“Get comfortable with failure”, With Douglas Brown and Lauryn Sargent

Know it takes a lot of time. Get comfortable with failure. Failure is no big thing and it’s the fastest way to learn. It’s expected when you’re building something that’s never been done before. The first few years, there was constant rejection. In fact, I remember every single person who was nice to us, or […]

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Know it takes a lot of time. Get comfortable with failure. Failure is no big thing and it’s the fastest way to learn. It’s expected when you’re building something that’s never been done before. The first few years, there was constant rejection. In fact, I remember every single person who was nice to us, or encouraged us, and I’ll never forget it. Sophisticated buyers wanted to see examples of our work, and we didn’t have them (now we have hundreds of fantastic examples). We knew we could solve a lot of our customers’ problems, but needed to get the work examples first. So we focused on “early adopters,” those who like to be the first to try new things. Then we could use their (client) examples to better sell to sophisticated buyers seeking proof. We offered discounts to those early adopters with the understanding we would promote the work we did together in our marketing efforts and in sales meetings.

As a part of my series about “Lessons From Inspirational Women Leaders in Tech”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Lauryn Sargent, co-founder of Stories Incorporated, experts in organizational storytelling to attract candidates and engage employees for leading and emerging employer brands. Video content is about 60 percent of the content Stories Inc. creates for Fortune 1000 companies. So, Stories Inc. developed a way to uncover great employee stories and create compelling and substantive videos while employees were at home, when the pandemic forced the majority of American employees to work remotely.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Before I quit my job to cofound Stories Inc., I was in recruiting for eight years. I was an excellent recruiter, and in my last role in corporate talent acquisition, the turnover for the people I recruited over a 2.5 year period was crazy low. I found the right people for the culture I knew.

It’s because I was an awesome storyteller. I knew exactly what stories I needed to bring to specific candidates I was interviewing to best illustrate organizational culture, team dynamics, and what the job was really like. I knew who candidates should meet with during the interview process that would allow them to make better decisions, because they would get great insight relevant to their situation. When candidates can make better decisions, engagement and tenure increases.

But I didn’t know how to bring that experience to the masses. I could only do it one candidate at a time.

So, I cofounded a company with Scott Thompson, whose background is in marketing. Stories Inc. uncovers real employee stories that illustrate the employee experience. Then, we create recruitment marketing content (think videos, photos, blogs, even comics) for candidate-facing channels like career sites and social channels. Good recruitment marketing and employer branding content like the type we create brings awareness to candidates about companies and job opportunities, so you can reach thousands of potential candidates about what it’s really like to work at your company. And, when you lead with specifics about the employee experience up front, it also allows candidates to opt in and out before the interview process… this is good for candidates, but also great for the organization. It eliminates wasted time and effort.

I had to learn to become a marketer, and the types of content that performs well in each candidate-facing channel. In addition to companies gaining awareness, it’s also about serving candidates the content they need along the candidate journey and building candidate relationships and perception over time. We deliver content libraries that allow companies to talk to every type of candidate, all year long.

Now I co-lead a company of organizational and cultural storytelling experts, marketers, and content creators.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began at your company?

It was the morning of July 3rd, 2015, just before a long holiday weekend. I met my partner, Scott, and Ben, who was interning with us, at the start up incubator where we worked early-on in our company journey. We were one of maybe five teams (out of 300) there that day. I was going to leave straight from work for vacation, and I was dressed for reality: I was about to spend six hours in the car.

An email went out from the cofounder of the incubator to the email list: If you were close to the space, or if you were even in town, you should get to the office. Right. Now.

Well, we were already there. Everything seemed normal. What was happening?

President Obama was stopping by to meet a few entrepreneurs and announce the latest jobs report.

Chaos ensued. Secret Service was there. And all of a sudden, the space went from 20 to hundreds of people.

I heard one of the incubator cofounders mention to an entrepreneur working on conflict minerals that they wanted her to speak with President Obama about what she was doing. So I stuck with that lady! I sat next to her at a table with a few other founders.

And President Obama came over to our table! He spent about three to four minutes with each of us talking through our business ideas. I told him all about Stories, and he asked genuine questions about what we were building. I mentioned that my parents “thought I was bananas” for quitting my job to start a company.

