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May 19, 2018 - No Comments!

Education 2.0 with David Finegold, PhD

What will learning communities look like in the future?  Will universities transform themselves in light of the advancements in AI or robotics? What will students want to learn and how should their expectations be tailored to this new world of work? I met with a long-time friend, Dr. David Finegold, President of Chatham University, to listen to his perspective on these changes.

 Some of you may know David from his time at USC or the Keck Graduate Institute at Claremont before he navigated to the east coast with Rutgers and then onto some fascinating entrepreneurial ventures in the academic world. He has over 30 years of experience in higher education as a researcher, author, professor, academic dean, senior vice president and chief academic officer. He graduated summa cum laude from Harvard in 1985, and was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University, from which he received his DPhil in Politics in 1992. He has dedicated his career to education reform, the design of high-performance organizations, and extensive comparative research on education and skill-creation systems from around the world.  David’s story of his move to Chatham to focus on leadership is a fascinating one.


Sherry Benjamins: Congratulations on your role as President, Chatham University! Tell us about your path to this leadership role.

David Finegold: I have always been involved in advising students and have been open to where my career might lead.  I took assignments that I was passionate about and now it seems everything I have done prior to this has prepared me for the leadership work at Chatham.  I have a blend of working for large, complex Universities, like USC and Rutgers with thousands of students along with being at small, innovative campus environments such as Claremont. There were also entrepreneurial challenges at American Honors when I worked to grow an academic business. What makes Chatham unique is that it blends the big and the small:  I can make a personal impact given our relatively small size – 2,200 students – where I can get to know each faculty member and student. Yet we have a far more exciting work and complexity than most institutions our size: with three campuses, online innovation as well as focused and recognized success in our wellness and sustainability programs. Chatham offers over 40 undergraduate majors and over 20 graduate programs in sustainability, the health & lab sciences, business & communication, and the arts & humanities.

SB:  When you imagine the future of education, where do you see value and affordability?

DF: There is no doubt that access and affordability is critical, especially as we see the costs of a degree going up. As a private college we are addressing the challenges in several ways. First, we are doing more with scholarships and fellowships. Secondly, we are innovating creative ways to serve our students by looking at on and off campus options, such as online, cooperative arrangements with business and study abroad in order to expand our capacity. We have more part-time students, and are also very transfer-friendly, seeing the 2+2 path as a great way for students to lower the overall cost of getting a degree. Roughly 25% of our undergraduates transfer from a mix of community colleges and four-year universities. 

As we look to the future, there is a significant population of those over 50 who remain engaged and want to continue working, though perhaps in an entirely new career.  They are looking to have social impact and continuing to learn throughout their lives; we are in the early stage of exploring how we might best meet their needs.  Also, there is more with dual enrollment as we collaborate with high schools in order to help their students get a leg up on studies and their career goals at the university level.  

SB: Chatham is known as an innovator in areas such as, women in leadership, entrepreneurs launching new business, cooperatives and sustainability – what are your students asking for? 

DF: Students are attracted to our campuses for these innovative programs. Our Center for Women Entrepreneurship’s Women’s Business Center, ranked #1 in the country, offers experienced business owners the opportunity to engage with and enhance the work of women entrepreneurs.  We support internships and diverse work experiences which brings high quality business connections to the “eco-system of talent” in our region.  Students want good careers so that they can join or build companies that are socially responsible. They want a quality of life that supports their values and we have multiple ways to offer this through 60 undergraduate and graduate programs and innovative ways to deliver content and experience.

SB: How is technology influencing your longer term plans?

DF: Technology allows us to deliver strong online degree programs.  Chatham’s College for Continuing Education offers one of the largest and most successful Doctor of Nursing Practice programs in the US, serving working professionals across the country who wish to advance further in leadership roles. Students can also complete a range of other degrees with flexible and low-residency formats.  We also have business, psychology and nursing undergraduate online degrees, masters of creative and professional writing with a focused online production skill building capability and a doctorate of occupational therapy. 

We recognize the next wave of disruptive employment is at the intersection of AI, distributed learning and the internet.  One study suggests we are potentially going to see 2/3 of the US employment automated by 2030.  As one example, our University is already adapting to this new world by introducing a new interdisciplinary degree in “immersive media” or virtual reality.

SB: What is your advice to the new generation of talent? 

DF:  My advice to our students and the new generation of talent is that liberal arts continues to be very important.  Students want to go where they will learn the most and grow personally.  I do see a stressed generation across the system and at all abilities.  They are feeling anxiety, financial pressures and uncertainty.  They do have a social consciousness and want to make things better.   They are open to creative entrepreneurial options and have the platform to create global companies with the technology available.  They are not looking exclusively to larger corporations as a career choice.  It is ironic that the best education is returning to liberal arts for improving problem solving skills, using critical thinking, working in diverse teams, and learning to learn. These are high on the list of new literacies that matter. 


Learn more about Chatham on their website!

Published by: Sherry Benjamins in Blog, Newsletter

May 19, 2018 - No Comments!

Kelly Hoey and the Future of Learning and Connecting in the New Economy

Where do we learn to network? I think it is a natural curiosity to understand others, however for many of us, it might be pretty scary too. We are seeing that building connections is a new leadership literacy.  Kelly Hoey has a unique take on why and how this works. After reading her book, Build Your Dream Network: Forging Powerful Relationships in Hyper-connected World, I reached out to her on Linkedin to thank her and ask if we might connect in order to explore further. She graciously agreed and I am so glad she did!


Sherry Benjamins: Tell me about your career path and how you developed the many professional hats your wear, which have included a lawyer, a social media influencer, a start-up advisor, an investor, and an author?

