Originally from Sweden, Elsa Medin relocated to Shanghai four years ago to study Chinese. She decided to stay in China and did her bachelor degree in international business. With her motto being “If I cannot find the path, I will create it!” she launched Spare Leash right after graduation. Elsa has a dog named Betsy, a schnauzer adopted in Shanghai in October 2016. She also fosters dogs.
Erin Leigh studied public relations, advertising and applied communication at Western Michigan University. She came to China after graduating from college. She has been living in Shanghai for over five years, working in PR and marketing, before co-founding Spare Leash. Erin has Oliver (labrador mix), Betty (mini schnauzer), and Max (terrier mix). They used to be foster animals, but she ended up adopting them. Erin usually fosters one more dog every month. She also rescues kittens; she bottle-feeds them and looks after them while searching for adopters.
Spare Leash is dedicated to making life easier for pets and pet owners by providing loving and trustworthy pet sitters in Shanghai. Their services are safe, reliable and cage free. The company was founded in Shanghai, in 2016. In the same year, Spare Leash was awarded by Time Out Love Shanghai for Lifestyle Service of the Year.
How Spare Leash started?
Elsa: It began in 2016 when I wanted to adopt a dog from the street in Shanghai. I was still a student, and I was going traveling for a whole month. None of my friends could take care of him. Finally, I didn’t adopt this dog. However, I started to think how we can all help each other looking after pets when we travel. I had an idea, and I spent a few months thinking about Spare Leash and how I can make that happen. I had mutual friends with Erin. She was facilitating pets’ adoptions in Shanghai.
Erin: One day, Elsa texted me out of the blue, saying: “I need to talk to you. Meet me for lunch”. We met at one of my favorite restaurants, Kommune. Elsa told me about her idea. It was also a part of her university project.
Elsa: I had a class called Entrepreneurship, and that’s how I started to look at it from a business perspective. My initial idea was a pet hotel, but I wasn’t 100% happy with that and kept on brainstorming. I went to Australia for a month, and because I didn’t adopt the dog, I was thinking about it during the whole trip. I was doing my research, writing down my ideas and a business plan. When I came back, I met Erin.
Erin: Elsa nearly had a business plan and the avenue laid out, as well as the name and the logo. Right away I said: YES. The very next day we were in my living room, my three dogs were running around, and we were starting the business. It was around early April. I had just quit my job in PR.
Elsa: I was in the last semester of my Bachelor’s degree majoring in business. I had in my final exams. My final thesis was about the WeChat business, so I was going to many business events and learning from hands-on entrepreneurs.
Erin: We first built a website, which took a month. Then we had a launch party – a charity event co-organized with Best Friends China.
Elsa: We got our first client during this event. The first interviews with sitters happened in Erin’s apartment.
Adding Value, Coaching, Consulting, Human Resources, Leadership, Location independent, Modern Career, Relocation
What do coaching, opening a new café, and creating a time saving app have in common?
Too difficult to answer?
How about this one: what do all the above have in common PLUS establishing an internet shop, volunteering in Africa and running photography workshops – all at the same time?
As a career coach, I might be slightly more attuned to these ideas I hear literally every day – from my friends, acquaintances, and clients. What is this all about, you might ask. Is it about who has the best idea? Who is the most creative? Maybe who can execute something and bring it to life? Or perhaps about picking and focusing on just one idea? I can see something on a much deeper level: people desperately long to add value to the world and be truly useful to others. When others around me say ‘I want to open a vegan bed and breakfast’ or ‘I want to create a job search app’ or ’I want to be a life coach,’ I hear “I want to add value.” They want to change the world – or at least help improve parts of others’ lives. At the same time, we would like to use our unique talents, be creative, have fun, and earn for living (except, of course volunteering). Earning while doing something valuable and enjoyable seems to be the trickiest part. I think many of us still believe that they can not earn well while doing something they love. Others think they first have to sort out their own careers and financial security and only THEN they can start adding value and changing the world.
Is adding value and helping others a luxury you can only afford after you yourself become established and successful?
