Komen year 4 – today our BuzzBack Gives Back program sauntered to Central Park for the Annual Komen Race. We were there to support an important cause but also to support each other. One of us wears a pink number, and we are proud to run with her. That’s just one reason we join together. That’s what teams do.
To build a business you need to build a team – and when you build a team like ours, the passion, focus and commitment is on fire. It fuels growth and contagious energy clients want to experience.
Our team (shown) might have been dwarfed in size by our clients’ walking/running side by side with us today – Team Pepsi and Team Pfizer to name a few- but definitely not our spirit. It’s loud and evidenced by the work we do every day in key innovation initiatives for them. And it’s super obvious in our dynamic culture.
And when you really do it well the team takes over. They organize the effort, design great research, and exceed client expectations. Every day. My mentors told me that would happen – build a great team, an award-winning culture, and your business will really grow. They were spot on.
And then it all becomes just a walk (or run) in the park.
When it comes to the workplace, turns out female and millennial employees want the same thing. According to a study covered in Fortune magazine, both of these employee types seek a healthy work/life blend, a sense of meaning from their work, and transparency. Who knew when I started BuzzBack that these would emerge as defining principles of our own company culture. And, it then comes as no surprise, that our company is 60% women and 40% millennial. This has turned out to be a differentiating strength for us as we study brands – women and millennials are often the target consumers our clients are most interested in.
Another aspect of the study however surprised me. When asked, only a third of both women and millennial responders aspired to the C-suite. The study sponsors, Saba (a talent management firm) and workplacetrends.com, think that this may be due to lack of role models at the top rungs of the corporate ladder. But they also point to a shift in the definition of leadership to one where making an impact at one’s company and developing into a recognized expert and influencer is more important. I’m hoping at BuzzBack we can offer both definitions of leadership – the traditional title-based one, and one where personal and professional goals converge.
As a female business founder, CEO, mentor and mother (of twin college-bound Gen Zers, boy and girl), I am constantly thinking about what work will look like in the future, and how BuzzBack needs to adapt to continue attracting the brightest talent. I’ll be speaking on female leadership and entrepreneurship at a professional networking event in Philadelphia next week. I’m looking forward to hearing how other business owners and managers are creating workplaces that nurture the next generation of leaders. After all, our futures depend on them.
This past week we moved our NY HQ a few blocks south. During the transition, many of our employees had to work at home while we transferred systems, servers and files. But we didn’t skip a beat – that’s because our BuzzBack team can work pretty much anywhere. Given we’re in a 24/7 business, it has always been this way in order to be responsive to our clients! We were early adopters of the flex office – a trend that many believe will be a hallmark of the future of work.
Our client Unilever describes it as Agile Working. The Unilever House headquarters in London is one of their Agile Workspaces.
Here’s how they explain why they’ve adopted this trend: “This new way of working measures performance on results, not time and attendance, and reinforces diversity by helping people – particularly women – balance their personal and professional lives.”
I visited there last week. The office space can only accommodate 60% of the workforce. That means Unilever employees need to work anywhere, anytime. And if they’re not traveling for business, they often work from home. Location has been taken out of the work equation. It doesn’t matter, because work is about performance, not place. Embracing this notion takes some adjustment, but having experienced it ourselves, it actually frees us up to collaborate and think differently. For Unilever, it allows them to operate globally, across some of the biggest global brands, such as Knorr and Dove. While BuzzBack’s not quite of that scale, having an agile workforce empowers our team to focus on creation, not location.
I like to think some of the things I do ultimately make a difference. Changing things for the better drives me and was the inspiration behind founding BuzzBack to innovate market insights. But I also wanted to create a company culture that continually seeks to make a difference beyond the industry. This founding and defining characteristic has been a magnet for like-minded people – particularly millennials who are especially purpose driven. This quest contributes to our strong sense of tribal pride and shared vision.
That’s why days like yesterday are so personally meaningful.
Participating in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in Central Park, we came together to make a difference while representing our core value of Teamwork outside our NYC office walls. I’m pleased to share that our own small group of racers exceeded our fundraising goal. We were surrounded by many of our clients: Pepsi sponsored the event and Pfizer was there with a team of their own.
It didn’t matter if we won. That wasn’t the point – making that all-important difference was. We were excited to be together, enjoy the day and support a worthy cause. I didn’t have to tell anyone to participate. They came because it was the right thing to do. I couldn’t have been more proud of the group that represented the brand we’re building together. I thought to myself, “This is who we are.” Compelled to make a difference. It’s as plain and simple as that.