Recruiting Archives - Ascent Conference

Attracting Top Talent in the New Normal

Recorded at Ascent: Spotlight on Human Capital

Jacqui Maguire, Talent Advisor
Taylor Smith, Co-Founder & CEO @ BlueBoard
Matt Hoffman, Partner & Head of Talent @ M13

With most companies adopting remote working practices, the world of hiring is changing dramatically
– How has the crisis changed what employees look for in an employer?
– Defining and managing your employer brand
– Is outsourcing the way forward?
– Accessing a broader pool of talent – looking beyond the zip codes to find new talent
– Creating a strong remote-specific hiring strategy
– Creating a value-enhancing HR ecosystem


Preparing Your Organization for the Future of the Workforce

Ian Bester, General Manager @ Brainstation; Falon Fatemi, Founder & CEO @ Node; Benjamin Powers, Freelance Tech Journalist

Ascent Conference 2019

Benjamin Powers [00:00:06] I think let’s just dove right into it, and I’d be curious to hear kind of because there’s such a wide array of backgrounds that people have that bring them tech, if you could talk a little bit about what brought you all into this field and then also just give a bit of background on a Node and brain station.

Falon Fatemi [00:00:22] All in one shot. So my name is Falon Fatemi, I am the founder and CEO of Node, which is an A.I. company based in San Francisco. Before going into what Node is. I was born and raised in Silicon Valley. So it was sort of born into the tech world. Started working at Google at 19 years old. I was the youngest employee there and spent six years there, six years in the startup world, and then ended up starting my company node at Node. We have invented artificial intuition, which is a proprietary deep learning platform that analyzes people and company data and turns it into use case specific predictions that enable organizations to understand which prospects will become customers, which customers are likely to churn before they turn in, which key talent is likely to leave before they leave. Our customers use our technology as a piece of prediction infrastructure within their applications to accelerate their time to market for turning their application data into prediction about features. And then we also worked directly with Fortune five hundreds and mid-market, fast growing companies to help them with their talent and customer turn.

Ian Bester [00:01:30] Hi there, guys. My name’s Ian Bester and the general manager BrainStation, based here in New York before I get into BrainStation. My background in technology doesn’t go too far back. I come from a retail consulting background and I work for a company called Barrows that was forging the way ahead in terms of blended retail experiences. And for a company that worked in retail for 30 years historically and the physical spaces, it rapidly needed to evolve itself into the digital world. And so I was given the opportunity to lead that initiative at the company. And so I had to rapidly upscale myself in technology and also hire a team around me to be able to go and develop the products that we were building in this digital physical world that we’re moving into. And so I, in that period, learned a lot in a short period of time around technology and how to build products, both digital and physical products that worked together throughout the customer journey and and also how to empower people with the right skills needed for the future of the business. So that’s where I started to really get interested in technology for Brain Station. Brain Station is the global leader in digital skills training, supporting businesses and professionals with workforce transformation training and professionals with the skills they need to future proof themselves in the future economy. And there is no time like the present for everyone in this room as an example to start thinking about what skills they need to be able to be relevant and to add value back into their own team and into their future career. So Brain Station provides in-person online learning and online live learning, which democratizes learning for the future of work. And that is our ultimate goal. We have an aim of educating a million people by 2025 and we’re well on the way thanks to online live learning and on demand.

Benjamin Powers [00:03:19] And Falon, so talk to us a little bit about the really the business opportunity of integrating A.I. and artificial intuition into these workforce’s and workspaces more generally, what are companies kind of missing and what does it bring to the table that we really need to be thinking about in the next five years, the next 10 years?

Falon Fatemi [00:03:37] At the end of the day, I is really hard and I read an article in the paper this morning that actually stated that I was going to add 13 trillion to the global economy. But the rate of adoption is is very slow. And the reason for that is there is a ton of organizational and cultural barriers, especially in the Fortune 500, where they have legacy solutions on top of legacy solution that actually prevent them from being able to adopt these types of cutting edge technologies. And the reality is that the next wave of transformation has to come from the enterprise because we are in a situation where, you know, really these organizations have to innovate or they’re going to die. And we’re seeing that in just general stats over the last 20 years were over 50 percent of the Fortune 500 have disappeared and life expectancy has decreased even more dramatically from 75 years in 1950, five to 15 years in 2015. And we’re not even talking about A.I. playing a part in that. So I will be a wrecking ball to the enterprises that don’t adopt it. And so to your question around, what’s the potential benefit for these organizations? Well, it’s basically helping them get a real understanding of the core aspects of their business internally and be able to make better decisions as a result. So, for example, if you knew which next markets of opportunity you should tap into for, say, a new product that you release and that’s going to accelerate your time to success and revenue and profitability and competitiveness, I mean, who wouldn’t want that if, you know, which key talent or executives are going to leave before they leave, before they even know that they’re disengaged, you can actually step in and do something about that and save on four to five more costs that you’re going to spend in trying to replace that person, retrain them, and that doesn’t even count any of the cultural impact. So what we’re talking about here is leveraging this type of technology internally within organization, analyzing the data that they have all over the place in whatever shape or form it’s in, and turning that into basically a crystal ball for them to be able to make the right decisions for their business.

Benjamin Powers [00:05:39] No, thank you. And then uhm Ian in kind of zooming in on the employee workforce itself, what are some of the things that brainstation is working on to really help them engage with the feature that Fallon’s talking about and kind of these necessary changes, you know, just even kind of understand the vocabulary of some of these systems having a certain comfort level. Can you speak a bit to how you all are trying to shape workforces towards that future and get them prepared for it?

Ian Bester [00:06:01] Absolutely. So I guess let’s get a let’s get a take in this room. Who feels comfortable with the understanding of machine learning as an example? Hands up. OK, yeah, it seems like about 30, 40 percent of the room maybe, and there is no question and I don’t want to use the C word, there is a threat to our economy in the future. And I don’t think people are realizing it right now because it’s a slow burn. It’s it’s the burnout of skills that people have learned in college and traditional education that they believe is going to take them through their career. The average now in the recent Lillington study says that millennial will great recent graduates are going through one and a half jobs in their first five years of work just in the last three years. That’s doubled. Not only that, there is a workforce across the globe of one hundred and twenty million that have to be retrained in the next three years. And the undergraduate students subscribed to undergraduates in the US is only 20 million, and only half of those end up working in the field that they studied and their major. So there is a huge skills gap in the global economy that we have to tackle and as individuals we have to tackle. Companies can only do so much. They can they can invest in learning platforms and and providing their staff with development budgets. But it’s also up to the individuals to recognize this need and recognize this gap. At Brain Station, we are committed to helping businesses tackle that transformation and tackle that skills gap by helping to up skill and retrain and retool staff so that they don’t have to spend millions and restructuring people out of a business. And in addition to that, supporting professionals with taking their career into their own hands and helping them with the skills they need. We do that through a number of means. We help them in person through the five key pillars of the digital product lifecycle, data design, development, marketing and product management. And we provide them with hands on learning through expert instructors who we’ve solicited through the industry that we vet vigorously before getting them up in front of all our learners. In addition to that, we democratized learning by providing an online learning platform through Synapse, our custom-built online learning management system where they can dial into any of these courses. There are about twenty five across these five pillars that they can dial into in the evening and learn these, learn these specific disciplines that’s helping them individually and for workforces. We’re helping train teams through this transition that we’re seeing in the industry right now.

Benjamin Powers [00:08:43] And I think in conversations previously we were talking about some of the cultural barriers just within institutions to try and move these things forward and really get organizations future facing. What are some of the ones that in each of your instances you run into most commonly? And what are some people should be looking out that might seem comfortable right now, but real obstacles to really embracing the sort of future?

Falon Fatemi [00:09:02] So I’m a big believer in digital transformation has to come from the leadership. And I think the CEO hostile, not frankly, if it doesn’t come from the top and it’s not a corporate strategy imperative, it will not be successful within an organization period. End of story. And we’ve seen this time and time again, because what ends up happening is without understanding the greater picture of the greater impact and how it’s having more holistic strategy around how it’s going to be a layer within the organization internally or be integrated into the product that you’re then selling to your customers, you end up with solutions that end up maybe costing you millions and years in risky experiments, maybe providing a 10 percent kind of nominal sort of increase or improvement or whatever metric you’re trying to drive it around. And it ends up largely failing as a result. So there’s a lot of other layers as well as you start to peel back the onion in terms of why it doesn’t work. And that also includes, like a lot of these companies that do have analytics, people are data scientists within those organizations. And I’m really talking like more, you know, larger companies here. They they’re very much comfortable with the way that they have been doing things and the way that they have been evaluating things in a way that they have been analyzing things. So changing that and disrupting that is a threat in a lot of ways, especially when we’re talking about bringing in new technology that might take away some of the sexy stuff that they like doing, like building algorithms, when the reality is they’re not really building algorithms, they’re doing fancy data analysis. And, you know, cutting edge deep learning is really the right tool for the job for a lot of complex business problems. But there’s not a lot of understanding of that kind of technology proficiency with it, comfort with it, because they can’t explain it, which is just a temporal thing. And so what you basically end up with is, frankly, a lot of pushback, a lot of politics and a lot of it’s coming from fear. So the way that it needs to be positioned at a leadership level is that this is an existential threat. We need to advance and change the way that we do things. So that it leads to market domination and profitability and success, and that has to start from the top.

Ian Bester [00:11:19] Yeah, and sort of just reiterating the point, it is a huge threat ahead of us and the economy. The other thing that’s interesting about workforce transformation is that I think everyone in this room, in this conference is pretty, pretty savvy when it comes to technology. But I guarantee many of you are going to be very successful in your respective businesses. And in the next 10 years, you’re going to be looking at trying to find the talent you need to take your business from them into the next chapter. And that’s where you’re going to face that threat in terms of how you’re helping your staff actually become fluid in their intelligence. And that’s another term we need to be comfortable with. It’s fluid intelligence that we need to start leveraging in our businesses. And we can do that by providing teams with the support they need at the very, very top. And we read about it. About 50 percent of CEOs say that upskilling or retooling their staff is their number one priority. A lot of that you can read through because action, you know, you need to see the action to see the proof in that. But the challenge is actually individuals and the individuals themselves taking that leap of faith into their own hands and taking that step into the right direction. Yeah, you might not know what machine learning is now, but tonight you can go and read about it. You can sign up for a course. You can actually study it and become proficient in it within the space of three to six months. And it’s just getting off your ass and going and doing it.

