It was a vision to find leaders who wanted to be the next Best & Brightest® employer while providing support to growing businesses facing a myriad of workforce challenges. Thus, that led Nicole Martin leave her corporate career and establish HRBoost, LLC in the year 2010.
By 2012, she realized she needed a team. With 50% growth year over year, it became clear HR outsourcing was not HR as she knew it and HRBoost had found a niche. By 2013, her company had a solid team and when she looked across a table to see all those that worked for her, she became the Chief Empowerment Officer. Let’s find out more about her inspiring journey through an interview conducted between Nicole and CIO Look. Below are the highlights of the interview:
What were the challenges you came across since founding the organization?
I think the initial challenges of being a CEO are many. One is needing human capital and financial capital to scale and grow. Many will not grow because they are not investing in talent and often it is the CEO’s job to bear debt. I made a calculated risk to invest in my talent and invest in my bench strength. In the early years, I was reacting to my business and as a mother and wife it can be a challenge to orchestrate work life integration. I look back and realize that when I put down a process, hired capable talent, and disappeared to let them work, the process proved through; and now, we can do it again, and again, and again. You must trust the people you hire, and you must trust the process. When it is time to take a calculated risk, you invest and do what you can to increase the odds.
What people, what books, what life factors have influenced and impacted you?
I have been fortunate to work with many wonderful people throughout my career. I love to read and learn but I found through the five years I interviewed leaders on my online show, HR in the Fast Lane, as well as through traveling and speaking to diverse audiences and C Suite leaders in business, I have learned so much from the shared exchange across industry. It isn’t just one book, or one person that brought me to where I am. It is a tapestry of my life to date. I do live by one quote however and that is “Presence is more than just being Present”. Whenever I get a hectic feeling, I need only say this to myself and it brings me back to the present moment with my mind, body, and soul.
What is your thought on the necessity of a positive work culture?
In what ways do you implement it at your organization? If you do not have a positive work culture, talent will not tolerate it for long. Creating a culture conversation takes rigor where two-way exchange is fostered and upheld. We were recognized as a Best & Brightest® company to work for in Chicago before the pandemic. Regardless, any organization committed to excellence knows culture can change with every promotion, hire, or termination. Put separation and a pandemic in the mix and more conversations were needed. If you do not have a common language for how leadership lives across the organization, morale can suffer. We implemented pulse Covid Surveys in addition to our standard culture surveys and metrics. Anonymous pulse is important, but we also began more company check ins across peer levels. We have kept Monday
Motivation, Happy Hours and Wellness Wednesdays with the long term in mind as we feel we created a deeper connection during these tough times. We also had Chaplains in the workplace before Covid-19. I was thrilled to see them working more proactively to connect with our team in a virtual world and we had high utilization these past 12 months. I feel proudest of what we discussed, exchanged on and shared. The subject matter has not been around easy subjects. We had a team meeting to discuss racial unrest and while it was emotional, I was touched that my business has a culture that feels psychologically safe. Where I can hear and see my team sharing with each other and beyond without fear of peer judgement but rather seeking to learn from one another.
In what ways have you or your contributed to the community? If given a chance, what change would you bring to help other companies?
We created a Covid Business Bundle within 30 days of the legislative changes that swept across our country. I priced it at a nominal fee ($149.00) for all the policy, forms, and instructions to manage the new paid sick leave and emergency family medical leave. We included a free consultation because the last thing a business needed was to learn they weren’t in compliance when they were trying to do what was right. The most fascinating part was to see how many out of state clients found us before many in own back yard did. We kicked off 2021 with a Culture Leadership Summit with 11 international speakers and we only charged $2.95 cents to partake.
Have you in any ways contributed towards the cause of women empowerment?
I try to lead by example and I also share for the benefit of all. I have published two books that really speak to women, though men have let me know they enjoy them equally as well. The Power of Joy and Purpose is my personal story and I share my 7 Presence Principles as I get asked nearly every day, how do I do it all so joyfully? I don’t do it alone. I also co-authored a book with John Tinghitella last year. We named it, NO FEAR Negotiation for Women, a book where we set forth a process that women can add to their list of abilities and for the greater benefit of our country. Men are about results and women are about effort. We need both in business. With over 2.2 million women who have left the participating talent pool these past 12 months, everyone should be finding ways to support families more holistically. Flexibility and trust are critical to building a team of women. I know! My business happens to be all women, and many are in their child rearing years. Thankfully, I look back at how I built an intellectual playground for myself as a new mother back in 2010.
What would be your advice for aspiring and emerging women entrepreneurs in your industry?
I feel it is imperative to get hands on experience doing what you seek to learn. Make sure it brings you joy before investing time, energy, and dedicating your life to it. Enjoy the journey and be prepared to learn, unlearn, and relearn. Surround yourself with people who inspire and support you, but also don’t patronize you. Remember, even if it gets harder, or takes longer, stay diligent. Anything you love will be worth it.