The Six Flavors of Success

Shannon Russo is the Chief Executive Officer for Kinetix, After a successful career as a finance executive Shannon founded Kinetix with the goal of creating a firm that could help growing companies get the talent they need to compete. In this special show, learn about:

  • How to pivot in a pandemic.
  • The six flavors or “potential factors” for success.
  • How has the workforce changed and how you need to change in it.
  • The Great Resignation, is it just a moment in time or a change to how we work for good?

Transcript: Thanks to Jermaine Pinto at JRP Transcribing for being our Partner. Contact Jermaine via LinkedIn or via his site JRP Transcribing Services

The Leadership Hacker News

Steve Rush: The great resignation is a real thing and it’s happening to many people around the world, but of course it even impacts on global enterprises as well as global superstars in the world of business. Tesla, CEO, Elon Musk has joined the great resignation, or has he? He’s tweeted numerous times over the last few months that he’s quitting his job to become an influencer. But while he still sits as a CEO, his role has significantly shifted to appeal to his lifestyle choices in philanthropic adventures.

Shareholders, customers, and regulators haven’t always appreciated the humor in Elon Musk’s approach to his Twitter or high jinks, 2018 Tesla shares plummeted after he posted an April fool’s day message saying the company gone bankrupt. He quoted earlier this year that he was going to dispose of all of his shares and equally had a massive impact. Tesla shares fell from about 20% from November to now, as Musk has offloaded his shares. And he tweeted in December that he would be able to buy by a poll that he took whether or not to sell his stake in the car maker. So even Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla and space exploration technologies cited to be the world richest person with a fortune and an estate worth 266 billion dollars. Even Elon Musk has been affected by the world around us over the last couple of years. So, if you’re a leader, listening to this, pay attention to how our teams are performing and behaving. Some of the idiosyncrasy, and little idioms that you might notice in people’s behavior could be a sign that they’re being restless and actually having conversations to help people find their purpose is really what it’s all about.

Finding out what your team need, want and expect from you as a boss is incredibly important as well as appealing to their intrinsic motivation, and that can really help the great resignation become the great retention. So that’s been The Leadership Hacker News today. Please continue to get in touch and contact us through our social media. We’d love to listen to your insights and ideas about what we can talk about on the show.

Start of Podcast

Steve Rush: Our special guest on today show is Shannon Russo. She’s the chief executive officer for Kinetix. After a successful career in finance, as an executive, Shannon founded Kinetix with the goal of creating a firm that could really help growing companies get the very best talent that they needed too to compete in a marketplace that is really tough. Shannon, welcome to the show.

Shannon Russo: Thanks Steve. Great to be here.

Steve Rush: So, I’d love to hear about your journey from finance executive to Kinetix. Tell us a little bit about kind of what happened and indeed before that?

Shannon Russo: Yeah, absolutely, thanks. Really, and it’s a sort of a joke because prior to forming Kinetix, which now has been 16 years, crazy. I was a finance person for an HR company. For a workforce solutions company for the prior 10 years. So, while I was doing finance, I was helping drive the strategy for a company that was in the workforce solution space. So, I’ve had a much longer perspective. I think what finance gave me was really this ability to drive analytics into the HR processes and talent acquisitions specifically. And so, when I went down the path of forming Kinetix, it really was because I saw some opportunities to really bring value to clients. And it was my finance background and the analytics that I did. Sort of looking at it that helped me come up with, there’s a better way, right? These multi-billion-dollar companies do it and outsource their recruitment, but smaller companies never think that they can do that. And I came up with a model in which small and growing companies up to big companies, could do it in a way that’s slightly different than what it was done before. So, it kind of helped me feed what I was doing if that makes.

Steve Rush: Yeah, and I remember from the first time that we met as well, it was kind of almost born out a bit of frustration from you. Watching how others were getting it wrong and how the opportunity was just almost there for the taking, right?

Shannon Russo: Yes, well, and part of it is that the relationship between recruitment providers and clients, right. Hiring leaders and companies in my mind is very much like the real estate. I don’t really like that relationship. And so that was the other thing we were trying to do is, really go at it a little bit differently. We can really provide some leverage, perspective, process, you know, a lot of that kind of stuff that, especially if you’re a growing company you don’t have, but we could also provide this perspective if you’re a large company that said, you’re doing it wrong, you’re taking too long, right? You’re caught up in your own things and bring that to the table and really provide value. So, it’s really been an interesting ride because of that. I don’t want to call it a conflict, but just difference in terms of what, the historical way that firms deal with each other, to what we’ve been trying to build.

Steve Rush: Right, yeah. And there’s a double sword question for you.

