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ETL-033: From Aspiration to Alignment: Intentional Growth and Top Talent Retention

With Ms. Claire Chandler

ETL-033: A conversation with Ms. Claire Chandler

and your host Wayne Brown on June 26, 2024

Episode notes: A conversation with Ms. Claire Chandler

Hello and welcome to the ET Project. I’m your host, Wayne Brown, and as usual, we’re delighted to be delivering this podcast for executive talent all over the world whom we’re affectionately referring to as Team ET. 

Today we once again are sitting in the Big Apple and this time chatting with the President and Founder of Talent Boost, Ms. Claire Chandler. 

Claire specializes in leadership and business value creation. Tapping into nearly 30 years of experience in people leadership, human resources, and business ownership to help organizations achieve strategic alignment, culture integration, and sustainable success.

Claire gets results because she’s insanely easy to work with, cuts through the corporate clutter, and has proven, agile and customizable frameworks for aligning people, processes and performance with the long-term business strategy. 

Here is an extract from our conversation as we start to get into it…

“…I think my first book I was proudest of because I finally got out of my own way and put a book out in the world. People ask me, which has been the hardest book to write, and I do feel like the first one was because I was so caught up, and I think most first time authors can relate to this, I was so caught up in, it had to be the book. It had to be one that could make its mark. It had to be one that could stand the test of time. It had to be all these things. And I talked myself out of starting, and I finally worked with a book coach who’s very honest with me and said, first of all, get over yourself.

And he said, you’re putting all this pressure on yourself to write the book, and what you need to understand is your only goal right now is to write a book. And when he framed it that way for me, it really sort of clicked. And so I was able to put that book out into the world, and I’m still very proud of that book. And people still find it on Amazon, or they pick it up secondhand or what have you. And when I meet people for the first time, they’ll say, oh, yeah, you wrote the Whirlpool Effect. That was really great. And so there is something about that first book that makes me a bit nostalgic. This latest book, Growth on Purpose really was an opportunity through the writing of it to explore in more depth and with greater discipline, the methodology that I use to work with clients on all the things that we just talked about, right?…”


Her clients often refer to her as their leadership therapist, because they have real, actionable conversations that remove obstacles, alleviate worries and get things done.

Claire holds a certificate in strategic HR leadership from Cornell’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations, a master’s degree from the New Jersey Institute of Technology, and a bachelor’s degree from Fairfield University. She has appeared as a guest on over 150 podcasts, is the author of multiple books on leadership and business strategy, and is a contributing writer for Forbes.

Today we are coming together to unpack Claire’s latest book called “Growth on Purpose.” It truly a must read for all leaders wanting to understand more about the importance of Culture in Organizations and how to make the intangible, tangible.  

I like this quote from Claire as it rings so loud and true in my experience.

“The greatest impact on a company’s culture is the behavior of its leaders.”

Claire Chandler. You’ll hear the latest version of that expression during our conversation.

With that call to reality, TEAM ET, I welcome you to this really interesting conversation for all of us as leaders, with our guest Ms. Claire Chandler in this episode titled, “From Aspiration to Alignment: Intentional Growth and Top Talent Retention”

Final words from Claire:

And then all of that builds toward the fourth pillar, which is alignment on what matters. And this is where everything comes to bear. Part of the eight principles that we talk about through the book, one of them is leaders make powerful connections. Because leaders are the primary shapers of culture and cultures would drive success. Leaders have an obligation and a duty and an opportunity to make deeper connections between what their employees do as individuals, and how that contributes to the bigger mission, how that connects them to their colleagues, and how that connects them to the strategy that you’re trying to build. And if you put those four pillars in place, in sequence, and you do it with intentionality and direction, if you do it on purpose, you are going to get to a place where you have the right talent, you have attracted them, you’ve retained them, you’ve engaged them, and you have advanced them to the point where they enthusiastically grow your business for you…

0:00:00.0 Wayne Brown: Welcome team ET. I’m excited today because I get the opportunity to chat with my good friend, Claire Chandler. Team, for your information Claire’s sitting in New York City, and she’s often referred to as the leadership therapist. She’s also the founder of the company Talent Boost, and I’m pretty sure we’ll get into that more as we get into the conversation. I’ve been following Claire’s work for a number of years, and probably around, we were just talking before we went live somewhere close to 12 months back now. We managed to secure Claire as a guest on the ET project, which was fantastic. We spoke about Claire, a topic, I don’t know if you remember, How to Build a Bridge Between HR and Operations. I mean, heck, it’s one of my favorite topics. [laughter] I love the divergence that occurs in that topic alone. Today we’re back at it.

0:01:00.5 WB: This time we have the chance to fulfill another one of my passions, which is chatting with authors about their latest book release. And just before we get into that, there’s a side note that I had in mind was to mention that I don’t know the exact date, Claire, but somewhere this year, I believe, or the end of last year Talent Boost and yourself were recognized by the Best of America Awards for Small Business as Best Entrepreneur for 2023 for the category, I think of business consultant. So with that, Claire, welcome back. Congratulations on the award and also on the release of the new book called Growth on Purpose.

0:01:41.7 Claire Chandler: Thank you, Wayne. And it is so great to be here. You’re going to have to do all my promotion from now on, because that was such a great introduction. So yes, thank you. I’m excited about all of it and I’m most excited about reconnecting with you because it has been bit since we’ve spoken and I so thoroughly enjoyed our earlier conversation, so been looking forward to this one.

