Leading the people in your company is often one of the most underestimated tasks in a business yet it is one of the most important. In an ever-changing business environment, it is important to remain connected to your employees. A productive, engaged, creative and innovative workforce is the key ingredient to success long term.
As part of my series about the “How To Take Your Company From Good To Great”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Michelle Enjoli Beato.
Michelle Enjoli is a bilingual international speaker and coach who motivates and teaches strategies on how to successfully connect to career opportunities for growth and development. She was a first-generation college student who was able to get her dream job before she graduated as a television producer. She has worked and developed content for global brands in television broadcasting and marketing like Univision, Telemundo, ABC, NBC and CBS, Mercedes-Benz USA and Delta Air Lines.
In 2016, she created the first all-inclusive business resource group at Mercedes-Benz USA to connect leaders and professionals with each other for growth and development. She continued to expand on this work and created her second dream job with the launch of Connect with Michelle Enjoli. She has developed a curriculum focused on networking, personal branding and self-esteem that helps professionals and leaders learn how to connect for professional growth and development.
Michelle has an idea worth sharing and will become a speaker at TEDx in Southampton, England’s later this year. Her journey and work has been featured in Entrepreneur magazine, glassdoor and Telemundo among other news outlets. She is featured in the book called “Hispanic Stars Rising. The New Face of Power” and is currently working on her first book.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
My journey started in college where my insatiable curiosity and lack of fear helped me build connections in an industry where I had none. I landed my first dream job as a television producer before I graduated due to internships, part time jobs and many conversations over coffee. Since then, I’ve pivoted professionally and those pivots are what led me to a life changing experience that sparked my entrepreneurial journey. About 6 years ago while working for Mercedes-Benz USA, I was relocated to Atlanta, GA where an idea was sparked to help others navigate the uncertainty in their careers. I noticed a gap in the resources available to help generationally and culturally diverse employees grow and develop themselves in an everchanging business environment. I created a business resource group at MBUSA called Connect to help others seek the knowledge, mentorship and connection to continue growing professionally. When I left the company, people continued to reach out for guidance and that is what led me to develop a curriculum that I now use as the basis for my programs. I teach others how to connect to career opportunities via 3 pillars that include networking, personal branding and self-esteem. I define a career opportunity as any experience or conversation that can provide new insights to further your professional development as they exist in more places than we would traditionally think.
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?
One of the hardest things I had to face when I began my journey is doing something no one in my life currently had accomplished. I had no mentors or connections in the specific space so I had to start from zero. Thankfully I’m used to starting there and so it was easy to immerse myself in the space, find mentors, seek the education and do the work to accomplish what I have so far. I had moments of doubt but never considered giving up. Whenever a doubt did cross my mind, there was a reminder via text, email or a direct message that I was helping someone. That was the motivation I needed to keep going.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?
I forgot my train of thought in the middle of a speaking engagement! I went completely blank due to a distraction! Thankfully I was able to continue and got back on track shortly after. I learned to simply relax and go with the flow moving forward. As long as you are prepared with the main points you want to get across and are a subject matter expert, it’s ok for things to not go as planned.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
My company was born when I identified a gap I saw in the resources available to people who need guidance in determining how to navigate the ups and downs of their career. My insights, experiences and exposure to people at all professional levels, industries and cultures, helped me create a service that resonates with others and helps them gain the tools necessary for growth and development. I began talking about the struggles most people have but don’t talk about enough. Regardless of where you are from or what you do for a living, life will present you with unexpected challenges that will have you questioning and needing assistance on how to continue growing professionally.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
The number one tip I would recommend is to curate their environment consistently. Their environment is so important in helping them stay motivated, productive and creative. It is important as coaches to consistently take the time to learn new things, engage with others who motivate and support them and rest when needed. The kind of work we do requires a great deal of energy and when that energy is not replenished, you will burn out.
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?
I completely agree and for me there hasn’t been one person but a village of people who continue to help me until this day. I am grateful for my family who exposed me to a world outside of my own and to the leaders early in my career who encouraged and believed in me. I consider exposure one of the most important elements to success. I was raised in a diverse and welcoming environment where learning and engaging with others who were different than me and my family helped me learn how to connect with people from around the world. It is a skill that has led me to where I am today. I was also fortunate to have been mentored by some amazing leaders early in my career. One in particular was my supervisor at my first internship at a television station. Her acknowledgement of my desire to learn as much as possible coupled with her encouragement and empathy motivated me to go above and beyond my responsibilities to learn about the industry.
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. The title of this series is “How to take your company from good to great”. Let’s start with defining our terms. How would you define a “good” company, what does that look like? How would you define a “great” company, what does that look like?
A good company is one that is doing well overall with its current product and/or service offerings. They are content with their status and their quality of product and/or level of service meets their customer’s expectations.
