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Branding Room Only Interview with LaTanya Langley: Taking up Space

Branding Room Only Interview with LaTanya Langley: Taking up Space
LaTanya Langley is a global executive with significant experience advising multi-billion dollar companies. As the Chief People and Legal Officer and Corporate Secretary at Edgewell Personal Care, she directs all legal affairs, including litigation and compliance. LaTanya is known as a business-savvy advisor with innovative legal strategies and business solutions. She has engineered global policies, processes, and programs while leading diverse teams with language and cultural differences. She is an impactful leader and she embodies a rare blend of strategic insight, legal expertise, and inclusive leadership.

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • Creating cohesive teams across different cultures
  • How calmness plays into LaTanya Langley’s leadership brand
  • Volunteerism and how it applies to LaTanya’s values
  • What it means to unmask yourself
  • How to build joy into routine

In this episode:

A significant part of being a leader is owning the space you inhabit. The confluence of confidence, gravitas, and intentionality can help others see you as you are. Earning respect and standing your ground will pay off immensely in the long run. Strategically taking up space is essential. LaTanya Langley has made this a key part of her personal brand. She advises that people lean into their strengths and know that they are where they are supposed to be. Her brand is based on this supported confidence, and now she explains how you can exemplify the same qualities. In this episode of Branding Room Only, Paula T. Edgar interviews LaTanya Langley, the Chief People and Legal Officer and Corporate Secretary at Edgewell Personal Care, on taking up space and building a personal brand. They go through introductions, volunteering, finding joy, and bridging multi-cultural teams. They also discuss how to avoid some of the common mistakes in branding.
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Resources mentioned in this episode

Sponsor for this episode

This episode is brought to you by PGE Consulting Group LLC.

PGE Consulting Group LLC is dedicated to providing a practical hybrid of professional development training and diversity solutions. From speaking to consulting to programming and more, all services and resources are carefully tailored for each partner. Paula Edgar’s distinct expertise helps engage attendees and create lasting change for her clients.

To learn more about Paula and her services, go to www.paulaedgar.com or contact her at [email protected], and follow Paula Edgar and the PGE Consulting Group LLC on LinkedIn.

Paula Edgar: Hi, everyone. It’s Paula Edgar, your host of Branding Room Only podcast. And I’m so excited today. Let me tell you a little bit about Branding Room Only. If you have not listened before, my podcast is developed to have people, influencers and industry leaders talk about their personal brands, how they built them and their reflections generally on personal branding, whether that be mistakes or best practices.

All of those things are what I like to talk about on the show. And today I have one of my favorite people with me, LaTanya Langley. And I’m going to tell you a little bit about LaTanya. LaTanya Langley serves as the Chief People and Legal Officer and Corporate Secretary of Edgewell Personal Care Company, a leading pure-play consumer products company with an attractive diversified portfolio of established brand names in the wet shave, sun and skin care, and feminine care categories based in the greater New York area.

And she is fun. And she is fabulous. Those are my additions, but they are true. Hi, LaTanya.

LaTanya Langley: Hi, Paula. It’s just a pleasure to be sitting here with you, having a conversation. Although we have many conversations, this one is one of my most exciting ones because we’re talking about branding YOU.

Paula Edgar: Yes and when I was thinking about preparing for this conversation, I thought about when I first met you and how I’ve seen your brand progress and one of the things that I thought was you have a consistent calmness to how you show up and regardless of the situation I feel like you are at a cool six even if you’re mad, even if you’re not … and I think that that is such a wonderful because consistency when it comes to your brand is so important but forget about what I think, what does personal branding mean to you? How do you define it?

LaTanya Langley: Well, Paula, for me, the personal brand is how do I communicate my unique values and gifts to the world? So I think it’s a mix of my personality, my skills, my reputation, my expertise, my heart, and then how that translates in a way that helps me achieve both my personal and professional goals.

