Thursday, September 08, 2011

Inc. Magazine Speaker Event

Recently attended a speaker panel put on by Inc. Magazine here in San Jose and found it to be pretty thought provoking. The event was titled "Helping Businesses Grow Healthy" and put on by Inc. in conjunction with United Healthcare.

Information on the event from the Inc. website:

"Building a healthy workplace is a tough job. Leaders that promote and support wellness in the work environment reap the benefits of loyal employees and gain a competitive advantage. Hear from a panel of entrepreneurs that are implementing new workplace initiatives and have been recognized for their winning culture. Even if you aren't in a position to execute ideas at once, you'll learn about the small steps that make a difference for your employees and for the health of your company."

Moderator Kyra Cavanaugh, President and Founder of LifeMeetsWork
Tania Binder, Senior VP of Global Sales of TRX
Chris Mittelstaedt, Founder and CEO of The FruitGuys
Eric Ryan, Chief Brand Architect & Co-founder of Method; Co-author of The Method Method: Seven Obsessions That Helped Our Scrappy Start-up Turn an Industry Upside Down

My thoughts on the event:

1. The invite was very much appreciated and while I don't imagine running these events is a profit center for Inc., having them is probably very much in line with the message and value-add of the magazine.

2. It of course relates to the "Healthy Workplace" theme, but there seemed to be such an emphasis by the panel speakers on employee culture. This manifested itself in things from the the hiring process (was interesting to hear of the difficulty in hiring good people) to how employees are treated. Ranging from things like encouraging healthy living to asking workers what matters to them, this concept of employee treatment was a big deal to the panelists. Pay value of that to the company would be to both keep attrition low and have employees be more productive and better ambassadors for the business if they feel treated well and buy in to the company mission.

3. I found myself wondering how much harder it must be for leadership of a public company to have this same focus on employee culture. The long term benefit of a positive work experience is of course there for both public and private companies, but a publicly traded business is more beholden to shareholders and short term results. That whole mandate for officers of a public company to increase shareholder value... it can be a nebulous charter.

4. Was very impressed by the panelists from the perspective they each had an idea that they made into something. Eric Ryan from Method probably has achieved the most success so far, but all had interesting stories to tell.

My take away from their accomplishments was whether it be for a product, a company or a person in the workforce… an offering or value add can be a powerful thing and shouldn't be discounted. If someone has said offering, the goal then should be to find a place for that thing rather than simply trying to sledgehammer a product, service or candidacy as an employee into an existing slot that may not jibe with or appreciate it fully.

True, this may or may not be what the panelists were really trying to communicate (and it's presumed wisdom that trends towards the squishy), but anyone having taken the time to attend the event should take from it what makes sense to them.

Back to the statement made at the beginning of this post... thought-provoking stuff that I'm glad Inc. put together and extended the invitation for.