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November 8, 2016 - No Comments!

SBC October Newsletter: The powers of running a cause-driven business

Roof god

Recently I had the good fortune to meet Charles Antis, founder and CEO of Antis Roofing through our shared work supporting the nonprofit, OneOC, that helps organizations enrich their missions with instituting giving and volunteering efforts. Charles is a role model for all of us. He has artfully blended giving back to the community with his business's purpose.

Sherry Benjamins: What do you attribute to your company’s success?

Charles Antis: I have to start with the people. You can’t carry on or achieve much of anything without an amazing team. Before we understood how to leverage marketing or social responsibility as a means to get more work, we were always extremely customer focused. If one person in the room is unhappy, I’m going to do anything I can to fix that relationship. This belief led to an extremely high expectation for customer care. Our first level of success started there and allowed us to grow.

SB: Can you tell us more about customer care?

CA: The customer needs to be right. It doesn’t matter why they’re upset because in their dissatisfaction is a kernel of absolute truth on where we can do something better. In our company, we always air on the side of generosity towards the customer.

SB: Part of your success has been social corporate responsibility. When did that start?

CA: In the company’s first year, I received a call from a lady with a leak problem. I went to check it out and as she opened the door, I was overwhelmed by the smell of mildew. Her daughter grabbed my hand to show me the house and in her room was a mattresses with moldy bedding. I went home and organized a relief party to immediately fix the problem. We didn’t start with a policy to fix situations like this, but they happened again and again. We never let anyone have a leaky room just because they didn’t have the money for it. We can’t be good at what we do unless we’re willing to help people in need.

In 2008, Sharon Ellis, the CEO of Habitat for Humanity, OC asked if we would donate a roof to a development and we’ve donated every year since. We quickly realized that we were making an impact and it was exciting! When we talk about it inside our culture, our people see it happening and want to be a part of it.

SB: Are your employees onto this mission of giving?

CA: We have about eighty employees and for our industry, it’s a pretty young workforce. In the office, we’re about half millennials and out in the field, we’re a bit older. We embrace newer voices and perspectives and have a common response when thinking about social responsibility. We also embrace a changing workplace. I know that we have to adjust to a changing culture and we are all listening to create a more flexible workplace. Our employees want to give back. Even the baby boomers, who at first don’t want to talk about these issues as much, get really excited about the conversation and join in.  We’ve gotten a lot of recognition for being philanthropic and it’s important for me that this recognition is directed towards the employees.

Antis roofing team

SB: What do you think gets in the way of an entrepreneur building a “cause” culture with a commitment like this?

CA:  Small business owners have to scrape by to survive. I understand how difficult it is to take that hard earned money and donate it without seeing a clear bottom line of investment. We always share anecdotal stories about the benefits, but we haven’t seen a clear algorithm yet to support this decision. But only by doing shows others a way to understand and follow. It’s hard to shed the biases of our past, but with the shifting climate right now, everyone is re-thinking strategy and culture. I don’t see myself as a pioneer, I’m just quick on transitions.

SB: Can you share more about your mascot and visual graphic of the Roof God?

CA: I grade myself by how well I sleep at night. We serve up to half a million homes so when it rains, I understand how our customers worry about their castle being in danger. In 2008, I started to think about how I could tell this story with images. We went to an artist specializing in comics to create the Roof God as a way to encapsulate this feeling of being able to relax, knowing that your roof is being taken care of.

SB: What have you personally learned on this path as CEO?

CA: I’m trying to create value. If the value isn’t coming to me or my employee’s wallets that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s not good value. I could be putting money into securities, but instead I give it back to the community. This is where I differ from a lot of small businesses. If I put an extra half million in the bank to accrue interest, that’s great. But if I take that same half million and put it out into the community, it will create an exponential ripple effect that will find its way back to me and my stakeholders. I haven’t figured out how to show it on paper—yet—but I believe that the return is ten times more than keeping the money in the bank. Once you understand that it’s OK to give away more than think you can, I think it’s the safest and most secure path to creating success.

SB: What do you recommend for the new entrepreneur interested in trying this strategy out?

CA: Don’t wait. Build giving into the model. Be generous. The Toms model stands out. You’ll have a difficult time competing in the market if an intention like this doesn’t ring with authenticity. It’s a tougher economy with slimmer margins, I get it. But try it! Make it a living breathing part of your everyday and you will notice the difference.

SB: How does your new President share your values?

CA: Our new President, Karen Inman comes into work every day with the same, likeminded passion and enthusiasm. She believes in what we do and loves it. She wouldn’t be at a roofing company if we didn’t have a cause built into our brand. We get the Google people because our brand is visible and powerful. We make decisions that reflect family values and our recruiting has gone up to a level that I never knew could exist!

Charlie Antis and Karen

Final Thoughts...

How can businesses today create and value the space, time, and culture to give back to their community, to be driven and inspired by a cause?

October 7, 2016 - No Comments!

SBCo September Newsletter – A CEO and CHRO’s View on Finding the One

Search and selection is a high stakes game and there’s pressure to get it right. As we all know, great talent is hard to find!

Our clients see the value of strategic approaches in the search for talent. More important than finding great talent is finding “the one” person who is not only adept at the technical skills of their role, but can also seamlessly integrate into the culture of your organization.

At S. Benjamins & Co., our creative intention is about helping you find the ONE. With that in mind, we recently revamped our web site to focus on our unique process and purpose. SBC imageCheck it out here!

In the spirit of our new website and our long standing purpose, we asked three of our favorite clients and friends how they find the ONE.  Read on to see how Jamie Latiano with Renovate America, Steven Milovich, ABC Entertainment Group and Carol Geffner, Professor at USC and healthcare entrepreneur see talent acquisition today.

Jamie Latiano, SVP People & Culture, Renovate America
San Diego based – The leader in Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Financing

SB: How do you find the ONE in your business? 

JL: While cliché, hiring for attitude, energy and training for skill is one of the biggest keys.  jamie latianoHere at Renovate America, we are growing dynamically and there is a lot of change as our business is scaling quickly.  Identifying behaviors such as resourcefulness, flexibility, comfort with change, leadership, communication and alignment with our Core Values has proven to be an effective assessor for hiring the right talent.