Paula Edgar: I love that last part because oftentimes people will give sort of a definition but don’t talk about how that branding pulls into what you’re actually achieving and that is, I mean what’s the point in even thinking about it if it’s not towards the goals that you have personally and professionally so I love that. So, that being said, describe yourself in three words or short phrases.

LaTanya Langley: Oh, I’m an impact player, an influencer and a disruptor.

Paula Edgar: I love that. I thought you were going for all I’s. I was like, what’s the last one? I would… disruption… I would also say innovative, but if you want to do three I’s going forward, you know, I love acronym and something to help people remember, but impact player, influencer, disruptor slash innovator, all of those things. Yes. Yes. And yes. Do you have a favorite quote?

LaTanya Langley: Well, I am a preacher’s kid, and so most of the quotes that I grew up with were from the Bible. So I guess I have to do two. One is from the Bible. So it’s Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.” And then the other one is by David Thoreau.

“If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music he hears, however measured or far away.”

Paula Edgar: Oh, I love that. I mean, it’s essentially that special… because I always talk about branding as like your magic and it’s exactly that, right?

We don’t have to be the same. We can have, we all have our own impact in terms of how we come forth into the world and add value. I love that.

LaTanya Langley: And it’s okay to dance to a different beat. You dance to the sound that you hear.

Paula Edgar: There’s a joke in there, but I’m not going to. I will not tell that joke.

So what is your hype song? So hype song is two things. It’s either this is what I need to go into a room and I know I’m about to kill it. What song am I playing in my head? Or I feel like crap today and I need something to lift me up. And it could be the same song or different. So what’s your hype song?

LaTanya Langley: Believe it or not, I do not have a hype song. I, yes, believe it or not, I am one that needs to be in total silence when there’s a challenge or when I need to be hyped.

I just, total silence. So I would say that my hype song is White Noise.

Paula Edgar: Oh, so one of my favorite things about doing this podcast is that I get, there’s people who I’m like, I know this person.

I know exactly what they’re going to say. And then they say things and I’m like, what? I would not have expected. I was waiting for you to come with some old school hip hop or something, but I love that.

LaTanya Langley: Now I will say I did a leadership conference for my company, a couple of months ago and I had to choose a hype song and that song was Run the World by Beyoncé.

White noise just didn’t work, you know, running up and jumping on the stage.

Paula Edgar: Beyoncé is great. A song for you to go and do your wonderful. I love that. Okay.

We are going to be able to see your bio. The readers are going to be able to take a look at the show notes, but tell me sort of in your words and thinking about your experiences, how have you built your personal brand, right? What platforms, what networks, have you used in order to have the accomplishments that you’ve had?

LaTanya Langley: Wow. So most of the networks that I work on are, you know, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, X, but also, the National Bar Association Commercial Law Section has a wonderful site where they give out information, and I’m very active on that site as well. And then also my internal company site, you know, Yammer is also another way to ensure that the brand is out there.

And then frankly, I speak on a number of panels. I am very active in volunteerism and community service. And keynotes, articles, podcasts – those are ways that I continue to build my personal brand.

Paula Edgar: When you think about those platforms and specifically you were just talking about volunteerism – I know that you are involved and not just, you know, sort of volunteerism, and that we might expect, but you also have volunteerism in terms of different communities that you’re a part of. Your alumni community and your sorority community. Why is that important?

LaTanya Langley: Volunteerism is so critical because that is the opportunity for you to actually live your brand. So you’re going into your community, you’re going into these organizations and places to serve, and that’s the only place where people actually really understand who you are as a person, because you’re giving. You’re giving back, you’re taking the time to be involved in community initiatives. So I love volunteerism. I mean, I remember one special event for one of the community centers in my hometown, we had a game day, where we literally just went – my company and a couple of leaders came with me – to go and just play with the children. And I mean, you can see the personalities and the brands come out immediately when you’re playing dodgeball or you’re playing basketball with the kids.

