The cavnessHR podcast – A talk with Charlie Judy
The link to the PDF version of the show notes with all the links is below.
Charlie forged a successful career over 25 years as an HR Executive with some of the world’s most prominent professional services organizations. Including Deloitte, Navigant, and Baker Tilly. He has traversed the global economy while living and working in New Orleans, New York, St. Louis, Brussels, Belgium, and Hyderabad, India. Charlie is a renowned blogger, published author, and speaker with a penchant for disrupting the management norms to which we’ve fallen prey and he’s a sought-after expert on workplace cultures. He is now the CEO & Founding Partner of WorkXO, a workforce technology company. Forward-thinking leaders in growth-oriented organizations use the Workplace Genome®, their cloud-based culture management platform, to measure and analyze their organization's culture, to uncover the distinct priorities for heightening their success, and to guide their teams to meaningful action on them. Charlie is a CPA, an SPHR, and a SHRM-SCP. He is a graduate of Tulane University’s A.B. Freeman School of Business. And he currently resides in Chicago with his family of five (dog included).
The cavnessHR Podcast can be found at the following places or you can just type in cavnessHR on the respective app.
Google Play: https://rebrand.ly/46a3
Pocket Casts: http://pca.st/5dK8
Social Media links for Charlie below!!
Twitter: @workxo and @hrfishbowl
linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/cjudy/ and https://www.linkedin.com/company/workxo/
Below are Charlie’s book recommendations:
“Workforce of One” by Susan Cantrell
“When Millennials Take Over: Preparing for the Ridiculously Optimistic Future of Business Hardcover” by Jamie Notter Maddie Grant
Click on the links below to purchase the books from Amazon
We're offering up some free trials and just reach out to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll
be happy to get you started on it. it's really easy and not invasive at all of your people, very easy
to get into. So, love to do that.
Jason: 0:02 Hello, and welcome to cavnessHR Podcast. I'm your host, Jason Cavness. Our guest is Charlie Judy. Charlie, are you ready to be great today?
Charlie: 0:12 I am indeed, Jason. Thanks for asking.
Jason: 0:15 Our guest on the cavnessHR podcast is Charlie Judy. Charlie forged a successful career over 25 years as an HR Executive with some of the world’s most prominent professional services organizations, including Deloitte, Navigant, and Baker Tilly. He has traversed the global economy while living and working in New Orleans, New York, St. Louis, Brussels, Belgium, and Hyderabad, India. Charlie is a renowned blogger, published author, and speaker with a penchant for disrupting the management norms to which we’ve fallen prey and he’s a sought-after expert on workplace cultures. He is now the CEO & Founding Partner of WorkXO, a workforce technology company. Forward-thinking leaders in growth-oriented organizations use the Workplace Genome, their cloud-based culture management platform, to measure and analyze their organization's culture. To uncover the distinct priorities for heightening their success, and to guide their teams to meaningful action on them. Charlie is a CPA and SPHR and SHRM-SCP. He’s a graduate of Tulane University's A.B. Freeman School of Business and he currently resides in Chicago with his family of five, dog included. (Yeah, I include my dog in my family, too). So, Charlie, before I turn it over to you, I just want to publicly thank you for the help you gave me a couple years ago. As many of you know, I got out of the army a couple years ago and Charlie was one of the people I reached out to. He was great; he helped me redo my resume. I just want to publicly thank you for that, Charlie.
Charlie: 1:43 Oh, that's my pleasure. I’m always always interested in being part of the community and helping where I can. So, thanks for that.
Jason: 1:50 So, Charlie what's going on in your life right now? I know you're pretty busy with your new company
Charlie: 1:56 Yeah, that's to put it lightly. So, for your audience and anyone who's interested, I spent about 20 plus years as an HR leader in kind of traditional corporate America. Then for a variety of reasons, most of which were kind of the culmination of those 20 years, I decided to finally take a leap about two and half years ago and scratch an entrepreneurial itch. I knew I wanted to build something, I was pretty sure I wanted it to be a technology. I knew I wanted to be in the workforce space. I thought I wanted it to have something to do with culture, and that's ultimately kind of where we've landed. It took us about a year to do the research and to validate the products and the solution and to spend a lot of time with the market, really understanding what the needs were.
