so I get that kind of – I feel energized anytime I'm around them. The way they see the world, right through this lens of hope and possibility and goodness and love and faith and all these other beautiful things. So, I feel very energized anytime I have a chance to work with kids or spend time in their presence. I also feel very energized by the work I do now. Deciding every day to just show up and be in service of other people has been very humbling. I think, and very eye opening, and very affirming in that I feel like finally professionally, I really am doing something that I'm meant to do. It builds that bigger kind of purpose in me. 

Alex: I’d like to focus just for a second on the nieces and nephews. What are some experiences you've had with them that were particularly energizing at the time where you saw that attitude that you're talking about coming out?

Laurie: Oh my gosh, it's everywhere. Like I realized that I'm also physically surrounded by them in my office. I wasn't consciously aware until about a week ago, where there are pictures of them literally surrounding me. But when I think in terms of are we going to be okay, with younger generations picking up the mantle, what is the world going to be like? I see my older nephews who are in their 20s taking time to spend with the little guys who are 6 and 10, and scooping them up in their arms and hugging them and telling them I love you and listening to the little voice stories about things that are important to them, and it isn't just that yeah, yeah, but me. They're actually curious about what's going on in their lives and they are supportive, and they are champions for these little guys. Charlie and Oscar, the little ones, adore. Peyton and Jackson.

So, knowing that I had been an active part in raising incredible human beings and men, who know that it's okay to be emotional, and to connect and to be loving, and demonstratively or showed acts of love on a regular basis. But that's not something they have to be afraid of or can't do, because it's weak. So, every moment I see that, I'm just like, “If I never do anything else in my life, that's it. That's the good stuff.”

Kids who are like my three nieces who are so, so just in favor and in support of anybody who experiences a different reality, then mainstream, then I guess, the majority. They are so deeply concerned for anybody who identifies as different in any way. They are so compassionate and empathetic. It's like, well, you really should think about when you say this, how that might sound to somebody who's experienced this, and I'm like, “I never even thought about that.” So, they opened my eyes to how I can be more compassionate and more loving, and reach out across, maybe what appeared to be different barriers, to really reach out and fully show up and be in support of other people. So, I mean, literally all the time. I am in awe of these kids, and what they're capable of and it's emotional, and who they choose to be.

Cristina: Beautiful. It's interesting, because I don't know if Alex, you're experiencing this at all. And Laurie, I don't know, if you're experiencing this as a coach, while listening to yourself, is I can definitely see some clear common themes between the energy that you got from the target story and the energy that you're getting from being around your nephews and nieces and raising them and seeing how they're becoming.

Alex: How that would also tie into being a coach now.

Cristina: Yes.

Laurie: Yeah, it's kind of interesting, because they seem like very different or disjointed areas, or topics. I think a big thing, Cristina, when you just said that, what came up for me is that in both of those situations with my nieces and nephews, and when I was at Target, I showed up in a way that was authentic and true to who I am.

So, I think that, for me, that is a massive component of me living in alignment with my values, when I choose to show up that way, or when I'm allowed to show up that way, when I feel like it's safe to show up that way. I guess I kind of love the way I show up. Right? I love how that feels.

Cristina: People love it. People are drawn to it. They emulate it. They take the best parts of that, and then do it themselves. Some of the things that I heard was your nieces, especially your older ones, really being present with the younger ones and breaking down any of the walls all of like, “I'm too cool to play with a six-year-old”, or “I'm too cool to show emotions”, which is similar theme to no matter what your ranking is, whatever your title is in a job is you're not too cool to sweep the floor. You're not too cool to get dirty and open up the shelves and do whatever needs to be done from a physical perspective. And admitting, “I have no idea how we're going to do this, but I know it's not working. So, let's figure it out together.” So, that's probably a lot of what your nieces and nephews also come back with when they're like, “Oh, well, what if we thought about this from somebody else's experience? Let's understand that.” Which is admitting that we're not all knowing and perfect the way we are. Maybe we can learn from other people.

