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Sheryl Palmer of Taylor Morrison: “If you were given $1,000 to build joy in your community, how would you spend it?”

…In 2017, we began an annual, company-wide campaign known as Build Joy. It was based on a simple question: “If you were given $1,000 to build joy in your community, how would you spend it?” In the two years we’ve done Build Joy, we received hundreds of ideas from our team members and have backed […]


…In 2017, we began an annual, company-wide campaign known as Build Joy. It was based on a simple question: “If you were given $1,000 to build joy in your community, how would you spend it?” In the two years we’ve done Build Joy, we received hundreds of ideas from our team members and have backed 10 projects each year with the funds needed to bring the ideas to life. From surprising families by covering daycare expenses, to funding children’s hospice care, to providing food and blankets for homeless populations, and helping individual families get back on their feet after disasters, we wanted to capture Taylor Morrison team members’ intrinsic desire to give back and allow them to do so right in the very own communities.


As part of my series of interviews about “How to Use LinkedIn To Dramatically Improve Your Business”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Sheryl Palmer. Sheryl is the Chairman and CEO of Taylor Morrison, one of the nation’s largest homebuilders.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I was born in Los Angeles, but grew up moving around quite a bit due to my mother’s career as a fashion designer. Early on, I was motivated to make my own money, which led me to get a job at McDonald’s at 15. I worked my way up the ranks, and, by 20 years old, was promoted to marketing manager for San Diego. It was after this job that I had my first taste of homebuilding, and I’ve always liked to tease that I fell into it. I never really envisioned myself working in this industry — in fact, I was studying to become a special education teacher — but I quickly learned that homebuilding either gets in your blood or it doesn’t. And, for me, it did. I left my marketing manager position at McDonald’s for a marketing position with a homebuilder in Phoenix and continued working for a few different builders early on in my career, which helped me really learn the ins-and-outs of new home construction. While admittedly unplanned, I wouldn’t change a thing about my career path. It has been all about taking chances, following my heart and opening myself up to new experiences — and always being a little sweaty palmed about it.

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?

When I first started working in homebuilding, I didn’t know how to read construction drawings. I was new to the industry and had just become a sales manager — and 30 years ago homebuilding was even more male-dominated than it is today. There was probably a 10-foot wall between my department in sales and the construction department; they simply didn’t talk to one another.

Ultimately, however, I was able to show some vulnerability and acknowledge what I didn’t know and asked a VP of Construction to teach me how to read construction drawings. And he did. We’d meet 2–3 times a week in his construction trailer early in the morning and he’d teach me, and I’d teach him about the sales side of the business. And you know what happened? We had two teams that were better and learning from each other, and slowly that 10-foot wall got chipped away. The power of teamwork became so obvious to me. There were so many teachings in that time for me beyond simply learning how to read construction drawings.

Which social media platform have you found to be most effective to use to increase business revenues? Can you share a story from your experience?

We find that our social media platforms serve different purposes and audiences. For instance, Facebook is still huge for us, but we’re also seeing great success with Instagram through their ‘stories’ feature and we’ve even been dipping our toes into IG TV. Social media is always changing, so it’s important for us to be able to adapt quickly and adjust our strategy based on the times. We also find LinkedIn to be a great asset. Taylor Morrison has roughly 2,200 current team members and we recently tipped the scale at over 20,000 followers. This means that most of our followers aren’t current team members, giving us a great opportunity to market to both home buyers and potential team members. Our LinkedIn content is a sort of hodgepodge of employee culture, job opportunities, and industry news — with some beautiful product shots thrown in here and there. In terms of engagement, we’ve found that we have the highest rate among our peers on LinkedIn. Looking at data from the previous six months from the nation’s top 10 largest homebuilders, our engagement rate is 1.83 while the industry average is only 1.17.

Let’s talk about LinkedIn specifically, now. Can you share 5 ways to leverage LinkedIn to dramatically improve your business? Please share a story or example for each.

  1. One of our main uses for LinkedIn is to engage our team members. We do this through a variety of different methods but showcasing our renowned company culture is at the cornerstone of our strategy. I think that when you get the employee experience right, you get the customer experience right too, and then financials will follow — that’s why we put such a large emphasis on engaging our teams.
  2. We launched our employee value proposition TMLiving in 2017 and have seen tremendous engagement with it among our team members. TMLiving is encompassed by three tenets, Spirit and Pride, Health and Wellness, and Community and Giving — and these values inspire many of our LinkedIn posts. From showcasing community service projects held in the division to sharing women’s health resources during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, these three tenets are the guiding force behind our brand messaging. Each post is concluded with our signature hashtag #ThisIsTMLiving to keep our core values top of mind.
  3. We’re lucky to secure quite a bit of positive media exposure and we love sharing news articles or TV broadcast appearances with our team members and other LinkedIn followers. Not only do team members love seeing what’s going on as a company, but many of them are also curious about the homebuilding industry at large.
  4. One of our recruiting strategies is ‘top talent attracts top talent.’ Several times a month, we share a post featuring one of our team members with the hashtag #MeetOurPeople. The team members we showcase come from a variety of disciplines — constructions, sales, corporate, you name it. In the post, we include a response to a question such as “What’s your favorite thing about working for Taylor Morrison?” or “What’s a lesson you learned from you first job?” and a photo of that team member. Unsurprisingly, these are some of our highest engaging posts — our team members like to comment about how much they love working with that person. If we can, we tag the team member’s account for maximum visibility. Our #MeetOurPeople series also has the added benefit of making the featured team member feel valued and appreciated, circling back to our commitment to making our employee experience the best it can be.
  5. Similar to our #MeetOurPeople series, we also share available job openings using the hashtag #JoboftheWeek as a recruitment tactic. Oftentimes, team members will share the post to their personal network or even tag friends or past colleagues they think might be a good fit for the position.

Because of the position that you are in, 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. 🙂

In 2017, we began an annual, company-wide campaign known as Build Joy. It was based on a simple question: “If you were given $1,000 to build joy in your community, how would you spend it?” In the two years we’ve done Build Joy, we received hundreds of ideas from our team members and have backed 10 projects each year with the funds needed to bring the ideas to life. From surprising families by covering daycare expenses, to funding children’s hospice care, to providing food and blankets for homeless populations, and helping individual families get back on their feet after disasters, we wanted to capture Taylor Morrison team members’ intrinsic desire to give back and allow them to do so right in the very own communities.

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment 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 🙂

Phil Mickelson and Warren Buffett. Phil because I think he has amazing talent, is a genuinely good guy and family man, and continues to show his leadership on the course and in the game. He’s shown tremendous humility, leadership and authenticity, which are all traits I admire. No body rocks his world!

I’d also like to sit down to breakfast or lunch with Warren because I’ve long idolized the way he approaches business in the most simplistic way. He really has used his instincts on people to spring board his business and success.

Thank you so much for these great insights. This was very enlightening!

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