Cassandra leads a culture that values entrepreneurial and philanthropic spirit in everyone, setting a standard of innovation, enthusiasm, service, and accountability that infiltrates every office and department of KellyMitchell.
Below are some of her inspiring thoughts and advice she shared with our crowd…
“KellyMitchell started with confidence in myself and business partner”
Cassandra shared with us her story when she first founded KellyMitchell 21 years-ago. She had graduated from college and started as a contractor and moved to fill in for someone on maternity leave as a part time roll. “I got exposed to contract labor, computer services, and I realized there was a huge demand for IT employees”. What predicated her confidence to pursue their own business consulting model was herself and her business partner.
Did you ever feel scared launching a new start up?
Cassandra responded enthusiastically “Today millennials want everything, but we were the millennials back then!” She mentioned she felt confident and never doubted that there was a demand or even her skills. One of the challenges was when they tried to get financing, she had a few moments of doubt, especially trying to get people to join the team.
How does “intention” fit in to your work life?
At KellyMitchell they talk about intention a lot. The mission from day 1 is to help people find jobs. And it’s so easy to lose that mission in the day-to-day, but as the core is to advance careers, and be a service-based business, they have always been intentional of everyone they bring in. Every organization has its own traits that suit its values, for KellyMitchell it was a high level of accountability and a high level of customer service. They quickly and intentionally set a profile of who they wanted to bring in to the firm to quickly scale and grow.
How does “intention” fit in to your personal life?
“Nothing in my personal life was intentional,” Cassandra said confidently. She was supposed to be an international attorney, and said “sometimes you might have intentions, but let the cards flip as they may”. She advised us to be open to that opportunity. She is intentional for being unintentional.
Living an “integrated” life…
Cassandra mentioned the idea of having a balance in life does not exist. “We have goals, and the goal is to not lose sight of your goals”. She feels more comfortable with the concept of “integration”. At KellyMitchell the goal is to have the best life possible, grow the community – people that try to separate their lives from work and personal life face many difficulties. She has learned that her whole life is integrated, and it took her a while to get to an “integrated” life. It takes a village to raise a family, and today her kids are involved in philanthropy and events from KellyMitchell. It took her time to have the confidence to admit that. It reflects confidence when you accept you don’t have to do it alone, and the integration will naturally happen.
Philanthropy as a principle
KellyMitchell just had its “United Way Week”, which encourages everyone to participate in philanthropy. The goal is to build your best possible life because life is not just about our careers, we have our family and neighbors too. So when a community thrives, everything else just follows. Cassandra mentioned a quote by Warren Buffet and tells us that he encourages people today to make a difference even if it’s only with time. “It is our responsibility… and lead by example” Cassandra tells us as KellyMitchell doesn’t leave that mission, no matter how much they grow. That belief system is embedded in what they do.
Staying focused on professional goals and celebrate daily accomplishments…
In our chat one key piece of advice was “take things one day at a time”. Plan your day around the most important tasks and make those your daily goals. We are all multitasking, and we live in 24/7 environments, but we need to celebrate what we accomplished daily and then plan for tomorrow. Cassandra also believes that we should be able to say “yes”. Women tend to say “no”. She shared with us about a time at a conference, the speaker mentioned that women focus more on what they are not an expert at, and men focus more on the skills they already have. If there is any remote way that we can possibly accomplish something, just do it and say, “Yes”!
Favorite leadership books include:
“Predictable Success” which it’s great for startups and entrepreneurs, it walks you through all the business cycles, and tells you how to approach them – it’s like a psychology book. A few other favorites include, “Uncommon Service”, “How full is your bucket”, and lastly, “Love is the killer app”.
Tips to be a better advocate for yourself
Do research to develop confidence. Data speaks volumes. Research the marketplace. Know your value and empower yourself with stats. Don’t forget that questions are powerful, and sparking an interest will resolve and open a lot of opportunities for you.
Mark your calendar for our next chat on 1/14 at Columbia Tower Club with Sandra Stark, SVP of Product at Starbucks.