Laurie: Yeah. I think there is a huge one there, there was a willingness definitely by not everybody that I worked with, because I definitely had some people who let me know very quickly. We're not on board with your program, lady. Not now and not ever. So that was okay. I let them go so they could pursue fabulous opportunities in other places. I think the same is true with the kids. It's a willingness on everyone's part to show up and be genuine and to look for connection and be present and be engaged and be deeply connected. I mean, I think that's a choice we all have and I think I do love it when people – when I and other people decide to show up like that.

Alex: That connection piece definitely rings through in both angles, both in the Target stories and with your nieces and nephews that you feel in connection to being able to help them. And they also have the openness to and that was the first thing you mentioned, when you started the Target stories. You're talking about, I was met with people and every place I went to, and there were enough people that wanted to be part of the program, that wanted to be there, and were there to just – fine, I'll absolutely jump in and do this with you. I want to be part of this. Is that connection piece rings through as well. Just something that you feel the same energy coming back, and it's moving to witness, but it seemed especially moving for you as well. That's something that seems to be a common theme.

Laurie: Especially like when I look at the roles at Target, maybe they had six or seven different executives in and out of there and of course of years, who couldn't ever, for whatever reason, figure it out and get it moving in the right direction. I never thought that was like a people issue. It wasn't because the workers weren't good, or because they were lazy or because they didn't care. I mean, that's often the stories that I was told, but I never really found that to be true. They're like, “We just want some guidance. We want a little support. We want a little help. We don't want to look up every 20 minutes and see you drinking coffee and reading the paper.” I even had people after weeks who were like, “You're the only person that's been in this role in years, who actually stands out here with us and processes freight. You're the only one that I've seen in years, pick the broom up or fill the carts up by the front of the store.” I was always dumbfounded by that. What in the world are these people doing? None of us really know. We were never clear on that.

Cristina: Command and Control, poorly, clearly.

Alex: That’s why you'd never hear stories about the workers being lazy coming from any of the workers.

Cristina: Yeah.

Laurie: Yeah. I mean, just when you stand back and watch, I mean, you see that that's just not the case. You see it, right? So, it's part of our job, but I think, as a leader, to clear out some of those roadblocks and help make things easier for people and identify what they actually need, and then, shockingly enough, give it to them.

Cristina: First step is figuring out what they need. Well, it's also interesting, because I've taken a couple of statistics classes, not by choice, by force of getting my degrees. What is the probability that an entire store is lazy and not hardworking and doesn't want to do the job? Or an entire team or an entire department? I mean, yes, you may have a couple of people here and there that may be in the wrong place, or the wrong role, or maybe this is just a temporary situation for them. But literally an entire team, an entire department. There's no way.

Laurie: Yeah, I certainly never found that to be true.

Cristina: Me either.

Alex: I always think it's funny when people compare, like political differences or something. They'll be like, “Oh, yeah, the other side does this, the other side does that.” And then you ask them about, like their friends who are on the other side and they're like, “Oh, yeah, I mean, they're great.”

Cristina: They're the exception.

Alex: That's the exception, like, well, okay. But does everybody think that?

Laurie: It's easy, how quickly we are to label, label and then write with, without actually taking the opportunity to get to know.

Alex: I believe it's called the fundamental attribution error. That was the, I think, psychological term for it were you like, basically, same as being in traffic. If you cut somebody off, you're like, “I'm so sorry, I'm running late. My bad.” If you get cut off, you're yelling, screaming, flipping them off. This person is a bad person. They probably never done a good thing in their life. They probably kick puppies all the way home.

Laurie: Right.

Cristina: So, when you mentioned that part of getting this energy from the people at Target and from being with your nieces and nephews, is the fact that you show up authentically, you show up by honoring your values. So, what does authentic Laurie look like?

Laurie I think I'm fun. I think authentic Laurie is very playful. I think I don't take myself too seriously. I think I'm willing to give people the benefit of the doubt. I think I'm willing to be curious and get to know people where they are at their level. In the moments when I am most like myself, I'm able to set aside my own expectations and judgments for how they should be or what they should be doing and I just accept, as odd as that sounds.