We are fortunate to attract great talent by having an awesome corporate culture grounded in impactful work, smart, dedicated, fun people and a philosophy of empowering people to do great things…together.

SB: What do you see changing in this landscape as you look ahead? 

JL: It is becoming more important for us to identify specific experience and competencies that serve as pillars for our growth and success.  While the foundation of hiring people aligned with our culture and values will remain strong, identifying gaps in competencies or knowledge is important so that we can be targeted in getting the right people in the right place, at the right time.

SB: What is your advice to other leaders who are focusing on finding or developing the ONE?

JL: My advice is that there should be foundational or “non-negotiable” things that a hiring manager looks for.  For me, this is in the areas of values, attitude and behaviors.  Diversity is important, especially diversity of thought. Also, in order to keep great talent showing up great, we have to allow them to shine, be their best and bring their discretionary effort to drive success daily through business deliverables, contributions to teams and to the culture of the organization.  It is a two way street; we need to be able to recognize “the ones” that fit our culture and values, and they need to want to jump on board, be inspired to grow, drive, and deliver.  When there is that symbiotic relationship, it is magical; there is incredible accomplishment, people own the outcome, enjoy the journey, and make history together.

Carol Geffner, PhD – Professor of Management, Governance & Policy, USC
USC Price School Professor and CEO of Newport Healthcare Advisors

SB: How do you find the ONE in your business? 

It starts with clarity about what the organization is looking for.  We work with our clients to CarolJGeffner-headshotre-think what is and will be needed in key positions rather than making an assumption that what worked in the past will be acceptable today.

We also take a holistic view of candidates. Think about how an individual will fit into the culture, how they work with others and if they have the attributes to lead change.   And in most leadership positions it is critical to screen for emotional intelligence. Organizations are social enterprises and working well with others is one of the most important aspect of success.

SB: What do you see changing in the landscape as you look ahead? 

CG: Healthcare is the industry undergoing a true transformation.  In a world that is changing so radically, it is imperative that we build leaders who can lead through uncertainty while simultaneously move their organization toward a compelling future.  From a behavioral and neuropsychological point of view, people respond more favorably when they move toward something positive vs. negative.  What this means is that an element of leadership success is being able to create (with others) an emotionally interesting and vivid picture of the company direction.

We have four generations in the workplace. This has enormous implications for the way in which we structure and lead businesses.  Millennials are more concerned with making an impact than fitting into a structure. This means organizations will re-think how to recruit, manage and engage people with very different motivations.

Lastly, we are operating within a customer-focused paradigm. One implication of this is that transparency is the norm.  Determining on a daily basis what openness means is a central responsibility of leaders.  Insular management will not work in the future.  Leading from  the “outside-in” and building a customer-centric organization is a mandate for success.

SB: What is your advice to other leaders who are focusing on finding and developing the ONE?”

CG: Think about the whole person and how they will fit your culture. Consider their emotional and social intelligence and the ability to work with and lead others. Be mindful of bringing in talent who can lead the business to the future as opposed to preserving what exists today.

Our Final Thoughts... 

The best people in HR go against the norm. They are early adopters for change and compete to find the ONE.  We hope this story has inspired you to new thinking about the future of talent.

June 30, 2016 - No Comments!

SBCo June Newsletter – Culture Talk

Culture Talk with Ron Schrader & Jennifer Pietrzak

This month we sat down with the dynamic culture-savvy duo of Ron Schrader and Jennifer Pietrzak Carlson. Ron and Jennifer have their own respected firms and clients, but have also collaborated often over the past nine years.  We have had the pleasure of working with them also and were so pleased to catch up and hear what they're up to.

Working together, Ron and Jennifer have built a reputation for helping organizations realize the business benefits that come with having a healthy, active and evolving company culture.

What is it about the work that you do that gives you the most positive energy?

J: We’re both really energized when we get to work with organizations going through transformation. It could be implementing a new system, a merger, a sudden growth, or a business realignment.

R: Yeah! These are the very situations where culture is a major contributor to the success of the endeavor.

Why does it give you energy?

J: I love when an organization thinks about culture as a living and breathing thing, not something you create once and put on a shelf. They get it. They understand that what I do, and what they believe in, really matters. Helping organizations turn culture into a competitive advantage is to me, the “wow” factor.

R: I agree! The other element that excites us is having the creativity to do things that the client hasn’t tried before. Sometimes we get called in to help a client who is stuck—they don’t know what’s getting in their way of achieving a given business objective. We see that more and more clients discover that it is about their culture. The clients that are designing creative cultures understand that this ultimately moves them and their organization forward.

Do you have an example?

J: One client had acquired 4 separate lines of business, with different processes, values, cultures, etc. The objectiveJune Newsletter was to evolve into one organization with one set of values and a common culture throughout while still allowing for some individuality among the lines of business.  We developed a recipe book, not the expected way to communicate a major business initiative like this. So it had a surprise factor, and that made it interesting to read.  It also fit the situation well because just like food, to get real culture change you need to invoke all the senses. The recipe ingredients (core values, mission, vision, etc.) were the same, but each business line was able to customize the way those ingredients were folded into their business.

R: Organizations value a tailored solution.  Needs vary and what works somewhere may not work everywhere.  We agree that a custom designed solution is best. We’ve developed unconventional tools like comic strips to illustrate process, storybooks to share the vision, and homemade videos to generate grassroots excitement. We love figuring out how to craft something that is unexpected and novel, but also meaningful to our client’s audience.

Bringing up the idea that you’re using unconventional artifacts and visual elements to communicate culture… is this something new that we’re seeing in organizations today?

R: I don’t know if it’s new, but it’s not common from what I’ve seen. And that’s what makes this work exciting. It can inspire your own teams to think beyond what might have worked before. When a company says they’re really hip and innovative, but they communicate to their people through very formal, corporate-sounding memos, there’s a cultural disconnect. Paragraphs in an email aren’t the only way to get a message across.  We suggest helping your internal clients bridge the gap through the use of visuals, artifacts, language and other creative approaches.

What’s changing in the work that you’re doing today? 

