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August 23, 2016 - No Comments!

A World of Music & Meeting Points

hollywood bowlThe Hollywood Bowl is one of our favorite venues in Southern California.  Actually, it rivals most venues due to the magical setting and lovely evening breezes along with the most eclectic and amiable music lovers on the planet.

Sunday night we saw Yo-Yo Ma and his Silk Road band.  The historical silkroad was a series of land and sea trade routes that crisscrossed Eurasia, bringing the exchange of goods and innovations from Japan to the Mediterranean Sea for some 2,000 years, until the 14th century.

Now we have our own silk road and with artistic director Yo-Yo Ma, the Silk Road Ensemble visited California for an amazing and wide-ranging travelogue of music both traditional and new, suggesting a modern-day equivalent to the sort of cultural exchange that the old trade routes in centuries long gone by had experienced.

Has this group made a difference in peace and understanding around the world?  If we read the newspaper it might imply that we have not made a dent.  I agree with Richard Ginell's review in the LA Times.  He said, "This concert was ranked as one of the most fun." The Bowl looked totally sold out, the attendees were diverse, enthusiastic and totally into the music.  It was eclectic, energetic, joyous and memorable for a wonderful hot August night in Los Angeles.

Published by: Sherry Benjamins in Communication, Uncategorized
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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.


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!

June 14, 2015 - No Comments!

Manage Energy, Not Time.

Are you finding that you move from one crisis to another?  Are you racing through the day to somehow juggle it all? The digital age and all the change around us forces reactionary behavior.  I can see that in my colleagues and it concerns me. Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz in the "Power of Full Engagement," say that we have far more control over our energy than we realize.  They acknowledge that there is a fixed number of hours in the day but the quantity and quality of energy available is not.

The authors state that " Energy is our most precious resource. The more we take responsibility for the energy we bring to the world, the more empowered and productive we become. The more we blame others or external circumstances, the more negative and compromised our energy is likely to be."

I have noticed this challenge with attention, energy and engagement more and more with senior leaders.  I know that having been out of the corporate world personally, for over 15 years makes me less credible to say this, but I observe this in that many are less present than ever before.  It is really sad - they are missing a lot.  To be fully present the authors say, we must be “physically energized, emotionally connected, and mentally focused" beyond the immediate.  And what about renewal and re-energizing ourselves?

The energy you bring to yourself, your new employees and your current team matters. The employment picture is improving each day - the best talent expects leaders who are present.  They want feedback, learning opportunities and ways to engage.  We all want that.  The younger employees who are starting out their careers understand energy and revitalizing value.  Let's learn from them.  So, think about how you can start managing energy, not time.



October 16, 2014 - No Comments!

Happy Bosses Day!


Today (October 16th) is Bosses Day! We thought it would be nice to get on the hallmark holiday bandwagon and celebrate our founder and visionary, Sherry Benjamins. If you are reading this you have probably heard of the legend that is Sherry Benjamins. As one of our clients said recently, "If you are in HR in Orange County, LA, or Denver, Colorado, you know Sherry".  She has a knack for being the ultimate confidant, cheerleader, adviser, and friend to so many people. Some of us have known Sherry for decades and others have known Sherry for a much shorter time, but her imprint on our work, spirit, and career is the same. She is a magician at finding great talent, a commander in consulting, and an artist at bringing talent together.

Clients have often relied on Sherry to deliver results:

"Sherry is not only well networked but she can be relied on to deliver outstanding results. Sherry is a go-getter with a great attitude and manages a team that uses a flexible and cost effective recruiting model to partner with clients. She is truly a pro when it comes to developing an effective and customized recruiting strategy and model."

"I count Sherry as a valued mentor, colleague and friend and would highly recommend her company for the BEST solutions in the Talent Acquisition space."

"She understands what it takes to have a world class function and has helped many organizations strategically upgrade their organization by upgrading their staffing function. She is the best."

... and her employees look to Sherry as an industry expert and a true visionary:

"Sherry continually invests her heart and soul into the talent business. Her passion is infectious and our team has a level of respect for her that is unparalleled"

"Sherry has always inspired me to be the greatest consultant and partner to our clients as I can be. She has a depth of knowledge about HR that many could only dream of"

"Sherry has built her business on relationships and that makes a great atmosphere to work in. She gives me the tools I need to be successful in my job and is willing to try new things. She is authentic and genuine and I count it a privilege to have such a great boss and mentor!"