Shannon Russo: yeah.

Steve Rush: Interesting to learn a little bit about the work you do specifically now, and just wondered as a result of the crazy world we’ve been in over the last couple of years, how that might have changed?

Shannon Russo: Yeah, thanks Steve. You know, what I would tell you is, the media loves to talk about the great resignation in air quotes and how this is this amazing opportunity for workers and while in some cases that is absolutely true. I think that the mist that we are living through that my team and my clients, and hiring leaders are living through painfully is, for many folks. They think that that has given them the right to be in many cases, unethical in doing things and really not to realize that this is some kind of a relationship that’s happening. And when you’re going down the path to get a job, you should decide who you want to be with. And if you accept a job, you should take it. So, what we are seeing is sort of the dark side of the great resignation is this willingness for people, again, to be unethical, in that. They will accept a job and then take another job before they even start and just ghost the first job.

Steve Rush: Yeah.

Shannon Russo: Just doing things that are really horrendous and somehow thinking that that’s okay and the world is all about them and there’s no honesty and things, it’s okay if you don’t want to work for someone, right. That’s the whole reason that you go through this recruitment process is to figure out if it’s right fit for both parties.

Steve Rush: Right.

Shannon Russo: If it’s the right fit for you, take the job, don’t look back. If it’s not the right fit, say no, move on.

Steve Rush: Yeah.

Shannon Russo: This sort of, we’re seeing it. And it’s not just low end. We’re seeing six figures plus people doing things horrible things like that, where they take a job and two weeks later, they take another job.

Steve Rush: Wow.

Shannon Russo: That’s ridiculous.

Steve Rush: And do you see that this being generational as well? Because I think I might have shared the story with you before that when my son who’s 22. His most recent job he’s in now, and it is the one he stuck with. He was kind of almost lining up these opportunities and in so much as he was going to have like a juggling game at the end, when they’d all offered. And I said to him at that time, you know, hey, this isn’t right. You know, focus on one role, the role that you want, because ultimately there’s people in the process at the end of this. And actually, you’re taking up space for other people at the same time, right?

Shannon Russo: Yes, without question you are, yep. And I do think that the younger generations have been, they’re less jaded than us on the one hand, but because of it, they’re more enamored with this. It’s all about me perspective.

Steve Rush: Yeah.

Shannon Russo: And so, I do think there is a little bit, well, we’ve seen it. Irrespective of age, I do think that what we are seeing is a little bit more willingness to do that. If you are slightly younger than myself, I’ll say.

Steve Rush: And I guess, that comes with a little bit of naivety, maybe you can be a little bit green around the gills, but actually, at one point in time, you’re also going to become the hiring manager. And at one point in the future, you are going to be in a position where you have a group of people applying for a role. And I think, you know, what goes around, comes around.

Shannon Russo: Steve, that is exactly the right perspective. And part of the reason that they’re so willing to do it is because they haven’t had it happen to them for someone who they were really excited to join their team.

Steve Rush: That’s right, yeah.

Shannon Russo: And that might hopefully change their perspective a little bit, but that’s an experience thing, right? That’s a time thing.

Steve Rush: Totally. So, you talk about the great resignation and it’s, you know, everywhere you turn, somebody is quoting it, somebody’s referencing it. I’m curious from your perspective, because you hire thousands of people into different organizations, right. And I’m just curious to find out, is this just a moment in time for us or do we think that maybe this is something that’s going to be with us for a while?

Shannon Russo: Great question. I wish I knew the answer to that. What I would tell you is right now for the next 18 to 24 months, it’s with us.

Steve Rush: Right.

Shannon Russo: Beyond that. I don’t know that I can give your perspective because I’m hopeful that instead of this dialogue about, we just have people that have been beaten down and the great resignation is them fighting back. That we have a dialogue around the actual realities of what the employees are doing, right? So, this is a relationship and both sides have a part to play. And it’s not all one sided in terms of who’s wrong and who’s doing things that are not so great. And so that’s really where I don’t know how long it’ll be around is because the media loves to play that. But here’s what I could tell you that, is a significant shift that’s going to be with us for a while.

Steve Rush: Yeah.

Shannon Russo: Because of that. And because of really some of the workforce mentality and shifts that we are seeing a tremendous difference in the volume, we are needing to contact in order to get to the same number of candidates to be interviewed. So, we call that the funnel and so the top of our funnel has gotten significantly bigger in terms of the amount of outreach that we have to do because less people are responding. Even if they’re saying like, hey, not interested. And then because of some of these other things, we just talked about. Less people moving through the process, because we have people dropping out in the middle which doesn’t necessarily bother me except for their ghosting us instead of saying, hey, I took another job. I’m not interested or whatever it is, any of those things are okay. So, it’s just making the recruitment process from a delivery standpoint, more challenging, right? You’re talking to more people; you’re reaching out to more people. I don’t that that’s going to go away for a while. I don’t love that, but it’s sort of what I’m seeing, and I can’t see until sort of the mentality starts to change.

