Tune in as our guest, Stephanie Majors shares the importance of empathy and support when scaling Organizational Health.
SellX is a platform that helps companies grow quickly and efficiently through sourcing, managing and scaling remote talent.
Stephanie Majors, the Chief People Officer of SellX sits with LEON's founder, Bryan Smith on this episode of the Organizational Health Podcast. Stephanie comes from an eclectic background working in a variety of industries such as aerospace, sales, banking and even had a stint as a prison substance abuse counselor - experiences that she uses to tackle leading the people teams at SellX with empathy, support and working with them to develop both professionally and personally.
Key insights include:
Bryan: Hey what's going on everybody? For LEON, I'm Bryan Smith and you are listening to the Organizational Health podcast, the show where we get down and dirty for 15 minutes with people leaders, executives, and founders on the Playbooks that they use to improve organizational health. In today's podcast, straight from South Dakota we have Stephanie Majors, Chief People Officer at SellX, which is the world's leading on-demand sales platform today. Stephanie, you ready to kick this off?
Stephanie: I absolutely am.
Bryan: Alright - so first off - thank you for joining. Tell us about your background, your experience in HR and what you do day to day right now.
Stephanie: You know I'm different from probably a lot. I'm very eclectic in my background. I will say that I've worked in industries from education to aerospace to sales to banking. I even did a year in prison substance abuse counseling. So that was pretty fun but I think the mainstay within each of those different positions with people - love people, love being able to meet with them, work with them, support them and take them on their journey professionally and personally and so through each of these different organizations I've learned to grow, I've learned to understand what it is that I wanted to do and HR/People Operations, People Experience - seemed to be a perfect fit. So last year I worked with Steve Schmidt who is the CRO at SellX. He was the former President at Title Consulting and so had met with Dean Glass who is the CEO of SellX and they met to combine forces. So I am now the Chief People Officer at SellX and we are in the midst of building a sales enablement platform for people for businesses just to be able to democratize the economy so everybody can get a little piece and work on their terms.
Bryan: Cool. So three questions. Current size of the company, how large is your people team and then what are your growth goals over the next year from a people standpoint?
Stephanie: Sure. So right now we are a mighty team of three. So it's myself, People Operations Officer and our People Ops Specialist whom I could not do my job without. Currently where we're at - we are in a growth stage right now so we have about 30 internal employees. However we employ or contract about 40 to 50 1099 contractors. So they're the ones that do the outsourcing, the top of funnel filling for each of our clients. So our day consists of a lot of interviewing, a lot of establishing protocols and developing communication plans which we found out was essential especially to being a contractor. You work around their schedules, you work around their availability and it's being able to come up with ways that we can better support them to enable them to create learning material and clear objectives for the clients. Basically get the job done and to get those met appointments and to get them completely successful on their own.
Bryan: I'm sorry, what was the number for the contractors again?
Stephanie: We have about 60 and we have another 60 in our pipeline right now.
Bryan: Okay, fantastic. Okay, cool. So under that purview with the 3 internal employees that you currently have right now and the 60 contractors, does that involve everything from benefits operations to engagement to payroll to pretty much everything else right?
Stephanie: Everything under the sun.
Stephanie: Absolutely, yeah.
Bryan: Okay, fantastic. And then you said you guys are roughly doubling about headcount over the next year?
Stephanie: We are onboarding - at least in terms of our contractors - is based on the clients that we bring in. So the amount of revenue and how we can successfully align the experience of the verticals of our reps to the clients that are coming in is our main goal and our main focus. And then in addition to our internal staff - because we are building out the platform as we go - kind of building that airplane in the sky as they like to say - so it's bringing in lots of engineers, it's bringing in a lot of UX design products, individuals will be our next phase. We're currently going through series A funding, so once that happens, that's gonna be a pretty big deal for us to move to that next phase of growth for the company.
Bryan: Okay, Alright, fantastic. So I'm curious to dive into this because obviously the name of our podcast is Organizational Health podcast and your experiences, you know, its vast right? From the prison system to working within tech now, can you define what organizational health means to you? And the second part of that question is - now that, you know, we're going through sort of an economic downturn, how does that term organizational health - does it mean anything different to you right now?
Stephanie: For me personally and I have to sidebar and say that I'm very fortunate in that our executive team and management are very much in alignment to this and organizational health starts with accountability. It's honesty, it's fortitude and it's accepting who you are and who you're not and knowing that you don't have to have all the answers. It's knowing that there is no question that is wrong. That just prevents you from having to learn because we're all here to learn from each other. We're all a little bit scrappy. We're all a little bit gritty and none of us has had that Ivy League type of experience or we're learning from each other and we're learning. And I think being able to pass that on to not only the internal staff but to our XDRs knowing that we're in it with you - I think is the way to go and knowing that your input and knowing that your feedback is extremely important to us to be successful. We've instituted a lot of feedback type of mechanisms from the XDRs from our internal staff, like what's working, what's not - starting to create feedback loops in order to have a better understanding. It's a living organism ultimately, and to know that every piece, every limb, every aspect of it is breathing and working, and if one doesn't then it's not functioning properly. So to be able to address those issues right when they happen and to understand it's a team effort in order to fix it, to remedy it…
Bryan: And you know, and that's something from having a relationship with Candace Taber over the past couple of years, the fact that you guys are so focused on XDRS and actually the health and the engagement of those is so very different than what we find - I mean, and you can compare it to Uber right? Where quite honestly, I don't, I think Uber is caring much about their drivers. But what's interesting about your business model is that when you are implementing these XDRs within clients that you actually care about those XDRs. That you care about burnout and mental health and everything that falls under the purview of organizational health. So with that - what made you guys take that approach?
