Category: Community

, , , ,

15 Years in the Making

It’s hard to believe that it has been 15 years since Bo and Paul started the Small Giants Community! Like many of us, Paul was inspired by Bo’s book and that started a series of conversations, leading to them bringing purpose-driven leaders together as a Community.

Years later, the principles Bo wrote about in his book are stronger than ever, and we’ve seen the focus on culture and values become company differentiators. All of us continue to benefit from relationships and learnings with like-hearted leaders.

Join us as Paul and Bo take a walk down memory lane, share stories, challenges and what’s changed over the last 15 years. What happened to the original companies Bo wrote about? How has the Community evolved? Are there newer common characteristics of Small Giants companies? What are Bo and Paul up to now? Bring your questions for a genuine and touching fireside chat!

, ,

Reimagining the Client Experience

When the leadership team at Venturity Financial Partners realized they were losing clients at an alarming rate, they knew a new approach was needed. With thoughtful and intentional planning, this CXO and accounting services firm created a dedicated Client Experience work group to revitalize how they worked with clients externally and managed them internally. Fast forward to today, Venturity has a net promoter score of 91 among their clients, when most accounting firms have a score of 40!

Tune in to learn from Deanna Walker, the CEO, and Rane Lallier, the VP of Client Experience, and dig into how they’ve prioritized and executed on the goal of improving their clients’ life cycle experience, and as a result, reinforcing the company’s core values.

, , , ,

Speak-Up Culture

As the Andy Stanley quote goes, “Leaders who do not listen will eventually be surrounded by people who have nothing to say.” And, that silence is dangerous.

Stephen Shedletzky – or “Shed” to his friends – has focused his career on helping leaders listen to and nurture the voices of others — to foster an environment where people feel it is both psychologically safe and worth it to speak up. In this session, we will uncover how creating such an environment is the responsibility and the advantage of leaders at every level who want to be great at leading and who want to create a better version of humanity while they do it. The bottom line, for everyone, is that organizations with speak-up cultures are safer, more innovative, more engaged, and better-performing than their peers.

A sought-after speaker, coach, and leadership advisor, Shed has led hundreds of keynote presentations, workshops, and leadership development programs around the world. As a thought leader on psychological safety in the workplace, he works with leaders in all industries where human beings work.

In this session we will:
– Unpack the two main questions of a speak-up culture: Is it safe? Is it worth it?
– Explore why speak-up cultures are good for people and good for business
– Learn tactical and proven methods to listen to your people and cultivate a feedback rich, speak-up culture
– Unpack leaders’ responsibility and advantage in building a speak-up culture

Eyes on the Economy: Looking at Current Economic Trends to Help Plan Ahead for 2024

With everything that is happening at a national and local community level, we have been hearing that Small Giants are keenly observing the economic climate and are prioritizing how to ensure their businesses are in a good position for the new year.

Join us for an important virtual conversation with two leaders who have their pulse on the current state of the economy and what’s trending ahead — Devyn Bachman, Senior Vice President at John Burns Research & Consulting, and Lesley Holland, Regional Director Portfolio Management at BNY Mellon Wealth Management.

Takeaways include:

  • What market trends are important to focus on
  • What the direction of these trends likely means for your business
  • What risks and opportunities potentially exist that aren’t immediately apparent
  • How to prepare financially and operationally for the rest of the year
  • And what to anticipate moving into 2024 to start the year off strong
, ,

Express Your Expertise: Marketing Tactics for Purpose-Driven Companies

As a Small Giants company, your strong sense of purpose and culture set you apart from the competition in attractive ways. But are you communicating that to your clients, prospective employees, and other stakeholders?

Mark O’Brien, CEO of Newfangled, will provide strategy and tools for marketing your expertise effectively through digital media. By leveraging tactics that involve social media, email, and online marketing, Mark will explain how to maximize your marketing efforts to gain a wider audience and greater name recognition.

Takeaways include:

  • The importance of saying no to prospective clients that don’t serve you
  • The power of ubiquity and presenting an expert, empathetic, educational perspective
  • Newfangled’s 5 Pillars of Marketing
  • How to position yourself and your unique expertise
  • The best approach to email marketing
, ,

Better Than Fine: How to get more out of the questions you ask, starting with “How are you?”

How many questions do you ask your colleagues a day? How many of those create thoughtful conversations and stronger bonds? Good leadership requires collaboration and getting input so that your whole team feels connected to what they’re doing. But that connection needs to go beyond asking the easy questions like “what do you think?” and “how are you?”. To build a strong team with deep-seated trust requires digging deeper. We need to ask better questions.

Amber Johnson, a leadership and strategy consultant and former Chief Communications Officer at the Center for Values-Driven Leadership, will facilitate this interactive virtual event. Amber will dive into the value of asking each other better questions, and how we can do so to build trust and strengthen innovation within our teams. Through exercises and discussion, Amber will help you improve your questions to build better relationships and better results.

