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Branding Room Only Interview with Lonita K. Baker: Leveraging Leadership and Taking Leaps

Branding Room Only Interview with Lonita K. Baker: Leveraging Leadership and Taking Leaps
Lonita K. Baker serves as President of the National Bar Association and as the Corporate Counsel for Waystar, a technology platform that simplifies healthcare payments throughout the revenue cycle. She is an experienced attorney with proficiency in drafting, interpreting laws and regulations, negotiating case settlements, and presenting cases through all stages of litigation. In the past, Lonita has worked as an Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of Louisville, an attorney at Aguiar Injury Lawyers, and as the Chief of Communications at the National Bar Association, among many other positions. She received her bachelor’s, master’s, and Doctor of Law at the University of Louisville, including an MBA in business administration.

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

  • How Lonita K. Baker defines her brand
  • Lonita’s leadership of the National Bar Association
  • Lonita’s experience working on the Breonna Taylor case
  • The best way to break preconceptions
  • What Lonita learned from her career pivots
  • Understanding and advocating for your value
  • The importance of being authentic

In this episode:

Presenting a strong brand as a leader is paramount. For people to follow you, they need to be able to trust and respect you. A personal brand goes beyond perception and informs how you operate. Working on this one aspect of your career can make all the difference. Lonita K. Baker is intimately aware of this connection. Her incredible career has spanned several sectors, leading to her current position as President of the National Bar Association. She has reached her influential role by focusing on her brand and serving others. So how can you apply some of her insights to your career? In this episode of Branding Room Only, Paula Edgar takes the time to interview Lonita K. Baker, Corporate Counsel at Waystar, to discuss leadership, personal branding, and being yourself. They touch on her work with the National Bar Association, her dedication to justice, breaking preconceptions, and advocating for your value.
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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 excited today to be here with someone who I’ve known for a while, Lonita Baker. Let me tell you a little bit about Lonita K Baker. She serves as an associate corporate counsel for Waystar Medical Technologies, and she’s the current President of the National Bar Association.

As you know, at Branding Room Only, we talk to people about their brands, their experiences, how they built them, and sort of their perceptions around the concept of personal branding. And so I’m excited about having this conversation. Lonita, welcome to Branding Room Only.

Lonita Baker: Thank you for having me, Paula. I am excited to be here.

Paula Edgar: Of course. So welcome to the club. And so the first assignment that you have is to tell me, as we think about branding, your elevator pitch is something that, you know, when you’re meeting someone, you kind of say, this is who I am, this is how I add value, or whatever mix of what you decide to say.

So what’s an example of an elevator pitch that you might use when you’re meeting someone?

Lonita Baker: So first off, I hate elevator speeches because I am…as fun as I, I think I’m a fun person, but I am an introvert, so I typically wait for people to ask questions, but I also know that you do have to have an elevator pitch ready.

So my name is Lonita Baker. I am an attorney from Louisville, Kentucky. Yes. Born and raised in Louisville, which is different from Kentucky. I’m a lifelong learner, which is why I’ve practiced probably every aspect of law that there is.

Paula Edgar: Love that. I love that lifetime lifelong learner, which may end up being how you describe yourself. Cause I’m gonna ask you this question. Can you describe yourself in three words or phrases?

Lonita Baker: I will give you lifelong learner. Fun. And my new favorite word that I’ve learned in the last month is I’m an ambivert, which means I am an outgoing introvert.

Paula Edgar: I would say that is true, just knowing you, that is a wonderful way of describing you or an extroverted introvert.

Which is a similar way. Okay. So on Branding Room Only, we talk about personal brands, and so I wanna hear from you, when you think of the concept of personal brand, what comes to mind? How would you define it?

Lonita Baker: I think that how I’ve arrived at to the place that I am today is because I’m always willing to help others.

And I think that other people see that in me. And so if you’re willing to help others, others will help you. It’s not to say that you do things, not like with the motivation that, oh, if I help them, they’re gonna help me. But… is the world truly altruistic? I don’t know. I don’t think there’s anything that you should do that doesn’t somehow grow you as a person, if that makes sense.

