Rey Ramirez is a Co-Founder of Thrive HR Consulting and is thought leaders on the topic of HR Strategy and Execution. In this interview, he shares insights with The Industry Leaders about how to navigate uncertainty as a business leader.
Could you please share a bit about yourself, your background, and the journey that has led you to become an entrepreneur? What makes your perspective unique on the subject of leadership and navigating uncertainty?
I am the son of immigrants who came to the US from Mexico. I grew up in south Texas and was the first family member to finish college. I have been in the workforce since the age of 13. I Inherited a great work ethic from my parents that has helped me throughout my career. I worked in the tech space in HR for over 20 years and decided to start our firm with my partner Jason Walker 3.5 years ago. My personal background and my experience in tech have given me a unique understanding of how leaders operate and what HR solutions will work in different situations.
You and your business have presumably faced some interesting challenges and changes over the years. Can you describe a key moment when you felt uncertainty was at its peak?
We started our business in April of 2020 just before we all went into Covid lockdown. My partner and I did not see each other for 2 years as we ran the business. Having to do everything virtually made us much more flexible and focused on delivering value to our new clients. I think it helped us get closer to our clients and ensure they were delivering positive results to their organizations. Our leadership approach has been to clearly define deliverables and provide weekly project updates so our clients can see the results/value we are bringing to their organizations.
From your experience, what are the core principles or values that guide a leader during uncertain times?
I think that your true colors come out during these uncertain times. My approach has been to focus on being a firm that exhibits my values of integrity and accountability. In working with our clients, we want to be known for team members that live these values daily. We meet internally to ensure we are delivering high quality results for our clients. And in many cases providing added value above our stated deliverables. Our clients know that if we commit to a date, we will be accountable to meet that date. Our clients also know that we will give them honest answers to any question and have their best interest at heart. That is how we operate day to day. These principles have helped us make staffing decisions and move consultants off of projects when there were concerns about honesty and work results.
How do you cultivate a culture of resilience and adaptability within your team? Can you share a practical example where this culture made a significant difference?
Our approach to business is “Help our Clients Succeed”, early in 2021, several of our clients asked us to help them with recruiting needs. We were not set up to do this and it was not part of our business plan but we said yes to the business. We set up a team of recruiters and HR coordinators to support our clients. We also established processes to mine LinkedIn and find great talent. We also developed reporting on our candidate pipeline and activity metrics to share with our clients. We had such good hiring results that 2 of our clients gave us all of their open jobs and our team was their Talent Acquisition function.
Many aspiring leaders struggle with the fear of failure, especially when the path ahead is unclear. What strategies or mental frameworks have you developed to overcome this fear and embrace uncertainty as an opportunity?
The fear of failure is real and we have had our share of disappointments. Our business plan and objectives have kept us focused on building our brand and using our personal networks to find opportunities. For me failure is not an option, I am fully committed to our new business and we were willing to take the risk by moving into service offerings that were not in our original plan. This has helped us become a successful consulting business. I have used two approaches to help me simplify our approach to work. One is the harder you work, the luckier you are! We put in the work to understand our clients business, understand how to make them more successful and provide value. All our team members are committed to this approach and we communicate daily to make sure we are all on the same page. Secondly, I use Project Plans, task lists to break down big deliverables into realistic chunks of work. We use daily stand up meetings to keep projects moving forward and ensure we meet deadlines and deliverables. I think it's important to use this approach to manage projects and keep clients happy.
In your opinion, what are the most common mistakes leaders make during uncertain times? Can you offer a real-life example where recognizing and avoiding such a mistake led to success?
I think taking unnecessary risks and making decisions without thinking them through are the common mistakes. We were concerned about business development and finding new customers. We talked to an online lead generating company and agreed to use their services for 3 months. They did a lot of emailing/spamming and tried to connect with prospective customers. In the end, they generated 2 meetings. Lots of costs with minimal results, learned that we were never going this route in the future.
Looking towards the future, how do you plan to continue evolving your leadership style to meet new uncertainties and challenges? What advice would you give to others looking to do the same?
As our company grows, our plan is to continue to find great consultants to work with and help them develop their skills. We also want to help other professionals grow in our HR field. Another big focus will be on our core principles of integrity and accountability, we want to make sure we always conduct business this way. If we do the above, I think we can meet any challenges we may face in the future.
You've clearly demonstrated a willingness to learn and grow through experience. Are there any books, mentors, or resources that have particularly influenced your leadership style? How would you recommend others to approach their leadership development journey?
My mentors have been great and I value their time and friendship - Steve Cadigan, Steve Hale, Jason Walker and Arnoldo Avalos. I would recommend that readers find mentors that are willing to be available to talk and give you honest feedback. I also love to read interesting articles on current events, business, politics, personal stories and international affairs. I think understanding our world helps us be more empathetic and make better decisions. I also think you have to have a balance, family, being outdoors, enjoying life, having fun - makes you a better leader.