Takeaways include:

  • Four times leaders need to stop talking and ask a better question
  • Tips for asking better questions, to improve your leadership
  • Ideas for improving your listening skills
  • How adopting this form of leadership can lead to better relationships + results
, , ,

Break the Ice: A Toolkit of Team Building & Bonding Activities

The new year is the perfect time to think about fun and fresh team-building exercises to introduce to your organization. We’ll be talking to two Small Giants leaders who are passionate about making their people feel welcome, included, and understood.

Lisa Whealon, VP of People and Culture at Deli Star, will talk in detail about how her organization aims to make every new hire feel fully immersed in their team from the onset. This is done through fun, intentional experiences such as a “signing day”, a start day “happy hour”, and completing a recognition profile, just to name a few.

Once your new hires are immersed, it’s important to continue building those team bonds over time. Heidi Baumgart, COO at Skidmore Studio, will show us how to do just that by walking us through the user manual exercise. This exercise, which combines personal reflection with team development, allows individuals to flex their creativity, while also teaching each other how to best communicate and work together.

Takeaways include:

  • Tools and experiences to leave a lasting impression from onboarding and beyond
  • Help your team feel known and understood by you and their colleagues
  • Ways to adapt these tools for both in-person and virtual teams
  • How team building exercises can help build trust, communication, and ultimately long tenures


, ,

Strive to Thrive: Employee Development Opportunities the Small Giants Way

You’ve gotten the talent in the door – people who are skilled, have a values alignment with your company, and are a great cultural add – but how do you keep them around? Most employees want room to grow within a company, and see that as a strong reason to stay long term. But we’re not just talking about promotions and title changes; for many Small Giants companies who have a small team or a flat structure, that’s not always possible. So, what are some other ways to help your employees grow, and give them a sense of development that they can be proud of?

Join us for our next virtual event to dig into the topic of employee development. We’ll talk to Jennifer Trakhtenberg, Senior Talent Leader of ClearVision Optical, Missy Light, Training & Development Facilitator of Pegasus Logistics Group, and Doug Kueker, Co-Founder & Chief Learning Solutions Officer of Vivayic. The panel will cover:

  • Internship programs and how they can be strategic in building your talent pipeline
  • Building Individual Development Plans to encourage learning in both hard and soft skills.
  • The benefits of curating a Skills Inventory.
  • Developing employees to become trainers and mentors.
  • The concept of “lattice learning” and how growth doesn’t have to be a straight line.

Are You Recession Ready? What to Know About Our Economic Outlook

Economic changes create concerns as well as opportunities for Small Giants who stay one step ahead of their competitors. Join us for a virtual conversation with John Burns, CEO and Founder of John Burns Real Estate Consulting, whose 110-person firm monitors cycles carefully for executives at some of the largest investment companies in the country. Loren Feldman, the Founder of 21 Hats and a journalist who has reported on small businesses for more than 20 years, will facilitate the discussion. As two Small Giants business leaders who have their pulse on the current economic climate, they’ll discuss how people should prepare themselves and their businesses to navigate these uncertain times, and what to expect in the months ahead. Attendees of this virtual Q&A session will learn:

  • What news is real versus sensational
  • What the Fed wants to accomplish, and what that likely means for your business
  • What risks and opportunities potentially exist that aren’t immediately apparent
  • How to prepare financially and operationally, and
  • How to communicate to your team in uncertain times
, , ,

Develop and Retain Your Best Leaders: A Small Giants Panel

Have you identified your bench of future leaders? Are they confident, emotionally-intelligent individuals who are prepared to lead? Is your organization struggling to have its values understood and practiced at every level of the organization?

In this panel discussion facilitated by Small Giants Community co-founder Paul Spiegelman, three Small Giants Leadership Academy graduates will share how the experience has impacted their leadership and organizations. These leaders will share what it’s really like to participate in the Leadership Academy and reflect on the most impactful takeaways from their year of learning.

The Small Giants Leadership Academy is a nine-month training program for emerging purpose-driven leaders to learn and grow together. With enrollment now open for the next class, this is your chance to hear from graduates and understand the program from the perspective of those who have experienced it.

Find out why one graduate called the Leadership Academy “the perfect program for an emerging leader” and learn about “the lifelong relationships with amazing people” that continue to serve graduates to this day. We’ll also answer your questions about the program, like who in your organization is the right fit and how this experience can fundamentally change the trajectory of your organization.

, ,

Inside Out: How to Market Your Cultural Story Consistently

When it comes to marketing and branding, many companies create internal documents touting their culture to employees (ie the classic ‘mission, vision, values’ poster), and then separately produce external messaging of what they think the outside world wants to see and hear. In reality, these are two content streams that should have little to no divergence at all.

As Small Giants Community leaders, many of you may inherently understand this, but the execution side can be easier said than done. For our next virtual event, Jim Hume, founder of Phire Group, will guide us through his company’s proven process of practical ways to bring these two worlds together and create one cohesive brand that spotlights your culture authentically.