Kelly Hoey: Networking has enabled me to make some interesting career changes. I went to law school in ’91 and was working in a very suit-oriented world. I had the good fortune of working at prestigious law firms and there was decorum and an expectation around how you treated clients and how you held yourself in the world.  It was the way you interacted with people in your firm and profession. In the legal community, we refer to it as “practicing” law: you never reach the destination of expertise, but instead are a life-long learner.  That enabled me to go from lawyer to law firm management. Back then it was an uncommon change for lawyers to make.

Looking back, everything I’ve done has come from a foundation of successfully jumping into something new and working it out. I jumped into the deep end when I moved into the start-up world, and it goes back to that idea of what do you want to be known for?  What’s the reputation that you hold out to the world?  How do you interact with people?  A couple of women I respected had the idea for a start-up accelerator. They needed a third co-founder and when asking their network for anyone with a particular skillset, my name kept coming up. This is how opportunities happen.  Sometimes it means doing things that don’t make sense on paper.  Did it make sense for a lawyer with expertise in finance who had no experience in start-ups take on this new world?  I believe that it is not about what you know or who you know, but instead who knows what you know. That’s what can move one along their career.   

SB: Was it rare for a woman to be in investing at this time?  

KH: In late 2011, there were few investors committed to women led ventures.  Looking back, it was an overlooked and undervalued opportunity. Our idea was that “if you boys won’t invest in women, we will”.  It was a great thing to start and also a great thing to stop participating in when the time was right.  The realization though, came from the power of an entrepreneurial mindset.  I learned that even if you’re an employee, you should assume that mindset. Give yourself 1, 2 or 3 years to try something and ask yourself if it’s a long term venture and if not walk away.

SB: What did you learn from your start-up experience with Women Innovate, the NY accelerator?

KH: It was the best MBA learning experience I could have. It also affirmed my strengths as a business woman.  We can ask ourselves in our own careers: what am I really good at? What rocks my world?  Where’s the universe sending me a signal? For me, I realized that happens when I get handed big, bold ambitious projects with limited resources and somehow I make it happen. That was also the case in Law Firm management. So rather than thinking “outside of the box”, I like to get in the box and figure out a creative way through the problem. 

SB: In the forward to your book, Tom Peters says you have written about “revolution” not networking. What do you think he meant by that? 

KH: For Tom, its always been about the people. When you read the word “network” in a book title, you go to a certain place. Tom realized the book is about careers and ambitions and the decent human being in a digital age. It has everything and nothing to do with what we traditionally think about networking. It has to do with the importance of putting people first. Even though we are in an economic and industrial revolution with upheaval and uncertainty, the one thing that is more certain than ever is that our human relationships and people skills are more essential and valuable than ever before.

SB: How will building connections change in the future?

KH: We’re at an interesting inflection point because all generations are struggling with how to make meaningful connections. The more comfortable we get in being uncomfortable with how we make relationships is the first step to building strong, viable relationships and vibrant networks. The more we realize that these things can grow via a conference call, in person, or otherwise. It’s not one versus the other, it’s everything. The more we are genuinely, authentically ourselves, regardless of platform, the more we remember that it’s a real human being with a messy complicated life on the other end.  We are not just a user or a follower. To understand this is to become better human beings. 

SB: Talent forecasters say that “on demand” curated networks of people will replace the need to recruit. What’s your perspective on that?

KH: As long as you’ve got diversity, in the fullest sense of the word, the idea that people bring their whole network to their environment may solve some of the challenges in recruiting.  However, this rarely happens.   The notion that we’ll use these curated networks and also be aware of our blind spots in order to ensure diversity, could bring better problem solving, creativity, analytical thinking and more to our organizations. 

SB: What is your advice for the next generation of talent?

KH: I’m pausing for a second because don’t we say that every generation is going to be different and more difficult than the last? I’m thinking about Mr. Zuckerberg and congress. Tech companies were supposed to act differently, but when you think about it, he’s created a company that operates like the rest of them. You think about companies acting in extraordinary ways and they aren’t run by Millennials. It’s Patagonia or Ray Anderson of Interface Inc. When I think of revolutionary business leaders, it’s a bunch of older white guys and it’s kind of tragic. Why put pressure on a younger generation rather than look at it and say, we all have a responsibility to make this a success and strengthen how we interact and how we understand each other.

For the younger generation, I would say: It’s fine to have your way of doing things. We all have our preferences. Understand the environment you’re going into. Understand that you’re going to need to flex. You’re going to alter your choices. Know what your values are and what is most important to you so when you step into a workplace, you know which stuff you have to compromise on and which stuff you don’t. 


In closing, Kelly may be wired to connect the networking dots, but you can be too! I recommend reading her book and consider checking out her Creative Lives Program on June 6th. 

Don’t relegate networking to the bottom of your list.  If you want to pursue your dream career, networking must become a priority. It is about understanding others, how you add value to them and in return for yourself too.

Published by: Sherry Benjamins in Blog, Newsletter

April 17, 2018 - No Comments!

April Newsletter: Bill Carpou and Building the SoCal of Tomorrow

Bill Carpou, CEO of OCTANe, is driving innovation in OC and the entire Southern California region. We have some of the nation’s best engineering talent and top ranked universities as well as a diverse community of investors and innovators. Bill met with us to share his perspective on his leadership path as well as what it means to help create the SoCal of tomorrow. That means growing entrepreneurs and companies, but most importantly fueling the growth of jobs in our community.

Sherry Benjamins: How did you get into the business of transforming companies?

Bill Carpou: My career started in sales, working at Xerox so growth has always been part of my DNA... For 16 years I was focused on sales management with a responsibility for regional teams. I then joined Ikon Office Solutions, which was an organization that required significant transformation. It brought me out to the west coast and the change forced me to think about the people I wanted to work with and what strategy needed to be implemented. I learned your gut instincts are generally accurate. That was in ’98 and from that point forward, I realized the need to have a sound strategy and surround myself with great people.

