118: Lee Caraher | The Millennial Whisperer
Lee Caraher (@LeeCaraher) has been in PR and Communications her entire career. She is the founder, President and CEO of San Francisco-based integrated communications company Double Forte and is the author of The Boomerang Principle and Millennials & Management.
What We Discuss with Lee Caraher:
- Lee’s rise from graduate to executive at North America’s largest PR firm and on to then start her own firm which continues to flourish after 17 years.
- Her a-ha moment that forced her to change how she thought about leading millennials.
- What it takes to create a buzzing workplace that bridges generational gaps.
- The handful of key strategies any manager can use to get the most out of millennials and create loyalty.
Like this show? Please leave us a review here — even one sentence helps! Consider leaving your Twitter handle so we can thank you personally!
Please Scroll Down for Full Show Notes and Featured Resources!
The Two Rule Foundation helps inspire professionals to live gratefully and commit more of their resources to help those in need. The foundation can help you determine who you should give your money to and how.
More About the Show
Lee started Double Forte in 2002 determined to create a culture that fully supports its talent, even when they choose to move on. After failing miserably at retaining Millennials, Double Forte went back to the beginning and created a culture where all generations thrive; as a result, turnover is low, and when employees do leave, overwhelmingly they stay loyal to the firm – sometimes even returning.
With her foundational work, Lee shows leaders how to create the best possible workplace culture so their employees will stay longer than they intend, and when they do leave, advocate for the company, defining a new loyalty contract and a new model of business sustainability.
The Come Up
After graduating with a degree in Medieval Studies (go figure), she transitioned in communications working for the Weber Group. A few years went by and she took a VP position at The Bohle Company, a small communications firm out of Los Angeles. Another few years there, and she was recruited for a similar role, but at a much larger company called MSLGroup.
At MSL, she was in charge of the team working with one of the world’s largest companies in video games, SEGA of America. SEGA liked her so much that within 10 months of being at MSL, she was offered asked to come on as the VP of Corporate & Consumer Communications, overseeing the work of over 700 people. Five years later, just before the launch of the DreamCast, Lee was asked back to Weber Group (now Weber Shandwick), but this time in an Executive Vice President role.
Another five years past, and Lee decided it was time to venture out on her own. In September 2002, Double Forte was formed. Now nearly 17 years later, Double Forte has offices in San Francisco, New York and Boston and employs dozens of people full-time.
The Shift to a Millennial Workforce
When Lee started Double Forte she already had extensive experience recruiting and retain top-talent. At the time, they were looking for senior leaders with 10+ years of experience. However, during the time of the Great Recession (2007-2010), Lee recognized a lack of new talent making their way to the field.
Lee realized that there was no way they’d be able to find the perfect candidates to fill the company ranks, so they decided to take inexperienced millennials and give them on-the-job training.
Lee’s first millennial was a 22 year old woman named Stephanie. Little did Lee and the rest of the company know, Stephanie was also the owner of an emotional support animal, who would come to work with her under ADA mental health laws.
Despite the added fur to the team, Stephanie was a rockstar, and Lee decided to go all in on hiring millennials. The following year, the company hired six millennials within eight weeks of each other, and after three months, all of them were gone.
Lee was flabbergasted. In all her years, never had something like this ever happened.
“In my career – hundreds, thousands of people that worked for me – I had never 100% failure… in people,” Lee recounts. “There’s no way, in 25 years of hiring great people, that it was bad here. We didn’t hire people wrong, we kept them wrong. One person could’ve been a bad hire, but all of them couldn’t have been.”
It was then that Lee set out to understand what was going on with millennials; where was the disconnect? How do you motivate them?
If you enjoyed this show with communications executive and author Lee Caraher, let her know by clicking on the links below and sending her a quick shout out on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.
If you’d like to ask a question with a chance of having me answer it on the show, please leave me a voicemail by clicking below:
This is a great way to cross-promote your blog or website because if I use your question on the show, I will link to it in the show notes!