Category: Community

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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!

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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

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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
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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
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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


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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.
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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.

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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.

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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.

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:


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

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: 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

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 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

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
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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.


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

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

Writing to Lead

Evaluating Performance

Managing the Risk of the Right Person

Finding Peace of Mind

6 Qs for Building a Great Business Online

Managing Millennials

A Chat with Bo Burlingham

Intentional Energy & Leadership

Small Giants Community