Lauren Lizardo I Lizardo Consulting | What's Your Bald Spot?
"I think my bald head disarms people and lets them talk about their own bald spots in a way that they probably wouldn’t normally. People tell me the craziest things without even knowing me or why I’m even bald. When I wear hair (I do that sometimes), no one tells me anything. It’s so funny. Everyone has a bald spot! My baldness seems to be a conduit to speaking the truth so I say bring it."
Where did you grow up?
Half in the San Francisco Bay Area and half in the Pacific Northwest. My heart is 40% Californian and 60% Washingtonian. If you push me for one city, I’ll always say Yakima, Washington.
What's Yakima like?
Yakima is located in the center of Washington State. It has many nicknames: the Palm Springs of Washington, the Yak, the Fruit Bowl of the Nation. It’s an agricultural community. Scorching hot during the summers, chilly during the winters, mountain peaks on the skyline, and killer sunsets. There is fantastic skiing close by and a great river to float and fish in. Lots of vineyards, lots of hops, lots of apples, basically lots of produce. The mood of the city is ruled by harvest since it is central to its economy and the energy of the people. I think that upon driving through, you could make a judgement that it’s a sleepy little town, nothing to really explore, but it’s got a lot of soul and a ridiculous number of really wonderful people.
The history is deep in that area, rooted in the Yakama Indian Nation who helped the Filipino community get established in the area by leasing land to them. As a result, there is a super sweet Filipino community which is of particular importance to me since I’m Filipino. Many of them are farmers. Also not to be forgotten, are lots of farm workers from Mexico so there is a big Mexican community as well, which means amazing mexican food everywhere.
I’ve lived all over and I keep heading back. If I ever decide to stick to one place, it could very well be Yakima. My throat always tightens a little leaving and returning which says something to me. I’m not sentimental over place, but it’s not often you find a small beautiful town, with your family history so deeply embedded in it, so the pull is appropriate.
What were you like as a child? What did you want to do when you grew up?
I was super shy as a kid, always clinging to my mom and dad. I am also the youngest of all the cousins (basically siblings in the Filipino world) and growing up in Yakima, I was around all boys in a rural community, so I was a tomboy. I wanted a sister so bad.
In terms of what I wanted to be when I grew up, well, I never named anything per se but my family made a lot of guesses. I was quite the contrarian as I grew out of my shyness, so I think they all thought a lawyer. In my older years, I thought a nurse. But, I didn’t know.
When did you first leave home? Where did you go?
I was always shipped off somewhere during the summer months as a child -- Washington, Oregon, California, Hawaii. My maternal grandparents were super road warriors, and I was always in the car with them driving up and down I5 from San Diego to Canada. I stayed with cousins, aunties, uncles. We were never bored during the summers. My parents got us out as much as possible. It was really important for them that we know our family. I’m super grateful for that--I grew up in a huge community.
But for real, the first time I left home with no knowing when I would come back--my senior year of high school. At the time we were living in California and I was miserable. I had made plans to graduate a semester early just so I could get it over with. A month before school started, I visited my Aunt and Uncle in Yakima. I was so happy to return that I begged my parents to let me stay and finish Senior Year there. My Aunt and Uncle were gracious enough to let me stay and my parents were brave enough to let me go, letting my happiness trump their last year with me before I left for college. I look back and still can’t believe they let me do that. It was the best precollege prep ever and I was reunited with friends from my elementary years and it was as if no time had passed.
Where are you living now?
Right now, I’m in Anacortes, Washington but my locale is ever-changing. I live in a travel trailer (25’ Airstream) and go where I want to go. My travel/living philosophy right now, is move every two months, two - three hours at a time, from one small quirky town to the next, and be just ahead or behind peak seasons. I’m all about taking it slow. I don’t know where I’ll go next, I’m focused on just staying right in the moment and trusting when it is time to go, I will go.
I chose Anacortes because this area is ridiculously beautiful and is a great location to get to anything and everything you would want, which includes, mountains, islands, and produce. Right now, I am surrounded by huge evergreens, a hummingbird that won’t leave me alone, and I’m plotting ferry rides to the San Juan Islands on my bike. It’s pretty epic.
Can you talk a little more about the places you've traveled and how they inspire you? Is there something about home not being in one place that is inspiring to you?
