Seasoned HR and recruiting consultants Liz and Kat help you navigate your career and get through your work day. Go beyond the employee manual for some real job talk!
Seasoned HR and recruiting consultants Liz and Kat help you navigate your career and get through your work day. Go beyond the employee manual for some real job talk!
Episode 29: Flat, Fluid, and Fast with Brynne Kennedy
Welcome Brynne Kennedy - author, entrepreneur and congressional hopeful for CA’s 4th district.
Brynne started Topia- an HR and talent resources software company that she grew to a global company with 100s of staff, wrote a book called Flat, Fluid, and Fast and and now is running for Congress!
What can companies do to mobilize the workforce. Look at developing a portfolio of skills and marketing them across different verticals. If companies hire for skills, they can open up their definitions of employment and give more people opportunities to people in all stages of their careers.
We talk about benefits for contractors and how that can work or not in today’s economy and the contrast between careers and stability 40 years ago with today. When we have more flexible work and entrepreneurial activity, we need to look at potential to buy into healthcare or pensions.
We talk about building an aligned company with a remote workplace, and having intention about the type of workplace (in office, flexible, remote) and then establishing cultural norms like how to handle meetings where some people are remote.
We talk about balancing office space vs remote and how to choose what roles can be remote. Brynne feels like it’s more about the times in the company evolution. Once there is alignment, let people go and execute, but bring them together during strategic times.
Brynne talks about setting up communication systems first (Slack, Bluejeans etc) and how it’s important for people to meet and build in-person camaraderie and then keep that up via video conferences, defaulting to video.
We discuss boundaries, especially when being remote, and being ok with blocking calendars and communicating limits both top down and bottom up.
We also talk about learning and being in the trades and having to learn from others, but also teach others. Learning from more experienced people, both in the corporate world and trade world, has stopped being celebrated. Part of Brynne’s platform is around apprenticeships. Working across different jobs, you get to build out your Board of Advisors and meet people in a variety of roles, but people always want mentors within companies, so that’s important.
Congress- Brynne ran for Congress after working with lawmakers to talk about innovation and saw that only a small number of Congress people had a business background or technical acumen. She wants to use business knowledge to progress benefits for people. She sees partisanship vs solving problems for people’s jobs, lives and safety.
Episode 28: Overlapping circles of career and parenting with Kim Lindauer
This week we welcome Kim Lindauer. Kim is the owner of Kim’s Gym and founder of My Venn Life, her new endeavor built to help and support moms who are entrepreneurs.
After 18 years of owning her own gym, Kim started My Venn Life to support other moms who own businesses. She saw a lot of support for male business owners, and wanted to support business people who are also moms in a space that was tuned to them. It's a community of like-minded women to support each other in building their businesses.
Moms can’t turn off "momming'… They have different expectations around what it means to be a primary parent and the pressure to be involved. Mom entrepreneurs have real-world external pressures as well as others that they impose on themselves.
How does Kim parent 3 boys and run 2 businesses? Sometimes it’s messy, and sometimes it’s graceful. After reading Dropping the Ball by Tiffany Dufu, Kim practices "dropping the ball" herself, and she realizes that all emails asking for help aren’t talking to her directly.
One of Kim’s greatest pieces of advice for entrepreneurs is to give yourself space to think about the problems you are trying to solve. Think out steps and give yourself time to have ideas. You have to have time to have ideas, to think through and process them, and to envision the steps involved in executing.
We talk about the importance of boundaries and delegation. Without her staff, Kim wouldn’t have been able to build out her business, and she learned that the business did BETTER when she delegated and took a step back.
In hiring, Kim would rather be short-staffed vs poorly-staffed and she'd rather lose money rather than hire poorly. This is because she wants to ensure a high-value experience for everyone at her gym. She handed over hiring when she knew that her staff understood the exact profile of the role that the business needs. Kim hires for the long term and wants to grow her people over that time.
The community part of My Venn Life is organized in circles. The founding circle of women joined for 3 months to test the program. Now Kim is involved in a year's commitment to connecting, sharing and being vulnerable. It started on a snow day, and the Earth kept on spinning….
Part of Kim's self care is therapy to help her with the loss of identity that comes from not being at Kim’s Gym daily. She has mentors who help her get out of her own way.
How to find Kim:
My Venn Life
@myvennlife on Instagram
Episode 27: Setting Career and Work-Related Goals
Welcome to Season 2 of Real Job Talk! We are kicking off this season talking about setting goals at the beginning of the year.
First up in this episode, Kat and Liz both describe their process to set career and job-related goals.
Kat’s process has been built over the last 10 years and includes a year-end completion process. Acknowledging the wins and the emotions around the goals that were not met, and then putting them all to bed.
Kat has an audio recording that she uses with her clients to walk through a completion process to let go of the past year.
Kat starts with self care and making sure her self care game is strong, since it’s a high priority that gives energy for the rest of her personal and professional goals.
She also sets SMART goals (that are Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) to make sure she can hold herself accountable and remember WHY she set that goal.
Some other tips:
At work, make sure your goals line up with business goals so that you have the buy-in to help to achieve the goal.