When the President gave the jobs report announcement to the press, he mentioned meeting an entrepreneur that “used to be in HR.” It was me!

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I made a lot of mistakes that were funny in the moment due to being hazy from lack of sleep. Not only was I working hard to start and build a company with Scott, I was newly pregnant when we started Stories. I was a parent of a newborn in Year 1 of the company, and again in Year 4. Yes, I’ve had two kids while starting and growing this company. People used to ask me how I slept while having babies, starting a company, plus traveling as much as I did. The reality was that traveling was the only way I slept well! Oftentimes I was asleep within two minutes of sitting down on an airplane and buckling my seatbelt. Cross country flights were wonderful.

As for the specific funny mistakes, I once scheduled a meeting with Scott for 3 a.m., with no context. We still don’t know what the meeting was supposed to be about. I once sent Scott an important email he didn’t receive, and when I looked in my sent mail I realized I had sent it to “Scott@scott.scott.”

With a newborn and with the excitement of starting a company that could fail at any moment, I felt like I was in survival mode for years. I certainly got a lot done. But that wasn’t sustainable, especially when you’re building a company to last. It’s not possible to keep that up forever. Now, I’m better when I meditate, when I take time to reflect and time for myself. It’s harder and harder to do this in 2020, but those strategies have helped this year, too.

Arianna and Thrive Global have equated self care with good leadership. Sacrificing sleep for work as a badge of honor is dangerous to your health, doesn’t lead to good decision making, and won’t make you a better leader in the short and long term. But, this is hard to balance when you are ultra-engaged in building a company, so we’ve tried to put some guardrails in place for everyone. As we’ve grown, we decided to close the office every Friday, so everyone can take time for self care. That way, no one feels the stress of not dropping a ball or needing to respond to a coworker while you’re trying to unplug. Scott and I hike every Friday morning together which gives us time and space to think deeply.

Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?

Over four years ago, we decided to double down on the recruitment marketing and employer branding area of our business, where we were gaining traction. We suspected product/market fit here and wanted to “nail our niche.” So, we passed on projects that didn’t fit this new strategy. We knew sales and revenue would dip at first, but this was the right move for long term growth. But, knowing this would happen didn’t magically make it easier to go through. And, we were unsure if the risk we took would actually work.

During this time, Scott and I were going to fly across the country for a potential project we were really excited about — and counting on as a boost to our new strategy.

But from there, the trip was mired with bummer stuff. I was seven months pregnant, and in my exhaustion I mis-set my alarm and we almost missed our flight. Then, our contact called to say she had quit and our Big Opportunity Meeting was canceled indefinitely. The rest of the meetings we’d scheduled weren’t productive. Then, over a terrible and rushed lunch, we had our first — and only — discussion about what we’d do if our business failed. This was a crushing blow for me.

Talking and thinking about the possibility our business could fail was devastating: a bubble popped, a record scratched, something falling from the sky. I never did, and I still never do, think about us outright failing. I’m blind to the pitfalls; all I see is opportunity. So, for a moment it felt like the world was crashing. And yes, in a brief moment four years ago, over a 30 minute period, we wondered what we would do if we were forced to give up.

For me personally, it’s easier to keep going than it is to give up, even in the hardest moments. There have been many more difficult challenges since the moment I described, but I’ve never considered quitting. Even in the toughest times, all I see is opportunity for Stories Inc. And, ultimately I love what I’m doing, I love who I work with, and I think we’re providing a real value in the world.

There’s a lot of advice we were given about failing fast so you don’t waste your time on an idea that won’t ultimately survive. Some see meteoric growth as the only measure of success and if that’s your goal, it’s frustrating if you don’t see success quickly. I found hope in knowing a lot can rest on the pivot, in really learning about your market: most companies pivot 2.8 times before finding the right path. I would advise other entrepreneurs to ride out the tough moments and learn everything you can from them. Because finding product market fit was just one of our first major challenges. With every hard thing you get through, you get smarter and your company gets stronger. We’re better equipped to win and withstand anything that’s thrown at us because of what we’ve learned as a result of the tough times.

