Employee Experience for Consultants: How to Help Your Team Thrive with Kalyn Ponti: Podcast #307

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“When people are financially invested, they want a return. When people are emotionally invested, they want to contribute.” – Simon Sinek.

Investing in your team and providing them with a great experience will drive them to perform better. In this episode, Kalyn Ponti, the CEO of Humankind, sprinkles her expertise on how consulting firm owners improve the employee experience for them to thrive in your firm. When leaders develop and nourish a positive company culture, it ripples into your firm and will grow your business. KP poured her heart into their purpose and became the catalyst for their expansion. Start investing in your employees today, and you’ll see the magic it will bring to your firm tomorrow.

In this episode, you’ll learn how to:

  • Integrate Enterprise-Level Strategies into Your Boutique Consulting Firm
  • Professionalize Your Operations to Pave the Way for Scalable Growth
  • Develop and Nourish a Positive Company Culture
  • Emphasize Purpose-Driven Goals as a Critical Catalyst for Business Expansion
  • Utilize Three Key Strategies KP Employs to Scale Her Consulting Business
  • Leverage Video Testimonials as an Effective Tool for Winning New Customers

Joining Michael on the show is Kalyn Ponti. Kalyn is the CEO of Humankind, an employee experience consultancy dedicated to creating workplace cultures where employees thrive. Her clientele spans a diverse range of sectors, including businesses, public organizations, and not-for-profits primarily in New Zealand. Prior to becoming the CEO of this company, she served as the Director of Aritzia in Canada.

What you’re going to read in this discussion between Kalyn, otherwise referred to as KP in this episode, and Michael is the focus on the challenges of scaling your consulting firm. Many founders find it difficult to grow their businesses for various reasons. A common obstacle is the struggle to manage a growing team, especially if you’re more comfortable dealing with a small staff.

The good news is that becoming a great leader and scaling a team and business can be learned. The Consulting Success team is here to help you overcome those challenges. If you want to work directly with the Consulting Success team and receive personalized coaching and support to optimize and grow your consulting business, marketing, and revenue, visit ConsultingSuccess.com/Grow to learn more and apply.

Let me tell you a little bit more about what you’re going to learn in this episode. The first is how to integrate enterpriselevel strategies into your consulting firm, how to professionalize your operations to pave the way for scalable growth, how to develop and nourish a positive company culture, how to emphasize purpose-driven goals as a critical catalyst for business expansion, three key strategies KP employs to scale her consulting business, and how to leverage video testimonials as an effective tool for gaining new customers. Here to share with you her full story and insights is the amazing Kalyn Ponti. Enjoy.

KP, welcome.

Thanks for having me.

Im excited for our conversation. Before doing what you’re doing now, you were with a company called Aritzia, which those in Canada will likely be familiar with, and now more people in the US as well. It’s very much a growing fashion brand with about $2 billion in sales now. You were in the senior leadership team in Vancouver, and now you transitioned. Youre located in Wellington, New Zealand. You’re the CEO of an HR consulting firm there called Humankind. Back up and hit the rewind button a little bit. How did you go from having a senior leadership position in a company that ended up going public in the Toronto Stock Exchange to ending up in New Zealand now as a CEO of a consulting business? I know there’s a lot in there but how do you decide to make that transition?

It’s not one thing. My husband is a Kiwi. We were living in Canada, and then we made the decision to move. It’s a familiar story. I love being here in New Zealand. There are a couple of transitions from Aritzia to Humankind. For any of your audiences that aren’t as familiar with Aritzia, it is the premier fashion retailer in Canada. It’s growing in the US. It’s about $2 billion in revenue. It has about 120 locations and a strong eCommerce business in Canada. Michael and I were swapping stories about many days sitting on the couch while family members were shopping at Aritzia.

The secret sauce behind Aritzia’s infamous client experience was one thing. It was always the employee experience and the culture. There, I was responsible for a big portion of the company’s revenue. There were a couple of us in that position. Some of my peers were very focused from a people standpoint. Some took more of a product or merchandise lens to it but for me, it was all about the people.

When I moved to New Zealand, a mutual friend introduced me to Humankind’s Founder, Samantha Gadd, and said, “You’ve got so many things in common. It’s that intersection and the relationship that employee experience places on performance.” We met and hit it off. I was the first person to join Humankind who didn’t have a traditional HR background but it then it all came from there. I joined the team and then started working with Sam closely on the business. She and I have very complimentary skillsets, and the rest is history.