, ,

The Future of Work with Steve Cadigan

Paul Spiegelman, Steve Cadigan

It’s no secret that companies and employees across the globe have experienced a lot of change in the last couple of years. The pandemic has turned many of our notions about work on their heads, but it doesn’t all have to be viewed as insurmountable challenges. Here to help us navigate this new working world is Steve Cadigan.

Steve is a sought-after speaker and talent advisor, and he has worked with some of the world’s leading organizations across a span of industries. Through research and years of experience, Steve emphasizes the adaptability of organizations around their people, and finding quality, aligned talent to build the best teams possible.

Last year, Steve published his first book, Workquake: Embracing the Aftershocks of COVID-19 to Create a Better Model of Working. Rather than focusing on the persistent language that human skills will be increasingly replaced by automation and AI, Steve wants to change the conversation. In Workquake, he talks about how being human has never been more critical and how we have more agency in applying our talents than any other time in history. He dives deep into this topic, which has been accelerated by COVID-19, through case studies, stories, and his own experiences.

Join us as Small Giants Community Co-Founder, Paul Spiegelman moderates an interactive conversation with Steve Cadigan about his book, his projections for the future of work, and more.

, ,

January 2022 Virtual Event: The Biology of Cost and ROI

Sonia Funk is a registered Nutritional Therapist, as well as a Corporate Wellness Strategist and the owner of The Whole Avocado. She’s traveled the world as a teacher and student, and has learned a lot about wellness through her many adventures (she describes her life as “Eat Pray Love” meets “Forrest Gump”). Her work with The Whole Avocado is a culmination of over 15 years of work and research.

Taking care of your physical and mental health (and that of your employees) isn’t just good for yourself – it makes perfect business sense.

Invest in your business by investing in your employees. Attend our next virtual event with Wellness Strategist and Registered Nutritional Therapist, Sonia Funk, and learn from her the three aspects of health to incorporate into your strategy.

Sonia will present the reality of human experience, turn it into biology and timelines, and then right back into numbers, explaining the impact on your business’s bottom line. By applying an evolved perspective to problems in your company, you’ll be able to answer old questions from a new angle, and see the long-term ROI for you and your employees.

Watch this virtual event for these takeaways:

  1. Three new questions to use that will give you an advantageous shift in perspective on company issues such as mental health, culture, benefit costs and stress leave.
  2. Understanding how to take our biological health and use it for strategic metrics.
  3. A map of the timelines operating in your company, the costs associated with them, and a vision for what a compassionate (empathy in action) intervention could look like.
  4. Numbers-based permission to care.

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

Is Your Organization Prepared for the “Turnover Tsunami”?

Bob Glazer: Entrepreneur, Best-Selling Author and Speaker, Founder & CEO @ Acceleration Partners which is an international affiliate marketing company. Acceleration Partners was a Forbes SG. Bob has spoken at the summit and his colleagues have also taught in the Leadership Academy.

JeVon McCormick: He’s made millions in the stock market (even though he didn’t go to college), he was the President of a software company (even though he can’t code) and he’s currently the CEO of a publishing company (even though he can’t spell). JeVon is the President & CEO of Scribe Media – a publishing company. JeVon spoke at a previous summit.

There’s a wave of turnover coming your way – half of workers intend to look for a new job this year. Is your organization prepared to weather the turnover tsunami?

As the pandemic eases, many workers are resuming the job searches they put on pause during the pandemic, and they’re joined by droves of people who are burned out, disengaged, or simply seeking other options in the new remote landscape. We want to help you and your team prepare for the turnover that’s coming.

Watch this month’s virtual panel to learn how to:

  • Build and manage your talent pool to make hiring more efficient
  • Cultivate employee loyalty and engagement to boost retention
  • Navigate employee departures transparently in order to protect your culture
  • 30-minute, facilitated breakouts at the end of the call to share best practices and discuss challenges with fellow purpose-driven leaders

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in the Workplace

In a truly equitable and inclusive workplace, people of all backgrounds and identities feel valued and respected and have an equal opportunity to be successful. Organizations that cultivate an inclusive culture often earn deeper trust and loyalty from team members and enjoy more innovation and increased revenue growth. But what strategies actually work when it comes to racial equity in the workplace?

In this one-hour roundtable, we covered your most pressing challenges and questions around race and equity at work, including:

  • Practical ways to cultivate inclusion in all areas of the workplace
  • Common pitfalls that undermine your organization’s DE&I efforts
  • Tools and strategies to build understanding in your organization

Fireside Chat with Jack Stack

In this fireside chat, Jack Stack, father of the Great Game of Business and economist, speaks to the financial state of small businesses in America a year after the COVID-19 pandemic began. Facilitated by Small Giants Community co-founder Paul Spiegelman, this conversation helps leaders know what they can expect economically over the next 12 months, how to prepare, and how to get their whole team involved in helping businesses thrive.

How to: Hire and Onboard Virtually

With companies facing the reality of ongoing virtual work, leaders are stepping up to the challenge of recruiting, hiring, and onboarding employees they’ve never met. In this roundtable, we facilitated a discussion among purpose-driven leaders about the best practical tips for hiring and onboarding employees in a virtual work world.

