The cavnessHR Podcast can be found at the following places or you can just type in cavnessHR on the respective site.
iTunes: https://cavnesshr.co/theca54f53 Amazon Alexa: https://cavnesshr.co/f2191
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Castbox: https://cavnesshr.co/theca97b36 Anchor: https://anchor.fm/cavnesshr
RadioPublic: https://cavnesshr.co/theca4ba98 Twitch: https://cavnesshr.co/twitch-b9603
TuneIn: https://cavnesshr.co/2abb0 Google Play: https://cavnesshr.co/googl6be3a
The cavnessHR Podcast is now available as an Alexa Skill on Amazon Alexa!!!! Amazon Alexa: https://cavnesshr.co/f2191
Social Media links for Lee’s!!
Company Site: https://double-forte.com/
Twitter handle: @leecaraher
Company Twitter: @DoubleFortePR
The first five people who email me at email@example.com. The first five people with cavnessHR podcast in the subject line and put their address in, I will send both my books to.
Jason Cavness: Hello and welcome to Cavness HR podcast. I'm your host, Jason Cavness. Our guest today is Lee Caraher. Lee, are you ready to be great today?
Lee Caraher: I'm ready to be great!
Jason Cavness: Lee is a CEO of Double Forte PR and Digital Marketing, a national agency headquartered in San Francisco, with offices in New York. An acclaimed communication strategist. Lee is known for practical solutions in big problems. Her company works with some of the top consumer Lifestyle, Digital Life, technology and wine brands the country. Lee serves on the board of directors for the Public Relations counsel, the National Association for Public Relations agencies. She's also the author of "Millennials and Management". Based on her experience with epically failing and then succeeding at retaining millennials in her business. Her second book, "The Boomerang Principle Inspiring lifetime Loyalty from Your Employees", provides a practical guide to building positive high performance workplaces. Lee has a reputation for building cohesive, high-producing teams who get a lot done while having fun at the same time. She's a straight talker who doesn't hold too many punches, although she does her best to be pleasant about it. Her big laugh and sense of humor have gotten her out of a lot of trouble. Lee is active in the community and currently serves on a Public Advocates Board of Governors. She recently served as a Vice Chair of the board for KQED Public Media, and was a founding chair of the board of the St. Paul's choir. Lee you are doing a lot of great things there, thank you for being here today.
Lee Caraher: Thank you so much for having me Jason, I appreciate it.
Jason Cavness: So, Lee with everything you have going on right now, what are you actually focusing on right now?
Lee Caraher: My brain is split into two, so half my brain is on how to do great communication for our clients out in the world and half my brain is focused on how to make sure we're communicating and being engaged. Which I really don't like that word, with our employees so we create sustainable businesses. When I bring those two halves together it really all comes down to leadership is communication and the better we can communicate the better we can be practical. The better it is not only for our businesses but also for our employees.
Jason Cavness: Lee, you take great pride in having great teams. What is your definition of a high performing workplace?
Lee Caraher: My definition of a high performing workplace is a workplace where the work gets done during the day, and you don't have to do too much extra when you don't have to do too much extra, you don't have to keep redoing your work. During the day could mean many different things, but in our business, it means that our work is being done on time and at a high degree of excellence for our clients, during the time when our people, when it best suits our people well not only for themselves but also for the team.
Jason Cavness: Lee, how have you been successful having different generations work in your workplace, there's Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials and all the other ones out there. How are you able to make that a more cohesive team with all those generations?
Lee Caraher: Well I wasn't always successful at it, as you've said in reading my bio about my first book. I failed miserably when we first started hiring Millennials in the business. I had a 100% failure rate in retention and decided we must've been doing something wrong and went and looked at all the research on it and all the millions of blog entries on how terrible millennials were and decided they must be all wrong. Because 80 million people can not all be terrible. Then I did my own research on it, talked to a lot, I mean 100's and 100's of people about it just so I could understand what really the problem was. I think I've turned that around dramatically and then wrote a book about it obviously, to share what I learned the hard way. I think what makes successful intergenerational workplaces are ones that are focused on a purpose and that people are, can identify and not only identify. But align with high expectations of work performance and a high degree of context. So that people understand that they are important on a team. That there's no work that doesn't matter and that if they don't do the work, we can't do the work. Then, lastly that we have an attitude that we know when we hire someone they're going to leave us. So, if we don't worry about it, people end up staying longer. When those kinds of things, when you have those different points of view, we seem to be able to get along and get along well.