I was on a podcast with a podcast host based in the Netherlands. She asked me the question, “Is it possible for the CEO or the person leading a consulting business to be successful if they haven’t had consulting experience or experience delivering consulting?” I shared my observations on that. Most of the time, somebody in a leadership position, at least in a smaller boutique consulting firm, tends to be somebody who has come through delivery and worked as a consultant but you are a shining star or an exception to that.

You had a lot of corporate experience building business and so forth and a lot of human resources experience but not necessarily as a consultant. You were internal but now you’re the CEO of Humankind. I’m wondering. What’s your observation or your thoughts about that in terms of not having the consulting experience but still bringing very relevant experience to that role for others who might be thinking about bringing a CEO into their consulting business? What are your thoughts on that?

My initial thought is that shining star is probably a bit generous but thank you. I think favorably of it because I love my job and we’re fortunate that we’re humming but for me, it’s about building teams. We start from the position of employee experience. We look at client experience and then we also look at financial sustainability. That’s very much how we look at Humankind.

Those concepts are not exclusive to a consulting environment if you’re understanding what your clients want and what problems need to be solved. If you have an amazing team of different strengths that are galvanized around a united purpose and share similar values, then you understand the financial levers that enable investment into employee experience and client experience, and all of those things work together. It’s all transferable and you get to learn a few new things. I’ve done that too.

To take Humankind to the next level, it’s through people and storytelling. Click To Tweet

Talk about that part for a moment. What stood out for you the most that you did not have a very clear grasp on, or you didn’t have the experience in that you felt you had to spend more time learning? Was there one area that was a little bit more challenging? There was a bit of a gap there that you need to fill in when you assume that role.

The first one that comes to mind is even for my leadership when we’re identifying that we need to make a change or a shift to take Humankind or our organization to the next level. I’ve had to learn that you do that through a couple of lenses. It’s through people and the storytelling, and also, we need to make it systemically. I found that in consulting, that’s important because, in my role as CEO, I also have to come through the financial lens and the commercial lens.

I’m intuitively thinking about those financial levers when we’re making pricing decisions, managing projects, looking at which service lines and billing methods are most profitable, sharing stories, and then learning that we have to build that into our systems so it’s foolproof as well. I had to learn that the hard way but we have focused on that. We look at those things through both of those angles of people, storytelling, coaching, learning, and then building the systems that enable that.

Did Samantha, the founder of Humankind, have the role that you have now before you came on? Was there somebody else in that position?

That was Sam. She was the founder and CEO. She’s very much a visionary and a great thought leader in the world for employee experience. She’s taking that on a global scale. She led the world’s first employee experience manifesto with a number of leaders around the world, which is awesome to participate in. We work together closely and complement each other so well. She was the person to take Humankind to that phase, and then I was the right person to professionalize the business and grow it to the next phase.

Can you talk a little bit about that? Not to put words into Samantha’s mouth but from what you’ve experienced and what you’ve observed. I’m asking specifically for the founder. They have taken it to a certain level. What was going on inside of the business that you think Samantha started to see or recognized that helped to identify that she wasn’t the right person to take the company to that next level, or that she wanted to make a shift? What were some of those dynamics that people might want to be looking for or paying attention to?

First of all, one of the things that works well for both Sam and me is we both do quite a bit of work. We’re both self-aware of where each of our strengths are, and she has a ton of strengths that I don’t as well. I keep saying we’re complementary. At Humankind, we’re at a point in the business where we had all of the ingredients of an amazing team and an amazing brand early to market years ago, leading employee experience when everyone was still talking about HR and all of those things. Financially, the pieces weren’t coming together. The results weren’t there. We needed a bit more focus even internally on some of our pieces and how we were experimenting and living those things.

It’s very difficult to be fully outward-facing and fully inward-facing at the same time. It worked because I was already in the business and naturally looking that way. We organically started to work together on closing that financial gap and some of the internal pieces. Once we started closing the gap, it was like, “We all need to get playing to our strengths here.” That was one of the most pivotal things that we did. We switched roles. I took on the general management and Sam was out in the market, which she’s phenomenal at. Another colleague, Jenny, did that.

