Prime for Growth! Conversations with Everyday Innovators

Prime for Growth Episode 1 - Innovating through Leadership with Ardyce Kouri

May 03, 2021 Prime Capital Group
Prime for Growth Episode 1 - Innovating through Leadership with Ardyce Kouri
Prime for Growth! Conversations with Everyday Innovators
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Prime for Growth! Conversations with Everyday Innovators
Prime for Growth Episode 1 - Innovating through Leadership with Ardyce Kouri
May 03, 2021
Prime Capital Group

Angela Armstrong  0:01  
Welcome to prime for growth, a podcast about the journey of possibility that entrepreneurs live every day. Our conversations with these everyday innovators explore why, when and how they implement change in their businesses. And sometimes what happens when they don't. I'm your host, Angela, and I've been working with entrepreneurs while growing a financial services company for more than two decades. I've learned a lot from our clients over the years, and I hope you will, too. Thanks for joining us on prime for growth.

Angela Armstrongr  0:35  
In today's episode, we're starting right at the top, the leader.    Steve Jobs said innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower. If that's true, then an innovative leader is crucial to generate a culture of innovation. We're visiting with Ardyce Kouri, partner in  Leaders International, a national executive recruitment firm.

Angela Armstrong 0:56  
In a market under rapid disruptive pressures, she describes how as an entrepreneur in an executive recruitment firm helps others find that right leader who will enable the firm to remain competitive and sustainable. Thanks for joining us.

Ardyce Kouri, I am a partner with leaders international were retained executive search firm, I have been with the firm it will be 17 years in June, which is a bit frightening to say out loud.

Ardyce Kouri  1:26  
I started really on the desk as we like to say at really from the ground up. I'm sort of a home grown individual within the firm and got to learn from some pretty amazing founders and leaders themselves. And I became an owner about nine years ago now. So it's almost a decade that I've had that opportunity to do that I have a political science undergrad degree. When I finished at the U of A I was really involved at a youth leadership organization called AISEC. And I ran work exchanges for international students I had the opportunity was elected to be the national president for AISEC, Canada for a year after I graduated. So I worked and lived to Toronto for a year and a half about. And then I live the experience of running that program. And I worked in lived in Prague in the Czech Republic. And that's kind of where I got my first taste ofHR and then recruitment as well. I was of course a native English speaker. And so they would make me do interviews with individuals that had to do international business because of course, they had to be able to communicate in English. And so I was interviewing executives as a 23 year old with no experience, but I could speak English. And so that was something that I got exposed to. And I found it quite fascinating to be in all these discussions and talk about people's leadership style, their approach. So that was like my first little taste into that world. 

Angela Armstrong  2:49  
This tells you a little bit about Ardyce's character, she was willing to move across the world and try something brand new. 

Ardyce Kouri 2:57  
And when I was coming back to Edmonton in 2002, the economy was challenged. We were going through some challenging times. And I was leveraging my network. One of the individuals that I knew really well through volunteer work and etc. Aboard for us was Janet Riopel. Janet was running a nonprofit organization at the time and needed some help with fund development. So I got the chance to work with another great leader in our community, Janet for about a year and a half, two years, I guess. And through that also was reconnected with some folks in Executive Search. Darwin Park being one of them, who used to be one of our founding partners of our firm. And he recruited me. So so the story goes. And so that's how I ended up in the world of search, and then loved it fell in love with it. It was an opportunity to network, build community, talk about leadership, all things I love to do. I eventually got my master's in leadership from rural roads. On the personal side,  I'm married, I've been married, it'll be 12 years in May, I have two little boys, one that will turn nine in July. And the other is four and a half. And so that's of course a big part of my life and and what I do and spend a lot of time chasing people, literally and figuratively. But it also is a reason for why I do what I do, being reminded every day of the importance of being connected to your community, and how you show up. You know, that is your big reminders when you have small people in your life that you care deeply about. 

Angela Armstrong  4:31  
It does sound like you have an incredibly full life having run the gauntlet of international travel, working your way into some incredible opportunities. What was that moment in time where you decided in the process of working in in leaders international that becoming a partner was an aspiration or did that come organically? 