0:02:04.0 WB: Yeah, likewise. And unfortunately, I had to postpone it, so we were originally planning to have this conversation a couple of weeks earlier when the book released. But anyway, not to be… We’re going to take some time in this conversation to unpack the book, Growth on Purpose. Before we jump in of course, probably a good idea, if you don’t mind sharing a little bit of who you are and what you do through Talent Boost. I’m sure our listeners would love.

0:02:33.2 CC: Absolutely.

0:02:33.3 WB: Yeah.

0:02:35.5 CC: Yes, absolutely. So I am a self-professed corporate survivor. Spent about 20 years, the earlier first 20 years of my career within Corporate America, after, by the way, swearing I was never going to work within corporate. That wasn’t really my background, my passion. But finishing college, that was where the opportunities were. And in 2011 I had a pretty transformational experience. I was a rising executive in a corporation. And a cancer diagnosis sidelined me for about a month while I dealt with that and focused on my health. Funny how your health kind of taps you on the shoulder in opportune times to remind you who’s actually in charge and what’s important. And so it was actually a gift, believe it or not. Taking that time away from the busyness of work and my career and the corporate ladder and all of those things invited me to reassess the journey that I was on.

0:03:42.0 CC: And it did all the things. It reminded me that life is too short. Thankfully I’m cancer free now, so that’s not how this story ends, but it really shifted my perspective about that road that I was traveling. And the gift that it gave me was, it reminded me I didn’t have to just go down that road because that was the road that I was on. And so I got healthy, I went back to work. I had a very honest conversation with my boss, and we negotiated a mutual, very amicable separation, and I went out on my own. And two years later, I formed my company Talent Boost. And we specialize on executive at Leadership Advisory. We specialize in running talent accelerators to help the right organizations attract, retain, engage, and advance the right talent so that they grow your business for you.

0:04:39.8 WB: And that’s largely what the book is about.


0:04:45.2 CC: Totally.

0:04:46.0 WB: We’re going to be tapping into that for sure. Thanks for sharing that. I imagine you’ve been extremely busy lately with the book release. How’s business in general over in America?

0:04:57.4 CC: Business has been wonderful. I think we are finally through the cobwebs and the rust of the Global pandemic, I think. All businesses, certainly the organizations and the leaders that I speak with have put that in the rear view mirror. They have sort of accepted the fact that this global phenomenon that we all went through will never fully go away. But it is time to look forward. It is time to build again. It is time to create employee experiences where the right talent wants to come together to accomplish a shared mission. So for me, business has been really, really great. I get the opportunity to work with organizations that get it, that understand that employees are in their care for only a short while. Most employees don’t stay with the same company from infancy through retirement anymore.

0:05:58.3 WB: Yes.

0:06:00.4 CC: And so it’s all about creating a mutually satisfying experience where employees join an organization and for whatever amount of time their tenure lasts, they have an opportunity to contribute in ways that are meaningful to them and impact the organization. So I get to be part of that. And so I get to work with organizations on creating those types of experiences and those types of cultures where the right talent can thrive.

0:06:31.6 WB: Yeah, it’s interesting. I’m writing a course at the moment on your first 100 days. So very much to that point, like starting off on the right note, I’m taking it from the angle of we’re a leader transitioning in our career, but also if you look at it from the other angle, which is what you’re talking about, how did the corporate view the person coming on board and how do they engage? So yeah, we share a lot of commonalities. I’ve noticed over the period and watching you on LinkedIn, there’s a lot of things you do that I wouldn’t say I’m anywhere near as experienced as you with it, but we do have a lot of common purpose in many ways.

0:07:12.8 CC: Yeah. I think so too.

0:07:20.2 WB: Thanks. What I was interested when I was reading more about the book is this is about book number six, if I’m correct.

0:07:29.0 CC: Give or take. I’ve honestly lost track, so yeah, that’s about right.


0:07:34.6 WB: So is there anything different about this book in the way that you’re approaching it than in the past releases?

0:07:45.0 CC: So this book, I think my first book I was proudest of because I finally got out of my own way and put a book out in the world. People ask me, which has been the hardest book to write, and I do feel like the first one was because I was so caught up, and I think most first time authors can relate to this, I was so caught up in, it had to be the book. It had to be one that could make its mark. It had to be one that could stand the test of time. It had to be all these things. And I talked myself out of starting, and I finally worked with a book coach who’s very honest with me and said, first of all, get over yourself.

0:08:27.5 CC: And he said, you’re putting all this pressure on yourself to write the book, and what you need to understand is your only goal right now is to write a book. And when he framed it that way for me, it really sort of clicked. And so I was able to put that book out into the world, and I’m still very proud of that book. And people still find it on Amazon, or they pick it up secondhand or what have you. And when I meet people for the first time, they’ll say, oh, yeah, you wrote the Whirlpool Effect. That was really great. And so there is something about that first book that makes me a bit nostalgic. This latest book, Growth on Purpose really was an opportunity through the writing of it to explore in more depth and with greater discipline, the methodology that I use to work with clients on all the things that we just talked about, right?

0:09:24.3 CC: How to attract the right talent, how to retain them, how to engage them at a deeper level, and how to advance both them and your organization through them.

0:09:29.8 WB: Yeah.

0:09:31.7 CC: And so when I was sitting down to write this book, this was really the first one that went beyond… You’re always sort of after shifting the mindset of the reader, right? You want to, by the end of that book not necessarily tell them, but shift their thinking. And it’s not about convincing anyone of anything. It’s really about just sort of standing in your own conviction about, this is what I believe about the world. This is what I believe about the work that I do in that world. And if you relate to that, keep reading and if you don’t, no harm, no foul, share this book with someone else.