What I’m hearing you share is the business had grown to a certain level with a lot of wonderful ingredients but there were certain aspects of some process, system, formalization, or professionalization of the business where there were benefits and experiences that you had. By coming in, you could bring some of those things together. Rather than focusing only on the internals of the business all the time, Samantha is able to get out into the market more or shine a spotlight on some areas that she has a strength in and probably formally couldn’t spend as much time focused on those areas as she would have liked to. Is that accurate?

That’s completely accurate. Originally, Sam was still in the business at Humankind when I was in the CEO role. Now, Sam has another excellent business that she’s working on. Sam is a director. It was learning as well. We doubled down on our internal employee experience as you can imagine. It was always quite good but we doubled down on that and brought together employee experience, client experience, and financials so that they all work in unison.

CSP Kalyn Ponti | Employee Experience

How many people are at Humankind?

We’ve got 23 permanent employees, and then we’ve got a team of associates or contractors as well across the country.

This is a very big difference. When you look at before Artizia, you’re talking about a lot more employees compared to 23. I don’t know what the number is. When you talk about bringing in the focus around the employee experience and the culture, what did you focus on when you came into this role and saw the opportunities to make some adjustments and tighten things up a little bit around that culture and employee side of things?

Can you offer 1 or 2 specific examples of something that you did that was applicable to a company of 23 full-time people? Oftentimes, when you hear about culture work and values work, it’s at a much larger scale, which for somebody who’s running a company of between 5 and 20 people, give or take, doesn’t necessarily feel like it applies as much to them. I would love to hear 1 or 2 things that you did that you have found to be helpful.

To be clear, there’s so much good that was already happening. It was recognizing the next phase of the business, “This is what’s needed.” The first one was getting each of us playing to our strengths. That was pivotal.

Can you elaborate on that? When you say, “Each of us playing to our strengths,” what might that look like in a bit more detail?

The biggest one is what I was talking about. It was Sam being market-focused and me bringing all those pieces together, leading the internal employee experience and financial sustainability, and then building out some of those processes. We had one of our colleagues, Jenny Williams, who was leading the client experience, a couple of strong directors, Charlotte Bates and Ilze, and a wonderful team. That was probably the biggest piece. That relates to the founder bringing in a CEO or other leadership positions. Our biggest learning is reflecting on what are you good at.

This is very timely for many people. Did this trickle down to other levels inside the organization? Was this a conversation that was had with every employee? Are you working on stuff that gives you energy and that you enjoy? Was it only certain roles that you saw, “Let’s tackle this first and look at other stuff later?” How do you view that? What happened inside as you worked through it?

We started at that level. You need to have alignment at the top to have the chance of alignment everywhere else. That’s the aspiration. The leadership team is the first team to work toward this. That was the main focus. Always, when we are looking at work, the work of our team, and primarily client work but even internal projects, we’re always looking at people’s strengths, the type of work that they want to go into next, and where they get that energy. All of those things go into our resourcing decisions because if you’ve got people doing the work that they love and they’re good at, that is the best outcome for everyone.

From a cultural standpoint, it is getting us playing to our strengths. The next big one was this concept of expectations and reality. For a while there, we were hiring strong HR people and culture, as we would call them at the time, and now employee experience practitioners and recognizing particularly as we grew that consulting skills or attributes were also important.

Employee experience, client experience, and financials all work in unison. Click To Tweet

As we were hiring, onboarding, and training our team, first of all, in that hiring process, we got even clearer about what the realities of consulting are and the expectations. We were hiring for that. Throughout onboarding, our training, and our learning development, not only are we building the skills in the services that we deliver but also in the consulting skills. Lastly, we’re very purpose-driven. We’re galvanized around our purpose. We’re making sure we spend a lot of time connecting all of our work to that purpose and the bigger picture on a regular basis.

Connecting the purpose is something that you bring up consistently. You often hear that one of the big roles of a leader is to drive the values, get them ingrained inside the company as the purpose and the mission, and almost repeat them over and over. Is that something that you’re bringing up on a weekly call with team members? How do you bring that to life and connect that? How frequently do you find yourself repeating the same ideas to the team?

We do it every day.

Not every week but every day.

We completely have our purpose baked into everything that we do. It’s in the design. We do organizational performance by design. That’s what we do. When we’re designing our organization, we’re starting with our purpose. Why do we exist? For us, that is to bring humanity to work. When we’re designing roles, we’re very clear about how each role contributes to that purpose.