A satisfying career and healthy relationships and if you’re married, a strong marriage, if you’re a parent, strong kids. Did this question ever cross your mind? It did to me and changed my whole life. I found my answer and that is: Yes, you can have it all in life and believe me when I say that, but it has to be the right kind of all the kind you are looking for. You can’t have every possible opportunity or attain some culturally enforced ideal. But you can have everything that you value and everything you long for as long as you invest your energy and time to learn the right technique. This was profound for me. I had never actually realized and defined what “all” I really wanted. I had made list upon list of goals I wanted to achieve in life (a highly reputable position with an International organization, 3 bedroom house, a Tesla and make even more money every year), but I’d never defined what I wanted my life to actually look like. You might be struggling with whether to stay home with your kids or go back to work. You might know what you want to do but not be sure how to make that change. You might not know what you’re really good at but know it’s not what you’re doing now. What risks should you take? What makes you happy? What gets in the way of your happiness? Don’t you think it’s about time to find out?
Find the purpose of your life.
Have you ever questioned your mind what is the purpose of your existence? Many of us work just for that rectangular shaped bill at the end of the month, which we call a paycheck. Employees who see that their work has a direct and significant impact on the world around them are more likely to tackle that work with passion; they aren’t just in it for the paycheck. Once I asked 55 years old janitor while using a rest room in a hospital, what her purpose was. She may have said that it is to empty wastebaskets and mop the floors. She may not feel very inspired or passionate about those tasks. But she answered it with so much dignity and pride that she feels her purpose is to create a safe and inviting environment that will help put patients and their families at ease, thus inculcating greater reliance in the organization. Being aware of that greater sense of purpose connects that employee’s personal value of caring for others with the job before her of mopping the floors. No longer is she just pushing a mop around, she’s helping to care for every patient that comes through the doors.
Clearly define our own personal values and stick to it.
Developing the level of engagement and commitment to a greater purpose is an individual choice and an individual journey. Nobody can force you to be engaged in your work; however, the right kind of guidance from a coach or mentor can help you discover your purpose by showing you how your work makes a difference in the greater scheme of things. Connecting to a greater purpose begins with having a clear definition of your own personal values. All you need is to be encouraged to reflect on what values you regard as your highest priorities and key drivers.
Sounds philosophical, isn’t it? But these values naturally impact every area of our life, including our work life. Once you have reflected on and articulated your own values, determine how they fit with the organization’s mission, vision, and values. Then examine how the organization’s mission, vision, and values are infused into your own job description. If your organization is committed to providing the best in healthcare to your patients, how does your job description support that goal? Helping yourself and your co-workers see the connections between personal values and organizational values will help foster a deeper engagement and sense of purpose.
Are you thinking about taking on a new direction in life and work ? Looking for an inspiration?
This article is for you. Monika Budzyńska used her extensive headhunting experience to set-up an organic FMCG company. She shares her know-how, mistakes, lessons learnt and rules for success with Coachify.
Monika, please tell us about your career transition and your new business.
I have been working professionally for more than 10 years and it has been mostly in the headhunting industry. However something has changed in my life a lot. I have had some health issues lately and that made me discover the natural medicine and healthy lifestyle. This experience changed my point of view and my life extremely. I started to eat organic, do sports, be with the nature more often and got a dog – a cute Maltese called Lucy. Once I had done it all I felt like I was ready for more changes and I needed to do something professionally connected with health and ecology themselves. This was the time I decided to set up BioInspire, organic FMCG distribution and sales representative company. I haven’t left the headhunting business fully yet however I am strongly focused on developing my company at the moment. There is a great vision behind BioInspire. I would like to inspire people to lead a healthy lifestyle by sharing my knowledge and also delivering the products that I find healthy. And this is actually not that obvious once you go through what is being sold in organic shops. That’s why BioInspire is so unique, we only represent the chosen manufacturers. Following the vision of BioInspire, I am really happy to have such possibility of participating in Coachify’s interview.
We are happy to have you here. Can you tell us how difficult was your career transition?
Actually it was not that hard for me even though my professional experience might sound completely different from what I do now. However I can see many common characteristics. First of all, head-hunters sale their services and candidates to their customers. They have to approach new clients, candidates, set up the relations and maintain them. Head-hunters need to be active on social media just to be recognizable on the market they operates on. This is something I do on a daily basis at BioInspire. I gather information, approach new customers, analyze the market and create the new brand recognition on the Polish market.