Charlie: Through that, and a lot of trial and error and effort, we launched our technology back in January of this year. It's a culture management platform which is designed to help organizations really start to get intentional about managing their cultures. If you think about it, workforces and organizations use technology to manage really any aspect of the career experience, from recruiting to comp and benefits to learning and development and performance management and even off-boarding or exiting. Yet, we don't have anything that really helps us manage what we all claim to be maybe one of the most important things about that career experience, and that's culture. So, from measuring that culture, analyzing it, understanding it, getting better data on it, and then actually doing something with it. That's what our platform is designed to do and I'm busy with trying to grow that business. I’m working with fun companies, fun clients, all really passionate organizations that are starting to get really serious about taking this cultural thing and kind of putting their money where their mouth is. So, that's what I'm doing.
Jason: 3:59 Charlie, so why is now the right time to start this company? Why not like three years ago or two years in the future? Why do you do you believe right now is the time for this company to make an impact on business?
Charlie: 4:09 Yeah, that's a great question. I think, as with most solutions, whether we're talking about workforce or otherwise. There comes this kind of inflection point where organizations realize that they've been talking about something as being important and it shows up more and more in boardrooms and leadership discussions and planning sessions and strategic exercises. Yet we’re confused about really what does it mean and what are we doing about it. I think we've been talking about culture – we, collectively, the world of work – has been talking about culture for a decade, at least, and at least in some substantive way. But we're also talking about it in a little bit of a different way. If I ask you to define “culture” it's likely going to be different than the way the person next to you defines it; and even if I go within the same organization and ask employees within that organization to define culture. They're going to explain it a little bit differently. So how do we get serious about it, if we all kind of have a different definition for it? I think we've just reached that inflection point. I think people and organizations have realized that, you know what, this is for real, we’ve got to start doing something about it. We probably need to be using a technology that can help us and facilitate that process. When we went through that whole research phase of really about a year – that's one of the things we uncovered as we talked with HR leaders across the country.
Jason: 5:35 Charlie, are you finding certain organizations or industries are signing up? Like, for example, I would think a tech company would sign up for you before a construction company would. Are you seeing any trends like that?
Charlie: 5:48 Yeah, another good question. So far, we've actually seen success across a number of verticals. I will tell you that we have quicker conversations with organizations that are a little bit more progressive to begin with, or by design. In fact, technology and kind of high tech software developers is one of those verticals. That doesn't mean that we haven't had good conversations with those industries that are a little bit more conservative. I think what we're finding is that it has a little bit more to do with kind of where the organization is on its maturity curve. Organizations, for instance, that are faced with high growth or rapid growth, irrespective of its industry vertical, are really starting to focus on culture, for a lot of reasons. But mostly because they're a little bit nervous about losing what it was that got them there to that point to begin with and recognizing that culture can be at risk when dealing with high growth. So, that's one of the places where we recognize we have good conversations. I think, also, those organizations that are faced with change, leadership change, strategic change, new product, new product markets, this realization that, “if we're going to do this thing the right way, we better get really smart about what's happening with our culture and let's make sure that we've got the right foundation in place to do this and get the return that we expect.” So, it's a little bit more about maturity than it is about vertical, probably.
Jason: 7:18 So, Charlie, as I’m sure you know, there's a lot of leaders out there who'll say, “I have a great culture,” but really, they don't. Why is there this disconnect out there?
Charlie: 7:28 Well, I think one of the biggest disconnects is starting with the assumption that there is such a thing as a great culture or a bad culture. It's such a relative term; it goes back to this thing that we've all signed up for in the last 20 years, this notion that you can either be a “great place to work” or not. Great place to work for who? For you? For me? That's a different set of criteria and parameters for every individual we talk to, yet we try to kind of plug everybody into this one-size-fits-all definition. That's not the way culture is. A culture is less about good and bad and more about right or wrong. You have to develop the culture that's going to drive your success. What drives the success of Zappos or Amazon or pick your favorite culture “cool kid” is different than what drives your organization's success. So, the sooner we get focused on understanding, first, “what is our culture; let's get introspective, let's get authentic about that, let's get real about that, let's own it, and then let's understand which of these things are actually important to us, which of these things are going to drive our success – not somebody else's success. But our success; let's stop worrying about “great” or “good” and start focusing on right. That's a shift in the model that we're really trying to take to the market.
Jason: 9:02 Charlie, switching gears a little bit, there's a lot of people graduating with Bachelor’s degrees next year. For those who want to get into HR, what advice would you have for them?