Benjamin Powers [00:12:42] And I think you were telling me that you see as recently spent going to spend a lot of money educating their workforce and they likened it to something as essential as health care. You know, what sort of incentives can companies take to get their employees to go and do that extra reading? You know, people have busy lives. We only have so much time. So what are the ways that companies can really be a channel for that rather than being an outside thing that individuals have to take up on their own for fear of getting out of the future of the workforce?

Ian Bester [00:13:06] Yeah, actually, the numbers are quite staggering. I read it this morning. It was three billion dollars into retooling and reskilling their workforce globally. That was the biggest number I’ve read in recent in recent weeks. And every week, every day, there’s another article about another CEO investing into their workforce. So it’s prolific. The question itself is really important because what they can do is, is multifaceted. There’s two parts you can look at a digital transformation and look at restructuring entire business. You can you need to find a blended workforce mixed with adaptable individuals and hard skilled individuals and believing in your in your high performers and investing into them and giving them the time they need in the workday. Because, as you say, we’re busy individuals to go and invest into that skill because the payback in the in the few months after they’ve done, of course, will be immediate. They’ll be actually able to apply those skills immediately into the workforce like data. As an example, you’ll be able to understand what questions to ask in terms of trying to infer the insights you need from an incredibly large dataset and how to present that back to your stakeholders within the business, which will make you more valuable and which will put you into more interesting roles and interesting jobs going into the future.

Falon Fatemi [00:14:24] I look at that question a little bit differently, and I agree with what you’re saying, I think also, though, there is this element of organizations really, you know, looking themselves in the mirror and understanding where are their strengths and where are their weaknesses. So a lot of companies and a lot of analytics teams and smart data scientists, they want to build everything from scratch. And that’s cool. But is that your core competency as an organization? Is that really where you should be investing your time? Does it make sense for a payments company to become an A.I. and data company? I don’t think so. I don’t think that’s the right answer. And absolutely, you will need to skill your workers so they understand, you know, the latest and greatest technologies and can architect the right systems and solve the right problems. But building everything from scratch is not the answer. And that’s why that’s part of the problem that we solve in terms of coming in and helping accelerate the ability for organizations to leverage their existing resources with their existing talents to be able to solve these complex problems.

Benjamin Powers [00:15:20] Yeah, because you’re a bit more about how artificial intuition can can the portability of that and how that can really come in to an organization and help them leverage some of these skills. What are some of the techniques it uses in how is that, you know, make it work for each company differently, but in a really kind of individual way?

Falon Fatemi [00:15:36] So what we’ve done is we packaged up our technology into a rest API, meaning any developer that can make for API calls can basically create models and do machine learning at scale. And obviously that took multimillions and years in engineering and unicorn’s of talent on our team to make that a possibility. But the secret sauce underneath that simplicity is data in combination with use, case specific and proven models. So we’ve spent the millions. And so so actually, before I even go into like how it works, I think the really important piece here is the the dirty little secret in artificial intelligence. And that field in general is everyone thinks that the aizer, the algorithms are sexy. It’s not about the algorithms, it’s about the data. And most organizations lack a deep understanding about the entities, the people, the organizations, whether they are in their product or that they’re interacting with or a client or talent perspective that is actually required in combination with their own, you know, core IP in terms of data to really generate these times. If you use case specific predictions, and that’s part of a product value chain that we own. So we’ve spent the millions and years in acquiring a data layer of half a billion profiles of people and organizations. This is used to basically retrain our A.I. system to in some ways comprehend and uncover. Got it. Uh, implicit attributes which drive more precise models and require less training data so that in combination with cutting edge, deep learning packaged up in a way that any developer can plug and play without needing to be a data scientist and without needing to spend millions and years. And that entire process being reduced to a matter of seconds is how we solve that problem.

Ian Bester [00:17:24] I just want to build on that in terms of this this idea that automation and machine learning and AI is going to usurp a lot of roles going into the future. It absolutely is. And there will still be enough work for everyone out there. The only problem is the transition for people to get into that space is going to be incredibly hard. Think about the end of the industrial revolution or the agricultural revolution. It’s we’re in for a tough 20 years. And I do believe that just by putting the effort in as an individual and as a business, you will reap the rewards.

Benjamin Powers [00:18:00] And so as we start to wind down, you know, this panel in this session, I’d be really curious to hear about what are maybe the top three kind of way points that companies should be looking at in the next 20 years to both make sure that the systems they’re using get to where they need to be and they can leverage the tech that’s out there in a really productive way and not just kind of stay stuck in the current times and then also for their workforces generally and bring them into the future with them. What are what are maybe three takeaways or other areas that they really need to keep an eye on to ensure that they’re going to be there even in 20 years.

Ian Bester [00:18:33] Give that one one second to think about that one, because there’s three yeah, I would say we’ve mentioned it already. It’s it’s take your your workforce seriously, take the development seriously, invest in them and don’t look at your bottom line and think it’s all going to go to waste. I promise you, it won’t find a partner you can trust and believe in and build out a roadmap for the transformation of your workforce, no matter how small your team is or how big your team is. We work with a lot of Fortune 500 companies all the way down to teams of of 10, 20, 30. And so you’ve got to make that commitment into your workforce and find a partner you trust. And then as an individual, I’d suggest you need to take your career into your own hands. I couldn’t be more clear on that one.

Falon Fatemi [00:19:21] I’ll give it one or two things. Only build and house, it is central to your core competency is No. One. If not, then partner for that type of technology. And then my second piece of advice is make sure you bring in the right talent and are really understanding the impact of the technology from an ROIC perspective. So hiring tons of bodies that are really expensive and that taking millions in years, a longer time horizon to then get to an ROIC increase of 10 percent, not worth it. So really, really understand what’s the right tool for the job and how long it will take to get you there. And if you’re spending more more money on the actual bodies versus the technology, then that’s one answer.

Benjamin Powers [00:20:15] Well, great, thank you all so much for joining us and thank you so much for sharing your insights. And I’m going to hand it off.



Nailing your First 100 Hires

Maren Kate, Founder & CEO @ Avra ; Matt Hoffman, Partner/Head of Talent @ M13

Ascent Conference 2019

Matt Hoffman [00:00:02] Welcome, everyone, we are we’re thrilled to talk about building and scaling organizations and nailing your first hundred hires, arguably the most important hires you’ll make regardless of what size you are. So to start, I’m thrilled to introduce Maren Kate. So Maren is an entrepreneur, a writer, and probably most important and relevant to this one, a pigeon fancier. So Maren scaled her first venture back, Sarepta, over 400 people. And she did that by leveraging a diverse workforce and creating strong, healthy, resilient cultures. Now she’s CEO of Avra Talent, which is a recruiting firm that’s focused exclusively on growing organizations and companies with vetted remote talent across the country.

Maren Kate [00:00:43] Yeah, thank you, Matt. So Matt’s a partner and head of talent at M13, which is a venture firm with studios in L.A. in New York. He’s responsible for working with their portfolio companies to help them scale their teams and accelerate their cultures. Hence why we’re talking about this today. Previously, Matt was VP of people at Digital Ocean, where in four years he nipsco the organization from under 100 people to over 500, which is definitely tough. And then prior to that, you spent some time leading people ops at Return Path, which was named one of Fortune’s best places to work in the U.S. So that is a little bit about us. Yeah, just to get started, as we said, nailing your first hundred hires, which is obviously or not obviously necessarily, but definitely one of the most important things as a founder you can be obsessed with, especially in the early days. All right. Well, first, talk about culture.

Matt Hoffman [00:01:39] So it’s not necessarily intuitive to think about culture when you’re thinking about hiring. Right. Especially at the early stages. There’s this desire to just fill the roles as soon as possible and everything is going on. There’s just this kind of sense, this this urgency to just hire the next person and hire the next person and hire the next person. It’s very active. Right. And it makes sense. But what we’re here to argue is that thinking about culture from an organizational perspective is actually one of the most important things that you can do to scale and elevate your hiring process. Right. And so what does that mean? It’s around. What do we want the company to look like? What do we care about? Where do people work out of? How do they connect with each other? What do we reward? What do we promote on thinking about those things? May seem like a really big company problem, right. But it actually is something that’s even more important at early stages, like I imagine most of you are at, because when you’re really small, every single person that you add is actually a huge percentage of the company. And so being really thoughtful about who you’re adding and why and issues around, how do you add to the diversity you have? How do you make sure that people share the values? That’s not something you do later on. It’s actually going to do really important really early on, and it’s more important to do that. So when you’re hiring, what are the values that you care about and how do you make sure that you’re asking questions that will help assess or ascertain whether someone shares those values? How do you think about things like working from home, working in the office? What kind of hours do you keep? What type of behaviors get rewarded, what’s acceptable, what’s not acceptable? Building that into the early interview process, asking questions about how they think about that is one of the best ways that you can build a really healthy organization. And the more that you have those conversations up front, the easier it is when you’re the CEO for have other people do it right because you want everyone to share that experience. And building a healthy, cohesive culture means everyone knows what to ask and when. And so having questions about that and really having those conversations early on will actually make you hire and scale much, much more quickly.