J: Executives say, “Oh culture, we’ve done that”. But the reality is that as your organization lives, so does your culture. It needs to adapt. A lot of time people feel like they are being disingenuous to their history when they say they want to do something new with their culture. But your culture is like a sea nautilus. As the nautilus grows, it adds layers to its shell, but never discards the previous stages. In the same way, you can add to and adapt your culture while still preserving the best of who you are.

R: Your culture is being actively created every single day, either consciously or unconsciously.  People need to understand that when you take your eye off culture, it can go adrift really fast. And I think there’s a growing awareness that culture is not just a fluffy HR thing. There’s loads of research that shows that culture has a tangible impact on your bottom line and business success.

In the future, 50% of the work in companies will be done by project-based, contingent workers. How will cultures be built when we’re committed to projects or skills and not to the company?

R: There’s going to be more of an onus on having the culture defined and healthy so the project-based workers can come into something that already exists. It’s then easier to find people that align with your vision.

J: In those situations with 50% of your workers project-based it will be even more important to have clarity in all aspects of culture. “Here’s our expectations for behavior. Here’s how work gets done. Here’s how you’re rewarded and recognized.” That will expedite onboarding new people and getting the work done. It saves time and money too because you don’t have to figure out the culture as you go.

Closing Thoughts

Culture can propel your organization forward or hold it back. Every day the people in your organization live out your culture. They are either doing this consciously, resulting in behaviors and norms by design, or unconsciously (culture by default).  In order to get clear on this, talk to your line leaders and bring them together to ask, “What do we value and celebrate?  And, how might we get to understand  each other and our employees even better?”

 About Jennifer and Ron

Ron and Jen

The self-proclaimed odd couple of organizational development consulting, Jennifer and Ron (they sometimes humorously refer to themselves JennRon) have spent the last 9 years collaborating on culture engineering and change design work for companies large and small, established and start-up, formal and casual. They’re known for their energy, passion, and their unique design approach. And they like to draw pictures.

Jennifer Pietrzak

JPCarlson.com / jennifer@jpcarlson.com

Ron Schrader

ronschraderconsulting@gmail.com

May 25, 2016 - No Comments!

May Newsletter 2016 – Healthy Leaders

I am grateful to have worked for a few “healthy leaders” early in my career; they seem tougher to find today. There are unprecedented challenges in leadership in this chaotic world. Bob Rosen, CEO advisor and founder of Healthy Companies International, knows from his extensive research and hands-on experience that healthy leaders pave the way to healthy companies.

Bob and his Chief Knowledge Officer, Kathie Ross, are joining us for our Great Starts Breakfast Series on June 1st in Southern California to share their perspectives and challenge our assumptions about what it means to be a great leader. I talked with them about their work.

 

SB: What led you to research healthy leaders?

Bob Rosen (2)Bob Rosen: I was trained as a psychologist and was originally interested in family dynamics. As I began working with families, I was struck that fathers were not showing up for sessions, and I became intrigued with the psychology of successful businessmen and entrepreneurs. That led to working with the business roundtable and watching how larger companies manage or mismanage their human capital. It became clear that leadership was an issue.

I was fortunate to interview Max DePree in the early part of my career and he was my first image of a healthy leader. I began to meet leaders who either cast light or cast darkness. I was interested in understanding this further. The McArthur foundation called and was interested in this subject as well. Since then, we’ve interviewed 500 CEOs of large companies to really get our arms around how great leaders build great companies.

Kathie Ross
SB: Kathie, what led you to the human capital business?

Kathie Ross: Like Bob, I started with a psychology degree. I joined corporate America and found it intriguing to observe the relationships we form and how those relationships impact our effectiveness. Some bring out the best in people, and others are the opposite. After a Masters in Human Resource Management and a PhD in Organizational Behavior and years of fascinating work in HR, Bob and I were drawn to work together because he is rooted in the psychology field and I bring 25 years of experience as an executive inside organizations working to understand behavior.

 

SB: What have you learned about yourself in this journey?

BR: In my 20’s when I got my PhD in Clinical Psychology, I learned a lot about the importance of personal intelligence. When I went into the business world, and started researching CEOs, I learned about the importance of business intelligence. In my 40’s, I spent time working globally and recognized the importance of cultural intelligence. I think leaders need to connect with and cultivate all three of those intelligences inside themselves.

We operate under a paradigm that what you do defines who you are. But the best leaders have operated from an alternative paradigm that says who you are as a human being drives what you do. I’ve grown into this alternative paradigm more each year and recognize that leadership is a deeply personal act; both for you psychologically and for how you touch other people.

 

SB: Why are the best CEO’s investing in self-reflection?

BR: The outside world is changing faster than ever and leaders must turn inside to be more grounded and more conscious in terms of who they are. It is the only way to operate in an environment that is more uncertain, more competitive, more transparent, and more global than ever before. Only five percent of our beliefs, feelings, actions and decisions are conscious. Incredibly, 95% of our mind’s activity is unconscious. Lack of self-awareness, then, is the greatest obstacle to strong leadership. Increasingly, CEO’s understand that if they fail to see the reality about themselves and their leadership, then they are less likely to be successful in building their organizations. Those operating with outdated mental models are simply under pressure to change.

KR: The work we have been doing with CEO’s most recently is in how they and their teams change. We know why the world is changing so quickly, and there are many opinions about what we need to do differently to deal with this, but it’s the how. How do we accelerate transformation? What are the personal and organizational accelerators and hijackers that move us forward or hold people back and undermine their success?

 

SB: How are younger professionals learning leadership?

KR: I think that is an issue. We are in a period of transition. We make a lot of generalizations about millennials that I don’t think are very accurate because I see a lot of variations. Many millennials have grown up with leaders early in their career with the traditional mindset, and so they are struggling with this as well. It is not easy just because they are younger.

BR: We see four or five generations in the workplace today. It is time to appreciate differences and yet recognize that human beings are fundamentally the same and they want to learn. Leaders at every level want to be in touch with their purpose, values, and passion. They want to contribute. So this means it starts with the leader seeing a bigger picture, and understanding how their leadership impacts others.