0:10:14.3 WB: Yeah.

0:10:15.9 CC: And that’s always been the goal of the books that I’ve written. But this one in particular really went deep on the actual methodology and in the writing of it, helped me to further fine tune and enhance that methodology. I think so often we entrepreneurs spend so much time in our own heads. We spend so much time in conversations that are actually monologues and in writing the book and sort of laying it out on paper it really sort of helped me to better understand from the position of the reader, from the position of the ideal client, from the position of a leader of a growing organization, what is the journey that they need to be on to get to that ideal outcome of growth on purpose?

0:11:01.1 WB: Yeah. I think you accomplished that very nicely. I’m curious, it’s only a couple of weeks, I know since the book was released. What’s the feedback so far that you’re receiving?

0:11:14.5 CC: It’s been super positive. To your point, it’s as we’re recording this, it’s only really been out in the world for a couple of weeks. It was released on Amazon on June 13th. You and a couple of other very trusted colleagues got an advanced copy. And again, all the gratitude in the world for you and for your endorsement of the book and your involvement in the book see, made it all the way to China, which I think was super…

0:11:44.3 WB: Fantastic.

0:11:45.3 CC: It was super impressive. I just on that note, I’m sitting here as we were looking forward to this conversation. And I’m just outside of New York City. I’m technically in New Jersey, but I’m a lifelong… Yeah. So I’m an American I’ve grown up in New Jersey. I’ve traveled a bit, but I, New Jersey is still my home. Speaking to someone who is from Australia, but lives in China, you have traveled the world. What an amazing time we live in, right?

0:12:11.2 WB: We do.

0:12:12.9 CC: That we can have conversations like this on such a deep level and never be in the same room.

0:12:15.2 WB: Yeah.

0:12:16.2 CC: So I think that’s been wonderful. But to come back to your question, so I’ll stop going down the rabbit hole. It’s been super positive. I think one of the amazing things I’ve learned as the book has become known and people are starting to pick it up and to read it, is they’ve been waiting for this message. They’ve been waiting for someone who gets them, I think first and foremost. And it’s not even about following the roadmap of the methodology that this book explores in minute detail, although I hope that they do. It’s really about that first mindset shift of understanding. I know what you’re going through, I see you, and there is a way forward. So the feedback has been very positive. The conversations that I’ve been having around the book and since the book has been released have been amazing. And it’s kind of opened… It’s opened doors to deeper conversations, which is what it’s all about.

0:13:24.0 WB: Yeah. Fantastic. Well, I’m not going to hold the team back any longer. Let’s get our feet wet, so to speak. I want to set the scene though by just reading an excerpt from the back cover. So if you’ll bear with me. So we start off with the question, is your talent strategy holding you back, the leaders who are facing unrelenting pressures to retain and engage top talent, build a high performing culture, align your talent strategy with your business goals, and drive sustainable growth? This book is your lifeline. Growth on Purpose is your blueprint for unleashing the limitless potential of your people and fueling sustainable growth in your organization. So if you needed a hook, that’s it. I think based on the back cover alone, I’m sure there’s going to be many people who are keen to get their hands on a copy.

0:14:20.2 WB: I must say it’s a short book. It’s I think a 165, a 170 pages, but so elegantly written and you share such incredible wisdom. What I enjoyed about it, I always liked books that challenge me to think and to make me question my own approach. And your book does that very nicely, and you introduce a number of structures, models, I guess they are very easy to understand great concepts. So, and plus I always forgot the Forward is written by another one of my favorite authors, Scott Christopher. I don’t want to digress here and about Scott, but he does have a great book called The Levity Effect. If anyone’s looking for a real fun read and how to bring fun into the corporate world, then the Levity Effect, it was one of the changing points in my career, I have to say. So very nice.

0:15:28.7 CC: So I love that you know, Scott, have you had Scott on your show?

0:15:31.4 WB: I haven’t, but now that you’ve prompted me, I probably will.

0:15:37.3 CC: You absolutely need to. And if you need me to broker an introduction, I’m happy to. So, Scott, if you read the forward to the book you already know this, but Scott and I met back in my corporate days he was within a corporate company. I was in a different one, and we had brought him in to do some keynotes and things like that. And he already knows this, so this is no surprise I immediately had a crush on him. He is just one of these people who is both brilliant and hilarious, and I am so happy that he has been able to take his platform and elevate it. And we are such kindred spirits. It’s funny when… I had never, as you said, I’ve written books in the past, I had never had anyone write a forward for me. They were all just books that I wrote.

0:16:31.1 WB: Yeah.

0:16:33.5 CC: And so, literally earlier this year, in ’24, I was on the top of a mountain. This is going to sound very like crazy. And this is not like an everyday occurrence, but I was on the top of a mountain on a mastermind with my business mentor. And the whole reason for getting together was to get a sip out of your business, literally leave it behind, go to a different altitude and sort of look at where you’re trying to get to from a different perspective. And one of the things that I have been struggling with was I really wanted to invite someone to write the forward for my book. And I didn’t know who I should ask. And during that mastermind, it came to me, I said, I should ask Scott.

