Meet Anthony Lawson, CIO and Co-Founder of AND
I grew up in a loving household. “Treat others how you want to be treated” was a core philosophy. I saw this in my parent’s relationship and how they raised my sister and I. I had an especially good role model in my mother Lyn. I’ve never seen her angry, frustrated, or disrespectful to anyone - especially impressive given the majority of her career has been spent in customer service roles, directly interacting with the general public. She has the knack for remaining calm and personable in stressful situations. She finds joy in creating joy for others and her level of care isn’t predicated on what she’ll get in return. These are personality traits she passed to me, which became more apparent as I followed in her footsteps with a career in customer service. Interacting with and helping diverse groups of people has always come naturally, it’s in my DNA!
Although I learned the value of treating others with love and care early, I didn’t learn the importance of treating yourself that way until later in life. When I graduated from college in North Carolina at the end of 2008, the Economic Recession was in full swing. I had a great academic career and thought I’d land a nice paying job quickly. Instead, I struggled to find entry-level work. I struggled to support myself financially and struggled with my relationships. A year after graduating, I had made no traction and begrudgingly recognized that my lifestyle was no longer sustainable. I went back home and moved in with my sister. It was a nice change of scenery, but ultimately my career was still not taking off. I had two jobs, but nothing that really utilized my talent or challenged me. I was unhappy, and worse, I started to attach my self-worth to my perceived lack of progress. I spiraled into self pity as I didn’t truly know the importance of asking for help or how to handle adversity. I lost self-confidence and hid behind a fear of failure. I talked myself out of opportunities that were ‘too difficult’ and got comfortable with not challenging myself. I carried this weight for years wondering if I would ever lift myself out of a sunken place.
Things started to change when I started a new job as a contractor in DC. I had more important responsibilities, but still wasn’t very challenged. I had a long daily commute to and from Northern Virginia and a lot more idle time to think about things. I initially squandered this time taking naps and doing Sudoku puzzles but soon experienced a growing urgency that raised some pressing internal questions. What would happen if I used my commute time more constructively? What if I challenged myself to go after everything I wanted but was too afraid to fail at? I started searching for answers, the next year became what I refer to as “The Emancipation of Anthony”. I dedicated my life to self-growth and discovery. I explored my curiosities reading books, I bombarded my brain with informative podcasts, and challenged myself with art projects and developing relationships. I was discovering what I wanted from life, and was starting to see failure as necessary and part of the journey of being successful. I kept at it; I kept working on my self-growth and one day received an unexpected phone call from my friend Derek, whom I had known since grade school. He had recently moved to San Francisco and started a new job at a merchant service provider. He wanted to know if I wanted to visit him, and if I would be interested in working with his company should a spot on their team open up. I visited and left the trip feeling content with experiencing the west coast for the first time, but I really didn’t expect anything tangible would come of a job opportunity.
A few months later, however, Derek called again and said if I was interested in applying, a new position was being added. This is exactly the kind of opportunity Pre-Emancipation Anthony would toss in the trash, but this time it was different. I felt confident, I felt excited, I finally felt I was ready for something that would challenge me. I never realized when I was “in it” but my struggle was beautiful. It showed that anything is possible with hard work. It reminded me of the importance of family, friends, and self-care. And most importantly it forged my identity; It taught me who I truly am and who I want to be.
One of my most defining characteristics, one that helped me weather my personal storm the most is my patience. I rarely act on impulse or rush into things. I am what I like to call a “processor”. I like to think things through, plan, develop strategies, be “sure” before movement. The saying I best personify? “Slow and steady wins the race.” I value reaching goals with consistency over intensity. It’s why a lot of my hobbies and fascinations don’t involve instant gratification. Whether it’s baking, gardening, or photography, I find great joy in the slow burn, things that take time to develop or become good at. I love caring for houseplants and seeing their growth over time. I can spend hours in garden centers discovering the local flora and I've brought too many plants home “by accident” than I care to admit.
My fiance Katelyn and I are planning on buying our first home and I absolutely can’t wait to have the added living space to design and curate an absurd indoor forest. When I'm not finding space for another houseplant, I like going out and spending time in nature. I feel my humanity the most when I am surrounded by the natural world or connecting to my city’s culture. It re-centers me, stimulates my creativity, and lets my innate curiosity run wild. Discovering off the beaten path experiences with my camera is one of my most cherished pastimes. It’s a delightful combination of being both calming and energizing at the same time.
So, that’s me - a patient, processing, nature-loving person, who also happens to be an excellent merchant services provider. By choosing AND, I’ll be on your team - giving your problems the thoughtful care I was raised with, and love to give.