Ardyce Kouri  4:56  
Yeah, that's a that's a great question. I yeah, I always knew I wanted to be in business, I think you from from a young age, my father ran a business in the city for over 27 years. My grandpa owned a grocery store in southwestern Saskatchewan, you know, the family business, if you will. So I feel like being in business has been part of, you know, my my DNA or my makeup.

Angela Armstrong  5:21  
 There is that mythology around whether entrepreneurs are born or made  - dates back a while, it's constantly argued about, there is an organization based in California called the Founder Institute that believes that some people are born with the right combination of personality factors that predicts better success as entrepreneurs.  And they help people scale up projects, so they want to see before investing any resources in you whether you're likely to succeed.  The traits they recognize are high fluid intelligence, or really the ability to think flexibly and understand abstract relationships between things, high openness, which is your curiosity, your willingness to try new things, and moderate agreeableness, your ability to put aside your self interest and work with others, and other attributes of related like generosity and consideration, then they factor in your previous business experience to come up with their predictive test for your entrepreneurial DNA.

Angela Armstrong  6:23  
I took the test out of curiosity, I came up pretty high on most of the metrics.  So when Ardyce says that she was born an entrepreneur, she's probably kind of right. 

Ardyce Kouri  6:34  
You know, life happens. And and it's a part of how you're going to, again, work together. So it did kind of come out a little bit of left field, but it was always in the plants, it was probably about three or four years sooner than I had anticipated it happening. But it was an opportunity. And, you know, you look around and you talk to the people that are important to you, and they are behind you 100%.  I had a lot of support from my husband, obviously, he was very supportive, a lot of support talking to you, again, somebody like my dad, you think this makes sense? Can I do this, this is where you've always wanted to do it. So why not? You know, I you know, life never happens when it's supposed to.  It happens when it happens. And you just have to respond and, and react and again, ask for help. I think that's a big thing that a lot, especially female leaders, I find we feel we have to have it all figured out. And I you know, I was the first person to say that, like, I'm going to need support in this in this. And what I've learned is people are always very willing to help, if you ask for it, they have no problem stepping up and, you know, giving you support as required. 

Angela Armstrong  7:42  
So earlier, when we were chatting, you described yourself as Type A, we were talking about the sense of having over the last year to learn resilience or engaged resilience that you might not have been practicing very much over the previous years where things were good things are going along, status quo, maybe and and then all of a sudden, boom, everything is disrupted, and you're having to dig in and tap into resources, maybe that are been tucked away for a while. If we define Type A is,  and I don't want to put words in your mouth, maybe you can describe is that somebody that is achievement, goal oriented,  kind of wants to have control over the situation. And then and then the contrast, interesting to hear you talk about this philosophy of well, life happens? How did those two philosophies intersect in your world? And how do you manage around those? 

Ardyce Kouri 8:36  
Yeah, you know, becoming a mom, Angela, I think is probably like the biggest learning curve that people have. And I have to say, you know, motherhood is humbling, right. It's a very humbling experience. And I think for me, that experience has definitely helped shape me be a better boss, be a better entrepreneur, be a better leader. You know, without some of that, because, of course, you know, my dad's famous line when you're, they're not sleeping, and they're not doing this. And the book says they should do that. And my dad will always be like, Ardyce, they didn't read the book. So they don't know they're supposed to do that. You realize, yeah, this is a human being that has its own feelings and thoughts and whatnot, and you can't, you know, shove into a box to make sure it goes that way. And that's business too. Right? You know, it's not necessarily things are happening sometimes to us, and we have to choose to respond, there is some control that you have. And really, for me, that is the professionalism that you show the kindness that you show, and and, you know, I guess the stick to itiveness that you are going to be there to support and I'm in a client driven business, obviously. So I'm, you know, I'm someone that's providing professional service. And for me, that's really important that I'm there to listen and and to provide that advice and guidance as required. I can control that, that I can always control and I think If you can balance, you know, keeping that in the, in your mind and realizing that other things are gonna happen, but how you respond to them is in your control. That gives you a little bit of sense of comfort, if that makes sense. 

Angela Armstrong  10:12  
Yeah, so it sounds like it's not about diminishing your achievement focus, but really rounding the edges off that a little bit. So it's, it's a little more accepting of, you know, the variability of people, especially in your world, it's all about the people.

