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EP 101: Building an effective startup culture, hiring, and retention strategies. The power of social media for employee engagement.

Podcast Transcript

James Mackey: 0:19

Hello everyone. Welcome to The Breakthrough Hiring Show. I'm your host, James Mackey. Thank you for joining us today. We're going to be talking about a lot of cool stuff. We're going through startup culture and then getting into retention programs, having tiered salaries, and professional development. A lot of you know high-level philosophical perspectives on how we should be approaching these topics, as well as some great tips for how you can implement or optimize these things within your organization. From there, we're probably going to be getting into how to get employees engaged with employer branding on social media and LinkedIn activities.


So we got an action-packed episode for you today, and I'm really excited to introduce you to our guest. Ayelet Shapiro, thank you so much for joining us today. I really appreciate it. 

Ayelet Shapiro: 1:10

Thank you, James, for inviting me. I'm very excited to join you today. 


James Mackey: 1:15

Well, thank you, and so I hope I said your first name correctly with my American accent. Could you just say it for our audience, so that we make sure we get it exactly right? 


Ayelet Shapiro: 1:24

My name is Ayelet.

James Mackey: 1:26

OK, great, great. Well, I did my best. I hope it was all right. 

Ayelet Shapiro: 1:29

You did, you did. It was great. 

James Mackey: 1:31

OK, cool. Well, hey, before we jump into it, would you mind sharing a bit about your background with everyone? 

Ayelet Shapiro: 1:38

Yeah, thank you. My name is Ayelet. I live in Israel. I was born and raised in Israel. I have a master's in organizational psychology and I started my career at big Height of Corporate. I started at Applied Materials and moved to Amdocs and then, after something like 10 years in big cooperation, I moved to a smaller organization, mid-level first, and then to the startup world. So I now have 20 years of experience in the high-tech organization, Human Resources. I currently work for a very small startup called Insoundz. It's in the area of sound tech, a very, very exciting startup with very exciting topics or technology or products for improving and enhancing sound using AI and adaptive technology. So, as you can understand, I have experience and learn and develop through big, medium, and small Height of Corporate organizations. 

James Mackey: 3:24

Well, yeah, that's it, and I really like that. I mean, our audience is a mix between startup, growth stage, and enterprise, so we have guests that come from a lot of different backgrounds and I like that. You've done a little bit of everything and now ending up in this currently your VP of HR role for a startup. I think that there are a lot of insights you could provide in terms of the nuance of startup and how to maybe bring more structure to a startup environment. Right, because you've been in environments, too, that have a little bit more structure and then you're walking into an earlier stage company. 

Ayelet Shapiro: 3:58

And it's like OK, Big mess. 

James Mackey: 4:00

Yeah, big mess. It's like what do you prioritize and how do you implement some of that structure and how do you create that cultural shift to where? And the buy-in from folks to actually follow new processes can be challenging as well, right? 

Ayelet Shapiro: 4:12

Yeah, yeah, and thank you, and yeah, I hope that I'll bring some insights and values too. 

James Mackey: 4:18

Oh yeah, for sure. So I mean, just to kick us off, let's talk a little bit about startup culture and your opinion on how to be intentional about building an effective culture. I think we could start with a really high-level kind of thought leadership if you will, and then we can dive into specifics and what you're focused on in order to create a thriving culture for your company. 

Ayelet Shapiro: 4:43

OK, great, sure. So I'm a big believer in the importance of building the culture and the D&I of the organization when the startup organization is in its first stages, and I saw organizations where they created and defined their D&I when they were 60 employees and it was still very strong and influential on 600 employees. So I really think that one of the most important parts that need to be defined together with the entire company or, as much as possible, with as much as more employees, is to define who we are, what is important for us, what makes us excited, what we want to be, how we want to behave and it's not just like five values that are written on the wall in the cafeteria and people like maybe know how to say them, but it's actually how we want to behave, examples of how we behave and how we don't behave, and it's really something that needs to thrive from the employees and from the management, founders, et cetera. So, yeah, I really think that this is one of the most important things that you need to do when you build the company. 

