Roy Sexton - Leaders with Ambition

Leaders with Ambition - Roy Sexton

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​Have you ever felt self-conscious at a networking event? For Roy Sexton, it has been a journey from standing awkwardly at his first Legal Marketing Association conference some years back to now being the organisation’s President-elect.

In this episode of Leaders with Ambition, Nicky elicits fascinating insights from this dynamic marketing professional whose unique path to leadership within the legal services sector was paved by hard-won wisdom and empathy.

As Director of Marketing at Clark Hill Law, Roy always operates with authenticity in mind. Whether as boss, mentor or colleague, he makes a point of always bringing his authentic self – which includes a sense of humour, self-deprecation and willingness to speak his mind.

While some of these skills came organically – through Roy’s theatre background and upbringing – he also notes the influence that early leadership training has had on him, as well as the networking abilities he cultivated while studying for his MBA and during his career.

In this episode, Roy shares his career highs as well as challenges both past and heading into his term presiding over the Legal Marketing Association. We get a glimpse into his professional experience as well as thought-provoking views on the nuances of diversity, equality and inclusion. From how to overcome Imposter Syndrome to how the pandemic has affected law firm culture to the fine line between confidence and arrogance, this jam-packed hour of conversation will leave you with interesting insights and helpful advice.

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Key Takeaways:

Starting out

Roy shares his career path to legal services (via a background in acting), starting 23 years ago after an encounter with Deloitte recruiters at the college campus where he was working in alumni affairs.

A decade-long stint in healthcare exposed Roy to excellent leadership training, which was a springboard into acquiring an MBA and ultimately a migration towards marketing.

While his MBA training wasn’t particularly a stretch academically, it did provide Roy with an important credential and platform to network closely with classmates across multiple industries.

Roy’s profile as a marketing thought leader in the legal services sector has helped colleagues to fully see and understand who he is beyond aloof first impressions.

Pandemic culture

Nicky and Roy agree that being “in” each other’s homes via Zoom during the pandemic brought a new (and welcome) form of intimacy and familiarity to law firm culture.

The empathy piece

Roy shares thoughts on meeting people where they are and how he evolved his tendencies as an introvert to better collaborate with teams.​

Defining introversion

It has far less to do with personality affect than with the amount of energy one derives when interacting in groups.

Coaching and development is about helping people feel an inclusive sense of being fully themselves as a multi-dimensional person. Roy shares some of what he’s learned when “help” feels like signalling or even bullying, an energy that he finds minimising and counter-productive.

Roy is all about bringing a fresh perspective and candour to his role as President and to the Legal Marketing Association’s culture in general. When it comes to admitting what you do and don’t know, Roy believes 99% of people appreciate honesty rather than pretence or posturing.

When you’re feeling Imposter Syndrome, Roy's advice is to lean into it! It’s okay not to know it all. People relate to vulnerability and authenticity.

Be mindful

There’s a fine line between confidence and arrogance. Bring intentionality to your interactions with others, balancing honesty with hard-earned wisdom.

Roy’s parents influenced his development, his drive and perpetual curiosity.

Take note: Coaches and therapists may share impressions that you resist, but chances are there’s something important to derive from their observations.

Roy’s career highlights

  • Being elected president of the Legal Marketing Association.

  • His work on behalf of the LMA.

  • A solid relationship/marriage of 20 years with his husband.

  • His dedication and gratitude as a son who helped his mother feel seen.

  • Mentoring and recognising potential in colleagues. ​

Roy’s career challenges

  • Enjoying this present moment. Staying in the now!

  • A tendency to let people-pleasing cloud his horizon.

  • Slimming down for photo ops in his coming year as President!

​Words of wisdom

Whatever sector you’re in, focus person by person. You will be amazed at the army of people you amass over time. ​

Key quotes:

  • “My theatre training has allowed me to … fake it to make it.”

  • “Lawyers are brilliant human beings … sensitive, thoughtful, interested in how language can shape outcomes, but not always with the best social skills and a kind of insecurity where certain things are concerned.”

  • “As deep thinking and wonderful as Attorneys are, they can also veer into a certain kind of superficiality … as opposed to being their whole selves.”

  • “It’s taken me a long time just to be who I am with everybody … You connect better with an audience just being yourself; not being overly polished and holding too much back.”

  • “Unfortunately, we’re taking some of the DEI messaging and it’s becoming all about ‘this person’ as opposed to the group that we’re trying to reach.”

  • “Sometimes when we get into the diversity, equity and inclusion space the allies who want to help end up overshadowing the effort. It’s actually about stepping back and creating a space for others to tell their stories.”

  • “I’m always afraid that someone is going to figure out that I don’t know what I’m doing because I’m making it up every day as I go along. But I also lean into what experiences I’ve had and draw upon them pretty openly.”

  • “You’ve got to live through it a few times and survive, but the Imposter Syndrome thing does retreat. Use it to keep you from becoming arrogant!”

  • “I’m driven to challenge myself to learn more and think more and connect more with more interesting people and see what adventure life has in store for me. That does keep me in the game.”

  • “If you’re in the moment and of service to people, it’s going to work out.”

  • “Start with those pods of people and let them expand out and grow your network very thoughtfully. 5 or 10 minutes a person, you’ll be shocked at the network you grow.” ​

About Roy Sexton:

Roy has a passion for solving problems, improving culture, facilitating business growth, and collaborating on long-term strategy. Director of Marketing at Clark Hill Law and incoming Legal Marketing Association president, he has been a marketing, communications, and strategic planning professional for nearly 20 years, including consulting, healthcare, the legal industry and college advancement.

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About Nicky Acuna Ocana:

Nicky has led high performing recruitment teams for over 20 years. As the Regional Managing Director, UK, Europe and USA at Ambition, she leads a team of highly-skilled recruitment consultants who are experts in their niche specialist areas.

​Listen to more episodes of the Leaders with Ambition podcast here >

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