Maren Kate [00:03:44] Yeah, and just to kind of outline what we have here to the four ways to think about it is leading with a big vision, because if you don’t know, if you’re not clear about where you’re going, it’s even harder for those early people to join and to get behind that vision. Everybody be driving in the same direction. And then, as Matt said, the core values, even your V one core values are really important as you’re bringing on your cultural co-founders. These people that are going to be building your company with you operating principles is another really important one. There’s an amazing book by Ray D’Alessio called Principles. It’s pretty thick and deep, but if you spend time going into it, the first year or two of your company can make a great difference in how you think about operating and how everybody aligns the same way. And then, of course, as you said, environment in terms of whether you’re a company where it’s really important that you you have a lot of face time. Maybe the founder is the one that stays ladies. Everybody doesn’t leave before he does versus a remote friendly or a remote first company. And that actually ties directly into hiring because once you get this set, it will turn off people who aren’t into that culture, but it will really get people excited who buy into your vision. So hiring really is it’s a formula, it’s similar to sales people think of sales and build out their funnels and put a lot into your product roadmap. But often when we’re thinking of hiring, especially in the early days, we don’t necessarily feel the same way. So hiring starts out with I mean, sourcing is an important part. And then the recruiting funnel is an important part and we can go through each of those points. But do you wanna.

Matt Hoffman [00:05:30] Yeah, having a standardized process early on will help you do that. We talked about the framework and understanding. What do you want your company to look like? What do you want great talent to look like? And how do you create the container and a system to do that? But having a document process around the way you source do you just go through your network? Do you just go through your PVCs network? Do you only take in inbound candidates? Do you take the time to look for passive candidates? Those are intentional decisions that are worth making overall because they help expand the pool, they create more diversity and they give you different types of talent rather than what’s faster. Having those conversations where you care about is really important and working with amazing recruiters like Narron. Are you doing things internally or being an external recruiters to help? And then as you go through each stage of the funnel. Right. What is your application process look like? Where do you have consistency? What are you screening for? What are you looking at? Do you do coding tests? What are those feel like? Are they in person or are they online? How do you check for culture fit culture? Add again some of the things we talked about earlier. Then when you dig in deeper in the organization, once you’re here, what does that look like? What are the questions doing that work up front and making sure that you’re focusing on? Can they do that technical ability? Have they worked at a scale that’s relevant to what you’re doing in an industry that’s relevant? And then do they add to the culture? Those are all really important things to understand what that looks like and checking each one of those across the process.

Maren Kate [00:06:48] Yes. So with hiring what I’ve learned over the last decade and change is it’s first really important to start with kind of the end in mind, like thinking through what’s the why behind this role. Often when we take on some venture money or start to grow organically, we think, OK, I need an X, like I need an operations person, I need a digital marketer. But you don’t instead stop, take a minute, step back and say, what are the business goals that I want with this role? So break those down into objective outcomes. Those objective outcomes will be super clear, like this person will grow our user base from X to Y or this person will put together OK and roll them out all across the country, our country, across the company. And when you have the objective outcomes, then you can build a compelling job description and the job description will actually take pieces of the vision and the culture you had. And it’ll tie into this specific role. A great hack that I’ve suggested to people in the past and used myself is if you haven’t hired for a role or done the role yourself. Tappa domain expert. So this is somebody in your network that’s really good at one thing. So digital marketing, maybe their technical product, lead your hiring for a role similar to that, get them a coffee, buy them lunch, maybe even offered him to pay for an hour of their time and get them to vet what you think you want versus what you really want. It’s some of the best money you can spend.

Matt Hoffman [00:08:17] It’s such a it’s such a great point. One of the biggest mistakes that I’ve seen Early Stage company makes is they hire for the person they hire for a very specific need instead of figuring out what is the company need, what is the organization need, what are the success metrics and the outcomes we’re trying to do and it hire for that. So build out the organization and figure out what gaps need to do rather than just I need this person, I need this person. And it’s a much more strategic view that will get you a better long term stability. And that’s where you can really bring in outside expertize to say, oh, you need to do this. Here’s a good way to do that. Here’s a good example of what good looks like. And you can assess your candidates in that way.

Maren Kate [00:08:51] And lastly, with hiring a big mistake we all make sometimes is referring too much on referrals. But you really want to have this tripod effect. You want to do outbound sourcing, which is you or someone on your team going through angel list, LinkedIn going to meet UPS, then you want to have inbound, which is just putting your job out there and putting it on job board aggregators like ZIP recruiter or specific job boards like built in New York that are very tied to a specific thing. And then the last piece, be referral and you want to run all three of those at once. That’s incredibly important. And the one thing that huge take away, if you take anything away from the hiring portion of this is reference checks. Make sure when you’re close to the end of your process with a few candidates that you talk to, people they’ve worked for, people they’ve worked with and people that reported up to them, that shows a ton.

Matt Hoffman [00:09:45] Yeah, there’s a huge difference between how people show up in interview and how they show up in jobs and you can design really good questions, etc. But actually speaking to people who’ve done that is a really helpful way. Getting that 360 perspective do in a transparent way, always let people know who you’re speaking to and why, but getting that objective. Perspective is really important.

Maren Kate [00:10:02] Absolutely. And the third stage.

Matt Hoffman [00:10:06] So a lot of people think that the hiring process ends when they sign the offer, and that’s that’s actually not the case. In fact, the biggest way that you can set up a great hire for success is never really thoughtful onboarding system in place. Right. And it makes sense if you think about you spend all this time, all this money to get them in the door. And then so many companies, especially early stage, just leave them to their own devices or it’s like, here’s your computer if you’re lucky. Right. Here’s your email. If this if it’s set up and then you’re not really showing them how to do it right. And so you want to really make sure that you’re investing the time in setting them up for success. There’s a couple of great ways to do that. The first one is, is to be really clear about what success looks like in the job and the same way that an employee would have, you know, a performance feedback conversation after a certain amount of time. And you want to set goals. You want to make sure that any new person joins has a clear understanding of what good looks like and that you or the manager is having regular feedback conversations to get them completely aligned with what success looks like. Right. And taking the time to, you know, in the way that we said think about what success looks like when you’re starting the hiring process. Now that you’ve done that work, share that with the person you hired. Right. And then how do you make sure that they fit into the organization or set up success? Right. We’ve seen great success results come up with a buddy, someone who’s been there for a while and kind of understands the unspoken rules and norms about how to operate. And the company helps them figure those things out. That works really well, making sure they understand the unique language and unique culture and your organization, that stuff that doesn’t just happen. You really want to be thoughtful about helping people understand what that looks like and how to communicate and how to be successful in the organization and then give them access across the organization. What tools do they need? What systems do they need? How do they connect to the right people? Some of the best onboarding processes I’ve seen as a person will have their first two weeks laid out in a schedule before they even get there. And it can feel overwhelming like you get in, your email is full and you’ve got all of these meetings, your calendar, but you also know that you’re setting up the time really, really well. So they’re meeting with all the key stakeholders as soon as possible to really give the context and the framework for all of the things that are going to be learning from. So they’re not just drinking from a fire hose, there’s a container around it. There’s a framework that helps them be much, much more successful.

Maren Kate [00:12:13] Yeah, absolutely. So just kind of in summary and then we’ll open up to questions and figure out your culture first, spend the time and energy it takes to make that at least a version, one your culture will change over the next five, seven years. But get that version one and that should be you, your co-founders. Early employees put together a hiring process and follow up whether you’re hiring an intern or a VP of Ops. That’s incredibly important. Make sure you’re doing your reference checks at the end. And then lastly, like Matt said, get onboarding down to at least basic science where people feel engaged, involved, and it all should tie in. At the end, they were going to be productive members of your team.

Matt Hoffman [00:12:56] That was our Rapid Fire. We know we set this up as a Q&A. I want to make sure we have time to do that. So please ask us lots of questions.



Panel The Basics of Recruiting for a Young Company

Nate Smith @ Lever, Rob Pegoraro @ Freelance, and Robert Sweeney @ Facet

Startup Grad School Stage
Ascent Conference 2020

Rob Pegoraro [00:00:01] Good morning, everybody. Welcome to our we can’t call this a debate, right? I think the brand equity of that word has gone a little downhill in the last 24 hours or so. Welcome to our conversation about the basics of recruiting for a young company. With me, we have Nate Smith, founder and CEO of Leever, Robert Sweeney, CEO of Fassett. So why don’t you all start off by of course, you have to give your elevator speech. Tell us about the problems in recruiting you’re trying to solve with your companies and then we’re going to get into it.

Nate Smith [00:00:32] I am so Lever is a company that builds hiring software for other companies, so we make a Tom acquisition suite of products that you use to manage your internal hiring. That includes putting up your own job board on your website for people to apply to tracking all those applications, as well as doing outbound activities. A lot of companies are looking to bring in town proactively. So going and finding talent from a variety of sources, including your network through referrals, finding your own network out on the Internet, and then attracting those talent and nurturing them with tools a lot like marketers use or connecting with their prospects.

Robert Sweeney [00:01:21] OK, and so I’m Robert Sweeney. I spent the first 10 years of my career as a software engineer at Microsoft and Netflix engineering manager, my claim to fame is that I invented binge watching. I made the autopilot feature Netflix and Fast Facet is my second startup version was a venture backed SAS Analytics and got frustrated with recruiting company and also as a software engineer, very spammy and really inefficient. So I built Fassett to be a passive search engine for candidates. So you can define exactly what you’re looking for in a job as a candidate, and then you only get matched to the jobs that match your salary, location, text act, what you’re looking for. And so you work with companies to help them source candidates that aren’t actively on the market.

Rob Pegoraro [00:02:31] All right, so I wanted to start with something you, Robert, said in our conversation arena before this, which was it would have been really nice to get a crash course in recruiting early on in my first startup. What are the things which you wish somebody had told you back then and made? You’re welcome to China, too, on this.