0:17:16.3 CC: And I didn’t know if he would say yes. I reached out to him on LinkedIn. I mean, we’ve been connected now for about 20 years. And he got back to me immediately and he said, no one’s ever asked me to write a forward before. So he was humble as he always has been. And he was so gracious in being willing to do it. And it’s so funny ’cause it reminds me of, this is someone that I have admired for a very long time, and he speaks on stages and he’s so eloquently and he’s so engaging and he’s so funny. And he shows that connection between, as you said, between levity and how that can lift up a culture. And yet when I ask this guy with stars in my eyes, would you be so kind as to write a forward for lowly old me? He didn’t hesitate and he felt humbled by the invitation.

0:18:07.6 CC: So I think we all need to keep that in mind too. And it’s something that I talk about with my clients. We connect as humans first. So, as much as you might feel intimidated by being in the room with a “celebrity,” remember the fact that they’re human first and they have vulnerabilities just like you do.

0:18:25.0 WB: Yeah, it’s very true. I will reach out to Scott and I may need to call on your help, but we…

0:18:32.3 CC: Please do.

0:18:33.1 WB: We’ll make that connection. So thank you for that. I, I’d love to spend most of our time talking on the book, particularly on chapters one and two, because I feel they really set the stage for the rest of the book because from chapter three on, you start to dive into the Growth on Purpose model, so if that’s okay with you, we’ll jump into…

0:18:57.4 CC: Absolutely.

0:18:58.6 WB: The first part. Now you have a couple of strong beliefs and they really come through as central core messages. And the first, I want to say you’re somewhat famous from the statement, but it’s leadership, culture or culture drive success. So when did that epiphany, or when did that realization come into force for you?

0:19:25.9 CC: I think in a way I’ve always believed that, that exact phrasing though, it’s so funny how words just sort of form into more coherent sentences when you step away from your computer, when you step away from the day-to-day of your business.

0:19:45.3 WB: Yep.

0:19:46.4 CC: I have always, I think, intuitively understood that the biggest impact on the culture of any organization is the behavior of its leaders. I think had I not spent two decades within the walls of corporate, I may not have fully understood that because I was able to bear witness to leaders at their greatest, and leaders at their worst. When you’re an entrepreneur, if that’s all you’ve ever been, that’s a wonderful journey as well.

0:20:15.8 WB: Right.

0:20:16.7 CC: But I think the two decades I spent as a corporate full-time employee really helped to shape my perspective for the better. It gave me structure, it exposed me to best practices, and it also gave me the opportunity to be in rooms and circumstances with people that I don’t want to emulate and people that I want to learn from and go in a different direction from. And so I think the phrasing of that probably came together within the last few years. But the belief of that was always there.

0:20:48.1 WB: Yeah. It’s resonates throughout the book, but I know we’ve spoken about it before and I agree wholeheartedly with you, that we leaders probably don’t understand the impact that we have on culture and it’s something that on reflection, we should spend more time talking about and working through it perhaps. But you’ve also identified a principle, that essentially form the foundation, if you like, of this whole concept of Growth on Purpose. And you’ve woven those throughout the book. The first one you introduced in the introduction which is quite interesting in itself. It’s the first principle as leaders own their walk, and you have a… I wouldn’t call it funny, it probably wasn’t funny to you at the time, but you have a personal experience when you’re in that corporate world that you talk about in alignment with this particular principle. I wonder if you mind sharing that, the comment about the way you were walking?

0:22:03.1 CC: Yeah. So I’ve shared this story before and no one believes me that this actually happened, but I swear that this is true. So probably within the last two years of my corporate career, I was a rising executive. I was a human resources vice president at the time, and I was traveling three weeks out of every four. And so on the rare occasion, I was in the corporate office I had back to back meetings, you know the drill. And I was returning to my… I was walking down the hall back to my office from, probably from the ladies room, I think I had maybe two minutes to spare between meetings. And my boss stopped me in the hall, and he said, you need to tone down your walk. And I kind of looked at him and I was like, what?

0:22:49.0 CC: And he said, your walk. It’s too bouncy, it’s too happy, and people are gonna think you’re up to something. Like you know something they don’t. And I thanked him for those pearls of wisdom, and I went back to my desk and got on the next conference call or whatever it was. And as you just said, it probably wasn’t funny at the time. It wasn’t as monumental in the moment as it became in hindsight.

0:23:13.5 WB: No.

0:23:14.6 CC: Because this was sort of, par for the course with this particular leader. These were the types of things that he would say in his fatherly wisdom sort of way to his employees. But the story stuck with me, and it has become such a parable, if you will, or such an emblematic example of culture done wrong and the impact that leaders good and bad can have on the culture of an organization. And so it became not only one of the leadership principles, the first leader to principle that I share in the book, Own Your Walk is actually one of the three core values of my business.

0:23:57.6 WB: Right.

0:23:57.7 CC: And so in writing the book, I wanted to lead with that one just because that story for me did become so emblematic of corporate culture and corporate leadership done wrong, but also because it became so formative in terms of one of the values that [0:24:15.0] ____.

0:24:16.6 WB: Yeah. It’s quite interesting to think back and think about some of the leaders and even mentors that I had, and how I was guided with them. But in hindsight, there was a lot of narcissism, Machiavellianism perhaps that existed that I don’t know if I was naive to it or I was blind to it or whatever it was, but, these things were all there and this borders on that to some extent maybe unintentionally, but yeah, chapter one we jump into, which is called the drivers of business value. What I was immediately taken by with this is you are you very quickly introduce us to the reality that we’re no longer operating in an industrial economy. And I thought, hang on a minute. That’s right. Okay. So modern day business, we’re actually in this intellectual economy as you call it, or as other people call it. Whats the implication of that? As we think about the intellectual economy, what’s the implication from a business value perspective?