SB: Was there an aspect of this journey that prepared you for this role?

BC: It’s been three years this week! I don’t know if there’s ever a single event that prepares you to be a CEO. From my perspective, it’d be the sales and customer focus at Xerox, the leadership and people development at Ikon, and the performance and accountability I learned at Blackstone. I pull something from each of them every day.

SB: Let’s talk about Orange County and the transformation that’s been happening in our region. The Chapman report for instance discusses significant changes in our  economy. How is Octane viewing this future?

BC: It’s a collaborative effort. While OCTANe is a key convening organization (that pulls resources together), there’s no single organization that can lead this transformation across the board. It’s important because on the opposite end you can have complete anarchy, absent of leadership. I believe a handful of organizations should lead in their respected areas of influence and competence. It’s important to underscore the collaboration that’s required. What we need to accomplish is bigger than any one organization. We bring organizations together in an ecosystem that focuses on tech and medtech and we’ve established performance metrics as part of our Vision 2025 strategy. The creation of high paying jobs is our top priority and we’ve forecasted 22,000 jobs by 2025. Jobs result in both economic vitality and sustainability. I would like OCTANe to be known for it’s high impact to our community which will occur as we increase the inflow of capital and provide greater operational expertise for early stage and small – mid size companies.

SB: 22,000 is a big number!  What are the hurdles to overcome?  

BC:  We’ve created an achievable forecast. And we're on track! Our financial model is based upon an assumption that as a non- profit organization our base of support continues to grow moderately. Any reduction of sponsors and partners would be an issue. The second area is additional funding to increase resources that will create hyper growth. It’s actually pretty simple, we have the process and model in place.  What we need are more resources to execute the strategy; we need more people!

SB: And funding?

BC: Providing capital to early stage companies is the primary focus of our LaunchPad accelerator. Access to capital remains our priority and we have expanded our relationships with institutional and non-institutional investors, not just on the west coast but in major money centers such as New York, Boston, London and parts of Asia.

SB: Companies should be knocking on your door! Looking at what’s happening in OC and the need for new business and innovation,  I’m hoping this will happen for you and our community. 

BC: You’re right! We’ve always been under branded and that is changing. We’ve gotten our story out there more in the past 18 months, however you’d think there’d be a line around the block waiting to get into OCTANe! 86% of the companies that come through our accelerator get funded and 88% of those companies are still operational. These are incredible statistics that reveal the high quality of our portfolio companies.

SB: What is your advice to innovators / future leaders who are really serious about doing their own thing? 

BC: Seek as much input as you can. Orange County has a terrific ecosystem, however it’s not quite as intuitive as other regions. Engage in events. Learn of the organizations that can support your growth. Pick a strong team and be willing to accept constructive feedback. Companies that follow what’s going on in their community are going to have a much greater success rate.

SB: Is there a roadmap for this?

BC:  We recently created a roadmap, directing organizations into the ecosystem by working with them and introducing them to early-stage incubators. The next step is for them to engage our LaunchPad SBDC accelerator and then Growth Services which will enable them to grow and scale faster.

SB: Are there places in the country where this kind of convergence of resources occurs? 

BC: The Bay Area is the most intuitive. Boston and New York are strong. Austin and Dallas are growing as is Salt Lake City. What’s interesting about SoCal is that we have all the ingredients here, it’s just not as intuitive. You’ve got to peel it back and know where to go. Recently we have created a coalition of like minded organizations to bring resources across all of Southern California, as that accelerates I have no doubt we will be seen as a top choice for companies to start and many companies to locate into.

SB: What have you learned about yourself in this three-year path so far?

BC: I don’t like a set routine. I get bored fairly quickly so I prefer every day to be different. OCTANe has provided that for me. I enjoy building teams, being accountable, and establishing the culture  to grow companies and jobs. I enjoy coming to work every day and feel like it’s an opportunity to give back to the community with the experiences that I’ve been fortunate enough to have. We are offering leadership to an objective that’s bigger than any one organization. It’s pulling our community together in powerful ways.


For those interested, the OCTANe Technology Innovation Forum (TIF) will be from May 31 to June 1 at the Newport Beach Marriott and Resort. The theme is Building the SoCal of Tomorrow and it will focus on the importance of innovation and growth. You can find more about TIF along with the detailed agenda at www.TIF2018.com

Published by: Sherry Benjamins in Blog, Newsletter

April 17, 2018 - No Comments!

April Newsletter: Artificial Intelligence and Business Intelligence with Gene Tange

Everyone is talking about artificial intelligence. It has leapt into the consciousnesses of many, including CEOs and today’s leaders. As it becomes a reality for many of us, there's been a focus on how to raise our workers' abilities to learn and improve. In the face of such a big change, how can we realize better outcomes, stronger growth, and the ability to compete for the best talent? The journey may begin by understanding the islands of disconnected data that exist within our companies.

With all the discussion about human and intelligent machines, I reached out to my friend and highly respected business owner, Gene Tange, CEO of PearlHPS. Gene’s company, based in the bay area, is a cloud-enabled predictive analytics firm shaking up how we predict the successes of teams. He helped me understand this arena and the technological and cultural accelerations occurring that will determine the winners and losers as we move forward.

Sherry Benjamins:  What are CEOs talking about in the context of BI/AI?

Gene Tange: Business Intelligence is the use of data to derive insights. There are some misused terms in AI. In order to simplify it, think of AI as a way to do research and build a capability which uses tools to look at data. When it comes to thinking about AI, I’m meeting CEOs who are in three camps. The first, which makes up about 70%, are listening and engaged in learning. There’s a 20% camp that's doing something about it; building an AI team, applying tools and looking at ways to strengthen business outcomes. And then the last camp, which makes up around 10% or less, are companies like Netflix or LinkedIn that are already transforming how their companies work. They're determining how to derive value to the business. This means improving revenue, net income or reducing cost.