Robert Sweeney [00:02:48] Yeah. So one of the mistakes I made a lot of mistakes and as a first time founder and one of the things I wish I had known is that that recruiting is a lot like sales. You can’t just post a job and expect people to show up in a place where you might get some applications. But the best people are going to be the ones that aren’t actively looking for a job and probably aren’t going to see your job. So it’s like sales. You’re doing sourcing, you’re building a pipeline, you’re moving candidates through your editing process. And it should be a significant portion of your your day as a founder. It’s one of your primary responsibilities is to build your team. And so expect to spend 20 to 30 percent of your time on that when you’re when you’re in hiring mode. And I think I wish I’d I’d known is not to hire people just because they say they want to work at your company. They flattery happens a lot is found guilty that they think you’re going to be great. They’re doing and they really ought to be part of it. And you just got to ignore all that and just focus on. The skills and experience that you need and that position. And I think the last thing that I wish I’d known in the top three is that speed is your biggest advantage as a small company. It takes most companies once you get beyond a certain size or a certain amount of bureaucracy at companies and see if you can get an offer to a candidate and seven to 10 days, then you’re going to be 90 percent of the companies out there. And being the only option on the table is a huge advantage when it comes to closing candidates.

Rob Pegoraro [00:05:04] Very good point. Nate, what would you answer to that?

Nate Smith [00:05:09] Yeah, I’d agree with a lot of what Robert said in particular. The last point he made around speed, I think is extremely key for early stage companies. When you’re getting going, you will be competing against other people who can offer more money. You necessarily need to sell people on some variety of this is a great learning opportunity for you. This is a role that you’re really excited about. This is a really exciting team or what we’re working on is really exciting. So you really going to have to highlight intrinsic motivations other than money. A lot of times those things are learning opportunities or the ability for that person to have an experience that they really want to have in their work. And, you know, it’s really difficult to do that once someone’s already anchored on another offer of a lot of money, because at that point, the conversation pretty typically does come down to money. It’s very hard to to sell people at that moment. So what I would add to the tip about speed is not only do you need to operate with speed overall, you need to go to an offer quickly. I would also say one thing I learned that was really important is you actually need to sell candidates very, very early in the process in order to frame the conversation before other people do. It’s sort of another form of speed. It might justifiably take you months to hire certain jobs, especially if they’re your first person who’s going to be a manager or an executive and you don’t necessarily know how to hire someone that is at that level. You might need to talk to a number of people. But when you talk to someone good, you should start the process of selling early because typically your instincts will end up being really useful and you will know that that person is better than a lot of the people you’ve talked to. That’s when you lean into selling right away. They’ll always be more time for evaluation. And so don’t be shy and start telling people why they should work for your company really early on a process.

Rob Pegoraro [00:07:20] All right, let’s get into some nuts and bolts practical advice, because it seems that there’s still a lot of a lot of the stuff has changed, the hiring process there for sure, a lot fewer handshakes and that these days, what’s a good job hosting look like these days? And where do you put it so you can get someone’s attention and start optimizing the hiring process for speed?

Nate Smith [00:07:42] Well, I’d say and feel free to disagree with me on this, Robert, but I’d say that posting jobs on job boards is not a good use of time for a small company. You very well probably should have your jobs on sites like LinkedIn or Anjali’s or places that Glassdoor, places that people know startups tend to have presences. I wouldn’t really waste time with a lot of others. There might be a couple networks that are a little better than others for certain kinds of skills. Stack overflow does tend to be pretty good, but by and large it’s a waste of time. You’re mostly going to get extremely low qualified people. There’s a dynamic in in town acquisition in hiring, where most of the people who are searching for a job are the people who frankly aren’t as employable. And therefore, most of the time when you get applicants, they’re not relevant. And the people who you do want to hire already have a job. So they literally never apply to a job after their first job. And those are usually the people you want to hire, especially at an early stage startup. You only get a few hires. Every one of them has to count. So I would say that, sure, you should put your jobs in your website because occasionally someone will be really passionate about your company or they’ll have heard about you in another format, like potentially in sales. You were talking to someone and they actually fell in love with you and they want to work for your company. It’s happened. That’s a good system. So you want to have your presence out there, but you don’t want to rely on it. You want to just have it available for the people who already know about you or hear about you through a more meaningful interaction. And then beyond that, I would I would say that where you want to spend your time is in finding people through the typical places. You find people with certain skills. A lot of that’s LinkedIn, but also to a certain extent, GitHub or other social networks can be really valuable resources. And you want to go out proactively and find those people. You also want to work your network. And there are certain roles in which you’re not going to know a lot about them. This is particularly meaningful for executive roles where I would say you want to bring in an executive recruiter as soon as you can afford to. I’d say I actually waited too late to start working with executive recruiters, but those specifically are for the executive team that you bring in. And so it might not be for your first year or two of operation, kind of depending on your growth. And when is the right time to bring in someone with a lot of experience at that level?

Robert Sweeney [00:10:25] So I agree with a lot of the advice that they gave, it’s like putting up a new product for sale on a website, you’re not going to get people just showing up to buy your product. You have to go out and actively source. And so for me, that was like specifically buying a premium subscription. You might have to splurge on Illington recruiter’s subscription, although they’re really expensive and just searching, searching for people with the right skill sets, people that look like the type of person that you want to have on your team. They have the right experience, the right resume. And then just start messaging them. That worked really well for me. It did take a lot of time. And but you craft your your your message as a sales pitch, like Nate said. So a lot of the recruiting process should be selling. And it starts from that very first message you said. And so you’re you’re looking for like a couple of paragraphs just to get them to start a conversation with you, like maybe some common interests or common connections and then lead into, like, why your your startup is something that they want to be part of,.

Rob Pegoraro [00:11:40] As if you were having a conversation at the reception we would have up to this event.

Nate Smith [00:11:45] Yeah, exactly. Although the one thing I would caution is that I’ve seen a crazy number of these messages from various companies and a lot of times people write down the things that you might be really proud of that you would say to say an investor such as, look, we have a lot of customers or we have a lot we have really fancy investors. We have a lot of money like those kind of things, especially when you’re earlier on. Actually don’t sell that well, frankly, because other companies have the same stats, but better they’re not that differentiating. So you probably have them somewhere in there because you want to, at the end of the day, get that person to believe that you’re legit. So you probably have a sentence in there that’s like I used to work at a big company or I have this credential or my company raises this money or we have this customer. That’s really exciting. But that should be one or two sentences, Max. The majority the majority of the emails should be something with a lot more truly unique. Potentially, it’s something about your culture that’s really meaningful, that’s different, or it’s something about the particular spin that you have on what you think makes a good company or a good person in this role. You really have to kind of reach for. Is everyone else saying this exact same email? Because people who are really great get literally emails like that every single day and you do have to stand out from the crowd.

Robert Sweeney [00:13:16] Yeah, that’s something you have to you have to understand, especially in technical recruiting. I was getting five or six messages a day when I worked at Netflix and it hasn’t changed really. And so there’s a ton of noise out there. And I agree with Nate, like, you need like one sentence that said that helps them know that you’re a legit company, like maybe you’ve got a prestigious investor or if it’s a milestone, but the rest of it should be about the prestige of the role or something that appeals to like there that might appeal to their career aspirations, growth opportunities, a greenfield product development mission of the company, things like that.

Rob Pegoraro [00:14:01] So what what is a what’s the interviewing process like these days? Is it what we’re doing now, video conversations, when people do phone calls, the word for that? What are the best practices these days?

Robert Sweeney [00:14:15] So what facet does as we we’re recruiting company for technical recruiting company. We worked a lot of early stage companies. And so we see a lot of what companies are doing right now. It’s yeah, it’s it’s all over Xoom. We do help coordinate that and provide the settings and things like that. It can be challenging. There’s always technical issues. It seems like distractions. We have got an amazing candidate like Google and like an incredible ten year, ten years of experience get past our position because she was distracted, because there’s construction going on outside of our house. So I would say a lot of that lies on the interviewer. So you as a company to see past that. So try and see past the distractions of the online or maybe somebody super nervous. It can be intimidating to be just in front of a camera versus in person. And you so you have to there’s extra work you have to do as an interviewer. To create an environment they’re comfortable and if they’re they’re flustered, distracted that provide reassurance because you want the candidates to put their best foot forward, you’re not there to make them look bad. If they’re not there to prove how awesome they are to you, it’s your job to extract that maximum or the best, most accurate measure of their capabilities and experience.

Rob Pegoraro [00:15:52] Is all working from home or one open door away from a cat or a kid walking in. I did remember to close the door to my office. So can I actually.

Nate Smith [00:16:00] I mean, every kid walks in. I say hi to them. Yeah, no, I think it’s really important that you show through your actions that life happens. Things are weird right now. We’re cool, right? You didn’t have to take the extra step with someone that you don’t yet know and have built trust with to show that you’re not fazed by the random interaction that just happened. That was a little unusual. And that’s OK. And now we could move on to the next part. So you got to you do have to really actively work in those conversations. I would say this is actually good advice, though, during normal times, too. I think most interviewers in technical roles have some challenge of getting over this hump. And this occurs in other functions, too. But I’ve seen engineers encounter this the most out of all roles where they oftentimes view the interview process as like it’s my job as an interviewer to test this person effectively or completely. And that’s actually not your job at all. Your job is to make a hiring decision, plain and simple. And a lot of times I have to remind people of that, because when you interview becomes something where the interviewee feels like they’re at a test, they’re actually not performing anything like they do in their job. Their job is not a test. It is something they do every day, eight hours or more a day with people that they know really well. It’s an extremely different environment. And so something we have always pushed for, you know, within Léger, for our own hiring and something I encourage for our customers is always think about what are you able to do to make it as similar to the real work as possible? It’s never going to be quite there. You can’t simulate years of working together, but you can do little things. You can ask people how their day is. This isn’t unique to us, but I always start off of phone screen or a zoom screen with hey, like is is still a good time. Most of the time people say, yes, there actually have been a couple times where people actually know something just like I got to go take care of it. And if that happens, amazing. You just avoided like wasting thirty minutes of both your time. And also that person can come back for a great interview.

Rob Pegoraro [00:18:19] Later on fire in their kitchen or whatever.