Jason Cavness: Lee, a lot of people tell you that you should hire slow and fire fast, what's your opinion on that?
Lee Caraher: I agree. I'm not very good at the firing fast thing, but I agree.
Jason Cavness: Yeah, I don't think no one is good at firing fast.
Lee Caraher: It's hard you know, we just hired five people here, oh six actually, six people. Everybody's like oh, we'll find these people and they'll come in in two weeks and I'm like no, it's going to take at least a month people. Maybe six weeks and that for us is a long time. It's frustrating in our business, we're a service business. Our budget could double and we don't have the people for it. But if you hire the wrong person it cost more than you can fathom. Right, you can't even measure how much it costs. So it is more important to hire in a slow fashion that really finds the right person, regardless of title. I mean I think today we don't hire on title anymore. We hire for people because there's so much disruption in all the businesses that the old titles that exist in the world. They have really, they're not as relevant as they used to be. It's more important to find the right person who can then grow with you over time than it is to find the right title kind of thing.
Jason Cavness: Lee, let's suppose someone was listening to this podcast and they were like you know what I want to work for Lee and her agency. How do they get your attention, what do they need to do to get on your radar?
Lee Caraher: Well, first they send me an email that doesn't say, Dear Mr. Lee Caraher. Because I get those emails every week and they go right into my trash bin. I am easy to find and I think I'm identifiable as a woman. I'm pretty sure, so first get my gender right, number one. Number two, go to my website we have three podcasts on my website. There is one called Millennial Minded. So, go listen to, there's a series on how to get hired at Double Forte go listen to that series, you know. Tell me, tell me that you've listened to the series. Three, you want to, when you contact me or anybody in my team. You are going to be appropriately formal and there are not going to be typos. Because if you have a typo we are going to put it right into the trash. So that's how you get our attention more than anything else.
Jason Cavness: Thanks Lee. Lee, for female entrepreneurs out there just getting started, what advice would you have for them?
Lee Caraher: I think that this is a great time to be a female entrepreneur,. It's always challenging to be an entrepreneur and it's always challenging being a female in business. It's always challenging to be a male in business you know. The rules are all changing, there's a lot of things you need to worry about. For women getting started I think that one, you have to remember that you don't get born with a thick skin you grow a thick skin. So take a deep breath right, number one. Number two, if you notice that you're being marginalized. I would say the first reaction would be to blame, my recommendation is to assess first instead of to blame and in the assessment sometimes we are doing things. Women do things to themselves that don't help them and men don't even know it. So in the assessment are you the first woman to ever be in that room. Is there five women who all sit together and all the men sit on the other side? Well split up, are you getting talked over? Well, then when you're about to talk get up and go get a drink and then just stand by where the table with the drinks is and have everyone watch you. There are things that you can do to help yourself be noticed and be heard. I think fourth is you can if you get, if you feel like you're being marginalized that assessment and then do some corrective work. Then seek a one on one conversation with the person you think you're being marginalized by and bring them examples of how they could do something different. As opposed to just blame blame blame, because you don't get anywhere with pointing fingers.
Jason Cavness: Lee, is there such a thing as a company being too small for public relations?
Lee Caraher: Nope.
Jason Cavness: There's a small business owner out there4 10-20 employees, what advice do you have for them to go to select a PR firm?