Charlie: 9:14 I think there are a lot of things to think about. First, take what you can get, don't be too proud about your first job because your first job is not likely to be your last job. The gig economy has brought a whole new point of view to how we build our career. I remember a time, and it’s really the recent past, where recruiters just look at resumes and say, this person has jumped around too much. I think now, we're seeing recruiters say this person hasn't jumped around enough. So, don't be afraid to dip your toe into something that maybe isn't perfect. But it's going to give you some great experience either way. Sometimes in the realm of HR, you’ve got to start kind of at the at the very bottom of the bare bones about something that's maybe a little bit more administrative, etc. That's good experience for you to have and having that perspective is great. I'd also say that you can get into HR from really any other aspect of the business because knowing that business is going to give you a great foundation for ultimately serving the people within that business. So, if you start on the finance side or the accounting side or the marketing side, you're still learning people, you're still learning workforce, you're still learning culture, you're so learning all of those things because you're experiencing it first-hand. You may not have had an “HR job” that leads to an HR job, you may have something else that takes you there. I'd be willing to consider that, as well.
Jason: 10:44 Charlie, can you tell us about a time you were successful in the past, what you learned from this success, and what we can learn from this success you had in the past?
Charlie: 10:53 Again, success is in the eye of the beholder. I certainly am proud to say that I’ve had a really interesting and dynamic career and certainly success along the way. Maybe I might point out a particular point or a particular instance of that success. I do think that there are some themes and what has driven success for me. One of those themes is a willingness – just that word, a willingness – to do some stuff that's different, to try a role or a project that is maybe a little ambiguous. That's new, that no one else has done before; a willingness to raise my hand when no one else would. Sometimes, stepping to the front of the line gives you opportunities that you wouldn't have ordinarily had. Don't be afraid to take some risks. I think when I've taken risks, when I've done stuff that has stretched me or that maybe, on paper, I wasn't even necessarily qualified for, I came out the other end of that in a much better place and it led to things. Frankly, that I would have never imagined possible for me. So, I do think a lot of it is about willingness; have a willingness and success will follow.
Jason: 12:22 I really like that term, Charlie – willingness. I like that term a lot, that's a good one to have. Next, talk about a time you failed, what you learned from this failure, and what we can learn from this.
Charlie: 12:34 Well, I'll tell you, those instances outnumber the former part of this conversation, that's for sure. Again, I think willingness applies here, too. You’ve got to be willing to fail. If we get scared of failing, we will never, ever, ever move the needle, advance, truly evolve. So, let's just get that out of the way. That's absolutely one word that we’ve got to be comfortable with. I think the other thing is, as an HR leader, one of the mistakes that I made more often than I would have liked was entering any sort of challenge, opportunity, issue, with too-formed a solution. In my mind, what I thought was the right answer, was probably not the right answer. Rather than taking the time totally understand the situation, to listen to others who had a point of view about it and to consider allof those things before ultimately landing on a solution or recommendation. I sometimes kind of held on to it like a puppy with a chew toy and just really wouldn't let go – “no, this is the approach.” So, I think HR leaders, or any leader for that matter, that can take the time to really make sure they've considered all sides of this story and they've heard from as many people as they can and they've looked at as many pieces of data that they can, are always going to be in a better place. Intuition is great and gut solves a lot of problems, but it cannot be relied on in and of itself.
Jason: 14:16 Yes, that’s more great advice. Charlie, talk about someone who has helped you in the past and how they've helped you.
Charlie: 14:24 Wow. I've had a lot of those people, for sure, and if you can't say the same, then you can actually take control of that. One of the things that I've really thought highly of, and I can't remember even who I learned this from, is the idea of having a personal board of directors. So, organizations have boards of directors and they do that for lots of reasons. But one of them is to get an outsider's point of view, an independent point of view, and a diverse set of points of views, to create better, more creative, thoughtful, meaningful solutions. You can do the same thing for yourself – create a board of directors – and be meticulous about it, be methodical about it. I want to have five people and I want to have somebody representative from this place and that place, and this place. You know what, your mom can be on your personal board of directors. But so can a former colleague, so can someone that you really admire and have watched grow in their own career. But consult with that group, again, in a really methodical way. I had a former boss who really was the first guy that I worked with in the HR realm. I'm not afraid to tell you his name – his name is Jim Wall. Frankly, a legend in the realm of corporate HR. He taught me that word, willingness. He was one of those guys that really encouraged me to take risks and to do things that I wouldn't have ordinarily done and, frankly, he gave me permission to fail. Which I think is maybe one of the biggest things any leader can do is explicitly give permission to your people to make a mistake, because they're going to do it. If they can do it on their own and get comfortable with doing it, and then turning that into results, then you're in a great place.
