Leadership Lessons That Balancing Family and Work Can Teach You: A Discussion with Silicon Valley Lawyer Louis Lehot

Interview By Amanda Ciccatelli

To partner and Silicon Valley business lawyer Louis Lehot, life and his leadership journey is all about relationships – with clients, colleagues and friends. But of course, most importantly, family.  As we prepare to enter year three of pandemic times, I sat down with Louis to talk about balancing family and profession, and what the future of each looks like.

Louis is a partner at Foley & Lardner LLP, based in the firm’s Silicon Valleyoffice, where he’s a member of the Private Equity & VC, M&A and Transactions Practices as well as the Tech, Health Care, and Energy Industry Teams. His practice focuses on advising entrepreneurs and their management teams, investors, and financial advisors at every stage of growth – from garage to global. He helps entrepreneurs move from ideation to formation, from formation to Minimum Viable Product, from MVP to commercial shipment, financing to scaling, scaling to global, and then from global to exit.

His wife and two kids are his world. One of the many lessons of sheltering in place with COVID has been bringing the same time, care and attention to his family relationships at home as his professional relationships at work. He believes the ability to connect and collaborate with leaders across industries creates real innovation. He also believes people are best when they form relationships on a foundation of trust and confidence that is earned every day. Louis is known for fostering relationships with some of the very best entrepreneurs and investors, buyers and sellers in his industries. And these connections inside and outside his areas of expertise empower clients with a framework for successful leadership and innovation.

Let’s get started…

Amanda Ciccatelli:  Tell us about a typical day in your life?

Louis Lehot:  I am always testing new hacks to improve my effectiveness and productivity, and I believe it’s about adopting good habits. When I am present, I listen, empathize, strategize, and share keen advice. People won’t ever forget how you make them feel – so I strive to make my clients feel taken care of. Any success and productivity I have experienced is due to the fact that I stay present and focused on one task, one relationship, and one goal at a time. Despite the distractions and commitments, when I am meeting with a client, that conversation is my sole focus. By remaining focused, I mitigate the risk of overlooking a detail or missing an opportunity to provide value.

On weekends, I make green veggie smoothies for the week with my daughter to start each day in a healthy way together. My favorite ingredients are spinach, rainbow chard, avocado, celery, and ginger. My family and I prioritize eating fresh foods, with plenty of vegetables, and minimize consumption of sugar and processed foods. After that, it’s full speed ahead to get my son Adam and daughter Ella to school and myself back into the office. Even though remote work has continued through the pandemic, as a leader, I really value face-to-face communication with my team and clients. I schedule meetings with clients and colleagues between 9am to 11am and 2pm to 5pm, when possible. And I make a point to leave the office a few times a week to attend events, host meals and visit the people in my network that I admire.

Amanda Ciccatelli:  What is a habit of yours that makes you a productive entrepreneur?

Louis Lehot:  My grandfather was actually an immigrant to the U.S. from Sweden before the great San Francisco earthquake of 1906. He taught me that the secret to success lies in practicing positive thinking and contributing value to relationships. Even after surviving first the great earthquake, the ensuing fire, two world wars and a great depression, my grandfather never let bad news take over his life. As the old saying goes, thoughts become things.


Image Credits: Pexels.com

Every day, I help professionals who call me for help navigating launches  to new businesses and exits from existing businesses. I spend a lot of time making introductions for entrepreneurs, investors and industry executives to new opportunities. Instead of asking clients to pay me for these important connections, often in their hour of greatest need, I don’t ask for financial compensation. There are times when “We make a living not by what we get, but we make a life by what we give”, as Winston Churchill said.

I also make a point to follow client companies, industries, competitors, and how current events might affect their businesses. When I plant seeds and water them, good things grow for my clients, my team and my practice.

Amanda Ciccatelli:  What would you tell your younger self?

Louis LehotGrowing up, I always wondered if I would ever make an impact on the world in a meaningful way. So, I told myself that if I worked harder that I would succeed. I was fortunate to have support from inspirational people, from teachers, coaches, guidance counselors, my parents, and my grandparents. Their encouragement instilled a confidence in my desire to become my very best so that I could help other people. I adopted simple rules – most importantly, to invest in myself and those around me. With a rich set of immigrant values and a positive outlook, I stayed loyal to principles taught by my family before me.

If I could, I’d tell the younger me not to worry about the future and to remain true to myself. Also, I would have given myself more self-love and positive self-talk in order to help the younger me be more confident, and start my journey to help people help the world sooner.  Telling yourself “I am enough” is a powerful affirmation that took me many years to be able to say to myself.