And for me, you know, just loving on them and spending time with them and seeing the joy on their faces, really made me want to give back and spend more time and to find opportunities to help support these programs. And so again, volunteerism allows me to live my values.

Paula Edgar: I think that that is a really instructive reflection, especially because one of the things that I will, when I, you know, do keynotes or talk specifically to women’s groups or folks from underrepresented backgrounds is that if you don’t have a job that is building the skill set that you want, you can find opportunities to build a skill set via volunteerism, whether that be bar associations, nonprofits, et cetera. But I find that although I’m a walking bar association – that people sometimes don’t believe that.

And it is so true that those institutions, you give to them and then they give back to you. And it should be symbiotic, even if you’re not going to it for to get reasons, it does build you. So…

LaTanya Langley: I mean, I will say I was on the National Bar Association Commercial Law Section, Executive Committee for 18 years, and it was a lot of time planning these conferences, planning the panels, organizing the CLEs. It was a lot of work, but I will tell you the moment I became Corporate Secretary for Edgewell, every skill that I learned over the 18 years of planning these programs and being the secretary on this Executive Committee, interacting with other leaders, it totally prepared me for the role that I’m in today. So I’m really grateful for the opportunity to sit on these boards and organizations, because that’s where I learned my skills.

Paula Edgar: So speaking of skills, how have – so there’s a lot of people who want to be general counsel, legal officer role and all that, and here’s LaTanya.

And for those of you who are listening, I have my hands doing all the things. How did LaTanya become LaTanya in order to take those steps to become legally fancy, fabulous you.

LaTanya Langley: Ooh, mistakes and learning and failing and trying again and, you know, falling down and getting back up. I’ve evolved, because I’ve gone from trying to prove myself, to having a proven track record.

And so I’ve gone from trying to create a brand, to my brand speaking for itself. But that came over time. I mean, I had to make a lot of mistakes along the way, and I’ve had some amazing mentors and friends like you along the way who were willing to give me real feedback and to really help me recognize my brand at the time, and where I needed to evolve.

So that’s, I think that’s how I got here.

Paula Edgar: I love that. Do you think that there are specific brand traits that are consistent across maybe the cohort of people who you intimately know who are in the sort of leadership level – are there some consistency across what you all, how you show up or anything that comes up for you for that?

LaTanya Langley: I will tell you, I was amazed, my Head of Communications had to come up with language that described me for the press release that recently came out, announcing my new role. Yay, congrats! I had a conversation with her and it just amazed me that she was able to describe me in the way that I would like to be viewed.

Again, without a conversation and the enduring themes were integrity, authenticity, trust, credibility, caring about people, and innovation. And so again, to be able to have someone speak about you without even speaking to you, is an indication that your brand is speaking for itself.

Paula Edgar: A hundred percent. Absolutely. I also find, one of the things I recommend to people is when they want to know what their brand is, start listening when people introduce them. So when someone introduces you, like I just introduced you, I was like, you are … it’s all of these things plus everything else.

So in that sense, it’s important to sort of hear those things and incorporate the things that you like and also switch language for the things that you don’t like so that you can help to have people be the carriers of the banner of you, right? So I’m often, you know, I often say I’m engaging, right?

And I’ll keep saying engaging and people will be like, Paula’s engaging. I’m like, yes, the magic is working.

LaTanya Langley: You are absolutely engaging. That’s one of the words I would use for you.

Paula Edgar: Thank you. Okay. So we’ve talked about how that the brand has evolved, and changed over the course… are there specific things that you’re thinking of that speak to markers of how your brand has evolved and senior leadership has shifted?

LaTanya Langley: Has it shifted? Are you saying?

Paula Edgar: As it shifted, as it shifted. So when you went from company to company or from role to role, is there anything in that, that you have a specific thought about the shift that occurred?

LaTanya Langley: Um. I’ve had the opportunity to work with people from various cultures, religions and backgrounds.