James Mackey: 6:25

For sure and more specifically, when you're thinking about building culture, what are for a startup? What are the most important aspects of that culture? I think one thing that's a little bit interesting too is maybe there's some common traits of startup culture across the board, where it's like, wherever you go you're looking for specific aspects, and then maybe there's some specific things to your mission, or maybe not. I mean, I have a tendency to look at effective culture from the perspective of growth and scale, and I don't know how often I've really thought of it from a nuanced perspective in terms of specific companies. But I'm curious to get your thoughts on what you value in terms of culture and if you think about nuance based on the specific mission of the company you're working for. 

Ayelet Shapiro: 7:14

So I think that there are general things that most startups should focus on in their culture. Startups have less stability, need to change, and need to do things fast. So these are pillars that need to be in the startup culture in one way or another. To focus on agility, to focus on execution, to focus on doing things fast, being creative, and being very open to communication. These are things that I believe that almost every startup needs to have in its D&I and in its culture, and I can tell you that in the startup that I work for now, we actually understood what this is.


We have great people with great minds and very, very smart and passionate people, but we understood that we really need to strengthen and emphasize the agility part of our company, and this is what we discussed and this is what we were thinking of how to increase and make it more strong. So this is one thing and I really believe that, in one way or another, these are strong pillars of a startup in the early stages, and with that, each startup needs to add its own flavors. For my startup, for example, it's music. It's sound since we are in the sound tech area, so we are looking for people who are excited about music and maybe play in a band or something like that, so we don't have to be a singer or a player in order to be a good employee in our startup. But it's definitely a plus. This is one thing. The other thing that we added is the technology and people that are very excited about high-end technology, for example. Other startups will focus on customer service or about, I don't know, florist execution. I hope that I'm answering your question, but I think that there are some main building blocks that are common to most startups, and this is the need to act faster and to be very agile. 

James Mackey: 10:18

For sure. So I have two follow-up questions there. I think, since we're talking about the last thing that you mentioned, was somebody who might be interested in specifically what you're doing with audio. I don't know exactly. Is audio I think you said more so music related, or is this any type of audio? 

Ayelet Shapiro: 10:42

Currently, it's actually not music related. It's sound, it's audio. We enhance sound for a podcast, we enable content creator platforms to enhance the audio that is either recorded on their platform or transferred to their platform, and in the near future actually, we'll have also the ability to improve music singers and I guess the reason I ask is, I wonder, from a cultural perspective, when you're hiring, how important is it to you that people are really excited about the mission? 

James Mackey: 11:29

 I think that there are probably some people that are excited about working for a high-growth startup. They like high-end tech. They might have a mild interest in the mission, but maybe it's not something that they maybe don't emphasize. And so I've spoken with different founders, CEOs, and leaders in general that had different opinions. Some are really looking for people to see the vision of the future and to be totally bought into the product and whatnot. Others are just more so, looking at things like agility or that kind of startup interest or adaptability or raw intelligence that can shift focus quickly and adapt to essentially a forever-changing job description. So I'm just wondering, how much do you really look for somebody to be bought into the mission and the actual product you're building, versus like down the pipe startup trades? 

Ayelet Shapiro: 12:31

It's a great question. It's a question I asked myself for some time. My personal view on that is that it's a great, great plus if I have two competent candidates and one is really engaged and excited about what we do. He or she checked our website and tried our free trial and asked and has friends in the area and stuff like that. It's not enough. I am looking for a potential experience. It depends on the role, of course, but it's a great, huge plus and I really think that without it, without the excitement about the mission and what we do, it doesn't have to be again. It's a plus in a sound company to have someone who is excited about music. It doesn't have to be like excitement about music, but it has to be excited about what the company is doing and after you know. So, yeah, I think it's not enough, but it's a great advantage. I will say that there are startups like I'm working with the startup in the ESG in the environmental area. I really think that, at least in the beginning, only people who are very, very excited about environmental topics can work in this startup.


James Mackey: 14:28

Yeah, I think it's. Again, it's getting into the nuance of what the company does and I think for probably a lot of startups, this isn't based on pure data or anything. I'm just kind of making assumptions based on how I would act or I think a lot of people would act just through experience. Would just be, you know, if the interest in the products should probably increase throughout the interview process, so it's, they do the initial screening call, they learn about the role, they learn about their point of impact, they start to learn more about the product and it should really appeal to them. Right? It's something that, like interest, grows. It doesn't mean that they were seeking out that type of solution for their career, like, oh, I want to go to a company that's solving this specific problem. But hopefully, you see, like more engagement and interest toward the product as you're moving towards the final round, right, yeah, and it's more than the interest. 

