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IMPACT! Talks: Be Purpose Driven. Be Opportunistic. Be Differentiated

While disruption seems to be a way of life in our industry, developing strategies to thrive within change was the centerpiece of the IMPACT! Talks at the 2019 TechServe Alliance conference. Three industry veterans, Andrew Limouris, President and CEO of Medix, Alidade Group & Talentoday; Sue Thaden, President & CEO of Cri and Gary Zander, Management Consultant for the Eliassen Group, shared their stories of how they managed large change within their organizations.

Be Purpose Driven

Limouris told of his company’s growth trajectory and the aspirational approaches he utilized. He adopted a “winning” strategy that was akin to how a football team strives to win a championship.  

“It’s hard to win a championship,” Limouris said. And, while the company did grow rapidly and saw their lofty metrics within reach, “We hit an inflection point,” he added. “and we asked ourselves, ‘why are we doing this. We’re working late, getting up early…why are we doing this? Who are we and who do we want to be?’”

While the drive to win was strong, Limouris and the team decided that there was more to the quest. They started to look at how they were positively impacting lives through their efforts and how that realization of being purpose driven invigorated their efforts.

To reinforce this attitude, they organized team building events. One that he spoke about involved putting together bikes. Their team broke up into small groups, each tasked with putting together a total of 20 bikes. While the exercise offered a collaborative environment that benefitted the team as a whole, it was the unexpected ending to the exercise that had the most impact.

After the bikes were assembled, 20 kids from the local Boys and Girls Club entered the room.

“Seeing who is behind the scenes, what the effort was for, those kids, that had the strongest impact for us.”

Since then, understanding the purpose behind their actions infuses their work.

“When you realize you are playing for something bigger, that you have a higher purpose than just winning,” said Limouris. “You realize that winning is an outcome not a goal.”

Watch Andrew Limouris's IMPACT! Talk

Be Opportunistic

Thaden, and her company, CRi, related how they took advantage of opportunities. It started with a core belief that was developed early on and infused her own staffing decisions.

“We hire people that get out of bed and just want to go,” she said.

Having trust in her people allowed her to build what she terms a GIG, “get it great” mentality. As the company has matured, this became more than a call to action, but has given team members a voice in the company’s growth beyond staffing into professional services, app development for businesses and even their own product development.

“We decided to become more opportunistic and develop our own products,” said Thaden. “We built an innovation lab,” said Thaden. “If you have an idea for a project, you pitch it to the [innovation lead group]. If they approve it, then there’s a pitch session once a month where you pitch to the whole team, and you try to recruit people to work on your innovation project.”

The success of the innovation lab led to the development of a new company, From Now On, which produces fan engagement apps currently focused on the collegiate sports market

Through the many transitions the company has gone through on its growth trajectory, Thaden related the crucial need to stay connected to the people within the organization, guide them through the changes and let them guide you as well.

“You have to listen, listen, listen to your team,” she said. “You want to be around growth mindset people and stay focused on moving forward.”

Watch Sue Thaden's IMPACT! Talk

Be Differentiated

With the rise of the VMS within the staffing industry, Zander saw that as company, “if you look like every other company you compete with, you’re a commodity. We knew we couldn’t exist in a low cost environment, so we looked for a niche.”

The firm decided to focus on media tech staffing and worked to understand that market. They studied the space, attended industry conferences, and worked on building a media tech candidate database.

“We wanted to understand the industry in depth and be seen as a trusted advisor and business partner to our clients,” Zander said.

The strategy has paid off, with billings of $12 million that was in decline to a current $20 million in revenue that is growing.

Referencing the bestseller, “Who Moved My Cheese”, Zander said it’s important to keep one eye on your current cheese and one eye on what’s next.

“You have to differentiate or die.”

Watch Gary Zander's IMPACT! Talk