Business Owners Speak Out

Business Owners Speak Out

This interview with Rob Maniaci and Shawn Gulyas originally appeared in Issue 123 of the Business Owners Speak Out newsletter, a weekly publication sent to subscribers by ActionCOACH of Wisconsin. Learn more and subscribe.

humanworks8 – Owner Shawn Gulyas

Shawn Gulyas:  Our tagline is that we help organizations bring work to life and life to work. That’s easy to say, but if you think about it, it’s really true because our focus is elevating culture and engaging people in very unique and sustainable practices that actually create a business’s new way of working and living, their operating system for the future. Our philosophy is centered around what we call the Eight; and that is eight principals to everything we do and work with and what organizations are centered around, and that is our ‘everyone is unique, everyone believes, everyone connects, everyone contributes, everyone rises, everyone learns, everyone thrives, and everyone matters.’ That is our foundational philosophy that we have put together. Then we engage through four services areas. One is what we call The Core Value Touchpoints, and that is our culture development solution. We elevate existing or we discover the unique core values of a business. We make sure that after the discovery and the elevation of the language they are currently using, that they are integrated throughout the organization with what we call the 12 people touchpoints. Some of those touchpoints can include the talent discovery process and performance management recognition. The second is the Kolbe System; that is our talent engagement solution. That involves improving individual and team performance, effectiveness, hiring the right candidates for the role and establishing talent practices that really maximizes each person’s strength. It’s also thinking wholly of a person, through all three parts of their mind. The third service area is our strategic planning solution; what we do there is help define organization’s strategic vision and then unite the team and build their way of working to achieve it, ensuring alignment, accountability and really making sure that no matter where you fit in the organization, you have a clear line of sight of the work I am doing right here at this table, at this desk, to where we are headed in 3 years or 5 years or 10 years vision. That is strategic planning solution. Then the fourth way we interact with our businesses is what we call The Leadership Model, which is really our leadership development solutions. We launched in October of 2019. We are really in growth mode and are looking to add some talent going into 2023, so that is really exciting.

RM:  Where do you want to take your company long term?

SG:  We will be a top national consultancy I believe. I don’t even believe it; I know that we will. Just based on our success already in our first 3 years and what we really want to do is help organizations drive growth and engagement by championing people and building sustainable people practices that will help the bottom line of the business. That is what I see long term.

RM:  Who is your target market (who do you help)?

SG:  We have worked with clients of an employee count of 8 to 10, past the thousands. We work with a lot of organizations that are entrepreneurial and startups and thinking about culture. Building your business’s way from the start is really important, and a lot of organizations are finding us that way. We are really good with startups, and we have had success with family-owned businesses as well.

RM:  What problems do you solve for your customers?

SG:  We solve the people problem for our clients, we solve the people engagement. The problem around people and how we can champion people in the best ways. I think after the pandemic, a lot of people would say it is a terrible time to start a business, but what we have lived through the last couple of years really was an opportunity for us because organizations really looked at people and their talent the same way as people re-looked at their organizations, and we are that bridge in the middle to really help organizations and their talent to come up with some real solutions and answers with how to engage differently, how to look at people differently and how to work differently to build a strong culture.

RM:  What is your biggest learning from the pandemic and how has your thinking changed in your approach to business over the last two years?

SG:  Our biggest learning, as I said, was more of an opportunity than a learning. Learning that the pandemic was a great opportunity because it really changed people’s perspective, being an employee of an organization, but hopefully on the reverse, organizations think I need to relearn how I think about people. We are at that sweet spot; we lived those beliefs long before. That is why I think it opens so many doors and so many great conversations with business owners as they are looking for ways to think about this in a different way.

RM:  What is one mistake you’ve made, or lesson learned that other business owners and entrepreneurs can learn from regardless of their industry?

SG:  Here’s probably something that I think about a lot; don’t overthink it, go with your gut. One of my mentors and one of the people that has really had an impact on me is Kathy Kolbe. She came up with these rules for trusting your gut, and one that she adds is, “Act before you think.”  I think that is so important and that is something I don’t do, but when I do it, I keep applying it over and over. The way I phrase that is, I don’t know what I am doing, but I am going to do it anyway, because I know in my heart and gut that it’s for the right reasons and the right outcomes for people in businesses. I don’t really worry too much about knowing all the details, but just going with my really good gut and helping businesses thrive. That is what I would say. That is Kathy’s, yes; mine is, “I don’t know what I am doing, but I am going to do it anyway.”

RM:  Is there anything you’d like to include in the form of an offer or announcement for the folks that read this newsletter?

SG:  My offer is always this; give me a call and let’s have lunch. It’s not about a percentage offer or anything. It’s about a conversation, let’s elevate people’s experiences at work. I love to chat to business owners about current challenges, culture building, people and I am open to share anything I know with anybody if they are coming from that same point.

RM:  What is most inspiring to you today?

SG:  Well, today, Wednesday is a good day to ask me that question, because today is a day I get to blog in LinkedIn. Whatever is on my mind or something I heard from a client or a friend or colleague. I call it Wondering Wednesday. Everybody needs to check that out. Today, I am writing about procrastination and getting behind, and it is inspiring when people have been talking back to me already this morning saying, “Oh, Shawn, that’s me.”  I try to encourage everybody, sometimes things are labeled a certain way, but if you go with your gut and it’s right for you, who cares how anybody else does it. The whole theme of that is sometimes it’s okay to get behind, and that is what gets you ahead a little bit, when you have to put in that last minute energy. That is what is inspiring me today. I’d love to be able to do that once a week, because it’s also one of humanworks8’ values of wonder, so that is where it all came from.