Category: Creating and Maintaining Culture

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The Life-Changing Benefits Your Employees Really Want

Beth Rivera: Beth Rivera is the Head of the People Team at UncommonGoods, an eCommerce company that offers remarkable designs by independent makers, with a positive impact on both people and our planet, since early 2018. Prior to joining UncommonGoods, Beth spent over 20 years at UBM, a global B2B events company, in various roles in HR (such as Divisional Head of HR, Learning and Organizational Development), starting her career at UBM and some of its’ subsidiaries since graduating from the University at Albany. Beth is a native New Yorker, born, raised, and still living in Queens, NY.


KO, Khalilah Olokunola: KO is VP of Human Resources for TRU Colors Brewing, a company that hires active and rival gang members. In this position, she is the force behind defining a company culture that drives both personal and professional growth. KO is a passionate advocate for workplace diversity, inclusion, and second-chance hiring. She is an accomplished author, speaker and coach.


How could your team thrive if you were all empowered to live a full and balanced life? Employee benefits can be life-changing for your team members and dramatically improve the financial, mental and overall well-being of themselves and their families.

Small Giants believe in building an organization that takes care of employees in the totality of their lives, knowing that when your team members thrive, business will too. At a time when many companies are reexamining and revising the benefits they offer, why not create great ones that better support and care for your employees?

In this one-hour panel, hear from two visionary leaders who are on the forefront of offering employee benefits that support the ability to live balanced, fulfilled lives in and out of work: Khalilah “KO” Olokunola, Chief People Officer of TRU Colors Brewing and Beth Rivera, Head of the People Team at UncommonGoods. Each leader will share specific examples of the most impactful benefits they offer, why, and the details you should know in order to bring them to your own organization. We’ll also answer your questions throughout the panel.

Watch this virtual panel to learn:

  • How top companies design family-friendly policies like generous and inclusive paid family leave to care for newborn or seriously ill family members
  • The most impactful policies for workers right now, like: pay equity, flexible working hours, mental health resources, job training, and professional development
  • The benefits each leader plans to add, remove, or adjust as a result of lessons learned the past year
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A Strengths-Based Culture: Boosting Your People and Your Profits

One key attribute that differentiates a Small Giant from other businesses is the devotion given to employee development. We know that when people feel valued in their workplace, they work harder. How much harder? 6 times, to be exact. Can you imagine walking in on Monday morning to the buzz of folks working hard and loving it because their Strengths are at work? Motivated employees results in motivated profits…and there’s nothing wrong with motivated profits.

Heidi Convery, a Gallup Certified Strengths Coach and founder of Flourish LLC, introduced attendees to the productivity and profitability effects of building a Strengths based organization.

Key Takeaways

  • An introduction to Gallup’s CliftonStrengths Assessment and Movement
  • Understanding Your Strengths and How to Leverage Them as a Leader
  • Ways to Incorporate Strengths into Your Everyday Culture
  • Introducing the Process of Claiming Our Strengths
  • Aiding Employees in Utilizing Their Strengths in Their Roles

Leaders were encouraged to take the Top 5 Clifton Strengths Assessment before the fishbowl.

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How to Both Measure & Increase Your Company Culture’s ROI

Small Giants understand that culture dramatically drives and impacts profit. As the width of your team’s smiles expands, so does your bottom-line. In this energized fishbowl, Kris Boesch, CEO and Founder of Choose People, weaves valuable content, enlightening stories and tangible no-cost ways to help you improve the impact of your culture on your bottom-line. Participants were able to take her doable best practices and lessons learned and implement them within their organizations to see immediate results.

Key Takeaways Include:

  • The Bottom-Line Business Case for Happy Employees
  • How to Measure Your Company Culture’s ROI
  • The Role of Compensation, Incentives and Bonuses
  • The 3 Pillars to Creating and Keeping Happy Employees
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Behind The Scenes: Mastering the Pre-work to Hire an Exceptional Candidate

Amy Whipple and Carrie Schochet of Purple Squirrel Advisors specialize in customized recruiting in the accounting, finance, human resources and operations functions for companies across industries and ranging from 8 million to 700 million in revenue. In this interactive Fishbowl, attendees learned about the aspects of recruiting and hiring that Amy and Carrie have identified as crucial to bringing exceptional candidates on board, including how to write comprehensive job descriptions, identifying and avoiding common discrepancies when writing job descriptions, and mastering behavioral interviewing.