From my prior roles, I’ve traveled to unchartered territories and I’ve practiced law in high risk markets. As a woman serving in these markets, I experienced a number of challenges that I had to manage. I’ve experienced hostility, in a fraternity culture, I’ve faced explicit and implicit bias on a daily basis.

So as a woman, especially a woman of color, I had to learn how to manage situations where my mere presence was being policed and tempered. And I also had to learn how to pivot in those markets and allow my teams to lead and I become the support. So, you know, just as I had this brand as a trusted leader, I had to learn how to be a strong follower.

And I had to be humble enough to allow my team to speak when I was in places where I could not speak. So I, of course, I’ve had to pivot from being sort of the lead, the head, front and center to being able to fall back and allow others to lead. And I think that it takes a strong skill to be able to not only lead, but to also be a strong follower.

Paula Edgar: Oh, certainly. I mean, what you just said is like, it’s self awareness and situational awareness. It’s strategy. It is looking for, you know, the company’s needs as opposed to your individual needs in order to do what you need to do. So that’s, it’s all of those things. Is there a time when you had to strategically pivot or you had a challenge because of your brand?

LaTanya Langley: That was the example, I think.

Paula Edgar: And it’s a good one. I want to delve into a little more because I recall you sharing somewhat of the story to me years ago, and what I thought about was not just the sort of, you know, cultural things that happen when you’re in other countries, but you’re also in other countries, like regardless, there’s the language, there are norms that you need to understand period when you are interacting with people who are different than you.

And folks will often think about that as an international priority, but it’s a priority no matter who you’re with because everybody has their culture, their home culture, and they bring those cultures into work, and then you have to bring your teams cohesively together. And what I have seen is that you have been able to do great team building.

What do you think is your magic when it comes to having cohesive teams?

LaTanya Langley: I believe that one, being genuine is critical, you know, no matter who you touch or talk to, they should always walk away feeling as if they had an opportunity to meet you, the real you. Teams need to trust you, they need to feel like they understand what’s driving you, and so I think, your reputation alone will help you build the brand with your teams. So I always tell my teams to live your brand, whatever that is. And branding is reciprocal, so others will tell your story. So a lot of times, even before I enter the room, people at least have an idea of what they’re going to get. And so you have to be very clear and consistent about how you are landing with others, how you are showing up.

And if you show up as yourself every time, then it’s easy.

Paula Edgar: I think that that is 100 percent true. And it’s because I’m reflecting on times where I’ve told people, you have to meet LaTanya. And I’m like, here’s her resume, but here’s all these other things. And it’s how it comes together. And even the enthusiasm that folks have when they are talking about you, right? Like, you know, when I’ve been in as a diversity consultant, I’ve been a lot of places where the leadership is not necessarily loved, wanted or engaged with, and that comes across as well too, right? So that’s also part of a brand, if it is not well taken care of or thought about, and feedback is helpful in that sense.

So I love that. All right. What mistakes have you seen, not you, we don’t do that, but what others make when it comes to building their brands, or networking and relationship building? Anything come to mind?

LaTanya Langley: Yeah, I mean, some examples that I’ve seen even most recently and I see it a lot on LinkedIn.

A lot of times people post things that really reveal that they’re actually tone deaf, or they will post things that actually makes others think that they could potentially be racist. And if they’re not, there’s a lot of narcissism that I see, on many social media areas, and I’ve even seen people who are just not honest about their skills and their experience, and it’s very easy to see through it. And so again, I really, really stress how important it is to be sure that you’re being authentic. You know, integrity goes a long way. And a real example, I spoke to someone most recently, because I do mentor a lot, and I mentor people that I don’t know, but if they reach out to me, I’m going to tell them the truth.

