Relationships Matter

“If you believe business is built on relationships, make building them your business”  –  Scott Stratten

It seems lately that my leadership blog has overwhelmingly been impacted by the impact of COVID. My last four posts have started with a paragraph referencing the impact this pandemic has had on both my own approach to leadership and my guidance to others. On the one hand, it’s a shame this has become the norm for us. On the other hand, the experiences we have gained are so profound I find myself compelled to write about them. Stay with me again as I share continued insights gained as a result of this new norm.

Many of you know I manage a company called Genuent. At Genuent, we are in the people business. We provide our clients technical talent across a broad spectrum – including newly experienced as well as those with years of expertise. Our product is our people, both the consultants we place on assignment and the Genuent team that works closely with our clients and consultants to ensure the right technical and cultural fit. In other words, we have no inventory, no production lines, and our assets walk out the door every evening (well, in this new norm, they walk from their home office downstairs to their families).

When I first joined the company, I met with members of the leadership team to ask the question – what makes us “Genuent”. Overwhelmingly I received the same answer – “we care about the people we serve and the people we place”. Time and time again I got this answer, followed by a simple phrase – “our relationships matter to us”. So it wasn’t hard to make the stretch to shift our branding from “Innovative Workforce Solutions” to “Relationships Matter”. If that is what made us who we are, we should declare it to the world, right?

Now let me tie this back to COVID. Along with so many other businesses forced to work under a new paradigm, shifting to a remote work environment where we were isolated from meeting our clients and consultants in person proved to be a challenge we had yet to face. And for a business built on relationships, we had long held the belief that those local, in person meetings were integral to our success. Now that we were completely unable to meet with our clients in person, critical to our focus on relationship building, we wondered what impact it might have on our company.

The answer surprised us all. In fact, we found that it was the quality of those relationships that mattered. If we had built them over time based on trust, respect, and a willingness to do the right thing, distance would not prevent them from holding strong. In fact, we found that it was those very relationships that truly mattered when it came to operating in this new paradigm. Video, audio, and even email communications sufficed so long as the relationships were foundationally strong.

We’ve recently launched a new initiative across the entirety of the company. We call it “Your Relationships Matter”, and its targeted to operational support staff that support our business development and recruiting/consultant management team members. The premise is simple – why not leverage their relationships to help improve our business. And two weeks in to the effort, we have already generated 9 new leads that were otherwise overlooked before. If we are going to live our purpose as a company, it was important for everyone to be invested in this effort…everyone working for a common goal.

If you want to build a business on relationships, be in the business of building relationships. A simple yet profound statement that is the basis of our business, and has proven to be the key attribute that is allowing us to navigate these difficult times.

Are you simply building a business, or are you building relationships that will ultimately build the business for you?

Trust me when I say – Relationships Matter.

Trust Matters

“When the trust level gets high enough, people transcend apparent limits, discovering new and awesome abilities of which they were previously unaware.” – David Armistead

This past week I had the opportunity to set aside a few days’ time to spend with my executive leadership team. It has been months since the COVID virus forced us all in to operating under a new paradigm, and we had spent the majority of that time in crisis mode working through the numerous issues we were facing as a result. We all felt it was time to step back from the daily battles we have faced and reflect on our efforts throughout the crisis. I thought I would share some of those reflections and our biggest take away – Trust matters.

As a staffing company, this crisis presented one of the worst scenarios we could imagine. That is largely because in economic downturns, our clients will often cut temporary workers first before cutting their own staff. We are able to navigate these downturns largely through diversification of the industries we service. But in a crisis like this, all industries uniformly suffer. So it hit us hard and fast, and it was painful. Continue reading

Focus on what’s important

“Life is like a camera – just focus on what’s important and capture the good times, develop from the negatives, and if things don’t work out, take another shot” – Ziad K. Abdelnour

One of my fellow Genuent team members, Casey Landers, shared this quote with the company recently as part of our new Daily Inspirations messaging. We implemented this process to help our fellow team members as they navigated through the current COVID crisis. Our thinking was simple – sharing our favorite quotes and inspirations might produce just the right message, at the right time, for at least one member of the team. And that alone would make it worth the effort.

Little did I know the right message at the right time for at least one member of the team would be me! I have to say, when I saw this message, I was struck by how profound it was. While it is an amazing message to carry for a lifetime, it is, for many of us, the right message at JUST the right time. It puts the entirety of this COVID crisis and the challenges we all face navigating it in JUST the right perspective. And in my traditional way, I would love to share with you what I took from it. Continue reading

The Meaning of Life IS to have Purpose

“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” – Winston Churchill

What is the meaning of life? Scientifically speaking, the “meaning” of life is to persist and evolve. Every organism has a drive for self-preservation. Every creature is genetically encoded to replicate, to evolve, and to persist. At the most basic level, that is the fundamental meaning or purpose of life – to live.