Paula Edgar: It does. That makes a hundred percent sense. And you know, I think that people, when they think about branding and networking and really sort of any of the stuff that requires effort, they think of it as sometimes transactional. And my thought is that it should be in some ways transactional because you should be getting something from it, whether that is to just feel better or… but it doesn’t have to be transactional in a very sort of creepy or yucky way, but it could be transactional in that if you’re giving, you should get, whether that’s fulfillment or on the other, you know, side of the scale be paid, right? Let’s call a thing a thing. Okay. Awesome. So what is your favorite quote?

Lonita Baker: My favorite quote is, I told you I’m Louisville through and through. So it is from Muhammad Ali and it is: Service to others is the rent we pay for our place here on earth.

Paula Edgar: Love that. Wait a minute. And maybe this is my ignorance, is Muhammad Ali from Louisville, Kentucky?

Lonita Baker: Yes. The greatest. The GOAT. Muhammad Ali, Louisville. Through and through.

Paula Edgar: When you think about branding, think about Louisville and I immediately think about race horse racing.

And maybe that’s just because I love horse racing. But I just learned something cause I did not know that I had no idea. Okay. Who knew? Okay.

Lonita Baker: Everyone from Louisville knows.

Paula Edgar: Fair enough.

Lonita Baker: But I think cause in the movie, they don’t show him in Louisville, like, you know, Ali, they don’t show him much in Louisville.

But he is very much Louisville through and through, up until, you know, his passing, he’s buried in Louisville. His wife, she spends a lot of time in Arizona…or his widow, she spends a lot of time in Arizona for tax purposes and because she has a residence there, but she spends like maybe 48% of the time here in Louisville.

Paula Edgar: Very interesting. I had no idea. So, well, before I even get to the next question, I have another question. So what else would you say, speaking of branding, that Louisville is known for then?

Lonita Baker: Definitely the Kentucky Derby. You talked about horse racing and Kentucky itself is known for bourbon.

Paula Edgar: Yes it is.

Lonita Baker: And I know New York likes to think y’all have some bourbons, but if it’s not made in Kentucky, it’s not bourbon.

Paula Edgar: Is that right? Like champagne has to be from Champagne? Okay, interesting.

Lonita Baker: And whiskey is Tennessee, eh. But nobody… it’s bourbon. We want bourbon.

University of Louisville, so Teddy Bridgewater is, you know, he played for our university and not only Teddy Bridgewater, but Lamar Jackson. We don’t have any professional sports teams, but in New York, Alan Houston. We went to the same high school. We took French class.

Our French teacher used to let us sign our name on the wall when we were graduating. So I signed mine right up under his, ’cause I’m like, it’s Alan Houston. So, we don’t have a professional sports team, so we are a really big college sports town. And in the state of Kentucky, we’re college sports.

University of Louisville. University of Kentucky. I’m a Louisville Cardinal, not Kentucky.

Paula Edgar: I love the way you say it because I’m like, it’s not Lou-ee-ville?

Lonita Baker: That’s the other thing Louisville’s known for…everyone is like, am I pronouncing it right? So people know that there’s a way people here pronounce it. It’s almost… I’d say it’s one and a half syllables.

Paula Edgar: Okay, I’m glad I asked because I’m also a lifelong learner and I just learned something. Okay, so, and maybe there’s a connection here already, but what is your hype song? And let me just give you a little background about hype songs.

Your hype song can be a song that will pump you up when you’re about to go do something, or if you need to feel lifted up, you play it. So what would you say is your hype song?

Lonita Baker: You said, and if I need to feel lifted up. So I am a nineties… I came of age in the nineties, so nineties hip hop.

No Limit Records. If you play it and I’m in the club, I’m gonna dance as if I’m in the nineties again and I’m in high school. So just disregard…’Cause you know, like, especially like at NBA… You and I we would dance at NBA functions. So now that I’m President, I’m still going to dance. And if they play a nineties song, I’m still gonna be out there like I’m in high school again. So that’s my get crunk… but like sometimes just to lift me up, I have a gospel playlist. And I’ll tell you anything CeCe Winans or Yolanda Adams. Cause they just… their voices are so anointed.

Paula Edgar: Agreed agreed with you. And my song in general is always Prince, Baby I’m a Star. And so, you know, I’m super excited that the NBA Convention is going to be in Minneapolis because everybody who knows me, knows that I’m a Prince fan. But I also have a gospel song to do the lift me up, just in case, but generally across the board, if I play Baby I’m a Star my body knows it needs to react and respond.