What isn’t inspiring about any place?! So many incredible things and people to know and understand in this world that every place is an inspiration in its own way. I used to think it was all about the international travel and I was all about stamps in my passport and I still do to some extent but I’ve come to realize I have a lot to learn about the U.S., the people, the history, the diversity or lack thereof. I am especially inspired by small towns. Big cities made sense a long time ago when it was important to live in clusters for the efficiency but with technology these days, ya don’t need to be living large in the city.
There was a definitely a time when I couldn’t imagine not living in an urban environment but now I can’t imagine going back. My body has a definite reaction. I have a 72 hour cap. I’m the opposite of most. I’m the person who needs to live in the middle of nowhere for five days a week and then have a weekend condo in the city! Don’t get me wrong, there’s lots of reason for city living but my body longs for the quiet, the space to breathe, the feeling of being annoyed you can’t go anywhere without running into someone (and I’m bald so I’m super hard to miss in a small town). Traffic also is not healthy for me. The last 60 days, I stayed in a small town on the Oregon Coast with only stop signs and I was friends with the gas station attendants.
My whole life I’ve struggled with the concept of home. I was always restless, always exploring, always leaving and coming back. I once told a friend, the only place I feel at home is in-between destinations. I always thought something was wrong me because I kept moving from one brick-and-mortar house to the next, sometimes across state lines, sometimes across town. I took more sabbaticals in my 20s than most will ever in a lifetime. Then I stopped listening to everyone around me and decided I needed to redefine home on my terms. It took me about two years but now I’m probably the best version of myself in this iteration. It turned out my home just needed wheels. I love going from place to place, absorbing the everydayness of places, and meeting people. I love going back to Yakima for a month or two and then moving on. I love stopping by Seattle for midnight chinese food and beers in teapots after last call. And I love that I can wake up in the morning and I can leave that behind and roll into a town where stores are closed because it’s offseason. I have found incredible balance.
When did you start Lizardo Consulting? What inspired it? Did you see a need?
Great question. The very black and white answer is I started Lizardo Consulting as a vehicle to get me out of corporate life in 2012. And in retrospect, it was my first step to transitioning to life fulltime on the road without knowing it. I most definitely saw the need. There are tons of entrepreneurs with brilliant ideas but when it comes to the actual nuts and bolts of starting a business, it’s an obstacle. I decode the steps to opening business doors.
The economy is also shifting big time, away from the traditional employee-employer relationship and relying more on subcontractors, freelancers, and specialized consultants. There are tons of people with incredible skillsets starting microbusinesses, and although there are a lot of great books, it seems to work better when you have a live person holding your hand through incorporating your business to receiving your first payment. The infrastructure of a business no matter how big or small is what holds a business up. I love infrastructure. I see a need for it everywhere.
Was there a particular moment when you knew it was what you wanted to pursue?
Not necessarily. There was more of a moment when I realized that I was working for the big pay check and there was zero joy in waking up in the morning to show up for work. So I started exploring what it would look like for me to have a few clients and take the tiny steps towards becoming my own practice. And the next thing I knew, I chose a date and just quit. I had two clients and a savings account as backup.
What were you doing before?
I was the Chief Administrative Officer for a professional services firm. I oversaw the financials, technology, administration, people, and everything-in-between. The other way I describe it is I was a 30 something year old petite brown woman in a room of tall white men 20+ years my senior from Southern California. There were a lot of crazy cultural and generational dynamics going on. I loved the complexity of it and they toughened me up big time. I definitely found my voice in that company. Lots of testosterone and me.
How would you describe your offerings?
Well, my core offerings are about providing money, technical, and administrative expertise to entrepreneurs and their teams. This mostly occurs when they are first starting a business or when they are in transition. Lately I’ve been organically developing a new part of my practice where I’m working directly with leaders and coaching them through getting their home business lives in order. I know, so random. I call it Home Ec 2.0 as a joke but maybe it’s not. I figured out when their home lives aren’t in order, their work is not in order. If their home checkbook is not in order, their work checkbook is definitely not going to be in order. If they don’t appreciate how technology works for them personally, they don’t appreciate how technology can work within their teams/company.
So basically, I help people get their shit together, no matter how messy or crazy it is.
What motivates to you to do what you do?
The vulnerability of it all. I work with super smart, driven people and I look under every nook and cranny of their life from their financials to their end-of-life-planning. I ask them to share their blind spots with me. They entrust me with the information of their lives and businesses and it keeps me super humble.