Interview with Jennifer Jones Newbill
Senior Manager Global Candidate Attraction, Engagement and Experience at Dell
Jennifer Jones Newbill is a quintessence of a modern HR director who is not afraid to play by the marketing rules to achieve higher quality hires as well as, lower turnover and better engagement rates for Dell. She has over 20 years of Human Resource experience working as an Employment Branding/Social Media and Recruiting Specialist and Leadership Development Expert, and she has also managed various global and regional HR programs/projects for Fortune 50 companies. Today she shares valuable lessons about developing the right set of skills within the HR profession and social recruiting best practices based on her experience at Dell.
Jennifer, you’re a Senior Manager: Global Candidate Attraction, Engagement and Experience. Your title already shows that your job is not a standard set associated with the tasks within an HR department. Can you tell me more about where your title comes from and why a Senior HR manager role would not be enough to describe your expertise?
I wanted to describe myself and what our team does in a way that was easy to understand and describe. It was tough and yes my title is a bit long, but typically people I speak to understand quickly. Our team is all tasked with candidate attraction (messaging including digital and, print as well as technologies used) engagement (social media and employee advocacy in partnership with our marketing team) and analyzing and improving the overall candidate experience.
I wonder how you’ve gotten involved in the role that links HR and Marketing?
In 2010, Marie Moynihan, Global VP Talent and Chief Diversity officer was appointed to her role and for the first time we had a global leader who had a centralized team (along with regional/local recruiting teams). At that time, we began looking at our standards, processes and policies across all regions and locations and that included evaluating our employment brand, digital properties, recruitment marketing strategies, etc. My role has evolved quite a bit since then including growing a global team that has strong proficiency in social media, content expertise and keeping a thread of candidate experience in mind with everything they do!
Do you think Marketing and HR have much in common? What changed in the last 10-15 years in your industry?
Marketing and HR have very similar goals – in a nutshell – candidate and customer attraction and retention. And it is clear that candidates and customers are frequently one in the same. Current or potential future customers can have their sentiment about your company influenced if they are referred to a job or interview with the company – very powerful stuff… There is huge opportunity for Marketing and HR to partner and collaborate in a way that is mutually beneficial.
Let’s get into details with the referral hires program at Dell you were involved in. In one of the interviews, you said that referrals were one of the best sources of hire and that you managed to achieve 50-125% increase in global referral hires. Global Employee Referral rate was 38% globally, and over 50% in some locations (previously only 19% in 2010). If you were to compare these numbers with the past, do you still think, it’s the best source of hire nowadays?
I can beat the drum about the importance of referrals all day every day! Regardless of the evolution of our digital lifestyles, we still believe in and trust what our friends and connections tell us – about products, services and yes, jobs. Where I think the industry struggles a bit is rewarding those that refer really great quality hires for the company. That is a next step for us at Dell – agreeing on a clear Quality of Hire metric and filtering by source – in particular referrals. Who is referring the best people/fit with the company? How do we drive this activity with our employees further?
Dell is on every social media channel including Pinterest. Which channel do you find most useful for recruiting?
Facebook and Twitter continue to have very inexpensive promotional solutions and we absolutely see hires through those platforms. Other social platforms are still important but play more of an influencing/branding role than direct hires. We don’t see people, for example, going to a job directly from Pinterest. However, we just hired someone onto our global social media team who specifically mentioned our Pinterest page and our Careers channel specifically. The mention was all praise and how it created more positive sentiment of Dell in their mind. This is a win even if we didn’t hire the person ‘from’ Pinterest.
Please – DO NOT READ this article about the utmost passion and the eternal struggle of an individual UNLESS you want to fully understand the complexities of being a woman in technology and see why only few females will thrive in this environment.
Why would you like to read or hear about someone’s story, anyway?
Because it hasn’t been told yet.
And because every story is like no other.
So, who is she? This tech lady.
