Hiring For Good Ep. 5 with Anja Taylor

Hiring for Good

About Anja Taylor: Anja is the President at Kinesis. Anja brings over a decade of leadership experience to her role at Kinesis. Her why is people — she is a champion and advocate for everyone on our team, as well as the teams of our clients. She is passionate about creating work environments that enable humans to thrive. She believes in the power of small business to change lives and change the world.

About Kinesis: Kinesis works with the types of companies that build, design, and engineer our future. Kinesis is obsessed with building healthy and sustainable businesses. They are inspired daily by their mission of transformation, the work they do, and the impact they hope to achieve.

Acumen Executive Search proudly presents ‘Hiring For Good,’ our insightful podcast delving into the profound impact of leadership on companies, communities, and societies. Hosted by Tanis Morris and Suzanne Hanifin. Elevate your understanding of leadership’s transformative potential.

The Hiring for Good Podcast is Presented by: Acumen Executive Search

Tanis Morris: Director of Business Development at Acumen Executive Search Email: tanis@acumenexecutivesearch.com

Suzanne Hanifin: President at Acumen Executive Search Email: suzanne@acumenexecutivesearch.com

Anja Taylor Linkedin:   / anja-taylor-02867795  

Kinesis Website: https://www.kinesisinc.com/

Acumen Executive Search, Portland, Oregon, is proud to present the Hiring For Good Podcast. We have always been informed and inspired by the leaders, recruiting clients, and executive placement candidates we have the honor of working with…. and now we get a chance to share this wisdom. Follow Acumen Executive Search to be notified of new episodes.

Hiring for Good Podcast Transcript

0:00 we’re here with Anja Taylor who’s the president of Kinesis this morning and we’re going to be talking about hiring

0:07 for good so hi Suzanne happy New Year happy New Year Tanis we are so excited

0:12 to have you here Anja and just to kind of start off we’d love to hear your

0:17 journey and how how you got where you are today I think it’s kind of an interesting one tell us everything yeah

0:26 Germany yes absolutely yeah thanks uh thanks for having me I’m excited to be here as well um yeah for sure um yeah I

0:35 I’m a you know very typical GenXer I think uh in the sense that um yeah

0:40 growing up uh I was thinking I could do whatever especially as a woman I think

0:46 we were the first generation where we were um yeah told that we can do whatever we

0:52 wanted to do and we can have kids in a career and so uh I was pretty ambitious in that sense I always wanted an

1:00 international career I wanted to work maybe in development or in Africa those

1:05 were some of the ideas that I had and started out there I um came over here to the United States and studied

1:11 Communications and then I got a masters in international studies uh in

1:17 Monterey and learned pretty quickly that if I wanted to have a family and a career uh in the international field

1:25 that that would prove to be very very difficult so that either meant that I had to have a partner who was willing to

1:30 then assume the role of the stay- at-home and do everything else and um really had

1:36 to find a position where I wouldn’t put myself you know in dangerous situations and things like that so I learned that

1:44 this idea that I had that I could do everything and wanted to do everything and just you know the world is my oyster

1:50 wasn’t really working the way I thought it would be and so um I had a very

1:56 supportive partner but also I realized that I needed to be in a situation where

2:02 I could kind of combine home life and and the work life um and so instead of uh

2:10 going to places I’d been in Africa before and um worked a little bit there

2:15 did an internship uh I went back to where I came from in Northern Germany and then eventually ended up in

2:22 Berlin um and worked at the United States Embassy there and also uh prior

2:28 to that worked at a uh turbine manufacturers lobbying office so

2:33 combining my interest in International Affairs International politics with kind of a more at home situation working in

2:40 the international field um ultimately again when you have a family you have to make compromises um my husband was

2:48 interested in pursuing a career in Brewing he has a masters in um Brewing

2:54 science and so we ended up back in Portland um yeah and uh that was in 2006

3:02 okay so that really launched then my career in a different field and um I’m

3:08 I’m grateful for that I think one of my values is exploration so I’m often um

3:14 interested in where life leads me without uh really planning everything

3:19 out to the last detail I think there’s a lot of value in that because you actually get to

3:25 experience um more than maybe you would otherwise and and I think that’s really

3:31 important in finding yourself finding your path so I ended up at a custom

3:38 manufacturer as a project manager worked there for almost 10 years

3:44 and really enjoyed working with people who make things who build things

3:49 understanding how physical objects in the world come together and I also really thrived at

3:55 this intersection of the client the Craftsman the financial side of things

4:03 so really being the hub of communication around all of these things just really suited me well I felt I was in charge I

4:09 was leading I then ended up building up that department at some point it was uh 12 people strong um so it was a small

4:17 company we grew from 30 I think to 120 at the time I was there um

4:23 and because it was manufacturing I think it was a little bit

4:30 stagnant for me personally I am driven by wanting to

4:36 improve things and wanting to do things maybe a little bit better maybe a

4:42 little bit differently and always looking for that not to say that what we have is bad but like what else can we do

4:47 looking at that uh as a horizon of my kind of bringing value and so when I found

4:56 Kinesis I felt those values really aligned Kinesis mission is transformation and

5:03 talking to the owner and founder Shawn Busse at the time this is more than six