And one recent example was someone who soon as we started to talk, I could tell that they were trying to show me who their representative was. And it was very obvious that there was something more and something special about that person, but they were so guarded that it just didn’t come out. And so I just said to them, who are you really? Tell me who you really are. And they were shocked, like you really want to know who I am? And it was at that moment where the person became vulnerable and shared their innermost thoughts and what drove them and what excited them. And that’s when there was the connection.

So I do think that some mistakes are written, but then there’s also mistakes that you can see when you’re talking and interviewing or just having a conversation with people about their brand.

Paula Edgar: That’s a really important point because oftentimes when you get to a certain level, people think like you’re not a person and they have to show up like, hello, Queen LaTanya. As opposed to, we’re just all people, right? We have had accomplishments, etc. But we’re just people. And if we connect in our humanity, it is a much more, I think, constructive and productive connection that you have when their authenticity leads the way, as opposed to your mask, essentially.

LaTanya Langley: Absolutely. Absolutely. And people can see through the mask if they’re connected, if they pay attention, you know, if they’re spirit beings, they’re going to see the mask.

Paula Edgar: So you talked about, really wanted to get to the core of who the person was. And so you asked, who are you really?

And it just reminded me of something that we do, in MBK |

MSK, when we have everybody introduce themselves and they do. So essentially for all of you listening who have not maybe attended MBK |

MSK, which, you can go to mbkmsk.org to learn more about the organization. We ask, who are you? And then you have to ask again, who are you?

Who are you? And so the person responds, who am I? And they give one level and who am I? It’s a deeper level. And who am I? And it’s another level. And I will just be very frank. The first time I even saw it, I was like, Whoa, I have an elevator pitch. What y’all doing? I don’t want to say who am I… But, it has changed every time because we shift individually as well.

And so, I think about that who am I, that third level of who am I as really getting to where your soul piece is. What drives you more than just values, but also like who you’re, what your spirit is. And so for me, that connection is always to, obviously, to the religious piece, but also to the spiritual practice and all I think about wellness.

LaTanya Langley: And by the way, who I was the last time we did this exercise, not the same person that I am today. It constantly evolves. Like my answers wouldn’t even be as close to what they were then. It’s amazing how, you know, life can change your, who you are.

You know? Not, not, not at the core, right, but how you would answer that question.

Paula Edgar: Yes, because what becomes prominent for you is different depending on what’s happening around you or what your priorities are as well. And even who the grouping is that you’re answering the question for. So, all right, so I am somebody who’s listening to this and I want to build my brand.

What advice do you have for folks who are trying to do so?

LaTanya Langley: Ask questions. Go out and ask others what they think your brand is. And be willing to hear the answer. ‘Cause it’s not easy sometimes when you ask, you get feedback and you should be getting feedback. Not only from colleagues and coworkers. But ask your friends or ask the people that you grew up with from around the way, right?

Ask, maybe people that support you, and see if there’s some consistent themes there. See if there’s opportunities for growth and improvement. But be willing to ask for feedback and to listen and address the good, the bad, the ugly.

Paula Edgar: That is awesome advice. I recently did an exercise where, you know, I don’t have, I always tell people I don’t have a job, but I have a job with a lot of other people.

And because I don’t interact with the same group of people consistently, I did exactly what you’re saying. I cast out to a diverse group of my friends, colleagues, clients, people from the hood, etc to ask a question. And one of the questions on the platform asked about what type of cereal that folks thought I was like, and that was the funniest part to me because it consistently was Rice Krispy Treat. I was just like, so even when folks didn’t choose it, it was like Snap, Crackle, and Pop of it all. Which I love because it’s a question that is rooted in where we find comfort, right? We think of the cereals that we like, that stand out for us.

And you have been at companies that have brands and you are a brand and I think people who build their brands around their sort of work – and everybody should be as well as incorporating it – they align. They align those things. And so has that been something that you have strategically done in terms of aligning the who you are and the what you do for better impact in your brand?