It is rare that a leader is able to consistently deliver results and build relationships the way Sherry has. We are eternally grateful to her for the amazing work she has done and continues to do. On behalf of the entire SBCo team, we wanted to wish our boss and very happy Bosses day!

Published by: admin in Uncategorized

September 13, 2014 - No Comments!

Does Habit Hinder Inspiration in HR?

I am reflecting on habit after one full month of entirely changing up my diet.  The good news, I did it with my husband.  We decided to shift our cooking and eating 360 degrees.  I now realize the habits that we left behind were just comfy routines and interfered with foodie creativity.   Eliminating carbohydrates was tough at first, but now the options are so vast that it is actually confusing at times.

How do we find the balance?  That is the key for each of us.  How does this relate to HR?  Has the function been operating in habit for too long?  I think so.  I can see where that works for the transactional functions or where CEO's view the value add of the administrative part of HR - but that is a very old habit.  What is incredibly exciting today is that HR can inspire how work gets done across the organization with strategy and technology.  This is game changing stuff.

I had the opportunity to visit one of my special clients this week to learn where they are in their workday HR implementation. The potential for raising strategic impact in HR is huge with this cloud based system.  The operating principles and service agreements will change (it will for any system) and more important, this will drive creative thinking and re-invention.  And, new habits will be created too.

HR is having to adapt to changing conditions and business needs along with new conversation with talent.  Start asking why?  What is important to stay the same and what must change?  What can managers be empowered to do and participate in that helps them be more effective and engaged too?

I have to admit that I miss the habit of having my Biscotti with coffee.  But now I am really enjoying that Cappuccino even more and who knows, those non-wheat muffins may just be the most delicious thing I have ever baked.  What are your habits in HR that you want to change?    cappuccino


Published by: admin in Management, Uncategorized
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February 14, 2014 - No Comments!

Business & Behavioral Sciences Intersect in Good Ways

picturefeb13  I attended a KPCC learning event this morning to see Jeremy Hunter, friend and respected Professor, Speaker and Mindfulness expert dialogue with Nick Udall, Organization and Culture Catalyst for global businesses committed to breakthrough by design.  They were wonderfully complementary voices on the topic of managing self and "holding space" for creativity in chaotic, changing, complex organizations.

There is a lot of talk recently about Mindfulness - it makes me feel hopeful and with curious about how this will take shape and change conversations at work and between individuals.  Jeremy is finding significant success in his EMBA classes at the Drucker School when focusing on the individual.  Rarely do we speak about "how it feels in the body" when we are in tense situations or dealing with people we don't trust yet but must work with on a daily basis.  He is teaching how we can create new patterns of thought, new behaviors and then achieve the results we want.

Nick Udall works with CEO's all over the world and he says their work is three things - "think, talk and hold space".  How are leaders doing these three things and do they make space for open discussion about what is known and equally about what is the unknown.  Innovation, Dr. Udall says, is the dance between the known and unknown, the conscious and unconscious - most find it hard to stay in that place that forces us to let go of status quo in order to think differently and break the old "we always did it that way"  syndrome.  Nick Udall has a new book out and it is fascinating, called "Riding the Creative Rollercoaster."  There are rich new words and concepts introduced to describe how creativity is evoked and the intersections between behavior and business innovation.

KPCC really understands provocative thought.  It was great to participate and meet new folks.  We had time at the end of the session to meet others in attendance and pair off to learn what others were observing in themselves in the time we were there.

I think most were present in the moments and the energy in the room was refreshing and more than one person said, " I feel engaged, open, more calm and optimistic."  Take that to your next meeting!


January 7, 2014 - No Comments!

Seven Lessons About Leading Change

Alex Dehgan, Chief Scientist & Director at the Office of Science &Technology, US Agency for International Developmemt recently published an article about the seven things he learned about leading change. As we enter a fresh year, it is important to look back on things learned and look forward to new change initiatives coming our way.


1. Dare Mighty Things. Dehgan suggests that the goals we set have to appeal to both the rational and emotional sides of human nature. Goals and expectations should be set to allow your team the space to do BIG things.

2. Consistency is Important. Especially in times of change, it is important to deliver consistency.  This may come in the form of  similar language, aligned practices, or united values. Consistency reduces skepticism and increases trust.

