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A Legacy of Integrity, Empathy, and Hard Work

How does a consulting firm launched on the eve of recession trace its roots to a grocery store started on the eve of the Great Depression?

In early October 1929, Henry and Connie Browning opened a mom and pop grocery store in Tarboro, NC. 3 weeks after they opened, the Stock Market began to crash, marking the beginning of the Great Depression.

And rationing.

Then World War II.

And more rationing.

In fact, there was nothing “normal” about the first 16 years of their business.

Though they never thrived, they did survive. In fact they did just fine. They closed the store in 1960 when Henry retired.

Why were they successful?

First of all, they worked their tails off.

They also embraced a devotion to customer service.

They extended credit to neighbors who were not creditworthy.

They bartered with people who had no money.

And they delivered groceries to customers' homes! Take that, you retail giants who have just entered the 20s... The 1920s.

In other words, they made their business a service to the community.

When things stabilized after the war, they had a loyal customer base that never left them.

About 80 years after that store opened, with the country then in the early days of the Great Recession, I was trying to win a consulting project at a mid-sized law firm and was wrapping up my pitch to the management committee. As I was about to apply the finishing touch, the Managing Partner interrupted. He told the story of Browning Grocers in his hometown of Tarboro, NC, and of the integrity, empathy, and work ethic of Henry and Connie. And he said “If Trent is anything like his grandparents, and everything I have seen suggests that he is, we will be in good hands with him.”

…you better believe I got that project.

The values of my grandparents were still paying dividends 2 generations later.

Today, I launch a new consulting firm - Leadership Talent Advisors - and the values of my grandparents live in the firm's Guiding Principles. I hope you will read them and tell me what you think about them. And call me out if ever the firm is not operating according to them.

LTA is designed to help organizations solve their most difficult leadership talent challenges by providing executive search, assessment, coaching, and other advisory services tailored to their specific needs.

I was going to launch March 9, but decided to hold off a bit to see where COVID-19 took us. I am glad that I did. The global crisis has shined a spotlight on how much of a difference good leadership makes, and how the qualities that define an effective leader are timeless. It has also revealed that, like the virus itself, the effects of poor leadership spread exponentially...

We still do not know what the future holds, but if we are honest, we never really do know. We never have all of the information. There are always factors beyond our ability to see or control. But sometimes we just have to take the leap. Whenever there are problems, there are opportunities to grow by solving those problems. That's what makes life fun. And meaningful. Solving problems is the core of Leadership Talent Advisors, so what better time to start than right now?

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