I think we live in a world that praises big picture thinking and being a visionary. And boos the details. I can see why that is the case but visions and dreams can’t be executed without some gritty details. It’s all a balance.
The work I do is very practical, very tangible. Most people get to me because they are looking for clarity, they are looking to execute a vision, they are looking for time to do things they enjoy and feel at peace when they go to bed at night. It seems so simple yet damn it’s difficult.
There are many avenues to get there -- graduate school, life coaching, therapy, retreats, self-help books, workshops, online courses, time management courses, hire a COO, etc. The default seems to be define the big picture first and then take the steps to get there. And I’m actually saying the opposite -- screw the big picture, that will come to you. Let’s declutter your present and go from there. Let’s clear what’s in front of you right now and make room for that picture to arrive. The clutter is different for every person and every business but 99% of the time it leads back to the intersection of money, technology, and process so that’s where we start. Those places are a manifestation of what is going on internally so I say, let’s have your outsides look like how you want your insides to. I’ve been doing this for 15+ years and no matter if it’s a person or a business, I keep seeing the same thing happen, when we clean out our present, we make room for our future. It is only when I get them to this place that talking about big picture is actually feasible.
It’s amazing to see people finally get something banal together like their passwords or money in order and then all of the sudden, they have room to think about what it is they truly want out of life and what is possible. It’s not sexy but it works for some people. Like I said, different avenues to get to the same place and for some this makes sense. It’s pretty cool to see.
We love What's Your Bald Spot? How did it begin? What your goals are with it?
THANK YOU. Well I thought I was going to write a memoir about being bald and that whole story. I spent the last many years writing about it. It seemed to be where people landed with me first, which makes sense. It’s such a public thing and people are curious. I also knew that I wanted to write about other things but somehow if I didn’t get this bald story out first, people wouldn’t be able to hear me so I thought, I love writing and I can tell this story. But the more I wrote, the more I realized it wasn’t the story I wanted to tell. So I decided I needed to release the words so I could make room for new words. So I launched that site, as a container to hold my story, and the stories so many have told me.
I think of it as the stories that people should lead with when they first meet someone but commonly don’t. We don’t lead with our vulnerabilities or what is really on our mind when we are getting to know someone. I think my bald head disarms people and lets them talk about their own bald spots in a way that they probably wouldn’t normally. People tell me the craziest things without even knowing me or why I’m even bald. When I wear hair (I do that sometimes), no one tells me anything. It’s so funny. Everyone has a bald spot! My baldness seems to be a conduit to speaking the truth so I say bring it.
I don’t know that I have any goals. I think it’s going to evolve into my storytelling place, life on the road, the stories about people I meet. I have a long list of people that I want to interview and write about. I guess my only goal is to keep showing up to it and trust a greater purpose will show itself.
We know it's based on living with alopecia. Would you share with us what that's like and how it changed you?
Oh gosh, living with Alopecia is living with a teacher every single day. Total blessing and a curse. You have absolutely no control over when your hair will fall out or come back so you quickly learn the art of surrendering.
I wasn’t a nice person with hair. I was okay but I was snotty and overly concerned about what people would think. I cared entirely too much about perception.
When I lost my hair, I was at ground zero. It was like a crash course on being me for real, no joking around. When you show up in the world as such, people make an assumption about you so you have to fight for them to get them to see past the exterior so there better be something worth getting to know if they give you the opportunity. It’s not lost on me that we are an image-obsessed world. I figured I can’t be bald and half authentic. It just won’t fly. People see right through that and get freaked out.
So I hid for a long time and did a lot of work on myself. I went through all the stages of grief, I wore wigs and bandanas, I went on retreats, I sat silent for many weeks. Then I figured out it wasn’t my job to make everyone love me, that I can’t control anyone. I needed to just love myself as is and trust.
My famous line to my friends is, “Dudes, if everyone loves you all the time, you aren’t doing a very good job at being yourself.” We aren’t perfect. Some people are going to love you and some aren’t. So the only way I would survive this is to just be me, to be honest with what I want out of life, own my imperfections, my sloppiness and lo and behold the more honest I was, the more life aligned with that from jobs to relationships in my life.
So yeah, being bald has been the most efficient way for me to get to know people and people to get to know me. I don’t concern myself with other people’s perceptions. I just don’t have time. And the faster people are eliminated from my life because they aren’t comfortable with the bald, the faster I am at filling my life with exactly the right people in my life. Sounds kinda harsh when I say it but it’s the truth. I don’t know any other way to be.