Having 2-3 goals at once is achievable, but not a lot more. Let one be easy, so you can knock out of the park and get energized by the progress. There's science to back this up!
Don't get locked into inflexbile goals! We talk about goals being dynamic - They can change based on life circumstances, and that’s ok.
Kat keeps her goals in Evernote, and uses other technologies to manage projects and ToDoist for her to-do list. It's all about figuring out what system works best for you.
Liz reflects on what challenges she wants and thinks about how to stay sane, and then sets realistic goals to address those challenges. She plans to checki n monthly, and wants her husband, @erickbronson, to hold her accountable.
How do you set career goals inside a company? First of all, know the goals of your company and of your team to insure alignment with your own personal career goals.
When setting career goals, it’s important to know what the processes are within your company and who you need to talk with to get there. By putting it out there, you have taken the first step to making it happen.
Be strategic about who you share your goals with: not with Negative Nelly or Competitive Cassie... Sharing with too many people who aren’t decision makers can get in the way of you achieving those goals.
If there is something about your work that you can’t stand? Can you propose some changes to your boss? It shows initiative, and taking on problems and making things happen and that gives you power over things you don’t like.
Can your professional goals be supported by your home life? In setting professional goals, it’s important to think about how achieving those goals will affect your personal life. Can you make it happen?
Our goal for 2020 is to help you have your career be what you want it to be! We'll be talking with people about their career and their goals throughout the year in season 2 of Real Job Talk.
Episode 26: Leadership, training, and neurodiversity with Sarah Noll Wilson
This episode, Kat and Liz talk about leadership development, theater training, and neurodiversity with Sarah Noll Wilson.
Sarah is a leadership consultant and also a proponent for working with neurodiverse people. Sarah started her career in leadership and teaching as a camp counselor and ropes course instructor. After a degree in theater performance and education, she took a day job in the insurance industry, and began to connect the dots in how to use creative drama in learning and development in a corporate context.
Why do good people become crappy managers? Because we don’t give resources and time to focus on leadership, says Sarah.
Sarah makes leadership training fun. She her story about finding her space and uses playful language to help people define themselves and to engage in leadership learning.
Sarah found leadership from managing ropes courses as a high schooler. She realized that technical training took a long time at her insurance company, and was able to shorten the training time and run team-building activities.
Sarah learned about mentorship and was lucky to find someone who taught her that SHE is in charge of her career.
Other takeaways from our conversation with Sarah:
Having a title doesn’t make you a leader, it just gives you authority. You need to understand who you are supporting is human.
Great leaders admit they don’t know things, and work hard to make themselves irrelevant by empowering their team. If you don’t care about the people who work for you, you shouldn’t be in leadership.
Great leaders are always asking themselves how they can get better.
And then the conversation turned to neurodiversity and ADHD.
Sarah shares her story with neurodiversity. She was diagnosed with ADHD as an adult. She discovered it when she branched out on her own. Away from her corporate job and the context and structure of work and school, the coping mechanisms she had developed became less effective, and her ADHD became more apparent.
So Sarah has developed new coping techniques as she learned what she needs to be successful and do her work. For instance, she listens to music and uses her Forest app to keep her on task.
Are we missing as a society by not actively trying to support people who have executive functioning issues? Sarah's answer: a lot!
For ADHD, it’s about finding where you get your hyperfocus and leaning into it. Liz and Kat asked what questions to ask in interviews, and Sarah’s advice is to ask people you know at the company and to wait until you’re hired to ask for accomodations to avoid misperceptions. Also, understand that people are often misinformed about the challenges of neurodiverse brains; try to be ready to have informative conversations to educate people who have misperceptions. If you can, find a leader who you can talk with about what you need.
Sarah surrounds herself with people who compliment her skills and help her.
On any team, but especially on a team with neurodiverse people with qualities like ADHD, Sarah likes to use the concept of the lead goose: Other team members can take the lead role when the regular leader is overwhelmed with other priorities, and the lead goose technique can also be used by any team member to help out a colleague when they're swamped or having a tough day.
Sarah also talks about being authentically herself: if you hire her, you get all of her. Kat talks about hiring consultants, and the need for a two-way fit.
This episode was great fun to do, and Sarah is great in an interview. It's worth a listen if you're interested in leadership development, and even if you don't have ADHD, you very likely work with colleagues who have ADHD or are otherwise neurodiverse, so that part's worth a listen, too!
More about Sarah on her site: https://sarahnollwilson.com/me/
Episode 25: Adaptive Workplaces with Chris Creel
Can you organize a company around collaborative projects and break free from your org chart? Liz and Kat talk with author Chris Creel, who says yes!
Chris Creel, a technologist and futurist, is the author of Adaptive: Scaling Empathy and Trust to Create Workplace Nirvana. Adaptive is the result of years of research and re-thinking about how work gets down through collaboration and organizational design.
The Adaptive project started in 2013, when Chris was tasked with improving productivity by 10-fold. He began thinking about what type of organization could adapt to the technology advances that were heading our way, and this research and experimentation eventually resulted in the book.
Another book recommendation: Primed to Perform by Lindsay McGregor on how organizations get good at what they do vs. changing and evolving with emerging markets.
