Lisa Grimes is a dynamic leader, seasoned entrepreneur, leadership consultant, author, and speaker. She is the President and CEO of PurThread, an antimicrobial textile company and the Co-Founder of Habergeon LLC, a company that offers keynote speaking, executive solutions, and customized workshops. Lisa is a past recipient of Triangle Business Journal’s “Women in Business” award and Cary Magazine’s “Women of Western Wake”.

Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like? Did you have any particular experiences/stories that shaped your adult life?

I grew up in rural eastern North Carolina. To say my childhood home life was tough would be putting it mildly…but we all tend to learn more from our valleys than our peaks. On a more positive note, I had the same best friend all through childhood and college – and we remain close friends to this day – nearly six decades later. Having tried, tested and true friends are of great and lasting value.

I do have a few experiences that all relate to vehicles. When I was 13, I totaled a company truck while driving on the owner’s farm – without a license, of course. Owning up to my mistake saved my job and taught me about the value of integrity and giving people second chances. As crazy as it seems, I got my driver’s license on the morning of my 16th birthday and my school bus driver’s license that same afternoon; the next day, I started driving K-8th graders to and from school! Driving a school bus provided a means for me to save money so I could attend college and taught me the value of hard work. When I was 20 I was involved in another accident (but this time I wasn’t driving) and was nearly killed. It proved to be a turning point in my life; I came through it determined to be more purpose-driven in the way I lived my life.

What is something you wish you would’ve realized earlier in your life?

Three key things I wish I’d realized sooner:

  • To speak to myself with the same kindness and compassion with which I speak to friends, and this includes replaying the highlight reels – not just the mistake reels;
  • To recognize the difference between real guilt (as in, I did something wrong) and false guilt (where the world or others have expectations of me that aren’t mine and/or they’re trying to conform me to their expectations); this includes self-care – it’s not selfish so don’t feel guilty for taking good care of me; and
  • To recognize the value to myself and others of being more vulnerable – we all make mistakes and we (and others) can learn from them if we’re open.

What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?

You need to improve your weaknesses. We can spend a lot of time trying to improve our weaknesses to realize only a slight gain; however, we can spend the same amount of time improving our strengths and perhaps reach mastery level in some of them.

Don’t let others see your failures or weaknesses – this doesn’t work. We tend to grow most when we fail…and our failures can help others learn too if we’re vulnerable.

Tell me about one of the darker periods you’ve experienced in life. How you came out of it and what you learned from it?

Having to shut down a company in 2008 when the market crashed. It was tough, tough, tough. But there were so many lessons: realize a failure is an option when you take risks – don’t let failure define you but rather, refine you; be transparent with your team – you need their support so be upfront, and don’t prolong your pity party after you fail – get back up and take another risk, being sure to utilize the lessons you learned!

What is one thing that you do that you feel has been the biggest contributor to your success so far?

I’d say it’s a combination of perseverance, integrity, and serving those around me. It’s getting back up one more time than I’ve fallen.

What is your morning routine?

I typically wake up around 6:00 and get up around 6:30. I have my quiet time. Then I make a kale or spinach smoothie – with 10+ fruits and veggies and a heaping tablespoon of cayenne pepper! (I’m not a coffee gal, so I need a kickstart from something else!) I fix something slightly less nutritious for my husband who’s not a green smoothie fan. Then it’s time for a 3-4 mile walk – ideally with a friend. Next comes a shower. These days, Zooms, calls/ texts/emails, or preparation for a presentation take up the remainder of most mornings.

What habit or behavior that you have pursued for a few years has most improved your life?

Being motivated to really help elevate others by doing what I can to help them succeed in their life’s endeavors.

What are your strategies for being productive and using your time most efficiently?

  • Prioritizing and time-blocking so distractions (emails/texts/social media) don’t divert from high energy/concentration time
  • Organizing my calendar to get projects completed on time, and when possible, prior to their due dates
  • Having some margin built into my schedule so I’m not always feeling behind
  • Making sure to take time to recharge – without feeling guilty

What book(s) have influenced your life the most? Why?

Give Yourself a Break by Debbie W. Wilson – it caused me to not be so hard on myself
The Red Sea Rules by Robert Morgan – it put difficulties/crises in proper perspective
Be Transformed by SCOPE – it was truly transforming in the way I viewed life
Halftime by Bob Buford – it helped me to gel the transition between my first and second ‘halves’ from striving to succeed to pursuing significance
Dare to Serve by Cheryl Bachelder – it clearly detailed the benefits of servant leadership

Do you have any quotes you live by or think of often?

“Put first things first and we get second things thrown in: put second things first and we lose both first and second things.” – C. S. Lewis

“Personal purpose leads to sustained superior performance. When you know why you come to work, you show up differently.” – Cheryl Bachelder

“I never lose. I either win or learn.” – Nelson Mandela