I think in the end my biggest shift was that of compassion and trust. I’ve had to hold the mirror up to myself a lot. I’ve made a lot of judgments about people, especially people who look like they have it all together and then end up sitting next to me at a conference and tell me all their sorrows, all their pains, their unrealized dreams, and I feel like an ass because I made an assumption about them. I’m a work in progress.
When I’m mad at someone or irritated, I imagine them bald and I soften. It’s kind of f’ed up but there it is.
When someone doesn’t know where to start and they ask for my counsel, I say lead with the truth and if you don’t know what the truth is, then say that. In my case, my physical truth is that I’m a bald woman living in a pretty superficial world hoping people will see past the fact that I don’t look like everyone else. It opens up a lot of conversations. It has been my greatest tool in my professional and personal life.
What's the response you've gotten from What's Your Bald Spot?
The response has been overwhelming. I have stories people have written and sent to me, people have written me long emails, and stopped me during meetings to tell me their bald spots. I freaking love it. I’m backlogged with a lot of posts but it’ll happen. Lots of people want me to still write the bald book but I think I’ve surrendered that.
What does a typical day look like for you? What's your work process?
Typical day is up early, do my morning ritual, shower, eat a big breakfast. Phone calls with clients in the morning and my afternoons are used to produce actual work. I cluster all my meetings so rarely do I have more than a half hour between calls and rarely do I schedule more than two meetings a day. I need a lot of recharge time so I account for that in my work day. Last item on my list before I close out my day is to review all the work I did and have to do for the next day. And somewhere in the day, I always write down one thing I’m celebrating.
What's your morning ritual to you get you ready for the day?
I have a cup of coffee. I drink a big glass of water while I wait for my water to boil and then I write every morning with pen and paper, whatever is on my mind. I don’t ever look back at those writings. Then I write something for myself to maybe share with the world one day, chip away at an essay, work on my newsletter, etc. I set my timer for 30 minutes to get me going but I usually write for about 45 mins - 1 hour.
What lessons have you learned along the way?
It’s all in the basics.
Stay hydrated, satiated, and warm.
Know where your money is so you can make wise decisions grounded in the economy of your life.
Take care of your health, you only have one body.
One day this life will end so I need to live it to its fullest. Embrace mortality.
Say no to over planning.
Do one thing at a time.
What are your biggest challenges? Do you have an achilles heel?
I’m easily distracted and I love so many things I want to do them all at one time. I can enter paralysis as a result which is often when my achilles heel enters, Hulu. Hulu is the enabler of paralysis.
What is the biggest risk you’ve taken that you feel has paid off?
Selling everything with no plan.
What does the word authentic mean to you? How does your work allow you to live authentically?
Authentic to me means showing up as-is and trusting the world will fall into place to support dreams and aspirations simply because you are living your truth.
All of my work (consulting + WYBS + random writings) is a true reflection of me -- it is exactly where I’m at in life, a little all over the place and filled with a lot of love and truth and stories. I trust the path in front of me.
And I think because I am this way, I get the best clients on my roster. They show up as they are and I do the same, no smoke and mirrors, no formalities and I think it makes for a great relationship. I’m a bit unorthodox but it seems to work. I’ve yet to be fired and I can’t take on new clients for the foreseeable future so I must be doing something right.
What accomplishment are you most proud of?
I have two. The first is being a woman who drives a big ‘ole truck and hauls a trailer around. It’s super empowering and I didn’t think I could ever do it. The logistics and the technicalities were a bit intense but I took it one step at a time with a lot of help from my family and friends and here I am. And the second is managing my own financial portfolio. My one rule for living the life I have is that I need to be financially responsible. I max my retirement accounts every year and have a brokerage account I play with. I have no debt in my life. It’s pretty badass. When I finally settle down with the man of my dreams I’m going to have to pretend I don’t know a lot. ;)
Do you have any advice for someone who wants to do what you do? Or for anyone who wants to live a more creative life?
If you are failing more than you are succeeding, you are absolutely on the right path.
Most importantly, stop and listen to yourself. You are your best compass and advocate for your heart. And for the love of some higher being, recognize that perfection does not exist. Be real, be sloppy, be amazing. The world loves you in all your stages so long as you are doing you. But in order to move towards a more creative life, you must start somewhere, not just hanging in your brain thinking about the perfect execution of your perfect project.