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April 12, 2017 - No Comments!

Katherine’s Story

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Perhaps you can relate. Imagine my surprise when I showed up in corporate life with a burning desire to contribute, bundles of energy to get things done, and an never-ending flow of ideas (at least some of which were even feasible), only to realize the company just wasn’t willing to let me work to my potential. It felt like I was a salmon throwing myself on the rocks time and time again trying to get the company to let me make the contribution of which I was capable!

I finally decided “This Salmon isn’t spawning this year” and moved on. When I met Sherry and came to work at SBCo, I realized this was where people would be allowed to set their bar at the high level everyone wants to achieve in their work. Their ideas would be welcomed, and there would be total integrity, with an unwavering focus on superior client service.  And not one rock in sight! How wonderful. Thank you, Sherry!

Published by: Corey Kachigan in Blog
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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.

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.

September 17, 2016 - No Comments!

Get Over it – New Workforce “Rules”

Are we over it yet?  Half of the workers in  your organizations will be under 30 and by 2025, everyone under 25 will be a digital native.  They grew up with all things tech. Innovation inside our companies will come from the digital natives.  So, why are we hanging on to old structures and ways of thinking about work?  Do we have leaders who just don't see this coming or chose to stick to models they grew up in?

It was great to see an LA Business Journal article last week about nontraditional work in LA.  There is an astounding number of workers who are self employed and data shows it is one in five or upward of one million people in this county.  They work in non-traditional jobs and are part of the underground cash economy.  They rule and love the entrepreneurial life.

There is a concentration in entertainment and creative however, this trend is spilling over into other sectors.  We are about 50% higher with number of self employed compared to other states in the country.   We are on a "fast - forward" when it comes to contingent workers, says, Manuel Pastor, professor of sociology and American studies at USC.

Remember our story about the creative economy that Otis College of Art and Design created?  Their 2015 report spoke about 166,000 non-employee arrangements and now we see that number increasing rapidly.   The government agencies will eventually have to deal with this new reality. It is not going away anytime soon.

Great talent is all over this -they don't need the structures of legacy systems.  They want to work in collaborative networks where skills matter.  Our clients are willing to pay for the skills they need, however, they are still hanging on to old models.  Now, we just need our Hiring Managers to get over it and think more about work, the plan to get things done, how to use technology and ensure that everyone understands the respected cultures in their network.  I know that is not easy.

What are the skills that will allow us to let go of controls that used to work but don't now?

  • Empathy - what do you want for the future and ask your workers what they value.
  • Anticipate Future - get the big picture and translate that into quarterly deliverables and ideal resources with options.
  • Match Maker - willing to look at the match up of resource and need in a variety of scenarios and factor in the cost of speedy or slow solution.
  • Piloting ideas - be okay with trying out an idea or new work arrangement. Tell others you are testing out feasibility and criteria for success.

Let's open up the conversations so that we can get over it and move forward.

August 6, 2016 - No Comments!

Find the One – What Does This Mean?

Don't we all want to work with amazing people? There is plenty of research and real life experience that says investing in who decisions pays off.  Finding the one for your company means achieving success or just getting by.

Enlightened CEO's place the importance of people decisions at the top of their list of important skills to develop and invest in. I grew up as an HR professional at American Hospital Supply (AHSC) - later acquired by Baxter Healthcare.  From the first introduction to the company through thoughtful and interactive interviews, to a well articulated offer and then onboarding, I was fortunate to have a world class experience.  I can say that now. After 20 years plus in the field and working with many companies as we help them find the one, they still struggle with this work and more importantly, in getting the process right.

Joining American at the time felt like joining a family. There was great care and planning on making us feel welcome, immediately connected to resources and people that cared about our success.  Thank you Bob Ruh for inspiring me even with that high bar for performance!  We were always clear on what the responsibilities were and where the challenge could take us.  I was very early in my career and had come from a company that offered little development and almost no conversation about the business.  It taught me to take initiative.  AHSC  prepared me for doing my best work with incredibly talented people.

It is important to find the one.  And, it means getting the first part right and then ensuring that you have all the other parts in place; integrating the one into your culture, developing their skills, stretching them with challenging assignments and having a plan for development.  Oh, and I almost forgot, scheduling conversations with key influencers and your boss about how it is going and what is needed to keep you on track and engaged.

Finding the one means;

  • having regular meaningful conversation with people.  It seems many have lost that focus for there is so little time to commit to this today.  There are way more initiatives on everyone's plate and little time to reflect and care for the ones that contribute.
  • looking at entirely new options for your workforce.  Frankly, the one you want may get more excited about a gig, a project, an experience with  you rather than the full time position you have posted.  John Boudreau masterfully talks about these options in his book, Lead the Work. To continue to find the one, we now have to look at other ways for our talent to contribute.

This future of work offers a huge upside to individual workers and their leaders.  Think about it; we see how younger professionals, mid-life or late stage careerists are taking on what they want, when they want it and where they want it. Let's get over the old model of employment and think more about what "the one" defines for themselves.  You will be surprised how committed and aligned those workers will be if we ask, listen, share perspectives and help each other grow.

April 20, 2016 - No Comments!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SB: What have you learned at Airbnb?

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

SB: How do you find top talent?

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

SB: How do you continue to disrupt your industry?

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

SB: What’s next?

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

 Conclusion

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

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.

gustav

February 28, 2015 - No Comments!

A Job or Higher Calling?

The Wall Street Journal published an article this week, "I don't have a Job: I have a Higher Calling."  It was in the February 25th Business & Tech section (love their provocative stories) and it is about employers stepping up to talk about how their company is changing the world.  This is the quest for engaging and attracting talent. Frankly, it is about time we are asking the question "what matters to our employees and what matters to us?"

I understand the perspective this writer takes which is skeptical.  Maybe not everyone is looking for a social cause to align with and that making a decent income can be more important, however, there are other views to consider.  As a recruiter and talking with new grads, entry level employees all the way up to managers and executives, most want to commit to companies that believe good work and doing good pays off.   It can be as simple as that and yes, they need a pay check too.

Meaning and purpose is totally dependent upon what we care about.  It does not mean that everyone who works for that company derives meaning from their work.  I see that workers will commit to a culture that values doing the right thing and that is enough for some.  Others want to make sure they understand there is social capitalism at  play and not just bottom line reactive thinking.

I must commend companies like Juniper Networks and Harley-Davidson Motor who are making the connections between what they do and how it serves us.  Everyone comes with their own set of values and helping to build the bridge and differentiate as an employer should be applauded.  How many times do you read job postings for really cool companies and it sounds like something out of a research text.  Maybe we over-reach for awhile and find the story for each organization that can spark interest and passion while also offering just a great way to work and also pay the bills.

Thank you Wall Street Journal and all those companies out there for offering provocative ideas that in fact, will change the world!