Posts Categorized: Innovation

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Meet our Modern Manager panelists | Mo Dezyanian

Join us on Wednesday, November 15th at 6:15pm to hear Mo and our panel of Modern Managers discuss their experience leading teams in constantly changing environments. RSVP here!

Mo Dezyanian is a seasoned digital strategist, who has spent the past 8 years designing and executing successful digital programs for national and international brands. He established Empathy Inc. an agile marketing agency to help brands navigate the media space in a digital world. Today, with a team of hand-picked top-notch freelance talent, he brings blue-chip strategies to his clients and helps them hack digital media.

 

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Modern Managers learn by doing. And sometimes that means we get burned. I sat down with Mo to hear about a time he got burned, what he learned and how he avoids making the same mistake again. 

How Mo Learned from the Burn 🔥

Tell me about a time you were burned in the past. Obviously, working in the high-stress media space, I let my ego get the better of me. I used to be a freelance consultant for ad agencies. I would come in in times of crisis and help solve pressing problems. I’ve helped let go of under performing teams and replaced entire departments with new one to service clients better. In that world I didn’t care if I was burning bridges as long as I was delivering. Naturally, that always came to bite me back.

What did you learn?“Business is personal!”

How did this experience shape the way you handle situations like this as a manager? I’ve named my company Empathy Inc. to remind myself to always be empathetic to the people who work with and for me.

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Meet our Modern Manager Panelists

Modern Managers is happening on November 15th! RSVP here

We’re gearing up for a great panel discussion about leading teams through constantly changing environments on Wed. Nov. 15.

Click on the links below to read more about our panelists and our moderator!

Panelists:

Jen Chow – UX Lead, Shopify

Bronwyn Smith – Chief of Staff and Director of People, Influitive

Mo Dezyanian – President, Empathy Inc.

John Bardawill – Managing Director, TMG International 

And, meet our Moderator, Bryan Rusche!

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Meet our Modern Manager Panelists | Jen Chow

Join us on Wednesday, November 15th at 6:15pm to hear Jen and our panel of Modern Managers discuss their experience leading teams in constantly changing environments. RSVP here !

jenn chowJen’s passion has been to help companies make smarter business decisions, grounded in customer needs. Her hybrid business and people-centred design background led her to establish the Design Research practice at Nurun Toronto (now Razorfish Toronto). While there, she also consulted to retail clients including Walmart, LCBO, and The Home Depot on digital customer experience. In recent years as a UX Research Lead at Shopify, she built the Toronto UX Research team (from a team of one to six) and developed the team across multiple offices (Montreal, Waterloo, Ottawa), enabling the company to maintain a people-centred focus as it scaled quickly. Her current focus as a UX Lead is on working with teams to design, develop, and deliver products that make it easier for entrepreneurs to market their businesses effectively.

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Modern Managers learn by doing. And sometimes that means we get burned. I sat down with Jen to hear about a time she got burned, what she learned and how she avoids making the same mistake again.

How Jen Learned from the Burn 🔥

Tell me about a time you were burned in the past. I incorrectly assessed the skills of a team member when I hired them, and it meant that we had to have some difficult conversations about their skills development and compensation expectations.

What did you learn?I learned that interviews don’t always lead to an accurate assessment of skills and experience for UX Research candidates.

How did this experience shape the way you handle situations like this as a manager? When we interview UX Research candidates now, we almost always ask for work samples/deliverables or case studies as a way to evaluate research fundamentals and communication skills. We also have candidates complete a case study interview so we can better evaluate their approach to research in a project-based setting.

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Meet our Modern Manager Panelists | Bronwyn Smith

Join us on Wednesday, November 15th at 6:15pm to hear Bronwyn and our panel of Modern Managers discuss their experience leading teams in constantly changing environments. RSVP here !