5:09 years ago I just felt such a jelling of that

5:14 kind of drive that we had to improve things to make the world better and bringing that not just to an

5:20 organization internally but the clients that we work with really through a consultative approach and understanding

5:30 where we can leverage their opportunities their strength their remarkability

5:35 to make work better for their employees to help them grow whatever that means

5:41 for them I was incredibly intrigued by that because it’s really this constant Improvement that I was looking for to

5:48 bring that into fruition both in my role but also working for a company who has that as a mission is incredibly

5:54 fulfilling no what an incredible story because you talked just briefly about some pretty heavy topics and and the

6:02 first one was generational that I think the three of us sitting here are generation act and you know I my dad

6:10 always told this story that um when I was about three he came home and I was crying and he said what’s the matter and

6:17 I said I don’t know if I want to be the first woman president or ballerina and a real existential crisis

6:27 exactly but it’s funny how how we were taught you could be anything and do

6:33 anything and education first make it happen you make your own own path your

6:40 own world and then as you said you you kind of we get to this age to saying

6:46 what are our priorities then and how how do you actually you do it how do you

6:52 have it all yes and the choices I think we’ve made as women also impacts it but

7:00 yet through all of this you found what you love which is that transformation

7:05 absolutely and growth and direction I think what a fantastic story on it’s

7:11 amazing I mean I was also just kind of remarking in my own mind on the

7:16 different um personal growth you experienced it sounds like during during

7:22 these you know during your career trajectory um how how did those lessons

7:31 also come into play as as you grew as a leader you know I’m assuming like once

7:36 you’re a project manager you’re leading a team or you’re helping you know lead your clients or even more difficult you

7:43 don’t have direct reports sometimes as a project manager you have indirect and how do you yes yeah that’s a great

7:51question um yeah as a project manager you have all the responsibility but really none of the power so to speak you

7:58 know you don’t exactly you don’t have direct reports I think I had to learn

8:04 very quickly on how to build alliances galvanize people get them excited about

8:11 the work I I think I have uh always pursued leadership I was you know student body

8:18 president like those types of things and that always um was something that I was interested in but understanding how do

8:26 I uh help people do good work I need them to do the good

8:32 work how do I motivate them how do I galvanize them around an idea how do I make them excited not just just yes I

8:37 will do you know the thing that we need to do here but also bring the fun into that and bring their sense of purpose

8:44 and bring that out so I think as a project manager I learned to hone that skill or start to develop that skill I

8:53 really come from a servant leadership mindset so what I did um I did not have

9:00 much experience in building things I worked with a lot of Craftsmen that had you know 20 30 years on me in terms of

9:07 being on the job knowing what they were doing and I was a early 30 something in

9:13 the company you know managing I don’t know $1.7 million project and had to be

9:19 taken seriously and I knew I had to figure out

9:25 how to earn credibility and Goodwill and and the expertise so I studied a lot I

9:31 studied about fabrication I learned what different screws are called so that I could talk to them on their level right

9:38 and I remember uh we had a big uh Nike project

9:44 I think that was due that wasn’t my project and we were short on time and I

9:50 happened to be in the shop when the foreman said I need everybody here at 6:00 you we need to work long hours this

9:57 is going to you know be really important we need to put everything in here that we had and I said Rick I can be here too

10:03 like there must be tasks that I can do and he looked at me he like are you serious and I said yes I’m serious and

10:10 he just kind of okay and walked away and so but I was there the next morning 6:00 10:15

a.m. he didn’t say anything I stood in the circle with everybody getting briefed on what needed to happen and

10:21 then he looked at me he said ready to work and then he looked at my shoes because obviously you need to you know

10:27 wear good good shoes used to be in the shop around all the things and I had my hiking boots on I said yup and so he said

10:34 all right I’ll show you how to sand these pieces and there you go so I did that and I think for that whole week I

10:40 showed up at 6:00 a.m. at 8:30 I packed up my stuff and went over to my desktop

10:46 and I think that went a long way just working in the trenches building that credibility building trust so important

10:52 as a leader and it really helped me to solidify those relationships that I needed and it it just gave me

11:00 yeah credibility and it also made me understand what this job was about what I was asking of people wow that’s an

11:06 amazing story I would I would imagine not just trust but respect from from the team absolutely absolutely and and I

11:14 bonded with people that’s again one of the things that is really important to me you asked me about my values that’s

11:20 actually our next question yeah yeah so one of the values that that I really espouse is this relational bonding is is

11:30 building belonging with people so not just the transactional piece where you know you

11:35 do your job I do my job and we have a good outcome but really understanding the other person as a whole person

11:40 caring for them to the extent that I can obviously there need to be boundaries around that but I think it’s really

11:47 important to understand that people don’t come to work being workers and

11:52 don’t go home being just at home I think the whole idea about work life balance is a

12:01 false dichotomy it’s well it’s a dichotomy it’s false in itself exactly it’s all

12:06 life exactly work is part of life so making even in our language if we make these at kind of as adversaries it takes

12:12 away a lot of potential in both areas because we need to understand that if we had a bad day at work or if we had a

12:18 good day at work it influences our home life so I’m really passionate about integrating the two as much as we can