Ayelet Shapiro: 15:22

It's an active search, as you advance in the recruitment process, for information about our company and the industry and about the technology or about the business. I really think that people who are curious and excited about what we do and are checking them and learning us the same as we are learning them will also be curious and full of motivation during the job. So it's also an indication of how they will act, not only in terms of their commitment to this specific product but also about how they work, how they learn, and how they check what they are. You know, the company that they want to join. 

James Mackey: 16:13

Yeah, I mean you want people that are to some extent critical about that. I mean, I always find it weird, honestly weird, and a warning sign when people aren't asking a lot of good questions about the company that they're about to join. 

Ayelet Shapiro: 16:29


James Mackey: 16:29

Like and the reason I say weird is it's just like why wouldn't you be asking these questions or looking this up like you're making one of the most important decisions for your career, and you're like you're not thinking critically about what you're doing exactly? 

Ayelet Shapiro: 16:50

It's in the first call. It's a great surprise if someone checked, but it's not a must, but in the advanced stages, if someone is not engaged to check, to ask to, as you said, it's a warning sign. 

James Mackey: 17:07

Yeah, I think, honestly, there probably should be a bigger emphasis on that in the interview process. I mean, I think it's for folks that really invest in their talent strategy. They're hopefully gonna have a structured interview process, score guards, and custom questions that are asked of each candidate. I think those things are important. But we should also be checking from the perspective of not only their engagement in the interview, which to me is more of like a soft skill or personality trait, quite honestly. But have they started to put some time in to really ask smart questions? Are they asking really good, engaging questions and have they done research? Are they potentially referencing stuff that they looked at online, or do they seem to have a decent understanding? I mean, I think, as you get towards the final round, it's appropriate to say something to the effect of like hey, I know you've had a few conversations. Hopefully, you had a chance to look at some of the material. I would just be curious to get your perspective on what you think about our product and what we're building here. And that way, too, I can fill in the blanks for you as well. So it's kind of like a two-sided approach. One, you're testing a kind of engagement with a question like that. And two, you can fill in any gaps. If there's a misconception or there's something that maybe they don't have clarity on, it's an opportunity to clear that up and hopefully get them even more excited. I just don't think that there's necessarily enough of that going on in a lot of interview processes, even if there is structured hiring. 

Ayelet Shapiro: 18:40

I agree, I agree with that. I can tell you that personally, for me it's an important consideration. 

James Mackey: 18:49

Yeah, for sure. And I think too, what kind of second question based on what you were talking about, culture is agility, for instance. When you're looking for some type of behavioral trait like that, I would. I'd be curious to what your way of vetting for that in the interview process to make sure that somebody is aligned with that. 

Ayelet Shapiro: 19:12

It's a good question, for sure. I will ask for a lot of examples when things didn't work, how the candidate was, you know, was planning, and how he coped with it, and of course, how they coped with it. So I will look for examples for a lot of you know. First of all, I want to say that there is a word of things like that and what they learned from it. So these are the main questions that I will ask in order to check agility, to check the ability to learn, the ability to grow from mistakes, and stuff like that. So these are the areas that I will ask in order to check that and, of course, I will ask that in the reference course, and again I will ask how he or she reacted to changes and to challenges and you know too. And of course, I will see that. I've seen this. It's a small setup. I'm seeing the entire recruitment process so I can see how the candidate communicates, if we need to make changes in the course, in the meetings, and how they react. So it's also an indication and if I'm not doing it myself, I have an indication from the talent manager representative that speaks with them. So I also look for. You know their behavior during the interview process. 

James Mackey: 21:10

Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. I think those kinds of situational questions are very important to me as well. In fact, I think I do kind of like a different behavioral question for the final rounds. It's not really based on history, but I do based on, like, presenting a situation. Those are questions I'd like to ask too and saying, like, how would you respond in this type of situation? What would be your immediate steps? Just be, yeah, and I like some of the four. I like some of the backward focus questions. I am also, as you know, asking how did you handle this? I also like forward focus questions because they probably haven't been asked many of them before, and so it's making sure that, like they're thinking on their feet, they're critical thinking Again. I've actually mentioned this a couple of times in the podcast, but one of my favorite interview questions is to ask people okay, if you were promoted to CEO of your current company today, what would be your top three initiatives and why? It could be something you double down on, something that you change, something that you discontinue. But I want to get a sense of what you would prioritize.


