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Secrets of Success: Hilary Laney

There are some “rules” of business success most entrepreneurs abide by. But many also have their own “secrets”—things they do or believe that helped them achieve success. In “Secrets of Success,” a weekly interview series here at’s Small Business Forum, I ask some of today’s smartest, most innovative, most successful business owners to share their insights and success secrets with you.

Meet: Hilary Laney, the president of Tri-Digital, a media company specializing in digital event capture, live-streaming, design and development. The company, cofounded by Hilary’s father as a small CD-ROM media company in the early 1990s, now boasts a number of Fortune 500 clients, including Microsoft, Amazon and Starbucks.

Hilary is the rare woman leader in the tech industry. And she walks the walk—43 percent of Tri-Digital’s employees are women, more than double the ratio of women to men in the tech industry.

While Tri-Digital is a family-owned business, Hilary worked her way to the top. She started as an administrative assistant and then rose to COO. In April 2014, Hilary became President of the company.

You can find Tri-Digital on Twitter at @TriDigitalInc.

Rieva Lesonsky: What did you want to be when you grew up?

Hilary Laney: A business owner, truly. I was never interested in having kids or being a doctor. I honestly didn’t care what industry I fell into, as long as I could be a leader within it.

Lesonsky: Why did you start your own business?

Laney: My dad, Mark Monrean, actually founded Tri-Digital in 1993 with two other gentlemen and worked out of our basement for many years. I suppose growing up with Tri-Digital across the hall instilled in me a fascination with working here and eventually leading it. Being raised in an entrepreneurial family also influenced my desire to walk down that path. And now that I am running the company, I cannot imagine doing anything else with my career. I love the creativity, daily challenges, busy schedules, interactions with my team, and most of all, the positive impact I can ultimately have on things that are important to me.

Lesonsky: Did you experience a pivotal moment on your way to success?

Laney: Yes, the moment my dad trusted me with running the operations of his business about four years ago. He is a man with high expectations for his company and someone who has put his life and soul into the business, so his willingness to turn it over to me meant the world. It was in this moment I realized I have what it takes to run a business successfully, which is what I have always wanted. And he was right—since then, the company has [more than] doubled in size, we have brought on five global corporate clients, and we are on our way to launching two new products this fall and early next year.

Lesonsky: What’s the best small business advice you ever gave and/or received?

Laney: My dad taught me that if I want the business to grow I must always reinvest the profits back into the business, remain nimble and keep overhead low. Honestly, I feel this is good advice for any size business, but it is especially important for small businesses because resources are limited.

Lesonsky: What’s one “best practice” more entrepreneurs should be embracing?

Laney: Admit to what you do not know and lean on someone else to help make it happen!

Lesonsky: Is there a quote you find particularly inspiring?

Laney: “Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm.”—Publilius Syrus

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Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at [email protected], follow her on Google+ and, and visit her website,, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.