Even in this pandemic, we’re coming out stronger as a company because of what we’ve learned creating content virtually. It has opened up Stories Inc. to further work around the world. It’s allowed us to include more employee perspectives, which is important to creating content that best showcases organizational diversity, belonging and inclusion. It’s expanded the ways we can serve our customers which is a wonderful thing.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Just one person? How about three?

Ed Barrientos, CEO of Brazen and an angel investor, is the first person. He was a judge in a business pitch competition I competed in while in grad school. I actually thought the pitch competition was required for the class (it wasn’t), and that’s the only reason I did it.

I won the competition, and Ed asked if I’d be interested in meeting for coffee to talk about my idea. He thought there might be something to it. Even that small amount of support was enough to make me think my idea might be viable.

Without Ed taking an interest and inviting me to coffee, I never would have quit my corporate job to start a company.

Furthermore, Ed has been a constant source of cheerleading, support, and good advice to both me and Scott. He never doubts that we can do it.

My husband Brian is the second person. I wouldn’t have been able to do this without his emotional support and true partnership, and the financial support early on to be able to make solid, strategic, long-term decisions for our business. I can’t think of one decision Scott and I have made because it was good for short-term cash but not good for our long-term strategy. That said, we have run this bootstrapped company very conservatively too.

And, of course of course of course, my cofounder Scott. We are in this together totally. He is always so positive, creative, and is dedicated to the long view. He’s both an energizing and calming presence (it’s a dichotomy that works, you gotta know him), and I’ve been lucky that I get to collaborate with him every day for the past eight years. I’m always excited about what’s next for Stories since I get to build it with him.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.”

Every time I get into a funk, I think of this. There’s so much you can’t control, but you can control your thoughts and your attitude, which ultimately determines your actions and your future. That’s why this gets me going: stop feeling sorry for your circumstances, go make it happen.

Ok super. Thank you for all that. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. We’d love to learn a bit about your company. What is the pain point that your company is helping to address?

Candidates are searching for clarity into culture, and what it will be like to work at a company for a person like themselves. Ultimately they are looking to make good career decisions that will match their personal goals, values and lifestyle.

Meanwhile, companies need to communicate what’s truly different about their employee experience. And organizations win when they can show realistically what it’s like to work at their company. They also need to prove to candidates they are who they say they are using employee stories as the proof, and on a regular and ongoing basis as their culture evolves.

We help both candidates and companies with these problems. Stories Inc. helps companies communicate the nuances of their culture to candidates through recruitment marketing content (videos, blogs, comic books, any media you can think of). As a result, we’ve become experts in employee storytelling and recruitment marketing.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Our company stands out because we deliver substantive stories about company culture to candidates in engaging and visually compelling ways.

We do this two ways: first, we uncover compelling and engaging employee stories that communicate culture. We can do this because of a proven methodology we’ve developed, that takes into account both psychological safety concepts and behavioral interviewing best practices. Second, we follow content marketing principles to create a lot of content so employers can talk to candidates on a regular basis, with a regular cadence. Oftentimes we’re creating a recruitment marketing content engine and/or populating an entire career site. Employer brands need to talk to a variety of different candidates over a long period of time, not just an active job seeker right now.

Here’s an example of how we uncover compelling employee stories. Recently, we were interviewing an employee in their home virtually (we call these Virtual Story Sessions). Our storyteller was a sales leader at a global food services company. Our content strategist managing the project, Anna Lippe, noticed a large bookcase behind her. To start their discussion, Anna asked about the books behind her, and she started talking about her collection of cookbooks. And then it was a really natural segue to talk about her background in culinary school and her transition to work in food services. She told Anna a great story about her involvement in the Global Chef Program, where a chef from their company overseas comes to the United States to cook and share authentic cuisine. That initial relationship-building and learning about her hobbies helped the storyteller open up and share her passion for food and cooking. From there, she shared experiences that will ultimately show specific opportunities for sales team members at her employer.

As an example of how we’ve created a lot of content, our project leader Jill Shabelman was working with a government services consultancy to uncover stories that would build a photo library, a years worth of blog content, and 30 videos … within a few months, and for just this one company. We interviewed dozens of employees and heard hundreds of awesome stories that showed culture. Among other content, we used just one person’s story, from a half-hour interview, to create an onboarding video, a 30 second video advertisement, plus, a “meet our people” profile and blog post on the careers site. And, the story was featured in compilation videos about the company culture, their Employee Resource Group offerings, and the Black Employee Resource Group, specifically.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Yes. The goal is to show candidates what it’s like to work at a company right now. And, that means featuring employees working wherever work is happening. We were very careful to bring everything that works from our in-person experience to our virtual offering. Maintaining the substance of the story and compelling visuals of the videos were really important.