 

Conclusion

Leading is courageous work. Bob and Kathie see this as a time of choice for all of us. We can focus with intention on the healthy roots of leadership and be the person we are truly meant to be, or hope to get there someday.

You can learn more about Bob and Kathie and their leadership philosophy at our June 1st, 2016 Great Starts Breakfast event where they are presenting"GROUNDED: How Leaders Stay Rooted  in an Uncertain World" at the Center Club in Costa Mesa. Visit www.greatstartsbreakfast.com for more details. 

April 20, 2016 - No Comments!

April Newsletter 2016 – Catching up with Chip Conley, Futurist for Airbnb

Chip Conley Head ShotHotel guru. Armchair psychologist. Traveling philosopher. Author. Speaker. Teacher. Student. Chip Conley has lived out more than one calling in his lifetime. Many of you know of Chip from his best-selling leadership books and TED talks. He is an inspirational entrepreneur and the founder and former CEO of Joie de Vivre hotel group. During his nearly 24 years as CEO, he grew the company to become the second largest boutique hotel company in America. After selling the company, he joined Airbnb in 2013 as Head of Global Hospitality and Strategy to share his hospitality methods with hosts in nearly 200 countries.

Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to speak with Chip about leadership and what fuels his passion within Airbnb.

SB: I just read your book Emotional Equations and immediately saw the power of practical strategies for leadership. Tell me more about your view on leadership today.

CC: Leaders are the emotional thermostats for the business. Whoever is the top dog conveys mood and tone. How they talk is amplified across the organization. It is contagious and sensed by employees.

Today, anxiety is the number one emotion felt across organizations. According to Abraham Maslow’s “psycho-hygiene”, we can sense stressors in our environments. People don’t do their best work in anxious circumstances and lack of confidence impacts our work. I’ve observed that the best companies allow for vulnerability and they consciously strive to build trust.

SB: Are you seeing leaders today that are more in touch with their authentic self?

CC: Yes, and I think there are influences working in our favor. There are more women in the workplace and with that there’s a better reading of the room and emotions. Secondly, coaches have become a normal part of leader development. We also offer feedback through multi-rater tools. And the issue of diversity is now part of the Board conversation. This adds to a CEO’s understanding of the environment and ultimately themselves.

SB: What prompted you to join Airbnb after selling the largest boutique hotel group in the west?

CC: It began when the CEO asked me to be his coach. This was my first tech startup, and I found the organization so intriguing - it was a total immersion. It wasn’t what I anticipated at that stage in my life, but I found it fascinating and it was a great work-life fit for me.

SB: What have you learned at Airbnb?

CC: I am beginning to understand tech. Today we know the face of our mobile phone better than the face of an actual person. At Airbnb our workforce is intergenerational. Prior to working in strategy, I was the head of learning and development where I was teaching twenty-five year olds how to manage twenty-three year olds. I was able to help people through great emotional growth. Now I work on public policy and help our clients all over the world be the best hosts they can be. I am proud to say that our guest satisfaction is the highest it’s ever been.

SB: How do you find top talent?

CC: Success breeds success. Now Airbnb is the leading world hospitality company and our culture and values drive our decisions. We have 2,700 employees and 100 recruiters on staff. Of course it helps to have thousands wanting to work with us, but we start our talent assessment with core values - every candidate goes through a core values interview.

SB: How do you continue to disrupt your industry?

CC: We have to disrupt ourselves before we can disrupt the industry and that begins with looking beyond where we are right now. My advice would be to talk to people outside the industry you’re in and find your blind spots. Be evangelical about what you do. You don’t succeed by meeting customer expectations – you have to go beyond and imagine their unrecognized needs. Highly successful companies know how to increase the intimacy of their customer relationships, and they surprise and delight them with something unrecognized. Reinforce the emotional connection between you and your customers to help them meet their highest goals.

SB: What’s next?

CC: I am constantly curious. I was curious about tech so I joined Airbnb. In 2013, we were booking 8 million room nights a year and now it’s up to 150 million. I was drawn in by the combination of home-sharing, tech, and startup culture. I will continue to work at transformation and coaching others to find their path, always reaching for new work-life fit experiences.

 Conclusion

Many of us are working in virtual teams and organizations across the globe. Chip’s reminder is an important one: to be smart in today’s workforce means not just understanding people but to also understand ourselves. Are you investing in you and the intangible relationships inside and outside of your organization? Are you caught up in the tangibles of day-to-day? What are you curious about? Let us know what you are learning!

April 20, 2016 - No Comments!

March Newsletter 2016 – Leading From the Inside Out: Update with Jeremy Hunter

JeremyThis month we sat down with our friend and thought partner, Jeremy Hunter, to explore ways leaders develop themselves while retaining their humanity in the face of monumental change in the workplace.

Jeremy Hunter, PhD is the Founding Director of the Executive Mind Leadership Institute as well as Associate Professor of Practice at the Peter F. Drucker Graduate School of Management at Claremont Graduate University.  He creates and teaches The Executive Mind, a series of demanding and transformative executive education programs. They are dedicated to Drucker’s assertion that “You cannot manage other people unless you manage yourself first.”  He also co-leads the Leading Mindfully Executive Education program at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business.

Jeremy balances a full portfolio of teaching, writing, speaking and consulting with the most important role, being a new dad!  He has designed and led leadership development programs for Fortune 200 and Fortune 50 organizations in aerospace, banking, research, finance, accounting, the arts and civic non-profits.

S. Benjamins:  Jeremy, it has been some time since we caught up with you! What are you up to in 2016? 

Jeremy Hunter: It has been an exciting year so far! More leaders are realizing that to positively face all the demands and distractions coming at them, they must learn new skills. They are learning to focus better and help their teams stay focused. They are learning to better manage their reactions to all the “incoming” coming their way. Executives handle challenges and take on more work than ever while also wanting to maintain a healthy personal and family life.

As Founding Director of the new Executive Mind Leadership Institute, I am focused on the practical inner development of executives. It is the first of its kind on the West Coast and builds on the Drucker School’s leadership position of helping executives learn skills to up their game to be more productive while also enjoying greater well-being. The institute is supported by a team of Drucker faculty who believe in the power of human development for organizational success. Our goal is to cultivate the inner skills of executives and offer public and niche programs to help them thrive in an increasingly arduous environment.

