Disrupting Company Culture with Jennifer Oertli
Change comes fast and furiously and organizations struggle to adapt and thrive, often without a change-ready culture to do so. Jennifer Oertli came from the realities of HR and finding, managing and keeping talent. As a co-founder of Radiant CX, she’s helping clients embrace and drive real change, from the service desk to the boardroom.
What do you do?
A company’s leadership wants to reach certain objectives—make more money, grow, develop new products, be competitive, etc.—and their people are in roles to support those objectives. But people now have more choices—30% of employees are now contractors—and the power has shifted to the employee side. The company leadership now has to spend more time and effort making the company align with the employees’ values. We help them do that.
Why do you do it?
Marketers figured it out first—it’s all about the emotional connection. Each consumer can have a digital conversation with all your competitors simultaneously. People today make choices on what brands they spend time with before they buy. Employment now works the same way.
Is it possible to be data-driven about your work?
Sure. HR tends to want to measure things, like engagement and retention. Engagement correlates to profitability because of things like absenteeism or turnover or productivity. I want to look at the data of which of the right people are most motivated and productive. Retention can look good sometimes, for example, but doesn’t measure whether you’re retaining the right people if you’re not careful. We need to get more creative about how we measure how much employees care or align with the organization.
What kinds of companies benefit?
Companies that are big—say 500 people or more—where it’s no longer possible for the leadership to engage day-to-day with their employees and constantly have a pulse on where things are and what people think. Culture is traditionally hard to scale.
Tell us about the picture you sent for use with this story—what’s interesting to you about it?
It was taken in my home office, a space my 21 year-old daughter designed for me as a birthday gift. This year, Radiant CX moved our headquarters into The BHIVE in the CWE. It’s an awesome space for ideating and we look forward to growing our company there.
Where do you get inspiration?
I love business magazine articles about people who have found unique ways to start and build businesses. I also love autobiographies, biographies and documentaries—anything about real people, their struggles, their triumphs. I get inspiration from people like Elizabeth Taylor who was married 8 times—who has the courage to try and fail so many times?
How you would describe your POV on the world?
“Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future” (by Oscar Wilde). I also love the saying, “It’s not the strong that eat the weak, it’s the fast that eat the slow.” As an entrepreneur, I have to remind myself to stop talking about it and just do it.
Beyond education and training, what prepared you for what you’re doing now?
Being a single mother for most of my life prepared me to be a scrappy risk-taker. For me, there has really been no safety net.
What do you struggle with the most?
I’m a slow processor. My ambitions to learn are high but my ability to process and make sense of large amounts of information takes time. I consider myself an extroverted introvert. I have to put effort into how I interact with others. My default setting can be isolation from and impatience with people that aren’t just like me. I really have to work on it.
Who’s a person in your past that helped you become who you are? Do they know their influence on you?
There are too many to name names. I’ve started sending more thank you notes to show gratitude to people who have done nice things for me. My goal is to send one every day. So far I haven’t run out of people to thank.
Where can people find you when you’re working? When you’re not working?
When I’m working, I split time between home and the BHIVE. When I want to ideate, I’m at the BHIVE, when I want to focus I’m at home. Other than that, I’m at the gym.
Who are your favorite artists, authors and musicians?
I’m musically challenged. I stopped progressing in musical tastes in 1987, so I get made fun of for listening to Prince, Madonna, Hall & Oates and Journey. My business partner Amy is always listening to new things. I’m like, why?
What productivity tools can you not live without?
I love tech tools. The two I use the most are Evernote and Realtime Board, which is a collaborative workspace, like a cross between a whiteboard and a vision board. I also use Bonfyre and Cisco Spark quite a bit.
Favorite guilty pleasure?
I love seeing the transformation of a room and I continue to re-do rooms in my house over and over. With IKEA in town I could bankrupt myself. I buy a new a doormat several times a year—a worn doormat feels unwelcoming. A new doormat is like a new friendship.