Stephanie: You know, we've learned that people in order to institute - not only organizational health - people themselves need to be healthy. They need to have clarity. We need to - as employers - understand that people have lives outside of the work that they do and to be accepting of that, to be able to work around that, to navigate the ups and downs in life, and to work with them versus against them. It's a partnership. It's not some sort of evil dominion we're trying to play over our reps and to have them do this or that for our bidding. So we went in with the mindset of us being able to enable them to give them the tools to succeed and in turn provide us with the feedback in order to help us grow. And the best thing is - you need to take a week off, take a week off. You need to handle something with your family, handle something with your family. We have enough reps that are actually on the platform that would be able to pick up anything that could potentially be lost. Which is something that other organizations would probably experience - if you happen to lose two XDRs, we have another two that are completely able to pick up where they left off and being able to provide them with the resources to get them up and started with the client so that that's our main goal - to just be a team. They're no different from the internal staff. We don't look at them as oh you're over here and we're over here. We just had a meeting about that this morning and creating a community where we're here for support even if you aren't on a client - come into our Slack channel, come in and let us know what's going on, let us know what you learned. How can you help us? Because this truly is a give and take type of situation and we wouldn't be us without them. So that's how integral they are actually part of this community and part of our business model.
Bryan: Okay so you mentioned tools for feedback and whatnot. What are you guys using internally right now for that 90% head count?
Stephanie: You know we're instituting it so it's very manual at the moment. However we have our Slack community right? We have onboarding channels where we have internal channels for each and every individual client. So we have ways to discuss things with the client, ways to discuss things with CS, we have lunch and learns, we have one-on-ones that they can schedule. All of our calendars are open anytime you need help, feedback or training where it's ultimately making ourselves accessible to them in whatever way or capacity that needs to happen for them to get the assistance that they need.
Bryan: Okay. Alright. Fantastic. And if you have a north star metric that you wanted to track around organizational health, what would that be?
Stephanie: Satisfaction, job satisfaction and are we providing you with the proper tools and information that you need to be successful? So a lot of that comes with getting information about the client. What's their ICP? What's their main focus on what they want? How can we better assist the client? So the more information we can give them about the client about who it is - their main goal of who they want to reach then, that’s what we need to supply them with. So it's just an inundation. We have a repository that we just created about a couple of weeks ago to start building, do videos, have talk tracks, to do mock calls with our CRO and with Candace to kind of show them an example of what these clients are actually looking for. These are all based on the discovery calls that Steve does in the beginning, as well as, the intake calls that Candace and her team does when we first do kick-off meetings with the client.
Bryan: Okay cool. So we talked about how you guys look at organizational health, what type of strategies do you guys use to collect feedback…now let's talk about sort of the Playbooks and the actions that you guys are taking. Now I know you guys are somewhat early stage so there's probably not an EIP or anything along those lines in place - where do you see you guys moving forward when it comes down to either scheduling? Will you do a four day work week? You know, will you have off Fridays? What type of benefits are you thinking about offering? If that could be mental health benefits? If that could be support benefits? Just give us a lay of the land as far as that's concerned.
Stephanie: You know, I'm super big just to me as a human being, being able to afford individuals with the opportunity to live their life and have that security that the people that they are working for is helping them, and is assisting them. And in terms of our [benefits], we do offer medical, dental, and vision. Our goal moving forward is to institute mental health initiatives, to provide different access types of perks to basically accommodate their everyday living. What is it that you need versus what we may think you want. And so I think a lot of that has to do with communication because people live so many different lives, they live in different places. We have employee reps throughout the entire country. So everybody lives a different experience and it's being able to come together to provide those things to them that we feel would best provide them with an all around experience of us. I know that hopefully what we can set up in the future is robust in terms of work days. It's work when you can. We don't have a set schedule. We are not a 9 to 5. I myself, am not a morning person. Everybody knows that, however, as long as you fulfill your responsibilities - we're all adults. We all have lives. Some of us have children. Some of us have parents that we need to take care of. So being able to work with each other just as long as there's a consistent fluidity of communication, I think that's ultimately what we strive for, what we reinforce every single day. Just let us know how we can help each other, how we can bring you up. If you're having a bad day, let us know. Take time off. I've had that happen a couple of times where there's just, personal things that happen within my team or within the organization and you can't function as a person like that. And to be able to allow people the space to grieve, to mourn, to be able to handle things that they know they wouldn't be able to focus on if they had to sit here in front of the computer or attend a Zoom meeting. I think those are the things of knowing that that's okay, we support that and we want you to be able to do that but also, you know, be able to fill your duties of your job at the same time. We're all a team. Thankfully so many of us cross pollinate in so many different areas of the organization, which is helpful for exactly that purpose. I don't think we would be able to afford that opportunity or luxury to anybody if we weren't as open as we were as an organization. So I know things that Candace does, Candace knows things that I do. BD is super integrated with our sales ops team and so where we can pick up the slack in whatever area that's our ultimate goal is to maintain that.