Nate Smith [00:18:21] Yeah. Fire in the kitchen. It has actually happened where someone is like, oh no, actually it’s not a good time. But, you know, the the main thing that happens is people just go, oh, this person’s double checking with me. They care about me. It’s a very, very fast way of inserting like a little bit of small talk when it’s someone you don’t know super well yet. So just those little things do add up and how you how you have the conversation. The other thing I recommend to people that’s along these lines is give people compliments. It’s OK to tell people nice things during an interview. And I think most people think it’s not because they’re worried about disappointing the candidate or setting the wrong expectations. And certainly you don’t want to say, great, we’re moving to the next step before you’ve made your decision. You don’t want to end up wasting your time and the time on your team because you’re interviewing people to be nice. That’s not the point. The point is you want to just give people the best opportunity to perform. And so someone says something that you’re like, wow, that was a really good insight. Just said, it’s OK. You can say, like, that was awesome. I really appreciated that. Or, wow, I hadn’t thought of that before. That’s really cool. And that might give people the confidence to perform even better in the interview, which is what you want, because at the end of the day, you’re hoping to hire this person and that’s important to keep in mind.

Rob Pegoraro [00:19:46] So we’ve got to talk about diversity and inclusion since the record of the tech industry isn’t hasn’t always been great, it seems to often result in companies hiring people that look might look like me, except they’re younger. One of those gray hair, a better shape. And, you know, we need to do better. There was a good line on the Fassett site. Culture and not culture fit. What are the ways you’ve tried to make sure that you’re not you’re being part of the solution, not the problem we’ve all helped create in one way or another.

Robert Sweeney [00:20:23] I think it’s I think it is specifically, especially in tech, it is harder to have a uniformly diverse workforce just given the the the demographics of the people that go into tech. There’s definitely a disproportionately more of certain genders and ethnicities in the field. However, there are things you can do to ensure that you’re not developing a monoculture. And one of things that we offer is blind candidate screening. So because we are doing the sourcing for the companies to work for is we can remove demographic information. So I like that name pictures. Sometimes it’s colleges will need to be removed to make it more, at least the initial step not influenced by any sort of bias in there. The other thing that I’d say is it’s hiring referrals from employees can really be an easy way to find talent, but that can also lead to hiring a lot of the same people. And so just be careful with that as you’re hiring to not being too much on referrals and working with an outside agency. You can, like us, can help with getting people from all sorts of different backgrounds. I saw that.

Rob Pegoraro [00:22:09] I definitely like the idea of, you know, abstracting out some of the data, I guess, in orchestras, they figured out years ago, if you have the new violinist audition behind a curtain, you have no idea what they look like, only how well they can play. And that that seems like a good practice to bring to technology as well. Last question I have to ask, since you all are both in the business of running, recruiting, hiring platforms, what is the right role of outsourcing? I sense a little disagreement with that. And our you exchange beforehand where you all come down on that.

Robert Sweeney [00:22:38] So obviously, my view is, I mean, I started the company because I felt like I spent way too much time sourcing candidates and obviously going to be heavily involved in interviewing betting. But in terms of just producing candidates that are interested in your position, there are specialists and it’s just a lot of that work that’s very easy to outsource. And that’s what we do.

Nate Smith [00:23:00] Yeah, I think that a lot of functions are things you can outsource in a startup and you should be thoughtful around opportunities to offload work because you certainly can’t do everything. On the flip side, I would argue that companies actually do need to get really good at building a pipeline of talent for some number of roles, especially the roles that they’re always hiring for tech companies that tend to be engineers, sales, customer success and support the roles that you’re always going to be hiring for because you’re always going to have attrition even in a small company. Hopefully you’ll have less attrition in your early years, but it will happen. And this is actually a good thing a lot of times for the company to get used to the fact that there’s some people coming who are really great fit for what the company needs now. And there will be some people where it’s no longer a. So you don’t want to create a culture where there is no turnover. And if you’re going to be hiring for certain roles on a regular basis, I think that it’s really critical that you are thinking about that in advance and getting good at pipelining for those roles down the road so that when you do need them, you’re a lot more ready to quickly hire someone because speed is so critical during the growth stages of a startup. So that’s why I would say getting really good at doing it in-house is actually a hugely important skill for a company to learn. And you should be smart about which roles you get good at hiring for the ones that are really core. Your company that you’re always hiring, which we often call evergreen roles in the recruiting industry.

Rob Pegoraro [00:24:41] OK, well, on the on the notion of speed, we are just at about a 25 minute mark, so I hope this discussion has gotten some wheels turning in all your heads about how you find in.


Hiring And Employment Branding For Startups Putting Together a Diverse Workforce

Keith Cline @ VentureFizz, Kellie Wagner @ Collective, and Jiun Kimm @ Samsung Next

Startup Grad School Stage
Ascent Conference 2020

Kellie Wagner [00:00:01] And it’s true.

Jiun Kim [00:00:02] yeah

Keith Cline [00:00:04] It’s 11, 30, so let’s get started. All right, well, thanks, everybody, for joining us today. Hope everyone’s safe and healthy, of course, and that you’ve all been enjoying the different panels and discussions from the U.S. conference. So all is going well. Today’s topic that we’re going to be talking about is putting together a diverse workforce for startups. So I’m super honored to be moderating this panel because it’s a very important and meaningful topic, especially with all the challenges that we’re dealing with around diversity, equity and inclusion. So I’m Keith Klein. I’m the founder of Entropies, which is a recruitment website and employment branding platform for companies in the tech industry. So I’m joined by two experts in this field. So we’ve got Kelly Wagner and Jim Kim. So instead of me introducing the two of you, I thought each of you would just take a few moments to introduce yourselves. I’ll start, Kelly.

Kellie Wagner [00:01:00] Sure. Hi, everyone, my name is Kellie Wagner. I’m the founder and CEO of a diversity equity and inclusion company called Collective. We partner with high growth startups, scale ups across a variety of industries, definitely a concentration on tech and consumer brands to help them really build a holistic diversity and inclusion strategy and bring that to life through implementation trainings and process development, et cetera. So I’m really excited to be here with you all having this super important conversation.

Keith Cline [00:01:41] Jiun, how about you.

Jiun Kim [00:01:42] Hi, everyone. I’m Jiun. My name is Jiun Kim, I’m the head of diversity and inclusion at Samsung next. And a little bit about next, we are the innovation group building a global ecosystem for transformative software and services. We do that by supporting builders and founders through investments, partnerships, acquisitions and with our product arm. And so we are committed to a diverse and inclusive, not just team, but tech ecosystem overall. And so you are really excited to be here as well.

Keith Cline [00:02:13] All right, let’s dig deep, because we just have twenty five minutes, so we have a lot to cover this a very important topic. So DI diversity equity inclusion, D and I diversity and inclusion? So it’s different acronym. So we don’t really care what acronym is being used. But let’s just talk about what does it mean, just as a holistic point of view and what does it what does it matter for companies? We want to start.

Kellie Wagner [00:02:36] Yeah, I mean, it’s so funny. This is an ongoing conversation in this space. Whatever you want to call the space itself is there’s all these different acronyms DEI, D and I, DEIB and really the various meanings, diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging, starting to see people integrate words like justice at the root of it. It’s about how are we fostering workplaces and ecosystems that value different perspectives, backgrounds, identities, and not only having those identities and backgrounds represented, but making sure from an inclusion standpoint that people within these spaces feel seen, understood, valued. And then from an equity standpoint, that we’re not just assuming that everyone has the same needs or have the same starting places, but really are making sure that we are providing people with the resources and support they need to feel empowered and thrive so that they can do the best work that they are there to do. And that may look different for different people.

Keith Cline [00:03:51] And so you have kind of like a broad overview of a portfolio of companies like what does it all mean for companies?

Jiun Kim [00:03:59] Yeah, yeah, I mean, definitely one hundred percent, everything that Kelly said, and I know we were talking about this before where we were saying, like, we don’t care what people call it as long as we’re doing the work. And I think ultimately, really, this work is about people and it’s about outcomes. And to Kelly’s point about equity, the end results always have to be to be creating the systems and structures that ensure every single person at your company has the same access to opportunity. And so often I say like diversity and inclusion is a journey, but equity and even justice is the destination. And really, if I’m going to be frank, I think it is just as work to what Kelly said. Again, this is a word being used more and more. And I think it is only when companies are treating people justly and fairly that we can reap the full benefits of the work because otherwise you’re not going to have anyone who wants to come to your company and do the work with you. And I think it often ruffles people’s feathers sometimes to hear that word being used. We are in the business of profit and maximization. But to me, it’s not an either or. I think it’s a both. And which means we can be motivated by the business case, which absolutely shows diversity and inclusion leads to stronger results, greater outcomes, higher profit. And we can be motivated to treat people justly and fairly. And I think we literally can’t reap the benefits of this work fully. If we don’t look at it through both lenses, I think we’ll all operate more effectively and courageously in the work if we value it for what it is. And so I think ultimately, as a business leader, having that orientation is incredibly important.

Keith Cline [00:05:36] Yeah, and I mean, it’s it goes without saying this has been a very challenging year around this topic. And if there is a silver lining, I think it’s raised awareness across, you know, lots of industries, not just the tech industry, but since that’s where our audience is largely focused in the tech industry. You know, you look at steps maybe Google took back in 2014 when they published their first diversity and inclusion report. What do you think it means for companies that like the tech industry as a whole? Like what do you think this means as far as take an action? Like what? Why is now a moment that there’s different change occurring?

