Tag Archive: Culture

  1. New kids on the block

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    We’ve started off the year with gusto at Business Chicks, adding three newbies to the team. Finding incredible people and integrating them into our family is what I love most about business. Over the past few years I reckon we’ve mastered the art of making people feel part of the team from the minute they walk in. Here’s what we did for Zoe, our new partnerships lead, when she started with us last week.

    zoeLittle gifts with big presence: On Zoe’s first day we decorated her desk with a bunch of welcome balloons – the beautiful thing about this is that they’re still flying high a week later, so it’s a nice reminder to her (and to us) that she’s new and the sky’s the limit for her.

    Stage the fun: So the balloons were on her desk when Zoe arrived, and then the day unfolded from there. We had flowers, champagne and chocolates delivered to her at mid-morning and then later on in the day we had an afternoon tea for her. If she didn’t know she was welcome after all of this, then I don’t know what else we could have done!

    Leading from the top: I always make sure I write a card to every new employee that starts in our business. No one does this for me – I go out and pick a card that reminds me of the person and write a heartfelt message on it. I always have it waiting on the newbies’ desk when they arrive. It shows them that their being with us matters, and that I personally value them.

    Get the team involved: We always let the team know the new person’s email address prior to them starting with us, and whoever chooses to do so can send them a note congratulating them on the appointment and welcoming them. That way, there’s already a level of rapport there and it’s easier to put all those new faces to names on day one!

    Being organised: We always have the new person’s business cards ready for them from the minute they arrive. Not only does it send a message that we’re organised and on to it, but it says ‘we value you, and by the way – our standards are high and we expect you to hit the ground running.’ No one’s complained yet.

    Let them be late: We always ask our new peeps to start a little later, say 9.30am, on their first day so we can make sure the existing team is ready and we can put any finishing touches to their welcome if needed. And anyway, first days are totally information overload and if you can reduce this time down a bit, then everyone wins.

    Planning out the first few days: We always have a structured induction program mapped out for the first few days so the new team member gets a thorough introduction to the business and gets to spend time with the department heads or anyone else they’ll work closely with.

    First impressions go a long way. Compare the above experience to a friend of ours that recently started a new role and had hardly one person on the floor introduce themselves, and you’ve got two very different experiences. And if given the choice, I know which one I’d choose!

  2. Branson and Geldof both do this

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    We had a pretty intense morning last Thursday in Melbourne at the Business Chicks brekky. Sir Bob Geldof was our speaker and he crafted his stories with such passion and conviction that anyone who happened to accidentally clink their fork against their coffee cup was heard, such was the silence and attention he commanded.
    TEST 3
    I spent most of his talk in tears as he lifted the lid on what he’d seen over the last few decades in poverty-stricken Africa. I agree that what’s going on in Africa is our generation’s version of Nazi Germany ie humanity knew about what was happening (to an extent) and yet didn’t take action, or didn’t know what to do to avoid/lessen the atrocities. Geldof spoke of the work he’s spearheaded through Live Aid, and Band Aid, and various other initiatives that have seen him catalyse almost $200 million worth of funding into Africa to ease poverty. He spoke about where he sees the solutions lying, and surprise surprise, it’s women and girls, as we all know. It’s educating women and girls and empowering them to be part of the solution.

    Geldof is also a successful businessman and touched briefly on a few of his ventures. I was interested to learn that, just like Richard Branson, Geldof doesn’t have an office. He said he works from his kitchen bench each day.

    I’ve toyed with the idea of working from home a little bit (I’m currently in our city office every day) but have never fully gotten my head around it. We did an office refurb in my last business which resulted in me and my business partner having our own individual offices, separated from the team. She loved it. I hated it.

    Half the fun of going to work for me is being involved in the office’s activities. Feeding off the energy, having a joke with my colleagues, being able to ask a question then and there without having to set a meeting – these are all reasons I choose to go to an office each day. And open plan works for my leadership style.

    However, after hearing Geldof and Branson speak at Business Chicks, I’m questioning the logic of going into the office every single day. Think of the time they save commuting each day, think of the uninterrupted blocks of time where they’re free to focus on the important stuff, think of the perspective they must achieve looking at their businesses from afar.