Lonita Baker: And you know I love Prince, like you were one of the first people that got my hashtag.

Other people were like, oh…. I’m like, Purple Rain.

Paula Edgar: And the hashtag is Purple Reign. Spelled r-e-i-gn… And I was like, yes, Lonita. This is fantastic. So, let’s, then, let’s just talk about that. So you are the President of the National Bar Association, which is the umbrella organization of all of the Black Bar associations within the United States and Canada and another region as well.

Lonita Baker: And Africa.

Paula Edgar: And so that is a huge endeavor. And what I love about your trajectory, and you sort of mentioned is that you have always, in the time that I’ve known you and I’m sure before that is being in a space of being a helper. And so I’ve seen your trajectory throughout the National Bar Association in that way.

And I’m happy to see your ascendence to the top leadership. But tell me about what that’s meant for you and particularly in terms of shifting your brand and becoming a leader in the National Bar Association.

Lonita Baker: I think for me, in terms of helping, I’m lucky. I am lucky in that the people that I helped, past President Ben Crump, past President Joe Drayton… the people that I worked significantly on their administrations, they saw in me something that I may not have even saw in myself. So I was ready to be chief of staff and roll out like you did Paula. Cause, you know, we were both Presidents of our local affiliates.

And at some point it’s like, when do I focus on my career again? Right? But I saw that the NBA still needed me. And I say that they saw something in me. As women, sometimes we think we are just supposed to help and make people look good.

And that’s been the role for so many years. And so now that I’m here and I’m President… I feel like I’m doing a… I have embraced … I’m supposed to be here. And so, so many times, and we hear from Black women that we don’t acknowledge or accept that we deserve to be at the top, just as much as others. And so, I’m embracing it. I will tell you the part… the outgoing, extroverted introvert… I am loving meeting new people and like really getting to know them. The type of person that I am. And one thing I always tell, you’ve been around how many times have you seen where the President is almost unapproachable.

No one wants to be a part of that. Right? How we’re gonna recruit new members if we all, if the leaders are unapproachable, like why would they wanna be a part of us? But really getting to travel and get to meet and get to know other lawyers and encourage them to become members of the National Bar Association, and then the icing on the top is when I see them later, and they’re like, I paid my dues solely because of the conversation I had with you. And so I get that people get like, I’m a genuine person. But yeah, from helping to embracing the badass that I am.

Paula Edgar: Oh, I love that. I love that. And you know, I used to push back on the concept of servant leader because I feel like it means to most people that you have to essentially kill yourself in order to lead.

And I’m like, no, not quite. And so to that point about the transactional piece as well as the sort of what you get from what you do, I do number one, I consider you to be a servant leader in the, not in the bad way, but in the way that you are authentic and you are bringing people in. And it’s not like you’re leading from over there.

You’re leading with and among the people. But also, you know, to your point about the when do we do the work, I do think that, you know, when you do leadership right, it should benefit the actual thing that you do as well. And I recall when I was President of my local affiliate that someone pushed back on the fact that I would talk about what I do and my role as well.

And it was like, no, you have to separate them. I was like, absolutely not, because I can’t separate myself and I bring to you what I do and the role that I’m in. So, you know, you are working at Waystar Medical Technologies. Tell me how that is in sort of doing the work, which is a shift for you, as well as you know, managing your leadership at the same time.

Lonita Baker: Yeah. So when I shifted to Waystar and going in-house it was on the heels of representing the family of Breonna Taylor. And when I say that is the penultimate of my career, my proudest moment, the case that I know I will forever be tied to, and I’m proud of that. But when I say as a Black woman and representing the family of a Black woman who suffered such injustice it took something, like so much out of me emotionally. And so, as lawyers, we know the Bar Association, not the National Bar Association, but our licensing agencies, they like preached to you, your client is before you, like there’s no time for mental health breaks when you have individual clients. And so I had to find something that I was like… and not saying I won’t go back to it because like I said, it was the proudest moment of my career. But I had to break away, to recenter.

But it was the work that I did on Breonna Taylor’s case that also gave me an opportunity to even interview for Waystar, because I’ll be honest, and when you look at my resume, it doesn’t bode that here I am in-house counsel you know? Reviewing, revising commercial contracts for our growth team or our marketing team. I went from public defender to prosecutor to personal injury, civil rights, and then ha I’m in-house now. I did get an MBA in 2017, and I say that I know that the Breonna Taylor case gave me that extra push to even get the interview.