12:25 and helping people find fun and enjoyment and a sense of purpose at work

12:32 and also belonging I think we’ve talked about that a lot in the sense of DI but I think it’s really much more than that

12:38 it is something that is important for people to be at the place where they are

12:43 for 8 10 hours a day to actually connect with it in a way that is meaningful to them and so I think as a leader that’s

12:50 part of my job to provide that and help people find that yeah and you’ve mentioned a couple things through this

12:57 you know you started with rallying around a vision and and bringing in your values as this leader

13:05 and um and fun you’ve mentioned fun a number of times so what what do you what

13:12 are some things that you would recommend to a young leader of of saying this is how you need to approach it or or look

13:19 at it this way yeah that’s such a good question um I I think that it’s

13:27 important to know yourself first so self-awareness is always where I would start and there’s many ways you

13:33 could do that I think working with a coach can be very insightful and important in that realm I think talking

13:39 to your manager about the things that they see in you writing down a list of

13:46 things that you enjoy about yourself ask your friends what am I good at what do you see and not necessarily because you

13:53 don’t know but I think often we sell ourselves short and we don’t really take

13:58 take enough time to reflect on what we’re good at especially at women we always think about what are we not good

14:04 at where do we need to improve we’re not quite enough we’re not quite this and let’s try to shift the conversation into

14:10 the things that we actually do we talked about this as mothers we accomplish so much every day let’s make a list of that

14:17 and let’s really think about what are the skills that I exhibit in terms of time management in terms of

14:23 delegating you know organizing work because we need to figure out how to get all of this stuff done get the kids to

14:29 school on time prep the meals make sure homework is done take care of ourselves somewhere in there show up

14:34 professionally to work what are the things that the skills that you bring that are actually again from your life

14:41 that you bring into work and then um I would say when you’ve identified those

14:46 things that you’re good at also think about the things that you love there’s a great work uh it’s a book by Marcus

14:53 Buckingham who was one of the people behind the Clifton Strength Finders and he wrote a book that’s called love and

14:59 work it’s really about finding the love in your work it’s not necessarily what

15:04 you’re good at but it’s what you enjoy doing and again passion and passion yes

15:10 and that takes self-awareness and he is really focusing on the daily task

15:16 breaking it down do you like spreadsheet work do you like talking to people do you actually enjoy maybe um

15:23 orchestrating things building a schedule for somebody right what are those little things and then make sure you do them at

15:31 least 20% of the time every day so don’t push through a project and then you do

15:37 things that you love at the end of the day but do it every day so that you can have something that brings you joy every

15:45 day in your work 20 20% of your workday is I don’t know like 40 minutes something like that it’s not that not a

15:52 lot yes exactly and just do that and and find those things and I think then the

15:58 last thing to your question I would advise people to do is understanding how the things that you love actually

16:03 support the goals of the organization that’s the other part I think sometimes that we’re missing in these conversations yes it’s important that

16:11 you find the things that give you joy passion that you love and when it comes

16:17 to purpose and finding value in the work that you do I think it’s important to connect it back to the organization’s

16:24 mission and vision to the goals that maybe even your immediate supervis

16:29 supervisor has so that we can work together towards building something

16:34 greater and not just for yourself so let me let me break that down further it sounds like you have a lot of closely

16:42 held passions now in your role you’re president of your company how have you

16:48 been able to kind of transfer those I mean it sounds like you’re lucky because

16:54 or or you ended up at the right spot and we in in executive Search we know that if there’s not that alignment it

17:01 absolutely it’s it’s never going to be as optimal as what you’re experiencing but how how have you been able to

17:08 translate your own values and kind of Infuse them into Kinesis even you know maybe ones that

17:16 you that that were outside of the company’s missions that’s like part one and then part two I’ll ask about how

17:22 Kinesis um seeks to impact the larger community let’s start on a smaller scale so how how have you been able to to

17:30 translate thank you that’s that’s an exciting question I think

17:38 the I think I came to it with already some values alignment right I think you to your point that’s so important to

17:45 already have um with leadership the same kind of outlook of the work that we want to do how do we want to do the work

17:51 because other times I’ve been in a position where it gets really frustrating when those values are not aligned and really at the core if I want

17:58 improve movement and and I get told that well that’s not really your lane or don’t look here that’s not your problem

18:05 I feel like I’m not living my fullest potential and having that alignment was

18:12 crucial for me to actually be successful I think at the company and and then

18:18 building kind of my reputation and what I could be doing I think I saw

18:26 other values that I have like we talked about the belonging aspect maybe not

18:31 quite as nourished as some others um so

18:37 we uh have a value of share the good and build to last and um think big and do

18:42 the right things those are are four values and I you know all of these are great values but I found that in the

18:48 work together we could use a little bit more focus on uh collaboration we could use a

18:55 little bit more communication tools to create the sense of belonging where

19:01 we would bring people together and really figure out like what do you need

19:06 from me how do we outside of the mechanics of the business how do we

19:11 center every human in their needs to be heard and seen and felt and again

19:17 integrate that into the work so those were things that I implemented which

19:24 then I call which is not necessarily my term but I called it like a human centric approach to work um rather than