How to: Set a Vision and Goals

Coming off the heels of a year of uncertainty, setting goals and a vision for the future is more important than ever. In this roundtable discussion, we facilitated a conversation with Small Giants leaders who are experts in organizational, individual, and personal goal setting. We discussed:

  •  How to weave personal and organizational goes into daily conversations with employees
  • How to create a line of sight for employees between their day-to-day tasks and the company’s goals and vision
  • How to encourage and support employees’ personal goals and personal vision? – How do you set goals during uncertain times?

How to: Support Your Team’s Mental Health

Worried about the mental health of your employees? Struggling to genuinely connect with your team members while they work from home? Not sure how to have tough conversations with your team about the impact of current events?

In the midst of a global pandemic, nationwide protests for racial justice, multiple wildfires, economic uncertainty, and social isolation, there’s another crisis looming in the near future: our mental health. The events of this year are taking a toll on our mental health, and many business leaders are wondering how to support mental health in the workplace — especially with so many people working from home.

We opened up our Zoom room and brought leaders together for an informal, open roundtable discussion to share strategies for supporting employee mental health and advice for how to approach this topic with compassion, honesty, and openness.

We discussed:

  • How to start the conversation around mental health with employees
  • How to support varying experiences across your team
  • How leaders can model mental health and well-being
  • Balancing productivity with mental health needs
  • Mental health tools and resources

Click below to view notes from the roundtable:


How to: Define and Describe Your Organizational Culture

Company culture is a squishy idea and notoriously tough to formalize. Carefully defining your culture is work, often hard work. Yet doing this work makes hundreds of future decisions much easier.

In this interactive workshop, Carl Erickson, founder and chairman of Atomic Object, shared his culture framework that’s eighteen years in the making, using Atomic’s culture at each level in the framework to illustrate each element.

The Time to Invest in Your Financial Future is Now

During this interactive session, Isaac Presley, President and CEO of Cordant Wealth Partners, answered participants’ financial planning questions and taught them about setting financial goals, managing cash flow, 401(k) investing, and how to make the most of your company stock.

We covered:

  • How to set financial goals and prioritize paying down debt
  • How to build an emergency fund and save for your future
  • Making the most of your 401(k) and company stock
  • Making confident investment decisions in your 401(k) account

You can also invite Isaac to do a presentation like this for your entire team by reaching out to


5 Traits of High-Performing Teams

What does science have to say about leading high-performing teams? What are the driving behaviors and how can you encourage them within your own organization? In this interactive workshop, Amber Johnson, Ph.D., and Jim Ludema, Ph.D. brought evidence-based insights for leading high performing teams and shared strategies for implementing them with your team.

We covered:

  • The 5 traits of high-performing teams
  • Building psychological safety
  • Fostering a growth mindset
  • Leveraging your team’s strengths
  • How to develop your team members

Juggling Kids, Work, and a Pandemic: A Small Giants Roundtable

Are you a parent with school-aged children at home? Or a leader with team members who have young children at home? Chances are you’re pretty stressed out right now — managing work and home life just got a whole lot harder, and with many schools switching to partial or fully remote learning, it’s a long road ahead.

We rolled out the welcome mat to our Zoom room and brought working parents and leaders together for a casual, open roundtable discussion to share strategies for managing work and family stress, supporting team members with children, and how to approach homeschooling as a working parent.

With so many (awesome!) parents in the Small Giants Community — leaders, emerging leaders, and employees alike — we want to do our part to tackle this challenge as a community. This was an idea-sharing session and open dialogue around your greatest challenges, strategies that are working for you, and how you think employers can support team members through this.

Developing Your Bench of Leaders: A Small Giants Leadership Academy Panel

Have you identified your bench of future leaders? Are they confident, emotionally-intelligent individuals who are prepared to lead? Is your organization struggling to have its values understood and practiced at every level of the organization?

In this panel discussion facilitated by Small Giants Community co-founder Paul Spiegelman, two Small Giants Leadership Academy graduates shared how the experience has impacted their leadership and organizations.

How to: Set Clear Expectations for Everyone on Your Team

In this workshop, Bill Flynn lead attendess through a exercise to get clear around job roles and employee expectations. This is a simple concept but challenging practice. Answering the question, “why does this person get paid,” and using it to build job descriptions, role expectations, and one-on-one meeting frameworks will create clarity and alignment throughout the organization.

Financial Outlook for Small Giants Companies

In this panel discussion, financial experts shared insights and tools to help you navigate the current economy, understand loan regulations and plan for the future — all through the lens of purpose-driven leadership. We’ll covered:

  • Loans and PPP regulations
  • Why weekly cash flow management is vital for business survival
  • Forecasting and budgeting for the remainder of 2020 -Preparing for future unexpected financial challenges

How to: Lead with Purpose in Turbulent Times

In times of change, the most effective leaders are those who create positivity and psychological safety for their team members. Watch the recording of this virtual workshop with Zach Mercurio, Ph.D., to learn how to identify and focus on the three most important aspects of change leadership: the purposeful, the positive, and the possible and put it into action at your organization.