And I will ask this, by the way, like the usual follow-up question I get like. I did a post on like, about this, and I got a lot of like executives tuning in, like, is this for leadership roles? Like, what types of roles? I say well, sure, but also individual contributor roles. I will ask a recruiter about this. I will ask anybody this question because I learn so much about their critical thinking. I learn a lot about, you know, their self-awareness, their awareness of the environment, their awareness of the company's North Star metrics, and how that cascades down to their point of impact. You know, are they more so data-driven, emotionally driven? Are they focused on the people aspect? Are they analytical? Do you know how much time they're gonna spend collecting data? You know, who are they pulling in versus executing Right? There's just so much that I can glean from a question like that and I, you know, in terms of personality traits, behavior, initiative, agility, communication, strategic thinking. You know those kinds of business acumen, ambition, even when they're setting goals. Are they setting this kind of like, mediocre, like let's move the needle 2%, or are they looking for? You know, we have this mission and we want to accomplish this. So, if we could, if we, you know, this is something that we do well, we should double down on, or I've noticed there's a gap here and I think if we put more emphasis on that, we could get more leverage. You know that kind of stuff. I've always loved that question. It's helped me a lot, quite honestly. 

Ayelet Shapiro: 23:46

I think it's a great question. I'm going to use it for sure. Referring to that, I sometimes give examples or case studies that happen to us in the company and I ask the candidate how they would have reacted to that or what they would have they would do. So it's also a similar question that you can get a lot of insights from. 

James Mackey: 24:15

Yeah, I think so, and I think you know this is a good segue into let's talk about okay. So we talked about a bit of culture traits that we're looking for. We've talked about how to implement that. So now we're moving forward to when folks are onboard and they become employees. Bye, we'd like to talk a little bit about talent development and retention. I think one specific topic or example that you provided is hiring. For instance, in the case of hiring junior engineers right, bringing junior engineers onto the team One thing that you mentioned was really important to you is providing kind of a growth path and how to make sure that you retain folks that you possibly need to level up and several senses of the word to retain them, and I think that this is a perfect example, because these are probably, if you're hiring junior staff that's accumulating knowledge quickly, you probably have to be agile, right, you have to move quickly to ensure that you can provide growth opportunity for them to stay. I feel like if you can solve this type of situation, then retention strategies you're also building out just an effective one for roles where maybe this isn't a case where you have to rapidly adjust a growth role. So would you mind giving us some thoughts on how you think about retention strategy and keeping folks engaged? 

Ayelet Shapiro: 25:41

Yeah, so there are many things that are crucial for retention and for employee motivation and engagement. The example that you mentioned about the junior actually started in the previous company that I worked for, where we had a challenge to first recruit juniors because their salary expectations were much higher than we thought their experience level was worth. And then, after we actually recruited the juniors, it was hard to retain them. We invested a lot in their training and development and after one or two years they were much more experienced. Their value both to the company and back to the market was much, much higher and we lost many of them because we couldn't increase their salary fast enough in order to adjust to their higher training level. And it was a big challenge. And the managers told me no way, you are not reporting more juniors, we are not investing so much time in training people that will leave us after we finish the training.


So we actually built a special program for junior engineers and software engineers and we created different merit cycles and budget and communication for this team of juniors. That was actually communicated to the candidates before the assignment, so we were able to show them okay, this is how you start with us and we will invest in your training, etc. Etc. And if you will be good, after six months, this is where you can get to in terms of salary and terms, and after one year, this is where you can get to and, in the stages of stages, of six months and then after two years, this is where you will we will bring you to, of course, if you will continue to show a high performance, and then you're going to the regular cycle of merits and the compensation that the company had, and it was actually really good because the first, the managers believe that they have the tools to attract and return talents, and it was a great way to communicate to candidates and to speak with them and to build their development plans, because the candidates knew, or the new employees knew, exactly when are we going to examine their performance and what they can expect in terms of their both development, what the objectives of their training and also how they will be compensated.


This is an example that I built together with the company, benexpo, that we had in the company and it was a great success in order to actually building a strong team of juniors who, after one year or two years, were really in the high level of the engineering team, not only for juniors, but they were really growing and developing fast. So I believe that you refer to this example and so this is a very structured example of how we created it. We had a challenge and we created the specific solution for this, for this team, and so you know, engagement is, retention is a challenge, but you need to really ask what is exactly the specific challenge to retain and managerial skills that need to be stressed. Is it a compensation challenge? Is it like development and learning? And for each team it's, in each state, it's a different challenge. You cannot have one retention plan for the entire company and for sure, you cannot have the same retention plan for each company. 