And, employees have a lot to say. In fact, our interviews are running longer as a result of the people we’re speaking to being very excited to talk about what their employer has done to support them during this crazy time. Employees benefit, candidates benefit, and employers benefit.

We’ve developed an expertise and a perspective on showing exactly what companies are doing to create inclusive cultures for all, as well as specific underrepresented groups. Right now the public is demanding to see the proof that companies are committed to diversity, inclusion and belonging, and employee stories are the way to do this.

Let’s zoom out a bit and talk in more broad terms. Are you currently satisfied with the status quo regarding women in Tech? What specific changes do you think are needed to change the status quo?

In my specific industry, which is HR tech and recruitment marketing/employer branding, there are a lot of cofounders who are women. But, we work with a lot of organizations that are trying to recruit more women into tech, and part of that is examining their culture and whether they’re creating a place where women can thrive. In 2018, only 13% of engineers were women, despite more women graduating with engineering degrees than ever. More shocking: 30% of women who left engineering said company culture was the reason. For women currently working in engineering, there is still a persisting culture issue: 61% of women in engineering report they have to prove themselves repeatedly to get the same level of respect and recognition as their male colleagues. (Stats source: Society of Women Engineers).

While there is a lot of cultural work within companies to create places women in tech can thrive, we are promoting the stories of women technologists who are supported at work. And, I’m proud that Stories Inc. is helping companies that are providing supportive cultures and career growth to women in tech communicate that commitment to women seeking opportunities. And as companies learn to support women engineers well, the cultural bar raises, and other organizations fighting for that same talent respond by doing the cultural work required to be competitive.

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by women in Tech that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts? What would you suggest to address this?

It’s not part of my world, since Stories Inc. is bootstrapped, but generally, women aren’t able to raise money like men can because of a documented gender bias. And women founders can be discriminated against for being pregnant, or having children, because there is a perception that they can’t be as dedicated to growing their businesses. This is a bias that hurts women entrepreneurs, for a large part of our lives. Preventing women access to capital they need that similarly qualified men have access to is a big challenge.

I’ve been lucky in that I haven’t felt professionally stymied by my gender as a woman entrepreneur. The only thing that has bothered me personally as a professional woman — and this is a minor grievance given real issues today, like pay inequality and lack of women in leadership and technical roles — is how women at work need to pay much closer attention to their appearance than men. That may sound whiny, but when you think of the time it takes — actual time and mental energy — in making sure you have thought through all the details of what you’re wearing, and that your hair/makeup is on point, etc., it’s another burden for women that men don’t have. As a quick example, Scott and I had taken a red eye and went straight to work the next morning. We learned there was a major event happening later that day. I was in a sweatshirt. I said, ‘I’m going to have to go home and miss the event because of what I’m wearing.’ Scott said, ‘Why? Look, everyone is in a hoodie.’ And I said, ‘No, all the men are in hoodies. All the women are more dressed up than usual because they knew there was an event today.’

When I (used to, pre-pandemic) travel and speak at conferences, I booked a hair stylist to come to my hotel room as early as five in the morning for a blowout. I am always realizing I forgot something like the right shoes or the better lipstick shade, which for me is a distraction. I’d rather be focusing on performing well and delivering the best material to an audience.

And, that’s added stress to doing well, that men don’t have to deal with. For example, as cited often, Jack Dorsey can wear a beanie and a wrinkled sweatshirt during a televised interview, but a woman CEO could not get away with that. But rather than wear whatever I want to make the point, I acknowledge the reality so it doesn’t interfere with my own progress. I read an article a few years ago about how women are judged on appearance first when speaking, as if it’s a measure of your credibility. I don’t ever want how I look to prevent my ideas from coming through and sticking. So, I’m willing to invest in the time when it matters. I also very much appreciate Arianna Huffington leading the way in repeating outfits. I’m wearing the same patterned dress or shirt in half the pictures of me on Google images. I don’t care. I’m happy for the time I saved not cramming more outfits into my suitcase or buying more clothes I don’t really need.