SB: What attracts C levels to use AI/BI?  What are the applications?

GT: A joint venture between Avanade, Accenture & Microsoft produced a study of 500 business leaders looking at smart technologies that will deliver ROI and game changing solutions.  They talked about doing business in this competitive environment in three areas of impact: sales revenue, financials, and business execution.  This last category is where the people and human impact applications are studied.

CEOs know that most acquisitions don’t get the results they set out to achieve. Building human expertise inside their organizations is critical and the stakes are high to get this right. Five years ago we would have looked to the single individual leader to get the “execution plan” right.  Today it is all about a cross-functional team and their performance.

SB: How will CEOs prepare their organization for this new intelligent technology machine age? 

This is a massive challenge and demand is exceeding supply. Right now, there are over 10,000 openings in the US for Data Scientists yet we don’t yet have the capability to fill those needs. Our client, the CEO will look at where the biggest impact can be in his/her organization so that there is a prioritization of need. They will experiment with solutions that tackle a specific issue. Is there a tool that might advance a product release into a competitive market or accelerate an acquisition’s track record? It is easier to start in one segment and expand to other areas once there is success. A good example of one early introduction is the launch of Amazon Go's pilot store early this year in Seattle. It is the first semi automated retail store. No checkers or lines!  You take the product off the shelf and walk out and the application automatically charges your account. It also tracks inventory, buying habits and a host of other bits of information to make your buying experience better.

SB: How will HR move forward in this arena?

GT: The HR function is not moving as fast here as other functions. They have historically focused on tactical initiatives in Total Rewards, Talent Acquisition and Development. The cross-over to a business outcome with measurement on the impact to the bottom line will shift them from tactic to strategy. Teams are the source of most complex business outcomes. This seems obvious but it is a critical revelation. Data that provides insight into team performance in a predictive manner will change the conversation and credibility of HR. I see more CEOs looking at resource allocation and making sure that HR is focused on the core drivers of business.

Concluding Comments

Just a few years ago, who would have thought that data initiatives would have created platforms with tools that can talk to you or predict the operational success of a team launching a new product? Imagine the culture change in companies that are implementing these predictive execution tools that Gene has developed in his company. The good news is that this work will elevate our role and add value to the business if we boldly go into this future. Do you have an analytics function? Lead the way in this effort and reimagine your work. Ask the tough questions about your company’s readiness to compete and join the winners in this landscape.

Published by: Sherry Benjamins in Blog, Newsletter

April 17, 2018 - No Comments!

April Newsletter: Amy Sfreddo and the Importance of Social Capital

Companies growing social capital makes a Difference

Our community is known for its entrepreneurial growth in technology, life sciences, medical device, cyber security and more. There is another dimension to this growth which transcends across all business and that is “doing good” in the community.  As a Board member of OneOC, I am learning a lot about companies that are seeing bottom line results and improved employee engagement in doing good work and doing good in the community. I met with my board member colleague, Amy Sfreddo, Philanthropy Publications Director, at the Orange County Business Journal, to learn about her work and her leadership in how companies are getting recognized for their impact.

Sherry Benjamins: What led you to working with companies that embrace purpose?

Amy Sfreddo:  When I transitioned my business journal career from the bay area to Southern California in 2005, I joined the Orange County Business Journal with a primary responsibility of helping nonprofits with their marketing and donor outreach. Over time, I created and managed four different annual nonprofit publications to help build more awareness and support of the OC nonprofit community. My goal continues to be helping grow our impact and seeing the difference we can make in supporting community minded businesses and incredible non-profits in our county.

SB: Where do you see the greatest opportunity for impact?

AS: There are so many small to mid-size companies that see the power of engaging their employees in something greater than themselves. Some have CEO role models who know the value of connecting their mission to something bigger. In a strong economy like this one, having a clear “social good” platform to communicate gives your talent a reason to stay and/or join you. We know that the millennials place giving and volunteering high on the list of criteria when deciding where to work and what to buy. We see an opportunity in having a company start small and link it to their mission.

SB: How might a company build on its success and its brand in giving?

AS:  You can set goals that move you forward in volunteering or giving initiatives and measure results. Learn about the non-profit organizations in our 2018 Giving Guide.   Create the stepping stones for growing this effort, engage your employees, share the success and ultimately be recognized for your work. The Civic50 provides a platform for this recognition. This is our second year in hosting the Civic 50 awards luncheon in partnership with OneOC. It is an opportunity to recognize the 50 most community-minded small, medium and large companies in OC. Civic 50 is based on an on-line survey that measures dimensions like employee time, talent or skills, investment and leadership and allows a company to apply for this recognition and be considered for the award. The survey is open from 4/16 to 6/29. Those selected are honored at an awards luncheon in October 11, 2018 at Hotel Irvine.

If you are interested in learning more feel free to reach out to Tiffany Bogle at tbogle@oneoc.org or access the survey and more details at http://www.oneoc.org/occivic50.

Published by: Sherry Benjamins in Blog, Newsletter

March 12, 2018 - No Comments!

A talk with Brandon Moreno, President of EverHive: A New Blended Workforce is Here

A tidal wave of change is coming that will make the way we work almost unrecognizable. There will be new ways to organize, recruit and manage.  Imagine having a seamless blend of high quality workers who work, on demand, to fill the talent needs of your company as it grows and changes. In this new future, which has already arrived for many, you have mastered this worker challenge and have a strategy to manage it proactively so that trusted relationships are built with the best individual and team players. Getting really good at this is no longer an option, it’s a necessity.

Those leading business today must figure out how to deliver value with new solutions.  Research states that already 40% percent of our workers are “non-employee” and are flexible on-demand skilled resources. Work will be delivered via platforms, projects, gigs, freelancers and technology has empowered us to be creative and solution driven.