Steve Rush: Sure.

Shannon Russo: Some of that changing and then we have all the demographics that are working against us, right? Aging population, people retiring, right. People getting tired, all of that stuff that just makes it where we really have to kind of build up the younger generations to where there will be enough people for certainly some of the technical jobs going forward.

Steve Rush: And from your experiences. The great resignation just for those specialists and technical jobs because the talent pool hasn’t significantly changed in the last two years, right?

Shannon Russo: Nope. Now, that’s the rub, right? So, here’s what I would tell you. You’re seeing it across the board for the niche’s skills, you’re seeing it, but you’re seeing it for things that you and I might consider pretty basic, where there’s a pretty good volume of employees or candidates, you’re seeing it there as well. And so, I think that’s driving a lot of dysfunctions across those. I literally have a client in the Midwest. I’m not joking. We are hiring candidates that I consider to be making a decent amount of money. So, between 45 and $75,000 a year, so not low, low end, right. These are not $10 an hour workers. And they are having one half of their hires drop off after they have accepted an offer.

Steve Rush: Wow.

Shannon Russo: Between then and start.

Steve Rush: That’s massive in terms of cost for hiring, isn’t it as well?

Shannon Russo: Think about that.

Steve Rush: Yeah.

Shannon Russo: Yes, just in terms of the volume and what you’re doing, and we’ve been working hard together to kind of shorten that, so right. Because time is part of it. But also, how do we kind of close out people? Yay or nay. It’s more we, right? The hiring processes are not taking so much time with people that are not going to make it to the finish line.

Steve Rush: How do you expedite that as a process then to make sure that you do, you know, speed up that early kind of vetting if you like?

Shannon Russo: Yeah, it’s a great question. So, you try to truncate the recruitment process once the person has been, right? Are they qualified and interested? Once you know that. For us, that’s around the submittal. Then the interviews should be fast, right? Even if you do some of them via video and some of them face to face, so you don’t want to have this really long 10 step recruitment process. And then at the very end in your kind of pre onboarding and onboarding for some clients, we’re actually starting candidates while the background check is finishing. So, for some states where the background check process is long because the court systems are slow, we’re having people accept, what we would call a contingent offer as long as their background comes back clear, they start early and they get paid for that, right? So, there’s nothing untoward happening, but we’re doing things to kind of speed up that onboarding.

Steve Rush: Yeah.

Shannon Russo: To lessen the time from when you accept the job to when you start. And obviously that depends on if you’re coming from another job, then that has to be two weeks, but just how can we make that as tight as possible?

Steve Rush: And having you talk through kind of the process, I wonder how many of your hiring managers maybe have changed their approach in so much as maybe feeling a bit more anxious or bit more, you know, desperate almost to hire people because of the environment we’re in now and whether or not that’s going to help hold people back?

Shannon Russo: You know, I think it’s interesting, you’re right. The ones who are really taking it on the chin right now, they are starting to adjust. Where I see as big of a challenge in terms of people being willing to be flexible are folks that maybe don’t hire as much and don’t have as much experience in the world that we’re living in right now. Still thinking that, oh, everybody wants to come work for me. So why don’t I have ten candidates to review for this, you know, very nichey job. Well, the reality is, that the world has changed and you’re going to have to move faster. You are going to have to actually sell the candidates at the same time, as you are vetting the candidates to figure out whether or not they fit you. So, it’s a very different challenge than some of these older mentalities. It’s not an age thing, older mentality. Like if you were a hiring leader three years ago, your perspective is very different or needs to be different than it is today in terms of how you deal with the candidates that you are talking to. Does that help clarify a little bit?

Steve Rush: Yeah, it does.

Shannon Russo: Big shift.

Steve Rush: Yeah, and of course it’s in parallel to future employees and candidates having the opportunity to completely reevaluate what’s important to them in their work and life at the same time as well, isn’t it?

Shannon Russo: It is, 100%, and that’s what we’re seeing. And one of the things, and you’ll chuckle, your son may have done the same stuff. Sometimes the candidates have unrealistic expectations of what they’re getting and they just sort of lay that out for hiring leaders, which they think they’re a little bit smug in that, oh, hey, this is what I want. And this is what I got to have, and I’m all that, right? And sometimes they’re off in what they’re thinking, right. In terms of the reality of, you know, this is a job where, I’ll give you some limited examples, that’ll make you laugh, right. The big call now, along with the great resignation is a hundred percent remote. Everything has to be a hundred percent remote. Well, if the job requires you and I to touch each other or face each other, or do any of those, then guess what?