We have multiple team huddles a week. We’re reflecting on examples of how our purpose was lived. When we are planning and scoping work, we’re considering how are we contributing to our purpose through the delivery of this work. When we’re doing retros, which mostly happen and is something that we need to get better at doing consistently, we’re reflecting on that. We had an all-team day. We had clients come in and they shared stories. I had couch conversations about the difference that our work has made among other things. Those are some of the ways that we do that.

You have a lot of experience and expertise across the different companies. What do you see and have experienced in terms of mistakes that people make when they’re trying to get that culture, the values, and the purpose and get everybody aligned? Where do you typically see people falling or missing something critical to being successful with this?

First of all, acknowledge it’s hard. That includes ourselves. We have slip-ups. That’s part of it.

Can you give an example? I’m not trying to throw you under the bus here but you can make that a little bit more tangible. When you say a slip-up, what might that look like?

This should be relatable to the audience. Let’s say we’ve got a piece of work or a client that’s starting to rub with our values but there are other pressures around that, “We need the work. We want the work. We’re already so interested in it. We have committed,” and things like that. There could be so many reasons. At some point, we need to make a call around alignment with our values. There are times when we have let that go too far. We have had to go back, reflect on that, learn from it, and own it. It’s something that we have gotten better at but I’m sure that’s relatable.

CSP Kalyn Ponti | Employee Experience

How do you handle that? Typically, the thought process there is, “We should have dealt with this earlier,” but then when it happens again if somebody still is in that position where that’s a nice piece of business that would help with our cashflow, what’s your lesson learned there or the policy of how you handle that going forward? I recognize it’s not necessarily always going to be 100% but is there a certain way that you handle that situation going forward, learning what you’ve experienced to this point?

The honest answer is after a few years on the court, you learn in the long-term that it’s not worth it because people start to lose trust in leadership. At the end of the day, we’re so lucky. Our team is so galvanized around the work that we do but people’s personal values and integrity are worth so much. If it starts to impact their personal well-being at times, people aren’t going to stick around for that. As a leader, I had to learn that the hard way. It’s also a values thing for us. We don’t want that for our team.

In terms of how we approach it, our team leads the work with their clients. They’re closest to it. They have the most information. They’re very involved in those decisions. I or a member of the leadership team have additional context, whether that be financial or context around some of the bigger pictures that we will bring in. Whenever we’re making a decision, we tend to look at three things. We look at the data and the financials. We’ve got those observations, and then we usually loop in to get some feedback from other people.

I was thinking as you were sharing. Have I ever met someone who said, “I’m so glad that we kept working with that paininthebackside client.” It’s never worth it. How do you spend your typical day or typical week now in this role of chief executive in a team of 24 or so full-time? What’s the breakdown of that? Can you give me a sense of how you’re spending your typical week or day?

It looks very different every week. It’s first and foremost our team. We have a fundamental belief in the relationship between employees and performance and a belief that work should be an enhancing experience, not extractive. Services is a people business. I look at it as the team, culture, strategy, and then financial. We have an amazing team. The team takes care of our clients. I love spending time with our clients as well, building relationships, understanding what their challenges are, brainstorming, and bringing those insights back to the team. The three things that I focus on are our team, finance, and strategy.

Do you find that it’s most effective to have that free flow where every day or every week might be different? Are you structuring at the beginning of the week knowing, for example, every Monday and Friday is for this, and Tuesday and Wednesday are for this? Do you have a structure that you use consistently or is it more free-flowing?

I like structure. I do block out time in my calendar. A small habit that has been game-changing for me is blocking out working time. On Fridays, I tend to do more deep work and thinking time. I make sure I block time aside for each of those areas. Also, I’ve got time that I can be available for people to unblock things, soundboard, or work through things together. Sometimes I’m able to keep that, and sometimes it doesn’t happen but that system works well.

You used the word system. That’s exactly what I was going to ask you because it does sound like you have either some technology or structure in place to review performance, look at how things are going, and then adjust based on that. What are some of the systems or tools that you find are critical to business operation to be able to run it in the way that you want?