Jiun Kim [00:06:20] Let’s go for a concert. Yeah, so I think, you know, when we say this moment to be clear, we’re talking about the moment that has has resulted that the murder of George Ford, which took place at the end of May. Obviously, there were a number of injustices that happened. And we know that historically these are injustices that have impacted the black community. They just want to kind of clarify what we mean by the moment. And I think in the same way, this moment for us as individuals, it’s about our introspection of who we want to be in society. I think it’s the same for tech companies. So tech companies looking internally to understand that tackling the moment is not about brand or reputation, but about doing the hard work of making a long term commitment to diversity and inclusion. And I think that’s something that’s been really exciting for me as a leader in this space, to see a lot of people kind of doubling down on that commitment. I think specifically here, pursuing authentically and I work right now means a willingness to sacrifice, make hard changes, potentially messing up, potentially being called out and having the hard conversations that as a business leader you probably never imagined you would be having with your employees. And so when you talk about challenges, I think some of the challenges related to what I was saying before is just pushing ourselves to understand that doing the work well means accepting the power of the work in both the business case and its opportunity to bring just access to everybody. And I also think as a leader, when we’re willing to do the more challenging work of ensuring that DNI is not just about representation and optics, but when we do the work of understanding that it is about leveraging our teams and ideas to be more creative, innovative, forward thinking, all of those things, we’re just going to go farther than we have before. So I think it’s a moment that’s been sparked by something so terrible. But but also there’s a sense of optimism, I feel for all that we can do moving forward because we’re finally having these, like, honest conversations about about what it means.

Kellie Wagner [00:08:37] I would also just add that I think this is a moment we hit, we hear the word thrown around a lot and people saying like we want to be great allies as organizations. We want to be a culture of allies. And I think something that this moment is really surfacing for me, particularly as you saw some of the backlash, the company space that made these very grand public statements about Black Lives Matter and then found themselves in situations where they didn’t have the positive response that they thought they were going to get is that, you know, there is going to be that that pushback back and sometimes you are going to get called out. And the question is, do you double down on the work in those moments? I think it’s very easy when you are a company and you’re trying to do the right thing and you’re getting lots of praise and recognition and positive reinforcement, it’s easy to feel like galvanized to do this work. And I think what tech companies are having to face and address right now is there are going to be call ups. You are going to get it wrong. And how do you keep how do you use that to spark motivation, to keep working and to keep learning from your mistakes and doing better and where it’s it’s an ecosystem of iteration and learning. And I think we need to really bring that same mindset into the space and work and not be discouraged by the moments when we are faced with employees, many black and Latin X employees and indigenous employees who have been kind of underrepresented and under empowered in the workplace when they’re saying, I’m burnt out, I actually don’t trust you. I don’t trust that the work that you’re going to do is actually going to happen. How do you keep doing that work anyways and showing instead of telling and understanding where those feelings are coming from? Because I think there is a sense of honesty, unfiltered honesty. We’ve gotten this permission to say, you know what, this has been a bad experience for me and I don’t trust you. And how do we continue to show up for those populations anyways rather than saying, oh, they’re ungrateful, why don’t they care that we’re trying to do this? So I think that is that is a challenge that we’re going to have to push through. But when we can and we do, I think on the other end of that is the trust that we’re looking for and the connection and the empowerment.

Keith Cline [00:11:16] The diversity, equity and inclusion, it’s on the radar for all the companies we’re dealing with, I mean, we’re dealing with over two hundred sixty companies in the tech industry and it’s on the forefront. It’s like the leading part of discussions now, which is amazing if you’re a founder just starting out. Right. And this is something that’s important to you as it should be. How do you get started? Like what are the tactical tips that you would give to founders on starting out and trying to build a strong workforce that is diverse? Do you want to start cause you’re looking at especially the whole portfolio and of course, Kelly’s working with lots of companies from a know capacity, but you want to start.

Jiun Kim [00:11:55] Yeah, sure. So I’m really excited about this question because we actually recently launched a DNI Resources for Startup Guide. It’s a free open source guide available for any startup or company. So if you go to Sansing next dot com about page, you can find it on there now. So encourage anyone to download share. There’s an email address where you can reach me. I’d love to talk about it, get feedback. And the reason we did this case. Exactly to your point, so many companies are talking about it. As a CBC that has our own set of portfolio companies, we believe it’s our responsibility to share some of the things that we’re doing and and to make the areas in which we’re working with these porticos have DNI be a central part of it. And so this guide establishes the work around three, what we see as key areas to serve as a jumping off point so as to establishing foundational elements. So determining your wife, setting up your structures for accountability. There’s a section, of course, on recruiting and hiring, which is incredibly important. So doing that with diversity, equity, inclusion in mind and then building a genuine, inclusive company culture. And so what we’ve done in each of these sections is created or not created what we created our own in-house resources, which we’re kind of sharing with others to make their own. And then in the section, we also have a place where we talk about consultants and vendors in the space that we love. So we’ve linked Kelly’s company, the Collective, on theirs to everyone. Be sure to check that out. But yeah, we’re really excited about it. And and think, you know, there’s there’s so much that companies in early stages can do. And so we’re excited to be a support in helping them do that work.

Keith Cline [00:13:42] What do you think, Kellie?

Kellie Wagner [00:13:44] Yeah, I mean, I would echo so much of what he said, which is there are resources out there. I think what I really saw in the face of Kohat even was this willingness for so many companies and consultancies to put out free resources to guide companies as budgets were being cut, as people were really trying to figure out what do we do, how do we adapt? Because Coolpad also serviced a lot of the challenges that were unique to this moment. And so we put out a pandemic proof tool kit. You can also find online. There are amazing resources like project include a place that I send people that is free, that has a lot of really tactical, tangible advice. And I would say it does go back to one of the things that DMZ around creating that foundation. So one really getting clear on your why I think in this moment it is a thing that a lot of companies skip over in their desire to just get down to action, which is I get it. And people want really tangible tactical things to do. And what I find is that without laying the groundwork of accountability and determining your North Star, it’s really easy for this work to take a backseat when other things become a priority. So until you’ve clarified, how is this actually going to help our business outcomes and how is this going to help our culture and make sure that everyone in our organization is primed to do their best work? It’s very easy to treat this as kind of a side project when you start to have to really get down to what do we prioritize as an organization. And the second thing I would say is really getting used to talking about it as a collective, where are really values led organization. And so we talk about values all the time. I bring it up constantly in terms of behaviors that we should be engaging in with our clients, with each other. I sometimes feel like I’m a broken record, but it creates so much clarity that our values are really, really important. And I would say Similarily would be introducing it into conversations with candidates, not just candidates from underrepresented backgrounds, but can all candidates. Right. So that they understand that by signing up to be a part of your organization, this is something that matters to you. And this. These are behaviors that are expected to be part of the culture. In turn, you’re setting yourself up to be able to better serve the underrepresented talent that you want to bring in because you’re making sure that this is this is really woven into your DNA and people are comfortable having some of those uncomfortable conversations.

Keith Cline [00:16:36] And it’s OK. I get.

Jiun Kim [00:16:41] I just wanted to echo Kelly’s point about bringing it up during the Canada experience. I think we’re finding more and more and have been for quite a while that people, no matter what their background, their racial identity, what role they’re applying for, are going to ask companies hard questions like what are you doing about DNA? What does it mean to you? I’ve definitely been on the interviewer side where I’m getting all of those questions. So to Kelly’s point, like, you have to be able to understand your why everybody at your company needs to be able to articulate your lie as well, because it’s built into the culture, because they see how it connects to the work. I think that is an incredibly important point.

Keith Cline [00:17:20] And I think it’s you know, it starts from the early days of the company, especially from the founders. So I think of a podcast episode I did with David Cancel, co-founder and CEO of Dreft, which some of the leadership team from Drift have been speaking at this conference. And from the early days, I think within the first time you’ve been the first five employees he hired a talent acquisition. A recruiter to focus on building out a diverse pipeline from day one, and that was a mandate that he made. So it was just from the early part of the company, which, you know, once you start building that into your culture, day one, obviously it can have very strong benefits long term. Now, for a company that is kind of already been building and there are maybe one hundred people, or maybe they’re beyond that and they’re now looking at their numbers and percentages, they’re like way behind the eight ball, what advice would you give the companies that at that stage you want to start?

Kellie Wagner [00:18:18] Sure, yeah. I mean, I think that certainly it’s easier. The earlier you start, but it’s never too late. I would say that at that point, really going back and taking a critical look at your systems and processes, I think a lot of times organizations that are at that point get into this mentality of we just have to start hiring more diverse candidates. And what I would say is the actual better step to take first is to figure out how you’ve got to where you’ve got to in the first place. Right. So why are you in an organization at this point of one hundred plus or even thousands of people? That is very homogenous. So looking at your performance review process, looking at your recruiting process, understanding where bias is showing up and acting as a barrier is actually more important. Right. Because otherwise what we see is that what we call the the leaky bucket is that you’re going to spend a ton of money going to conferences like Grace Hopper, having booths, trying to convince people from different underrepresented backgrounds to come. And I think, you know, you can put a compelling offer out there for some people if you throw enough money and they will take that risk, but they will stay. And so that impact is going to be really short term. And when we think about people saying, we’ll decide, is it how can we be efficient? That’s a really inefficient way to to spend your money and invest in this work.

Keith Cline [00:20:00] What do you think, Jiun?

Jiun Kim [00:20:01] Yeah, I would definitely agree with all that. It’s not to it’s harder, but not too late, has Kelly said. And so there are a couple of things that I think about as well. So as we said before, determining your vision for that DNA culture you want to build and doing that by having a listening tour to understand, particularly from your most marginalized groups of employees, like what is a culture of belonging mean to them? How do you build that into your game plan and every part of the structures? And I think there’s often times where people mask inclusion and, you know, it’s whatever it’s what everybody wants. Like, we have to listen to everybody, of course. But but this work in terms of equity is ensuring that we are especially listening to those who are most marginalized. So particularly those groups where you may only have three or four employees, it is the most important to listen to what they feel like they need, creating measures of accountability. So setting up those systems to track data for your progress, both on the demographic information side and also qualitative data so people can share in free form and their experiences with. And I and then I would say the last thing that’s really important is ensuring there’s Buy-In in both the top and the bottom. I’ve been in organizations where it’s just employee base or it’s just leaders like it has to come from both. There has to be a meeting of the middle aligned around a strong culture and particularly from the top most leaders, their ability to articulate why the work is important to them individually, why it’s important to the business and a willingness to make what is a long term commitment in this work. Something I had talked to a lot of leaders about is that DNA is a bit different in the sense that those those quick business results you want to see quarter by quarter, it’s going to look different. We’re going to look at data differently. The outcomes are going to come at a different pace. That doesn’t mean it’s less important. And we just have to get comfortable with what the difference is there. And so I think I would just add those points as well.