I think that I’ve noticed that especially in the last like year and a half, that if I can let my own ego kind of get out of the way, and realize that I don't know everything, and I don't know what's best for everybody and what everyone should or shouldn't be doing. There are my “shoulds” again, for one of our other sessions. I think that that feels more genuine to me. And it feels better, like physically in my own body.

I think that I am someone who has a lot of joy and an enthusiasm for life. I think that I enjoy community and connection and being of support to people. And being somebody that people can depend on. I think it's important to me as well.

Alex: Those definitely all sounded like themes I was envisioning as you're going through some of these stories. And before we dive too much into defining those themes, I'd just love to explore a little bit of the work that you've been doing recently in coaching and even mentioned the word that you find it humbling in that you feel like this is something that you were meant to be doing. I'd love to, without violating any client's privacy or anything, any crystallizing moments where it felt especially like, “Wow, this really feels like a good purpose or something that was especially humbling, or something that really felt that connection?”

Laurie: Yeah. I mean, honestly, it happens many times a week. I feel grateful for that. Because I know like how long I struggled with, personally struggle with limiting beliefs, and believing this inner critic who was so active, and so willing to tell me all of the ways that I was failing, all of the ways that I wasn't good enough, all of the ways that I was undeserving, of a beautiful life. I bought it. I bought it. Hook, line, and sinker. I let that narrative be the only narrative.

So, I know, like what that feels like to be in that space. So, when I have the privilege of working with people who are able to see for the first time, that there is another narrative that they complete and there is another story that they get to create. They get to decide what they feed and what they listen to, internally. When I see them, and I hear them say, “Oh, my God, I never knew this was an option. I never knew that I could quiet this inner critic in my own head.” I see the impact that just in a short period of time that has had on somebody's life, it's like, “Holy shit!” How amazing that I get to do this for a living, and that I get to witness people's growth and their honesty and their mastery and their vulnerability.

I mean, that really just totally does it for me. I'm like, “Yes, this is what I want to do. This is what I want more of. This is what I want to see. This is what I want to develop right here.”

Cristina: That's what you're meant to do.

Laurie: Yeah, I think so. I think it's, all of us have special gifts that we have. And it's how can we use those gifts in service of others? I think that's when we experience abundance and whatever your definition of that word is, I certainly feel that way.

Alex: That's why I love having conversations about values. I mean, this kind of passion is what is so fun to witness and get to like experience just even vicariously. We even gotten to see you do this in action and see it with the people. It's just when you know you're touching on something that is so core and important. It's really fun to be a part of, it's really fun to see. Thank you so much for sharing these stories, especially.

Laurie: You're very welcome.

Cristina: It gives life meaning.

Laurie: Yeah, it does. It's interesting, because I do work a lot on values with clients, who are feeling, maybe low levels of motivation, or they're feeling kind of stuck in their career, and they don't really have a lot of control over the types of things that they get assigned or the things that they get to do. So, having a values discussion and helping them realize that externally, maybe nothing shifted, but internally what you are focusing on, that is in your control. So, if you can shift from this perspective of the lack of, or the how I don't have control over, and you can go well look, growth is an important value for me and there are still ways that I can grow as a human being, even if I've been in this position for three years and there isn't really nothing new coming my way. There are still things you can do to grow and develop as a human, right?

It may not be in this one realm of your life, let's say professionally, but there are certainly things you can do to grow and develop and so that is very empowering. There's a freedom to that, to know that it isn't just these external factors, in some cases that really shrink us and keep us confined and small, but there are things we can do about that.

Cristina: There definitely are. So, as part of our values discovery, we've told us stories, and we've come up with some themes, common themes from all the stories, even though they're very varied. And so, the next step, we're going to go into defining what your values are, putting words to them, and then seeing how are you living those values today? Where are you not living those values today? How would you like to approach that gap if it's necessary to approach it and bridge it?