Steve Rush: Exactly

Shannon Russo: Not remote.

Steve Rush: Yeah.

Shannon Russo: And so, there’s a little bit on the middle of the spectrum where, you know, there’s some myths where people have a job. We did something for a manufacturing company, and they needed the person to be on site because they’re actually doing quality, right. How else can you do that?

Steve Rush: Exactly.

Shannon Russo: But for us to have to actually have the conversation to be like, no, you can’t check the quality of what’s happening on the line unless you are physically there.

Steve Rush: Yeah, exactly.

Shannon Russo: And so, some of those things are, you know, in some ways surprising, but some of the shifts with this where people maybe aren’t, they listen some of the stuff in the media and then they don’t think it all the way through, into the reality of either their kind of job or any of that. And whether they do or not, they want some of the other stuff.

Steve Rush: And you know, you and I have seen these cycles a few times in our careers. I’m sure Shannon, and one thing is for sure, is that in a few years’ time, 2, 3, 5, 10, whatever the number of years is, there’ll be a time where jobs are scarce, and the tables will have turned. And it’s important that we’re just really thoughtful of that in terms of our behaviors, isn’t it? When we start to proceed on these journeys.

Shannon Russo: It’s 100% vital. And what I would tell you, unfortunately. I agree with you, who knows when it’s going to be. But the inflation that we’re seeing is kind of making me a little, you know, stressed about how soon it might be. But what I can tell you this time. This will probably make you chuckle Steve, is the whiplash is going to be very harsh.

Steve Rush: I think so too, yeah.

Shannon Russo: Because if you are really trying to hire right now, how you’re getting treated by candidates. Yeah, it’s going to come back to bite some folks on the other side, I don’t disagree at all.

Steve Rush: So, there’s one thing that you have created, which I really love. And you call it the Kinetix Code and it’s definitely not a playbook because I know you say it’s not a playbook. It’s not a handbook. It is really a set of principles, or you call them flavors actually that are just really potential factors that you not only help your clients with, but it’s also key to your team. And I’d love for us to just get into those six principles or potential factors.

Shannon Russo: Yeah, thank you Steve. So, you’re exactly right, right. In the United States specifically, handbooks are very typical. And in many cases, you need them. Same for us, right?

Steve Rush: Right.

Shannon Russo: Certain things in terms of the basic expectations and legal requirements and what we’re expecting when you have to start work, when you finish, how does pay time off work? All of those kinds of policies, HR policies necessary. For us, we know that’s important, but coming out of the HR space, one of the things that we felt like was missing and that’s the Genesis of the Kinetix Code and then I’ll get into the potential factors. As part of this, and you heard me talk about it, right? You’re vetting candidates, but you’re also trying to share with them and either, on the one hand sell them.

But, but conversely, maybe repel them, if who you are, isn’t a fit. You don’t want them literally. You don’t want them. Think Zappos back in the day, who used to give you a bonus to leave. If you weren’t the right fit, it’s sort of in that model that says on the one hand, I want to be as transparent as possible to have everyone understand who we are as a company and how we operate and what the expectation are. And if you like that, that’s going to lean you in. If you don’t like that, my hope is, it’s going to lean you away because I don’t want us to dance and waste each other’s time, right. So that was sort of the first part. And we wanted more than just the policies, which is sort of the, you know, legal jargon. But we set about with the Kinetix Code to really introduce you to how we think about things and what kinds of people are successful, so we could get you there.

And then the potentials as a key part of that, the potentials for us are what other companies call their culture or maybe their values. That’s probably the best comparable. So, if you think about your values, our potential factors, our values. And I’ll talk about them in just a second, but what I would tell you is they flow through everything. They’re not just in the Kinetix Code, as what we think is important. We use them when we give kudos to each other, on a daily basis and when we do performance reviews. Your job is one part and those potential factors, right? Our values are the other thing that we rate you on when we try to decide kind of what’s next for you. So, most companies have values, for us taken that to the next level and put it into as much of everything that we do. So, if you are an employee of ours, you know what to expect, how we’re going to rate you. What’s important to us and all of that. And so that’s really how we came up with it. And as you mentioned, we have six, we tried to do five. But we just couldn’t get it done with five. And so, when we came up with it, the last one is KICK ASS TEAMMATE, and it’s really important. Plus, we call it a plus one because what we found is, the people who are the most successful, that is one of the traits of who they are. And Steve, you know, you’ve worked with people who that’s, who they are, and you’ve worked with people by the way, who that’s not who they are.