Brandon Moreno, former HR & Talent Acquisition executive, now president of EverHive, is clearly ahead of the curve and helping organizations build strategy, processes and technologies to manage this growing blended worker cohort like no other services firm. His bottom line results are impressive. I was intrigued to learn more about Brandon’s perspective on the future.


Sherry Benjamins: Brandon, What led you to this business? 

Brandon Moreno: I have been involved in HR since 1993 and learned a lot from the leading companies that I was able to work with. Working with these business leaders and executives, we saw early on that if we did not add value to the business, we would be relegated to a merely transactional function.

The playbook for Talent Acquisition had to change. I am passionate about educating clients and elevating the conversation and actions to be taken around flexible, on demand highly skilled talent. The growing space of contingent workers captivated my attention and I decided to build a capability and solutions model to help companies manage these non-employee resources with a line of sight to improving the bottom line.

Sherry: How can managing the contingent workers impact productivity?

Brandon:  First, the growth in this segment is taking companies by surprise.  There are many organizations that seem to be running this ad hoc or with little priority on the program. We are seeing more CFO’s and CTO’s involved in the discussion along with Procurement, HR and heads of Talent Acquisition. We start with a client by understanding their current state, analyze spending and then partner with them to map out their future state of their entire end-to-end contingent worker program.  The goal is to architect and design a program that is customized but also efficient, effective and flexible.  There are many factors that impact productivity and creating base line metrics to manage this program sets the stage for meeting worker demand.  My goal is to help the client establish strategy, elevate and optimize their contingent worker function, achieve significant cost reductions, enhance compliance and streamline process.

Sherry: Why should the CEO pay attention to this change? 

Brandon: If a company’s non-employee workforce spending is growing (and many are in the $10 – 400 Million range), this has significant impact on the bottom line.  Surprisingly, there are many companies that do not have a handle on this aggregated cost.  Talent is the number one issue that keeps most leaders up at night and it’s their limiting factor for growth.  I understand how hard it is to predict what will be needed as the business changes, however, without a forward looking plan or integrated forecast, the CEO is reacting to changing demands and ad hoc solutions.  The ultimate goal is for organizations to have access to on-demand and flexible workers to complement their overall talent acquisition strategy.  Not only will this have cost benefits to the bottom line, but it frees up current employees to be more strategic and elevate overall business operations.

Sherry:  When launching this business, what have you learned that you didn’t expect you would?

Brandon:  I am most surprised in seeing the difficulty and fear that HR departments have in moving this conversation into a managed solution for action.  I understand this is a challenging problem for business leaders. Their positive intention is to get the work done with resources available.  I can see they have significantly less patience now compared to one year ago.  The fight for resources and the right talent is more intense now and addressing this requires a new mindset.  I am surprised that many say this is urgent, yet they are slow to act.

I have also learned that building trust, educating our clients and introducing tools that will help them start this work makes sense for many.  Others feel the criticality of an enterprise-wide solution.  Sometimes we take small steps to get them onboard.  Even smaller firms who see this tidal wave coming are better to build the platform now and think about contingent workers and unique skills required rather than wait until it is an imperative.

Sherry: What advice would you give business leaders today as they prepare for 2025?

Brandon:  Step outside of the comfort zone. Look at the talent challenges holistically and as though you are already in 2019 or 2020.  I know contingent workers have been around a long time but the growth in demand is taking many by surprise.  Ask your executives including HR to look ahead and be focused on running the business in pursuit of better outcomes and a strategic talent plan that eliminates ad hoc problem solving.  Five years from now, contingent workers will expect to be integrated into the workforce – an extension of your culture with a unique set of rewards that includes interesting and fulfilling work.

Concluding Comments

Leading the work in the future will profoundly change the world of HR.  Work will be deconstructed and dispersed with rewards being more short term and individualized. The organization will have an internal and external, permeable structure.  Kate Kjeell, SBC’s Managing Director facilitates a group of TA leaders in OC from premier companies.  She noted that managing a contingent workforce has been the top issue TA leaders have struggled with for the past three years. Awareness of the size, cost, liabilities and opportunities of this workforce is a significant catalyst for change.

To learn more about this worker and workplace change check out Brandon’s site and feel free to speak with him. (800) 945-6340, brandon@everhive.com.

http://everhive.com/

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Published by: Sherry Benjamins in Newsletter, Recruiting, Talent Economy, Uncategorized

March 12, 2018 - No Comments!

A Strategic Connection: SBC & EveryBusiness HR Essentials (EBHR)

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When two companies share a truly unique approach to their customers and are committed to the people side of business, why wouldn’t they team up? This year, S. Benjamins & Company (SBC) and EveryBusiness HR Essentials (EBHR) have agreed to a strategic partnership.  We believe that growing our shared resources will benefit our clients and teams.  Through this effort we are demonstrating the importance of openness and agility needed in business today.  SBC and EBHR are practicing what we preach.

We help organizations attract and hire great talent.  In addition to “finding the one”, we expand the conversation to include talent strategy and solutions beyond a single hire.  Sonya helps her clients embrace customized HR solutions at various key stages of their business growth.  Neither of us are a “one size fits all” firm and it is an exciting time to combine forces.

As we advise our clients about what workers want today and how they will thrive, we see less importance on hierarchy and more emphasis on reciprocity and creative collaboration.

How did we pair up? 

I met Sonya ten years ago.  We were hosting a learning event for HR leaders in transition and Sonya had just returned to California from a successful mid-west entrepreneurial venture.  She was looking for that next opportunity and what author Jenny Blake calls, “the pivot” to something new.  The successful pivot starts with a foundation of core values and understanding your strengths.  Sonya was entirely grounded on that front and was in the process of creating a vision for another chapter of her career in HR.  As  years passed, we developed a great relationship and exchanged ideas about our focus on the human side of business.  When she was ready to leave the corporate world and start her own company, we met to talk about the entrepreneurial life, which of course included the risks and rewards.