Laurie: Okay, let's do it.

Alex: So, a few things that really stuck out, you talked a lot about, we’ve talked about support, that one seems like a huge one, you really like kind of getting in there and helping people find their own growth. Growth also seems like a theme for all of these. You've seen your nieces and nephews grow up. You've been a part of that growth. You've been a part of your client’s growth. You've been part of each store that you would help with Target. You're part of every growth there. Those feel like very important. Being part of planting the seed and being part of nurturing that to see it change, see something be entirely different after you've left it than before. That one seems like a very core theme here. One thing that I really, especially, liked and related to was you talked a lot about, one of the things you love from your nieces and nephews is that they are especially good at identifying and creating belonging for differences and reaching across if you call it barriers, reaching across barriers and having that separation. That one feels like a big one, too, because that one feels like something you really wanted to do and your work at Target. That's something you really liked doing. As a coach, you're pushing people outside of their own barriers. There's something that I don't know what the right adjective word is. But that theme strikes me in the different stories.

Laurie: I'm trying to think just of my own kind of top 10 values what that is, because I never, I think landed on what you just described. I don't know if it's open mindedness. I don't know if it's – certainly could be, maybe it is open mindedness, just openness to it to anything different. There's also a component of our own self-mastery, like mixed in that right, our ability to be fully open, and to explore our own biases, and be honest about what those are, what they could be, and how you approach exploring those and examining them because it can be uncomfortable, right?

So, I think there is something to that. And then the support, I think, I have labeled like that one is partnership. Because for me, there's a level of collaboration and that supportiveness of helping others building something together, like you were saying. It's not just planting the seed, but it's doing the hard work and building it together so that you can watch it grow. Everybody gets to benefit from that. Not just me. It's also a byproduct. Yeah, I think that's important. I think you’re right on the money there, Alex.

Alex: Something you mentioned, while you're talking about the things that you feel when you feel like you're the authentic Laurie, you mentioned like you feel like you don't take yourself too seriously. And that's something that I was reminded of when you're saying like watching people, acknowledge their own biases, be able to challenge those things and take on what is definitely uncomfortable, but it's especially uncomfortable if you're taking yourself incredibly seriously, because then he might have to admit there's something there you want to fix or change. I love that distinction because you even mentioned that and this feels true to me. I don't feel as serious about this.

Laurie: Yeah. This is the way I would describe it. There was a large portion of my life where I kept my dome screwed on very tightly. It was exhausting. So tiring. I took myself so seriously. Holy cow, like just let that go. Have a little bit of fun. Be more playful. Be the way you are with the kids. Try showing up like that and just see. Because the seven of them seem to like you quite a bit. They seem to accept you the way that you are. So, maybe somebody else will. Maybe others will – that energy will appeal to them and they'll be like, “Hey, this is a safe place that I can come and be curious and explore.” So, literally learning to unscrew this weight or this heaviness that I put on top of myself, thinking I had to be so serious or I had to look so professional or I had to do it a certain way. It's like, why are you boxing yourself in all the time and then feeling cramped by the box? That I stuck myself. Does that make sense?

Alex: Yes. Painfully so.

Laurie: It’s like, “Girl, just bust out of that shit. You're the one doing this. Stop. Spread your arms. Open it up. See what that feels like.”

Alex: I totally agree. That's very relatable.

Cristina: We usually build our own boxes, and then we complain that we have a box around us.

Laurie: Yeah, it's like, “I don't like this box. Where does this come from?” And it's like, “I stuck it there. I put myself in here. I climbed in.”

Alex: I don't know if you had any thoughts on things that stuck out to you particularly in the stories as well.