Amanda Ciccatelli:  Can you describe one thing that has helped you grow your practice?

Louis LehotIn my practice, my business success depends on my personal expertise, as well as having support in the Silicon Valley business community. That’s why I need to meet a lot of people, build relationships on trust, and remain top of mind. Meanwhile, I’m a father, husband and human being, and there are only 24 hours in a day and seven days in a week.

As Abraham Lincoln once said, “The beauty of the future is that it comes one day at a time.” So, I have to be particularly efficient with the 24 hours given to me. Most important of all, I love my wife, my children and my family, so I make time for them no matter what.

Amanda Ciccatelli:  What is the best $100 you’ve spent? 

Louis LehotI believe in personal growth through coaching, whether for general enrichment or to solve a certain problem. So, I hire coaches and experts in all walks of life when I notice a gap in my perception, understanding or health.

Recently, I purchased a subscription to Mindvalley, the personal growth learning platform founded by meditation teacher Vishen Lakhiani, and enjoy the deep and diverse personal growth programming that is available for streaming on demand.  I especially enjoy how the courses are coupled with participation in focused communities with personalized coaching to support the learning in each segment.

I am constantly looking to find opportunities for personal growth and improvement, and I am very purposeful about building those strengths and filling gaps to be a better person, a better husband, a better father, and a better lawyer.

Amanda Ciccatelli:  What does the future of family and profession look like in 2022?

Louis Lehot:  In my professional life, I focus on helping entrepreneurs and investors build companies based on disruptive business models that change the way we live, work and play.  What I enjoy most is the ability to help companies from ideation to formation, from financing to scaling, and from garage to global.  One of the big ideas right now is reimagining the future of work.

Who would have predicted how fundamental changes could be imposed so rapidly and at scale.  It took a global pandemic.

As we get ready to start a third year of living with a pandemic, we are starting to try and get outside of our homes, get outside of isolation.

In mid 2020, I saw a venn diagram with very few overlapping spaces between being concerned for health and safety, the need to stay commercially active and maintaining physical and mental health.  As we look to kick off 2022, I think the overlapping spaces between those venn diagrams are getting larger, as we learn to vaccinate, boost, test, socially distance yet move closer together, cohabitate spaces, and learn to interact with others again in the universe, not just the metaverse.

Technologies will help us stay safe and connected, but will not replace “in real life” interactions.  Embrace digital transformation and remote meetings when they make sense, but remember that human beings need social interaction, camaraderie, potential for advancement, and a sense of belonging, not just automation tools, productivity metrics, videoconferencing systems and team meetings. The future of family and work is changing, but the people involved are still the same. They are human…  Leaders will lead humans and not machines.

Connect with Louis Lehot:
Website: Louis Lehot
LinkedIn: Louis Lehot
Facebook: Louis Lehot
Twitter: Louis Lehot
Instagram: Louis Lehot
YouTube: Louis Lehot
Vimeo: Louis Lehot
Pinterest: Louis Lehot
Crunchbase: Louis Lehot
Muckrack: Louis Lehot
Anchor.fm: Louis Lehot
Ideamensch: Louis Lehot
Chief Executive: Louis Lehot
Data Driven Investor: Louis Lehot
Good Men Project: Louis Lehot
Speaker Hub: Louis Lehot

Read the Articles written by Louis Lehot:
Louis Lehot: What to expect for seed and pre-seed stage financing in 2021
Louis Lehot: A Brief Legal Guide To Buying And Selling Shares Of Private Company Stock
Louis Lehot: The IPO Markets Are Changing, And So Is The Lock-up Agreement
Louis Lehot: What are SPACs, and how they are different from IPOs?
Louis Lehot: L2 Counsel Represents AgTech Leader FluroSat In Dagan Acquisition
Louis Lehot: Considering Selling Your Company? Be Clear on Your Fiduciary Duties
Louis Lehot: Incentivizing With Stock Options: What Your Startup Needs To Know About ISOs, NSOs And Other Parts Of The Alphabet Soup
Louis Lehot: Ready To Sell Your Startup In 2021?
Louis Lehot: The State Of The Acqui-Hire In 2021: The Good, The Bad, The Why And What’s Next
Louis Lehot: Leaving Your Job? Don’t Forget Your Stock Options…
Louis Lehot: A Short Primer for Startups on Local Labor and Employment Law Compliance
Louis Lehot: How To Clean Up A Corporate Mess
Louis Lehot: Calculating And Paying Delaware Franchise Taxes — Startups Need Not Panic