What I observed was Sonya’s quiet transparency, business savvy smarts and genuine positive spirit.  She was and remains open, curious and authentic about what matters.  She places purpose front and center.  EBHR cares about community, giving, learning and bringing the best ideas to her clients.  Our team values that too.  Most importantly we both approach our clients with a kind of care and commitment that I find energizing.  Together our firms support On Demand HR, Business Essentials (Work Design, Talent Strategy and Search) and Learning Forums/HRoundtables.

Our Plan

Kate Kjeell, our Managing Director and I are excited about this change and partnership with Sonya’s firm.  We’ll continue to focus on talent strategy and management search. That means finding our clients great leaders (in HR, Sales, Marketing, General Management, Operations) or helping them build their own capability to do that for themselves. For the past twenty years, we have utilized a project on-demand business model to deliver candidates and fill key management openings.  We augment our client’s existing Talent Acquisition function in a variety of ways.  Story telling in search is a key differentiator of ours.  We use creative approaches to help our clients tell their story to ensure we “find the one.”  Video, podcasts, marketing micro-sites are an example of the ways we increase our response rate with passive candidates.  The goal is to develop a high quality pool of talent for our client’s immediate and future needs.  It is all about meaningful and ongoing conversations.  We hope to hear from you to learn what you are up to and how we can stay connected and continue to learn from each other.

You can learn more about us at sbcompany.net & everybizhr.com!

Published by: Sherry Benjamins in Blog, Communication, Management, Newsletter, Recruiting, Talent Economy

January 10, 2018 - No Comments!

SBC January Newsletter — Joe Musselman – Learning about Leadership from The Honor Foundation Founder and CEO

January Newsletter:
Joe Musselman

 SBC January Newsletter — Joe Musselman – Learning about Leadership from The Honor Foundation Founder and CEO

Imagine what it’s like to be a Navy SEAL deployed in a country you probably

shouldn’t be in and conducting a mission that no one is supposed to know about. The amazing individuals from Special Operations are trained to do the impossible. We wouldn’t expect that someone with such a unique character and skill set would have any challenge in navigating a new career for themselves and their families?

These distinguished veterans live inside a standard that is exceptional in every dimension, yet when they move on to the next chapter of their life, they feel lost.  That is where The Honor Foundation comes in. I met with Joe Musselman, former Navy veteran and founder of this incredible non-profit organization that was specifically designed to serve the world’s most elite group of Special Operations Forces throughout their career transition. I learned from Joe that The Honor Foundation (THF) and its 15 week program (150 hours) is the most comprehensive career transition program for SEALS and Special Operators in the country.

I wanted to learn how Joe sees the leadership attributes these champions bring from their experiences and how he helps exemplary candidates chart a path to exemplary opportunities.

Sherry Benjamins: Joe, let’s talk about leadership.  What are the hard and soft leadership skills that you see critical in the future?
 
Joe Musselman: Frankly, hard skills are still important but becoming less relevant. The changes and pivots in business come without warning. In start-ups this is especially true. For example, there are multiple skill sets needed all at once. There's chaos, uncertainty, and adventure. One skill set is needed then another, and another, and these needs continue to grow. The individual must adapt and evolve their technical skills to leadership skills for those in charge of people, growth, and the vision of the business. Often the default is to find more technical skills but we know that as the company scales, the demand for balanced leaders who can inspire, coach and manage others is top priority.
 
SB: Why are soft skills even more critical now to success?  
 
JM:  Let me first say that successful organizations need to see themselves as technology businesses. This next wave of business is all about data, robotics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence.  Wouldn’t you want your most ethical and courageous leaders surrounding this new technology? Wouldn’t this give you a competitive advantage?
 
Success means being adaptive and agile.  We developed an assessment alongside UCSD and Stanford that helps us understand these personal readiness capabilities.  Our Fellows who graduate our program have rich life experience, cultural and emotional intelligence, not exactly technical or hard skill sets – so we suggest that CEOs let go of the traditional resume screen and be forward looking about what it takes to develop their people.  It’s not always about the hard skills, but instead a candidate with a core set of values that matches the organization’s mission.
 
Our Special Operators are trained to execute without the benefit of ever knowing what’s next, and even with continual and extensive training, a Navy SEAL knows to expect the unexpected and always operate inside a framework of strict values and guiding principles. I ask CEOs, how often do they find someone doing the right thing when they are not present? It is not grey. This is a very clear-cut question. Are they hiring leaders that know what doing the right thing always means? The bar remains high and our graduates know that mission matters as they have lived it everyday.
 
SB: What is missing in leaders today
 
JM: One of our core values at THF is “practicing artistry.” We find people who want to change the world. We ask our Fellows to be introspective first and ask themselves, “why do you matter?”  This needs to be asked of each of us more often.  Each individual seeks to achieve their own definition of excellence and they are truly artists in what they do and practice each day in the Teams.
 
SB: Are your graduates experiencing positive corporate cultures?
 
JM: We are proud of a 92% fulfillment rate. So yes, there are companies that understand the values of authenticity, fairness and purpose. They were harder to find than you think! We have only had 4 out of 167 that transitioned jobs within their first year of employment. All four cited reasons surrounding poor leadership, lack of vision, and the behavior was not aligned with the culture.
 
SB:  What have you learned about yourself on this journey?
 