Steve Rush: Definitely.

Shannon Russo: And so, when we were doing it, we just ended up adding that to the table. Because when we thought about who, was the most successful working for us? That was something that with the other potentials or values, however you want to frame it, that might have been missing in that. So hopefully that gives you the framework.

Steve Rush: Let’s dive into them, just maybe give us a bit of a framing on each of them and what that means. And as a leader, then how I can think about using that with my team.

Shannon Russo: Yeah, yes. So, one of the things you’ll notice, and you heard it from my sixth one that I just mentioned, these are not things. So, we actually spent more time than average thinking about them and I’m going to piss off some folks with what I’m about to say.

Steve Rush: Go ahead.

Shannon Russo: They don’t include something like integrity. And I’m sure there’s a lot of people whose head’s going to be like, what do you mean? Integrity’s one of our values. Yes. Integrity is something that we find very important. Here’s the problem with integrity. How do I measure it? You either have it or you don’t. And I typically only find out if you don’t, when it’s too late.

Steve Rush: Yeah. It’s not one of those things you can jump on an e-learning course to see, you know, I’m just going to take a course on integrity and top that up, that doesn’t work.

Shannon Russo: Right, and so while we value it, since we were using the potential factors across how we’re going to rate you, how we’re going to decide if you’re the right employee, how your performance management is going to go. Integrity, because you either do it or you don’t, or you have it, or you don’t, how do I, to your point, how do I say, you’re doing really good Steve, let’s do a little bit better on your integrity. That’s not how it works. It’s a switch.

Steve Rush: Right.

Shannon Russo: Right, either you do, or you don’t. And so, we spend a lot of time really making sure that the things that we have as our potential, our values, that they were also things we could articulate. And they were also things that we could measure and rate people on.

Steve Rush: Got it, yeah.

Shannon Russo: So, all right. I’m going to go through the six. I’m just going to them one at a time. And Steve, please give me your comments.

Steve Rush: Sure.

Shannon Russo: So, the first one is, get stuff done, because for our perspective, listen, it’s a job, right? We’re hiring you to do stuff and to execute what’s in front of you and to not get distracted by all of the things that can help you slow down. So, for us, getting stuff done very important, we operate at pretty high pace and our clients are relying on us. So that’s a really important one for us.

Steve Rush: Yeah.

Shannon Russo: And we brought it down to something that makes sense, right. Get stuff done, Steve, I’m pretty sure you know what I mean by that.

Steve Rush: You don’t get paid for effort, do you? You get paid for results.

Shannon Russo: Exactly. Exactly. We also call it shipping product, right. Getting stuff done, executing and moving things forward, yep, that’s it. The next one is, figures it out. Again, Steve, I’m guessing, you know what figures it out means. We call it the smart factor and we spend a lot of time because politically, that doesn’t sound nice, right. But here’s what we mean by that. This is not an IQ discussion. This is, we’re going to give you incomplete direction sometimes. And we need you to dive in and figure out what we mean by that. Ask questions. Do any of the stuff to figure out how to execute on what’s in front of you and what your job is. That’s what matters to us, not high IQs, willingness to figure it out, take the next step to deliver for our clients.

Steve Rush: Yeah.

Shannon Russo: So again, we try to dive in a little bit deeper. So, the next one is one that we found some of our most successful people have this as part of who they are. And that’s passionate innovation. This one was a little harder, frankly, for us to kind of dive in. But I feel like we got to a good spot and so passionate innovation. If you asked just about anyone, Steve, Steve, are you passionate? Do you believe in passionate? Yes, right. Like, are you going to pick up the garbage?

Steve Rush: Yeah. Everybody’s passionate. Everybody says they’re passionate, right?

Shannon Russo: Right, but here’s how we define it. So again, defining these so that someone can understand what you expect more than just saying you’re into it. What we are expecting is that you love what you do so much, that you routinely spend discretionary effort. Let me be really clear, discretionary effort, which is more than average, more than expected, extra time learning things that can make you better. Experimenting on things to make processes better. That’s how we define it. Not just some esoteric. Oh yes, I’m passionate. No, how do you do things routinely that help you and us do better, get better? Figure things out.

Steve Rush: Like it.

