I’ve been following Lori Kaiser’s career from afar for several years. The day a LinkedIn invitation and email appeared in my inbox from Lori looking to connect, I’m pretty sure I responded with a fist pump in the air. From the minute we sat down together over breakfast at Bob Evans, I knew I had found a friend and mentor. I’m delighted to share how Lori connects her small town, Midwestern roots to her business mission in a big city.
Lori Kaiser knew what entrepreneurship was from an early age. Her father ran businesses ranging from a mail order veterinary medicine company to rental properties. She was accustomed to pitching in however needed, often picking orders for the mail order business or cleaning, ripping up carpet, or mowing the grass at a property.
Even though she was surrounded by this growing up, it took her a while to tap into the entrepreneurial spirit herself.
After leaving Sioux City, Iowa and moving to Newark, Ohio in the ninth grade, she made Ohio her home. She attended Miami University in Oxford, Ohio and went on to work at KPMG after graduation.
Motherhood made Lori question her professional decision. While she was on maternity leave with her oldest child, she founded Kaiser Consulting, an accounting and compliance firm. In her own admission, it wasn’t yet a “real business” and after five years running the company, she returned to corporate life. During that time, she led a significant acquisition project, while simultaneously raising two very young children and earning her MBA at the University of Chicago.
Perhaps it’s all in hindsight, but Lori said she gets excited being part of and watching something grow. It was with this spirit that she once again returned to Kaiser Consulting, this time to turn it into a “real business”. What Lori means by real business is that this time around she would focus on sustainability and hire employees, not contractors.
Lori gets excited being part of and watching something grow.
While Kaiser Consulting has made a name for itself through the great service it’s provided to major companies like Honda, Cardinal, Nationwide and Huntington, what I want to highlight is HOW Kaiser Consulting makes this work for both employees and clients alike.
Lori’s small town, Midwest upbringing taught her that people matter the most. She’s found a way to show people that they matter and the type of life they want to live matters, therefore Kaiser Consulting was founded with the idea of the fractional work schedule. Name the hours, days, and months you want to work, and Kaiser will work with you to make that happen. They attract many parents returning to the workforce after having children, professionals looking to ramp down their career toward retirement, or even to work fewer hours in the week in order to devote more time to things they love, like training for Ironman triathlons.
Lori has found a way to show people that they matter and the type of life they want to live matters through her leadership of Kaiser Consulting.
This sounds great for the employee, but what about for the client who is up against a big deadline? Because of the model she has set up at Kaiser, Lori said her organization can be nimble and agile. She recounted receiving a call from a large corporation who had a tight deadline for an urgent project and all of the big accounting firms turned the work down. Lori was able to shift resources and rally her team to make it happen. They figured out what they needed to do and got it done.
For those of us raised in small towns, we know exactly what this means. Neighbor in need? We all chip in. Natural disaster? Everyone is there for clean-up duty. Town fundraiser? Gather your spare change.
It’s also likely fair to say that employees who are grateful for a work environment and schedule that helps them live the type of life they want to live are willing to jump in on a heroic effort when the rare occasion occurs.
Lori commented that the 40-hour work week is arbitrary. She’s convinced that every job should be able to be fractional. If you get the right people, it will work out.
It’s no wonder that Lori said her job as a leader is to help others lead their best life. There are several factors to building a successful company, but if you mess up the people side, then it is hard to be successful in the long term. This requires careful listening to understand what each person desires to be successful.
In addition to serving as Founder and CEO of Kaiser Consulting, Lori is an MBA program lecturer at The Ohio State University Fisher College of Business, licensed pilot, and serves on the boards of the Columbus Chamber of Commerce, Miami University, The Ohio Society of CPAs, The Women’s Fund of Central Ohio and also holds a corporate board role with the Capitol Series Trust.
Lori’s list of accomplishment and accolades would take days to read. In 2019 alone, she was:
- The commencement speaker at the Miami University Farmer College of Business. Check out her address to hear directly from Lori on how Kaiser Consulting came to be what it is today.
- Awarded Small Business Leader by the Columbus Chamber of Commerce.
- Included in the Central Ohio Smart 50 recognizing innovation, impact and sustainability.
The vision I want to leave you with is that of Lori riding her bike at age 10 to the library and then on to the Ben Franklin store. This sense of freedom she loved when she was little has no doubt influenced the sense of freedom she wishes people to experience when they purposefully blend their work and life together.
Her request to other small town alumni is to go back and tell your story, sponsor those coming up after you and invest in your education. Those are the things that have made her who she is today, and how she’s nurturing the next generation of leaders. I am grateful to be among this group of people who have benefited from her wisdom and guidance.
Thank you, Lori, for sharing your journey from small town to reinventing the way work can be done in a big city.
Imagine if every kid living in a small town today thinking “I’m just a kid from a small town destined to be average” read this? Do your part and share it with someone who could use the motivation!
Do you know someone who has a great small town success story? Contact me and let me know!
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