James Mackey: 30:53

So this is a really great point. So I wrote down, actually, several kinds of follow-up notes and pointers based on this really really good stuff. I mean, again, I think it's. What I really love about this example or situation that you solve is that it's a very difficult one. It's more of a consistent role that's not as short to midterm growth-focused as one of the primary selling points, where you might have a traditional path of a year to two years or longer. So that's why I really like this example. One of the couples of things I would like to slow down on is, of course, in the startup world and the tech world in general, there's always going to be a shortage of engineers and good people to hire, and I think it's also looking at for the perspective of you know, when we provide a good candidate experience and it's going to lead to better candidate engagement, it's going to lead to an overall better quality of hire, because a lot of startups and growth stage companies do not have this as clearly defined and it's a way to really stand out. I think the other aspect of it, too, is well, not only, but it's also, as you bitch, it's a better quality experience for the hiring managers right, like you're making their job a little bit easier.


They're going to have better talent on their team. They're going to feel more confident in achieving the goals that they need to, so I think that that's really great as well. Like, we have to remember, our leaders are also in place and we have to do what we can to make them happy. I think the other point that I wanted to make is a lot of startups and growth stage companies have this mentality of we're a startup or growth stage, we don't have time to put these programs in place, and I think that that's and I'm sure you agree, it's obviously you do it's a really short-sighted, non-logical way to think about it. Simply because it really doesn't take too much time to think through this stuff. You can if you sit down and you focus on it. It's not rocket science. It requires focus, you know, requires some collaboration amongst the leadership team, and to understand the hiring managers' needs, understanding our budget, understanding these types of things. But if you can increase the quality of talent that's coming on your team, if you can increase retention, you're ultimately going to save so much time and you're going to be able to have more value creators that are going to help you achieve your North Star metrics.


There's a massive opportunity cost. It might be a little harder to measure on a dollar basis. I think it's certainly worth going through the motion to try to get buy-in, if you need to, from other executives. It's so much more effective. And I just don't. I don't think it's like people understand that. I did a post on LinkedIn the other day where I was like I kind of was making a joke. Like, imagine going to a prospective customer and saying, hey, we're a young and scrappy company with no onboarding processes or resources to help you be successful. We're looking for customers that are going to thrive in that environment, and like we just think about how stupid that sounds right. And yet when we look at talent strategy for startups and the growth stage, that's basically how a lot of companies are approaching it. 

Ayelet Shapiro: 34:10

Yeah, yeah, I agree that as much as we can structure the onboarding and the recruitment process and give the managers, the hiring managers, the tools to feel confident that they know what to promise and how to attract the talent, it will give the managers the confidence and it will give the candidates the confidence that we know what we are doing and that we are a great choice. I will also say that, as you said, companies and I can understand that people have managers who are afraid of bringing too many juniors aboard. But I think that really, I believe personally that bringing people with potential, of course, you have to have a few pillars with the experience, with the knowledge, but if you are bringing people with the eagerness to learn and to develop and have the potential, even not the experience, and you'll be really structured, development plan and training plans you'll have the great employees and there will be experience in no time and energy and the results that you can get are limitless. 

James Mackey: 35:44

Yeah, I think it's in the startup world. I think the majority of the roles that we're going to hire for this is sort of an arbitrary number. It's not a direct statistic. They're a direct data point, but this is more just through experience. Again, I usually say let's hire people that have around 75% of the experience we're looking for, and it's the 25% that they don't have. The 25% they don't have is why they're going to accept our offer because if we're hiring growth-minded people, that's really what's going to drive them and that's also another kind of theory if you will. That's proven very well. I mean, again, what I should do is actually collect the data on that and see how close to 75% it really is, but I think it's probably pretty damn close. I think that I recently was on a podcast where a C level was actually kind of brought up. He's like well, yeah, you want some roles where it's that, and then you want for other roles. You want somebody who's been there, done that highly experienced. They get excited about the nuance of a new type of product, but they've done 95% of it, and that's true. I mean, there are certain C-level positions or VP positions where you don't want the person who's done 50%, 75% of the job and I get that too. 

