Cathleen Caruso: Paving the Path to Owning One’s Strengths and Leading with Authenticity

Top 10 Empowering Women Leaders to Follow in 2024

Cathleen Caruso (affectionately known as Cat), the celebrated CEO of the Labor Law Center, considers her greatest leadership achievement to be “showing others that they can accomplish things they thought were impossible.” She shares, “I love to witness people’s growth.” This passion for empowerment has earned her a spot among the “Top 10 Empowering Women Leaders to Follow in 2024.”

Cathleen’s 20-year career is marked by driving exceptional growth and fostering a positive organizational culture. As an entrepreneurial leader and strategic thinker, she thrives in dynamic environments, building collaborative and agile teams.

In just two years as the CEO of the Labor Law Center, Cathleen has overseen a 40% business expansion, entered the Canadian market, and further strengthened the company’s manufacturing capabilities. Committed to sustainability, the brand is launching an eco-friendly product line, reducing its carbon footprint and empowering customers to do the same.

Before leading the Labor Law Center, Cathleen was General Manager for Avery Consumer Products’ meeting industry division. Her prior experience spans diverse marketing leadership roles at Starbucks, Nestle, and Clorox. As an active alumnus of UCLA Anderson School of Business, she maintains a vibrant network of fellow business leaders.

In this exclusive interview, we explore Cathleen’s impactful legacy. Her wealth of experience, a treasure trove for aspiring businesswomen, is thoroughly examined. Her profound insights evolve into invaluable guidance for individuals navigating their paths toward leadership triumph.

Tasks completed? Psh. Cat’s Success Story is Measured in Happiness, not Titles.

In a world obsessed with “making it,” Cat painted a different picture. Her definition of success defied expectations, proving that true victory lies not just in achievements but in mastering one’s own well-being and joy. For her, “Happiness is the key to success, not the other way around.” Because, after all, a list of accomplishments is just that – a list – without the spark of joy to illuminate it.

One ‘Word’ that Encapsulates Her Spirit

This adept professional isn’t afraid to roll up her sleeves and get things done. ‘DETERMINED’ is the word she uses to describe herself. This isn’t just a vague phrase for her; it captures her relentless pursuit of excellence for herself and her company. When needed, Cathleen doesn’t stop to pick up a fighter demeanor. She pushes boundaries, challenges assumptions, and inspires others with her unyielding commitment to achieving what she has aimed for.

An Overview of the Labor Law Center

As per the CEO, the Labor Law Center stands as the premier provider of Labor Law Compliance posters across the United States. Irrespective of the sector, their posters encompass all mandated City, State, and Federal employment law notices obligatory for employers with at least one employee to display. The company extends both one-time and subscription services tailored to your business requirements, all backed by a 365-day guarantee.

The Key to Success: Understanding, People, and Systems

Leading an organization to success isn’t a walk in the park. Cathleen, however, has a proven approach that involves understanding the core strengths and uniqueness of each business she leads. She then builds upon that foundation by bringing in the right people, implementing effective processes, and leveraging the power of systems to create a best-in-class operation. She also ensures her team is aligned with her novel thought process. The adept CEO shares that at the Labor Law Center, they acknowledge their successes and failures with equal enthusiasm, highlighting the valuable lessons learned from both.

Lessons from Stumbles: Embracing Failure for Growth

Every achiever who has made it to global fame has faced a fair share of obstacles, irrespective of the field. But how they deal with those stumbling blocks sets them apart. Catheleen’s journey is no exception. This seasoned leader doesn’t shy away from admitting a surprising truth: her greatest learning often came from missteps, not successes. She elucidates it further by citing the empowering words of Winston Churchill. She quotes him, and mentions what he had aptly put, “Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.” Each roadblock, Cat advocates, held valuable lessons, teaching her that failure is sometimes necessary for growth. She wouldn’t have been what she has transformed into today without them.

