One of the most critical responsibilities I have at InfoEd (aside from making sure everyone gets paid) is assembling a great team. The team we all call InfoEd. The greatness of this team has become very clear to me over the past few weeks.
We just returned from a national conference, PRIM&R, in San Diego. The conference was an amazing success for us. Our team managed to draw 80% or more of the entire traffic through the exhibition area to our booths! Considering the number of other vendors (about 30 or 40 others) exhibiting, that is quite a feat. At busy times of the day, there were lines formed of people waiting to see our systems and engage with our team. We had a booth next to the SRA team and they actually wanted a video of the “InfoEd Phenomenon” which they got; the last thing I heard was they wanted to post it on their Facebook page. At several points, other vendors were abandoning their booths and hanging out at ours! Not only were they enjoying us and our encounters with the attendees, they were also wondering “Why InfoEd?” Why are they (InfoEd) drawing all the traffic? What are they doing that we are not
We had very similar experiences this year at NCURA. Lines and crowds at our booths; disproportional to the rest of the room by a landslide. We could not begin to absorb the attention we were getting. Like PRIM&R word spread and people were seeking us out. Five or six people deep when the breaks between sessions occurred. Lines of 30 people in some cases. What was the draw? Why InfoEd?
What is InfoEd’s Secret Sauce?
As I pondered these reactions to us I also started looking at the rest of the InfoEd team. I started recalling other things that were happening now that were not years ago. Things happening now in ways that have not happened before. For example each year we sponsor a family in need at the Holidays. It is really humbling when kids are asking for towels and clothes instead of video games. I was always somewhat disappointed why in years past we would collect more money from the company to buy lottery tickets (we will play when the jackpots get large) than we would collect for these families we adopted at holiday time. This year that was certainly not the case.
We also used to have a bit of an overflow of empty soda cans. We have a nice benefit here called “The Soda fridge” that is always stocked with free soda/seltzer for anyone to drink. As a result we have lots of empty cans around. Barrels full. It used to be somewhat of a problem dealing with all these empty cans BUT we don’t have that problem anymore. When I inquired why this problem went away, I discovered that one of our team members was taking the cans, and the resulting money from the deposits was being given to a charity.
Then I heard of another story of a few InfoEd members, who mobilized their friends to chip in and get a disabled child a computer which the family could not afford. This was not a toy but instead something that would help them tremendously with the development of this handicapped child. The InfoEd’ers made it happen.
I also discovered a different InfoEd member is a co-founder of an organization which rescues abused and abandoned dogs and helps to find them loving homes. This takes tremendous commitment and time, time which can be very difficult to find with the demands of the work we do.
Then it clicked for me. What the InfoEd secret sauce is. It is AMAZING PEOPLE!.
A few years ago I read a book called Blink by Malcolm Gladwell. The book deals with several things but one of the key tones of the book is trusting your instincts. What they are. Why they are there and what they can do for you. Trust your gut. It gave me the assurance I needed to do what I always wanted to do. Trust my gut.
I used to ignore it. Especially when interviewing people. I used to focus on their resume, how they spoke and handled themselves. I used to just see people show up and not have any idea who hired them and for what. I now insist on meeting everyone before InfoEd chooses to bring them into the team. You have to look through their suits and ties and get to the real them. You need to see their essence. Feel who they are. This is not about profiling. This is not about snap judgments. This is about seeing the real them and listening to your instincts. They are there for a reason. I have learned to listen to them and not just the resumes and how each candidates all claim to be fast learners and hard workers.
The things I look for are honesty, conviction, and character. I probe them with outside-of-the-box questions and scenarios, asking them what they do not do well and seeing how they react and answer. I ask them to describe things they consider themselves experts in, especially in their personal life and hobbies outside of the workplace. Once these probing questions break through the interview shell and pull them out of their interview comfort zone, you get to see the real person and character.
As a result, I firmly believe we have assembled the strongest team we have ever had here at InfoEd. We now have people who care more. We have people who work together and not in their own self interests. They are more dedicated and more committed to InfoEd’s mission and the clients we serve. Bottom line is they care and get the job done and are all too eager to please. They put in the time and effort needed to move us forward. The result of this process is illustrated by the attraction, even by strangers, to us as demonstrated at these conferences. They pick up on the positive vibe we foster.
Here at InfoEd, we all make each other better people, challenge each other and I am proud to have each and every one as part of our team. People are so important. They are the most important resource you have when you operate a business. They shape not only the image and tone of the company but also the work that comes out of it. These are not only great people who you can admire but people you are proud to work alongside of. So trust your gut. It’s an invaluable tool that we all too often ignore. If you are like me you can recall many times in your life when you made a decision that contradicted your instincts and regretted it.
Now you know the ingredients of the InfoEd secret Sauce!