Jason: 16:16 Yes, I love that concept of a personal board of directors. I think that's great advice. More people need to start doing that instead of just doing stuff on their own. Just throw your ideas out there, I think that's great advice. Can you tell us something about yourself that most people don't know? Of course, your family, close friends, but most people don't know this but about yourself?
Charlie: 16:36 I hate those questions; I always feel like I should have some really interesting story. Unfortunately, my life is pretty vanilla. Let's see if I can tell you something good. You know what, where I am happiest – and this is maybe going to be a surprise to people – I am happiest in the kitchen. I really like to cook and that's not always at the barbecue grill in the backyard. It's any number of things. I like experimentation, that's one of the places I can do it, I like making mistakes, as we've talked about (that's one of the places I can do it). It's a good, creative outlet for me and that's where I sometimes just go to get away from things.
Jason: 17:26 Charlie, do you have a book you can recommend for our listeners?
Charlie: 17:31 Yeah, I’ve got a couple of them. Obviously, it depends on the audience but if you're in the HR community, there's a book called The Workforce of One. I've got a bunch on my bookshelf, and that’s one that's probably the most prominent. It's one that I consult with on a regular basis and, certainly, more so when I was an HR leader or actively an HR leader. But the whole premise is really about the customization of the workplace experience and recognizing that we need to start delivering to the individual, not to the whole or to the organization. We need to start creating not necessarily the programs and the policies and the operating systems. But really just more the relationships at the individual level and recognizing that everybody that comes through your doors is probably there for a different set of reasons. Different things are going to motivate them, they're aspiring in different places, they’re different places in their own kind of life experience. How we respond to those as an HR organization has a lot to say about kind of how we customize the experience for our people. Customization is really powerful in the workforce. It's a little bit of an older book; it's written by a woman named Susan Cantrell. The other one (kind of a shameless plug), I didn't write the book, I did write the foreword for it. But it's called When Millennials Take Over: The Ridiculously Optimistic Future of Work. It's really more about the future of work than it is about Millennials. But it's about kind of where we think culture is going – the behaviors, the actions in the workplace and those organizations that are really kind of leading the edge on busting up the kind of traditional paradigms of work written by Jamie Notter and Maddie Grant – two people who I know and love. Great book.
Jason: 19:30 Yes. Charlie, I understand you have something for our listeners today.
Free Resources Below!!!!!
Charlie: 19:38 Yeah. So, again, as we started the conversation with today, we have a culture management platform that's in the cloud. It's pretty cool, it's powerful, it starts with a survey which takes 15 minutes, and then we create some really interesting data. I'd love for anybody that has even any inkling of starting to get intentional about culture to come and try our product. Sometimes it's better just to kick the tires on it before you start making these sort decisions on it and, by the way. If you're out there looking for a technology and the vendor won't let you kick the tires on it, then that's probably not the right vendor for you. But we're offering up some free trials and just reach out to me directly at email@example.com and I’ll be happy to get you started on it. it's really easy and not invasive at all of your people, very easy to get into. So, love to do that.
Jason: 20:29 So, Charlie, speaking of social media, can you provide your social media platforms for yourself or for your company, so people can reach out to you?
Charlie: 20:36 Yeah, sure. So, on Twitter, you can follow me, individually, @HRFishbowl. the company’s twitter is @WorkXO. find me on LinkedIn; we do have a page on Facebook, it's called The Workplace Genome. and my email address is (I just shared this) firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jason: 21:02 So, Charlie, we’ve come to the end of our podcast and our talk. Can you provide any last-minute advice or wisdom to our listeners in career advice or your company or whatever else you would like to talk about?
Charlie: 21:51 Just don't look at your career as this 25/35/45 year old entity. Look at it has a daily entity. Look for experience in everything that you do and, even if it's painful at the time. It is going to contribute something of value down the road. Particularly, if you accept it as much. So, take these things in bite sizes, hack away at it, hack your career. Do it a day at a time and enjoy it while you do it, even if it sucks while you do it.
Jason: 21:46 Yes, more great advice. Charlie, thank you for being our guest, again. I really appreciate it. I know you're a really busy person growing your company. To our guests, thank you for your time, and remember to be great every day.