As Chief of Staff & Director of Talent, Bronwyn Smith serves as the right hand to Influitive’s Founder and CEO, Mark Organ, and heads up Influitive’s Talent department. A large part of Bronwyn’s day-to-day job is helping to set the strategic direction of Influitive and managing the company through change. Previously, Bronwyn was a management consultant at Bain & Company. She also consulted for Airbnb on their Host-Growth and Operations team. When not strategizing, Bronwyn can often be found traveling the world.

 

 

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Modern Managers learn by doing. And sometimes that means we get burned. I sat down with Bronwyn to hear about a time she got burned, what she learned and how she avoids making the same mistake again. 

How Bronwyn Learned from the Burn 🔥

Tell me about a time you were burned in the past. I’ve had to manage teams and companies through many large change initiatives. The biggest mistake I’ve made is underestimating how much communication is required anytime change is announced. Anytime a change initiative has not gone as planned is when not enough time and effort was put into crafting and developing the change strategy. This can lead to fear, chaos, and ultimately the change not being adopted by the company/employees.

What did you learn? As much time is required to think through how you execute change, than is required to come up with the strategy. For large scale changes, communicate many times – 7 or more! It sounds like a lot, but the bigger the change, the more you need to repeat yourself to make sure everyone understands and is bought in.

How did this experience shape the way you handle situations like this as a manager? It’s helpful to get a third part to look over your change plans. They can often see spot blinds spots in what you are saying or how you are delivering the change.

 

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Meet our Modern Manager Panelists | John Bardawill

Join us on Wednesday, November 15th at 6:15pm to hear John and our panel of Modern Managers discuss their experience leading teams in constantly changing environments. RSVP here!

John Bardawill is the Managing Director of TMG International, where he helps clients translate marketing, customer experience and change initiatives into meaningful action across their organizations. He has also worked extensively with organizations around the world including Europe, Asia and Australia.

He’s the Chairperson of the Canadian Marketing Association’s Customer Experience Council, is on the Board of Directors of the Child Development Institute, loves the leafs and used to be in a rock band. Boom.

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Modern Managers learn by doing. And sometimes that means we get burned. I sat down with John to hear about a time he got burned, what he learned and how he avoids making the same mistake again.

How John Learned from the Burn 🔥

Tell me about a time you were burned in the past. As a consultant, you’re often relying on long chains of approval to bring your strategies and projects to life. And if any part of that chain is skipped during development, it can have far-reaching implications in the final hour. That’s what happened during my very first consulting assignment. The team and I were tasked with launching high speed internet for Rogers. One week before the launch, Ted Rogers himself decided he didn’t like the name we wanted to brand the product with. The work had all been done, and the brand name was plastered everywhere!  But the decision wasn’t exactly up for debate so we had to go back and make sure every single mention of the name was updated. 

What did you learn? I learned how important it is to manage the decision process proactively. If key decision makers aren’t brought in at the right times through a project lifecycle, it can totally throw off deadlines, priorities and most importantly, motivation.

How did this experience shape the way you handle situations like this as a manager? Things like this happen in consulting – and lots of project-based businesses. In situations like this I believe it’s important to get the whole team in one room to re-align to the new priorities and timelines. First give them time to vent; they need to get their frustration off their chest. Then, make a plan to get the work done and make sure everyone’s aligned before you leave the room. 

 

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Meet our Modern Manager Panelists | Pansy Lee

Join us on Wed. Sep. 27 for a lively conversation about how to motivate employees in the modern workplace. Learn more and RSVP here

This week we’ve been profiling the panelists for our next Modern Manager meetup. Next up, Pansy Lee! Head over to our blog to meet the rest of the panelists, and our moderator.

Pansy’s natural curiosity has led to some pretty diverse passions. Tech, design, complex spreadsheets, restoring furniture, women in tech and the list goes on. It has also led to a diverse career path. Over the past 15 years, she has held marketing and sales positions at Microsoft, IBM, Deloitte and was the Director of Product at RL Solutions, a patient safety software company. She is currently a Principal Product Designer at Intuit working hard to help people live financially well.
Favourite 1:1 Question: How are things (at home, with your partner, with your kids, etc)?