Shannon Russo: All right. So, the next one is self-evident, given that we are a recruitment firm connector, right. You’ve really got to be able to connect with people for all different ways, right? So, you’re doing it because it’s who you are. These kinds of people connect when they’re at the coffee shop, right. It’s just how they are. And they also, as part of that for us, we include a little bit of that paying forward because I might connect with someone or you might connect with me, Steve and I might not be able to help you fill a role you’re working on right now, but a good connector at Kinetix means I’m connecting with you and I’m getting your information because tomorrow I might have that great opportunity for you. And so, we see it as a little bit, even more than that, all right, I’m coming into the home stretch, Steve with this. The next one for us, again, we’re kind of keeping these front and center, but they are real in that. These are things that make Kinetix a successful company. The next one is called likable. Yep, we said it, likable.

Steve Rush: It’s one of those those things that people are quite uncomfortable using that word these days, because it doesn’t feel particularly quantitative, but actually we all feel it.

Shannon Russo: That’s right. And again, it’s similar to the other ones, we’ve dove into kind of tell you what we mean by that. So yes, for us likable means authentic, means professional, means that you have command of what you are doing in person, on the phone, how you write and communicate with people. So, it’s very much around communication. But at the same time, you’re viewed as approachable, and you can work with teams. So, this is something that we actually spend a lot of time on. We talk about being classy honest. That’s the other part of being likable is being real enough to tell the truth, even if it’s not what the person wants to hear, because ultimately that does make you likable because you’re trustworthy.

Steve Rush: Yeah, and without that trust and likability, you actually can’t be honest with people. So, if you wanted to give some feed forward or feedback to somebody and you didn’t like them, it would be really uncomfortable. And it would be really hard to execute because you have this unconscious worry about offending them. But if you have that trust and likability with somebody, then that communication’s going to be more, free flowing anyway.

Shannon Russo: 100% Steven. We even take it a step further with our views on being classy honest. Here’s what we would say that aligns perfectly Steve, with what you just said. I could give you Steve, some feedback on the job you did for me yesterday. And I probably could get that done in thirty seconds to a minute in terms of giving you very direct feedback, Steve, that might not be how you can receive it.

Steve Rush: Right.

Shannon Russo: So, as a leader, I need to take a step back and maybe I need to take five or ten minutes to give you that feedback in a way that you can hear it and that you can a simulate it and not burn you up. Being honest does not mean I need to scorch the earth with you. I just need to be honest and truthful about the situation, especially if it’s a performance thing and communicate that to you, but the likability part for us comes in. I don’t need to burn you up to get there. I can take a little bit longer. I can be a little more caring in giving that feedback.

Steve Rush: Yeah, definitely so, and when you think about your six flavors, your potential factors, how has that evolved your teams since you’ve introduced it?

Shannon Russo: What I would tell you is, it has really helped, and this is our view of what’s critical about how you manage culture at your organization as a leader. One of the reasons that we spent so much time on the languaging was, we want people to use it in their regular conversation. We want people to reference it and that Steve is the benefit, that is what has happened. So, we literally talk to each other about man, Steve, that call that you were on, you were so likable, right? You really showed that. As I mentioned, you know, way back in the old days, we used to put it on cards. We had six of these cards that you could write on and put on my desk, but now we actually use an app where I can share kudos with the whole company on an app, and tell you Steve, the great things that you did. So, we’ve really kind of brought it into our day-to-day culture and the app that we use, which is called Recognize, we buy it. It actually integrates to outlook what a great way to be able to just get it done. So, we tried to make it as simple as possible for our team to recognize each other and recognize when they are executing on these potentials. And then to cement it, we use it for performance management, but let me tell you what really gets people going. At the end of every year we have, and if you didn’t know this by now, I’m sure you do. Orange is one of our main colors.

Steve Rush: Exactly.

Shannon Russo: And so, we have the bleed orange awards. How do you get a bleed orange award? You ask Steve. You get it by getting the most of these kudos

Steve Rush: Love it, yeah.

Shannon Russo: So, we’re keeping everyone very, also focused in their day to day, because it’s really easy to lose kind of those cultural tenants if you don’t make them part of everyday conversations.

Steve Rush: Yeah, and so many come make the mistake of just having words on wall. And that’s the perfect example of creating some themes and making them part of what you do rather than words on wall.

Shannon Russo: And that that’s how we make a difference. It makes it easier for us to recruit people. Here’s what I could tell you. Like so many people, 2021 was a heavy recruiting internally year for Kinetix as well. We have doubled the size of our team. It helps them because here’s something that I hear from new employees regularly. What’s amazing is how consistent everyone is and how everyone that I meet kind of displays the same value, is like, by the way, for me, as CEO, I’m like, oh, can I hug you? That’s exactly what I want.

Steve Rush: Exactly.