Cristina: I think, definitely what you have mentioned in terms of defining them as values, we'll let Laurie do that. But definitely a lot of compassion and empathy. So, walking in other people's shoes, understanding their experiences, has come up. Helping them, walking with them, not just watching them walk or beside them, but kind of like really doing the work, understanding what they may be feeling and listening. So, those are some of the themes. And then I love the stepping back and observing what did that create, both with the nieces and nephews in your coaching clients and with the Target. It's like it's taking that pause that a lot of times we forget to take, kind of like looking back and pausing and be like, “Wow, check it out. Look what these people are doing. Look what we've accomplished together.” Because we have come together as all humans that are unique and different. But we have this commonality of world humans. It's not about titles, it's not about age, it's not about what's cool, what's not cool. It's not about who knows what, it's just about being together and respecting each other's humanity.

Laurie: That feels accurate to me, Cristina, and it's just making me recall a couple moments, especially at Target, where sometimes it was hard to be able to stay in the present because there were so many things to do and it was lofty. These things we had to do, they were big, and they took a lot of time and a lot of effort. I remember one time in particular, I had actually been gone for a month. My cousin got married in France, and I took a month and went over there. When I came back the first morning, I was back. One of my team leads on the overhead was like, “Okay, everybody, let's show Laurie what we did without her, while she was gone.” And I was like, “Oh my God”, my heart swelled up so big. I felt like a proud parent, when your baby takes the first step. And I was just like, “Oh my god, yes.” This is probably not good for my own long-term employment, because they can do it without me. They know that. They felt that. They've seen it. They're the ones who chose to put in the hard work, and to show up every day and make a difference. They did that. 

I don't need to steal that from them in order for me to feel better. I'm going to just, based on what this feels like, being proud of them, and seeing them empowered, and carrying the change in the conversation. When I would start out in a store, it was like, “This is hopeless, and she is nuts. She'll be gone in two months.” I mean, she's nuts was probably the nicest thing I heard. “She'll be gone in a few months. We don't have to listen, it doesn't matter, blah, blah, blah.” Very stuck in this low energetic light and your energy levels. And then when you start walking around, and people, you hear them go like, “Hey, did you know how quickly we did this today? We took 30 minutes off our best time.” Or, “Hey, I'm done with my stuff, let me come over and help you.” It was electric. And then other people in the store who worked there would feel it. And they would notice and they would comment and it's like it builds and then it takes on a life of its own. And suddenly everybody's living in this place of what's possible and what other barriers can we break and what other speeds can we crush and what are the other metrics that we can just blow out of the water? And it's like, “I'm good. I’m super proud.”

Cristina: Well, and isn't that the definition of a successful leader, honestly? The one where they can finally get to the point of, I'm not needed anymore. I've done my job. A leader that's needed, that's constantly needed is a leader. That's not letting go. It's not letting the people grow and become who they truly can become. When you get to the point of like, I just worked myself out of a job, that’s success.

Laurie: I think that's definition to me as a leader. I think that there might be a disconnect between our version of a successful leader and what is actually experienced out in the world, right? Because I'm a successful leader, if I make so much money a month, or if I have a corner office or a certain job title, where if I'm the one that has all the power and all the knowledge and all the control, and I'm the one who gets to decide everything, because I know what's best. I think that’s shifting, but sometimes I get impatient. I feel like it's not shifting quickly enough.

Cristina: It's shifting. But yeah. It’s the speed of mountains, sometimes.

Alex: Laurie, for one, thestories for value sake, but also that story is a wonderful example of the contagious nature of positive change. You started to help impact this and look at them impacting like this. This is pushing this small domino that knocks over the giant domino. This is a great tangible example of exactly why these things work and why being that kind of leader works. So, thank you for that. Just a totally separate note.

Laurie: Yeah, thank you.

Cristina: I think it's the Ted Lasso effect.

Alex: Yes.

Cristina It’s definitely the Ted Lasso effect. And can we do spoilers of Ted Lasso on the podcast?

Alex: Maybe for season one, but there's still season two.

Cristina: Yeah. I was going to do a season two spoiler. I won’t do that.

Alex: Suffice to say, go see, go watch Ted Lasso.

Cristina: Yes. Season one, because in a couple of months, we're spoiling season two.

Alex: It’s coming.

Cristina: It’s coming.