Lee Caraher: Well I think there are two things. One, you have to decide what your budget is, how much money can you put towards this effort is the first thing. Because the agency is going to come and say what's your budget? Number two is, what do you wan to get accomplished? Be really crystal clear about what is success for you. I want to be on the cover of the local newspaper. Or I want to be in these five blogs, Or I want someone on Twitter to follow me or whatever it is. What is the business goal you want to achieve like, who needs, and our job the job of PR is to be, to generate awareness, positive awareness. So, first, it's like what is the business goal, right? Then, how much money do I have to spend on that business goal. Then how much time are you willing to put into it? PR takes a long time. We get calls all the time, well I'm going to have a launch next week and what I require, and we just don't even talk to those people. Really good communications really good public relations. You should be thinking at least three months out and then another three months out from that. Six months minimum to sort of see the kind of result that you hope to get if you've never done it before. Also, who's going to be responsible? You need one person to be responsible for your firm, not six. You need one person responsible for your firm.
Jason Cavness: Lee, for your agency, who is your target market? Is there a certain type of industry, a certain size industry or do you just take on all comers?
Lee Caraher: We do not take on all comers. We have three, well we have four rules. One is that somebody here has to be interested in your business. I think you always do better work when you're interested in your business. There's a lot of reasons to be interested in something. But someone here has to be interested other than me. I'm interested in everything, I'm a terrible filter for that. I'm like woohoo everything sounds exciting to me so, and I don't run any accounts. So, number two is we have to be a good fit. Do we have the right experience or expertise or we have good chemistry. Because you can be a great client and a great agency and suck together. Three, you have to pay us and we take, for us we require 60 days up front. Four, no jerks. So that's the first set of criteria. The next set of criteria is we're really good in the consumer lifestyle space, so food and bev, health and wellness, sports and fitness, gear, consumer gear, health, and beauty that kind of stuff. Consumer electronics, consumer technologies like video games, MR, AR, VR and professional services. Also in food and bev if you're in wine and spirits we have a really good, great expertise there. So those are basically the three chunks of kinds of industries we're looking at and then from a size perspective. You're spending probably at least probably $10,000 a month with us for a minimum of six months and that's going to be our lowest client. Our sweet spot is around $25,000 a month.
Jason Cavness: Lee, your bio talks some about your community service. Why is it important for you o give back to your community?
Lee Caraher: You know, I started my company for many reasons. I lived in California, my parents lived at the time in Wisconsin. My Mother got sick, was given three months to live, she ended up living four years. So I created my company so I could be wherever I wanted to be. But, in my previous jobs I really had no time for public service. I am relatively religious, I'm Episcopalian by birth and part of our creed in our church is that you use your gifts to make a difference for others. So I wanted to create a company where I could also have the time to do those things. I can't give a lot of money, but I can give some time and expertise.
Jason Cavness: Yes and everyone says time is actually more valuable you know so.
Lee Caraher: I think so.
Jason Cavness: Lee, can you talk about a time when you were successful in the past, what you learned from the success and what we can learn from this?
Lee Caraher: From a people perspective, in the dot com boom. So in the first set like 2000, 98, 99, 2000, 2001. There weren't enough people to hire in the San Francisco Bay area and my office was a revolving door of people coming through saying I got a new job. My boss in the company I worked for was publicly traded, what came down from my own high was don't lose any bodies. Counter if you need to, so everyone would come into my office. I'd give them 20% they'd stay for another six months, they'd come back in my office for another 20% it was a revolving door of counter offers.
Lee Caraher: It was exhausting and it wasn't very, it wasn't a good culture. One day I woke up and I was like, I'm done, I am just, I don't care if I get in trouble. I don't care if they fire me for this I'm not doing this anymore. So, this guy comes into my office, literally, I didn't even have a chance to like have my staff meeting with my leadership team and someone shows up in my office. Lee, I have taken a job with such and such and here's my two week notice and I said good luck! He was waiting for me to say and here's your 20% counter. I said well good for you, good luck and he was really mad, he was just so mad with me. Why aren't you going to counter? I'm like, I'm done countering, you already spent all this time, my time. I've already paid you to find a new job I'm not doing this anymore. But what I hope for you is that you go to this job you learn something great and when you're ready to move on from there. That you call me and we have a space for you. We'll bring you back, we love having you here when you're on, but if you're not on, you've already showed me that you're not all in. So we're not going to spend any more time on people who are not all in and so how can I help you? That moment was just a crystalizing thing. I'm not doing this anymore.