In order for a company to be adaptive, one of its major values has to be adaptivity and change. Chris distinguished between servant leaders vs managers, and how being adaptable means giving employees the tools but also making them empowered to act on their own to drive the company's strategy forward. When professionals aren’t empowered to make change, companies can get stuck. Managers keep trains running and maintain discipline at work, but one of the aspects of a healthy and functioning organization needs to enable their people to be limber.
As a society, Americans are programmed for change; other countries, like China, are programmed for stasis. Companies need to look to see if they are designed for change or not. Change comes at us so quickly today that companies need to be designed for it from the ground up.
As you design your company, the rules of the road that you establish are important in allowing people to figure out how to succeed. Make sure that these norms and standards of the culture are practical so that people can be held accountable to them and can get better a them. As an example, look at the employee handbook of the game company Valve, where employees become characters in the story.
Historically, org charts were made to manage railroad employees for robotic precision: they’re great for precision, but they're not great for managing change.
An adaptive environment is one where employees are empowered to align their career aspirations to drive company strategy forward however they see fit. They are also empowered to take risks and try new things. True adaptive environments allow people to fail if their failure was trying to better the company and to move things forward.
In traditional companies, we are responsible for our careers and we get coaching from our managers. In an adaptive organization, everyone is rooting everyone on, and we get coaching from our whole team to make us better. For Chris, this includes quarterly 360 degree feedback based on cultural values. After the feedback process, each person would then work with a coach -- a coach that was not their manager -- to help them level up to be a better team player.
Technology platforms like Zugata and Betterworks helps with this type of 360-degree feedback. Chris talks about HR needing to rethink their role and priorities to be more about company strategy and what skills will be needed to successfully complete that strategy. This kind of approach helps avoid stasis in the company and in the company culture. It also helps with retention.
How can you as a manager get better at building adaptivity within your team and your company? One way is to help the people on your team to help each other improve their skills. Pair up people on your team to achieve goals; essentially you are crowdsourcing improvement to get the team working better together without the direct involvement of management. In this way, the team’s performance will improve faster and the managers will have more time to i
Episode 24: Surviving business travel with Erick Bronson
Always wanted to be a road warrior with lots of travel to faraway places and with super status at hotels and airlines? The real thing is not so glamourous. We looked far and wide for a great guest to talk about the ups and downs of work travel, and found him in Liz’s house! In this episode, Liz’s husband Erick joins us to talk about his life traveling in tech sales.
Erick has been a b2b software salesperson at both large and smaller companies, both sales direct to customers as well as working with distribution channel partners. He’s had large territories and small and has been traveling at least 50% of the time for work for over 15 years.
Erick starts off by giving us some tips around air travel and points. One tip around booking travel: pick one airline and one hotel group and stick to it. Why? So that you can get upgrades and be able to travel on them at a discount for vacations.
If Erick travels, he makes sure he's scheduled at least 2-3 client meetings during the trip. He will try to teleconference if he only has one sales meeting scheduled.
Erick likes some of the upsides of travel: getting to know his work colleagues better and seeing other cities. But he misses being away from his family, and it's hard to just run from meeting to meeting -- harder than being in the office! He talks about the fact that you can’t really relax because you’re representing your company and you have to be “on” the whole time.
Meals alone can be depressing and lonely. You have meals by yourself, and it can feel sad. Erick doesn't ue FaceTime a lot with Liz and their kids because sometimes it can make life at home hard.
From the home front, Liz doesn’t call without texting first because Erick could be in meetings and Erick doesn’t call without texting first because he doesn’t want to interrupt the flow with their two children. When the kids were younger, Erick and Liz didn’t talk about Dad when he wasn’t home because it could bring on a meltdown.
When Erick is gone, Liz has to have a tight routine to handle having two kids on her own. When they were babies, it was really rigid because of the juggle. When Erick would be at home and not traveling, their routines and how they managed the children would change, and that could be disruptive for everybody.
When interviewing, what questions should you ask about travel?
Erick says that it’s probably 10% over what they estimate, but you should ask all about travel expectations. Ask both the hiring manager and a potential peer. Also talk with competitors about how often they are actually visiting clients - that can give you a good picture of how much you'll have to be out there for your target market.
Other travel tips: try to get your stuff into a carry-on. Don’t be the person who checks their bag and makes all of your traveling companions wait on you while you to baggage claim to get your bag.
One recent development has been services like Clear and getting qualified for TSA Pre -- these give you extra sleep before you leave and helps you to not miss flights. If you're taking clients out to dinner, look at places like OpenTable and Eater and make a reservation at a highly rated restaurant so that you don’t have to make clients wait. Bring cash for tips.
To prevent getting sick: Don’t try too many new foods and be careful where you eat. Use hand sanitizer. Eat healthy.
Keeping up your workload can be hard. Erick recommends working on the plane, but not relying on the internet, and going home from dinner and other evening events early so that he can catch up.
Work days can be long It’s hard to get things done when you’re having meetings. To sleep, Erick tries to keep his same routine as he does at home. He tries to exercise and keep his routine as close to his home routine as possible.
Eating healthy is hard, but it’s important