 

SB:  What do you hope the Executive Mind Leadership Institute will provide? 

JH: The Executive Mind Leadership Institute is built on idea that leaders have to cultivate their minds in a different way to flourish in this turbulent environment. I have been teaching executives for 13 years and at the core of that is something called mindfulness, which is now recognized as a powerful solution for facing an unrelenting and chaotic business environment. Many talented leaders work hard but would like more tools to meet demands in this pace of change and more effectively address the contemporary business environment.

 

SB: In regards to your consulting, what do you think makes clients call you for help? 

JH: A few things come to mind. First, leaders now realize that their quality of self-awareness impacts the success of their organizations. To be effective now, they have to be more than just skilled at the technical aspects of what they do. They also want to increase their capacity to stay focused in a distracting environment, or approach challenges in fresh ways to be more competitive. They also know how important it is to create a culture that attracts and keeps talent. Managing is no longer just about the kind of work people do, but it is about the “why and how” as well.

Secondly, forward-thinking leaders see the nature of work is changing. Good work now demands the ability to connect to one another in more sophisticated ways. Better solutions arise from better connections with one another. My last client was a highly technical organization that understood through enhancing their ability to have higher-value conversations they gain a competitive advantage. The work we did improved the tenor and quality of their meetings which resulted in clearer communication and forward-moving action.

Lastly, work has become more stressful and firms want useful ways to deal with it. I hear so many people describe their work by using war metaphors. They walked in the office braced for battle and already exhausted.

 

SB: Are you seeing changes in leadership development? 

JH: Yes, and part of that is the new generation of leadership. When I first started this work 13+ years ago it was not a foregone conclusion that leaders had develop themselves internally to be effective externally. Now, we know that research supports the idea that healthy leaders who understand and manage themselves lead more effectively.

 

SB: We see in our search work that Hiring Managers want a long list of skills; however, more place equal importance on “fit”. Are your clients doing this? 

JH: Yes, it’s the “do they play well with others” question. To answer the “fit” question, you need a set of tools that give employees the opportunity to display strengths and improve weaknesses. A “diamond in the rough” candidate can survive and thrive with a strong set of tools to help them develop. Survival is about continually adapting to change, not about perfection.


I’d personally love to see companies replace their fit assessments with a real life situation. Instead of measuring someone’s ability to be flexible via an assessment, take them to lunch and have the waiter mess up their order. Then you would really see how they handle situations that require flexibility!

 

SB: Between being a new father, teaching, consulting, writing and the Institute how do you keep all the balls in the air? 

JH: I have to practice what I preach! Every morning I meditate for 40 minutes to an hour. It is a way for me to set the tone of the day and let things unfold more calmly. I also take vacations where I get to decidedly disconnect from work.

 

SB: I love that. What have you learned about yourself this past year?

JH: Beyond practicing what I preach, I have learned to take paths that challenge me. It allows me to actively practice adapting and staying in the moment with the challenge. We all go through difficulties and many of us prefer to take the path most easily traveled, but I have found taking the path outside comfort zones offers better solutions in the end.

We can thrive and have a high quality of life and performance, but it does take work. Right now we live in a world where people think the answer to productivity is technology. The root of productivity is not technology. Productivity happens because people develop capacities between and within themselves to perform better.

 

Our final considerations. . .

Just as medicine is shifting from reactive treatments to pro-active wellness, more organizations are shifting to well-being at work. Jeremy has worked with enlightened CEO’s who are now seeing that building a healthy culture starts with the leader. Those that self reflect know how to shift attention and get better results. 


The conversation at the leadership table is changing. When it is more human and honest – the research shows better results.  The human agenda is now more centered than ever on values, leadership, talent management, motivation and learning.  This is a huge sign that leading indicators for success start with leaders who understand what matters from the inside out.

 

March 4, 2016 - No Comments!

SBCo February Newsletter – Towards a Grounded Leadership

This month we sat down with Kristie Griffin, Director of Talent Acquisition for our wonderful client, Dignity Health. With a compelling trajectory of moving from big tech to healthcare, Kristie exemplifies a kind of agency that leadership expert and author, Bob Rosen, defines as grounded. Kristie’s drive to balance her personal and professional goals have fostered a flourishing career path that welcomed change. It reminds us of the importance as leaders to look inward as much as outward.

 

How did you come to working in the “people business”?

Before I knew the people business was my niche, I was a student athlete at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo on a full basketball scholarship. It was a constant balance, competing on the court, leading as a team captain and figuring out what my future held. I knew, since the time I was twelve, that I wanted to be a senior leader of a company. Graduating with a degree in Business, I began my career as a Technical Consultant for Deloitte and then transitioned into my first HR role, as a college recruiter for Stryker Corporation.

 

After working at tech giants like Google and Microsoft, what brought you to Dignity?

If you look at my career progression, I focused on personal growth, learning and reprioritization when needed. From Google to Dignity, where I now lead a talent acquisition team, I have gone through some major transformations. On the family front, while at Google I KG_Picwent from having two children to four. This shifted my mindset to a place where I wanted to go from fast track to being present in life as wife, mother and employee in an environment that did not operate at burnout pace. After 5 years I made the very hard decision to leave Google and join Microsoft who provided me the opportunity to work on complex business challenges, manage a large team and work 100% remotely from home.

That was the first big shift and it was amazing. I managed a team of thirty, including three managers, and I expanded my scope to a global reach. As a co-lead for all the staffing managers at Microsoft (over 100 employees), I learned from experts, experienced exciting career growth and most importantly, was able to balance and thrive in my personal and professional life.

The next huge shift was to move our family out of Silicon Valley. After a wonderful move to Sacramento, while at Microsoft, I took the next step towards community involvement and was looking for a work culture of purpose. This led me to Dignity.

 

Dignity’s core values revolve around ideas of compassion, humankind and advocacy.

How can a company shift their culture to promote a philosophy of compassion that’s not a “nice to have,” but a “must have.”