3. The Power of Architects. Dehgan's role was to serve as the Agency’s first dedicated Chief Scientist in two decades, but his actual job description was much closer to that of an architect. As he describes, "We built the architecture for a robust science and innovation ecosystem in the Agency, reversing the trend of the previous two decades that de-emphasized the technical strengths of the Agency." In some cases, the bureaucracy of an organization can become immutable to change over time, but strong leaders have the ability to change what is permissible and possible within an organization by developing an architecture that allows for innovation.

4. Find the Bright Spots. Elevate and Champion. Repeat. Dehgan uses the concept of "bright spots"  from Chip and Dan Heath's  book Switch as the concept for this point. Bright Spots are those employees willing to take a risk and raise their hand when others would not. As a leader, Alex needed to be a catalyst to help bring change to the Agency. Second, he was a customer service office for those who wanted to take on new approaches, but needed support. Third, he elevated and championed those who were willing to take the risks.

5. Innovation is Not Only About New Ideas. We recently had Rob Reindl present to our HRoundtable groups and he discussed the idea of developing a team that balances one another. A team of innovators can develop great ideas, but never produces any tangible product because they are too busy being the dreamers. A group of executors struggles to develop the grand innovations that make organizations successful, but is able to tell a dreamer when the idea is ready to become reality. The process of innovation takes the dreamers and the tangible executors to make reality.

6. Learn by Doing, Including By Failing. Experimentation is a natural part of innovation, but failure is rarely an accepted aspect of innovation. Dehgan suggests creating allies with other departments and enlisting a peer review system as a sounding board for innovation. How do you support innovation?

7. Be Fearless. For many of us there is that constant pressure to stay under budget, make a deadline, or work within a system. The struggle with that is, extraordinary ideas seldom comes from the mundane. Can we dare to take the jump into the unknown or move past the fear and towards the innovation?

You can read Alex Dehgan's article here.

Published by: sbcoadmin in Management, Uncategorized
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December 8, 2013 - No Comments!

Meaning or Money? What do Candidates want?

A recent NY times article reviewed a longitudinal study conducted by Jennifer L. Aaker that says meaning drives those millennials more than anything.  Meaning driven translates to being more concerned about "others."  Seeking happiness is associated with being more self-oriented — by being a “taker.” Are you interviewing takers or givers?

We can indeed feel happy, but in a surface way.  The real trend seen at the twenty something and thirty age group is the desire to connect to, be part of something that produces meaning - where there is a clear connection to giving and not taking.

When others were asked about having a meaning mind-set — they were found to be individuals who seek connections, give to others, and orient themselves to a larger purpose.  The result of this focus in improved well-being and enhanced effectiveness and even creativity.  The study that Jennifer Aaker led indicated that workers who find their jobs meaningful are more engaged.

So, what does this mean for Recruiters who are looking to identify those very bright, engaged young professionals - Are you speaking to them in a way so that they can see what the opportunity offers in "meaning."  Is the recruiting organization clearly articulating its purpose.  If not, figure this out or you could be trying to recruit that talent for a very long time.  You may even miss out while your competitors speak the language of "purpose, connection and making a difference."

Published by: sbcoadmin in Uncategorized
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November 10, 2013 - No Comments!

Leaders connect ideas through storytelling

We all get to offer up ideas to our boss or our colleagues.  Sometimes we revert to Powerpoint (PPT) to help communicate the idea and all the details.  Lately I see more leaders reducing their time in boring PPT's and more time in word pictures, video or simply telling a story.   Imagine sharing your idea with an amazing amount of emotion - enthusiasm and compelling emotion - the kind you experience in a great screenplay.

Robert McKee, the world's most recognized screenwriting lecturer and professor at USC, suggests we use story to persuade, engage and influence our employees to action.  CEO's are spending more time in communication coaching - learning about their emotional state when telling a story that might drive results in a new way.

Candidates can tell stories too - I recommend that they be practiced and they will truly set you apart.  Hiring Managers and search consultants will thank you.

I had the pleasure of attending a workshop facilitated by a highly respected friend and successful business leader, Peter Meyers.  He teaches "high stake communication and story telling" with some of the best theater and acting coaches ever.   We spent the first hour of our work together without any Powerpoint or notes.  Sounds scary but we learned a structure that supported telling a story.

Peter wrote a great book with simple ideas that helps you discover your inner voice and the story inside you that will convey an idea powerfully.  His book is As We Speak by Peter Meyers and Shann Nix.  A great tool.


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Published by: sbcoadmin in Management, Uncategorized