Participants in this virtual workshop:

  • Learned what positive and purposeful change leadership looks like
  • Completed an assessment to determine their strengths as a leader specifically in times to change
  • Drew on past experiences to identify techniques for navigating change

How to: Recognize Employees for Living Your Company’s Core Values

One of the best ways to instill your company’s values into its culture is to reward employees when they act in alignment with your company’s values.

In the strongest company cultures, core values aren’t just words on the wall — they’re the steadfast principles that guide everything from strategy to hiring and customer service. Employees at every level know them, connect with them, use them in their everyday language, and base decisions around them.

In this workshop, attendees learned:

  • The most meaningful ways to recognize and train employees around your core values
  • How to use your core values to energize your meetings
  • What you can do every month to celebrate your company values

Guided Meditation for Leaders

Get calm and present with this virtual guided meditation session led by Small Giants leader Rob Dubé. In this session, Rob leads the group through a 10-minute guided meditation and helps us all examine six simple habits to help us thrive in uncertain times.

How to: Make Connection Easy While Remote

When teams have trust and psychological safety, they take the kind of social risks that transform organizations.

Especially in times of crisis, it’s important to know how to forge meaningful connections with your team members and offer the trust and support they need. Forbes calls Chad Littlefield, co-founder and Chief Experience Officer of We and Me, Inc., a “global expert on asking questions that build trust and connection in teams.” In this free, virtual workshop, leaders and entrepreneurs will connect, share current experiences and work together to learn how to adapt.

By the end of the workshop, attendees walked away with two concrete, actionable tools for amplifying connection, belonging, and trust in your own organization during these challenging times.

We covered:
• Research and practical experience around building workplace relationships
• How to break down communication barriers, in-person and virtually
• Tools and strategies for sparking genuine connection and deeper conversation

How to: Care for Virtual Employees

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, teams across the country suddenly find themselves in virtual work situations. This can pose a challenge to culture-focused companies that want to care for their employees. The good news: the principles of a positive culture translate to sustainable virtual environments, too — and they offer exciting new ways to engage team members and do great work. In this workshop, we heard from Small Giants leader and CEO of Big Cartel, Anna Brozek, about how their entirely virtual team stays connected, productive, and culturally aligned.

We covered:
• Building a positive culture with virtual teams
• The best tools to use to communicate with virtual and local employees
• Fun ways to surprise and engage employees from afar

How to: Create a Successful Onboarding Program

Learn how to create an employee onboarding program that sets new team members up for success and ensures you retain top talent. From the first handshake to the six-month mark, onboarding is an involved, dynamic process that demands time, attention, and resources.

In this workshop led by Connor Lynch of Rescue Agency, attendees learned how to create an employee onboarding program that sets new team members up for success and ensures you retain top talent.

We covered:

  • Planning out a new hire’s most important first experiences on the job
  • Measuring a new hire’s progress in their first six months
  • Implementing feedback mechanisms for the new hire and your team

How to Hire Culturally-Aligned A-Players

Small Giants leaders know that hiring the wrong person is costly, time-consuming, and can do serious cultural damage. But even with the best intentions, without a strong hiring process, wrong hires can still sneak in.

In this Fishbowl (a.k.a. webinar!) we’ll learn from Vivian Lee, SVP of People Innovation at Arkadium about their process for hiring top candidates quickly and ensuring they’re culturally aligned.

Arkadium’s interview process is thoughtful and strategic: all hiring managers follow an interview guide that is anchored in the position’s scorecard and defines what success in the role looks like. In this Fishbowl, you’ll learn about:

  • The questions to ask to ensure cultural fit
  • Arkadium’s philosophy that finding top candidates is the manager’s priority, not HR’s
  • How to create your own interview guide for each role
  • How to use an interview guide to combat interview bias
  • How to remain disciplined in your recruiting and interview processes

The Process of Culture

Having a great company culture doesn’t just happen — a great culture is built on processes and discipline in all areas of your organization.
In this Fishbowl (a.k.a. webinar!) we learned from Shawn Burcham, CEO of PFSbrands, about how his team has systematized their culture by integrating their core values into how they recruit, hire, fire, train, and review employees.
You’ll hear about how PFSbrands screens for culture fit, reinforces values, and creates a culture of feedback.
This Fishbowl will cover how to:
  • Be systematic in your hiring process
  • Hire for core values: your organization’s and the candidate’s
  • Use surveying, 360 reviews, and Net Promoter Score to create a culture of feedback

Exit Options for Purpose-Driven Entrepreneurs

For purpose-driven entrepreneurs, the company’s mission is a top priority. When it comes to exploring exit options, it can be difficult to make the right choice that will protect the company’s culture, reward its employees, and allow the founder to leave a lasting legacy.