And then once I got the interview, I solidified that spot. I went back to school when I was at the prosecutor’s office to get an MBA because I was like, I wanna go in house. Send my resume out. I got an MBA. I was working full-time as a prosecutor, doing NBA leadership, I think I was chief of staff while I was getting my MBA too. Wow. I graduated with a 3.97 GPA for my MBA program. Fantastic. I still couldn’t get an interview from corporations when they opened up their in-house. And so, just that name recognition, Waystar is a local company. There was a connection.

Someone connected me to the chief people person. And someone who knew me and knew that had been… It was funny because when we talk about branding, I got a text message from a friend that was like, if you all know any lawyers interested in this position let me know.

And at the bottom I see the guy that had been like the one that ended up recommending me, he had been like my mentor and kind of advising me on how to make the transition into corporate. I called him, I said, why am I getting a notice about a corporate job from somebody else and not from you?

He said, well, you just had Breonna Taylor. Like, I thought that was the lane you were going in. And I was like, well, you know, I could see that. So you always do have to remind people and let people know what it is you’re looking for and what you wanna do, because people will… If you don’t let them know, they will assume that you’re good or you’re taking a different trajectory. So you always have to remind people.

Paula Edgar: I mean, that’s a mic drop moment. We’ll definitely be pulling that out too because it’s so true. And that people have this perception that, oh, people know.

I was at an event last night and two people who I met came, you know, we were networking and kind of came towards me and one person was there and I assumed they knew each other, which number one, you should never do that. But number two, when they introduced themselves, they were like, I’m, you know, insert name here and I’m insert name here, and nothing else.

I sat there like, well, what is going on? You know, you are not Madonna and you are not Oprah, so your first names are not going to be enough for this to be a connection so you can continue and build relationships. And I find that people are number one, really bad at the information giving, you know, first, but then you have to continue to remind people what you do.

People still contact me about coaching and I’m like, I haven’t coached individuals in years. Yes. My hashtag is Coach Paula. Cause I’m always gonna tell you what I think you should do. But the point is that I do speaking and consulting, that’s what I’ve been doing for a good long time now. You have to keep telling people.

So, and to that end, I would never have thought that would be the pivot that you were going to be making. And the number one I wanna pull back and say to you thank you. Because as a Black woman, as a fellow lawyer, as a community leader and somebody who is just invested in the world, and thinking about Breonna Taylor’s case in particular, I mean, there’s so many instances of murders of innocent Black people that we could pull from.

But that one in particular for me because I think about how your home should be a safe space. And I think about how we are supposed to be protected in spaces that we think are safe and by people who are supposed to protect us. And I can’t even fathom number one, her experience but the experience of her family and that having been you know, their child, their sister, they’re all other things.

And so, people talk about diversity and inclusion all the time but justice is what we should be looking for all of us. And so I thank you on behalf of all of us for helping to make sure that justice happened in that case. And I’m glad that you’re saying that while you are in-house, that is still something that’s on your mind and something that you know, still might be able to add your energy to.

Because I just feel like all of us need to be doing something in that space and you have actually impacted and so thank you. And let’s get back before I start crying, so, okay. So you’ve answered sort of a bunch of questions in one, which is, you know, which is the sign of a good leader.

You put all the stuff in there, you’re like, I got my points and I got the things I wanna say. But I wanna ask you about this. In all the pivots you talked about, and I don’t even think I knew all those pivots, right? In terms of the, you know, going from being you said public defender to prosecutor, right?

Like, which is a pivot. That’s not the, first of all…

Lonita Baker: it’s the other way. It’s normally the other way.

Paula Edgar: So I’m like, number one, that’s something that people don’t normally do. They usually go from prosecution to defense, right? Because they now they know the inside scoop. Then to, you to going and working personal injury, et cetera.

And now here number one, is there anything that you’ve learned from all of those pivots about yourself or that you would wanna share about making those pivots that you reflect on when you’re thinking about the trajectory of branding? But number two, what, if any, mistakes did you make that you think in any of those pivots that you would do differently?

