Michele Richman is Lawline’s Chief People Officer where she leads the HR team responsible for hiring, developing, growing and retaining top talent as well as the operations team which supports the company’s distributed workforce and ensures it is protected from all legal and cybersecurity risks. She is also certified as a coach in the Frame of Mind Coaching methodology.
Before joining Lawline, Michele worked as an enforcement attorney for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and as a plaintiff-side personal injury attorney.
Michele received her J.D. from American University Washington College of Law and her B.A. from Tufts University in American Studies and French.
Learn more about her in this Women Who Wow profile.
What do you love most about what you do?
What I love most about being a Chief People Officer/leadership coach is having an impact on a person’s growth. One example of this is that last year I launched our first ever new leaders 90 day training program, which included two individuals who were recently promoted and two who were taking over as parental leave replacements. When the program began they all struggled with feelings of imposter syndrome, prioritization and being accepted by their new teams. We worked together on a monthly basis to celebrate wins, learn together and identify shared struggles. It was my greatest joy to meet them recently for our “alumni group meeting” and learn that they all now feel extremely confident in their positions as a result of the trusting relationships they built with their team members and moreover they view themselves more in the roles of “thinkers” than “doers.”
Any advice to young women about succeeding in the workplace?
My advice for young women is to embrace the concept of “forward progress,” which allows individuals to focus on the momentum of small wins in all opportunities rather than being overwhelmed by mistakes that may occur or the many steps involved in completing a challenge.
I first learned about this concept when I was training for a triathlon. I had a crippling fear of drowning in the ocean and would have panic attacks during open-water swims. My coach told me to fight through these moments by focusing not on the entirety of the swim remaining but rather on the “forward progress” of one stroke at a time. I repeated “forward progress” to myself repeatedly during the actual competition, which allowed me to get through dangerously rough waves during the swim. This translates to all aspects of succeeding in a workplace for young women, including volunteering to present at conferences, managing cross-functional projects, and requesting well-deserved salary raises or promotions.
How has social media helped you build your business/brand?
Linkedin has helped me tremendously in building my brand as a leader in the HR field. The turning point for boosting my engagement and reach on the platform occured when I changed from sharing posts only about what was happening with my company such as job postings to personal posts focusing on how my vulnerabilities have helped make me become a successful professional woman.
Specifically, through individual posts on LinkedIn as well as Facebook and Medium, I share stories from my life that demonstrate how my successes today are tied to how I overcame challenges, including one related to: being bullied as a child; struggling with how others perceive me vs how I want to be perceived; being a special needs parent; and deciding to start therapy and coaching.
How do you achieve work/life balance?
I am not sure if I have ever achieved “work/life balance” as my worlds have always “collided” (as George Costanza would say) which has helped me stay busy, happy and challenged.
In my 20s, I worked long hours in politics where I developed lifelong friendships, and when we weren’t at work, we were at the gym or out for drinks talking about everything in our lives, including upcoming work projects.
In my 30s, I became a parent and worked part-time as an attorney so that I could be home with my babies. However, in truth, there is no part-time job when you are practicing law so I was always responding to emails and reviewing documents while also attending “mommy and me” music classes and volunteering at the cooperative preschool.
In my 40s, I usually work six or seven days a week so I can attend daytime school events, exercise at normal hours, chat with my teens when they get home from school and write for pleasure. What I have achieved is the ability to be fully present in all areas of my life whether I am zooming with my amazing leadership team in our weekly Thursday meeting or sitting at the table that same afternoon with my kids helping them work through their homework.
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