It has to start at the top. It can’t only be a grassroots effort and happen organically without buy-in from executive leadership first. Creating a very deliberate action plan and communication strategy is essential and hiring practices should engage people authentically. That’s why our function is so critical. We work closely with leaders to ensure that our talent attraction strategies and interview practices focus not only on the technical aspect of a job but also key behavioral attributes. This ensures that every person we hire is aligned to the company’s mission, vision and values.

 

What are you most proud of accomplishing this past year? 

I’m the most proud of defining and building a team that values and operates collaboratively and doesn’t engage in silo mentality. It is about partnership and honest relationships, both professionally and personally. I was just explaining to my daughter the relationship between team sports and work based teams. It’s very clear to me the correlation between team unity, team chemistry, team bonding kristieand being a leader that motivates your team to peak performance. And that’s not just applicable to athletics. It’s very applicable to professional life. I take that team concept and apply it to my work every day. We’re only as strong as our weakest link. How can we optimize the work we do together and build synergy? What are the steps we need to take to build a world class organization? What can I do different as your leader to help us achieve our collective goals? That’s my biggest accomplishment. Creating a team and helping define how we can win together and support each other.

 

What is on your challenge for 2016? 

What keeps me up at night is working towards, and being a critical voice for shifting culture. It’s something I can’t do by myself. It’s something I can express my passion about and share data to support the notion, but it takes a partnership and a team approach across multiple business functions to really shift the culture. How can we prepare ourselves as a company to be a major competitor in the war for talent? With the looming mass exodus of baby boomers, we have to make sure that in health care, we are completely poised to capture the next generation of talent. We must first engage and acquire the talent and then manage and grow them. The culture of healthcare will continue to shift and it will be an on-going challenge to help shape and define the healthcare workforce of the future.

 

Any final thoughts?

I love that I work for a company who has a reputation of being a high-quality, values-driven system with a commitment to extending our mission of care and service to those in need.

We keep Hello Humankindess at the forefront and makes coming to work every day extremely enjoyable.

 

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading about Kristie’s mindful navigation as a leader from big tech to healthcare at Dignity. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by big picture planning and small-scaled daily demands, but we must not forget to look inward to ask ourselves if what we do every day is fulfilling what we value the most, not just as a leader, but as a human being.

January 7, 2016 - No Comments!

SBCo December Newsletter: Reflecting Back and Looking Forward

We are living in an increasingly connected world with incredible opportunities, tools and technologies to transform the work that gives us meaning. The growth in new-model companies presents challenges that excite the millennial and might frustrate the traditional leaders.

Our friends at the Institute of the Future in Palo Alto say, “In ten years, today’s 11-year-olds will be entering the workforce. Today’s 18-year-olds will be taking on positions of leadership in our largest institutions. What’s waiting for them when they get there? What will they expect? What does their experience of the world today tell us about how they’ll reshape our society (and our careers) tomorrow?”

Our team would like to thank you for your friendship, connections and participation in learning this year. We thought it would be fun to share our insights looking back and also looking ahead to 2025.

Kate Kjeell, Recruiting Practice Leader (SBCo team member since 2000):

  1. Greatest takeaway/lesson/aha moment of 2015 for you/SBCo?

Personalization of the recruiting message. Top talent wants an opportunity that speaks to them and piques their interest to learn more.

  1. What do you think will be the biggest trend in recruiting in 2016?

As the competition for talent heats up in a rebounding job market, the need to differentiate your job will be critical.  Your message, inmail, job postings will need to stand out in light of growing demand for talent.  Recruiting is now at the intersection of sales and marketing and needs to leverage the same approach in terms of content generation, analytics, talent networks, social and mobile recruiting.

  1. What will recruiting be like in 2025? 

I don’t think we will be recruiting for Spacley’s Sprockets and driving our flying cars. (Ala The Jetson’s) I do think that the nature of recruiting will change to be a marketplace where people advertise their skills and accept bids similar to eBay.  We are seeing glimmers of this with the growing flexible, free-agent workforce. Virtual workers and technology platforms enable visibility to interesting work across the globe.

Lisa Sutherland, Recruiting Consultant (SBCo team member since 2001):

  1. Greatest takeaway/lesson/aha moment of 2015 for you/SBCo?

    The greatest takeaway for me this year was learning from hiring managers who are assessing talent in entirely different ways. It is more about potential this year. With such hot demand leadership capabilities, it has been critical to be consultative and partner with our HR clients. This means refinin strategies real time.

  2. What do you think will be the biggest trend in recruiting in 2016?

    I see “grow from within” as the competitive advantage in our healthcare clients. Many key positions have a limited supply of experienced candidates. Developing internal talent and conducting career conversations signals the high performer that you are invested in them. They expect this.

  3. What will recruiting be like in 2025? 

    Recruiting in 2025 will be 4-5 generations working together and integrating those different styles into the workplace. There are already more women in the workplace by then we will see progress in tech companies and Boards.

Nicole Peguero, Recruiting Consultant (SBCo team member since 2014):

  1. Greatest takeaway/lesson/aha moment of 2015 for you/SBCo?

Recruiting processes are still a two way street with the edge towards the employee or worker. Not everyone wants to be an employee today. The importance of reputation and brand is alive and well as future talent is faced with significantly more opportunities than a year ago. It is a competitive talent driven market for sure.

  1. What do you think will be the biggest trend in recruiting in 2016?

Retaining the talent you have invested in will be the number one challenge for multi- dimensional generations at work.

  1. What will recruiting be like in 2025?

The majority of workers will shift to mostly millennials. Employers will need to play close attention to what this demographic desires. They look at work, life, career through different lens. Purpose driven, collaborative culture and flexible work arrangements will rule.  What will your company do to remain talent competitive in 2025 and beyond?

Corey Protzman, Marketing, Learning Events, Sourcing Coordinator (SBCo team member since 2013):

  1. Greatest takeaway/lesson/aha moment of 2015 for you/SBCo?

HR is at a pivotal point in its life cycle. As the economy continues to recover and new organizations sprout up across the world, the demand on “human capital” leaders is in constant flux. There is no longer a cookie cutter approach to HR/recruiting.