Daijie Huang is a first generation Chinese immigrant in the USA. She founded the Boston-based startup, InnoTechnologies, that is creating the first marketplace for location based personal travel guides. The project was built on a passion for technology and innovation, but also traveling, since Daijie is an enthusiastic traveler herself. She is quite the global female entrepreneur, as well as successful and resourceful women and leader – but there’s more to her than that.
Behind every success, there’s a hard work. We all know that. Except that behind Daijie’s story there’s this extra effort she had to put into making her dreams a reality.
Daijie grew up in China, currently lives in the USA, and she visited countless countries all over the world, mostly with her daughter. Daijie’s career has spanned from engineering to product management and now to entrepreneurship. As we speak, she is now bringing her app to Kickstarter to bring travel experts from every corner of the world to share their stories. Today I want you to read about Daijie’s path to becoming a successful entrepreneur, her technical interests and how she fully embraces the notion of women in tech.
There’s a lot of press around women in tech and obstacles they face, but the story of Daijie Huang, the immigrant from China, is a must read. It’s the homage I pay to her after observing the sweat and tears she poured into countless updates of her app. She’s someone I can identify with since I am a Polish immigrant now living in Canada, working in technology. Also, I worked for three years in China in the mobile games industry, so most of the time while interviewing her I felt like we have the similar life stories.
Daijie, let’s talk about your background a little bit. What was growing up like?
I grew up in Xian, China. I have two elder brothers. Back in my young childhood, China was still closed to the outside world. The old city wall was our playground and gave us infinite joy after the boring school day. Catching bugs, climbing the brick wall, playing hide and seek, etc, you name it; the ancient city wall gave us all of our fun. I rarely thought about other places, but even if I did, I would assume that kids everywhere else were doing the same things as us. To me, the world was home and home was the whole world until one day, a few western backpackers showed up on our streets. Yes, I was one of the silly kids following them, finger pointing at them and wondering where the heck they came from. I started to realize that the world was something big, different and fascinating.
Then, flocks of foreigners came to Xian; they wandered around the ancient wall, the bell tower, the big goose pagoda, and of course, the Terracotta Warriors. Then, I started to learn English at school, and learn more about the world as China began to open the door to the Western World. Later, when I got into college, my mother, a CTO at a local company, started to work with western companies about potential partnerships. China was changing. After her business trips to the UK and the USA, she told me: ”The outside world is fascinating. Our generation has missed our chance, but, you still have one. Go further to see the world!” Honestly, it was a challenging goal during that time. Unlike Beijing and Shanghai, Xian was pretty laid-back and under developed. Although my parents were making an above average income in Xian, it was still too little to support my studies in the USA. The good thing is that I have been a very determined person since I was young, good or bad. Although it was a big stretch to compete for a good university in the USA, I got into Renssellaer Polytechnic Institute with financial help, after months of catching up on my English. Can you believe I memorized 800 new words in a day? I won’t be able to do that again honestly.
My mom taught me that a woman can do even better work than a man in technology and encouraged me to go outside to fulfill my dream – then my father taught me the entrepreneurial side of things. My father was a brilliant engineer in his field. He took a newly invented tech to a nice service business later.
Growing up under the influence of a high positioned mom and an ambitious dad, I set up my life goal before I even realized it: an adventure. To make life fun and meaningful, no matter where the road led me, traveling, or on the life journey. So, I went from a silly girl chasing after alien-like foreigners to an entrepreneur who believes that the sky is the limit.
What was your career path from engineer to entrepreneur? Did you have role models & mentors along the way?
It was more of a genetic accident. Using my husband’s words: it’s my restless genes. Repetitive work just bores me to death. So, instead of climbing the corporate ladder like most smart people do, I quit my engineering job from a high tech but slow growing company to start on my own journey. It wasn’t easy and I learned a lot in the process. I also have a very supportive husband, which hugely helped me stay float through the hectic life change.
We invite you to the creative workshop to Krakowski Park Technologiczny, 29 of March.
What you will learn?
1. Connect HR and Digital Marketing techniques to benefit your organization and yourself.
2. Explore new ways of engaging more and more demanding customers & knowledge workers.
3. Use cutting edge practices and newest trends in the rapidly converging talent and digital worlds.
4. Use platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook to support and enhance your business goals.