Alright – so today we’ve got the honor of introducing you to Randell. We think you’ll enjoy our conversation, we’ve shared it below.
Randell, looking forward to hearing all of your stories today. How did you come up with the idea for your business?
During the 30 years I’ve spent in business environments, the last 15 spent as a legal ‘headhunter’ for all levels in the field (legal secretary to partners), there has been a well documented and researched, alarming deterioration in our abilities to initiate, develop, sustain, nurture and maintain professional relationships. What I know, empirically, is the most business, (aside from transactional interactions, think: buying a car or groceries) is conducted because of human to human, professional to professional relationships with shared interests and goals.
There is a myriad of reasons for this slow and steady decline in our focus on interacting with other humans: self sufficiency as a result of the breathtaking speed in technology development (back in the day, I might have dictated this article, had a trusted secretary to type, collate, copy and send it, perhaps had a colleague or two proof read it before sending it to be published, then closely worked with the publisher to make certain it aligned with the needs of the publication. All of these steps involving relationships at some level), the ubiquity of social media and the myth that we all have 500+ ‘relationships’, or connections (how many of our ‘followers’ or contacts do we truly know?), the individualized way we view the world writ large from our personal, professional, political lenses, and the 5 generations (all of whom speak different languages and for the most part, don’t take the time to learn about the others’ and wind up vilifying them) – to name a few.
The thing is: we’re human beings and, as a species, require interpersonal involvement, engagement, intellectual discourse and emotional attachment personally and professionally. If we don’t have these fundamental needs met, we die, full stop. There are terrifying statistics of isolationism having increased by 40%, suicide rates by 18% and worst of all, suicide rates of people under the age of 18 by 80% (80%!!) over the last 10 years. These are grim numbers and, I would argue, all directly related to our lack of comfort, confidence and skills at communicating and interacting with our fellow humans.
I have a personal philosophy that ‘we don’t get to complain about something we’re not willing to do something about’ so I did something about this troubling evolution: I wrote a curriculum teasing apart the actual mechanics of what it takes to initiate, develop, sustain, nurture and maintain professional relationships; designed to uncover the obstacles (fear, confidence etc), providing language skills, and implementable tools for increased human interactions in business.
Technology is amazing but humans are critical for business.
As always, we appreciate you sharing your insights and we’ve got a few more questions for you, but before we get to all of that can you take a minute to introduce yourself and give our readers some of your background and context?
As mentioned, my former career was headhunting: I worked for a regional recruiting firm, was recruited myself to the largest agency in the world and then opened my own shop. It was fun, I was good at it and had a successful 15 year run. In 2015, I found myself at an existential crossroad personally and professionally, and found the joy in this work to be waning. I wanted to expand my offerings to more than helping candidates find a new job and employers the right ‘fit’.
I gave myself 6 months for introspection and reflection to truly examine where my path might lead and created the space for myself to do so. I kept returning to the concept of professional relationships and how I might incorporate my lifelong study of psychology, sociology, folding in all of my business/corporate experience, recent research and examination into the generational element of our workforce. I kept going back to the notion that everyone needs help understanding the nuances of professional relationships, how to conduct ourselves in the business setting, what standard of acceptable behavior is commonly employed at work and how to overcome the obstacles that can get in the way of productive engagement. It’s not necessarily the job of leaders to fix these, largely human, hurdles but it IS the job of leadership to recognize there could be, again largely human, issues that may be encumbering the effective completion of business goals. Future Image Group was founded to address these hurdles.
FIG offers individual and group coaching / mentorship using our proprietary curriculum to C-Suite professionals, leadership teams, employees writ large and individuals, mediation for complex interpersonal issues, defining program initiatives, effective communication and interactive skills in the professional space for all sizes of businesses. We serve as third-party, independent observers to behaviors at work and offer practical, no nonsense guidance informed by experience (we’ve been leaders as well as followers!), research and specific, constructive, implementable tools to help organizations perform more effectively by focusing on the human element on the job.
