I had the pleasure of interviewing Kendra Prospero, CEO & Founder of Turning the Corner. Kendra Prospero knows how to make your people more profitable and fulfilled. She founded her company, Turning the Corner, after working for fortune 100 companies as a consultant and software engineer. Time and again she saw too many people who were dying on the vine and wasting time and money at work. She knows how to hire, create programs for a great culture that drives results as well as help with HR compliance. She and her team have helped people at all levels and every industry.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
I’ve spent most of my life curious about why people do the work they do. I am obsessed with everything about work — what makes people love or hate a job, how do our employees contribute or extract from the bottom line, and what can we all do to improve work. I run a business based out of Colorado that helps companies and individuals solve these problems. We serve 1000s of people every year and hundreds of companies.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
By far the most interesting thing has been finding a group of about 300 other CEO’s and leaders who are truly bringing love and heart into the business community. We support each other during our darkest hours and it is the most giving and remarkable thing I’ve experienced in my business life.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
We are one of the only companies in the country that serves both individuals and companies. We do recruiting, HR support, training, and we also help people accelerate their job search with coaching, resumes, and interview support. We’ve had countless situations where we have made perfect matches for companies with a job seeker that came to us feeling hopeless and lost. We turned them around and helped them find a job that they truly love.
Are you working on any new or exciting projects now?
There’s a lot of opportunity for companies to tie the latest research in defining your mission, vision, and values to greater employee engagement programs. A lot of companies are doing a better job of defining their “why” but they are struggling to figure out how to propel it through the entire organization. We’ve been working with companies to help them use their why and their values to define their recruiting strategy and process, HR policies, training and promotion plans together. It’s been amazing to see the power around hiring, firing, and governing an organization with these guard rails.
What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?
CEOs are both leaders and managers. The #1 reason that someone hates their job is that they don’t feel cared for. It’s our managers who care for us most at our jobs. If a CEO only sees themselves as a leader, and not as a nurturing manager too, then employees will not thrive.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?
I’ve had so many people help me along the way, I hardly know where to begin. My husband has been my constant cheerleader and advisor, and my dad (also an entrepreneur) has been a great coach to help me see things around the corner that I cannot see. I also have the most amazing team that inspires me everyday and they are so good at what they do.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
The only reason I do what I do is because I know I am able to make a difference. It is my life mission to do all I can to end suffering in the workplace and I get to do this every single day!
Can you share ways that increased diversity can help a company’s bottom line?
If you think of an organization like an eco-system, the only way it will survive is with diversity. Imagine a forest or a desert with only one kind of species — it would never thrive. The eco-system of a company only gets stronger with more diverse thinking. Women and men, rich and poor, older and younger, different backgrounds and races, etc. When you have more diversity, you can serve a broader audience because people like to buy from people who are like them. Diversity also brings in new ideas that can broaden your portfolio and offering. It helps you end bad ideas which can be costly. For my own organization, we’ve deliberately hired people from every generation so that we can truly test the results. It helps us serve a broader population because we understand the challenges of each generation. We’ve also deliberately hired more men (our workforce is dominantly women), and it’s helped us have more balanced discussions.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”?
Every time I meet someone that I don’t like at first impression, I pause and force myself to get to know them. I wouldn’t be married to my soul mate or have most of my team if I’d only gone with my first impression. My favorite quote is from Lincoln “I do not like that man, therefore, I shall get to know him.” I’ve never met someone that I didn’t believe in once I got to know them.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this :-)
Adam Grant. I find all his research to be spot-on with what I see anecdotally in the market and I would love to geek-out with him about Work and Life.