April 11, 2017 - No Comments!

Corey’s Story

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What I have always admired/loved about SBC is the authenticity of relationships that are created with clients/candidates/community members. Although the majority of our work is done virtually, there is still a very personal connection we make with those we interact with. Whether it’s the pro-bono work we do for non-profits or the recruiting work we do with Fortune 500 companies, our hearts are focused on the people side of business. I find that you can most prominently see the results of these personal relationships at our learning events – there are endless hugs, personal conversations and cutting edge thoughts being exchanged. It’s rare to find an organization that puts such an emphasis on long-term connections!

April 10, 2017 - No Comments!

Kate’s Story

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The year was 2000 and much of the world was bracing for Y2K and impending disaster.  My family was bracing for a different development; the arrival of our second child.  As parents will tell you, the second one puts you over the top and as evidence of that, I really needed a different work/life blend.  

It was at that time I decided to make a phone call that changed my career and you could say, without being overly dramatic, my life.  I had met Sherry Benjamins on a consulting project when I was working for a recruiting software company.  With some trepidation, I called her and asked if perhaps she might consider bringing me on as a Consultant.  

After 15 years of corporate life, I embraced the vagaries of consulting and recruiting and haven’t looked back. The ups and downs, great clients and crazy ones, interesting projects and those that make you want to pull out your hair have made the journey all the sweeter. My roles have varied but the consistent thread has been SBCo's willingness to try new things and put people above profits.  Sherry has been my thought partner, mentor and the right brain to my left. 

Congratulations SBCo on 20 years.  What a joy it has been to be here for 17 of those.  Can’t wait to see what the future holds!

Published by: Corey Kachigan in Blog, Uncategorized
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April 10, 2017 - No Comments!

Celebrating 20 years!

Many years ago at our five year anniversary in business, I met with a dear friend who gave me sage advice and said; "write a forward looking vision of what you desire for the next phase of your business journey." So I did that and found my notes to share now. Written in 2005 as an aspirational guide for 2015 and beyond:

"I am laughing a lot more these days – not taking myself so seriously! I can step away and have perspective and total trust in a great team. They bring light, love and lots of balance to this thriving business. We are all having fun.

There are a core group of clients that rely on us for recruiting as an extension of their department. They call when multiple assignments emerge or hard to fill positions exist requiring focused effort. We blend into their system, almost seamlessly for we know their culture. Our process is about “we” not “I” and that is unique about us. Our clients trust us and value our opinion.

We are known as possibility thinkers…where each person on our team brings unique ideas and we celebrate what we accomplish for ourselves and our clients. We work in our home offices but connect virtually. It’s a blend of the possible….all meant to be flexible for us. We know how to capture what we are learning in each new project.

Clients give us regular feedback and we publish our results. We are the only firm that does this in a way that helps the client improve. We use this data for re-inventing ourselves. Sometimes a new service is created from this ongoing input of great data from our clients.

We have a brand that reinforces our goal to add value, challenge ideas, build relationships and share knowledge. The HRoundtable and learning forums are thriving for we value human connection in the best way possible.”

Sherry Benjamins, President of S. Benjamins & Company, 2005

SBC-Anniversary

Published by: Corey Kachigan in Blog
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April 9, 2017 - No Comments!

Helping Others Drives Success

We launched our second HRoundtable this past week with the help of my long-time friend and wonderful consultant, business owner Sonya Kemp. Sonya believes in the notion that giving to others and allowing a group to learn from each other strengthens the outcome for everyone.  Adam Grant talks about this in his giving book, "Give and Take."  We have eight wonderful managers in this group from premier companies and they are already demonstrating their passion to give to each other and learn.

They are energized to be sitting at the table with their peers from other companies and industries.  The range of perspectives is broad and fascinating.  They will meet quarterly to focus on forward looking ideas in order to build their influence as new managers and strengthen their strategic points of view. hroundtable logo 3blue

The idea of a peer learning group is not new.  We have seen many models like this across the executive suite and beyond into other functional areas.  What is exciting about this group and our HRoundtable in general is that we build the notion of giving from the start and it becomes the norm for the group.  People carry it forward in their interactions and ultimately this improves the process and how they contribute overall.  The bar is raised on who fits in the group and how they will build enriched networks and collaborate too.

It dawned on me that the HRoundtable that Sonya is now leading is embracing the four attributes that contribute to being a giver.  As Adam Grant writes about this in his book he states that "givers rise to the top."  The have a unique approach that includes; networking, collaborating, evaluating and influencing.  Adam also explores  how givers, takers and matchers build networks.  It is quite different.  The taker might be described as a self promoter or self absorbed. The giver looks at the world in abundance terms and in generosity.  Givers gain.  Thank you Sonya for being a part of this newly formed group and giving your generous spirit and experiences to this team.

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 26, 2017 - No Comments!

Redefining Success – meet an MBA student

I had the opportunity to meet an MBA class from the Talent Management program this past week at Pepperdine Malibu campus.  Apparently this is a new one year MBA program within the Graziadio Business School that is focused on talent management.   The students come with experience in HR.  They have an impressive curiosity and point of view around talent and what it takes to engage people today.  They are engaged and enthusiastic about the new world of work.

They are redefining success for themselves and no doubt will challenge the status quo.  That is refreshing.  If you have not met any of the Pepperdine grads - take the time to do so!  Some are unconventional, however, and that is what was exciting.

Professor Jack Gregg asked me to speak to the class and knowing Jack for so many years and respecting his passion for learning, I accepted and really enjoyed the experience.  We discussed the "New Take on Talent" and how that is playing out in work, workers and the workplace of the future.  Specifically I shared perspective and data on engagement and how that is changing with many driving forces in the business and with what talent wants now.   I shared real examples of what we are seeing in progressive organizations and how the employee experience is driving change.

