Make Work Awesome! #RWS15


Yesterday I attended the Reinvent Work Summit in Toronto. I was surrounded by 108 people who are as passionate about creating awesome workplaces as I am.

I am a disruptor – a professional boat-rocker when it comes to creating and wanting workplaces that don’t suck. We spend so much of our waking hours at work, so why should it be bad? For me, work should be more than just a paycheck. Work should challenge me, help to develop and grow me – I want to feel fulfilled every day by what I do.

But a recent Gallup poll is not encouraging. This is the comparison from 2013 versus 2014 of employee engagement in the workplace:

According to Gallup, it defines engaged employees as those who are involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to their work and workplace.

Basically half of your employees are not engaged (that is 1 in 2 people at work) and almost 1 in every 5 employees are actively disengaged. They are actively working against you in the workplace.

Gallup tried to put a positive note on this recent poll by stating “At 31.5%, employee engagement is at its highest level since Gallup first began measuring the performance indicator in 2000.”

That level of engagement is no where near satisfactory or encouraging for me. Nor should it be for the CEOs, Leaders, Managers and businesses out there. How can it be when the majority of your workforce looks like this?

Workplaces cannot afford zombie workers.

That is why I was excited to attend the Reinvent Work Summit. (Check out #RWS15 to see what was shared and everything that was learned.) This amazing event was put together by Pamela Ross. (Learn more about her here.) Her vision of what workplaces should be is inspiring. Pam genuinely wants to help workplaces to be better and be more successful. Her mission is to Re!vent Work! Because of her passion and enthusiasm, and that of everyone at the event, the hashtag trended at number 3 in Canada. All of us in attendance really want to make an impact and affect change in all of our organizations.

Reinvent Work Summit

The Reinvent Work Summit is by invitation only and the room was full of CEOs, Leaders, HR people and others that want to challenge the status quo. They do not want to settle for only having 31.5% of their workforce engaged and want to create workplace climates and environments that are great.

Pam gave the opening remarks. I loved Pam’s analogy, comparing the current employee engagement statistics of a typical workplace, to that of a football team. Can you imagine if only 32% of a football team were engaged, 50% were disengaged and the remaining 18% were actively working against the rest of the team? Would you pay to see a team like that play or even watch them on TV? Pam also spoke about the word Corporate being a ‘C’  (curse) word and how it is now used to refer to bad work environments and bad experiences.

Then we listened to 5 awesome Ted Style Talks. (I could have listened to these 5 amazing people speak all day long. Their 18 minute speeches felt like 2 minutes to me.) Think Link provided graphic recordings of all the speeches.

(Left to right in photo: Chelsea MacDonald, Tony Gareri, Mark Babbit, Irene Andress, and Dave Holmes)

The first Ted talk was given by Mark Babbitt, CEO of YouTern, President of Switch and Shift and co-author with Ted Coiné of the book, A World Gone Social. I was very excited to finally meet Mark ‘in real life’ as we have been social media friends for a while. If you are not familiar with A World Gone Social, check out my previous post about it. It is a definite must read. (Continue reading for your chance to win a copy of the book.)

Mark spoke about Culture in a World Gone Social. The one thing that I will take away from Mark’s speech is the short lesson he taught us on ‘Asking the Right Questions’. We often don’t at work. We want employees to be more engaged but we are not questioning what would help with that. A lot of the time we are asking ‘Are you engaged at work?’ What does that mean? Can most people even tell you what engaged means? Instead we need to be questioning employees about what it is really like to work at the company that they are at.

I also agreed with Mark when he spoke about telling employees the challenge, giving them the right tools, and then letting them be creative and come up with the solutions to meet the challenge.

I see the opposite a lot in workplaces. They put a lot of time and effort into recruiting and finding great employees but then treat them like they don’t trust in their abilities to perform the work. They micro-manage and basically treat employees as children (a parent-child relationship).

Irene Andress, Chief Nursing Executive and Program Director of the Emergency Department and Medicine at the Toronto East General Hospital, spoke next. Irene spoke about Socializing Health Care.

I was inspired about her vision to transform a conservative, private and publicly funded institution into a more social and engaging workplace. She is an example of a blue unicorn – a social leader, open to change and exploring new opportunities.

Chelsea MacDonald, VP, Talent Labs at Klick, spoke on The Decoded Company: What If You Knew Your Talent Better Than Your Customers.

Chelsea has an infectious laugh and spoke about the technology that they are using at Klick to enhance and shape the employee experience. This has resulted in their employees helping each other more and even inspired a book called The Decoded Company.  I would love to try Chatter out in my workplace to see would happen.

Next up was Dave Holmes, Mayor for G Adventures. Dave spoke about How Values and Purpose Create Kickass Culture.

And it does sound like a Kickass Culture! Dave spoke about his role as Mayor and how they celebrate employee wins. He spoke about how happy employees are the best employees and how their people follow the 7 Cs:

  • Creative
  • Collaborative
  • Communication
  • Curiosity
  • Confidence
  • Courage
  • Consistency

I definitely want to visit their offices one day and think I will be torn as to which room I would like to hang out in: the Star Wars themed room or the Star Trek themed room.