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How Pansy Learned from the Burn 🔥

Modern Managers learn by doing. And sometimes that means we get burned. I sat down with Pansy to hear about a time she got burned, what she learned and how she avoids making the same mistake again: 

Tell me about a time you were burned in the past. I had a person on my team who was consistently producing low quality work. I tried to treat the “symptom” of low performance with skills based exercises to try and boost performance. For months I kept trying to keep them on this improvement track with little success. When I finally sat down to understand what was going on, I realized that they weren’t performing because they weren’t motivated by what they were doing and so they weren’t putting in the effort to do a good job. In the end it was because they didn’t understand how what they were doing mattered in the grand scheme of the project. 

What did you take away from that experience? Low performance is sometimes linked to lack of motivation and it’s easy to think that putting someone on a performance improvement plan will solve the problem. Everyone wants to do meaningful work. No matter how menial the task people need to understand why it’s important.

How do you avoid making the same mistake again? I rarely start a 1:1 meeting talking about work these days. I take the time to ask about their personal life and how they’re feeling about work in general. Taking the time to care about them as a whole person helps to uncover why they have been unmotivated. Sometimes it’s work related, sometimes it’s something going on in their personal life.

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Meet our Modern Manager Panel Moderator | Bryan Rusche

Join us on Wed. Nov. 15th for a lively conversation about how to lead in constantly changing environments. Learn more and RSVP here

Now that you’ve had a chance to meet some of our panelists, Jen Chow, Bronwyn Smith, Mo Dezyanian and John Bardawill, it’s time to meet our fearless moderator – Bryan Rusche!

Bryan is the Director of Marketing at SoapBox. 

Over the last fifteen years, Bryan has held positions in sales, business development and marketing within the technology industry. Prior to SoapBox, Bryan worked at Softchoice, Microsoft and Dell where he led several major campaigns and product launches.

Favourite one-on-one question: “What’s the thing that made you happiest this week and the thing that frustrated you the most this week?”

 

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How Bryan Learned from the Burn 🔥

Modern Managers learn by doing. And sometimes that means we get burned. I sat down with Bryan to hear about a time he got burned, what he learned and how he avoids making the same mistake again: 

Tell me about a time you were burned in the past. My mind goes to dealing with compensation challenges in my old job. It was just a messy situation that wouldn’t go away. It was a cluster because of corporate policies and the makeup of my team. Some came from sales and others from marketing, some from outside. So there was quite a big range of salaries. There were ceilings and policies on giving raises. Then there was a decision to move to a bonus structure on a metric no one liked. It was a lot of headaches and super demotivating for the team, but I was quite limited with what I could adjust. There was what I thought was fair, what the individuals on my team thought they deserved and then there was reality…

What did you take away from that experience? I learned that transparency and open, honest communication goes a long way. And the reality that old habits die really hard was reinforced. Sometimes smart people do dumb things just because that’s the way it was done before.

How do you avoid making the same mistake again? There’s not a lot I could have done differently to fix that situation. I think I learned that my approach to tackle problems head on with honest, open conversations does work. It builds trust and when people are frustrated, you need trust. I would say that if I owned my own company, I think one of the things I’d try to reinvent is compensation models and policies. Despite so many studies that variable comp. is not motivating, we still use it. I get that sometimes it’s needed to de-risk a P&L. But then call it out. Don’t call it performance based pay. There is no fair way to pay for performance and it causes more problems than benefits in my opinion. Pay people what they’re worth on the market and motivate them with purpose and growth, not with money and incentives.

 

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Meet our Modern Manager Panelists | Sam Brennand

Join us on Wed. Sep. 27 for a lively conversation about how to motivate employees in the modern workplace. Learn more and RSVP here

In this series of posts, we’ll be shining the spotlight on our expert panelists for the event. Next up, Sam Brennand! Head over to our blog to meet the rest of the panelists, and our moderator.

