Stepping Up

How Leaders Are Rising to the Occasion

Throughout the Small Giants Community and beyond, leaders are doing what’s right when it matters most. These are their stories.

Taking Care of Team Members

ELIZABETH GLASBRENNER | Smiley Technologies, Inc.

“Can I buy you lunch”

It’s a small gesture, but in a time of great isolation and uncertainty, it carries more weight. Elizabeth Glasbrenner, President and CEO of Smiley Technologies Inc., has been buying a lot of lunches lately. Although Smiley’s core business is stable – they work with banks and are deemed an essential business — their team of 40 employees is working from home and dealing with a myriad of personal problems in the face of the global pandemic.

“Everyone’s situation is different,” says Elizabeth. “One employee just had a baby last week. Some have spouses who lost their jobs. One employee lives alone in a 600-square-foot apartment, and another has preschool-aged children at home. All I know how to do is be flexible and show them I care — I try to check in with every single person every week.”

In the early weeks of working from home, Elizabeth had the idea to treat the team and their families to a week’s worth of lunches from a local restaurant of their choice. It was a way to help support team members while also supporting local restaurants. All week long, employees and their families enjoyed takeout lunches from local eateries, with Smiley footing the bill.

“The idea came to me after visiting our family’s favorite local restaurant,” says Elizabeth. “We walked in and I asked the woman working the counter how things were going, and she burst into tears. I wanted to find a way to support the small businesses in our community.”

The gesture inspired the team to start a #GoodNews channel on Slack where team members could share the pay it forward good deeds they were doing for others. Day after day, employees shared the ways in which they were paying it forward in their own communities: buying groceries for a veteran in the neighborhood, making and delivering craft boxes for local children, gift baskets with a roll of toilet paper to share with neighbors. Some employees even borrowed Elizabeth’s idea and bought lunch for another family.




“Our team members are showing up for work and putting in one hundred percent. I know they have challenges — I do, too. But we’re living our values and sticking together.”

Though Smiley’s employees are physically isolated from one another, the team has never been closer. For Elizabeth, it’s the culmination of several years of work defining their culture, values, and mission. Seemingly overnight, all of that was put to the test.

“This has sealed our culture,” says Elizabeth. “Our team members are showing up for work and putting in one hundred percent. I know they have challenges — I do, too. But we’re living our values and sticking together. Our employees will probably never be recognized as essential workers, but they’re keeping the banks running at night. I’m proud of them.”

What do these leaders have in common?

These leaders are part of Small Giants companies — companies that prioritize their purpose and culture and invest in their emerging leaders.

One way Small Giants companies invest in their next generation of leaders is by enrolling them in the Small Giants Leadership Academy. This robust one-year certification program consists of virtual learning sessions with expert leaders and coaches, an extensive resource library, on-the-ground meetups with your cohort, a leadership assessment, and your event ticket to two Small Giants gatherings.

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