JM:  The number one thing I’ve learned, what we all have learned at THF, is simply “be you”. We help our Fellows understand that they have the ability to stop trying to “be a role” and focus instead on being themselves. I personally have learned that it is not a bad thing to be a people pleaser. THF would not be here if I didn’t have and own that DNA. I am committed to making our Fellows a wild success and I want them to be fulfilled and happy. Their happiness is my commission. Everyone is encouraged to be who they are and be unwavering in that truth. The impact our Mission has on the lives and families of our graduates is remarkable. At graduation last week, one of the Fellows came up to me and said, “Joe, THF changed our family tree.” What he meant by that is he would not have had the opportunity to attend a top MBA program, interact with CEOs as mentors, or consider six-figure salaries if it weren't for THF. This is why we do this work at The Honor Foundation.

 

Concluding Comments
Do you want to change the world?  Joe had me reflecting on this notion of thinking big.  He asks the Navy SEAL, “why do you matter?” They have life experiences that we may never understand and they face the reality of knowing why they matter every day. Yet, when asked as they consider a professional transition, it requires more self-reflection than first imagined.

We can all benefit by answering that question for ourselves. Courage is a word that the Navy SEAL knows well. He runs bravely into battle with all his heart. In fact, the French root of the word courage is “heart.”

David Whyte, says that “courage is the measure of heartfelt participation with life, with another, with community or our work.”  It means that we can consciously live up to or into the things we care deeply about.  To be courageous as a SEAL or as a caring committed individual in this world is to stay close to the way we are made. So, why do you matter?

Featured Searches
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Director Tax, Smart & Final
HR Manager, Zenith Insurance

Recent Placements
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Reach us at 562 594 6426 or kate@sbcompany.net
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Published by: Corey Kachigan in Blog, Employee Engagement, Newsletter

March 2, 2017 - No Comments!

SBCo March Newsletter – Future Leaders

Great leaders often go through a process of figuring out who they are and what they want to achieve for themselves, their people and their customers. We spoke with Tammy Heermann, SVP in Leadership Transformation for Lee Hecht Harrison around the world. She shared her process of self-discovery and her work to help other leaders discover their path to navigate this high stakes business environment.

Sherry Benjamins: Tell us about your personal leadership journey?

Tammy Heermann: It started when I built the learning and development function from the ground up at a global software company. I started thinking about what goes into creating a strategic, people-centered plan. Then I had the opportunity to build a leadership development practice at a consulting company. During this time I was able to live my own journey as I taught others how to live theirs. Through 360 feedback research, I learned that women were perceived as less strategic then men. I saw it in my own 360 data. It required me to reflect and then shift my mindset and behaviors which resulted in successful promotions over the years.

SB: What did you do differently to make those promotions happen?

TH: I pushed my comfort level to delegate more to create the space for me to work “on” the business, not just “in” the business. I started to show up in meetings differently in how I communicated. I found better results when asking questions in a way that showed my thought process. I also learned how to speak with a point of view that was informed, assertive and confident. It was a very different way of just giving an opinion. I also dramatically shifted how I spent my time. I was better at what I said “yes” and “no” to. And finally, I started building valuable relationships. Leadership is about relationships and we shouldn’t feel guilty about doing coffees and lunches to build important relationships around, within, and outside of the business.

SB: What holds women back from self-awareness and making this shift?

TH: The biggest barrier is making the mental shift ourselves. A leader has to be courageous and be just as dedicated to their own personal leadership as they are to their teams and their customers. We are no good to others, if we aren’t good to ourselves. You can’t please everyone. You have to be OK that people may get angry or disagree with you. You have to let go of perfection and taking everything on yourself at work and at home. That’s the biggest shift that has to happen first.

SB: What has changed to make the advancement of women a front-and-center topic in businesses today?

TH: There are three things converging at this point in time. First, from an organizational standpoint, there have always been sectors that are proactive in advancing women such as tech, consulting and financial services. But there are many others that are being driven by grassroots efforts – speaking in town halls and challenging their leadership teams to create change. Customers too are challenging their suppliers to achieve diversity goals if they want to get or keep the business. Secondly, there’s political factors. There are news stories of gender reform: female leaders are being elected and women around the world are demanding change. Lastly, there are societal influences. For instance, for the Super Bowl, GoDaddy had new ads celebrating women in computing, which was very different from their earlier content. Society is expecting to see change. Everything is converging and it gives me hope.

SB: How can we accelerate progress? What can I do to start things with some teeth to it!

TH: If you want to have some teeth to your initiatives you have to treat this as a cultural shift in the organization. It’s common for companies to create networking events or implement policies just to check the box. These things don’t have a true impact because they don’t create real opportunities that women need to advance. You have to create a culture of accountability towards a diverse and inclusive workforce. Leading companies expect their leaders to be accountable for developing talent at all levels because it is just as important to the future of the company as it is meeting sales and financial goals. All the development programs and flex policies mean nothing if women hit conscious or unconscious barriers that are engrained in the culture.

SB: Looking back, do women want something different now than they did 10 years ago?

TH: I’m not sure that the wants of women have changed. I think it’s just more acceptable to push, to protest, to vote with your feet. Women in every generation have desired financial and educational freedom, fair treatment and equal opportunity for advancement. Today we are talking about it more, fighting for it more, and making different decisions about where we choose to work.

SB: Is there a reinvention of how we develop future leaders?

TH: There’s a big movement right now in how Millennials are pushing the way we work differently; work-life flexibility, choosing to work at organizations where they feel connected to a cause, or finding a culture that values feedback is high on their list. Millennials have gotten negative press for being demanding, but I think that other generations needed the same things too. It’s not that we have to do anything different; it’s that we have to do what we said we were going to do all along. Build accountability for giving feedback. Provide development opportunities and transfer knowledge. None of this is new. Today’s successful companies are modeling talent practices that should have been in place all along and now the rest of us are trying to catch up.

SB: Are there examples of earlier stage companies taking development seriously?

