Welcome to Business Innovators Magazine…Please introduce yourself and a brief thumbnail sketch of your background.
LB: It’s so great to have an opportunity be a part of this dialogue. I’m Lawson Brooks, and I’m President & Chief Strategist at Alexander Brooks, a Washington, DC-based Business Development/Government Relations consulting firm.
Our focus is with companies that are engaged in but aren’t achieving their desired results within Federal, state and local government markets and others that for the first time are seeking to expand their revenue base and would like to reach those same customers.
Our task is to raise client visibility among the right decision makers, develop and maintain robust, collaborative relationships and effectively and strategically position their ideas, solutions or services so that they achieve a best possible outcome in any procurement process.
BI: What would you say is the area in business that you are most passionate about and why?
LB: Politics has been a passion since I had the opportunity to meet and shake Robert Kennedy’s hand when I was 15 years old. Since that time, I have been in and around politics throughout my career. And what’s great is as a consultant, I have the opportunity to merge that intensity with business on a daily basis.
During the course of assisting my clients, I get to interact with state and local officials from around the country and with Federal representatives here in Washington. These relationships keep me on the forefront of political and public policy activities and the related discourse which is exciting.
BI: How are you different than your competitors?
LB: What separates me from my competitors is that I know how to navigate bureaucracies at all levels. As a political science major in both undergraduate and graduate schools, I studied government from both structural and behavioral perspectives. I also have a thorough understanding of the intricacies and nuances specific to this arena that can surface when opportunities are pursued.
In addition, my goal is to identify opportunities early in the pre-RFP stage which is crucial in public sector markets. Once that’s done, a specialized strategy is immediately developed and implemented that will effectively align the solutions of clients to the interests and needs of the targeted prospects and customers.
BI: Please tell me about any recent business accomplishments that you are most proud of and why?
LB: The most recent may not appear to be a big deal on the surface, but it was really very satisfying for me. One of my clients, a small woman-owned company with a great niche in the biochemical field won its first Federal Government contract within three months of obtaining their primary certification. On average it takes a small business 18-24 months to secure a first engagement.
I’d like to think that by familiarizing the client with the procurement environment, showing them how to develop relationships with contract managers and assisting them in prioritizing and utilizing relevant information that we played a small role in shortening their win cycle.
BI: What Leadership qualities in Leaders do you most admire and why?
LB: In my practice, I’ve had to opportunity to observe a number of different leadership styles some very good and others not so much. First, a true leader is unafraid to surround him or herself with talented people and have the ability to delegate tasks when necessary.
Other traits that an effective leader must possess include the mental toughness needed to handle adversity in a resilient manner, unquestionable honesty and integrity and the ability to inspire and bring out the best in all involved.
BI: What has been a key element of your success? *
LB: The key elements to my success is very simple. Whether large projects or small details, I try to do the right things and do things right. I also make every effort to be consistent in all phases of our services, and I follow up and then I follow up some more.
And if I can add, a sense of humor is a must. While everyday is a good day, there are times when things just go wrong, and you have no control. Perseverance and persistence will be rewarded in the long run.
BI: What are some of the business projects that you are currently working on that you are excited about and why?
LB: Beyond my work at Alexander Brooks, I’m also working on two books. The first is a personal account of my encounter with cancer 16 years ago and why men need to take more control of our health. The second is a mystery that is a prequel to my first novel, From the Waist Up.
Both of the projects, particularly the fiction writing allows me to tell stories that come from the many experiences that I’ve had throughout my career and allows me to utilize traits and personalities of the diverse group of people that I’ve met during that period. It’s really a lot of fun.
BI: What are 1 or 2 things you would like to say to a prospective client who stumbles across this interview?
LB: I’d like any prospective client to know that government markets can be frustrating, complex and political, but they can also be very lucrative and provide a substantial revenue stream for almost any company.
At Alexander Brooks, government markets are our niche, and we believe that we can develop and implement the appropriate strategies that will shorten any opportunity cycle and position clients to succeed at the end.
BI: To wrap this up, what are you most excited about in the upcoming months in your business?
LB: With this being an election year, there will be even more events and activities than usual here in Washington this fall, and the happenings will continue through the Inauguration in January. As a result, there will be an abundance of opportunities to assist our clients by identifying and participating in useful networking situations and executing clearly defined business strategies in the process as well as doing some prospecting of our own. So I’m gearing up for the September “kickoff” as we speak.