0:25:33.0 CC: Well, first of all, I think the implications are enormous. We look all around us, and we could go… We could speak at length about the impact that AI, as just one example has had on modern business and with any technological innovation, a lot of people are meeting that with a lot of fear, right?

0:25:55.3 WB: Right.

0:25:55.9 CC: That’s going to make my job obsolete, that’s going to replace humans. And the reality is, just like every other technological innovation before it, it is only going to streamline the bits and pieces of your job that are holding you back from truly letting your intellect reign, right? We don’t live in an industrial economy anymore. We are truly driven by, and businesses are grown on the strength of the institutional knowledge, the intellectual property, the brand strength of the organization. And yet most organizations are still structured as if we are in an industrial economy. I know far too many leaders, unfortunately, who are still of the opinion that employees are interchangeable, and that brings to mind the conveyor belt or the assembly line visual of the industrial economy, that just because we lose an employee, that’s okay, because we’ll bring another one in.

0:26:58.3 WB: Right, yeah.

0:27:00.1 CC: They fail to recognize the impact of that, not just financially, because as we know, it costs about twice the annual salary to replace a well performing employee, not even your superstar.

0:27:14.4 WB: Yeah.

0:27:15.7 CC: But just a moderately functioning employee. But the impact of that mindset from a leadership mentality that employees are interchangeable is what infects cultures. And it’s why I do believe so strongly that leader shape culture, right? Because the leaders are the ones who dictate policy. They’re the ones who set the direction for the organization, and they’re the ones who reward and reinforce the behaviors that they themselves are demonstrating, too often this leader, and I’ll use quotes who told me to tone down my walk, was also famous for saying things like do as I say, not as I do, things like you whip the race horse, not the mule because the race horse is already giving you far more. And you know, the mule is only going to give you so much. These are the types of mantras that a lot of leaders still feel because they do see employees as interchangeable and it’s unfortunate, but the good news is the organizations that understand and embrace this knowledge economy, that we’re in the power of the intellectual property and the institutional knowledge, you’re starting to see a very distinct distance between them and everyone else. So I think we’re shifting in a good direction in that regard.

0:28:41.8 WB: Yeah, you raise a good point in the book talking about it becomes more intangible and therefore more difficult for us to measure business value, but you very succinctly introduce a formula on how to do that. And I know we spoke about that when I first looked at the book, the formula for those listening business value equals profit times the multiple or the multiplier, I guess, would you mind just explaining for the listeners the formula and how it works in this intellectual economy that we’re in?

0:29:30.6 CC: Yeah. So keep in mind I majored in English, which is my native language. So math, while I enjoyed math, the higher level math, the calculus, the economics, the finance was not my thing. So I truly believe that whether you are in an HR role or any sort of role, you need to deeply understand the language of the business. You need to understand how businesses operate. You need to understand how they make money and how they grow or how they die. And so for me, I look for tangible formula that I can understand and I can actually apply.

0:30:03.2 WB: Right.

0:30:05.8 CC: And so when you do look at the business value of an organization, especially as we have shifted from an industrial economy, which is primarily based on tangible assets.

0:30:13.8 WB: Right.

0:30:15.6 CC: To more of a knowledge based intellectual economy, that it’s more intangible, you need a formula that you can understand, that you can sort of sink your teeth into. So I came upon this very simple version of a formula that other people overcomplicate, which says that the value of any business is determined by these two, these two components, right? It’s the profit. Well, so profit is pretty simple to understand.

0:30:41.9 WB: Yep.

0:30:42.5 CC: We want to reduce expenses and we want to bring in more revenue. That’s how we affect profit.

0:30:49.7 WB: Yes.

0:30:49.8 CC: The multiple, though, the multiplier is where all the magic happens. And as you know, ’cause you read the book now twice that is, that is where we all as leaders, as employees, as a culture, as an organization, have the bigger opportunity to spur on and to amplify growth and to attract the right people to help us in that endeavor. And so the multiplier is based on all sorts of intangible things like the capacity of your people, the capability of your leaders, the quality of your culture, and all of those feel so squishy and they feel so nice to have until you fully understand. And I hope by the time you read this book to the end, you will deeply understand that those intangibles are actually what drive your business and what differentiate you from your competition.

0:31:44.2 WB: I think when I apply the multipliers into the formula, it works quite nicely. I’m very pragmatic type of leader and I have to be able to make common sense, but simplify the process. And so I was able to look at those factors and make it work. So I think it works, at least in my mind, that works quite nicely. One of those multipliers is culture. So the three multipliers you mentioned, talent, the leader’s capabilities if you like, and then culture. So there, there’s a great story that you share in the book from the past CEO of Zappos unfortunately is passed away now, but I thought the story that you write about what he told was a fantastic story to identify culture. I dunno if you remember it clearly or not, but talking about a situation with a client and basically the customer service lady. Do you remember that story?

0:32:53.4 CC: Yeah, I do, because as I explained in the book. This was not a story that I read in Tony’s autobiography. I actually had the great honor to meet him. He was speaking at an industry conference. This was obviously many years ago. I was still in my corporate role. And so he spoke on the stage and I also had an opportunity to speak with him, one-on-one, and for such a relatively young guy, he was so poised and he was so in his… Deeply connected to what he truly believed. And he built his company and his culture around that. And Zappos for those who are paying attention and see sort of the legacy that he built is really an amazing company. And Zappos, at least when Tony Hsieh was CEO, required every new employee, regardless of what role they were in, whether they were a frontline employee or an executive leader, to spend the first two weeks in their customer service center, their largest one in Arkansas.