In this month’s Fishbowl (a.k.a. webinar!) attendees learned from Michael Whelchel of Big Path Capital and Zane Adams of Buchi about how purpose-driven leaders can raise new capital or sell majority or minority parts of their businesses while protecting the company’s mission above all else. Tune into the recording to learn:

  • How to achieve sustainable, purpose-aligned growth when seeking outside capital
  • How to ensure your purpose is a top priority when evaluating exit options
  • How to evaluate investment partners for cultural alignment

Building Culture in Virtual Teams

Positive workplaces don’t happen by accident. Purpose-driven leaders know that behind the best company cultures, you’ll find leaders who put in consistent, intentional hard work to build this aspect of their organization.

But, what happens to the culture if you and your employees don’t see each other every day? What happens to the camaraderie and trust that make positive, successful companies? How do you build and maintain your culture with a virtual or distributed team?

In this webinar, attendees learned from 2019 Forbes Small Giants leader Behfar Jahanshahi on how InterWorks’ culture grew and flourished as its team became a distributed workforce.

He covered:

  • How to build or maintain your company’s close-knit, positive culture among a virtual or distributed team
  • How InterWorks’ culture grew with them as they went from one physical office location to having employees in co-working spaces and home offices around the world
  • The software tools you can use to conduct meaningful, virtual meetings
  • How to proactively stay connected to employees you don’t see every day
  • How to cultivate trust and camaraderie among employees no matter where they are

How to Create a Results-Focused Culture

Learn how this agency became a ROWE – a Results Only Work Environment – and how this approach creates a culture of autonomy, flexibility, and results.

In a ROWE, meetings are optional and employees work when and where they’re most productive. Results and quality become the key drivers of success — resulting in higher employee engagement, more quality work, and better overall efficiency within your business. In this Fishbowl (a.k.a. webinar!) attendees heard from Ashton Adair, Director of People and Engagement at Mojo Media Labs about how Mojo became a ROWE and the impact this system has had on the business, its operations, and employees’ lives. We learned:

  • What it means to be a ROWE (Results Only Work Environment)
  • Why ROWE can be a good fit for purpose-driven businesses
  • How to prime your business for becoming a ROWE
  • Challenges to avoid and lessons learned in becoming a ROWE
  • How to use a results-focused environment to attract top talent
  • How to measure results and quality
  • What results-focused practices you can adopt even if you don’t become a full ROWE

How to Build Your Leadership Bench

In this Fishbowl featuring Paul Dreyer, Chief Empowerment Officer of Avid4 Adventure, attendees learned how this outdoor adventure company maintains healthy, intentional growth by developing an active pipeline of future leaders.
Avid4 Adventure has seen 25-40 percent annual growth over the past decade. As revenue increased, their need for more people also increased. But just creating more seats around the table is not healthy growth — you have to make sure you have the right people in the right seats.
This need led to the development of Avid4 Adventure’s 3-Year Staffing Plan — a plan that helps them stay ahead of the staffing growth curve while putting a heavy focus on personal and professional development for full-time and seasonal employees.
In this Fishbowl, attendees learned:
  • How transparency and over-communicating predicted future staffing needs lead to better applicants and better hires
  • How Avid4 Adventure develops future internal candidates
  • How to create your own three-year staffing plan

Start the Conversation about Mental Health in the Workplace

One in five US adults experiences a mental illness in a given year — and even more experience the struggles through a friend or family member. Despite its prevalence in our lives, the stigma associated with mental illness often prevents open discussion about it. Ultimately, this stigma delays diagnosis and treatment — and the conversation can be even harder to have in the workplace.

Opening the dialogue and creating a safe and accepting environment to talk about mental health is just another way purpose-driven leaders can care for employees in the totality of their lives, as well as, support them to do their best work.

In this Fishbowl, Meg Switala and Karen Nelson of TiER1 Performance shared their process for leveraging the workplace for starting the conversation about mental health. Attendees learned about their experience following this journey at TiER1 and the positive impact it has had on their employees’ lives and their company culture.

From this Fishbowl, attendees learned:

  • What you need to launch a successful Start the Conversation program
  • The specific communication schedule, themes, and messaging they used to encourage open communication around mental health
  • Simple-to-implement practices that will create a trusting space for employees
  • The direct results this program had on their organization and its individual employees

Opening the Books is Only the Beginning: How to Teach Employees Financial Literacy

Small Giants believe in financial transparency — sharing financials with your team arms them with information that helps them make better decisions for your business.

But opening the books is only the beginning. In order to get the most out of being a financially transparent company, you have to help your employees become financially literate and understand the stories behind the numbers.

For example: Do your employees know how much revenue it takes for the business to make $1 in profit?

In this webinar, Steve Baker, Vice President at the Great Game of Business, walked us through exercises you can use with your team to teach basic financial literacy and how to use that knowledge to make better business and personal decisions.