19:32 a mechanistic approach where employees are seen as a cog in the machine so basically you have the job description

19:38 and you’re trying to fit somebody into that job description that’s a very antiquated way

19:43 of doing work these days I think we want to look at who do we have at the table they share our values they’re the right

19:50 people here and then we figure out how do we use their skills and of course

19:55 within the department that they’re in and within the the work that needs to be done in order to get the

20:01 most value for the company and also like value for them that goes together so and

20:08 when you do that you are able to achieve a lot

20:13 more growth a lot more potential a lot more happiness for employees well I’m going to pause the the earlier line of

20:21 questioning then to ask you that’s a that’s a quite a different mindset around hiring so how do you hire at your

20:29 company yeah we we are very small we 11 people we hire maybe one person every

20:37 year or every year and a half so we are very deliberate

20:43 about the growth that we’re having and making it small well let me ask like just to to

20:50 elaborate a little bit it sounds like your process is so um individualized you know you’re

20:57 looking at the skill set so when you identify that it’s time to bring someone new to your team you’re not necessarily

21:04 looking to fill a hole but you probably have an idea of yes how you want to grow

21:09 organizationally and you know so I’m just curious because it it is different than having a job description and

21:16 checking off so that’s what I mean yes no absolutely so we still have job descriptions and and I think that’s

21:22 important because people want clarity about you know what do I need to do how am I successful we also ask a lot of

21:30 questions in that job description our job job description or like the job posting is very long I think it’s like

21:36 six pages okay and it starts with a letter from Sean really explaining what the company’s mission is what we’re here


to do and what kind of people are we looking for so we need people that are

21:48 very comfortable working in uncertainty because often when we work with clients

21:54 there isn’t necessarily a blueprint that we’re applying but we do collaborative

21:59 work with them we do bespoke custom consultations we also do part of the work we work in brand we work on culture

22:06 and engagement and business strategy and business model design so we need people

22:12 to be well versed in these fields obviously that comes with a certain amount of skills but we’re really

22:18 looking for people who are able to adapt well people who are humble

22:25 generous who are able to articulate complex problems situations well and

22:31 break them down so in our interview process we obviously have like the personal vibe um culture ad but also

22:39 making sure that again they they’re able to function at this very high level in uncertainty and then we have them do a

22:47 sample project um this is a fictitious project we’re not trying to get them work to do work for clients or anything

22:54 like that but we do pay them because we feel like this is a time investment that they’re making

22:59 um and then they give us this project back it’s basically a company scenario where we say what would you advise this

23:04 company to do this is the scenario you know they maybe have a high turnover they need more sales they need more

23:11 Revenue they are kind of stuck in their market they know they have potential the owner knows there is potential in my

23:17 business but I can’t really get there I don’t really know what to do to realize it and sometimes I also just have

23:23 hunches I don’t really know how to articulate what we need to do and so we leave that very open and people come

23:30 back to us with maybe two pages of um written work

23:35 we don’t want anybody to spend more than four hours on this and then they give us a presentation about their findings

23:41 about what they would advise a client to do here so we’re trying to create yeah

23:48 create the kind of same working environments that we often uh faced with in a very condensed version and we’re

23:55 not necessarily looking for the right answers we are looking for how do you think how do you approach the problem

24:00 this is very vast are you able to actually not get lost in all the little rabbit holes but are you able to

24:06 concisely present an idea and explain to us why this is a good idea or what you

24:12 would try in the work we do we often do many experiments we try to identify uh

24:20 opportunities that we can leverage exponentially so again as small business

24:25 owners we have limited resources both m and time and people and we want

24:31 to uh take the opportunities that we have and allocate those resources in a

24:36 way that we potentially get more for them than just an incremental Improvement and we really feel like

24:43 that’s the times we’re in if we think about other generations the baby boomer generation if you think about them they

24:50 had you know some big events happening in their lifetime but over the span of their working life everything was very

24:57 constant and incremental improvements and making one-year plans 5year plans

25:02 actually worked for them now we’re living in a in an era of exponential

25:07 change exponential growth exponential yeah just transformations of

25:13 everything that we know so we need to adapt and have a different leadership mindset we also need to run our

25:19 businesses differently the one-year plan is often just lies committed to paper because things are changing so quickly

25:26 so it again it there’s different tools and processes needed to accomplish this

25:33 kind of um leadership and this kind of business uh organization and and really

25:40 understanding how you can leverage what you have in this new exponential era and

25:45 take those Quantum leaps that get you forward and this is what we work with businesses on and I think also as a

25:51 leader that’s what I want to do and for me the best opportunity to invest in my business is people yeah because that’s

25:58 where the exponential opportunity often lies yeah and and it’s also I think

26:04 there’s an we’re in an age of ambiguity as well absolutely that there is not do

26:11 this to re to get you know the end results you know and and there’s so many

26:17 variables and so when you’re looking at your leadership style and people because

26:23 everybody’s very complex we’re not very simple absolutely absolutely what are some of the learnings that

26:29 you’ve had on really working through that ambiguity as the leader

26:37 yes that’s such a great question um when I started um being in a leadership

26:44 position for the first time which was going from a project manager where I manage projects really trying to create

