Living and Giving

CEOs: Closing Deals or Cultivating People?

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I love Inc. Magazine!  I recently read a wonderful article by Leigh Buchanan, with thoughts from Kevin P. Ryan, CEO of AlleyCorp.  Kevin shared about how important he considers it to recruit a good team–and then to stay in close connection with that team.  The article is \”The Chief Recruiter: Kevin P. Ryan of AlleyCorp\” and here\’s an excerpt:

I used to think business was 50 percent having the right people. Now I think it\’s 80 percent. The best way to be productive is to have a great team…I don\’t have an office. I sit in a cubicle with everybody else. That\’s partly so no one can ask for an office, which in a fast-growing company isn\’t practical. But it\’s also so I can keep my finger on the pulse of how people are feeling.  I carry a little notebook with the names of 35 or 40 people in the company, and every week I look at it to make sure I\’m in touch with everyone.

Such wise and inspiring words on the role of a CEO.  Here was my response:

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Dear Kevin,

I found your writing so inspiring. In the past, CEOS have been told they need to \”raise funds and close deals.\” While this is important, nothing is more important than people. Your strict message to us as CEOs was right on!

I\’d like to share a bit about UniversalGiving\’s culture, which may be helpful to others.  It\’s about work-life balance, which contributes to a positive culture.  Critically important, we address the needs of each team member. We listen to our team members and then assess what would be the most productive work environment, hours and schedule for them and for us.  Part of it is also identifying and knowing our team members’ goals outside of work. It’s so important to have outside lives and interests. We’re all here to help each other, and it can happen in so many ways.  We focus on encouraging a balanced life and sharing of one another’s goals.

We also have a strong intern program. We very much value our interns and provide them great work experience, recommendations, time with the CEO and a dog friendly, environmentally friendly workplace.  We give our interns a lot of responsibility–and the supportive management to help them succeed.

We also use our intern process for recruitment.  Those who have two key areas: 1) Execution and 2) Positive Attitude, rise to the top.  We convert them over the months to paid interns, consultants, part-time employees, and sometimes full-time employees.  The point is both parties can see if it is a good fit. An interview tells me if someone is not right for our organization. It rarely ever tells me if this person will be the ultimate good fit. That takes time.

Thank you again for a wonderfully clear, compelling, inspiring post, paying attention to the most important area of life — People.


Pamela Hawley