Lee Caraher: So I called, I came out of my office I called the staff meeting. I said here is just what happened, I am not going to counter anymore and I might get fired for that. Because that is not policy. But, I'm not doing it anymore because it's exhausting. You all know what's going on when someone shows up in my office first thing in the morning and I'm done, not going to do it. What I am going to do is take that money I'm reserving for counters. I'm going to put into us, so let's go to a ballgame tomorrow and basically went to the ballgame that next day. When I did that, when I stopped countering, I stopped losing people. My advice to everybody is don't counter, and spend all your energy on making your own space the best it can be and understand that people have their own lives. They have their own responsibilities and they have their own dreams, and that you may not be able to fill them. You probably can't fill them, your company probably can't fill all their dreams for their whole careers. But, you may be able to fill a great space, be a great place for their, in their careers two, three, four times over their lives. If you focus on what's best for your company great people will stay and they'll come back.
Jason Cavness: I know there is a stat out there that says a high percentage of people, even if they take the offer they leave anyway within one to two years anyway.
Lee Caraher: Yeah, don't spend any time with these people. They've already spent your time finding a new job and shame on you if you don't know what's going on with your peeps. You know, and that's what I learned the hard way too. We need to be invested, we need to understand what our people want.
Lee Caraher: What is their responsibility, what is their goal? Do they have responsibility for a family that is not in the area, do they have, do they want to be an artist, and they're stuck in accounting? I mean, knowing you people means a lot to the people and then you can adjust their job so that your great people stay in your companies even if they have a different seat than the one that they took when they first started.
Jason Cavness: Doing that to me is pretty simple and pretty easy, it just takes a little time.
Lee Caraher: It's messy man, you know, like HR, the old HR used to like things, check the box, check check check check check, like lists, people are not, do not fit in boxes and people are messy. I have a person whose husband just yesterday she went on ten weeks leave, her husband unexpectedly had been battling cancer. Everyone thought he had beat it and then last week he was in the hospital with some complications and he got sent home from the hospital yesterday and he's in hospice care. So she's off for ten weeks and I mean, I can't, what am I gonna cut her loose, no right,. How you gonna do that?
Jason Cavness: Yes.
Lee Caraher: People are messy and we want it to be easy. We want it to be a check the box. We want to slide people in on certain titles and for a certain number of years and their gonna show up on time all the time. Well, you know, hello not gonna happen. You have principles around the kind of people you hire, principles about the kind of work you aspire to deliver. Principles about how we work together, principles about what happens when something screws up. Right? Those things are well understood and known and socialized and communicated all the time. The people part sort of makes it work. When those things are not clear and people aren't, can't fill, end your sentence on those things. That's when you need checkboxes and you move yourself pretty closely into management by mediocrity which is not a winning success.
Jason Cavness: Lee, I understand you have something for our listeners.
Lee Caraher: Yes! The first five people who email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. The first five people with cavnessHR podcast in the subject line and put their address in, I will send both my books to.
Jason Cavness: Thank you for that, Lee.
Lee Caraher: You're welcome.
Jason Cavness: Lee, can you give us your social media links for both yourself and your company so people can research you.
Lee Caraher: Sure! So you can follow me on Twitter at @leecaraher and on Instagram there and on Facebook at leecaraher1 and then on, for Double Forte it's double-forte.com and @doublefortepr for Twitter.
Jason Cavness: For our listeners, we will have the links to her resources and social media in our show notes, and our show notes are at www.cavnesshrblog.com. Lee, we're coming to the end of our talk, can you give us any last minute words of wisdom or advice on anything you want to talk about?
Lee Caraher: Focus is your friend, and the more you can do, you know the less of good that you do is better than more of mediocre and if you just do one thing today with your people, it's just to ask them how they're doing and what you can do to help them.
Jason Cavness: Lee thank you for your time today I really appreciate it you're doing a lot of great things for a lot of people, so thank you.
Lee Caraher: Thank you so much, Jason, great to talk with you.
Jason Cavness: To our listeners, thank you for your time as well and remember to be great every day.