Julie Barker

Julie has been entrenched in talent strategy, recruiting and people operations for technology and IT consulting businesses for 15 years. Her focus on helping leaders and managers build world-class teams and a culture that fosters and inspires those teams, has made her an invaluable part of many companies’ growth story. She has helped companies navigate growth at nearly every stage, from scaling sub 30 employee start-ups to supporting large global organizations of more than 100,000 employees. Prior to founding her own talent consulting business, she was the VP of Talent at Zylo and Senior Director of Recruiting and Talent at Appirio. Julie also chairs the Indianapolis chapter of DisruptHR, an information exchange designed to energize, inform and empower HR professionals.

Why are you so passionate about helping people-based businesses?

People are at the crux of any business. They are not only the majority of a company’s costs, but also its greatest source of sustainable competitive advantage. In services organizations, you get to work with so many smart, talented people who bring real value to their clients every day, and see first-hand the impact that their work has on a business. Being a part of that journey, and crafting the programs and processes that support these individuals as they build amazing careers, is incredibly rewarding.

You have worked with a number of founders and leaders throughout your career and through your work with DisruptHR. What do you think is one of the biggest talent-related challenges that founders face early in their growth journeys?

One of the biggest challenges company’s face early on is laying the foundation for an inspiring culture and making that foundation scale. Many early teams are built on leaders who have worked together before and have a shared vision, but how do you grow beyond that to something that everyone is a part of? CEOs and founders need to have a talent partner from the beginning who can help drive strategy from a people perspective and provide balance with other executives who are charged with driving revenue and customer growth.

What advice would you give to founders looking to establish a leadership development program?

Leaders directly impact how your team members view the company and that impacts the business more than you realize. Be intentional about developing your leaders, and craft a leadership program that matches your values. Don’t try to copy someone else’s successful program that has been fine tuned for their business strategy.

What advice would you give founders looking to scale their business and team quickly?

Give hiring the time and attention it needs. Hiring is a lot more than filling open reqs. It’s about creating a destination where people want to join and stay. Bring on leaders who are passionate about building teams and who are always recruiting, not just when there is an open role. If you’re intentional about your recruiting strategy – how to hire to your values, what’s unique about your company and how you will scale the process over time – you will be in the driver’s seat.

Megan Adler

Megan is a branding and marketing pro with deep expertise building brands from the ground up. In 2002 she founded Sublime Designs Media, a branding and creative marketing firm that takes a fresh approach to solving a wide range of marketing challenges. Whether it’s helping cloud services companies stand out, helping a 20-year old medical physics company modernize their brand, or helping a space camp transition into business services, Megan thrives on thinking outside the box.

What do you love about helping entrepreneurs and founders?

I love helping to make change happen. When you work directly with a founder, you can effect change across an organization — or even an entire industry. It’s exciting to watch that unfold as the founder meets goals and scales the business.

You’ve helped dozens of product and services companies create brands that stand out and stand for something. What is the secret to creating a memorable and impactful brand?

The secret to creating an effective brand is connecting with customers. Your customers are filled with important insights about what your messaging and design should look and sound like. Rather than guessing as to what they want or need, you should ask them. They’ll tell you why they hired you, how they see you as different from competitors, and what sold them on your services. You’ll be surprised to learn that it’s often vastly different from how you perceive yourself and your brand. These insights are invaluable input for your brand strategy. When you use them as the foundation for your brand, you’ll connect with customers emotionally and engender brand loyalty.

What are the elements of an effective brand strategy?

An effective brand really rests on three things:

  1. Knowing what drives you. This is your mission, values and brand promise. These three powerful elements should act as your north star for decision making and everything around your brand.
  2. Having a simple, consistent, and differentiated story. People have limited attention spans. Nothing captures their attention more than a compelling brand story, especially when it’s told in a unique voice.
  3. Crafting a visual identity. This is what makes your brand look and feel different – your logo, fonts, colors, icons, graphics, and photos. It will set you apart and create an emotional connection to your brand.