[Although, I would have liked to have worn something other than the shorts and t-shirt I was wearing when I met the President of the United States. That’s still a regret I have! Maybe the men in the group, also in their 3rd of July best, don’t let what they were wearing that day cloud the memory of the moment, like I do. But there’s a certain awareness women have about what they look like and how they dress that’s tough to shake, especially when thinking about our success at work.]

What would you advise to another tech leader who initially went through years of successive growth, but has now reached a standstill. From your experience do you have any general advice about how to boost growth or sales and “restart their engines”?

There’s books I’ve read at the right time that have ”restarted my engine,” because they speak to the exact problem I’m working through. Anytime I have seen how others have solved the similar problem, it has energized me, even if I don’t take the advice or follow the example. So one piece of advice would be to seek out people who’ve solved for what’s challenging you right now, especially if it’s a book others have also found helpful.

If you’ve hit the wall because your expertise has tapped out, you need new energy on the problem. There comes a point when your company’s growth depends on deep and specific technical experience at the functional level, that you likely don’t have as someone that’s devoted years to founding and growing a company. It’s time to replace yourself with someone better than you at the thing you’re struggling with. I know it’s not as simple as “go spend money to hire someone.” But, there are ways you can justify the spend, especially in sales and marketing (two hires we have made recently).

I was stuck this year, wondering how I was going to get us to the next level as a sales and marketing leader. I interviewed several executive coaches. But that didn’t seem the right solution to my problems (and it wasn’t). It wasn’t about me getting better at either job: I actually didn’t have the knowledge to go any further. Truthfully, it would take me years and tons of mistakes to learn what would make me the sales or marketing leader we needed now. Now that we have that talent in place, it’s freed me up to tackle challenges I’m better suited for but still related to growing our business.

Do you have any advice about how companies can create very high performing sales teams?

Yes, through my own mistakes. Build integrated sales and marketing teams at the same time if you can. We built sales, then invested in marketing and took our eye off investing in the sales team, then got marketing up and running without the sales energy and expertise to close the leads. It feels like constant catch up and it took too long.

And, don’t wait too long to replace yourself. Last year we had a sales team that was performing well. But then I realized I wasn’t going to be the person to take us to the next level, and that I’d basically shared everything I knew with our more junior team member. For the company’s growth and for our talent’s growth, we needed to hire someone better than me to lead us. Then, the coronavirus hit and we paused plans. Our high-performing junior member who needed better sales leadership left. We just hired our new leader, but it took too long.

All that to say, balance and consistency is very hard but necessary to do things faster.

In your specific industry what methods have you found to be most effective in order to find and attract the right customers? Can you share any stories or examples?

It’s been most effective to listen to our target audience and build a company that best solves their problems. And telling them that very thing: “We built this company to help people in your role exactly.”

Being obsessed with service and doing right by the customer all the time, every time, has helped. We have a great reputation and a very high client return rate as a result. But honestly, a great reputation has taken years to build.

Based on your experience, can you share 3 or 4 strategies to give your customers the best possible user experience and customer service?

  1. Sell the right solution in the first place. We don’t pass off impossible projects with unreasonable expectations to our project (implementation and customer care) team.
  2. Build trust immediately. Again, this starts with the sales process. We have transparent pricing. We listen and adjust. We help junior members influence internally. Everything we do is to build up the customer and make them successful, and they know they can trust us to really solve their problems.
  3. Consistency: sustain trust. All our processes are built with our customer’s best interest in mind. We have unlimited rounds of review for our videos. The most important thing is that our clients can’t wait to share the content, and that might mean we go back and forth until it’s perfect. When that’s at stake, who cares about an extra week or two of our time?
  4. Build your customers up. Our clients’ jobs are hard. We nominate them for awards when we can, we engage with their updates on social, we connect them to speaking opportunities, we connect them for jobs when it makes sense. Be there to support and raise your customers up every way you can.

As you likely know, this HBR article demonstrates that studies have shown that retaining customers can be far more lucrative than finding new ones. Do you use any specific initiatives to limit customer attrition or customer churn? Can you share some of your advice from your experience about how to limit customer churn?