In addition to getting us into the right roles for our strength, this is one of the pivotal changes that we made. We use a New Zealand-based time-recording system and project management system. We’ve got a plugin that helps us get insights. We have built that. We have invested quite a bit to get that, and that helps us. We’re able to look at an organizational level, team level, individual level, service line level, billing method, and all the utilization margins. That informs the decisions that we make. It’s not only driven by that. We are probably going to switch over to another great New Zealand program called Projectworks. I think you know Matt. They’ve got fantastic capabilities around forecasting, resourcing, insights, and a lot of what we have custom-built. They’ve got a lot of that capability, and we value that.

Are there any other systems or tools that you’re using that are integral to the business?

If you have people doing the work they love and are good at, that is the best outcome for everyone. Click To Tweet

That’s a big one. We’ve got a good CRM system and then our internal communication around our knowledge management. We use the Microsoft suite like SharePoint and Slack. It’s pretty standard but we have deliberately designed our internal operating system and ways of working. We’re quite clear about our rituals, our gatherings, how we communicate, and how we make decisions. We use those to deliver client experience and employee experience in a hybrid and distributed environment. It’s very intentionally designed around keeping people connected to the purpose, still maintaining relationships, removing the friction from people’s roles, allowing growth and learning, and delivering great client experience with financial outcomes too.

Were those already in place before you became involved in the company or is that something that you brought from your past experience?

There were a couple that were in place, which we have maintained. They have a strong part of our history that we also like to carry forward. We have evolved them so much because the world has evolved so much. This is what we’re helping organizations do. A lot of the foundations stay, and a lot of the world of work has completely changed. Those old guardrails and old playbooks don’t work anymore. We’re constantly redesigning those with input from our team, testing, and iterating. We’re doing that as we speak.

From a marketing perspective, where is Humankind finding that you’re able to generate leads or create new opportunities? Whats most effective and working for you in that department?

Honestly, our best is through relationships. New Zealand has this factor in that there are two degrees of separation here but the world is relational. It’s not transactional. In services, you’re working with people that you know and trust. That’s even more important than ever. The work comes through our networks.

I want to push you a little bit more on that. Help me to understand that. It’s relationships and your network but is there something that you or your team are doing to try and cultivate those relationships more? Are you doing some events? Do you have a consistency or frequency where you’re reaching out to people a little bit more tangibly? What are you doing to work more with a network that you have or to create those conversations?

One of the standards is we have our social media. We try to be quite generous in sharing content. We put that out on our LinkedIn. We have a quarterly newsletter that we send out. If there is a big change that people need to know about, particularly in the employment relations space, or something that they should be thinking about, then we make sure that we communicate with all of our clients by email. We’re about to have an event here for our public sector clients. It is looking at leaders of public sector organizations across New Zealand, talking about a couple of topical areas, sharing our learnings, hearing from them, and hopefully providing some useful knowledge there.

Is there anything that you’ve done or tried since you’ve been with the company that didn’t work? Maybe there was a real goal. Tell me about that. What lessons have you learned from things that you’ve tried and that did not create the intended result?

A few years ago, we started up the Employee Experience Awards in New Zealand. The purpose was very much aligned with ours, which was to recognize the best workplaces in the country. It didn’t work that well. It was a combination. For us to do it in a meaningful way, we didn’t want to do an engagement survey. We wanted to get in there and speak to each organization and the employees, and that’s the right thing to do. Commercially, it wasn’t viable to be running a big program or a whole event and be running our consulting business, which is time-intensive in itself. We underestimated that and we’re not doing that anymore. It’s so hard because there’s lots of good about that idea but you have to focus your ideas. It was too time-intensive.

I love hearing that because so often, people think that growth is a result of addition but when you look at some of the most successful companies, professional services, and other times even product-based, it’s through subtraction. What can you remove? By removing something, it’s easier to scale or grow. With the idea now of growing the business and taking things to that next level, it sounds like a big focus has been optimizing, improving, tightening things up, getting some better systems in place, or formalizing some. What are you thinking about or anything you’re actively doing that you feel has the potential to take the business to the next level? What’s top of mind for you there?

CSP Kalyn Ponti | Employee Experience

We are now looking at how we can take on larger engagements. We have proven that we’re able to do that. We’re working in most of the large government departments and a number of the large corporates here in New Zealand. An important context is a lot of boutique consultancies are roots for growth businesses. Those clients will always be very near and dear to our hearts, and we focus there.