Sam is VP Strategic Partnerships at Uberflip, the world’s #1 content experience platform for B2B marketers. In his four years at Uberflip, Sam has led fast-growing teams in Customer Success and Partnerships that are focused on delivering world class outcomes for Uberflip’s 1,200+ customers.

Prior to joining Uberflip, Sam worked in marketing and sales roles at Microsoft, Telus, and Venture Accelerator Partners.

 

 

Favourite one-on-one question: “What else can I do to help you this week?”

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How Sam Learned from the Burn 🔥

Modern Managers learn by doing. And sometimes that means we get burned. I sat down with Sam to hear about a time he got burned, what he learned and how he avoids making the same mistake again: 

Tell me about a time you were burned in the past. Like most managers, I’ve been burned by the loss of a talented employee. This particular employee was the very definition of a high performer: creative, passionate, innovative, a strong leader, and hard working. Ultimately, they ended up leaving Uberflip to pursue another opportunity they perceived to offer better career trajectory. 

What did you take away from that experience? You can’t spend too much time thinking about, planning, and facilitating career path progression for the people on your team. 

How do you avoid making the same mistake again? Constant vigilance! Most managers are incredibly busy and constantly juggling priorities. While it’s tough to do, it’s incredibly important carve out time to focus on career development planning.

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Meet our Modern Manager Panelists | Ivayla Tzvetkova

Join us on Wed. Sep. 27 for a lively conversation about how to motivate employees in the modern workplace. Learn more and RSVP here

In this series of posts, we’ll be shining the spotlight on our expert panelists for the event. Next up, Ivayla Tzvetkova! Head over to our blog to meet the rest of the panelists, and our moderator.

Ivayla has worked with some of the biggest names in banking, IT and tourism – HSCB, CGI, BMO and Expedia, to name a few. After getting her MBA, she went on to manage sales teams around the world – most recently in Italy and New Zealand with Expedia. She’s back home in Toronto and is excited to discover the latest unique design shops and eat the city’s best poke bowls.

Favourite One-on-one question: “How can I help you get to where you want to be?”

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How Ivayla Learned from the Burn 🔥

Modern Managers learn by doing. And sometimes that means we get burned. I sat down with Ivayla to hear about a time she got burned, what she learned and how she avoids making the same mistake again: 

Tell me about a time you were burned in the past. I was brought over from Italy to cover a mat leave and manage a Sales team in NZ. One employee was particularly difficult to manage – her ego outpaced her experience and, although she was super smart, her attitude was toxic. Her and her old manager got along really well, so I figured she’d let up a bit when she’d had time to adjust. Two months went by and nothing changed, so I decided to confront her. By then, her negative feelings toward me had had a chance to fester and we ended up requiring a mediated discussion to sort out our communications issues. Turns out there was a cultural divide in terms of our styles – I tend toward straight-forward exchanges, preferring to create an open environment for my team, but she was more guarded and wanted to keep the relationship at an arm’s length. In the end we worked it out, but the burn was waiting so long to confront the issue. Had we been able to have a transparent conversation about our styles at the first sign of friction, we could have saved a lot of time and frustration.

What did you take away from that experience? After our mediated conversation, and in working with my Director, I realized I was the one who had to adjust my style, and not the other way around. Motivation isn’t a one-size-fits-all thing – even though my style works with a lot of people, it won’t resonate with everyone. It’s my job as the manager to understand what motivates each individual employee, and adjust my style accordingly. This employee didn’t want to build a relationship with me – she needed a task manager. Once that became clear, it was a lot easier to get results.

How do you avoid making the same mistake again? Whenever I start working with a new team, the first thing I do is ask, “How do you like to communicate with your manager?” and “Are there any negative experiences you’ve had with managers in the past you’d like to avoid?” By confronting any points of friction right away, we’re able to quickly work through any differences and move right to getting results!