Shannon Russo: Because that’s how we’re successful, right? And the bigger you get, the harder that is to do. So, continuing for us to focus on it, is really how we think, you know, we continue to be successful.

Steve Rush: Well, kudos to you. So, this is part of the show where we get to flip a little bit and dive into your leadership brain and tap into your years of experience and leading teams and others, as well as, you know, coaching other leaders around the way that they do things too. So, the first thing I’d like to ask you is, if you could try and dive in and think about what would be your top three leadership hacks?

Shannon Russo: Whew, big one. So top three leader hacks are a little bit aligned with some of the stuff that I talked to you about on values. So, I’m not cheating, but that classy honest that you heard me talk about in terms of being likable, being a leader is very much about making decisions, executing on stuff, or driving execution as a leader, right. And then holding people accountable and performance managing that. So that classy honest is a leadership hack.

Steve Rush: Yeah.

Shannon Russo: That too many people on the hard, and I’m very hard driving, but on the hard driving side miss that I would tell you is a critical one. Here’s the other one that some folks, especially people trying to get into leadership. Often what I hear people say is, I can’t wait to be a manager and have to do less. Like you don’t really understand what’s coming.

Steve Rush: No way.

Shannon Russo: And so that’s the second part because I do see this sometimes, especially with candidates that come from very large organizations where their ability to actually do stuff gets limited by the nature of the organization. So, my leadership hack is being willing to dive back in at any moment. Now that doesn’t mean you always do that, but I had a situation. I’ll give you an example of where it kind of came back to me and it made me smile. We had a situation where we were working on a presentation for a client, and I’m not normally in the middle of all of that, right. As you might expect as the CEO of the company, but the account leader really was struggling with a couple things, and I had some history, and we knew that. And so, I dove in with her and we worked together one afternoon. And unfortunately, because the presentation was the next day into the evening, she was like, oh my gosh, it was so amazing that you were willing to dive in. And when I heard that, you know, I thanked her, but I was like, but that is being leader. Not just let her fall.

Steve Rush: And it’s the willingness bit that’s most important is just letting people know that you are willing too.

Shannon Russo: That’s right. That’s right. And here’s what I would tell you about that person that works for me, she will never doubt me again.

Steve Rush: Right.

Shannon Russo: Now, I didn’t do it for that. But after she told me and I thought about it, I was like, wow, wow. That’s not why I was doing it. I was doing it because I wanted her to be successful and I wanted us to be successful. But the reality is, I was building my leadership profile with her in the process without even realizing it, last one. I would tell you; this is a mixed bag because some of the worst leaders do this too much, but I still call it a leadership hack. Because for me over the last two years, it’s really been a rough two years, like so many people, and I’ve really had to work on this and that is, take time for yourself. Don’t be embarrassed about that but be willing to do it and balance it, right. Don’t bleed it through everything that you’re doing but be willing to kind of take that time for yourself, whatever that is.

Steve Rush: So Important.

Shannon Russo: Right.

Steve Rush: So important, right.

Shannon Russo: And so, I know you didn’t probably think I was going to give you that as a leadership hack, but I would tell you it is, because that’s about sustainable leadership.

Steve Rush: Totally, yeah.

Shannon Russo: Those are my three.

Steve Rush: Awesome, really great hacks, great lessons for people to dive into. Next part of the show we call Hack to Attack. So, this is typically where something in your life or your work has maybe screwed up. Hasn’t worked out as well. But as a result of the experience, you’ve now got something that you can use as a force of good for you, what would be your Hack to Attack?

Shannon Russo: So, my Hack to Attack was, I formed Kinetix. So, I had come out of the finance as you know, I’d come out of the finance side, which means. I was in the corporate infrastructure of a very large company; we were Fortune 500. And so, when I formed Kinetix, right, I didn’t have a ton of experience running a small and medium size business. And so, I have lots of learnings, but the learning that really was a challenge that now has become better from my life and from work is realizing a couple things. And that is, I don’t know, everything. And by the way, it’s 100% okay.

Steve Rush: Yeah.

Shannon Russo: Right. So that was the biggest thing because coming up in the corporate environment of a very large company, you really were known for what you knew, right. And so, you sort of build this up in yourself and when you sort of, I don’t want to say I started over, right. But I sort of started with a small business that I was going to grow into what Kinetix is today. But the reality is, there was so much, I didn’t know. And so, my willingness to ask questions and be opened to feedback, because some of the feedback that I got, I did not want to hear. And I did not like, but being opened to do that, because it really, you know, listen, I was not a young kid when I started Kinetix, right. I was in my late thirties and like so many folks in their late thirties, right. A very successful Fortune 500 top five person, LA, LA, LA, LA, LA, all this stuff that says I’m good at what I do, whatever, yeah. What about the stuff you’ve never seen before?