26:49 a lot of certainty um to managing a team of project managers I thought well this

26:54 is great I’m really good at this I’m just going to tell people exactly how I do it and then you know we’ll be we’ll

27:02 be awesome this is this is wonderful I help them get there you know it’s it’s great and quickly realized that that was

27:09 not a good approach um and learned that what I

27:15 really enjoy is actually people finding their own way and then and sometimes it’s better than mine and or it’s it’s

27:23 equally good and it’s it’s different and sometimes it might be even like not

27:29 quite as good right but they learned something right so I think that is what I find

27:35 incredibly fascinating and satisfying is helping people find their own path and

27:41 that is the greatest learning I had as a leader that it’s not about telling them

27:47 or teaching them the right way I mean obviously you know if you’re an engineer there is a certain way to do things I get that but often times even then if we

27:54 agree on the outcomes and if we agree on you know this is our goal here we want a satisfied customer and we want this

28:00 thing to do X Y and Z but the way you get there I can give

28:06 you some tips I can offer some suggestions I can give you some frameworks but you need to find what’s

28:11 unique to you where your love and passion and joy is and also what makes sense to you and I am continuously

28:19 learning that because I often you know I think we all make this

28:24 mistake we think like the way I think and the way I would like to be treated other people want to be treated but

28:29 that’s not necessarily true we have some members on our team who want to be very very independent and we’re going to have

28:36 a meeting we talk about it and then they will say okay I take it from here and then I’ll you know get you when I need you others are like well I don’t really

28:42 know how to get from here to here what is your suggested way they want more guidance and that’s also fine and so I

28:49 think as a leader the adaptability working in that ambiguity and also understanding who needs what is

28:56 kind of where the puzzle pieces come together and I think as a leader if you’re not passionate about those things

29:02 then really people leadership might not be the right position for you and I think that’s also okay I think as CEOs

29:09 and companies or presidents or really at that executive level we need to see that if we’re really good at financials or

29:15 we’re really good at operations and we’re not really good at people we need to bring in somebody who’s good at people that’s not something that comes

29:22 naturally to all of us I think this should be a function of every company just like Finance just like operations

29:30 in every job there’s a financial component and an operational component and there’s a people component and we

29:35 need to think about I think especially around HR moving away from a compliance

29:41 set and really moving into people set of you know really an executive position

29:47 that knows how to do that part yeah I was um talking with the CEO of a fairly

29:53 large company and yes it was a manufacturing organization and he said

29:58 something that has kind of bothered me he said he kind of puts his leadership

30:03 team into two categories one is people who do the right thing or they do the

30:11 better thing so so people get stuck in well this is the way we’ve always done

30:17 it and this is the right way of doing things and the people that look at

30:23 things and continuous Improvement of this is the better way but I thought that was really too

30:29 simplistic that because again we’re so complicated and I kind of pushed him on it a little bit of thinking certain

30:37 tasks there is a right way and certain tasks there’s a better way absolutely

30:43 and to put a label on someone I just thought that was so interesting and it

30:49 just talking about makes me kind of yeah expand on that because you’re

30:57 looking at things holistically but not putting this label absolutely I think I

31:05 just had a conversation the other day with somebody it’s this question right that we always have do people change yes

31:11 or no and everybody has an opinion about that I’m a firm believer that people do change I know I change yes I I don’t

31:20 know if I always change for the better but I do change and I think that’s actually one of

31:25 the things as a human being that you know throughout evolution we’ve been really good at which is adapting so yes

31:31 there is change we’re changing we’re constantly exposed to new experiences and we process these experiences whether

31:37 we do it consciously or unconsciously and yes some people continue to exhibit the same behaviors because of multiple

31:44 reasons because at some point that work for them even if it doesn’t work for them anymore all those things that’s

31:50 what therapy is for but I think it’s really important to

31:55 to be open to that possibility that does not mean that everybody can ultimately do the job that we need them

32:01 to do sometimes it’s not a good fit for sure and that happens and that is just the normal cause of um evolution as well

32:08 because people are sometimes changing companies are changing things are always in flux and that rate of change is

32:14 exponential for sure so I think it’s important to then understand if that’s how it is I need to help people to

32:22 identify where are the ways in which they need to change where I need them to change maybe I need some people to just

32:28 keep doing the things how they used to be to your point maybe there are some task that we figured this out this is

32:35 how we want it and maybe once in a while we look at it and see is is there a reason to do this differently because

32:41 again we only have limited resources we can’t change everything all the time so being aware of that is really important

32:48 but I think it’s so limiting to think that people are this way and they’re never going to change um just to tell

32:57 another story or another another perspective on this in in our work we have a lot of companies uh at this small

33:02 scale we work with companies anywhere from 15 to 200 employees and they often

33:09 work with EOS which is the entrepreneur operating system and it it always

33:14 there’s a lot of good things about it um but one of the things that’s cracked me up is the people analyzer where it’s you

33:19 know very simple this and if you’re not this then there’s nothing we can do

33:25 about it which I feel like is shortsighted because often people have so much potential and if you’re able as

33:30 a leader to you know realize it unearth it help them realize it even if it’s not at your

33:37 company like I’ve had multiple people who I’ve worked with and we went on this