But that’s not the kind of “meaning” we’re talking about here. So again, what is the “meaning” of life? Humans have pondered this for thousands of years. It is the very thing that separates humans from other animals…the self-awareness necessary to ask this question.

If you search that question on the internet, you will get back over 2.3 billion results – a clear indication that there is no simple answer. Millions of blogs, articles, even books all claim they have an answer. Read through some of them and you’ll discover a wide range of answers. Some will tell you the meaning of life is to serve a higher power (clearly a spiritual perspective). Philosophers will tell you it’s to be happy (not a bad thought). Academics will tell you our very ability to process thought infers that the meaning of life is the pursuit of knowledge. Overachievers will tell you it is to be successful in whatever you do. And so on… you get the point. Continue reading

Purpose Matters in Business

“Lean in to Purpose”  – Jonathan Mildenhall

I was recently at a conference where Jonathan Mildenhall was a key note speaker. For those of you who don’t know Jonathan (and I don’t expect you to), he was previously the Chief Marketing Officer at Coca Cola and is now the Chief Marketing Officer at AirBnB. His marketing pedigree is not the topic of this message, but his passion for building “purpose driven companies” is.

His presentation was fantastic. In fact, as he took us through a journey of his career and some of the hallmark marketing campaigns he has overseen with Coca Cola and AirBnB, you could clearly see the impact that purpose has on those two organizations. And its not that these two companies are charities – far from that. But their commitment to purpose helped drive both to notable growth and brand success. Consider the following elements of Purpose from each of these companies:

• Coca Cola: To refresh the world…To inspire moments of optimism and happiness…
• AirBnB: Creating real connections/friendships between likeminded people

Continue reading

Actions Speak More Loudly Than Words

“What you do speaks so loudly I cannot hear what you say” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Think about that quote for a moment – “What you do speaks SO LOUDLY I cannot hear what you say”. Simple yet prophetic. Truer words have never been spoken.

While researching quotes specifically for this leadership message, I thumbed through dozens, but this one struck a chord. An artist with a pen, Ralph Waldo Emerson was a master at communicating thought. A poet, lecturer, and essayist – his writings often centered around key ideas such as individuality, self-determination, self-reliance, and the capacity of the individual.

That’s why this quote caught my eye. I, too, believe in the capacity of the individual & our ability to achieve great things, when we put our mind to it. I believe both in the importance of self-determination and self-reliance. But, I also believe in something more – our ability to influence the action and behavior of others (both positively and negatively), and the significant responsibility it accompanies. Continue reading

No Substitute for Hard Work

“Leaders aren’t born, they are made. And they are made just like anything else, through hard work. And that’s the price we’ll have to pay to achieve that goal, or any goal.” – Vince Lombardi

I’ve been pondering this message for some time – writing about the importance of hard work. It seems so cliché these days to write about the obvious benefits of hard work – and even more cliché to start a leadership blog with such well-used quotes as those from Vince Lombardi. What’s more, I’ve worried about whether my message will offend those who might interpret this message as an affront to their work ethic.

But this message is important. It’s time to put the softer elements of leadership aside and speak to the heart of the matter – and quite simply it is this…most people don’t put forth the effort that is truly required to be successful in their life pursuits. Whether that’s at work, with family, with friendships, or in our hobbies, too many of us think that we can shortcut that process and still succeed.

Newsflash! Nothing in life comes easy. More importantly, nothing in life is worth having if it isn’t earned. “No pain, no gain” – isn’t that how the saying goes? Why then do so many people long for success (professional, financial, etc) but fail to put in the effort required for that achievement? Continue reading

A Purposeful Brand

“Authentic brands don’t emerge from marketing cubicles or advertising agencies. They emanate from everything the company does…” – Howard Schultz

I was sharing dinner earlier this week with several of my colleagues, and the conversation turned to the topic of work, motivation, and ambitions. One of the more rewarding aspects of my job is to understand what motivates my fellow team members – and to make sure we honor those elements as we build our business.

“To be honest, I just love helping people find work”, one of our recruiters said. “The beauty of working in staffing is that you get the opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life every day”. Prophetic words that spoke volumes about what motivated her behavior.

And I can tell you this statement was a genuine as the day is long. I know this because I saw it in action. Earlier that day we met several of our consultants during a client visit. One of those consultants pulled our recruiter aside to inform her his assignment would be ending prematurely. I wasn’t part of that conversation, but I did witness the follow up. Continue reading