Angela Armstrong  10:29  
It's funny that people think of entrepreneurs as crazy risk takers, and people that desire a lot of control. In my entrepreneurial journey, I found I have less control over everything, then I would normally prefer to have. And as for risk, most entrepreneurs, I know, try to take the known risks away. You can't know everything. And sometimes you do have to press go with a little bit of uncertainty. 

Angela Armstrong  10:54  
Tell us a little bit about more in terms of leaders, from an industry perspective, who are your customers? And what are their compelling needs from you

Ardyce Kouri  11:05  
At an executive level of an organization helping those organizations find leaders to really run their organization. So we work with a manufacturing clients or gas energy to professional services, well, nonprofit organizations, town agencies, indigenous organizations, you know, we're running the gamut post secondary education institutions as well. But we're working with those organizations to help them identify a leadership gap. And that might be at the president ceo level, or it might be those that reach that level. And working with them to understand why is there you know, a vacancy at this point in time, is usually, you know, the first question that we ask a bit of a root cause analysis, if you will, and, and then we're trying to make sure that what we're giving them as a solution, again, you talked about, you know, the person is a bit of our solution, and it is, but we also are mindful of the fact that there's a lot of moving parts, and the person isn't only going to solve the problem, we have to also ensure that our clients understand that they have a responsibility to support that person as they integrate into the organization. And we work with them on that. So the beauty of my my work is that I get to meet people from so many different industries, spaces, private sector, nonprofit, public sector, and lots of different functional areas, whether it's financial services, whether it's Information Technology, HR, you name it, we're interacting with those individuals. And so it's really fascinating to see, you know, there are differences, but also, from a leadership perspective that organizations require, doesn't matter. If it's, you know, building widgets, or running a Mental Health Foundation, I, there, there are certain things that are sort of universal that, that teams need to feel supported, need to feel heard, that they need to feel that their work is valued. And the leaders that show up in those environments have to demonstrate that

Angela Armstrong  13:04  
I love that Ardyce is talking about leadership that with a core set of skills, just like the entrepreneurial DNA, leaders have to have a certain kind of attributes to have success. There are seven or eight very well defined types of leadership styles, they're not all effective all the time depends a little bit on the kind of organization that you're hiring into, and the culture of that organization. So that's something that Leaders has to be aware of when they're doing their due diligence and discovery before even starting on a search. 

Angela Armstrong  13:35  
When you think about a hockey team that's underperforming or or ill performing, and they don't let go, you might make some changes on the team try to change the dynamic and the chemistry. But for a team that is chronically underperforming, you remove the leader, you remove the coach, because there's something culturally that's not working. The fit, isn't there, the the ethos, there's not a match between what the player's objectives are and what the coach's style is. So I think it must align very well with what you're doing in terms of organizational wellness and success metrics that getting that right leader into the seat is really important. 

Angela Armstrong  14:15  
I'm curious, you describe yourself as a generalist. And in the entrepreneurial world, we spend a lot of time trying to find our differentiation, like trying to find our niche that we execute really well. In what way do you differentiate in your space, even as a generalist? 

Ardyce Kouri
Yeah, I think that's, that's a good question. And that's something that we try to, to educate our clients on our candidates on. You know, we are in that C suite. So it's still that executive leadership specialization. But I think what, what I say is a benefit to our clients on that is, look, if the candidate needs to build a bridge, and they have to stamp drawings and whatnot, I appreciate that I do. But for the most part at that executive level, it's about leadership Change Management - With navigating difficult times, celebrating successes, so skills are exceptionally transferable. And it's about pushing back and asking questions of your client of what's really required. So our ability to know, candidates and individuals from a number of different spaces enables us to showcase maybe something that they didn't think was going to be successful for that. So, you know, a lot of times we'll talk to somebody in the financial services world, you know, it's very common, if they don't know this artists that there's no way they can be successful. And you start asking questions, well, what's really important? Well, understanding heavily regulated environments or customer service, or so you start, you start picking at it, you start poking at it and poking at it. And eventually, well, I guess you're right, I would be willing to meet somebody that didn't come exactly from our space. And sometimes it's a good education, they do meet some folks that come from outside of their space. And they are reminded as to why they need that technical competence.

Angela Armstrong  16:00  
So leaders is a generalist in terms of the industries they serve, but a specialist in what they bring to the table, they bring the focus and the discovery process with the clients to understand beyond what industry experience and background they might be seeking. 