Keith Cline [00:22:08] Well, do you think that should become part of almost like the you know, when there’s a board meeting, there’s like, OK, how are we doing with sales? Are we doing with funding for the next race? There’s all these key metrics that are discussed in a board meeting. Should this be part of it? Like you’re like Google has their diversity and inclusion report. So how are we doing as it relates to that?

Kellie Wagner [00:22:26] Absolutely

Jiun Kim [00:22:28] Yeah, I. I. Go ahead, Kellie you can go.

Kellie Wagner [00:22:32] I was just going to say, and this goes back to a lot of what John is talking about in terms of accountability metrics, if you are not building it into your regular reporting, if you’re not building it into the ways that employees are, their performance is assessed into bonus structures, et cetera. And then you are not sending the message that this is actually as important. Right. Because anything important to the company gets measured and people get assessed on their performance around it. So you have to treat this the same way. And that does mean reporting out on it in the in the way that you would report any other function in the company. I think that that’s really important. And I also just wanted to add in in terms of kind of high impact things that companies can do that are really trying to turn that ship around. It’s also think about where you’re you are kind of infusing diversity to a lot of organizations will really focused heavily on internship programs or entry level employees. And you have then now brought in diversity. But a lot of those folks then don’t work in positions of power or in positions to make decisions that can impact the business and impact future hiring. I heard once that one of the best places that you can focus having more diverse talent is on your talent acquisition team, on your team, because they’re the ones who in many cases that are thinking about those recruitment structures, are thinking about those people processes and can bring that lens right to the table. Similarly with managers, how are they empowering? And that doesn’t mean to put the weight on those folks to do all of the work. But it’s just thinking about how are you bringing in different types of people and then giving them actual power to to be a part of changing the culture.

Keith Cline [00:24:28] That’s great advice. And I’m just looking at the clock. Looks like we have one minute. So, Jim, if you want to just add some closing thoughts there, just expand on what Kelly shared.

Jiun Kim [00:24:38] Yeah, sure, and we’re just going to say before and absolutely and it’s part of our organization wide performance indicators, so how we’re measuring DNA and tracking towards it is on the same level of importance as what our Ventures team is doing, our product team is doing. And we were doing that before my arrival. And so when I got here and saw that, I was like, OK, like, you don’t really care about this. I’m glad I’m here to totally echo that as well.

Keith Cline [00:25:06] Well, I think this is going to power off from what I was told, so, Kellie and Jiun, thanks so much for taking the time to share all your thoughts and the great advice. And, of course, check out those resources that they mentioned on Samsung Naksan collector’s website, because they’re very, very useful. So thanks again for your time.

Kellie Wagner [00:25:22] Thank you.

Jiun Kim [00:25:22] Thanks, everyone.


Building and Leading Remote Teams

Nora Peterson, Co-Founder @ Halo Incubator

Startup Grad School Stage
Ascent Conference 2020

[00:00:04] Alright, I will get started here. You’re nice, too, nice to meet you virtually. I’m really excited to be part of Ascent this year. My name is Nora Peterson, and I’ll give a brief introduction on myself before I just dove into the topic, which is building and hiring remote teams. And this is applicable for really early stage startups or any stage startups as well as big corporations. My background is in both, so I like to think it’s applicable to my advice is going to be able to both. All right, so just a quick background on myself, I currently work at Dixie Technology, which is a 20 million dollar outsourcing company, and we recently took our hundred and thirty thousand employees virtual. I also run a incubator for early stage women entrepreneurs, which I started in New York City. It’s since gone virtual and we’re nationwide now. We’ve been around for about two years and we’re actually in the middle of our fifth cohort right now. And then in addition, I also teach an entrepreneurship class at NYU that’s this fall. We just began a month ago and then that as well. I started teaching there right when it hit. So had to take that virtual as well. So a lot of what I’m going to be talking about today is just my experience and taking of working at three different companies and going virtual all at once with them. Different learnings from all of them. And just I want to I got my MBA from University of Chicago, where I studied entrepreneurship, spent some years at Aon, including leading their incubator, internal incubator in Singapore for three years and moved to New York to go work at Wall Street Journal, Dow Jones.

[00:01:44] All right, so agenda today. Just a few stats on future of work, which I’m sure a lot of you have been reading about this, not a whole lot of change in the last six months, but I think a lot of people’s attitudes towards it have and then to managing, building and empowering teams, which is important in nurturing a virtual culture, which is a bit difficult to do. And I saw this tweet. I actually don’t know any idea who that is or if even if it’s a real person. But I like what this person had to say. And that was a work from home, at work, from work, which I think we can all relate to between the endless breaks that we would take with our coworkers and just shopping online from our cubicles. But now we’re kind of doing the same from home. But I think the key to really strive in this environment now is to really manage your time well, manage your team’s time well. And that’s what I’ll be talking about. If you stats, 90 percent of employers say working remotely hasn’t hurt productivity. I think that’s true. But I think there are some in some areas like sales, where it’s becoming increasingly difficult. I think salespeople are starting to realize that not getting that face to face time with their prospects or clients is it’s really difficult to nurture those virtual relationships. That’s why how you show up on Zoome and how you interact with people on video as well as the phone is just very, very important. Right now I’m in a lot of offices are seeing remote until next year, some permanently. And a lot of companies are also realizing this is a huge cost savings to them, and especially with a lot of their employees already having moved out of the city that their offices in.

[00:03:34] And expanding on that, just a few, I’ll read off a few of these, you can see them on the screen here. About eighty two percent of business leaders plan to let employees work from home, at least some of the time, which is the current state. Now, even the offices that are starting to open up the stores are rotating between employees coming in and out so that there’s less people in the office. But as far as companies have to become more competitive, hiring talent, one of the things that people are asking for employees or asking for is having that remote option. And that’s that’s I think many of us see that as a trend moving forward. And just having a less rigid nine to five schedule, I don’t know about all of you, but at least the thing I hated least about going into the office, which I enjoy being in every now and then, but just the commute depends where you are. But it’s no fun crawling out of bed, still like coffee in your hand, running down the streets of Manhattan, at least for me, that was just it was awful. So I’m I’m frankly enjoying this, but I do miss the interaction I used to get from people in person.

[00:04:44] All right.

[00:04:46] So some of the challenges, though, that I think is key for people to start really addressing because it’s becoming it’s it’s not going to get any easier, and that’s one and the topic I’ll focus on today, and that’s onboarding and training new employees.

[00:04:59] It is really easy for to hire right now because there’s a lot more talent on there’s a lot more talent in the marketplace because there’s been a lot of furloughs and layoffs. But you’re the onboarding process isn’t great, virtually. I don’t know if anyone’s that great at it yet, except for the companies have been virtual for a long time. But the key to remember is really you need to put in a time upfront. You need to figure out ways to bond with your employees and get that virtual Face-To-Face time, because otherwise you’re not going to be that committed to you. The company that the team there on the second day get another opportunity, which might be two months down the line. There’s an easy for them to just leave unless they really feel that there’s some connection. So I would focus on if you’re a manager or a founder of an early stage company, make sure you’re getting some sort of one on one time with your employees, and you’re going to have to schedule that a lot more than you used to in person. Just just also just a remote collaboration, I’ve seen this big companies as well as the startups, the collaboration can cause a lot of friction and communication issues. I tend to be very direct person, so when I communicate, it might just be in a sentence or two. I have to tweak that a little bit and make sure that my message is coming across authentically and and in a kind of matter where people aren’t misinterpreting what I’m saying. So I think taking the time to write out emails is taking a little bit longer. And that’s why a lot of people are. What I’m advising people to do is just to jump on a call, on a phone call a lot more now than you used to have to, just because everyone’s just emailing back and forth all day long and not seeing each other. There’s just a tone changes and there’s a lot more friction. And negativity can can bubble up. And I’ll touch on one more thing here, and that’s there’s a lot of unclear work compadres, as as we all know, whether that’s not really getting dressed up properly to show up to work each day, having your kids in the background of your dog like my dog, my puppy. Right now, I have a 10 week old. He’s playing with your squeaky toys in case you hear that in the background. So there’s a lot of interruptions. And I really need to figure out your schedule and your team’s schedule in term to make it work and to make it productive. I’m not saying to micromanage anyone and but to give them the leeway to incorporate these activities into their day, which might be taking care of the kids, taking care of their animals, doing what they need to do to feel healthy and productive. And that might mean taking more walk meetings that are when they’re walking.

[00:07:42] So just having that understanding of they’re not going to be at their desk all day long throughout the clock, which throughout the day, which which I think some managers still have that impression that that’s how the new world is. And that’s that’s not the case. Still developing that understanding, if that’s that has been your management style in the past.

[00:08:05] All right, so a little bit more managing our team. You really need to shift your management strategy if you are if you have been a manager for a long time, things are a lot different now, especially with the new generation GenZE and millennials. You really need to manage their performance, not their presence. And there’s a few ways to do that. It’s really focusing on communicating the projects clearly that you sign them. This is especially important as you’re getting to know new employees. A lot of what I’m talking about is really relevant when you’re hiring new employees, when you’re giving them their first few projects. Clearly state the objective of the project expected results and the quality that you expect, whether that’s taking the time to write out examples of exactly what you’re looking to get out of the project that you’re signing. Don’t just send off a few sentences like, hey, can you do this? That’s usually not going to produce greatest results. They might also just spinning their wheels for a day and not really understand what what you want. And then you’re in a situation where they’re just at home, not really being productive, don’t know what to do. They’re too intimidated to reach out to to ask you for advice because, again, they haven’t even had that face time with you. They don’t really know you. So the key is always just to be very, very clear on everything and making sure to take the time to get to know them in the beginning. And this has to be obvious, because if you’re not able to meet them in person and if you’re in the same city.

[00:09:31] You know, with masks and social distancing, of course. And then just be patient.