  1. What do you think will be the biggest trend in recruiting in 2016?

Personalized messaging for active, passive, and future candidates. No one is/will be
biting on the generic job description anymore because of the downpour of information individual’s process daily. It will not be about adding to the downpour, but standing out from it.

  1. What will recruiting be like in 2025?

Recruiting won’t be just an HR initiative in 2025. Every person in an organization will be a brand/job ambassador and candidates will be motivated to make a change by individuals empowering a company not generic, umbrella company- wide messaging. The best talent ambassadors will understand personalization and networks

Our Final Thoughts...

Do you recall the first few moments of 2015? If that is tough, how about going back to 2000?   The journey has been exciting, unpredictable, and tragic at times, but filled with change on every front in the human capital arena. Our focus shifted from retention to engagement; from big data to brain science and from innovation to de-constructing work.

As we look ahead to 2025 our journey will demand navigating beyond a world of employment. John Boudreau boldly states that the non-employment work arrangement will leverage us into project based, crowd sourcing, and free lancing like never before. One of our clients recently said, “future workers will just say no to traditional modes of work” and we need to be ready for that now.

What will the rites of passage be that young workers and enlightened business leaders take as they adapt to the shifting needs and opportunities of the future? There will be new stories and perspectives that reframe how we work, where we work, and coordinate across the globe.

As we reach the end of the year, we plan to take a moment to reflect on the lessons learned, the challenges ahead and greet the New Year with hope, resilience and a search for good. We wish you the same and more.

 

December 4, 2015 - No Comments!

SBCo November Newsletter: Purpose Driven Giving

This is a time of year when we are grateful for the people and work that surrounds us. Our good friend Rob Reindl transitioned from corporate life, as CHRO with Edwards Lifesciences, to a blended lifestyle that incorporates fascinating consulting work, giving to the community and sharing his leadership skills with others in unique ways.

Several years ago, Rob began looking at non-profits and the OneOC family offered impressive focus and purpose driven work helping other organizations give back and engage their employees in meaningful work.

In 2015, OneOC launched the Center for Business & Community Partnerships, which helps companies build and grow their giving and employee volunteer programs in order to maximize charitable activities and generate needed resources for local nonprofits.

We sat down with Rob Reindl, now Chairman of the Board for OneOC, to learn a little more about his role and their purpose. We found out that the Center has helped give companies a chance to make a difference in 2015 by supporting 91 organizations, creating 231 new projects and enabling 12,000+ hours of first time volunteer hours.

Reindl_DSC7314Sherry Benjamins (SB): Following a successful and rewarding career as CHRO with Edwards Lifesciences, what prompted you to get involved with OneOC?

Rob Reindl (RR): I was lucky to come from Edwards which was extraordinarily innovative and growth oriented. When I decided to retire I knew I couldn’t play golf every day and I wanted to contribute and give back to the community. I had developed these leadership skill sets during my career and saw no reason to let them go stale. There is something intrinsically rewarding about impacting your community.

I researched many non-profit organizations, but felt like my skill set would be valued and have the most impact on a really important cause in our community – helping companies build philanthropy and purpose driven cultures.

SB: Tell us more about your role as Chair for the Board within OneOC?

RR: I was on the board for about a year before I was approached to be the Chair. My main focus is attracting and retaining board members, guiding our meetings, influencing participation by board members and committee members, as well as leading the charge on fundraising.

SB: When you look back at the last year as the Chair, what have you enjoyed most?

RR: I loved the excitement around raising $500,000 for our Center of Business & Community Partnerships. It has been great to see the influence we are having in the first year of this Center’s evolution.

It is inspiring to see the high level of participation by companies and leaders. We are really compelled by the urgent unmet needs in Orange County. Half of the students in Orange County live in families making less than $40,000 a year, 1/3 are not insured or under insured, and 55% of 3rd graders in OC are reading below the proficiency level. Not many people realize the scope of unmet needs in Orange County. I like having a strong line of sight to meeting these needs.

SB: What is the challenge that companies face when they want to build purpose driven cultures?

RR: There is this heavy fixation on profit, especially for public companies. Most people don’t align volunteering and giving with meeting business objectives, but there is a business case of being purposeful. It’s been shown that there is a direct correlation between doing good in the community and doing well in business.

SB: It is not unusual to see the larger firms create foundations and participate actively. Do you see more mid-market companies doing this?

RR: Yes, a great example of a mid-market company seeing the ROI on doing good in the community is Fluidmaster. Fluidmaster has implemented a volunteer program and some relatively small giving initiatives, but have seen profits double and turnover reduce by 20% because of these programs. Employees stay at organizations with purpose. Most employees want to see their work make a difference and have impact.

SB: Where are you seeing the demands for “Growing Volunteerism”?

RR: OneOc is made up of two buckets - giving and volunteering. Volunteering is typically skill based, hands-on experiences. For instance, Disneyland selected approximately 26 employees to donate their skills to a non-profit for a few hours a month. The employees get to develop unique skills and the non-profits benefit from their expertise. It’s an amazing way to make employees feel like organizations care about their development AND care about the community.

Giving is made up of foundation creation, employee gift matching, disaster relief assistance, scholarships, and our gift cards.

SB: What is your advice for leaders/companies starting this journey if they have not created “do good” initiatives?

RR: My biggest recommendation is to think about how your values and skills align with a philanthropic organization. Do your research and talk to a few non-profits and their leadership. Find out how they contribute and what their mission is. Think about where you might contribute your skills and have influence. We find purpose when we are doing things we love, or attempting a new challenge and expressing our thoughts so that actions can be taken for a result greater than ourselves.

It is ok to start small. Build an aligned strategy between your organization and the non-profit you have identified. You don’t have to do large scale volunteering right away; start by giving gift cards for the holidays or participating in hands-on volunteering. Your energy and passion for this will grow and be contagious as others learn what you are involved in.

CONCLUSION

Most companies are seeking purpose AND profit today. We have to thank the Millennial generation who has moved the needle in this change. They seek out purpose in everything from what they buy to who they work for and relationships they seek. Of course, many generations value purpose. The younger generation has just accelerated this for us. In a time of more uncertainty than ever, we are looking for ways to help those in need and giving back makes sense.