Lonita Baker: So no mistakes that I made… maybe, well, let me say maybe…

No. Yeah, no mistakes. Cause I feel like everything has led me to where I am, so I can’t say any mistakes. One thing I’ve learned about myself, and I think… and I’m gonna explain why I went from PDs to prosecutors too. I have this… and I won’t even say it’s the idealistic… but I’m a person who truly believes that the justice system is supposed to work the way that it’s supposed to work. So the reason I pivoted from public defender to prosecutors is in the justice system, when you’re talking about representing or prosecuting individuals charged with crime, so not the large scale, but the individual aspect in each individual case. Prosecutors have the most power to truly effectuate justice. And I don’t tell every, like the only people that I think who are truly justice minded and really have that idealistic view of the justice system… I will.. I’m always pushing people like go be a prosecutor. Everyone’s always pushing, like go be a public defender. But if you truly, truly want to level the playing field, you can do that as a prosecutor. And we need more people in that space. And I say the justice minded because it’s not the people who are just like… so I’ll give you an example.

You’ll never hear me say a police officer who’s killed someone should be put to death. ‘Cause I don’t believe in the death penalty. It’s too … it’s just not institutor friendly. So that’s a strong… I just don’t believe in the death penalty. But you’ll also never hear me saying, charge them with murder one.

Cause it’s likely not a murder one, right? So sometimes, you know, my activist friends, they get frustrated with me ’cause I’m like, yeah, that’s not the charge, that’s not the appropriate charge. And we have to be careful about when we ask for other people to be overcharged when we’re still fighting for Black people to stop being overcharged. And so, charge people with what the crime is. Right? And then be fair and equitable in the sentencing. So for all of the jobs outside of what I’m doing now, ’cause I’m reading contracts and you know, protecting my company. I realized that all of ’em have been the next step of what I can do to make a more equitable justice system.

It was only so much I could do at the prosecutor’s office as an assistant prosecutor, unless I was gonna run for political office. Political office is not in my near future, and people always ask me, I’m like, Well, why can’t I be like other people who become rich first and then run for office? ‘Cause if you look at the salaries of political candidates…

Paula Edgar: Yeah, they’re not getting rich with just a salary. That’s correct. You gotta write your book first.

Lonita Baker: Let me make money first so I don’t get swayed by special interest and you know, like, lemme do it the right way.

Paula Edgar: Fair enough. And I think, you know, similar to how they don’t pay teachers enough, they should pay folks who are doing the good work for the good people more because they’re sacrificing so many other things and not being valued monetarily for it.

So, I hear you. Okay. So what else in terms of pivots that you’ve learned about yourself?

Lonita Baker: That you have to be flexible and, and do what’s best for you at any given time. I don’t know that I, again, being NBA President, I don’t know that I would be able to do that. So I told you, I pivoted because of the mental health break that I needed, but I also wouldn’t be able to be representing tons of clients while also being an effective and impactful President. My job’s remote. I can travel to New York and speak and work from my hotel room, or, you know, I don’t..you know what drives me nuts? I don’t know why we pay for internet on the airplane…

Paula Edgar: When it doesn’t work? Ooh.

Lonita Baker: So I either, I’m never gonna do the Oh, I’ll work while I’m on the plane. No, it’s either before I leave or after I land, so I try to travel to where I can still… but my job is very supportive and I do think that, If you’re going to go in-house or work for a company and you have goals like being NBA President or any external goals, one of the things you have to make sure of is that they are supportive of what it is that you wanna do, and so I am lucky that Waystar is very supportive. They recognize the importance of having this strong Black woman that’s the President of all the Black lawyers in America… and Canada and Africa. So they’re proud to have me and they highlight that every chance that they get.

Paula Edgar: And as well as they should, and I like that you mentioned that sort of alignment that should happen in order to, because I think so many people think I can’t do X because of Y.

And most of the time I found this as a coach and I’ve also seen this for countless of my clients just period, is that it’s not that you can’t, it’s that you’re limiting belief is what is preventing you. And if you ask, there usually is a way, assuming that you, speaking of branding, have been able to either demonstrate your value previous to or at so that they understand that you are bringing value regardless in order to be able to do something else and to be able to say, look, it’s for this amount of time I’m gonna do these other things, or aligning and that’s also a brand proposition that people should be thinking about.