We’re focused on working with more of those large corporates as well. We started with people, culture, and employee experience as a service as well as employment relations and leadership. We are now unlocking the potential that exists within the organizational design. We’re working with leaders to help shape and lead their organizations in ways that enable their employees and drive sustained performance.

We’re going beyond structure where we’re looking at things like structure and all the key people frameworks but also helping teams align to that future that we were talking about, cultivate leadership strength, and design their ways of working. A lot of the current systems that the world has in place in the people’s space don’t work anymore. They’re not fit for traditional HR methods. We’ve got a ton of opportunity. We’re doing that with our clients and helping them design through some of this complexity.

When you say you’re focusing more or making adjustments inside of the business so that you can work with larger clients or take on larger contracts and projects, specifically, what have you needed to do to create that ability or that capacity from a people perspective to a systems perspective to your offerings look like? Can you give a little bit more detail about what those changes and shifts have been to be able to go out and win that larger business?

You’ve touched on a number of them. We’re working quite a lot on our services and looking at things in a couple of ways. If we’re doing the large-scale transformation, we’re investing in our service innovation there. We look at that large-scale transformation. We’re also going, “We need meaningful tactics in this one problem.” We’re looking at that big scale and the other because sometimes transformation doesn’t work. Our clients need meaningful change. We’re focused on that service innovation. We have talked about the systems that we have in place around project management and account management. We’re intentionally scaling those up.

Have you needed to also either bring in more people or somehow create more capacity to have more people available to work on projects? What have things looked like there?

We have been doing that over the last couple of years. We’ve got an amazing team now. We’ve got a mix of both permanent employees and a strong contractor base. That allows us to manage the flexibility. We keep our contractors. We call them associates because contractors don’t even feel right. They’re very much a part of our team and integrated. That allows us to manage that flexibility. They’ve got great flexibility as well.

What’s one challenge that you’ve been dealing with inside the business or related to the business that has bled over to personal? Is there anything that you feel has been a real challenge that you’ve had to try and work through or overcome as you’ve been taking all this action inside of the organization?

Many. Which one? We talk about focus. Part of it is the way my brain works and our team. We are all so excited about all of the possibilities. It’s choosing. I reflect on that myself. I’ll be the first person to go, “Let’s do all of these things. We can do it.” My team has also given me feedback on that. We have tried to be more focused on what we’re choosing to do and doing it well.

The reality is that it’s an ongoing conversation. We set them at the beginning of the year and then quarterly. You have to reevaluate them in the middle of the quarter. Frankly, on a weekly basis, context is changing and you’re reevaluating. Part of the art of leadership is making those trade-offs and prioritizing. We have spoken a lot about the relationship between financial sustainability, employee experience, and client experience. For many businesses, you’re balancing all of those things. We’re helping our clients to do that. That pressure is very real. Those are things that we need to juggle as well.

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This might connect to what you mentioned but is there anything that you’re seeing in the current environment or market in terms of buyers, clients cutting budgets, being slower to make decisions, or any challenges in that environment or landscape that you’re having to navigate? If so, I’m wondering if there’s anything specific that you’re doing that you think might be helpful for others to consider or explore themselves.

Here in New Zealand, we are in an election year. It’s looking like we’re probably going into a coalition, which means that those negotiations will take time. One of the hottest topics of conversation is around spend on government employees and consultants. About 35% of our revenue comes from our public sector clients. That has an impact on us but we have good relationships and our team cares deeply about the work that we do.

We have been able to build up a bit of a war chest so that if we need to ride out any of those periods, we can but equally, we’re keeping in contact and helping them where we can. We mentioned that we’re having that event to share and use this time as an opportunity to do that and focus on our services, and then away we go. It’s very much about the long term.

That’s long-term thinking. You’re planting those seeds, continuing to give value, and focusing on the relationship. Is there anything that you’ve had to do or that you’re thinking that you may need to do on a short-term perspective to try and manage some of the choppiness or uncertainty in the marketplace?

We’re not in a position where we’re making big drastic changes or anything like that but that was a very deliberate decision to make decisions to manage our business so that we can recognize that’s hard to do. It’s important. The other thing that might be relevant here is our work in culture and employee experience. On one hand, it’s needed more than ever because of these big shifts, talent shortages, and so forth. If there are companies that are making cuts, it might be one of the earlier places that they make compared to their accountants or other services. We’re focused on crystallizing the outcomes, the value, and how we communicate that which is difficult in our space. Some are obvious, and the connection isn’t as obvious in some places. That’s something that we’re doing.

