The author of Managing Annoying People and the Aligned Workplace blog, Ilene Marcus has 32 years in executive positions at multi-million dollar organizations and entrepreneurial enterprises ranging from turning around NYC’s Human Resources Administration, managing 10,000 people (one of the largest social welfare agencies in the country) to serving as a Global Facilitator for leading Seed Accelerator TechStars.
Ilene now mentors start-ups and “sandwiched” managers. She’s worked with over 60 organizations and over 300 people and she intuitively understands systems, culture, and mission and can tie that to human purpose, satisfaction, and productivity. Her speaking engagements, filled with humor and common-sense advice, have delighted audiences nationwide.
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Table of Contents
We are thrilled to have you join us today, welcome to ValiantCEO Magazine’s exclusive interview! Let’s start off with a little introduction. Tell our readers a bit about yourself and your company.
Ilene Marcus: C-Suite advisor on growth and scaling with deep productivity expertise and laser focus on metrics, Ilene Marcus, the author of Managing Annoying People and the Aligned Workplace blog, has over 32 years in executive positions at multi-million-dollar organizations and entrepreneurial enterprises.
We provide online interactive teaching and mentoring specifically designed for Team Leaders and Sr. Managers to Increase Productivity, Embrace their Pivotal Role and Ignite Motivation.
Our goal is to help Team Leaders and Sr. Managers deal with daily stress and workplace annoyances that steal productivity and keep you from reaching goals and dreams. If you manage up and manage down and are annoyed all the way around – let us help you get un-annoyed and embrace your leadership!
2020 and 2021 threw a lot of curve balls into business on a global scale. Based on the experience gleaned in the past couple years, how can businesses thrive in 2022? What lessons have you learned?
Ilene Marcus: I love this question. In times of change, I always go back to basics. Make sure your product and services are on their best game. This means all of your employees, partners, and supply chain are literally on the same page, all rowing in the same direction. Track your customer journey yourself and streamline, simplify and educate at every twist and turn. Use your data to make decisions balanced with your intuition and passion to keep your business responsive to changing trends.
The pandemic seems to keep on disrupting the economy, what should businesses focus on in 2022? What advice would you share?
Ilene Marcus: 1. Build your bench strength. Engagement of Team Leaders and Frontline employees must be your focus with a consistent viable, definable effort.
2. Dig into your data to keep refining your Unique Value Proposition. Make sure your customers are lining up and if not act, Don’t Avoid!
3. Bullet Proof yourself by diversifying Income. Based on your data dig what can you upsell, increase or create, especially in terms of more passive income.
How has the pandemic changed your industry and how have you adapted?
Ilene Marcus: I believe the pandemic has re-ignited the need for new partners and newer solutions. Everyone is looking for entrepreneurial ways to engage employees and clients. I have adapted by taking “my act” that I have done individually with over 60 companies and 300 individuals into an online course. You can find out about it here https://www.ilenemarcus.com/
What advice do you wish you received when the pandemic started and what do you intend on improving in 2022?
Ilene Marcus: It’s the long game. Stay focused on who you are and what you do and magnify it – don’t shrink. I will be adapting more virtual content; doing more outreach, education, and selling in 2022 – I practice what I preach.
Online business surged higher than ever, B2B, B2C, online shopping, virtual meetings, remote work, Zoom medical consultations, what are your expectations for 2022?
Ilene Marcus: The trend will continue. I expect there will be more hybrid experiences built and many businesses will look to create more touchpoints with stakeholders – maybe even more snail mail – to keep in touch!
How many hours a day do you spend in front of a screen?
Ilene Marcus: I am older and wiser so no more than 6 hours!
The majority of executives use stories to persuade and communicate in the workplace. Can you share with our readers examples of how you implement that in your business to communicate effectively with your team?
Ilene Marcus: I start every meeting, every training, almost every conversation with a true story that just happened and showcases our values, our niche, and our purpose. Here’s an example: Our focus has been digging into helping business owners train their Team Leaders and Sr. Managers differently to retain staff and build bench strength. Core to this is understanding that no work is demeaning and soulless; there are only managers and clients who treat workers as if they are meaningless and soulless. Here is what I opened with today:
I was driving through McDonald’s last night. As the operator handed me my change, I said “Thanks for coming to work today, you made my life easier by keeping the drive-in open.” Her response was, “What?” and I repeated it again: “Thanks for coming to work today, you made my life easier by keeping the drive-in open.” She literally stopped what she was doing and looked at me, From behind her mask I could tell she was smiling and she said; “Thank you, that made my day!” The interesting part is I didn’t mumble or mince my words the first time I said it. She is so used to people complaining; asking for more napkins or sauce; that her brain could not comprehend my compliment the first time I said it, because she was not expecting it. Give your team, your employees a thank you for something others take for granted. Let them know you appreciate them, more often.
Business is all about overcoming obstacles and creating opportunities for growth. What do you see as the real challenge right now?
Ilene Marcus: Thinking it will pass and not adapting and reading the signs. Not putting off making the tough and brave calls to change, pivot, and adapt.
In 2022, what are you most interested in learning about? Crypto, NFTs, online marketing, or any other skill sets? Please share your motivations.
Ilene Marcus: All of it. I believe our money and investment strategy should reflect our values. I would include ESG investing and experts as well as ESG.practices to do good for your company and our world at the same time. My goal is to align my investments with my values.
A record 4.4 million Americans left their jobs in September in 2021, accelerating a trend that has become known as the Great Resignation. 47% of people plan to leave their job during 2022. Most are leaving because of their boss or their company culture. 82% of people feel unheard, undervalued and misunderstood in the workplace. Do you think leaders see the data and think “that’s not me – I’m not that boss they don’t want to work for? What changes do you think need to happen?
Ilene Marcus: I write, speak and train on Managing Annoying People, it’s key to team motivation and retention. I can say with 100% confidence, no one believes it’s them until it’s too late. It’s proven that people leave bosses not jobs. Americans need to work, they need income; 47% of the workforce did not all win the lottery; inherit a fortune or have the ability to go off-grid.
They may have some funds saved and plan to re-group; take an adventure, start their own business, change industries or companies, but people will need to go back to work. If not for their money. For the routine, structure, and value it adds to their life. Work matters. Look at your data and shake-out old work models. Be audacious about the multitude of ways you can provide your workers with solutions. Make sure you do more than talk the talk in valuing your employees. Align your spending, your time, and your message to what you are actually doing. Provide real actions and timelines. Then stick to what you say.
On a lighter note, if you had the ability to pick any business superpower, what would it be and how would you put it into practice?
Ilene Marcus: Build Managers that can handle diverse situations, take authority when warranted, and permeate leadership’s message throughout the organization. I would gift a 360-degree purview of all stakeholders and build intuition so they know the next right action to take to set them and the organization up for growth and success.
What does “success” in 2022 mean to you? It could be on a personal or business level, please share your vision.
Ilene Marcus: Success looks like enjoying the journey more than the outcome. Being of service to those who need help to build more intuitive managers for better workplaces where everyone wins.
Jed Morley, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Ilene Marcus for taking the time to do this interview and share her knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Ilene Marcus or her company, you can do it through her – Linkedin Page
Disclaimer: The ValiantCEO Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.