Win the War for Talent with One Word

Through the experience of being fired as CEO of his own company, Jay Wilkinson learned the importance of showing his employees that he cares. By making them feel loved, being vulnerable and including them in important decisions, his employees remained loyal despite being asked to work longer hours and take massive pay cuts. During his leadership journey, Jay learned that the word “love” needs to be used more often in business. 
In this Fishbowl, attendees learned:
  • How to retain great employees by showing them love
  • How to make every employee feel seen and appreciated
  • Why being vulnerable is the best way to show employees you care

Successfully Integrating Mindfulness Into Your Leadership Culture

Check out the recording of this interactive fishbowl (a.k.a webinar!) with Small Giants leader and mindfulness expert Rob Dube. Rob is the author and founder of donothing: the most rewarding leadership challenge you will ever take.

In this Fishbowl, attendees learned how meditation will help you become a more mindful leader and person by:

  • Having a clear and settled mind
  • Cultivating calm when you’re anxious
  • Improving your sleep
  • Being at your best each day

Building a Thriving Millennial Workforce

What’s the secret to attracting and retaining millennial employees? It’s simpler than you might think — today’s workforce values an employer that cares for them in the totality of their lives. It sounds simple, but what does that approach look like in practice? In this Fishbowl, Chris Stakich, CEO of Rustic Pathways, will share the six-prong framework his company uses to attract, develop, and retain a workforce of more than 200 millennials across the globe. Based on Tony Robbins’ Six Core Human Needs, Rustic Pathways has cracked the code for engaging millennials.

Attendees learned how to create an environment where team members:

  • Feel secure
  • Experience variety
  • Build self-worth
  • Create deep connections
  • Grow personally and professionally
  • Give back

How to Use Feedback to Bring Your Company Values to Life

Everyone is talking about feedback and one-on-ones, but how do you make sure you’re truly adding value and not just checking a box? More to the point, how do you use feedback to help the team embody your company values in their day-to-day interactions. It turns out that it’s one-part mindset shift and one part tactical. In this fishbowl, attendees learned from Jonathan Raymond, author of Good Authority and CEO at Refound, on how to give feedback in a way that feels natural, acknowledges power imbalances, and brings your company values to life.

Key Takeaways:

  • How to structure feedback using questions and observations
  • The mindset shift to become a great people manager
  • What to do when you feel like you’ve given feedback but nothing changes
  • How to take ownership of your contribution to a stuck situation
  • Why boundaries are the most critical — and most avoided — ingredient in effective feedback
  • How to use The Accountability Dial to give timely, thought provoking feedback

Understanding Motivation: Using Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to Foster Better Business Relationships

In this Fishbowl, we heard from Chip Conley, the founder and former CEO of America’s Joie de Vivre Hospitality and the Strategic Advisor for Hospitality and Leadership at Airbnb. Conley explained how applying psychology to understand his stakeholders’ motivations helped him:

  • Create a joyful workplace for himself and his employees
  • Make his customers more delighted and loyal
  • Create the conditions for legacy and financial success to the approval of his investors

How to Preserve Mission & Values Through Exit & Growth Strategies

There comes a point in time, when all Founders and CEOs must exit their business. One opportunity Small Giants may consider is searching for liquidity options that won’t jeopardize their company’s core purpose. The introduction of outside capital, whether a minority or majority liquidity, represents a vulnerable decision point that can have permanent effects on the mission, future, and legacy of a company. In this fishbowl discussion, Michael Whelchel, Co-Founder & Managing Partner of Big Path Capital, and Matt O’Hayer, Founder & CEO of Vital Farms, highlighted exit and liquidity options for Small Giants, with a special focus on how to preserve mission through your company’s most important financial transactions.

Key Takeaways:

Attendees leanred about the following exit & liquidity options with a special focus on preserving purpose & values. The webinar addressed these questions:

  • Who is the best buyer (private equity, family office, holding company, ESOP)?
  • What are the pros and cons of each?
  • If I don’t want to sell majority control, what are my options?
  • What can I do now to get ready for a future transaction?

How to Bring Transparency and Accountability to Career Trajectory and Raises

Deciding when an employee should receive a promotion or a raise can be difficult, especially when deciding how much. In this fishbowl, Karen Clark Cole, CEO & Founder of Blink UX, and Brigitt Rains, Director of Operations, shared how they developed an internal system to make career trajectory, promotions, and asking for raises transparent and easy in their organization.

Key Takeaways:

  • Learn how to develop a career trajectory path for employees
  • Learn how to develop a system for asking for raises
  • Learn about he GrowTool system, which Blink UX built to monitor both systems
, ,

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.

, ,

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

How to Drive Business Results by Letting Your Employees Bring Their Souls to Work

Building culture in your company is a crucial component to being a Small Giant. What differentiates a Small Giant from others is their focus to embed culture into their business strategy. Culture of Good, a company that built an emotional operating system, teaches for-profit companies how to operate their business with the soul of a non-profit. How do we do this? By creating community programming that gets employees excited and passionate about their work. In this fishbowl, attendees learned from Culture of Good Co-founders Scott Moorehead and Ryan McCarty, on how to increase employee engagement and get better team results by letting your employees bring their souls to work.