They asked great questions and were energized with our discussion about where new work is happening in the next few years and how they can redefine that for themselves.

Following the presentation several students introduced themselves and expressed interest in internships for the summer.  This is part of the requirement for their graduation.  What a great way to meet new grads with new ideas.   Upon returning to my office later that day (yes, it was a long drive) there were many linkedin requests from the students.  They were personalized and thoughtful.  Congrats to them for using the concept of "tailoring" your message to a new connection.  Check out this program.  More important is to meet an MBA or graduating student who expresses interest in talent and talent managing. They have redefined success and we can all learn from this.

Published by: Sherry Benjamins in Employee Engagement, Recruiting

February 11, 2017 - No Comments!

Brain Based Leadership – Dan Radecki Shares How Teams Thrive

Our brain has not kept up with society.  That was the opening remark from our special guest, Dan Radecki, PhD for the first HRoundtable of 2017.   Dan is, Chief Scientific Officer at the Academy of Brain-based leadership and Executive Director of R&D at Allergan. He met with us to share how teams thrive but he first set the foundation for how our brain works. It was interesting and quite scary to hear that the unconscious brain makes 99% of our decisions.  We talked about the prefrontal cortex and it's braking system. Then there is the dark side or lower brain, the amygdala, that responds to fear and many of our emotions.

Dan brought such rich examples of the research being done in brain science aDan radeckind the application to neuroleadership.  We all have a better understanding of how brain function helps leaders get the results they want for the business, themselves and for their teams.  It also shows how we get in our own way to desired results.

We had an inside look on how and why we behave the way we do following thousands of years of slow brain evolution and basic fundamentals on how we are hard wired as humans.  He introduced the psychological model that is used as a tool (S.A.F.E.T.Y.) to understand human motivation.  The tool allows you to see that the brains seeks; security, autonomy, fairness, esteem, trust and your own unique perspectives.

In order to experience this model we were able to participate in an assessment that facilitated a discussion about how we act and how the conscious and subconscious regions of the brain operate.  A group seeks psychological safety and this tool provides a language to understand each other.

Bottom line  - people want to come to work and feel safe.  They want to feel that others care and will support them.  This all fits with the engagement discussion many of our HR colleagues and CEO's are having about what workers want today.

Thank you Dan for a lively, very open and candid discussion of how we think and the power of this information for our managers and future leaders.  Maybe our brain will start catching up with social change after all.

 

Published by: Sherry Benjamins in Employee Engagement, Management

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.

January 21, 2017 - No Comments!

Changing the Conversation – Women can Do it all not have it all

I read today that Brenda Barnes, former CEO of Sara Lee Corporation and also 22 years at Pepsi, passed away at too young an age.  In 1997, she had the courage to make personal choices that many did not understand at the time and created quite a stir for "resigning corporate America" to spend time with her children and focus on family. It prompted a discussion about whether women can have it all - family and career.

I am hopeful that we are shifting from the "have it all" conversation to "doing it all."  Listening to her daughter on NPR this morning made me think about the doing it all with the support of enlightened leaders and CEO's that get it.  This happens to be a month of hearing from women, men and diverse populations that they care about issues that impact them and this community.

Women need to work and want to do good work as well as care for their family.  Why aren't more companies who say they care about bringing women into their organizations and developing them, stepping up to policies that support them? I know a lot of good things are happening and I plan to ask more about what they are and write about it.

Two observations here:

First, I respect and admire our team here at S. Benjamins & Co.  We are fortunate to have amazing women who have designed blended life styles with family as priority and work (that we are proud of) that is meaningful and making lives better.  They inspire me and they deliver incredible quality work in a flexible yet highly accountable environment.

Second, I had the opportunity to meet the new head of HR, Legal and Finance at Patagonia two weeks ago.  They embrace family in a way I have just not seen and it was incredibly refreshing.  From the day care center to the kitchen in the morning filled with parents and kids before kicking off the day and learning of their family supporting policies, and commitment to the environment, inspired me beyond words.  I learned that 100% of their new mothers return to work because they are supported in such unique ways to be successful.  They believe in family in their words and actions.  A great outcome is their  tremendous passion for their work, succession and loyalty.  They take work life culture to a new level and their commitment to make the world better is serious.

If we want women and men to put family front and center (as I imagine you would want for yourself)  then our practices must change.  What is one step you can take to express your thoughts on this and start a new conversation with senior leaders and listen to what your workers value?

January 15, 2017 - No Comments!

Last Day First Day

Following the election last fall, our son, Erik initiated a project called "Last Day First Day." I was taken by his initiative and timing to ask us all to actively reflect through writing.    Writing, creating, performing allows reflection and self-expression.  Whether you voted for either candidate in the election, the process of sharing your views in a simple letter results in shifting or embracing a new mindset and yes, we are creating art in doing this simple act.

We can apply this exercise whether it is for a political, personal or business reason.first day last day  Engagement means diving into new conversation so that we understand more clearly where we stand and learn from each other's perspectives.  How about embracing honesty?  There is honesty in our own action and words.  Every day we have a chance to share an honest perspective and walk through new doors; maybe you have the first day in a new job and a last day to leave what you knew behind.  You now have a new story to write. The story will emerge through your words and experience.

I am suggesting (thank you Erik) that whether you are writing to Obama or Trump, or writing to your old boss and or a new one, the power of your reflection opens you to creativity and courage that might surprise you.  Julia Cameron, author of the Artists Way, suggests daily morning pages. What if you simply wrote for last and first days of any change this year.  New job, new project, new boss, or new relationship.  Let your creative self speak up this year. Imagine the stories you have inside you.   Thank you Erik for inspiring us to action and an idea that might serve us all well over the course of this new year beyond January 20th.