Ardyce Kouri  16:17  
What are those soft, transferable skills that can come from anywhere, and bring with them a fresh set of eyes and a new lens in which to look at the business? I feel that we contribute to that, you know, by pushing back a little bit, yes, I'm a consultant in a way, and I'm there to serve my client's needs, but I'm also there to ask some really tough questions. And, and to understand, why do they have to have that, you know, even pushing back on I've worked recently in confidentially, but with a client that, you know, they were single, they have to be a professional engineer, or they have to, - and I will ask, okay, why, and just kind of push it back, because based on where they were in the organization, you know, they're not snapping anything there, you know, not to say that that credential is not very important it is, and there are a bunch of those individuals within the organization doing that work. But at a certain level, it's about mobilizing and moving things forward. And so finally, after a good probably two hour discussion, talking to a number of different people, they all kind of looked at each other and went, well, I guess that's not required is it. And it enabled us to provide them with a very rich, diverse pool of candidates as a result, because we were able to look at people that had done change management in a different way that had, you know, built massive capital projects. And they didn't necessarily have that technical background, but they had other experiences that were very valued.

Angela Armstrong 17:43  
Diversity might seem like a meme to some, but it provides proven, measurable financial benefits. And the next five years, our employee pool is going to represent incredible diversity. 76% of our employees are going to identify as coming from diverse backgrounds, culturally, ethnically, by gender experientially, this is a huge benefit to our organizations, going way beyond just the leader, how about bringing new kinds of thinking into the team diversity, all the way from the boardroom to the factory is shown improved risk management, improved culture in the business. And all this trickles down to an improved bottom line by a factor of 10% Ahead of your non diverse competitors, homogenous teams will produce the same results they always have. But in a changing market, wouldn't it be wise to think about what your blind spots are?

Angela Armstrong  18:37  
industry wide for you - Are you starting to see that clients are recognizing that they're stuck? And that the changes they need to make, They can't do as long as they stay the same as they always have been? 

Ardyce Kouri  18:51  
Yeah, I mean, I think the concept of EDI, so equity, diversity and inclusion. I mean, this is something that we're hearing more and more about, which I'm happy, I'm happy for, and I hope it's for the right reasons, right. I, we've been talking about this in our organization for a really long time. It's really important to us. For us, it starts with our team. And I think if you look at our team, we have lots of different lived experience. We have individuals that are musicians by background, library, scientists, geologists, I have a political site. For us that different perspective enables us to help our clients and ask questions in in a, in a unique way, a non threatening way, right, because of course, everyone's very proud of their organization and the services that they offer. But they talk about wanting to be better, and wanting to be bold and wanting to be innovative. And so, you know, for us, it's asking the questions of what is really happening in your organization right now. And where do you want it to go? And there are definitely you know, certain situations where we need them to be a CPA or we need them to be a PE, this type of education credential is required. Okay, that limits who we're talking to. That's fair. There's nothing wrong with that. But when we start to Ask uncomfortable questions, Angela, I think that's sort of where it comes down to. We're challenging them in a in a different way, it enables us then to be innovative. Because if they tell us that, okay, the candidate requires this many years of experience, this type of education credential, the box is like this now. And so the diversity and the, the pool of candidates that we can provide is limiting for a wide variety of reasons. But the more we're able to expose the actual needs of the organization at that leadership level, and the change management level on all of that, it really showcases to them. You know, it's almost a bit of a slap in the face, because they'll realize, Oh, no, I early on, when we were starting to really start to push on these questions and raise our hand and ask them to explain that we were working for an organization that, you know, there was literally seven people in the country that did that work, so and none of them lived in Alberta. So the question to the board chair was what's really important, like what is really critical for success, environmental stewardship came back, heavily regulated environments, public facing, there's all sorts of things. The individual that we ended up identifying was a seasoned executive within the healthcare space, had no touch point at all with what they had been doing in their organization at all. But they understood customer service, they understood health and safety, they understood stewardship regulated environments, and they were there for nine years, and revolutionize what that organization was doing. So those are things that, you know, maybe it's a micro innovation is that sort of how I might refer to it as, and maybe that's what it is. But leaders change the fabric of an organization, you know that better than I do. And so, putting an individual in there that might think of things completely differently, will supercharge that innovation in my mind, and it's maybe not my organization, but I was a part of enabling it to happen. And that gives me lots of satisfaction in my work, I feel very humbled to be able to be a part of that. And and hopeful that it continues to allow organizations to evolve and grow.