0:34:01.0 CC: And so everybody understood that their business was built on not the financial performance or the accountants in the corporate office but by the customers. And so there’s this story that he relayed and I shared it in the book where there was a customer that had called into the customer service center, it was an older man, and he called in and he was obviously very upset. As it turned out, his wife had ordered a pair of shoes because back in the day Zappos was all about shoes. They’ve expanded a bit, but their sort of core product and this shoes had arrived, but unfortunately, the wife had unexpectedly passed away. And so he was bereft and he called and got through to a representative and he said, she’s gone. I don’t know what to do with these shoes.

0:34:47.0 CC: And the customer service representative, because of the training that she had had because of the culture that Tony Hsieh had built and shaped and enforced and required, she didn’t put him on a brief hold and go find a manager to sort of resolve this issue. She didn’t say all sales are final, just keep the shoes. Oh yeah, sorry for your loss. She immediately said, I don’t want you to worry about these shoes. You return them to us, we will refund your money and we’ll refund the shipping. Full stop. And after she closed out the call, she didn’t stop with that. She actually took it upon herself to send this man flowers on behalf of the company. And I get chills just recalling that story, because can you imagine the empowerment that this customer service representative who most organizations treat as a frontline, interchangeable, expendable employee, was so empowered and was so driven by what Zappos was all about, that she knew exactly the right thing to do and she was empowered to do it. And that story to me was so… As the tone down your walk story was emblematic for me at the corporate culture, I was part of, this story was so emblematic of the corporate culture, that Tony Hsieh shaped.

0:36:05.5 WB: Yeah. It’s an incredible story. I have to say. I’ve read about Tony Hsieh quite a lot over the years and certainly seemed to be one of the futurists, with his ideas and the way he turned around the company that was essentially going bankrupt very quickly. But one of the things that I do really like about the book and the way that you wrote the book is that you take these abstract concepts, the intangibles, if you like, things like culture, and you have the ability to make them tangible. Now, one example of that is you have the four metrics that you introduce. So there’s four metrics that can help identify a culture just by assessing the metric and looking at, is it the wrong way? So for instance attraction rate. So are you attracting the right people? Are you attracting the talents that you want? I thought these four metrics quite interesting. I know there’s a lot of organizations that monitor countless numbers of metrics. I’m not sure they monitor always the right metrics, but when it comes to culture, I thought the four metrics that you identified were very much on point. How much experience did you have with those yourself?

0:37:46.0 CC: So candidly, when I was within my corporate role, this was now several years ago, over a decade ago, we were not as sophisticated as an organization and certainly as an HR department in terms of tracking any sort of metrics. And I think the four metrics in particular that I talk about in the book, we pretty much tracked two of them. We tracked retention rate, but we actually tracked it as turnover. And I would say we tracked it upon request. We did not track it as a means of driving decisions. And then the other one I think that we were the most mature about at the time was tracking engagement rate because we did this annual survey.

0:38:39.8 CC: The other two metrics that I talk about in the book, the first one around attraction rate, is this notion of a net promoter score as it relates to the candidates because it is really… To me that’s the most difficult one to try to make tangible. I think too often talent acquisition and recruiting teams, they track cost to fill, they track time to fill. They are the easier metrics to track. But as you read in the book, I kind of go on this rant about just because you can track all these other metrics now doesn’t mean you should. And I think its just the latest excuse to get distracted into the busyness of the operation rather than really focusing in on the four metrics that are going to move the needle. So those two middle metrics we were pretty good about, especially the engagement rate of tracking and doing something with that knowledge.

0:39:36.6 CC: Fast forward to today that the client organizations that I work with not only have the capability to track all four of those metrics, they are now starting to really look at those numbers and to do something with it. The next step for them. And I literally was having this conversation with a head of talent in one of my client organizations yesterday when we were talking about all the different ways that they are gathering this type of information, they’re getting better at gathering it, and not just on demand, but as a regular course of trying to understand what the data is telling them. But now the next level that I was sort of challenging him with was now you have to do it in such a way where it weaves a cohesive story and now you can understand the full employee life cycle and where different investments you were doing in terms of talent programs, in terms of onboarding, in terms of employment branding, in terms of development and career pathing and internal mobility, where you are actually moving the needle.

0:40:43.3 CC: And not every organization is there yet where I can challenge them like that. There are other organizations that are still going, What are you talking about with a net promoter score? What do you mean by retention? And so you also have to kind of assess where you are in that maturity curve to understand where to jump in, because that is sort of the ultimate, is to pull all of that data in, understand the story it’s telling you, so that you can make the right investments in the right places at the right time to actually move the needle. Because we know that employees are a finite resource. We also know that people don’t have unlimited budgets to just move the needle on everything. So you really do have to have a laser focus.

0:41:29.1 WB: But I do think it brings a lot of tangibility to the table. And if you can put some supporting evidence behind culture and the impact you’re having through the actions you’re taking, then it starts to tell that story like you were mentioning. The final thing you introduce in the first chapter, and we’re still on the first chapter, people, the final thing you introduce is the four P’s of culture. And again, what I like about this is it’s very succinct, but it’s easy for my mind to get. Well, for me to get my head around it, let’s say. So you introduce the four P’s through a Venn diagram, three circles overlapping. And then the sweet spot, that intersection in the middle, is the fourth piece.