Lonita Baker: And I’ll tell you, when I first started getting very active in the National Bar Association, I was still working at the prosecutor’s office. So it wasn’t a remote job that I could, you know… but I understood my value to that office. And so I think, like, I go in, I work hard, like I’m gonna prove myself.

Nobody’s ever gonna be like, Lonita dropped the ball… When you work for a prosecutor’s office, you understand you work for a political office. Oh, you need me in your commercial? Yes, I’ll be in your commercial. So kinda that give and take. Right? I know that I travel at least four or five times a year, and you not making me use my vacation time up for NBA, but you’re allowing me to participate. Know your value. If you are hard to replace… they’re gonna let you do whatever you ask, so long as you still remain hard to replace.

Paula Edgar: Right. You make yourself indispensable. I always say you strive for excellence, make yourself indispensable, and then you flex. Then you can, right? Then you’ve built up the brand equity to be able to flex however you need to and people get it and they’re not afraid that if they give you a little bit of leeway that you’re going to stop producing or stop being the value proposition.

Awesome. Awesome. So, What advice would you give somebody who is thinking about ascending to leadership? Just generally because you’ve done it in so many different places, what would you, what advice would you give someone?

Lonita Baker: I think know the organization. Know the people, so like the members and the other personalities.

And you have to have… I do think that leaders need a good amount of emotional intelligence. What do we call that? Emotional IQ.

Paula Edgar: EQ. Yep.

Lonita Baker: You have to, cause you deal with a lot of personalities. And, you said three, I think, but I’m gonna give you one more.

Paula Edgar: Yeah, of course.

Lonita Baker: You have to be willing… Get into leadership for the right reasons. And I mean, the right reasons are never to boost your brand. But it’s to enhance the organization with your brand. And I think that if you do that, and if you do it for the organization, your brand will benefit.

Your brand’s gonna be boosted anyway. I think just in general with anything, it’s never a good idea to do it solely with the intent of boosting your brand. Cause it will backfire on you every time.

Paula Edgar: Yep. I’ll just agree with you on that one. My head is nodding vigorously on that one.

That’s good advice. You started talking about being a dancer, and I know this because I know you, but what else do you do for fun?

Lonita Baker: Movies. So, here, our main movie theater is Cinemark, so they have the Cinemark Movie Club. So me and some of my sorority sisters, AKA, hey… me and a couple of my sorority sisters, we go and see the movies.

I need to text them today, say, Hey, can we go see the Air movie? Cause I mean, when do you not wanna see Viola Davis? So movies, dancing. Reading a book. And shameful. I watch reality TV and not like Survival reality TV. The Real Housewives, the Love and the Hip Hops.

Paula Edgar: Well, look, it can’t be shameful because they’re getting good ratings…cause you are not alone.

There’s a whole bunch of people who are watching those. Yes. Hilarious. Okay, so everybody who participates on Branding Room Only is asked two questions and one is this. So, Stand By Your Brand. What is the authentic aspect of your personal brand that you will never compromise on?

Lonita Baker: Authentic thing. I think just being genuine. And I know authentic, genuine, it is just being my genuine self with people. I honestly, you know, I have no choice but to be genuine because if I’m thinking something negative it’s written all over my face anyway. So I think just to be your genuine self, your true, authentic self.

Paula Edgar: And that, and it makes sense. So I asked the question, and I always think about this aligned with branding because there’s usually a line through on everything you do, and it is the authentic piece, but it can show up in a lot of different ways. Like for me my Stand By Your Brand, I always have to be me and that me is, I’m gonna have nails and I’m gonna have red lipstick, but I’m also gonna bring and add value… so it’s all of those things, but it’s not the same. Some people are like, it is that I am always ethical or, you know, or whatever.

And so I want, I like to hear what, how people identify essentially the same thing but just in general.

Lonita Baker: It is. Like when you said like me being genuine… It’s me. Like, you’re gonna get all of me… A lot of people, especially in leadership, a lot of people will tell you how you’re supposed to lead.

And I get a lot of opinions. I get a lot of responses back. And I’ve learned to like, if they don’t mean me no good… the ones that are like, okay, I can take that are truly genuine. But at the end of the day, you can only be you. Can I give you a little story on being you too?

Paula Edgar: Of course, please.

