Polishing Our People with Jeri Larsen


June 27, 2022



About This Episode

In this episode of Culture by Design, Timothy R. Clark is joined by Jari Larsen. They talk about how to meet the individual needs of team members, what it means to be a self-directed learner, and tackle some of the hardest elements of organizational culture. The main question at play: How can we make sure that our people are the happiest? 

Here are some gems from the conversation:

Jeri talks about her upbringing and professional timeline (3:00). As the youngest of eleven kids, Jeri learned to hold her own in a loving and motivating family. She has dabbled in Pre-Med, English, university instruction, government procurement/contracting, and corporate training. She says that her job is “to grease the skids and throw the elbows.”

The decade of cultural awakening (10:18). Since the Industrial Revolution, we’ve polished the chain of command and the operational pieces of our organizations, what’s left is polishing our people. How can we innovate? Be creative? Automate? How can we make sure that our people are the happiest?

Organizations are increasingly kindness-driven (15:30). Even though hierarchies prevail in every organization, you can still be kind regardless of how much brass is on your shoulder. 

Assume good intent (18:30). As a teenager, Jeri’s mother taught her to assume that everyone is trying to do their best. Nobody is trying to sabotage you. If something feels deliberate, there is a reason behind it, and that reason probably has little to do with you. Bring humility into the equation and allow forgiveness to win. 

You need to watch a culture that works (25:10). Seeing both functional and dysfunctional cultures has been phenomenal for Jeri’s outlook on business and workplace culture. In any organization that you take part in, find something positive that you would want to replicate. If you can’t find a single thing, run.

Patterns of self-directed learning (26:30). Sticky notes are Jeri’s best friend. Keep track of everything worth remembering. Don’t ever assign something that you wouldn’t be willing to do yourself. If needs be, get down and do it. As you climb the ladder of hierarchy, you won’t get the feedback that you need unsolicited. Find the people around you who keep you sound and provide you with insights. Who are the people that can be absurdly honest with you, and will still love you anyway? They can tell you if you’re out of line.

Meet needs individually (30:00). Jeri gives anecdotal advice on what it looks like to address individual needs on your team. What will feel like validation for one colleague, won’t for another. She also gives advice on coaching the ‘uncoachable.” 

Advice to Gen Zers (40:10). Learn to read a room and develop emotional maturity. Be willing to succeed in the role that you’re in before you ask for a new one. Your creativity and curiosity are some of the best things that we can welcome into our workforce. 

About Our Guest

Jeri currently serves as the Chief Operations Officer at YouScience, an EdTech company helping align talent, education, and industry by empowering students to find their best-fit future. Prior to YouScience,

Jeri has been in multiple executive roles across a variety of industries including SVP of Sales Ops at MX (fintech), VP of Strategy and Analytics and VP of Client Engagement and Success at Skipio (MarTech).

In her career, Jeri has had the opportunity to meet organizational needs from the perspectives of: Sales, CX, OPS, and L&D in both the public and private sectors. Recently, Jeri has been featured as #8 on Women We Admire's "Top 50 Women Leaders of Utah" list and believes better talent and people management are the key to creating better client experiences.

Wife to a burly mountain man and mom to three kids, they are all taller than she is and twice as snarky. When she's not in the office, you may catch her and her family whitewater rafting or camping off-grid. Off-river, she'll usually have a book in her hand and a dog on her lap.

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