0:42:23.7 WB: So the first three circles, people, process performance, and then the intersection is purpose. And so this is where we now shift from purely focusing on culture to now looking at purpose. And we build from that into the rest of the book. But where does this come from? How do you activate the four piece? If I’m a leader, how do I use this?

0:42:55.0 CC: Yeah. So this sort of epiphany came out of some research that I’ve been doing over the last few years with HR executives because I wanted to understand, first of all, the level to which the business values where it does not appreciate human resources as a function. And so I have this sort of research survey, and I’ve been inviting executives over the last two, three years to participate. And what we were finding was that the business, on the whole does deeply value and understand that HR provides a valuable service, provides a valuable input. But what they’re also finding is that the disconnect is around their ability to be strategic, their ability to rise above just the data that they’re collecting, and use that to recommend to the business better decisions. Because, again, they can’t just set a whole bunch of different innovations in motion at once. They will kill the company. But they do have to change. They do have to lift themselves out of the day to day firefighting to make sure that they’re on the right path.

0:44:04.8 CC: And so one of the findings of this survey has been that which came about for me and gave me an excuse to use a Venn diagram. I love the power of a Venn diagram. People don’t use it enough. But as you just sort of laid out, the first three are this: People, process, performance. What I’ve found is the major disconnect is when you put an HR leader in a room with a financial leader, they approach a situation, the business strategy, a problem to solve from two very different lenses. The HR person in the room is going to look through the lens of the people in the organization, because they do understand that without the people, you can’t grow.

0:44:46.9 CC: The financial person in the room. So if you picture the chief HR officer and the chief financial officer, and as I talk about in the book, there’s always this natural tension between the two. And here’s why. Because the HR person is saying, what about the people? The financial person is saying, I’m looking at the metrics, I’m looking at the performance that we had last quarter, and it’s below where we set the mark. And then when you bring in this third circle around process, the financial person is dictating that you set up processes to help fix the performance, the financial outcomes. The people leader, the HR executive is going back to his team and saying, we need to build better processes to get the right people in the door. But because they are focusing their processes through two different lenses, they’re diverging, not converging. And so the sweet spot in the middle is purpose. Not coincidentally, that’s why the entire book is based on how to grow on purpose. Because it’s not about doing it arbitrarily. It is not about being lucky and having that work out, because we know that luck does run out, right? But we also know that organizations that are dialed into their purpose, purpose driven organizations, actually outperform their peers by a factor of about 12.

0:46:06.9 CC: There is a significant difference. And the research has shown this. So there’s some of that bringing the tangible to the intangible. And so purpose is the filter that if that CFO and the CHRO come in and say, okay, people are important or financial metrics are important. But start first with, let’s get realigned on the purpose for the business, what we are actually in business to accomplish, and then go out and design processes, and then go out and bring the right talent in, and then go out and manage the right metrics and look for performance that actually gets us to where we’re trying to go, that is going to make all the difference.

0:46:46.1 CC: And so that Venn diagram is my attempt at… I love that you said you like to simplify these concepts, and as you can tell through the books, so do I. Because I do think while we’re an intellectual economy, and I’m a very intellectual person, it is a means for me to get out of the clouds and make things more tangible and understandable and actionable for myself and for my clients. I appreciate you for appreciating the Venn diagram because I think it does very sort of clearly help people dial in on what is going to help you grow in a more sustainable way.

0:47:25.4 WB: I like that explanation. I was just listening to you and I was visualizing my CFO and my CHRO sitting at the table and the one person you didn’t mention was the operations head or the CEO, if you like. And they’re sort of sitting across all three of those circles and probably should be the one that’s mediating in the middle with saying, let’s talk about purpose first. But maybe that doesn’t happen so much. Growth on Purpose as a concept. You talk about it in the second chapter and you state it very nicely in the sense that it’s not only about getting bigger but also about getting better. And if I put that into context, if I’m a leader, if I’m not only focused on growth so that I can scale and become bigger and I have to think about how I become better, it’s almost like a both end paradox for me rather than an either/or now. So when I can see that there’s two sides, I can approach it differently as a leader.

0:48:40.5 WB: That was my feeling as I started to digest your comments, not only about getting bigger, it’s also about getting better. Is that something in the way of your intention in that statement?

0:48:56.0 CC: Yeah, 100%. I am not a fan of growing for the sake of just accumulating more things, more wealth, more dominance, more power. Again, I think the organizations that understand that purpose has to drive them are the ones that are already starting to see the dividends of that approach. And again, I think we’re going to continue to see the distance grow between the organizations that get it and the organizations that don’t. Purpose, in the context of this book and in the context of the title, kind of has a dual meaning. There’s a subheading in, I think it’s in the intro chapter that talks about intentionality and direction. And so that kind of gets to the heart of this double meaning.

0:49:50.5 CC: For me, purpose is both your why, your aspiration, which is one of the pillars that we explore in the book. But again, really deeply understanding as an organization, as a leadership team, and to a person throughout the organization, why you are in business in the first place. What is this journey that you’re on? What is it you are trying to accomplish? So that part of the purpose definition has to be very clear. It has to be very consistent, and the leaders have to believe it so they can go out and attract the right talent to help them with that cause.

