By Dr. Geoff Smart
Smarties! It is exciting to mark 26 years and going strong! And getting stronger!!
THE BEGINNING. It’s so weird, I remember how I felt at the beginning of our firm’s life. (Cue the top hit songs on June 16, 1995 which were “Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman?” by Bryan Adams, “Water Runs” by Boyz II Men, and “Total Eclipse of the Heart” By Nicki French in the U.S., and “Unchained Melody” by White Cliffs of Dover in the U.K.).
The feeling was one of, “Clearly there is a need in the world, to help leaders take a more methodical, fact-based approach to solving their leadership problems. To improve bets on people. To help leaders hire and develop talented teams that are successful at accomplishing their goals.” So there was an obvious market need for what we do. That part didn’t seem terribly risky or innovative.
But just as important, I was thinking about ghSMART as a special kind of firm for its people as an employment option. I remember thinking, “I want us to be a firm I’d actually want to work at!” And “Surely, a firm should exist where wildly talented people can come together on a high-performing team, do impactful work, make money, and have freedom to make choices about their work, avoid coercion, and not be forced to sacrifice their lives in order to do meaningful and rewarding work.” I remember feeling like I hoped I was not the only one who wanted to do meaningful and impactful work, make money, and have a life. That part of our founding felt like more of an experiment—whether you would come here and stay and love it.
REGRETS? I get asked that occasionally. Not really, I mean, today we are literally the #1 firm to work for, in overall employee satisfaction, out of 100,000+ firms (according to Vault 2021, 2020). 😊
But sure, we could have put more energy into digital innovation, DE&I as a priority for us and for clients, and international expansion earlier in our life cycle. But today I feel we have an appropriate level of focus on those important priorities. I feel that we have an A+ mission, vision, credo and values. We have a simple and powerful strategy. We have an impressive and powerful client base of influential leaders, who love our help. We have the most talented, increasingly diverse, and goodhearted people on the planet working here as firm leaders, consultants and staff members. And we have the #1 culture of any professional services firm (Glassdoor 4.8/5.0). Our last 10-year history under Randy Street’s leadership as MP and those of you who have been here, has delivered impressive results: 97% client sat (on a goal of 90%), 93% team retention (on a goal of 90%, in an industry that has only 70% retention), and 24% EBITDA growth per year (on a goal of 20%). To quote Old Milwaukee Beer’s slogan, “It just doesn’t get any better than this!”
THE FUTURE. The funny thing is, it IS getting better than this.
The thing I want for us in the future that is better than today is more freedom for us all TO DO good things (not just freedom FROM bad things).
More freedom to do good things looks like having an increasingly robust professional development function (which has improved considerably in recent years) to give us more confidence with clients, more innovative opportunities to lead (new solutions, practice areas, products, new channels for community service, new research and books & articles, etc.), and a more global impact (e.g. Smarties advising leaders in not just North America and Europe, but soon Asia and then the other major regions of the world).
We still have a way to go before we’re “leading world impact” in the fullest sense of the term, but I’m super proud of where we are today, where we have come, and the chance to chart our journey forward with the most amazing team ever assembled!!
ghSMART is hiring.
If you want to learn how to advise influential CEOs, boards, and government leaders, work with the most talented, diverse, and goodhearted people ever assembled in one place, and have control over your time, please contact email@example.com to schedule a career conversation.
Dr. Geoff Smart is Chairman & Founder of leadership advisory firm ghSMART, which exists to help leaders amplify their positive impact on the world.
In 2021, Vault named ghSMART the #1 best consulting firm to work for in overall colleague satisfaction (as well as client interaction and challenge). ghSMART has published four bestselling leadership books: Who: The A Method for Hiring (by Smart and Street, #1 globally in the category of “hiring”), Leadocracy: Hiring More Great Leaders (Like You) into Government (by Smart), Power Score (by Smart, Street, and Foster), and The CEO Next Door (by Botelho and Powell). Geoff can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, subscribe to his blog at geoffsmart.com/smartthoughts, or follow him at linkedin.com/in/drgeoffsmart or on Twitter at GeoffreySmart.