We have entered a new economy, as Aaron Hurst describes in his book, The Purpose Economy. He lays out the context for how people and organizations are focused on value. Rob shared his story about how he found a way to line up his personal values with an organization that embraces those values in his community.

As you reflect on what matters to you most, consider giving in new ways. The great business challenge we face is not how to build a fine tuned machine, but how to build a human-centered organization that does good on all fronts.

August 28, 2015 - No Comments!

SBCo August Newsletter – Two Women Entrepreneurs: Talent Matters in Food & Film

This month we decided to highlight the creativity, impact and courage of two women entrepreneurs who are successfully using their strengths and passion to share their love of food and film.  Natasha Feldman and Julianna Strickland started their own company, Cinema & Spice, over five years ago and have been Best Friends, Producers, Directors, Writers, Hosts, and Goofballs ever since.

Cinema & Spice Productions makes web-based cooking shows. Natasha and Julianna have worked with a variety of companies including C&S tvYahoo, Kraft, Le Creuset, Keds, Warner Brothers, Lifetime, and KitchenAid to develop and create youthful and creative shows.

Their Webby Nominated Cooking Show, Cinema & Spice (C&S), has been featured in The LA Times,  Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, The Union Tribune, and on The Steve Harvey Show. Each episode  of C&S  is inspired by a movie or television show and features original recipes, useful kitchen tips, and ideas for  entertaining.

Sherry Benjamins (SB): It’s so great to chat with you Julianna and Natasha! Tell us how you started such an imaginative company?

Natasha Feldman (NF): I had just graduated from LMU and decided that I wanted to go to culinary school. Julianna had just graduated from USC with a film degree and we were both working in the same restaurant. At the time that I met Julianna I needed a roommate and she was looking to move out of her apartment, so we became roommates, co-workers, and friends.

We experimented in the kitchen and filmed these mini-episodes of us cooking. The first episode was horrible but we kept playing with it in the editing bay to see if we could create some structure and purpose. At first we thought just our friends and family would watch, but soon we were gaining a following.

Long story short, we started getting sponsors for our episodes and we eventually connected with Yahoo! and grew our business from there.

SB: What role do each of you play in the organization? Do you have a team to help you run this company?

Julianna Strickland (JS): Someday we may be lucky enough to have a full support staff, but for now it’s just the two of us and our freelance team. Natasha is the one who develops recipes, does the food styling and writes. I am all the things under the surface that allow our business to run.

For instance, I do all of the back-end production, accounting, hire the film crew and edit all copy.  And we like to do the creative brainstorming for each episode together. We are strategic about getting the best talent available to help us in areas where additional expertise is needed.

SB: Cinema & Spice does their own videos as well as videos for brands. Do brands approach you and just ask for a video?

NF: Yes, brands reach out to a platform, such as Yahoo!, AOL or a YouTube company, looking for content and we get the requests through the larger companies, usually.  Sometimes the request is for general concepts to see if they feel it fits in with their current landscape and needs, and other times it’s for full-blown productions. We have been fortunate to work with brands like Kraft, Le Creuset, Keds and KitchenAid.

SB: It is great to hear that you are able to inject some of your creativity into these very large organizations. How can corporations use a similar level of creativity (besides hiring you!)?

NF: Large companies can’t be afraid of the new; it’s no mystery that the world as we know it is changing. That doesn’t mean that companies should make rash decisions to completely alter their brand. Organizations are quick to “blow up” a process or initiative, but sometimes you just need to approach it in a new way.

We find companies often spend egregious amounts of money to work with big production houses and end up with a product that looks like everyone else and doesn’t break the mold. If you don’t hire someone that’s a little risky and don’t make a product that is a little risky, you won’t get the impactful result you were looking for.

SB: There is a lot of change happening right now as the millennial generation enters the workforce. You are both Millennials… any advice for organizations on how to “handle” your generation?

NF: It is really important to embrace the strengths of others and use their talent and perspectives to compliment or break out into something new. We see and honor the power of collaboration. It is pretty easy for Millennials to create a website and launch a company, but there is so much power in the wisdom and expertise of older generations. Technology changes, but the core needs and wants of people don’t change much. Millennials are a valuable asset to fill in the gap between the new technology and the established business.

JS: We are constantly at the crossroad between old and new. The tech space is all about the newest thing, but in the food world, established and authentic brands actually have respect from the consumer. There’s a similar crossroads within organizations between the newest thing (Millennials) and the established/respected business.

SB: You launched your own business in an industry that has a lot of big players. What drove you to take this step?

NF: I will say we were a little naïve to an extent because we had a dream and we decided to go for it. It certainly hasn’t been without consequence, but if you were to ask if we would do it over again, I think we would both certainly say yes.

SB: I am hearing more often these days from corporate professionals who say, “I am ready for a change because my work isn’t exciting or fun anymore. I need to find my purpose again.”

JS: If you choose something you love to do, you will always find the joy and purpose in it. We are lucky to be able to enjoy our work through creating our own episodes, making branded content for others, and volunteering to teach the next generation how to cook, both through our shows and at local food banks and low income housing around LA.

SB: What does 2016 look like for Cinema & Spice?

NF: In 2016 we want to continue to branch out with our production company. We meet so many brilliant people inside organizations as well as independent talent (comedians, actors, bloggers, etc.) that we want to partner with to produce their content. Watch for new episodes and productions that we hope inspire you to incorporate healthy eating into your lifestyle.

Our Thoughts…

Seek out talent the way Julianna and Natasha do for their business.  Imagine having the creativity, passion and trust in your workers so that they bring their best to your culture every day.  They get to work on something that did not exist yesterday. This dynamic duo is crafting a new on-line and social presence in a changing world.

They think creatively about how work gets done. This supports predictions that new models of work, worker and workplace have arrived.  Natasha and Julianna are just one example of young leaders who demonstrate that we have left behind “business as usual.”  Tap into your employee’s imagination and you may be thoroughly surprised what can be accomplished!

You can learn more about Cinema & Spice on their website, YouTube channel, or Instagram!