One of the most delightful statements that has emerged in my Disrupt Yourself Podcast interviews thus far came from Lee Caraher, guest on episode 24: “I started my career in public relations basically because my friend Ramona from college said, “Lee, I think you should go into PR,” when I asked her what I should do with this Medieval History degree.”
Lee is the CEO and Founder of Double Forte, a national digital marketing and public relations firm. She’s also the author of recently published The Boomerang Principle: Inspire Lifetime Loyalty from Your Employees, and an earlier book: Millennials and Management: the Essential Guide to Making it Work at Work.
She’s actually found the Medieval History education—if not the actual degree—pretty helpful in her professional life. One of its main contributions has been the development of an acute awareness of perspective—the point of view evident in historical sources has a modern counterpart in prospective customers and employees. Everyone has a point of view; recognizing that fact and empathizing with other people’s perspective is a leg-up in any people-oriented enterprise.
Here’s some of what she’s learned about perspectives in the workplace:
“The Boomerang Principle is the belief that those companies that encourage their former employees to return to them have a strategic advantage over those that don’t. So if you rehire someone, your company has more advantage in the marketplace than if you say those people are dead to me. The book actually came out of talking about my first book, because everywhere I went—I still go—people are like, “Ah, those millennials are not loyal. They’re not loyal anymore.
“Of course, they’re not loyal like you were loyal—you 60 year old person—like you were loyal when you came into the workplace. The whole job world has totally turned upside down.”
Boomerang, Lee points out, doesn’t only refer to employees who leave and then physically come back to work for you again at a later date. Boomerang’s are also former employees who “work for you” from a distance, building your good reputation among potential clients, customers or talent.
“I think one thing to think about is, every time—and this has always been true but not to the impact that it is today in the social media world—every time someone leaves you they can hurt you or help you….Our businesses will be healthier the more people are saying good things after they leave us.”
Be proactive, Lee advises, with your employees. They will leave someday. We know this from the moment they are hired. So how they will feel about us when they do go is pressing business from day 1. She says she tells her new hires up front: “If you find that we cannot accommodate your goals—your life goals—here, we will help you go be successful somewhere else, if you tell us.”
Over the 15 years she’s been in business for herself, Lee has rehired 14 people; four of them she’s rehired twice. They come back better for the experience they’ve acquired working elsewhere, and with renewed appreciation for the workplace culture that Lee works hard to instill.
“I assume my whole team is getting poached. I don’t like that, but I assume it because if I don’t have a team that’s ready, that other people want, I do not have a relevant team in our marketplace. So, I can’t worry about that. I have to worry about my goals for my company and creating the environment where people stay and they’re happy, but if they’re not happy they have to go because I really think the most loyal thing you can do as an employee is leave when you are not excited about the opportunities that that company provides for you.”
Lee is a successful professional, a successful entrepreneur, a successful disruptor. She’s also pretty entertaining, with a healthy dose of wise and experienced insight into the modern workplace.
Check out the full podcast episode in the player below, or by subscribing on iTunes.
Resources Mentioned in the Show and Transcript
Disrupt Yourself by Whitney Johnson