A great company is not only doing well with its current product and/or service offerings but its consistently trying new things and innovating. The quality of product and/or level of service exceeds their customers’ expectations.
Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things one should know in order to lead a company from Good to Great? Please share a story or an example for each.
- A defined purpose and set of values needs to be defined, communicated and embodied at all levels of the organization. A shared purpose and set of values unifies a company and helps guides the direction especially during challenging times.
- Employees and customers are equally important. Both should be treated with respect and consideration as without both of them, a business cannot exist and prosper.
- A connected culture that welcomes honest feedback, dialogue and collaboration is a necessity. Without trust, respect and an open mind, a company cannot consistently navigate challenges and setbacks.
- A diverse workforce that meaningfully contributes to the business needs to exist. When you have a group of people who just look different but don’t confidently use those differences to engage and collaborate with others at work, you lose opportunities and meaningful insights to solve problems and innovate.
- There is always room for improvement. Typically, when companies have success, they can sometimes sit stagnant for a while because of it. The way we work, communicate and live is constantly changing and therefore a company should always be looking for ways to meet the changing needs of their employees and customers.
Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. Can you help articulate for our readers a few reasons why a business should consider becoming a purpose driven business, or consider having a social impact angle?
A purpose driven business helps a company create a culture that is connected by that purpose. When people feel connected by something, it creates an energy that can increase engagement, collaboration, productivity and creativity. These are all elements to a winning team.
What would you advise to a business 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 and “restart their engines”?
I suggest staring with a reevaluation of why they are in business and answering a few questions. Why do they do what they do? What are their goals? What makes them different? I then recommend evaluating the market. What is the market demanding now and what are their successful competitors doing well? The goal is to combine their differentiating factor with the needs of the current market and start delivering something new and exciting to meet those needs.
Generating new business, increasing your profits, or at least maintaining your financial stability can be challenging during good times, even more so during turbulent times. Can you share some of the strategies you use to keep forging ahead and not lose growth traction during a difficult economy?
Growth is only sustainable when you focus on meeting the needs of your customers. During good and bad times, things change. As a business leader, the goal should be to remain flexible during changing times and figure out how you can best serve your customers during each period.
In your experience, which aspect of running a company tends to be most underestimated? Can you explain or give an example?
Leading the people in your company is often one of the most underestimated tasks in a business yet it is one of the most important. In an everchanging business environment, it is important to remain connected to your employees. A productive, engaged, creative and innovative workforce is the key ingredient to success long term.
As you know, “conversion” means to convert a visit into a sale. In your experience what are the best strategies a business should use to increase conversion rates?
One of the best strategies a business can use to increase conversion rates is to first learn about your client. Find out what are their pain points and how your product or service can help solve their problems. Once you understand this, communicate your solution in a way that makes customers feel that you understand their struggles or needs. Communicate to them in their voice in their preferred medium of communication.
Of course, the main way to increase conversion rates is to create a trusted and beloved brand. Can you share a few ways that a business can earn a reputation as a trusted and beloved brand?
In my opinion, there are two requirements that a business must possess to become a trusted and beloved brand. The first is to continuously deliver a high-quality product and/or service. Second, it has to be comprised of a great culture in which both its employees and customers feel respected and valued.
Great customer service and great customer experience are essential to build a beloved brand and essential to be successful in general. In your experience what are a few of the most important things a business leader should know in order to create a Wow! Customer Experience?
A business leader should always put themselves in their customer’s shoes. When making a decision, it is important to always take into account how that decision will make a customer feel as emotions are critical to a customer’s choice of purchase. How a product or service makes them feel will determine their willingness to continuously engage with that brand.
What are your thoughts about how a company should be engaged on Social Media? For example, the advisory firm EisnerAmper conducted 6 yearly surveys of United States corporate boards, and directors reported that one of their most pressing concerns was reputational risk as a result of social media. Do you share this concern? We’d love to hear your thoughts about this.
No as I think social media is an important tool that can be used to market your business and conduct consumer research. While there is risk if not used and monitored appropriately, it is a growing platform where you can genuinely connect with your customers to understand their wants, needs and concerns.
What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start a business? What can be done to avoid those errors?
A common mistake is to think their business is about them. It is not. As a business owner, it is about their customer and how they can best meet their needs and wants. To avoid this mistake, they need to make sure they are constantly connecting with their customers to determine how their business can best meet their needs.
Thank you for all of that. We are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could start 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. 🙂
I would start a movement about rediscovery. So often in life as we grow and get older, life can force us into boxes where we get lost, confused or become unsure of ourselves and our potential. I’d love to start a movement where we regularly conduct an analysis on ourselves to rediscover who we are at every stage in life. We aren’t meant to live in a box. We have unlimited potential and opportunities if we take the time to rediscover them.
How can our readers further follow you online?
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!