0:50:23.9 CC: The other piece of that purpose, though, is this notion of doing things on purpose. And that brings in intentionality. Part of the book, especially as you get to the fourth of the four pillars, is about showing leaders and organizations how to do things with more intention so that they can grow on purpose, so that they can understand, if this is what we are trying to accomplish as a business, both our mission day in, day out, and our vision that we are striving toward, then how do we make better decisions day to day and longer term that move us closer to those goals? Again, it’s the organizations that truly understand the purpose of their being and the purpose behind every decision they make are the ones that are going to grow in more sustainable ways.

0:51:21.4 WB: Yeah, very nice. I’m conscious of the time, Claire, and as always, time’s against us at the moment. But there is one final aspect I would love to introduce before we wrap up on the book, at least, perhaps at a very high level. And you’ve touched on it just in that answer. The four pillars. And these are the four pillars, essentially, the growth on purpose model. You refer to them as the four A’s. So I wonder if you could just quickly introduce what they are and the function of how they play a part in Growth on Purpose.

0:52:01.1 CC: Yes, again, and you’ll see throughout the book, I try to simplify the complex. So we’ve got the four P’s of culture. The four A’s of growth on purpose are the four pillars that are the tent pegs, if you will, for this entire methodology of growth on purpose. The first one is aspiration. So understanding how to attract the right talent through a magnetic purpose or a magnetic mission. And ultimately that comes down to giving the right people a reason to believe in the journey that you’re on, so that they want to be part of it. The second pillar is awareness. Organizations that deeply understand not just the mission they’re on, but what it’s going to take to get there and what their current state is. So where they have strengths in those mission critical capabilities, and where they lack and they need to address those gaps are going to move the needle much faster and much deeper in terms of retaining the right talent and putting them in the right roles to help them contribute in deep ways. That then feeds into pillar three, which is acceleration of trust.

0:53:08.1 CC: Just like culture is foundational to business, trust is foundational to culture. It is not a nice to have. It is not something that we’ll get to later. When there is a lack of trust, whether it’s because you are a newly formed company, a newly merged entity, or because trust was broken, you have to work on that first. And it’s not something… When I see acceleration of trust, I don’t mean fake it till you make it. I don’t mean look for an easy button and try to manufacture it. I mean, leaders have to, again, get out of their own way, understand the power of connecting with the employees they’re trying to lead as humans first. And when they can do that and when they can increase the dynamics within their teams and with their leaders, they will invite their employees to solve bigger problems faster versus creating problems through drama and conflict and silos.

0:54:01.7 CC: And then all of that builds toward the fourth pillar, which is alignment on what matters. And this is where everything comes to bear. Part of the eight principles that we talk about through the book, one of them is leaders make powerful connections. Because leaders are the primary shapers of culture and cultures would drive success. Leaders have an obligation and a duty and an opportunity to make deeper connections between what their employees do as individuals, and how that contributes to the bigger mission, how that connects them to their colleagues, and how that connects them to the strategy that you’re trying to build. And if you put those four pillars in place, in sequence, and you do it with intentionality and direction, if you do it on purpose, you are going to get to a place where you have the right talent, you have attracted them, you’ve retained them, you’ve engaged them, and you have advanced them to the point where they enthusiastically grow your business for you.

0:55:07.5 WB: It’s the secret formula you’ve just released, but it makes sense, and I can definitely see how it all stacks up. It’s essentially a blueprint for HR leaders alike to really turn their struggling business around and apply some very pragmatic approaches to make some big impact. So I think it’s a fantastic storyline and a great book. There’s so much more we could talk about. Unfortunately, we don’t have the time, but it just means people have to go out and buy it now. Alright. So where can they do that, by the way, where are you selling the book? Amazon for sure. But where else?

0:55:58.5 CC: Yes. So for sure, it’s on Amazon. The fastest way to get your hands on the book is to go to growthonpurpose.com. There is a link directly to where the book is available on Amazon, but there’s also a link to take a scorecard. You and I were talking right before we started recording about this assessment or this measurement tool. It is a great free scorecard that anyone in your audience can go and take. It takes less than five minutes and it instantly generates a report of customized recommendations for how you can do small changes, achieve quick wins, and actually move the needle in your unique business. So I encourage everybody who’s listening to this to go to growthonpurpose.com. Yes, order the book if you’d like, but first and foremost, go take the scorecard. It will get you immediate results in your business.

0:56:53.6 WB: I did. I did. I failed.

0:57:00.8 CC: But that’s the pillar of awareness, right? This is going to help you measure current state so you know where you can improve. It’s not pass fail. It’s about where am I now and how can I grow in ways that are sort of easy and simple and intentional. So I love that you took the scorecard. I hope you got value and take it again over time because it’s going to track your progress.

0:57:24.6 WB: For sure. For sure. Where can people connect with you if they want to follow or they want to learn more about what you’re doing?

0:57:30.0 CC: Yeah. So I would love for them to reach out to me on LinkedIn. I spend the most time on that social media platform. You’ll see all of my daily posts now. And then there is a cat photo. So if that helps tip the scales. My website for my company is talentboost.net and then my personal site is clairechandler.net.

0:57:51.6 WB: Well, certainly we’ll link to those. So Claire, a fantastic conversation, excellent book. Really hope that our listeners get off their backsides, go out there and find where the book is that they can purchase and enjoy the read. It truly does offer that blueprint. So I’d highly encourage… Really great connecting again. I’ve enjoyed listening to a lot more of the logic. As you said, I’ve read the book twice, but you still taught me a lot of things today. Thank you for that. So wonderful to connect. Thanks for being back as a guest on the ET project. Enjoyed it.

0:58:28.8 CC: Thank you so much. It has been an honor.

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