Lonita Baker: So you know our past President CK Hoffler, right? Being a Black female trial attorney… it’s not a whole lot of Black female trial attorneys in the plaintiff’s space, I will say, we have ’em in the law firms… So we were at one of the NBA conventions and she was doing a presentation on litigation skills and like she just comes in and she like owns the room and she talks about like what she does in a closing … and I’m like, I’m going to go be like her. I can’t be CK Hoffler. Only CK Hoffler can be CK Hoffler. Yeah. I’m glad I learned it in a practice trial and not in a real trial. Yeah. But it’s just… you can see people who you take great things from. Like when I saw her, I’m like, she’s a great trial lawyer. So I started thinking of like, of the things that I learned from her, what can I put into my trial techniques?

It’s not her style. I can’t close with the Latin phrases ’cause I don’t know Latin.

Paula Edgar: Does she close with Latin phrases?

Lonita Baker: I don’t know in her closing, but you know, when she was NBA President, every time she signed off to a meeting, there was a phrase she would say in Latin and I’m like, We don’t even know if she’s saying the right word, but I think she was using the right phrases, but that’s her.

Paula Edgar: And it’s a good point that I’m glad you pulled out because when it comes to people trying to build their brands, oftentimes they will look at people and say, I want to be like that person. And I always say, yes, exactly what you said, aspects, but make it your own.

You can never replicate someone else and even if you tried, you won’t do it well, and people will be able to see right through it. Yep. So the second and last thing is, What is your Branding Room Only magic? So this is essentially something about yourself that is unique, special gift, brand proposition that a crowd would gather to experience or see.

Lonita Baker: I think… Little known fact is, I think I’m a funny person.

But no… like I think I have… so part of… I’m an empath, so I didn’t say that earlier, I didn’t describe, so I’m an empath and because I’m an empath, I need everyone around me to almost feel good or I’m boohooing. And so, I think I have that aspect to bring out the best in people.

Paula Edgar: I think that is a hundred percent true. You have a positive nature around you generally, and if you don’t, if you are not in a good mood, I know something is wrong otherwise. And so, you are a good gauge in terms of what is happening generally. Which I guess appropriate answer could have been I don’t want people gathering in the room, cause I don’t wanna have to deal with whatever…

Lonita Baker: …deal with everything. No. Then I’m gonna try to… my thing is like, okay. So, I just started like, I just realized how funny I am. I’m always making people laugh… Wait, I might need to get on stage. Ricky Anderson, come on, gimme a Netflix contract too, please. But no, it’s just, I’m not that funny. But I do… I want people to be in a good space, and I understand not all the time is it the appropriate time to be in a good space. But if I can do something to help you get from a bad space to a good space, I’m gonna try to do that.

Paula Edgar: I love that. Okay, so if people want to stay in touch or stay involved with the things that you are involved with, how can they find you?

Lonita Baker: So, look, I’m liking this cause I’m only NBA President to August. And then I’m back on my Diva Attorney. So I have a website, divaattorney.com. On Instagram, I am diva_attorney, Twitter, I’m Diva_ Attorney. It’s Diva Attorney everywhere. But email, I’m just, I’m an easy email. [email protected]

Paula Edgar: Awesome. And LinkedIn.

Lonita Baker: And LinkedIn, lonitakbaker. But I have my Diva Attorney little logo right there too. So, before I decided I was gonna run for Vice President of NBA, I was like I’m gonna have this blog and I’m gonna do this, so don’t go to it yet, but after August, Diva Attorney will be up and popping.

Paula Edgar: Well, we look forward to it and we’ll make sure we will link all of those things in the show notes so that folks can continue to find you.

Lonita Baker: Do you remember me though. I called you and I was like, I mean, I’m getting my headshots done. Do I get my makeup professionally done or can I just do it myself? And you say you better go get your makeup. And I went and got it.

Paula Edgar: I mean, it’s branding.

Lonita Baker: And I love my headshot, so…

Paula Edgar: It’s a good headshot. So, Lonita, thank you so much for being here with me today at Branding Room Only. I know that people are gonna get a lot from this and hearing the trajectory. I learned so much about you and I already know you, so I’m happy we had this conversation.

And everyone, make sure you like, share and rate this on your favorite platforms, and I’ll see you soon. Remember, stand by your brand. Bye.