Key Takeaways

  • How to start building a culture strategy to see the cultural results you hope to achieve
  • How to create community programming that drives employee engagement
  • How giving your employees permission to care is the secret to engaging them on a soul level
  • How to drive profits by investing in your people rather than seeing profit as evil
  • Introduction to 5 promises that if lived up to become pillars you can build your business on
  • Learn how to measure culture in ways that empower employees to lead your efforts in building a culture of good

How to Bring Your Purpose to Life

In this fishbowl, attendees learned from The Purpose Institute’s co-founder and Chief Purposologist, Haley Rushing, on how to bring the power of your organization’s purpose to life in a systematic, meaningful and sustainable way. She covered a wide range of activation areas including how to use your purpose to drive recruitment and talent management, how to create purpose-driven customer experiences, how to use it as a springboard for innovation, how it can intersect and amplify CSR efforts and, most importantly, how to establish purpose-driven metrics of success.

In this fishbowl, attendees learned the following key takeaways:

  • A brief overview of all the benefits that accrue from having a powerful purpose at the heart of your organization
  • Tips on how to articulate your purpose in the most powerful way possible
  • A game plan for closing the gap between the aspiration purpose statement and the reality
  • Best practices for activating purpose throughout your organization including: recruitment and talent management, customer experiences, CSR efforts
  •  How to establish purpose-driven metrics of success

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!
, ,

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

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

From Me to We: Creating a Culture of Leaders

In 2014, Pegasus Logistics faced a crisis – employees were leaving, the culture was decimating, and sales were at a stall. So, when a group of dedicated longtime employees formed a “coup” and took to the leadership team about what needed to change: investing in employee development was one of the first on the agenda. Now, 3 years later, Pegasus’ sales and culture are thriving, including higher employee engagement levels, productivity, and overall retention. Candice Gouge, Talent and Culture Cultivator, at Pegasus Logistics discussed the employee development tools she designed and implemented to create a culture of leaders including Individual Development Plans and multi-level leadership tracks for all employees.

Key Takeaways

  • Learn what an Individual Development Plan (IDP) is and how it can be used to engage employees and help them achieve their goals
  • Learn how to create IDPs for employees and how to incorporate them into management one-one-ones and check-ins
  • Learn about the multi-level leadership tracks Pegasus has implemented, so that all employees have a clear destination to the leadership roles they are interested in
  • Receive samples of both Individual Development Plans and Leadership Track Materials to take back to your organization

How Much to Spend on Company Culture to Truly Impact The Bottom Line

In this fishbowl, Mills Snell and Matt Morley from Pendleton Street Advisors, shared what to measure when tracking investment in company culture and what trends to look for over time.

Key Takeaways:

  • Review the basics of a financial statement and identify which line items to pay attention to when tracking company culture
  • Learn what to do with this data and how to interpret it over the longterm.
  • Share your own experiences and questions in regard to measuring investment in culture with a subject matter expert.

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

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

Are You Leading in A Bubble? Challenges of Leading A Values-Driven Company

Values-driven leadership is something we all strive for as Small Giants leaders. But as Chris Hutchinson has discovered through his work with leaders and teams, it is not easy to get the right level of engagement from our teams. There really can be “too much of a good thing” when it comes to values-driven leadership. Through a short pre- questionnaire, participants will begin to evaluate how their leadership style is impacting employee engagement and positive conflict. During the interactive Leadership Fishbowl, Chris shared practical tools to help leaders generate positive conflict and employee participation.


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.

The Power of Beliefs in Business

Ari Weinzweig, Owner and Founding Partner of Zingerman’s, shares his learnings from his book: A Lapsed Anarchist’s Approach to The Power of Beliefs in Business. In this Fishbowl, Ari will take a look at how our beliefs play out in our day to day experiences in the workplace, and how we and our workplaces are impacted by those beliefs. Whether we accept it or not, what we believe about ourselves, about our organization, our co-workers, our boss, the work that we do and our ability to do it will significantly alter the outcomes we are seeking to achieve. Best of all, Ari will address how by becoming more mindful of our beliefs, we can effectively alter them and change the way we see our work and the world. And radically alter the outcomes we get from our efforts.

Getting Started on Change

Writing to Lead

Evaluating Performance

How to do Recognition Right (and for free)

Screening for Value

At Chief Outsiders, Tom & Art believe that culture is their primary competitive advantage. It is what allows them to attract and retain the best talent who create the most value for their clients. Their approach to hiring for culture is rooted in their core values. Join Tom McCrary, Managing Partner, and Art Saxby, CEO and Founder for a conversation about their process for vetting values in the hiring process.

Managing the Risk of the Right Person

Finding Peace of Mind

Banking on Community

6 Qs for Building a Great Business Online

Managing Millennials

Heroes, Lovers, Rebels and Brands (!?)

Building Community Through the Cloud

Building a Bridge to Community

Rally of Reell

Scaling Culture

A Chat with Bo Burlingham

Coaching to the Positive

Employees, ________ & Engagement


Right Projects and Right People

Mechanics of Value in the Workplace

Value(s) of the Sale

Design Thinking

Intentional Energy & Leadership

Small Giants Community