33:43 path of figuring out what they really wanted to do and ultimately it wasn’t with us it was somewhere else and then I’m so happy to help them find that

33:51 somewhere else and we recently had a colleague who is really passionate about sustainability and said Anja this was a

33:59 year ago he said I need to do work in that sector I love it here but we’re not

34:04 doing enough of it this is my personal calling and I said Kyle you go you do

34:10 this can you give us like half time while you’re looking for something else said absolutely and so he was looking

34:16 and looking and interviewing with companies and ultimately a couple months he decided I’m going to stay I have so

34:21 many good things here but can I build this here would you be open to building out more of a sustainability portfolio

34:29 at Kinesis like that we work with more clients in that field we learn more about it we figure out you know we do so

34:34 many things cool things for companies we really help them accelerate in many different ways reach their potential how

34:40 about we’re trying to do that more for companies who do good for the environment and I’m like yeah this is

34:45 brilliant this is great like let’s do it so again having these Avenues open

34:51 explore together being open to people changing changing their minds and and welcoming it in and again it should

34:58 align with your strategy and with the goals that you have which is why it’s so important to have a strategy for your

35:04 business but um I think uh it just opened up so many possibilities and he

35:09 is so happy we are so happy it’s it’s just really a great master class in

35:15 leadership this is I mean we every week we or every we learn so much I bet but

35:21 this is really impressive well and and you talk about the passions and the vision and and Kinesis is a B Corp

35:29 correct which also adds a different element because you’re saying from the

35:35 get-go this is what we believe in we are giving back we are investing into this

35:43 would you ever um start another company that wasn’t a B

35:48 Corp um I I really appreciate B Corp what

35:54 they’re trying to do especially here in the local community we have a very strong local community I’ve made many

35:59 friends and strong connections here I think um I think it can be improved and I

36:06 think they’re working on that on the assessment um because there’s many

36:11 categories and you can kind of choose pick and choose where you want your um points to come from it’s like I don’t

36:17 want to get into all the details but I think so I think you can do good in the

36:23 world and have this kind of outset without or mindset without being being a B Corp and I think you can be a B Corp

36:29 and kind of weasle your way through a little bit and maybe not do what’s really impactful so I think the way

36:37 again being strategic the way I look at businesses um and impact in that sense I

36:43 want that to be strategic and not everything has the same amount of impact

36:49 and I don’t know that a B Corp assessment so that’s the qualification tool to

36:55 become a B Corp actually captures the right areas of impact equally so I

37:01 think it’s going to become more and more important for companies to have a sustainability focus I think it’s more

37:06 and more uh important for companies to have uh equity and inclusion focus I

37:13 think these should be really the driving factors in becoming a B Corb because

37:19 those two are really important in using business for good which is essentially the mission of B Corp right abs

37:26 absolutely you know I’m going to bring something back up that you talked about and because I think it’s really

37:32 important to to state because and and that’s really coming from a female a

37:38 woman perspective and we interview people for living and it’s amazing you

37:44 said taking that stock on who you are we found not and I shouldn’t say women

37:51 because it’s it’s beyond women but we have a job a position description and

37:57 let’s say it has 10 requirements most people won’t fill that

38:03 out women primarily women and and I will also say people of color won’t fill out

38:09 the application if they don’t hit all 10 verses a lot of times males go oh I’ve

38:16 got seven out of 10 I’d be perfect for it I think statistically it’s proven if they have three out of 10 I think so too

38:23 I was trying to be generous here but um you know that’s a whole different

38:29 mindset yes and such a different approach of what we’ve been talking about about knowing who you are where

38:37 your passions lie and going that way versus yes check check check check and I

38:44 would say that the lived experience for women I can speak to that I obviously cannot speak to the lived experience for

38:50 people of color but I think this might be similar to um women’s experience is

38:55 that the world has shown me that if I don’t bring 100% if I don’t go above and

39:03 beyond I’m actually not valued the same way as my white male colleague and men

39:08 white white men get taught that well even if you get it like halfway there you know oh you’re great like this is

39:14 good and I I don’t mean this to be true for everyone and I know this is a very broad generalization but I think um

39:21 there is something that is very systemic in

39:26 this and so the more we can find tools and processes to counteract this

39:33 systemic approach I think the more we get women

39:40 to to apply so maybe there’s a different way of phrasing the requirements maybe

39:47 there’s a different way of really understanding what do I need for this job is this really a requirement is a college degree a requirement I have

39:54 people on my leadership team that are absolutely excellent at what they do that don’t have a college degree yeah I

40:00 don’t I don’t put much stock into that I I have a master’s degree I’m very fond

40:06 of academia this is not a personal thing I just have seen people really excel in

40:12 highly not just even as craft people but at highly cognitive strategic roles without having a college degree so again

40:20 those are some of the things I think where we put up barriers where we are actually not doing our company are

40:26 favorable because we’re not getting the best talent for the job so you work with a large amount of

40:33 companies these are pretty novel ideas some of the things you’re espousing here

40:38 how have do you feel that you’ve been able to translate some of these ideas to a broader scale through your platform

40:45 you know absolutely absolutely we are very selective and who we work with what

