There is a huge need to teach real life lessons and career advice to young people. I’d love to see more projects in school that could spur on new innovation or new business ideas, more mentorship programs, financial scholarships for those who have an idea they want to implement. The same is true for the underprivileged who need more inspiration to go after their dreams and live their God-given talents to make a difference. Would love to see more micro-loans and mentoring to help.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Nikki Carlson, Co-Founder of ChicExecs PR & Retail Strategy Firm.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
During my career I worked in PR and Marketing for Christian and non-profit companies. I loved what I did and worked with such amazing people. However, I had a creative side in me that I just had to explore. We started our company 15 years ago as an online magazine which incorporated much of the charity aspect as well as encouraging women in all stages of life. We became very engaged with our audience and heard everything from their life struggles to their desires in a product. Close to the time the iPod came out, ladies were telling us they wanted fashion + function electronics which is when our brand was born. Since it was a missed niche in the industry, we received recognition and growth instantaneously. We were featured in nearly every media outlet such as Today Show, People Magazine, Instyle and retail stores such as Nordstrom, Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, Macy’s and more. From there other brands asked us to help them using our recipe for success so ChicExecs was born.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
Starting a product without having the experience to do so came with some challenges that we can laugh about now. We received a large order from our factory for a major retailer for holiday and they all came with our wrong logo so we had to think on our feet and had stickers made to cover up the logo. The stickers wouldn’t stick so our entire staff came in, we bought several hairdryers and melted them on. The result was a happy retailer and happy customers. Being an entrepreneur requires thinking on your feet, being solution oriented and having the ability to problem solve… along with staying calm in the midst of a crisis. This is why we love what we do at ChicExecs because we’ve walked the road of being a brand owner and can identify with every challenge along the way.
How do you synchronize large teams to effectively work together?
It’s generally in people’s nature to stay in their own lane and focus on their own work so we set systems and processes in place for teams to work collaboratively. The first thing we did was to design a creative space that inspired teamwork which includes open concept, various seating areas (including couches and swings), chalk walls, white board walls, snack bar and collaboration rooms. Since many employees are on the go with travels and meetings, we use an online platform and some project management tools for teams to message and collaborate. We also require a certain number of in-person team meetings for various projects with the intent of strategizing and planning.
What is the top challenge when managing global teams in different geographical locations? Can you give an example or story?
The biggest challenge can be that the teams lose a sense of the culture when working in different geographic locations or don’t feel that they are a part of the team. We encourage them to come into the office when possible and also encourage video chats and/or calling in to all meetings. We encourage them to be vocal and involved by communicating regularly with their teams and utilizing company chat systems. We also do what we can to make them feel a part of the culture. For example, if there is a teambuilding going to a creative center, the remote employee gets a gift card to go to a creative center where they live. It’s important to make them feel valued and it’s also important for them to strive to make themselves heard at the company.
What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?
We love the aspect of creating intrapreneurs who take a personal interest in their own work. Then they love what they do and their performance and loyalty is even greater for the company. It’s important to create that environment by implementing a strong culture that enforces this. Some ideas are to place employees in a custom job description that uses their gifts and talents, creating a pay-based system that rewards them for the time they put in as well as their performance, giving them recognition for developing innovative ideas or processes.
Most times when people quit their jobs they actually “quit their managers”. What are your thoughts on retaining talent today?
First it’s important to put managers in place who have a high quality of work, love managing, who want the best for their team and who can work with various personnel challenges. People feel secure in knowing the manager is trusted and has their best interest in mind. However if people are tempted to “quit their manager”, it’s important to go deeper to uncover the true issue. Sometimes it’s a simple conversation of misunderstanding, sometimes a good new process can emerge and sometimes the employee may not be a fit based on their passions and the needs of the company. Create a culture where people feel like they can express their concerns and that the company will work towards solutions.
Based on your personal experience, what are the “5 Things You Need To Know To Successfully Manage a Team”. (Please share a story or example for each, Ideally an example from your experience)
1. Create consistent processes: if people don’t have a clear understanding of how to get a job done, they won’t do their best work and the Client or product won’t be consistent to the customer.
2. Listen, listen, listen: while sometimes you might think your way is the right way, it’s important to listen to feedback from the team. Know when to make adjustments and know when to stand firm.
3. Reward for hard work: creating a reward system will not only make people feel valued and proud of their work, it will inspire them towards producing more good results.
4. Create a way for growth and movement: there’s nothing worse than becoming stagnant in a job. Creative opportunities for team members to grow professionally and financially. Create mentor programs, team structures, pathway to title/financial changes.
5. Be consistent: if something is unacceptable or a rule is a non-negotiable, make that known otherwise its hard to go backwards. In the same way, create the same reward systems and expectations so team members can thrive.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
We are constantly looking for good talent and spend a lot of time interviewing young people. From feedback we have received, young people don’t always get the life lessons that are so helpful in a career. Many don’t bring resumes to an interview, they don’t dress appropriately, they show up late, they don’t know what they want to do in a career. There is a huge need to teach real life lessons and career advice to young people. I’d love to see more projects in school that could spur on new innovation or new business ideas, more mentorship programs, financial scholarships for those who have an idea they want to implement.
The same is true for the underprivileged who need more inspiration to go after their dreams and live their God-given talents to make a difference. Would love to see more micro-loans and mentoring to help.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
When we launched our product we had a verse on each one — Proverbs 23:19, “Listen, Be Wise and keep your heart on the right path.” To this day we have three conference rooms named LISTEN, WISE and HEART as a reminder. When I first started out, it was important to me to keep my morals and never compromise — even if that compromise meant more business or success. When it came down to it, working with integrity was more important than any success. We always wanted to make sure we made wise business decisions and stayed on the right path.
Originally published at medium.com