We work to understand what we can do to make our customers’ jobs easier and easier. We learned this from direct feedback from our first customers, and when you take the approach of building a product or service for a specific job or functional area, you use everything you hear. As for next level retention and existing customer sales efforts, we hired someone who used to be our customer to lead our client services team. She knows how much the little details matter and can save our customers precious time and energy, and better support their efforts.

Here is the main question of our discussion. Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things one should know in order to create a very successful tech company? Please share a story or an example for each.

  1. Find a partner you love working with, and build trust immediately. My cofounder Scott and I didn’t know each other well when we started working together. I thought the worst thing that could happen during those early days was, we’d announce that we’re partners, and then have to tell our prospective customers it didn’t work out six months later. So Scott agreed to work for free for a period of time to see if we gelled as partners before making it official. That early gesture and sacrifice — even though in actuality it didn’t take as long as his offer — immediately made me realize we were in this together and focused on the long-term success of our business. Also, I’m a motivated person, but my productivity shot up 300% once Scott and I started working together. He pushes me to get better every day for the sake of our company and I never want to let him down.
  2. Know it takes a lot of time. Get comfortable with failure. Failure is no big thing and it’s the fastest way to learn. It’s expected when you’re building something that’s never been done before. The first few years, there was constant rejection. In fact, I remember every single person who was nice to us, or encouraged us, and I’ll never forget it. Sophisticated buyers wanted to see examples of our work, and we didn’t have them (now we have hundreds of fantastic examples). We knew we could solve a lot of our customers’ problems, but needed to get the work examples first. So we focused on “early adopters,” those who like to be the first to try new things. Then we could use their (client) examples to better sell to sophisticated buyers seeking proof. We offered discounts to those early adopters with the understanding we would promote the work we did together in our marketing efforts and in sales meetings.
  3. Don’t “overcome objections.” Build a better product or service. Instead of overcoming objections in the traditional sales sense, we took feedback as to why people didn’t buy and built better processes and offerings. Certainly you’ll learn a ton with every new customer you do acquire, but don’t force it … you’ll burn goodwill and waste time forcing something that’s not a great fit. For example, we didn’t have success in a specific market — learning and development content — even though our methodology and product can achieve a great outcome for this audience. Instead of trying to make it work with an audience that required a lot of education on why it would best work for them, we focused on where we had the most traction. We would have wasted a lot of time “trying to make ‘fetch’ happen.”
  4. Obsess over your customers. Always make sure you’re giving them the most value possible. In our business, even things that seemed small made a big difference. For example, we prep and schedule every employee storyteller prior to the interview. Scheduling interview times may seem administrative, but it makes our customers’ lives much easier. Plus, it’s strategic for us: every touchpoint with an employee makes it easier for them to feel comfortable sharing their experiences with us.
  5. Become a real expert at what you do. This takes time, experience, failures, successes: all of it. But if you continuously learn about your customers and how you can best help, with every customer you develop your expertise. We are now experts in our space, but it’s taken eight years, thousands of interviews, and thousands of videos with companies of all sizes and in all industries to get there. Also, we share what we learn publicly and constantly, which helps educate our market and buyers while further establishing our expertise. Our blog subscribers have tripled this year alone.

Wonderful. We are nearly done. Here are the final “meaty” questions of our discussion. You are a person of enormous 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. 🙂

People spend a lot of their lives at work. Where you work and what you do are enormous decisions. And, organizations benefit from having the right people in the right role: employee engagement increases corporate profit and productivity. But ultimately, right people in the right companies in the right roles = happier everybody.

I think more clarity into culture also helps organizations raise the bar on what they’re providing their people, too. When you know that certain programs are working for one company, it’s something you can try yourself. For example, employees and candidates are starting to demand transparency into the work being done to create more inclusive cultures. When you’re forced to communicate all you’re doing, you do the work better, and then the bar is raised for all companies who are competing for the same talent. Organizations learn faster and get better as a result. People in those organizations benefit. That’s another path to “happier everybody.”

We are very blessed that very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

Again — just one? How about three?

Mark Cuban. Sheryl Sandberg. Ariana Huffington.

Thank you so much for this. This was very inspirational, and we wish you only continued success!

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