40:54 we have discovered is that we we um mainly work with and this is you

41:00 know we’ve been in existence for for 24 years this is our 24th year so we’ve we’ve had a lot of experience in trial and

41:06 error here but we really need um owner operators so we work only with owner

41:12 operators businesses because we want the decision-making power to be in the room and we want the people who are making

41:18 the decisions to actually have skin in the game in terms of the actual work and we found that if we have people who are

41:24 not caring about their people and not understanding how important that human aspect is to their business they’re not

41:30 a good fit for us on a values perspective we also work with people uh who run value shops so let me give you

41:37 just like a very quick uh overview of what we mean by that a value shop is an

41:43 organization that does not make widgets so we don’t crank out the same thing every time but it’s a very bespoke

41:48 process it’s a consultative sales approach often long sales cycles low volume high margin or high value sales

41:57 very highly qualified workforce so we often work with companies that have Engineers often they have engineers and

42:03 also fabricators so we have like you know the traditional college degree High

42:08 uh expertise and then we have the craftsman high expertise on those areas um and we work with uh people who or

42:18 companies who are trying to yeah figure out I think unique

42:27 solutions to problems um again the engineering part people who are bringing A New perspective to a field I don’t

42:33 want to call them disruptors because that has been so often overused yeah but but really business owners who have a

42:40 vision for doing things differently and solving a problem that they see either in their field or in society at large

42:46 that is not being addressed in a in a good way no and and so taking what Tanis

42:53 just asked of how do you instill this into Corporation no no no but but it

43:00 made me think if you were to give advice to your younger

43:05 self what what would you tell yourself yeah let me let me just get like because I got yeah lost in so so what I wanted

43:12 to say is like we’re working with these companies to um to then get them to the next level

43:19 and so these people come to us already with a certain mindset that is open uh I think in our sales process at

43:26 some point we put up the slide that says transformation and we say if that doesn’t excite you you’re probably not

43:32 the right fit for us because we want people who are excited about trying something new who are willing again with

43:39 this exponential era who willing to place bets on things and are okay with this might work out this might not work

43:45 out and when it doesn’t work out we’re not going to discard it completely but we’re going to learn from it and iterate and move forward so our team works that

43:53 way with our clients we have a very collaborative process so for example

43:59 when we do a brand with a client we are not the ones who you know get the download and then we go into the dark

44:05 room and do some magic and then tada here’s the big reveal we have a very disciplined process uh step by step

44:12 where we collaborate with the client it’s work like we ask them this is this is going to require time and effort on

44:17 your part are you ready for it do you want to do this because we feel when we collaborate in that way we get the best

44:24 outcome and the best outcome might not necessarily be what the client likes but it’s what the client needs so that’s

44:31 also very different often clients come to us and say I need a new website because I need

44:36 sales uh and the sales is not working and then when we get into the process and looking into said well actually

44:42 you’re pushing leads in there’s something not happening in your organization so we view this um in the

44:48 way that we call the inside outway so we have mission vision and values at the core and then when you align your people

44:54 around those values and the mission they are able to actually do their job a

44:59 lot better because they have a passion for it again like all those things right we try to help them teach them coach

45:05 them on how to find what people love doing we want to get them to a point where they are able to position their

45:13 Workforce in a way that it’s not just a job but it’s it’s more than that and they they are aligned with what the

45:19 company is trying to achieve when you do that your products and services will come out a lot better it’s just that’s

45:24 just how it works right especially for those companies that have like people at their core in a consultative way and

45:30 then because of that you get a customer base that is really raving fans and there a referral base and all of those

45:36 things so we start at the core and build that outward the inside out model so we

45:41 infuse this kind of thinking throughout all these processes again in the areas that we work with we you know the brand

45:49 uh business model design and business

45:54 strategy so that’s really the approach so we’re um and and it’s always again as

46:00 I said a collaboration so the extent to which clients are willing to go on that journey is is up to them but we really

46:08 trying to push them more towards making those things real in their businesses it’s so funny hearing this this

46:16 approach speaking our acum level language here you’re you know getting all all excited because again it’s

46:23 looking at something from a different perspective and there’s not a right way

46:30 yes or just a better way yes it’s it’s different again it’s I love it well I

46:37 think there’s this openness to transformation and I and I you mentioned earlier how you don’t like to use you

46:44 know binary language or you know but um I think

46:49 even I don’t know that that CEO you referenced was wrong but I I think his

46:54 rhetoric is um very know very linear linear and so it’s

46:59 you know can people change maybe it’s um maybe we never fundamentally

47:06 change who we are but we have the opportunity to to grow and to transcend

47:15 and to expand and evolve and um you know just paying attention to to the language

47:22 we’re using but I think sounds like you’re infusing so much any of this these um you know ideals into the work

47:29 with others yeah and I think like to your point like what would have told my younger self right I think this is an

47:34 evolution that I made because our approach the way I look at it now um and

47:40 I’m I’m getting very close to 50 so uh I just turned 48 so I feel like it’s it’s

47:45 a moment in my life where really I’m I’m maybe reexamining also part of

47:51 of who I am and and especially like my Womanhood in that sense and and I feel

47:57 like this approach that we’re having again I I don’t want to gendify it but it’s it’s a it’s a more like I think

