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A Dynamo with Direction: A Conversation with Linda Hitt Thatcher of Thatcher Zavaro & Mani, LLC

Article by Linda Descano, CFA® – President and Chief Executive Officer – Women & CoWhen a Citibank colleague suggested I speak with her client, Linda Hitt Thatcher, managing partner of the Maryland-based Thatcher Zavaro & Mani, I immediately went to the firm’s website. Was I surprised! A hugely accomplished lawyer with a personality and a website written in “plain English” – and with a fabulous first name to boot! So, I immediately said “get us connected.” Well, it took a few months given our hectic calendars, but we finally found a time and it was a pure delight. Here are some highlights of my conversation with this legal dynamo:

On key traits for success

“As both a managing partner of a busy law firm and a business owner, you often wear many different hats and thus have to interact with lots of different people, many of whom likely won’t think like you do,” said Linda, “To build effective relationships, you must be able to put yourself into their shoes and find a way to relate to them.” Another key trait in Linda’s view is bottom-line honesty both with oneself and with the people you deal with everyday: you have to be keenly aware of your strengths, your challenges and hold to your integrity. She added, “Reputation is key because you can lose it in the blink of an eye.” Linda also considers confidence, passion and excellence in quality and service to be key. Last but not least, in Linda’s view, is marketing. She elaborated, “You have to go to sleep and wake up with a marketing sensibility. Every action you take, every touch point in your day is a marketing opportunity, so make the most of it.”

On what lesson(s) she would share with an aspiring entrepreneur

“Don’t skimp on technology,” advised Linda, “It’s key to competing effectively. Secondly, surround yourself with people who are really, really good and care about the quality of their work. Third, treat your clients right, which is something my mom taught me. And, finally, start a relationship with a bank early on. At some point, you will need a line of credit to grow your business. I did and my banker has been a great partner as I’ve built my firm.”

Confidence in yourself is key, as well. Linda explained, “I knew that I was a good lawyer and was passionate about the service I brought to my clients. I trusted my ability to produce excellent work and effectively market myself. You have got to have that fire in your belly and trust your instincts. People will hear the passion in your voice and know that you truly care about them and that is what will separate you from others.”

On the best piece of advice she’s received or shared

Linda shared with me something that she told her two college-age sons: “Don’t be followers, but be leaders. Do something that you are passionate about and it won’t feel like a job.”

On her financial role model(s)

Linda credits her mom and dad with teaching her the values of saving regularly, and owning rather than leasing. Her mom, who owned her own hair salon, also taught Linda not to rely on others for her livelihood, but to make her own way. But Linda credits her mom with more than just financial wisdom. She added, “My mom also taught me not to burn bridges and always to wear a smile, which have been invaluable throughout my career.”

On words she lives by

Linda draws inspiration from two sayings. First is “Shoot for the moon; even if you miss, you will be among the stars.” The second: “Honor – no man can give it; no man can take it away; it is a gift a man gives to himself.” Definitely food for thought!

On what inspires her

Helping people understand their legal rights and teaching young lawyers how to be the best in their business inspire Linda.