Angela Armstrong  22:15  
I just loved this conversation, because I talk about this how sometimes the lack of innovation inside an organization is due to the status quo approach of the leadership team, not by through malevolence, or, or negligence, but really, because everything through their eyes looks as it should. And it looks as it should, because the rules were set some time ago, in a particular framework. I'm curious to ask, because we've had such great conversations over time. When you think about your own organization, the turning the lens back on yourself, how does that look and feel for it for you and your partners and leaders?

Ardyce Kouri  22:55  
 Yeah, that's it. Yeah, for sure. I mean, we all struggle with that, right? Because you get into your ways. And then we talked about the routine a little bit in another example. We all get into that. And we start to kind of Bumble along and we forget that, again, I think it starts with we're very purposeful when we hire folks, I'm not kidding. We have a musician that works as a consultant now with us and came to the organization. She questions us often, and it's very creative. And of course, my sort of linear thinking has a hard time with it, and it, it causes me some palpitations, but it's, it's helped. And I think we were at a point maybe three or four years ago, where we were sort of not being as creative with some of the individuals that were bringing onto our team and, and not looking more broadly, we've, we've definitely started to shift that that mindset because it is walking the talk. If we're pushing back on our clients, we have to push back on ourselves. So that that would be one thing. Technology is another thing. We were talking about this earlier, Angela, you know, it's hard, right? Everything continually evolves. But, you know, we really pushed forward getting on, you know, more cloud based platform, leveraging market intelligence, doing things in a different way to be able to provide data and information to our clients, because they really still need to see that analysis of have we looked at the marketplace broadly. Have we talked to the right folks? Are we really ensuring that everyone's had an opportunity to look at this position and apply? So we've had to, you know, and adding new technologies to your team, making them work a little bit differently is never the most fun thing to do. And we, you know, we did that we made the investments in that. And it's a constant process, right. We're continually refining that and leveraging that system, but it's nlra. We call it our lrH leaders, you know, report app or LRH app, and we we work with that and it's great market intelligence tool. But we have to make sure that we nurture it right or, or it becomes just something that's very expensive and you're not really using so that technology pieces.      You know, it's pushed us as well, I think in our business, the people business people just think, Well, you know, somebody and you throw somebody in front of somebody else, and then it works well, there is definitely some science to what we do. And it's the way we do our work has evolved since I've been in the business. And it is, you know, data, analytics, mining, all of those things. And we have to bring in some rigor to our processes that may not have been there 10 or so years ago, they very much so are now and that's very important to our clients, because that gives them confidence and trust, that we're doing the work. We're showing our work. So all of that builds trust. But it takes work, it's and it's about having your team buy in, and all of those things. So I would say those are probably two of the bigger things that we've been spending our time on, to support the innovation for our clients as well. Because that different perspective, when our team members are talking to clients, they ask questions that I would ask necessarily, because their lived experience is different than mine. Would you say that these innovations in these these two things really important about people, making sure you've got a team of engaging and challenging thinkers, like diverse thinkers, I love that you focused on that in your organization. And secondly, the technology to breed the proof to say to your, your clients, we're not just another bunch of nice people working hard. And with the shingle up, we actually have data and we have in technology that is helping us uncover the gaps in your organizational needs, or maybe promote an idea of somebody a skill set that that we think could really enhance your organizational objectives.

Angela Armstrong  26:45  
Would you say those two things, the innovation and technology and data and the technology around or the innovation around people having really great, diverse thinkers around the table that are going to poke holes in in different ways that the same set of questions? Are these table stakes? Or are they,  Do they set you apart in a substantial way from the competition? 