Last, but not least, was Tony Gareri, CEO of Roma Moulding. Tony spoke about his personal story about working at Roma Moulding and how he reinvented the culture there.

Tony is passionate about company culture…so much so that he closed down the company so that they could restart it and get it right. He truly believes that his employees are his company’s most valuable asset and that it is his employees and their talent that differentiate them from the competition.

I was so inspired by how much he cares about company culture and his employees that I attended his story telling session in the afternoon. He is a big believer in transparency and even live streams quarterly meetings on the internet. His competition can watch them too if they want. He knows that it is his talent that makes his company great. I hope to visit his company one day too but stay tuned for a future post about Tony and his awesome company culture.

I did admit to everyone at the Reinvent Work Summit that ‘Awesome’ is my favorite word. I am like one of the little Lego workers in the Lego Movie and do think that ‘Everything is Awesome’.  After attending this conference how could I not?

The afternoon at the Reinvent Work Summit was spent by attending an HR Tech speed dating session. I got to listen to and learn about some interesting (not your run of the mill) HR Tech from Axonify, TemboStatus, WIRL, PeopleInsight, and Small Improvements.  As a tech lover I enjoyed seeing how all of these companies could help improve the workplace. I even got to learn about new things that Workopolis is working on.

Even after all this, there was still more to learn and enjoy. We then took part in a live Google Plus Hangout. We learned about Agile, ROWE and Holacracy. I am fascinated by all of it.  You can watch the whole hangout here:

One of the panelists, Brian Robertson, who is the developer of Holacracy, spoke about his upcoming book.  As a Netgalley reviewer, I am fortunate to be reading an advanced copy and the idea and concept of Holacracy is very interesting and appealing to me.

After the hangout, we took part in the storytelling session. I wish I could have attended all of them but as I mentioned earlier I took part in Tony Gareri’s session to learn more about the culture transformation that happened at Roma Moulding.

I can’t believe how much I took in and learned throughout the course of 1 day. My mind is still trying to sort through all the information and process everything. I left the summit feeling empowered and ready to tackle culture everywhere I go. I also left thinking that Corporate does not have to be a bad word. We can make it good again…all it takes is 1 person willing to make a difference. 1 person to plant a seed and start change.

And we took to the streets of Toronto with this feeling of empowerment and led by Pamela Ross we all participated in a “Random Act of Happiness.” We passed out buttons, passed on our smiles and tried to provide a moment of joy in peoples’ lives as they passed us on the street. This is one of the buttons that we handed out:

What was touching and moving was how one of the summit attendees saw a homeless woman and gave her $5 and a button. She was more excited about the button than the money. She pinned it on herself immediately.

This was by far one of the best events that I have ever attended and took part in. It was great to meet so many wonderful people and see how we are all working to beat the Gallup poll statistic of only 31.5% of employees being engaged where we are.

All it takes is 1 person with an idea…and then acting upon that idea to make work a better place for everyone. So what’s your idea to make work better?


A World Gone Social Signed Book Giveaway

I was fortunate to win a copy of a World Gone Social at the Reinvent Work Summit. I already own the book so I have decided to share my extra copy with 1 lucky reader. This copy of A World Gone Social is  also signed by Mark Babbitt. (Thanks Mark!). If you would like to own the signed copy please leave a comment below about why you would like to read this book or tell me about a great workplace culture that you work in or know about. I will pick 1 person from all the blog post comments. This is open to everyone world wide (no purchase necessary.) You have until May 31st to leave a comment and participate in the giveaway.

Zombie photo credit: Pixabay, All other photos copyright of Take It Personel-ly


  1. nlevac116 – Canada – I'm a nature lover, author, healer and transformation guide. Inspiring you to get back in the driver's seat of your life, move the inner critic to the passenger side with no access to the roadmap. Nature is the driver's road map. You can find me at or on Instagram at nicolelevacsoul
    Nicole Levac says:

    Wow, what an ‘awesome’ summit that must of been. Since I work as a solopreneur, the workplace culture is something that I hear about from others. As a Nature driven transformation guide, I love to take people out into nature, to help them reconnect to themselves and to the elements. This allows them to go back to work feeling more grounded, energized and vitalized just from taking a short break. Stopping ourselves in out busy work life, is sometimes the best way to return and contribute to creating a better work culture.

  2. I would love to read the book! As a former (C-word) HR Director, I tried to inject humour in the workplace. The ability to laugh, to not take oneself too seriously can have far reaching positive effects towards engagement but the acceptance of humour in an organizations culture has to be from the top down.

    At one company I worked for that was going through massive changes- I brought in a blow up life size weeble toy into work. When you hit it it said, “is that all you got?”. The stress relief this provided to everyone was paramount in helping us all deal with the changes. Everyone from the C-suite to front line workers would come into my office for a little boxer worked!

Leave a Reply Cancel reply