[00:09:37] I’m not the most patient person, so that’s something I always preach to myself, I, I anticipate that just just going to be more time spent communicating with with your team members, your colleagues or your peers or your your bosses just takes a lot longer now because there’s a lot more activity happening. There’s less again, there’s just less that one on one time. So a lot, lot more of the communication is being misconstrued.

[00:10:03] So if you’re building a new team, attracting qualified staff candidates has always been a struggle and it might seem people might think it’s a lot easier to hire now because there’s just a lot more supply in the market versus demand and jobs.

[00:10:20] But once new jobs start to pop up, if you don’t really take the time to screen for candidates that believe in your culture, that want to be part of your team, they’re just going to be turned over. And you just want to make sure that also expectations are aligned on both sides. And in order to attract candidates that are going to stay with you long term, you do want to talk about your company culture, because I’m assuming most companies will stay remote your school to some degree. So and the candidates on the marketplace, most of them do want to stay remote to some degree. So making sure that you’re talking about what your company culture is like when it comes to remote work, when it comes to a management style. Talk about this on your social channels. When you’re when you’re recruiting for candidates, you could have a blog on your website just talking about companies opportunities for a long time, having a blog post on the culture, but really highlighting examples of what remote culture really looks like, whether that’s videos or actual meetings, screenshots, whatever it is to kind of showcase. That is a fun culture and that you are very real friendly, even if you are an office part of the time. And then just offer Putin benefits, part of the job description, make sure you’re offering flexible work options and perks and all know is the network offer that it’s a very competitive market. So you want to show how you’re differentiated as a company and then invest in upskilling and training opportunities.

[00:11:48] The world is changing very quickly. There’s a lot of jobs being displaced. Most candidates, especially younger ones, they are looking for ways to to learn more and to continue their growth path. So that’s something that they’re looking for, often more so than just money alone.

[00:12:08] And when you’re interviewing, make sure you’re asking them more specific questions. This could be anything like, hey, describe your your working style when, you know, for the past six months when you’ve been remote and what you like about it, what don’t you like about it? How do you best manager projects, time management, et cetera. So those open ended questions can tell you a lot about a candidate.

[00:12:32] Keeping track of time here. All right, I think I have about 10 more minutes and just a few notes on writing a compelling job description, you do want to include key words about flexibility and remote work. Again, this hasn’t really been showcased in job descriptions to date or maybe just one sentence on it. But I would expand on that a lot more. And what that actually means, specific and specific terms, not just, hey, we’re real friendly. Great. So is everyone right now. What does that actually mean for your company? And then emphasize commitment to remote and flexible work in any post covid office safety plans, people want to know that some people aren’t ready or willing to come to the office and have quit their jobs over over there. So if you do plan to keep a flexible arrangement, make sure that you’re also alone outlining what twenty, twenty one will look like, especially as we’re nearing your end.

[00:13:24] People are very they’re very hesitant on what will happen in the next year.

[00:13:31] And any benefits, perks that you’re offering? Make sure you include those that could just be that would just mean, hey, we’re we’re going to buy you a nice chair or monitor that that stuff doesn’t matter to people.

[00:13:42] And it’s a nice just a nice addition to a job description. Things I would stay away from is anything around micromanagement. No one likes to be micromanaged, though. That needs to happen at times for sure and depending on a role. But people generally aren’t drawn to that sort of leadership style. So especially remote workers if you’re hiring seasonal workers. So I would they want to they want to work in a trusted environment. So stay away from those those keywords for sure. And then. Do not include activities or skills that are not actually needed for the jobs. Everyone has a laundry list of skills that they’re looking for that actually I don’t even need additional to be fun. This is that would be fun to have a perfect person that doesn’t exist, that weeds out a lot of candidates. It’s also shown to weed out a lot more women candidates and studies in the past because women tend to be a little bit more perfectionist. And I forgot the stats. But women, I think, tend to apply for like. Seventy percent of the jobs or something along those lines that if they don’t meet all that, if they don’t meet all the qualifications versus men will just apply for. So that will just give you a larger job, job pool if you if you just keep it very specific to what the job is.

[00:15:08] All right, onboarding and this is super, super, super important, I’ve been on boarding a lot of people over the past few months and just just getting to getting to know even the students at my NYU class and make sure that you are spending time in the first few weeks with them on camera, even if they don’t offer. I don’t ever like to force or ask anyone to be on camera necessarily because know a one camera all day long, like, I get I get some fatigue. I don’t always want to be on camera, so I don’t like to put I don’t like to make it mandatory because that’s just that’s also not a fun working work environment. It becomes very tiring. But for meetings where I need to kind of lead a team or get to know someone, I’ll go on camera, even if they’re not just so they can at least look me nice, get to know me better, and we can start to establish a rapport.

[00:16:01] So make sure that’s what you are doing that and have a good work home set up that that includes your Wi-Fi, obviously, but things like Web cam. And if you can offer some sort of stipend to your employees, they’re taking on a lot, lot more costs right now in some ways working from home. So any sort of small stipend you can provide them is really helpful and shows that you care.

[00:16:25] And then, as you umba, new employees just make sure that you’re studying not strategic, but very purposeful about setting the agenda for the next week, the next month, it’s really hard to get on board new employees virtually, especially if you don’t have a lot of time to spend with them. So let’s say you only get to spend about an hour a week with them. That’s really hard if you’re not able to actually in writing put like, oh, here’s kind of here’s what I want to work on for the next week or the next two days. Here are some resources. Here’s another person on my team that will meet with you every day. So make sure that they have an action plan. Otherwise they’re going to get lost and kind of get it is easy for employees to get very disengaged in the first month unless they’re on board improperly. And this is one of the and no one ever takes the time to truly on board, even though this has been talked about for years on employees complain at the onboarding process for both companies. So small, little things you can do. And it really just requires your your time up front and getting set up with with a buddy or another employee to help them. That already shows a lot. And then I would a few a few other things I would do is if you can send some sort of welcome, welcome package to them, even if it’s just kind of your lame, like, company logo pens or something, it is still something that they receive in the mail, like, OK, I’m remote, but they know where I live. And actually they sent this to me that that does also speak volumes. And then last I would I would focus on I would figure out a schedule where you can do a monthly virtual happy hour, whatever kind of format you want to do. But we’re bringing in a bigger group. If it’s your media team, must have a team of five do that once a week, really get the team to bond and make it. I always declare that we are not talking about work for the next hour. You can bring your pet, you can see your cute puppy, we can talk about your vacation plans, anything. But we’re not talking about work. And I’ve been very strict to to hold to that. And I and I think that’s important because otherwise you’re just it’s just another work meeting that is disguised as a happy hour. And then talking a little bit more communication cadence, which I can’t emphasize how important it is, it’s when I haven’t spent time on this or focus on this, it’s always gotten me in trouble.

[00:18:54] So when in doubt, just over communicate, it helps reiterate the messages and resolve challenges from any miscommunications that might come. Also, people are just flooded with emails and content that they’re getting every day. So I would focus on being able to write very clear, distinct emails and making sure they’re over communicating your messages. When you talk to them, you’re going to get a lot more a lot better results from your team that way and from your other employees at your company. And then I would I would get another besides the happy hours that I talked to, another cadence type of meeting I was set up this morning. Check if you have if you have a team that is working on critical projects, I would even do a morning every morning check in, just making sure everyone’s on track, kind of like you being a project manager like it was was it on last week? What’s up next? What’s going on for later on a day was in charge of that. So I think that really helps to rhythm and keeps people also motivated on task. And then if you are less, find out a company or a manager at or a business unit or at a larger company, whatever it is, setting these larger team meetings or town halls is always key that that really brings the wider company together and helps helps gives you an avenue to talk more about that to longer term goals and vision versus those weekly meetings that you might be hosting and then just spend time one on one that’s scheduling one on ones in advance with your team members, making sure that you’re taking notes just to get feedback from them, just to listen to what they’re going through. And not that you just talking at them on whatever’s going on with the business, but actually taking the time to listen to them. That’s super, super important. I try to do that with the people I work for, the people that work for me, at least I’d say once a month.

[00:21:00] And on that note, I will end there, but we don’t have time for Q&A, but I think one of the questions I get a lot is just kind of like, oh, what kind of fun things could I be doing with my team? People have all sorts of costume parties that they show off for these happy hours. Frankly, I haven’t I haven’t done that, but I don’t know how much I think it’s for me it’s all about, you know, what my team actually likes and is motivated by and that the only way to know that is by getting to know them and talking to them. So I’m more focused on just making sure that whenever the meetings that we do have are productive, that they’re positive in tone, that we’re getting things done. And everyone’s everyone’s leading a balanced life at home as well. So they’re not working until midnight all around the clock. So I’m more focused on people being happy in that matter versus having these fun experiences for them. That said, if you’re at a startup where things tend to be a little bit more on a fun side in terms of activities, I would then I would then look to have more of these virtual happy hours, maybe do something costume related for Halloween. And there’s other ideas out there like that. But that’s that’s not usually something I personally focus on.

[00:22:19] But and then another question I think I get a lot is just.

[00:22:28] It’s more so around, you know, if you’re a first time manager, how do you how do you figure out the best way to to hire remotely? And how do you how do you find the candidates that are that are ready for remote work and are good, good quality, have the right qualifications? I would actually look at job postings for similar companies as yours are for start up look at like kind of look at what others are posting an angel list or on LinkedIn. I get a lot of inspiration from those and then make it your own, make it make it your own voice to make sure it speaks to who you are and your company is. You don’t want to be lying in a job description. Someone gets there and it’s completely wrong image. So don’t don’t in any way pretend something you’re not be very, very authentic. People figure out very quickly, you know, what what the culture is like. And if it’s completely misaligned from what was advertised, it’s you know, it’s not going to end well and then you’re going to end up with employees that are very disheartened. So I would you know, I would just take some time. I know it’s not fun just taking the time to write out the job description that really speaks to to your leadership style in your company.

[00:23:43] And on that note, we are at that time and hope to see you all in person one day. Thank you.


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