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April 10, 2017 - No Comments!

Kate’s Story


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: Sherry Benjamins 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


Published by: Sherry Benjamins in Blog
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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.

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!

December 4, 2015 - No Comments!

SBCo November Newsletter: Purpose Driven Giving

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

May 2, 2015 - No Comments!

Are you in a Profit Paradox?

We hosted a learning event this past week and enjoyed a provocative discussion with Dr. Gustavo Grodnitsky.  I invited our clients and a few really smart and engaging millennials who bring amazing honesty and refreshing energy to our discussions.  This is written by Derek Kozaites, a recent graduate is interested in International Studies and business.  Read what he had to say;

"I had the pleasure of attending a “Great Starts Breakfast Series” hosted by S.Benjamins & Co. The series is in its tenth year of orchestrating inspirational meetings to Southern California’s most forward thinking professionals. This particular event, presented by Dr. Gustavo Grodnitzky Ph.D., was titled “The Profit Paradox: Culture in the New World of Work”. Dr. Gustavo, a Colorado native known as a “social hacker”, presented an intriguing look into the rapidly changing environment of culture in the workplace. In his words, “culture trumps everything” (which is also the title of his new book)."

Derek says that Dr. Gustavo’s overarching theme of change is in seeing the world in a social context.  He said, "Analyzing the contextual nature of human behavior, Dr. Gustavo set the stage for the corporate struggle between business norms and social norms, arguing that companies with a social focus towards their “stakeholders” will ultimately succeed. Backing up this argument, Dr. Gustavo revealed one of the most captivating results of his presentation, a ten-year profit comparison between classic capitalism and social capitalism companies, which dramatically favored the social capitalism companies."

"As a member of the newest generation of young professionals, I took a sigh of relief following Dr. Gustavo’s presentation, finding comfort in the fact that businesses all over the world are seeking to understand and meet the demands of our ever-changing culture."

We better listen to these millennials - 80 million of them are entering our workforce in the next few years.  Thank you Derek for sharing.


January 17, 2015 - No Comments!

What is being done to close a Skills Gap?

The Wall Street Journal article today (Saturday, January 17th) starts by saying four in ten U.S. college students graduate without skills in "complex reasoning, communication and problem solving."   There is some progress for sure, but the author points out there are big gaps to address.  The conversation about this is not new and it is easy to overlook those that are tackling this head on.

I have just joined the Advisory Board of the California State University Fullerton (CSUF) Center for Leadership.  I am impressed with the creative approach that Dr. Jay Barbuto and his team of impressive "leadership scholars - the students" are taking to enrich Business student educational experiences and build these critical skills.  There are 22 of  us on this growing Advisory Board and we come from consulting as well as premier and respected Orange County corporations.  We discussed ways to support the students and offer development in corporate settings too.

Training and leadership development is a big investment for many of the Board member companies for they see the shift from hiring on the outside to developing on the inside.  Communication, influence and problem solving skills areas remain a priority.  Partnering with the Universities accelerates this development initiative and you see first hand the skills of undergraduate and senior business students.  I was impressed for sure with the CSUF students attending our meeting.  At lunch I was able to talk more in depth with a few students and here is what I experienced;

- commitment to their program

- enthusiasm for learning and eagerly seeking exposure to companies, interning and shadowing

- polish and great communication skills

- smiles and positive presence which was refreshing

So, according to this WSJ article, many business owners might not be seeing these attributes in recent college graduate interviews but maybe they have not met the students from the Mihaylo College of Business and Economics at CSUF.

We are all eager to see an increase in the availability of top talent from the Universities and from the experienced labor pool.  Our clients are starting to consider selecting on potential vs. performance and we have a long way to go, however, this leadership center and their work with students in Orange County moves us much closer to that goal.  Thank you Jay!

May 27, 2014 - No Comments!

Are you ready to go global?

global talentLast week our HRoundtable groups met with Alison Eyring, CEO of Organisation Solutions ( ). Our Emerging Leaders group focused on how to recruit, retain, and foster global talent. Growing a global business can be difficult; especially in emerging markets. Skilled and knowledgeable leaders who understand the organizations mission are paramount to success, but those leaders sometimes struggle to adapt to the change in culture, work practices, or team dynamics. Many of our HRoundtable members indicated that it is becoming increasingly difficult to find globally mobile people. Whether it is the desire to stay in the same place for their children or assist aging parents, less people seem to be willing to move globally for assignments. Do you find that to be the case with your organization?

global-growthOur Executive group tackled the idea of preparing for growth in all markets. Many organizations are just trying to operate and achieve in the present, but what happens when you don’t prepare for imminent future growth? Most of the time, unprepared growth causes a pile up that drastically reduces productivity and capabilities.

Alison offered a wonderful metaphor for leading for the future based on her own experiences in the dark jungles of Singapore. A future thinking leader is someone who points there headlamp up and out in a dark tunnel to illuminate the path in front for themselves and those behind them, while a leader focused on the now points their headlamp down towards their feet only illuminating one step ahead of them. When a leader points his head lamp down, he/she may be able to see their next step, but those behind him have no way to seeing now or in the future. Are you in an organization with their headlamps up and out or down on the ground?  If your organization is looking down, it may be time to lift their head up and look towards the next steps.

Published by: sbcoadmin in Recruiting, Talent Economy
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May 24, 2014 - No Comments!

Map External Talent Pipelines – 30% of top companies do this

Select recruiting organizations have evolved to impressive standards.  They have the tools, process and focus that for years they were unable to achieve.  However, there are still many that are operating in 20th century reactive models.

I just read a study reporting that 30% of top tier companies are mapping external talent pipelines.  They have committed to talent programs that require proactively developing candidates on the outside before they are even needed on the inside.  I talked with one company this week - that has cracked the code and their recruiters, led by a very business savvy global leader has focused the team on future pipelines as well as current needs.  This is not easy to do yet critical in talent shortage cycles like today.

The best organizations are focused not scattered, they move from today priorities to future "fit" discussions.  They may have enterprise wide plans yet local strategies or regional efforts that support clients in the field or in specific functions.

Even though organizations  have tried to centralize staffing, we still see the need for tailored, personalized by region strategies - each community or leader of a business may need something different.  This allows focus on external talent as well as internal talent.   Are the centralized mega staffing functions able to navigate with speed and creativity?  Let us know what structure works for your business and if you are one of the 30% that maps for external talent before you need it.

Published by: admin in Recruiting
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