In this Fishbowl, attendees learned the following key takeaways:

  • Learn about the Acumax assessment and how its results reveal candidates decision-making abilities
  • Learn about the most common disconnects when writing job descriptions and how you can avoid these pitfalls on your own leadership team
  • How and why companies should write comprehensive job descriptions which include company culture, history, tactical responsibilities, as well as a six-month trajectory plan (when possible)
  • How to use behavioral interview questions effectively in your job interviews – and walk away with a worksheet on behavioral questions as well!
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The Feedback Loop: How to Give and Receive

How do you tell a top-performing employee something that they don’t want to hear? How do you take in feedback from your employees, without coming across as defensive? Giving and receiving feedback well are two of the most-valued – yet difficult to master – skills for any leader. Claire Lew, , has spent her working life studying 15,000+ leaders and employees in 25 countries to develop a methodology for The Feedback Loop: How to Give & Receive Feedback Well. After over three years of research across hundreds of companies, Claire will share a playbook for how the most effective leaders give and receive feedback.

Key takeaways:

  • A deep understanding of why we dismiss tough feedback
  • How to handle feedback you disagree with
  • Five techniques for receiving tough feedback well
  • Research on how receptive employees are to tough feedback
  • How to tell an employee that they are wrong or that they messed up
  • A proven four-step framework for giving tough feedback to employees
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How to Deliver an Extraordinary Customer Experience

Cultivating meaningful relationships with customers is part of being a Small Giant. However, what separates a Small Giant from others, is their ability to embed customer service into their culture. imageOne, a document lifecycle management company, has created a culture of customer service that has generated millions in revenue. In this fishbowl, you will learn from imageOne Co-founder, Joel Pearlman, on how to systematize and quantify customer service in your organization:

Key Takeaways

  • Why extraordinary customer service starts with an extraordinary culture
  • How to create a customer centric culture – the imageOne way
  • How to quantify exceptional customer service (and use this as a differentiator from your competitors)
  • How to anticipate customer needs and build genuine relationships
  • Learn innovative ways to get new referrals

Community: How to Save the Environment While Engaging Employees

In this fishbowl discussion, Liz Zavodsky, Director of Membership & Engagement at Northwest Earth Institute, shared examples of meaningful community engagement and how this impacts employee engagement.

Key Takeaways:

  • Learn how community programming can impact employee engagement and build stronger bonds
  • Learn what EcoChallenge is and how you can implement the community programming in your organization right away
  • Learn what Community and Sustainability Discussion Courses are, how you can facilitate them, and how they can be a tool for meaningful engagement in your organization
  • Learn best practices from organizations that have successfully implemented and completed EcoChallenge and Discussion Courses and the internal and external impact this had on their Communities
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A Small Giants Final Bow: How a Responsible Exit Strategy Impacts Your Legacy

In this panel discussion, attendees heard two values-driven leaders share their succession stories: Kris Maynard of Essential Ingredients will share how he implemented an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) and Jill Nelson of Ruby Receptionists will share how she sold her majority share to a culturally-conscious and responsible venture capitalist firm.

Key Takeaways

  • Hear how two values-driven leaders successfully transitioned ownership, implemented their decision, and the impacts of their decisions
  • Learn how to begin the process of an ESOP at your company
  • Learn how to vet and find a venture capitalist firm that you can trust
  • Gain insights on the timing and best practices for designing an exit strategy
  • Hear practical strategies for preserving your culture and values beyond your lifetime
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Coherent Leadership: How Your Physiological State Impacts Your Ability to Lead

A powerful mindset is only one aspect of good leadership. Leaders also need to infuse that mindset into their teams and culture. Research in human physiology is revealing that when the heart and brain are working together we enter a coherent state and our frame of mind shifts. We increase cognitive function, increase creativity, increase decision-making abilities, and decrease cortisol (the stress hormone). How you show up physiologically as a leader matters more than you think. Interestingly, when we change our physiological state, we also influence the physiological state of the people we interact with. As teams enter physiologically coherent states together they are more authentic, feel more supported, are more productive, and more innovative. Attendees joined Tyler Mongan from Heart Lab as we explored human physiology, coherent leadership and how your physiology impacts your company.

Key Takeaways

  • Learn About the Science of Brain and Heart Coherence
  • Discover How Physiological Coherence Influence Your State
  • Experience Simple Techniques to Develop Coherent Physiological States
  • Learn How to be a more Coherent Leader
  • Discover How Coherent Leaders are more authentic, more connected with their teams, and create a more innovative culture
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So Your Culture is Great, but Does the Talent Pool Know That?

We all know that hiring for culture is key. But in order to attract the right talent, your brand has to accurately communicate your company culture. In this day and age of transparency and access to information, everything is interrelated: for example, if you’ve got a great customer-centric website, but no talk of employees, you’re dramatically limiting your candidate pool. Similarly, if you’ve got a great culture, but a weak external brand (bad website, limited social media, poor community engagement) you’ll miss out on great talent looking for something special.

In this interactive workshop, Shawn showed attendees how to identify shortfalls in their brand communications, bringing them closer to delivering a consistent message that accurately conveys your company culture.

Mission Driven Hiring