TH: I’m seeing it happen in pockets, but not nearly enough. Talent is a long game and when companies are in start-up mode, people investments are about getting the right technical talent to get the business off the ground and keep it afloat. It’s when they reach a size of around 100-200 that they realize that they need structure and great people leaders, which often the tech experts and entrepreneurs aren’t always great at. Early stage companies that “get it” understand that a longer term view is needed from the beginning, not just about the business plan, but the people that need to be brought in, developed and retained for growth. They are always asking, how can we make sure that great people see they have a future here?

February 6, 2017 - No Comments!

SBC February Newsletter: Learning from an Entrepreneur & Millennial Mindset

Ryan SBC FebruaryThis month, our creative director, Erik Benjamins, sat down with one of his close friends, Ryan Sheffer. Ryan is a Millennial entrepreneur and co-founder of Zero Slant, an AI-driven news agency that creates automated content from social media. His path from filmmaker and editor to programmer and entrepreneur is inspiring and representative of changes we see in the future of work. He’s crafted a unique path that’s been driven by asking ambitious questions about the future of our relationship to technology and the media. His highly successful blog has been a resource for other young entrepreneurs in the industry and beyond.

Erik Benjamins: How did you choose the path of entrepreneurship?

Ryan Sheffer: Up until I was applying for college, I thought that “becoming a business person” was the thing you did as a career. I didn’t know that becoming a filmmaker—or doing your own thing—could be a job. In my head, it seemed like something that others did. When I started to get into the technology industry about ten years later to start my own company, I didn’t know what venture capital was. I didn’t use the word entrepreneur to describe myself. I was just an editor doing my own thing. I had this inherent desire for freedom, but didn’t have a clear cut way to define it. I realized that the key to choosing a path was understanding that it’s there. We often define our ceiling because it’s what we’ve seen, what we know.

EB: When was that moment for you? When you shifted from working in the film industry to the tech industry?

RS: It was a process. I was always brought into the film industry as the tech person that you’d call when something was technically difficult. Around that same time, I made a New Year’s resolution to teach myself how to code. It made sense given my interest in the tech side of the film industry. A few months later I sat down with some coders and showed them what I built after dedicating a month to learning this new language and they thought it was pretty good. I walked away from that meeting thinking that this may be something I could do. It was a shift in perspective.

EB: Tell us about your interests in an open source education?

RS: Before teaching myself how to code, I taught myself how to use a camera. My desire to continually learn has objectively fueled my career path. When I first went out and tried to start a company, I felt like no one wanted to share the simple things. Everything I found online were either stories of great success or massive failures. There wasn’t any “brass tacks” information like what to do when hiring a lawyer. No one thinks these are interesting things to share, but it was all I wanted to know. I started a video series called 12 Months to share these brass tacks kinds of things I was learning as I was starting my own tech company. It didn’t do very well, but I did get a lot of emails from people thanking me for being open and honest about all the non-sexy stuff I had to go through.

My blog has been the most successful thing I’ve done in my career. It now gets hundreds of thousands of reads per year. My outlets for sharing these process, successes and failures have a lot to do with sharing outward, but also forcing myself to verbalize my process. It lets me understand and follow through on it.

EB: What have you learned about your professional trajectory thus far?

RS: I need to be building something ambitious. Success isn’t going to happen instantly so I want to build something that will light me up as I struggle through it. Setting ambitious goals lets me work as my best self. The most important thing for me is to pursue my own excitement about learning and discovering, pushing myself to be better and better.

EB: How do you see and engage with risk in your work?

RS:  I don’t see risk the way others might. With my first foray into the tech industry, I invested a lot of my own money I had been making as a filmmaker into a company that I eventually ended up shutting down. But I viewed that decision as an education. I could have spent the same amount of money for a masters or PhD, but I’d rather invest in this style of learning. That being said, I’m starting a family now and need to work in a more responsible way. Risk is important, but I also need to set hard deadlines. For example, I’m in the process of fundraising right now and if I don’t raise the amount I need, I’ll have to put the company on hold and find a job.

EB: What advice do you have for someone struggling with their identity as a worker, or someone interested in taking the non-obvious work path?

RS: If you find yourself working at a job and you feel like they can’t give you enough work to do and you have six other side projects going, you’re not an employee. You can either choose to refocus your energy towards being an employee or you can accept that this seems like the energy of someone who wants to start their own thing.

EB: How can upper management engage with entrepreneurial minded talent?

RS: I had an employee like this and my method was to put that person in charge of their own department. I gave them as much autonomy as I could without sacrificing the clarity of vision for the company. Once you identity someone with an entrepreneurial spirit you need to incentivize them with responsibility and autonomy. My experience in the film industry helped with this. The director is the dictator, but he or she surrounds themselves with department heads like lighting, costume, etc., that make large decisions without the director’s constant oversight. When it comes to managing Millennials, it’s about working with people who have a ton of passion and have a desire to have an ownership in what they do.

EB: Is this an experience that for you is generationally specific? 

RS: I don’t like using the phrase the “Millennial attitude”, but there is definitely an element of Millennials not wanting to hear you tell them your business. The counterpoint of empowering Millennials is that they may feel deserving of autonomy, but are unable to provide the output. The “Millennial attitude” lends itself to a side effect in which the second you micromanage, they are upset. It’s an attitude of “we do it differently and you don’t understand”. It may also have to do with the fact that jobs and work is shifting. For example, I don’t have folders and I don’t have an office. My whole company works remotely. There’s an element of needing to find people that work more comfortably in that environment, to be go getters and get stuff done. I think we’ll see a trend of a company having it’s separate sections run like individual companies.

EB: Lastly, who has been your influence or inspiration?

RS: My grandfather for always wanting to learn and my father for being the most dedicated family man I know.

Final Thoughts...

It never hurts to reflect on the powers, complexities, and new styles of the Millennial mentality as we continue flying into this new year.  It speaks to the changing nature of work and our ability to balance existing structures with entirely new ones so we can do our best work.