Ayelet Shapiro: 37:10

For sure. It's a mix and you need to have this mix, as I said, you need to have these really experienced people who can teach and who can build the infrastructure in order to build people who are more juniors and with potential. 

James Mackey: 37:28

Yeah, yeah. I just think, as startup companies, like growth stage, we have to get out of the mindset of, yes, we want people that are agile and adaptable we do and also, not being an enterprise company is an excuse to be unorganized and to not be thoughtful about our process. I mean, we're like and it's kind of weird how that pervades so much of startup culture and this like, hey, let's just, it doesn't matter. If anything, you know, a lot of this stuff is not well organized. We're looking for people that get it. It's like, okay, you're competing for the most competitive, smartest people in the world. Like the two most competitive industries are tech and academia. Like these folks are smart, the ones that are actually good, are going to be very critical of your environment and they're going to adopt the mindset of, like how you do one thing is how you do everything. 

Ayelet Shapiro: 38:23


James Mackey: 38:23

I agree, yeah, there are just not enough people to out there to take that mindset. 

Ayelet Shapiro: 38:30


James Mackey: 38:32

I mean, that's my thoughts, and even like an employer-driven market, which apparently we're more so in now, I think there is a lot of good talent out there that might be kind of floating around. I would just say that again if you want the best of the best, they're always going to have the most options, and I know a few A players that are actually unemployed right now, but the only reason they're unemployed is because they're being very thoughtful about their next move, like the best people that I know. A lot of them had good severances, they've been in tech for years, they have some money saved up and they're not going to jump into. So they're even the folks that are the best that are unemployed right now. They're still being incredibly critical, like I know a couple of people that are A players that have been out for like six months and they're just the people that you want to bring and you don't want to compromise for people that don't have a choice.


Ayelet Shapiro: 39:23

You want the people that you will choose and they will choose you, and you have to be very organized from the very early stages, because if you're not, it's first, it's not only we are speaking about people employees, retention and recruitment, but also for business, for customers. I can say that you cannot build a business and later scale If you are not doing very, very organized and planned and structured from the very beginning. So yeah with us that we spoke about agility, it's very, very important, but also the ability to emphasize quality, and that would be very, very precise. 

James Mackey: 40:17

Yeah, I think that really hits the nail on the head. We need to elevate our thinking and be more thoughtful about this, and there's just a lot of fallacious thinking when it comes to running people, organizations, and what tier people should really be. I mean, one of my board of advisors I have Steve Cadigan. He was the first chief HR officer of LinkedIn and helped scale them from 300 people to 3000. He also had been VP of HR for Electronic Arts and a fair amount of other pretty well-known organizations and he was mentioned on the sea level conversations and with the board. The first thing that they would jump into is people. Yeah like that was always, and if they could get to the other stuff they would, but people always came first. And if you hear from a lot of the most successful entrepreneurs I'm not talking about mid-tier, I'm talking about the best of the best they will talk about the importance of getting the absolute best people. There's a LinkedIn influence that I actually quite respect. I think, overall, his content is the most valuable on LinkedIn.


However, he did a post recently where he was talking about how he used to think, you know, going to market was the most important thing for companies to start on, and that no individual person is greater than going to market. And now he's starting to realize that, you know, after developing a go-to market, people are actually the most important aspect. To which I respond it's like well, who's developing your go-to market plan? Like, so he understood that, of course, people are very important, but there's that other layer where you have to dig deeper, and it's understanding that literally every single go-to-market plan, every single product idea and initial kind of groundwork is created by people, whether it's the founder or not. We have to remember that literally, people are at the very core of everything we're doing, and maybe by 2045 when the average AI academic specialist thinks that we're going to have general AI. Maybe at some point that'll change, but you know for now, people are at the core of all of these decisions and I think it's just very important for leaders to remember that. 

Ayelet Shapiro: 42:27

Yeah, yeah. I think that the leaders currently most of them understand that, but yes, it's. 

James Mackey: 42:35

I think they do. I think there are just tears, right? There are tears to competency. I think that there are a lot of folks coming from a technical background. I think sometimes companies have to learn the hard way a little too often and hopefully your product and go-to-market is so strong that you can f up and make mistakes and still have so much leverage from what you're building that you can do that. But yeah, something. I just think it's a good reminder, right? 