48:03 female characteristic approach it’s less of the top down less of the rigidness that we often associate with male

48:09 leadership I think and so for for me it’s really important to bring that um

48:16 into the world and and work with women in leadership Road specifically because

48:21 I think there is a different perspective but it only works uh and this is like my own journey where if you’re actually

48:27 embracing that and men can embrace this obviously just as much I when I came up as a GenXer and a leadership roles and

48:34 my dad was in the military um I I learned to understand that leadership is

48:40 a often a top- down and a strong position a strong decisiveness and and

48:45 operate that way and I had to learn that that’s not always the best way especially as a woman it you know I was

48:51 intense I was aggressive I was you know versus like my male counterparts who showed up up the same way and didn’t get

48:56 that feedback so I I took that as an opportunity

49:02 though to look at okay but what’s good about this other approach does this other approach work and I think for me

49:08 that wasn’t quite intuitive now it comes much more intuitive but I hear that a lot about women who’s like yeah but I don’t want to lead that way I don’t want

49:15 to lead that way I want to lead with a more empathetic and compassionate approach and now when we look at the literature it actually is the better

49:22 approach I remember it was probably seven years ago maybe even longer that Harvard um Business Review said the

49:29 number one quality of the C of a impactful CEO is humility yes and that

49:37 has stuck with me for years because again it’s not coming at it my way or the highway it’s you know things I don’t

49:45 know so let’s learn together yes and let’s learn to listen to each other

49:51 really listen to learn and to understand versus listen to fix or listen to respond so there’s a lot of these types

49:58 of things I think that inform the work that we do at Kinesis and that we try to

50:03 advise our clients on an opening up that way and it’s again this is a long

50:08 process leadership again is a process I feel like it’s not a it’s also maybe a mindset but it’s not something that you

50:14 achieve at some point so now I’m a leader it’s it’s constantly evolving and and figuring out what is the right way

50:21 to go forward and it’s adaptive to the person that or the the company the people that you leading and I think the

50:26 one thing I’ve learned interviewing leaders and CEOs of organizations in

50:32 this podcast is nobody had a straight path yes it they didn’t go from A to B

50:38 and and we did all the hurdles and we made take took all the steps everybody had this incredibly winding road and and

50:47 I think it’s those experiences of failure of of figuring out what what

50:54 works what doesn’t work how what motivates you what is that leader yes like you can’t

51:01 say it’s one thing correct and um so I think it’s fascinating yeah I I think

51:08 that is so true and and embracing that versus I think what we got taught you

51:14 know again with with the generation before us with the boomer generation is like no it had to be this linear way and

51:20 you had to chart your path and then you pursue your path right and I find people who have you know the detours and the

51:28 setbacks and and much more interesting you’re just going to learn so much more more and enjoy and enjoy life more yes

51:36 it dep I guess it you know are you fueled by learning I mean for me I I am

51:42 I resonate with so much of what you’re saying and um I think

51:49 that what what you’re offering here is going to be very valuable to the people who hear it I appreciate that thank you

51:55 than you for giving me and I want to end one more question one more question so this is hiring for good yes which good

52:02 means many different things and it’s usually bigger than ourselves yes because whether we look at someone

52:08 else’s life and their retention and longevity or their betterment society

52:15 the impact what does hiring for good mean to you that’s a great question um I think

52:22 hiring for good means means it needs to be good for both parts it needs to be

52:28 good for the company who’s hiring it needs to be good for the person who’s hired and I think it’s really important

52:35 to define what that is it’s important to define it for us as a company what is a good hire what does this mean um and

52:43 then it’s also important to define it for the candidate what is good to you what does that mean to you what what do

52:49 you want to get out of this like what what does that look like and make sure both parties know

52:56 both of these things and I think for for me it would be like when I look at Kinesis and for us um so uh a good good

53:05 person I think would be somebody who loves what we do working with small businesses working on

53:10 transformation likes to uh be challenged likes new um yeah

53:19 problems finding new ways of moving through them and finding that exhilarating rather than you know

53:24 threatening or or um anxiety producing and I would hope for them that they yeah

53:31 thrive learn something new grow and yeah and and just be fulfilled and for

53:37 us yeah we want we want our clients obviously to be happy want to do more of this work and we want to grow uh for

53:44 sure we want to um at some point uh I think I would like to double the size of

53:50 the company right now it’s really hard because we’re all wearing so many hats um so so uh people who have that kind of

53:57 mindset like a growth mindset both for themselves but also wanting to be part of something that we’re building together it’s another one of my values

54:04 like building something I think that that would be ideal and that would mean like yeah it’s a it’s a good high thank

54:10 you so much this was just I feel like we could go on I know and I’m just gonna

54:16 say Anja Taylor president of Kinesis and you know I I think it’s as a small

54:23 business owner it’s um Ling to say wow I have so much more to learn myself so do

54:31 thank you awesome thanks thanks for joining us today at hiring for good if

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54:43 want to learn more about our Executive Search Services check us out at

54:49 hiring for good or our company website Acumen Executive Search thanks

54:54 so much and don’t forget to join us next time for another in-depth conversation about transformational leadership until 55:00 then have fun