Ardyce Kouri  27:09  
Yeah, that's a good question. I really think that it's how you use them, right? At the end of the day, I don't think any organization doesn't matter what is in your organization, my organization without a good team and good technology, you're not doing anything, right? You're not surviving. So it's about how you leverage those tools. You can hire really diverse thinkers all you want. But if you don't bring them, involve them, and bring them along, just like I was, I remember, I was 26 years old when I started in this business. And my second day, Darren walked in my office, okay, we're gonna go meet a board chair. Let's go. And I went, he's like, you got your suit jacket on. That's good. Let's go. And that is how I learned in this business to is exposing me to those opportunities. And it wasn't just to sit there it was ask questions, take notes, listen, respond. So it's about you might have some fabulous people around the table. But if you don't encourage them to participate, who cares? Right? There's no point in that. And it's the same thing with with technology is if you're not nurturing it, if you're not using it, if you're not continually maintaining it. I mean, we have a database now and a system that we use, and we leverage that has over a million curated records that we constantly are working with. That is very valuable, right? But if it's just sitting there collecting dust, it is not valuable, right? It's how are we using that? How are we using that network, because that's powerful to support our clients. So if you don't have those things, I don't think you can function in general in today's world at all. But if you don't leverage them appropriately, then you weren't setting yourself apart. And I would say that that's one thing that we do very well, we work in a team environment, but our clients always have access to us as the leadership because that's important to them, we have the most experience, and I appreciate that they want to have access to us. So we commit to that. And that would be something that I would say definitely differentiates us. Because we want to ensure that I'm committed to providing good client service, I'm, I'm keeping up my chops. Right? You know, if you, you start to get away from the actual work, you forget what the actual product is. And so we're still very much involved in that team dynamic with our clients responding to their needs. Hopefully that answers your your question, 

Angela Armstrong  29:26  
I wanted to ask you. There's been a lot of times in my leadership journey as that sort of goal oriented, I move fast. I'm looking at the horizon. And I have a phenomenal team around me. But I can tend to look too far into the future and forget that not maybe not everybody is starting at the same place as me moving at the same speed as me wanting the same outcomes as me and as a leader. Of course, that's most important. I do need To have that horizon vantage point, but we're not going to go there together as a team unless we are we're embracing where everybody is wonder in your leadership career, and as you've been working through driving this innovation among your people, were there are times where your key personality traits really became your Achilles heel. 

Ardyce Kouri  30:25  
Sure, yeah, I'm the most impatient person I know. Like, literally, like I am the most impatient person I know. I think in times of COVID, this is probably the thing that kills me the most, right? I can, you know, you can sort of see things and, and, and see light, but it's just three steps or two steps back three steps forward, two steps back. And so that's definitely a tendency that I have very open about it. Like, my team knows that about me very, very much. And they and I don't want to have permission, but they they check me on artists, we'll get there, we'll get there, you have to take a moment. Because if you don't allow this to, you know, germane, a little bit, it'll be bad. And so everyday, that's not going to change part of that as a good thing. Right, I have a sense of urgency, I have stick to itiveness. It enables me to marshal through some challenging time. So I know it's a good thing. I don't want it to totally go away. But it does. It does drive people a bit batty. I know that.

Ardyce Kouri  31:29  
And, you know, things don't happen, you know, overnight. It's just it's not possible. But I wish they would sometimes. And that's just, that's just my nature. So knowing that in going into a big project, I can imagine that it would be challenging so many things we need to we need to accomplish. Our list is long, and let's just start knocking them off. 

Angela Armstrong  31:51  
Yes, a high sense of urgency, I share that. So that resonates with me. And my problem has been I sometimes tripped over things because I didn't spend enough time thinking about the smaller methodical approach and those little steps to in order to get to the goal that my team or much more talented at doing. So knowing that about yourself as a leader, what resources have been really critical to you. 

Ardyce Kouri  32:20  
Yeah, details is the name of the game. Right? And I'm not the most detail oriented individual in the world, right. So I definitely ensure that when we're hiring folks that you know, they appreciate details, because I need that project mapping. Like it sounds so simple, right? But Gantt charts, and timelines and all of those things, because we have, you know, I'll have 2020 assignments on the goal at any given time, right? So it's about those project planning, regular milestone meetings, check ins, betting things in your calendar, all those little tips, you know, time management, because it enables me to realize also that things are moving. I think that's the challenge. Sometimes when I've been patient, I feel like nothing's actually happened. But then if I am able to look back on the last three or four days, and I see Oh, yeah, actually, you know, we've been doing this and someone's been doing that, and the clients received this. So it allows you to kind of feel a sense of calm again, that you have started to move forward. So without those things sound really simple and and maybe mundane, but they definitely ground me. I like visuals, right? So I love the calendars. And I love some of those things as well. And that helps me know that things are moving forward. I think sometimes you feel like you're in a bit of quicksand, where it's just like, you're kind of spinning those wheels, like a duck, right? They say is you're going going going going going, but you're not really gonna be that fast. But when you actually take a step back and think about it, and talk with your team members and talk with your clients will actually check check check, we are definitely on on a path, because during this rush will just mean we're going to do it again. And we don't want to do that.