Alex: So Laurie, if you were to boil down to a few words that help kind of capture this, or if you want help, we’re more than happy to throw some adjectives at you. But you've got some ideas of ways you would describe these things that really boil down to the important parts.

Laurie: Authenticity is a huge one for me, as it is for you all I know. That's a big one. Self-mastery, I think it's also really important to me, like understanding, why do I do some of the things I do? What am I afraid of? And how do I conquer that? What are my biases? And how do I adjust those? How do I continually stay in the fight to become the best Laurie that I can be? What does that look like? And what does that require of me? That's something that's really important. This partnership that we talked about, the collaboration, the being there, the building something together, supporting others, something I didn't realize until, I think within the last couple of years is that freedom is a huge value of mine.

So, by freedom, to me, that means flexibility. Just to be honest, I don't really like being told what to do. I never have. Kind of my whole entire system of rebels against that. It's like, “Don't fence me in. Don't tell me what to do. I do what I want kind of a thing.” So, I feel very constricted and confined when other people are trying to tell me what I can and can't do. I really felt I’m really stuck pretty –

Cristina: We can't relate to that one at all.

Laurie: Freedom is really like being in control of my own schedule, right? If I want to take three months off, then I'll take three months off. If I only want to work these hours, two days a week, then that's when I work. I don't have anybody who's dictating that to me. That flexibility to grow and evolve, and not be afraid of the uncertainty and the discomfort, that will surely follow if I'm really in that space. I think also there's this element of fun and enjoyment. Because I used to take myself so seriously, it's like, “Just have more fun. Just show up and see what could happen if you decide that things could be more fun.” Why did this just come up? Reese Witherspoon in Legally Blonde when she's like, “It'll be like freshman year.” I want it to be fun.

Cristina: The L Woods. Channel your L Woods.

Laurie: So, those are some of the big ones, I think and also abundance is one that's I think relatively new for me, just thinking in terms of abundance. To me, that means fulfillment, opportunity and possibility. What is possible when I show up in that mindset? In that space? So, those are some of my core values.

Alex: To wrap that, that would be self-mastery, authenticity, fun and freedom. So, you can really put that all into a nice acronym for SMAFF. I think that nails it.

Cristina: And abundance.


Laurie: Like NAFTA, but different?

Alex: These are incredible values. Thank you so much for sharing, Laurie. Please join us for part two. We're going to unpack these a little bit as to what they mean in day to day life as well as how to encourage them, find them and times where they may be challenged. Thank you so much for joining Laurie, we can't wait for part two.

Cristina: Thank you.

Laurie: You’re welcome.


Cristina: Thank you for listening to Uncover the Human, a Siamo podcast. 

Alex: Special thanks to our podcast operations wizard, Jake Lara; and our score creator, Raechel Sherwood. 

Cristina: If you have enjoyed this episode, please share, review and subscribe. You can find our episodes wherever you listen to podcasts. 

Alex: We would love to hear from you with feedback, topic ideas or questions. You can reach us at podcast, or at our website,, LinkedIn, Instagram or Facebook. We Are Siamo is spelled W-E A-R-E S-I-A-M-O.

Cristina: Until next time, listen to yourself, listen to others and always uncover the human.



Laurie McElroyProfile Photo

Laurie McElroy

Career, Executive, Life and Mental Health Coach | Corporate Culture Crafter | Thinking Trap Escape Artist | Value-Centric Vision

Laurie is a Mental Health Coach. She attended the iPEC coach training program and is an ICF Professional Certified Coach, along with being a Master Practitioner of the ELI. She has a Masters in Psychology w/ specialization in Executive Coaching & Industrial Organization Psychology.  Laurie has coached more than 400 clients over the course of 900+ hours. She went through coach training last year and hit the road running to build her impressive coaching career.  She grew up in entrepreneurial families and has always had a deep interest in people, which moved her towards become a coach, to work with people every day and help them reach their highest potentials.  Super fan of anyone who is interested in understanding themselves at a deeper level.

Laurie can be reached on LinkedIn and via email