Steve Rush: That’s right.

Shannon Russo: What about the situations you’ve never had to deal with? And so, the big learning, some of them did not go well. And my takeaway that I really feel like has made me better today is, darn you know, don’t let my ego get in the way of being willing to learn every day from anyone. Because that was the other thing. Working for big companies, right. You’re working with all these very smart, very professional people. You can learn as much. And I did from somebody who really doesn’t articulate very well.

Steve Rush: Yeah.

Shannon Russo: But they can teach you some hard lessons and they can teach you good lessons. So be ready and willing to accept that learning wherever it’s going to come from because that’s literally a hack.

Steve Rush: Yeah, totally is, isn’t it?

Shannon Russo: To getting better.

Steve Rush: Yeah, definitely so. So, the last thing we get to do today, Shannon, is you get to do a bit of time travel, bump into Shannon at 21 and to give her some advice, what would it be?

Shannon Russo: Oh shoot 21. Wow. That’s a long time ago, Steve. But here’s what I would tell myself. There was some things that I feel like I’ve learned later. The biggest one is, when you’ve done all the work and you have gotten all the perspective, don’t be scared and don’t waste time before you make the decision. I had some things that I ended up getting involved in as I was coming up in my career were looking back, if I had, you know, an example was. I needed to let somebody go whose role I was taking over, but I was afraid. I didn’t know what they knew. There was all this other stuff. And so, I waited six months. That was the worst decision of my life. I should have let them go immediately and taken the risk. That’s the kind of coaching that I would give myself because I only got it by hard learned results. And so, I would tell myself again, not to be ego, right. So don’t be ego. Be careful, make sure you’re getting all the information, but once the decision has been made and you’re ready to go, go, take the risk. And a lot of times it’s around things like letting people go, right. Liberating them, freeing them, freeing you.

Steve Rush: Yeah.

Shannon Russo: Be willing to just jump off the cliff. Once you’re prepared, don’t wait, nothing good can come of it. And that’s probably the coaching I would give myself at 21, that took me a while to learn.

Steve Rush: Yeah. It’s lovely. I like it a lot. Thanks for sharing that, Shannon, great stuff.

Shannon Russo: Yeah. Yeah.

Steve Rush: So, for folk, listening to us talk today who might be curious around the work that Kinetix do, maybe getting their insight around the Kinetix Code, but also tapping into you and your network. Being true connectors in your potential factors. How can we make sure we connect them with you?

Shannon Russo: Absolutely. So, our website is That’s K I N E T I X You can get a little bit of scoop about us, connect with us. Any of that kind of stuff. Also, that kinetixhr is my handle on Twitter. It’s my handle on Instagram. So, if you want to find us there, LinkedIn is name obviously. And then if you want to dig in a little bit more to The Kinetix Code. One of the things we did for recruiting as well, but it’s an opportunity for you. You can go to the

Steve Rush: Awesome.

Shannon Russo: And that’s where it is, and you can actually see it all. So, it’s not locked up in some vault. We want it to kind of be living and breathing and it can give you a perspective on who we are and kind of how it makes us tick if you’re thinking about that kind of thing for your company

Steve Rush: And we’ll dump all of those links and connections in our show notes as well. So, it’s dead easy for people to connect with you beyond today.

Shannon Russo: Wonderful, wonderful.

Steve Rush: Shannon, I’ve loved chatting. You had I had some really interesting and deep conversations about the world that we’re in and how it’s changing and evolving. And I’m just delighted that we’ve got you on the show so that we can share that story with our wider audience. So, thanks for being part of the community.

Shannon Russo: Steve, thanks for having me. It’s been really fun, kind of talking through some of this stuff. You made me think about some things that I haven’t thought about for a while and I think that’s always super helpful.

Steve Rush: Thank you, Shannon.


Steve Rush: I genuinely want to say heartfelt thanks for taking time out of your day to listen in too. We do this in the service of helping others and spreading the word of leadership. Without you listening in, there would be no show. So please subscribe now if you have not done so already. Share this podcast with your communities, network, and help us develop a community and a tribe of leadership hackers.

Finally, if you would like me to work with your senior team, your leadership community, keynote an event, or you would like to sponsor an episode. Please connect with us, by our social media. And you can do that by following and liking our pages on Twitter and Facebook our handler there: @leadershiphacker. Instagram you can find us there @the_leadership_hacker and at YouTube, we are just Leadership Hacker, so that is me signing off. I am Steve Rush and I have been the leadership hacker.

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