Angela Armstrong  33:56  
In your team, how do you address failures? 

Ardyce Kouri  33:59  
I think early on in this business, one of the key learnings that I had is when something happens that makes it go sideways, immediately stop, tell whomever you need to tell the lesson. I haven't that is it aren't one of our founders, Jerry some and I was only probably six months into this work and something I discovered something quite, you know, damaging. And so I went into, you know, his office right away. And I said, this is what's transpired. I should have known this sooner. I don't know why I didn't. Because you know what now, that's what's important. You know what now and and I said, Okay, well what are we going to do? He said sit down, you know and and this is a learning moment. So, and it was a learning moment from a leadership perspective, because I should have known this sooner. I didn't ask the right question or I didn't find the information soon enough. And he picked up the phone immediately called the client got on the phone with the client. Didn't say I was in the room. And didn't say it was me said we have learned this. And we are sorry, we didn't learn it sooner, client was a bit upset, but happy that they'll get you know. So we backtrack, we fix the problem, we move forward. So two things from that is that we is important. And if the team is a team, that we as what we say, we learned this, and we made a mistake, and we will fix it. So in Jerry's mind, we did this together, and he didn't point fingers or anything like that. So that was, of course, that I knew I was working with pretty good people, because they weren't going to throw me under the bus on on a bad, you know, the young person on the file the new kid on the block, if you will, he had a path, we had a path forward. Okay, this is what we're going to do now. And I think that's, you know, if it's cliche or not, you fail fast and move on. Right. The other thing is, is there's no point in dwelling, but if you don't own it, then you can't build trust, right? 

Angela Armstrong  35:54  
Trust is critical to innovation. University of Oxford Lecturer Rachel Botsman  says that risk and trust are two sides of the same coin. INnovation involves uncertainty - you can't be sure what the outcome will be. Customers need a combination of four factors to take that leap of faith wtih you -  they need to know your competent, then really reliable thing. Next, they need to know you have integrity. And finally, are you benevolent, or what we commonly call empathetic to their situation. I think of the saying, if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far go together. I think you could add, if you want to go someplace new and Uncharted, go with a team you trust and who trusts you.

Ardyce Kouri  36:48  
 I think, you know, what do I want to be when I grew up? I think that's the beautiful thing about search is you're constantly learning something. And so I love what I do. I hope that the journey with our firms that we continue to be a prominent force in identifying leadership for this, you know, for our community as a whole. And obviously, more broadly, nationally, the EDI - really pushing that conversation about diversity of candidates and perspectives. I want that to be table stakes, right? I want that to start moving to that. And so for clients to listen to that and lean into that a little bit more, and having fun doing it. Right. So those are some of the things that I think, you know, in the after times, I hope we all get a little a little reprieve. I think we're all we're all at this point in time. And I'm sure you would say the same, Angela, I know you've been working so hard through all of this, you know, I feel like we all need to kind of take a breath. And hopefully that we all get a little bit of that in the you know, in the coming year or two to take some time in space as well. We've all been running. And I would like a little bit of that too.

Angela Armstrong  37:54  
Well, I can't argue with that.

Angela Armstrong  37:56  
So my takeaway from this conversation with Ardyce is that fresh eyes can help your organization see through the veil of history into the possibility of the future. people from diverse backgrounds, or even without the experiential biases that arise over time. Also don't have a sense of what everyone else takes for granted, or what questions are taboo. innovation can happen more quickly in the presence of a gentle provocateur. If good questions, prompt the recognition of opportunities for improvement, and even permit failure and iteration, then a fresh new set of eyes in your organization could be your innovation game changer.

Angela Armstrong  38:57  
Prime for growth is produced by Prime Capital with support of Canadian Western Bank, the bank for entrepreneurs who is obsessed with your success. And the business execution specialists Results Unleashed who help you bridge the gap between strategy and execution. Till next time, go forth and innovate.

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