You’re hitting on something that will resonate with many people. It’s not like you’re going in and helping a company to increase its sales. It’s not a direct correlation or connection as that. Is there anything that you’ve done that you’ve found to be helpful in further demonstrating the value or the connection, “This work is not going to increase your sales or profitability directly but here’s the business case for those who might work in areas where the value at first appears to be more intangible rather than tangible.” How do you approach that or any best practices that you bring into those conversations or use in your communications to the marketplace?

There are two. One is explicitly making the links. It’s so much more than this but for us, it might be the ability to attract people and retain people or engagement scores. We can do that and then link that to financial performance or other levers that people might care about.

For example, if you attract the right people or retain them, there’s a cost and data out there to show the cost of bringing in a new executive. There’s a business case you could make around that.

We’re very excited to see that organizations are being held by their boards to more than financial metrics. We can help in those areas. More leaders are understanding the role that organizations play and the importance of these things. We’re helping make those connections. The second is this. The reality is a lot of ours is also qualitative. It’s storytelling. We’re focused on getting the testimonials, the stories, and the case studies in different ways. The thing I would love to do is to be able to get those. We’re working on video testimonials. There’s some good software out there that does that.

If it’s helpful, we have done a lot with video testimonials over the years. It’s so great. You will probably have an opportunity coming up when you bring some clients together for that event. If you have a videographer there, it’s a good opportunity to pull people aside, ask some questions, and get that. There are some different tools that you can use for video testimonials as well. That’s great.

CSP Kalyn Ponti | Employee Experience

KP, I appreciate you sharing all this. Before I let you hop off, I would love to ask you two final questions. The first is this. You’re in a role where there’s a lot going on. As a leader or somebody in the position that you’re in with that number of team members, you have a lot happening. Are there 1 or 2 things that you find are critical to your performance that allow you to function, produce, and be effective in your role in terms of a daily habit that helps you to be centered, create more energy, or achieve the level that you would like? Is there anything that comes to mind that you do on a regular basis?

Many. My health is important to me. That’s a personal value. Even when I’m pretty busy and I’ll be cranking, it has to take a lot for me to miss a morning run or a yoga practice. That’s biological and everything, and then also it’s a value. I feel good about that decision. I’m starting in a good space. The next is making sure I’m getting a good time with my team. We’ve got an awesome team. It’s being able to soundboard, share ideas, work with them, and be the leader that I need to be for them.

Lastly, it’s having a strong peer network as well to share ideas, soundboard, challenge, and even share tactics. I’ve got a number of groups that I work with on different things, whether it be scaling or other professional services and CEOs where we’re going, “What are you doing on these negotiations? What rates are you doing?” It’s helpful because you need to be able to lift out and share ideas.

Finally, what’s one book that you have read or listened to in the last few months or so? It could be fiction or nonfiction but it’s something that you enjoyed and you think others might find interesting as well.

One that maybe the audience hasn’t heard of and that we’re big fans of here at Humankind is a book called Belonging by Owen Eastwood. Owen Eastwood is a New Zealander originally. He was part of the coaching team that turned around the All Blacks, which is not only the best rugby team in the world but one of the best teams in the world. He draws on the concepts of Te Ao M?ori, which is the M?ori worldview, our indigenous group here in New Zealand.

It’s connecting purpose to a collective story, what’s sacred, and what’s not sacred. It applies those to performance. He coaches a number of premier sports teams and large corporates around the world in that space. I highly recommend Belonging by Owen Eastwood. I’m reading a book called When McKinsey Comes to Town. Check that out for the consultants.

I’ll take a look at both of those. Belonging will go on the Amazon list right after this. I’ll check both of them. KP, thanks much for coming here. I appreciate your time. I enjoyed the conversation. Thank you again.

Thanks, Michael.

There you have it for the episode between Michael and KP. If you want to help support the show, you can do so by heading over to Apple Podcasts where you will have a chance to leave a rating and review. Ratings and reviews truly help this show grow and get it in front of more consultants like you. If you want to work directly with the Consulting Success team to receive personalized coaching and support to optimize and grow your consulting business, marketing, and revenue, be sure to visit ConsultingSuccess.com/Grow to learn more and apply. That’s the end of the line for us. We will be back with another amazing episode. Until next time.

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