Bryan: And based on the conversations that we have a lot, it's you know, really it's about the autonomy of your people to be able to sort of take care of themselves, right? You know, and I think what we're doing, especially when it comes to organizational health, it's very subjective and health as a whole is super subjective, but we treat it especially within sort of the benefits space that, you know, meditation will fix everybody, or yoga will fix everybody or this and that's just not how we work, right? We have a lifelong baggage of trauma and relationships with our parents and all these other things that influence how we get healthy, right? And it's great that you guys are taking that approach. So, all right, the last half of this podcast, I have three questions for you. Okay, this is our top three at three. What favorite CEOs, founders, HR people are you following right now that you sort of look up to?
Stephanie: You know, for me, I'm very partial to Sam Sales. I love Samantha. Her outlook in terms of leadership, in terms of inclusivity really helped drive me, especially as a woman, being a woman leader in this space in sales. Being able to maintain that kind of balance of persona, the work and who you are as a human, as a woman. In terms of HR specifically Jessica over at Refined Labs, she's amazing. Go see her content. She's a huge support system in terms of breaking the mold of what traditional HR people ops is. It's understanding that the world is changing. It’s understanding that people's needs are changing and she's someone that I really look up to in terms of having that guide. And so it's okay to break the mold. It's okay to be different than ultimately what's expected, even within this space because it's ever growing and ever changing every day and I think it all starts with that collaboration, not only within your own ecosystem, but even outside of that. So those are probably two of my absolute favorite leaders. And of course Dean and Steve. Steve is that ultimate sales guy - you can't get around it. And Dean, quite honestly, he's an interesting CEO mainly because he's the first one to admit he doesn't know it all and he's brought in this team of other gritty human beings that love what they do and have all come from a different way of being, of working and to be able to find that common space amongst each other - he instills that within us and supports that along the way. So I think he's an amazing person to work for and I couldn't have been more fortunate to be here and to be able to help build this foundation for them. So I'm very fortunate.
Bryan: Great. Next question! What books are you reading right now or what books would you recommend?
Stephanie: Oh goodness.
Bryan: Can be fiction or nonfiction. We don't have to play this game where it's just about this. Whatever you want.
Stephanie: I have to admit. I'm kind of one of those individuals who reads to get away. I don't know if you've ever heard of The Tortilla Curtain. It's a story of immigrants from Mexico and there are plights in just trying to cross over to become US citizens and what it is that they actually had to go through to get there. Even despite the climate that we're in right now, it does remind you of the actual niceties,or the privileges that we have living in this country still, and hopefully will remain to be. I think it's just, it puts things into perspective that sometimes it's not as bad as what we may make it out to be and humbles yourself a little bit I think. And I needed that perspective because you get so caught up in life and you get so caught up in the things that you would like to change but can't. So kind of bringing it back down to the level of - hey, we're all here - I get to wake up in the morning, I get to go to the grocery store and I get to live a life that I choose to live.
Bryan: Okay, great. Last question! What do you do in your spare time? Hobbies?
Stephanie: Well as I told you before, my partner and I just moved from Los Angeles. We moved to South Dakota, which is a vast difference in terms of excitement level. To be quite honest, we go to the shooting range, we go take walks in Downtown Sioux Falls and trying to find the best Mexican food places are next on our to-do list. We have not found one yet, but we're really big on the up and coming places. So we're foodies which is a big thing. And of course Yellowstone is always kind of our go to. We're looking forward to that coming up soon.
Bryan: So for foodies out there other than possibly Mexican food - would you recommend Sioux Falls?
Stephanie: I don't know. I mean, hamburgers. Great American food. Yeah, we were really spoiled. I have to be totally honest. And us both being half Mexican, we’re a little preferential when it comes to authenticity of the Mexican cuisine.
Bryan: Well, I tell you what. A food truck, a Mexican food truck will either kill it or they'll just kick you straight out of town. So we'll see how it works out.
Stephanie: Well, it's interesting. Their spice level seems to be non-existent. So I don't know how well we would do, but that is something we would do if we won the lotto. We would definitely do a food truck.
Bryan: Alright, well, Stephanie, thank you so much for your time today and I look forward to learning more from you.
Stephanie: Awesome. Thank you so much Bryan. I appreciate it.
Bryan: Bye bye.