Forward thinking leaders have embraced the indelible benefits of investing in the long game culturally for the whole health of their businesses and the people who work for them, employees value and appreciate the caring investment in their continued professional development, interest in them as human beings and the recognition that they don’t know what they don’t know (none of us do!).
What we continuously see in our work with professionals (and what truly inspires us!) is the joy and recognition we see every single day as awareness, understanding, tools being implemented and the realizations that there is, most definitely, a different way to view difficulties, challenges and general kerfuffles at work though another lens, that there is a a reason for everything and if there’s a reason, there is a solution. We are the rare unicorns who wake up every day and truly love what we do and the lasting impacts we make in the business space with the humans who work there.
How about pivoting – can you share the story of a time you’ve had to pivot?
Actually as it turns out, I’ve been pivoting most of my life professionally, personally and career wise. In my 20’s, having grown up in New York City and attending the Fashion Institute of Technology there, my first professional iteration was working in the fashion industry where I loved producing fashion shows, window design, lingerie design, merchandising and store development. (I actually have a section of FIG curriculum on wardrobing – which has had an unexpectedly large resonance with clients we work with – there are so many different standards of dress in the professional space these days, that people are confused about what’s appropriate to wear in the many industries with so many dress codes!). When we moved to Colorado and discovered that Denver is not exactly the fashion mecca of the world – no shade on Colorado at all, I never moved back to NYC I love it so much here, but ‘fashionable’ isn’t the first word that jumps to mind when I think about the state . I needed to make a living and retail was the only option for the skills I brought from the east coast. It was fine, the hours sucked (holidays, weekends, late nights) but it paid the bills, I still got to play with clothes and wound up in senior management for Polo-Ralph Lauren (big pivot #1). Pivot #2, I had my beautiful baby boy whom I was and am devoted to (although he’s a man of 27 now), being a Mom was a top (read: highest!) priority and the hours in retail world were not conducive to tucking my son into bed every night or being with him on holidays.
Enter big pivot #3, I resigned and found a job in the sales/marketing department of a local oil distributor: better hours, comparable pay and the opportunity to learn a new business, new industry and develop new skills. It was a hard turn but marketing was fun, I had a knack for it and the personality to build relationships in business effectively.
Perhaps the second biggest pivot (#4) in my career: the move to marketing at a regional recruiting firm. All I did, all day, every day, was develop relationships in the legal industry to generate business for my firm. I would meet and develop relationships with at least 20 lawyers, paralegals and legal secretaries every week happily. I loved my job, learned to speak the legal language (it was a steep learning curve!) which was humbling (lawyers can be tough) but I learned, grew and found what was then, a new passion which I did for 15 years.
And now, my last act, pivot #5: founder and president of FIG.
There are direct lines from each step of my professional ideations, I followed the threads, took chances, felt like an idiot a lot of the time when I moved to a new industry (grades of cashmere to grades of oil pop to mind!) and had to learn new languages competently for each. Were the moves (pivots) terrifying? You bet. The unknown always is. But I’ll tell you this: every one of these moves have informed FIG, brought me to this place and helped me find my ‘forever’ calling.
Any stories or insights that might help us understand how you’ve built such a strong reputation?
Afraid I don’t have a very sexy answer to this question and if fact, it’ll probably sound downright dull…..but I know FIG’s process works, my clients support this claim and oftentimes, these testimonials are the best reflection of my reputation.
I’ve always striven to hold myself to the highest standards of professionalism, integrity and ethics. I try to act with the intention of doing the ‘right thing’, for myself, my colleagues, my clients. I try to maintain boundaries between my professional and personal lives – there will always be overlap to some extent, absolutely, but business is business and personal is personal. I’m an honest, caring, intelligent and savvy woman driven to share the lessons I’ve learned in hopes of making the kind of impact that my mentors, teachers and guides made in my life. And, as a client told me just today “you know your shit!”. My contribution to the business world with competence, experience, acumen, insight and nuance is perhaps the part of my reputation I guard most closely, I like ‘knowing my shit’, and I always endeavor to practice what I preach.
- Website: www.futureimagegroup.com
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bbarbara.randell
- Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/barbara-randell-7085607/