Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in leadership development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Debbie Cohen, Co-Founder of HumanityWorks®, located in San Francisco, CA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
HumanityWorks® is a leadership development organization that focuses on increasing productivity by bringing more humanity to the workplace. The HumanityWorks® model contains Five Practices linked to proven productivity outcomes that help drive business success:
- Creating safety builds trust.
- Working together manifests resilience.
- Claiming values produces alignment.
- Owning your impact drives accountability.
- Daring not to know creates engagement.
These Five Practices put people first. They are the magic for success and drive unrealized business results.
HumanityWorks® programs, coaching, and consulting services are for you when how work gets done is as important as what work gets accomplished. Our programs and services are for organizations that realize a one-and-done approach to flavor-of-the-month training does not yield the type of long-term systemic change you need. Our programs and services are for you when you are serious about cultivating a culture where humanity works better. We work with start-ups at all stages of evolution and mature companies ready to lead.
Tell us about yourself
I began my career in early childhood education. I was insatiably curious about how to unleash the pure potential of each child. This curiosity eventually evolved into a career focused on the behavioral traits of adults, especially when functioning within organizational systems and structures. I spent several decades working at the executive level in a myriad of industries and with companies that ranged in size from multinational holding companies to eight-person start-ups. I witnessed first-hand the power of people to be toxic and destructive or purposeful and productive.
HumanityWorks was co-founded with my business partner, Kate Roeske-Zummer. Each day we strive to bring more humanity to the workplace so that both business and its people can thrive.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
The biggest accomplishment was actually two-fold and happened in the same week. On October 21, 2021, the Harvard Business Review published our article, With Some Many People Quitting, Don't Overlook Those Who Stay. It has received tens of thousands of views and was a huge lift-off for our business. A few days later, our book, Humanity Works Better: 5 Practices to Lead with Awareness, Choice, and the Courage to Change, was published. It is the foundational piece to our model, programs, and services.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
There can be a lot of hard things. Maybe the hardest is saying "no.' No is a reflection of our boundaries and helps keep us focused on creating the outcomes we want... rather than being pulled into someone else's agenda.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Love what you do.
- Know why it matters.
- Choose the right people to do it with.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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