Leadership for Modern Female Founders in PHX
We were overwhelmed by the incredible response we received our first ever Morning MindFUEL in Phoenix. Thank you all so much for coming out and making our first Phoenix event such a success. You ladies brought it! Our Main Dames, Becca and Katarina shined as they asked our panel some compelling and inspiring questions. We were so impressed by the three incredible boss babes on our panel talking about Leadership for Modern Female Founders - Leah Huss of Huss Brewing Co, Julie Salomone of Tuft & Needle, and Alexandra Bradberry of The Sparkle Bar. Check out some snippets from the panel below.
Culture - How important is it? How do you create a good company culture?
Julie - As a Human Resources Director, I've built my profession off of culture. When Tuft & Needle was founded, the first thing the leaders did was sit down and figure out how they wanted this to look and feel. They wanted a company that was progressive and people focused and that's hard to do. We get compared to companies in Silicon Valley a lot, which is great because we are very into tech and very progressive, but what we don't want is to be associated with the cultures of Silicon Valley. So the leaders are very careful to hold on to what we believe in, and to us the culture is putting people first.
You've probably seen our billboards that talk about how mattress stores are greedy. That's something they've always been known for, and we don't want to continue that. Next, we had to figure out how we get people on board with that. Our culture is everything to us. When you interview people, you're interviewing them for culture. You can train them all you want, but we make sure they share the same values as we do. We put a lot of time and effort and decisions and talk into how we want this to look. It's extremely important.
Leah - The bulk of our company is completely behind the scenes. The salespeople out of the street are the face of our company. What we are looking to do is build a family and family dynamic. We don't want to bring anyone on board who is just looking for a job. Because what we are asking our team to do is not to just fulfill a job. We make it known that we need you to be a part of it, believe in it, and help us fulfill this dream.
Are there certain questions that you guys have asked in an interview to see if that person is going to fit in to your culture?
Alex - For us it is extremely important that someone is coachable. So we try to see how well they can take constructive criticism, because that's how you really learn.
Julie - We look for traits that coincide with our values. A lot of it is humility, we aren't looking for a ladder climber, we want someone who is going to stay here and grow, people who are continuous learners, etc.
Leah - When we start the hiring process, it starts with, "Hey do you want to go to lunch?" "Let's have coffee." We try to just get to know the person, find out their unique values and philosophies on life.
How do you know when it is the right time to hire? And what are one or two things we can do to ensure we are hiring the right person?
Julie - We look at our organization as a whole and we look to see if their are skills we need that we don't already have.
Alex - When it starts taking you more time to do the job than it would be to hire someone, then it's probably a good time to consider it. If there's something you're really good at, stick to that, if it's not, hire someone.
Julie - When you bring someone on, remember that you are investing in them as well. You don't want to bring them on for a short period of time, you want them to find a place in your company, invest in their future as well.
When you have employees that are working remotely, how do you keep them engaged?
Julie - We have about 12-15 remote employees and the thing is to remember why you hired that remote person to begin with. Is this the right person to have in this position? This day in age it's very easy to stay in contact with someone via technology, so make sure you're using it and keep in constant contact. Keep them involved. Make sure you remember that they're there. Invite them to everything you do with the company.
How do you ensure your company culture is coming across through your employees?
Leah - I would never ask another employee to do something I would not do myself. Make sure you are touching base, and hands and people.
What are some common mistakes first time leaders make?
Julie - One of the biggest mistakes is when you are founding an organization you want to build relationships with people but sometimes that becomes friendships and sometimes you're outside of work and hanging out which is okay if that's something you want to do and are comfortable with, but I think that for first time leaders that is the hard part. Being able to separate the two.
What we fail to do is set expectations for people, and in the start up world that's so easy because everything is changing so quickly. But I encourage people to remember that setting expectations for the people you are overseeing or leading is vitally important otherwise they don't know what they're supposed to be doing.
Alex, you have a predominantly female staff. How do you prevent cattiness and conflict in the workplace?
Alex - It's interesting, we are typically so busy when we are working there usually isn't any opportunity for cattiness. But of course they do arise from time to time, and what we have tried to do is to just keep an open door policy. Have conversations with all of our girls, keep a healthy balance, you're not friends but you need to know if they're having a bad day what is causing it. We are really fortunate though because we really haven't had to much of those issues and I think it's just because we have a really good balance of artistry and personalities that all work really well in a group.
How friendly is too friendly with your employees?
Alex - When you are working so closely with your employees in a start up situation, it's easy to get those lines blurred between employee and friend. It's a healthy balance to know what is going on with your employees because we care for them. But it's about not creating favorites and making sure everyone understands that you are all equal.
How can entrepreneurs prepare themselves for success?
Leah - Create the company you want to work for.
Alex - Learn how to delegate. You don't have to do it all. You find yourself much more successful when you are able to identify peoples strengths and utilize them.
Hire people who are smarter than you!