    Curious to hear from you as to what works best for you, particularly if you’re a leader of a team (and not working by yourself at home).

  3. What a billion dollar CEO taught me

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    I spent last week hanging out with Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos and the author of New York Times bestseller Delivering Happiness. Business Chicks brought him to Australia for the first time ever and he spoke at two workshops for us in Sydney and Melbourne. tony-hsieh

    I also spent some time with him on Sydney harbour and had the job of chaperoning him around throughout the week. Here’s a behind the scenes look at what I learned from him.

    You’ve got to work very hard to achieve the level of success he has. At every available opportunity, Tony was on his computer or iPhone. In fact, there were only a few moments when he wasn’t connected to either. We’d get to a venue, have five minutes to get onstage, and he’d still boot up his computer, find a network and get some work done.

    Happiness comes in all forms and levels. You’d expect a guy who wrote an international bestseller about happiness to be jumping out of his skin with joy. He wasn’t. He’s spent lots of time researching the science of happiness and debunks the myth that it’s all about those adrenalin-fuelled moments when you want to pump your fist in the air and hug strangers next to you. In his mind, happiness comes in three forms: those ‘rock star’ moments I just described; when you’re in flow and everything comes easily; and thirdly, when you’re working for a higher purpose other than yourself.

    You don’t need charisma in spades to be a successful CEO. Tony admits he is incredibly introverted. When asked if all the fun stuff he does in his business (dressing up, endless parties/celebrations, parades around the office etc) is a reflection of his personality and personal ethos, he said nup. He likes to think of himself as the designer of a greenhouse where all the plants are the same size and they all move and grow together, rather than him being the biggest and tallest plant.

    He approaches business like a science experiment. I’ve never met a more researched, well-read, educated (about business) individual than Tony Hsieh. He’s concerned himself with details such as the optimal space between employee’s desks to increase collaboration and innovation, and has even gone so far as to move the entrance to the Zappos office so that all employees have to walk through all departments, thus increasing the amount of ‘serendipitous collisions’ which ultimately lead to greater communication and teamwork.

    If you’re looking to grow your business to reach revenues north of $1 billion, or if you fancy exiting one day to Amazon for over $1.2 billion, then maybe you’ll do well to adopt some of the above practises.

    Read some of my team members’ take aways from the workshops here.

  4. Who's your dream employer?

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    When I was 15, my careers advisor at school told me I was good with people and that I should look into a career in HR. So I ran straight away to look up what ‘HR’ meant and decided then and there that one day I’d be the HR manager at Coca-Cola. (more…)

  5. Pragmatic, not dramatic

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    We have a saying around the Business Chicks office. It’s so embedded into our culture that it’s even written into all our job descriptions. We call it ‘pragmatic, not dramatic’. (more…)

  6. Two cool questions to ask when hiring

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    I love hiring new people. It’s a joy to be able to give someone a great new opportunity that they’ll love, and a joy to think of the value they’ll bring to the business.

    Having come from a background of reading hundreds of CVs a day and conducting countless interviews, the shine of the recruitment process has somewhat worn off, but the outcome has not. I still get that feeling of excitement (akin to just before you open Christmas presents) when I get to offer someone a position on my team.

    Two cool questions have helped me improve my hiring.

    The first is this: “Will this person lift the average of the team, or will they bring it down?” My goal is to consistently send the average upwards. I’m never scared of hiring people who are brighter, more organised, more astute, lovelier or more capable than me and the rest of the business. When this new person walks in, I want my existing team to sit up that little bit straighter and I want them to enjoy their role more because the new person is enriching their working life.

    Here’s the other question I ask: “Is this person an A grade team player, or am I settling for second best?” My experience is that your gut never fails on this one. You know when you’re trying to convince yourself that they tick all the calibre and suitability boxes, when really you’re cutting corners to just get someone in to the role. Yes it’s painful when you need to fill a vacant position but it hurts more when you make a wrong hire.

    These two questions (while certainly not exhaustive) have served me well when building my A team.

    What other questions have you found useful when hiring?