Ayelet Shapiro: 43:00


James Mackey: 43:02

Well, so we have a few minutes left. I would love to jump into employee engagement. When it comes to employer branding, and being active on social media, how do you get buying from the team? And then, also, like, one of the things that I'm always concerned about is I know my team is busy and so I don't want them to feel like they're they need to spend a bunch of time on social media promoting us. So I'm just kind of wondering how you get engagement and how you try to balance where it doesn't end up taking too much of their time or it doesn't make them feel stressed that oh, I have this, I got to do marketing in addition to my. You know what I mean. Like, how do you manage that? 

Ayelet Shapiro: 43:41

So what I'm trying to do, and I did in the past, is always, you know, I have my team or social media or marketing person, who is, you know, writing posts and, you know, concentrating on our appearance in the social media. But I always want to add to it, you know, employees' involvement, and I do it in special projects or special themes or something like that. For example, in one of the companies that I work for, you know employees were very stressed out and they really worked a lot and we looked for ways to support our employees and one of the things that we did is give them a budget for a vacation and a few vacation days in addition to their regular vacation days, and we did ask them. We didn't make them do it, it wasn't, you know, a must in order to get the budget, but we did ask them to post their best vacation photo on LinkedIn and we did say that, out of all the photos that will be published, we will choose the winner and she will get the additional budget for a vacation. And people posted like they were so grateful and they really appreciated the entire initiative.


So they posted things that I wouldn't even dream to ask them to write. It's that they were on and the competition was only on the photo and they had great, amazing photos, but it was not only the photos but also what they wrote and how they and it was fun for them to tell to the world what their company did for them. So I think that things like that for example, if we are a sound or music company, do some project as the employees to write about their connection to music and how they started to play the instrument that they are playing, and then again give the best post tickets to a great band show that is going to be this year, or something like that. Always things that are involving the employees, but in a fun way, in related to a specific theme, not just please share this post or something like that. It's important we should ask them to share, but if we are doing these initiatives, employees are really engaged to contribute to our social platform appearance. Once we did a donation to one of our employees who were in really special need, and again we encourage our employees to take a challenge, a one-month challenge, I decided to be a vegetarian for one month and I asked my friends over Facebook etc.


To donate to this important reason and I promised to be a vegetarian for one month and the money that was raised, the company, of course, matched it and it all went to this employee. And again, employees were so motivated and so appreciative about what the company is doing and that it's in order to help one of them, and stuff like that. They really wrote great, great stuff about the company in the post, and this is not what we asked them for. This is what they wanted to write because, of course, it was a little bit of a competition about who will raise more money and stuff like that. So it was also fun, but it was for such a good cause and, again, employees were really, really, really engaged for it. So I think that these are the most effective ways to create employee engagement to our social appearance and brand. 

James Mackey: 48:22

Yeah, I think that's really smart. In fact, I think I have to revisit my strategy here at SecureVision. I think what we do primarily is I ask them to post about the podcast if they have time, like hey, I really appreciate just kind of sharing the word. But they're happy to do it because they want to help. But I think there are probably ways to make it more exciting so that they can write more posts here, more of themselves, and even do more. Actually, that's going to help their personal brand as well. Like, let's do it in such a way where it's beneficial to the company, where they're also building personal brands that are going to be incredibly valuable to their career as well. 

Ayelet Shapiro: 48:58

Yeah, yeah, it's always the two ways. 

James Mackey: 49:02

Yeah, for sure. I mean, that's when there's that alignment, which is perfect, and well, anyways, look, we're coming up on time here. 

Ayelet Shapiro: 49:11

I've had a really good yeah really it doesn't fly. Yeah, definitely. 

James Mackey: 49:16

Yeah, it's great. Like pretty much every week now I'm getting a DM on LinkedIn from an executive that's tuning in and is saying, okay, I dropped this episode on a Slack channel or you know, we're currently implementing or we change this or we love the show. So it's really cool to get that feedback and know that it's actually making a difference out there. 

Ayelet Shapiro: 49:46

Great. I hope that I was able to contribute and I really enjoyed our time. 

James Mackey: 49:52

 I know this episode is incredibly valuable, so anyways, thank you so much for joining us today. 

Ayelet Shapiro: 50:03

Thank you and have a great summer. 

James Mackey: 50:05

Yeah, you as well, and for everybody tuning in. We appreciate your support and we'll talk to you next time. Take care.

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