LaTanya Langley: Absolutely. So, I’m a 20 plus year experience global exec. I’ve worked at both publicly traded and privately held companies, but I’m strategically focused. I’m results oriented. I have a deep experience in cross border teams. I’m an engineer of people, processes and programs. But the one thing that I’ve done that connects all of those roles is I’ve worked with brands. Brands that people love, brands that people connect with and in particular, brands that involve wellness, and making people happy and joyful. And that’s been the theme from all of my companies. From Diageo to BIC to Edgewell – joy has always been a theme and an experience for all of these companies.

And so for me, I’m very much attracted to, passionate about, and connected to companies where wellness, personal care, and joy is a part of their values. So that’s my connection to these companies: wellness.

Paula Edgar: Well, that’s a great pivot into my next question, which is what about the fun stuff?

What brings you joy? What are the things that you do, to make LaTanya happy?

LaTanya Langley: Wow. Well, you know, joy for me is waking up every morning, alive. But I also think that it’s important to ensure that we are managing physical, mental, emotional, and psychospiritual stress. Stress is killing us.

And so for me, attending retreats, working out as much as I possibly can. It used to be every day. But now that I’ve become a new mom, I try to get a workout in at least three times a week. I make sure that I spend a lot of time unplugging, and going offline so that I can reset and recharge.

And I try to make sure that I tap into mindfulness, and remaining centered and focused on faith-based therapy. So for me, happiness is about being healthy, learning when to draw the line when it comes to mental health and wellbeing. And then, living my best life, being around people that I love and having fun with those that I’m very close to, and for those I don’t know. That’s what brings joy to me is that balance and wellness.

Paula Edgar: I love that. And I also love that your face lights up when you talk about it, so it’s a wonderful space of you know when people are actually talking authentically about joy is when you see them reflect that and how they’re talking about it.

Okay, so we have two core things I do in all my podcasts, and that’s the Stand By Your Brand moment, which is what is the authentic aspect about you and your brand that you will never compromise on?

LaTanya Langley: Hmm. Integrity, authenticity, credibility, and caring about people.

Paula Edgar: Oh, I love it. I love that.

And it’s true. I use my podcast to connect with people who I don’t know, but also to connect with my friends because I think the world should know how wonderful my friends are. And all of those things are absolutely true about you. So, what is your Branding Room Only moment? So Branding Room Only is a spin on standing room only, which is, you know, obviously you’re someplace and there’s no seats, but you’re willing to do it.

I think to myself of Beyoncé, who we saw together. So, what would people come to see you do or experience about your magic that would be that Branding Room Only moment?

LaTanya Langley: I think people will always come to hear me talk about taking up space, and about owning it. I always talk about you are where you’re supposed to be. And so when you walk into that room, you take up space and you own the fact that you’re supposed to be there. And I do talk about that a lot. And I think people like to hear me talk about leaning in and owning the fact, owning your superpowers and the fact that you are where you belong. So I think that’s my standing room only.

Paula Edgar: I mean, a hundred percent. You are a facilitator for other people’s success. And so, yes, I would agree with your Branding Room Only moment, 100%. So, LaTanya, I want to thank you for joining me in the Branding Room.

And I knew this was going to be a really fantastic conversation and you did not disappoint. It has been a pleasure. People who want to learn more about you or connect with you, where should they go to find you?

LaTanya Langley: You can find me on LinkedIn. I respond to everyone who reaches out to me, because I think everyone matters. So you can find me there.

Paula Edgar: Fantastic. But not for people trying to sell stuff, just in case.

LaTanya Langley: I even respond to them. Because I think it’s important. You never know what a connection could bring, or what you can bring to a connection.

Paula Edgar: This is what I’m talking about. What a wonderful, wonderful conversation.

I want to thank you for joining and chatting, and all of you, thanks for stepping into the Branding Room with us. And if you love this, which I know you do, please share it with a friend, please comment, like, and, connect and we’ll see you on the next episode of Branding Room Only.

LaTanya Langley: Thank you for having me.