Leading By Example: Empowering the Next Wave

While navigating leadership in a male-dominated industry comes with challenges, Cathleen’s success story offers hope. Her clientele, predominantly female entrepreneurs and Fortune 500 compliance leaders, serve as a microcosm of her mission: empowering the next generation of women to shatter glass ceilings. Her message is clear – accomplishment is possible, but it thrives on mindful prioritization. Instead of “having it all at once,” she vouches for a strategic approach. Cat encourages women in business to be comfortable with being the sole woman in the boardroom while using it as a platform to pull up the next aspiring leader. This approach embodies the spirit of collaboration and empowers women to reach the top collectively.

Vision for the Labor Law Center

“Our vision is to grow organically and through strategic acquisitions,” says the venerable CEO of the Labor Law Center. They aim to become the one-stop shop for all business compliance needs. Their plan? To provide clients with a sense of relief in knowing their compliance is covered, a stark contrast to the anxiety their competitors often create. The CEO reveals their secret weapon: constant competitor analysis, conducted through “secret shopping” missions, yielding invaluable insights. Their highly efficient team lives by an “experiment, analyze, adapt” philosophy, testing new strategies for viability and swiftly abandoning those that don’t deliver. Recognizing the dynamic nature of e-commerce, they leverage a blend of art and science (data-driven insights and creative thinking) to assess, sail through, and stay afloat in the ever-changing landscape.

The Perfect Blend of Business and Brews: Cathleen’s Day in a Nutshell

A regular day in Cathleen’s or Cat’s life kicks off with a quick briefing. For 10-15 minutes, she huddles with her leadership team, dissecting yesterday’s bumps and planning the day’s victory lap. Digital and Sales get their dedicated time next, followed by email wrangling.

Powered by a strong cup of coffee, she undertakes a lunchtime mission. She walks the manufacturing floor, pulse-checking daily orders and backlogs. After this, she gets back at her desk, here she strategizes, forecasts, and keeps competitor antics on the radar for about an hour or two.

Around 3 pm, this walking-meeting enthusiast steps out. Cathleen comprehends the significance of being in touch with nature in some form is essential. Every hour at work shouldn’t be within the confinement of four walls. Fresh air and conversation, either with a colleague or on a conference call, help her clear her head and it energizes her to mull over issues. Returning to the office, Cat crafts plans for the coming days and weeks before heading out. Beware the 5-freeway! She admits to being notorious for taking calls during her commute, hence the slower-than-average speed, strategically using that time to stay connected.

The Work-life Balancing Act

Cathleen fans the flames of her leadership fire with a unique blend of rest, exercise, and time with friends and family. Think morning meditations serenading her day and nightly reflections scribbled in a cherished journal. She hits the “pause button” for quick self-check-ins throughout the day, ensuring she’s pouring from a full cup. Her husband acts as a rock, grounding her perspective and offering a jolt of energy when needed. Then there are her twin dynamos, 15 years of laughter and energy, who keep her on her toes in the best way possible.

Personal Goals as a Businesswoman

Cathleen, the intrepid businesswoman, navigates the murky depths of the corporate world with a compass far more reliable than profit margins and market trends. Are you wondering what is her guiding star? It is pure authenticity. In the choppy waters of compromise and ethical gray areas, her goal is to carve a path paved with integrity. For Cat, helping others find their unique brand of triumph isn’t just a noble pursuit. It’s the secret ingredient to her flourishing journey.

Advice for the Aspirants

With a buoyant message to aspiring businesswomen, Cathleen urges them to embrace their inner strength and never stop learning. “Know thyself and always be open to learning new things,” she says with a glint in her eye. She highlights that understanding one’s strengths and weaknesses is crucial, but so is staying curious and expanding one’s skill set. Even the most formidable CEOs were once freshers taking their first leap of faith. It’s essential to keep moving without letting the fear of failure hold one back; as this dynamic doyen emphasizes, “Don’t be afraid to fail; be afraid of never trying.”