Shelley Rogers: You're listening to another episode of Inspiring Greatness, where we share the stories of remarkable entrepreneurs. Welcome. My name is Shelley Rogers, your host. Join me each week as we share experiences from amazing entrepreneurs who have had success and failure. Listen to their stories, recommended books, technology tools, and business tips.
If you're an entrepreneur at the start up stage, or if you have a business experiencing high growth, welcome. This podcast is for you. Listen and learn from the entrepreneurs' best and worst moments and hear what inspires them. Now, let's begin.
Christine Khor: Whenever I am in a situation of difficult decision making or just a difficult time in work, particularly, or even in life, the comment that a friend of mine ... and it's really simple is, "No one's going to die, Chris. Just step back."
Shelley Rogers: Welcome to episode 123. You just heard a snippet from Christine Khor, who is an expert on holistic talent management. In this interview with Christine, you will discover the importance of not just having core values in your business, but matching core values to the talent you hire, so the company and employees have alignment.
You're going to learn the methodology of how to hire based on GROW, which is an acronym for goals, research, reliability, options, and onboarding, and win-win. Plus, there is a short bonus video explaining this on our show notes page. We also talked about the importance of taking care of yourself with positive rituals. And, lastly, Christine shares her story about running away to Africa and volunteering for the Hunger Project, in order to gain perspective and bring meaning back into her life.
Today, we discussed three awesome resources, which are also going to be on our show notes page to help employers hire staff that will be more aligned with your core values. So, you can find all of that at maxumcorp.com.au/podcast. That's M-A-X-U-M-C-O-R-P.com.au/podcast. All this and more with Christine Khor. So, let's dive in to the episode.
Entrepreneurs near and far, it's Shelley Rogers here, and thanks for joining me today and listening to this episode where we share remarkable stories from amazing entrepreneurs to inspire you. I am really excited for today's interview with Christine Khor. Welcome, Christine. Are you ready to share your story to inspire our listeners?
Christine Khor: I'm ready to share my stories.
Shelley Rogers: Wonderful. Christine Khor began her first recruitment company 17 years ago. Since then, she's had three businesses completing a merger, which led to national expansion. Christine lives for innovation and growth, and her company Chorus Executive is a holistic talent management company providing recruitment, coaching, and personal branding services. Now, she has a niche market in sales marketing and the communication space.
So I can't wait to hear more about your entrepreneurial journey, Christine. But before we do, can you just share a little bit about your personal life?
Christine Khor: About my personal life? I am happily married to my husband. We have been married now 14 years. And we celebrated our 10 year anniversary actually, getting remarried, or redoing our vows, with Elvis in Las Vegas. So that was lots of fun.
Shelley Rogers: Fun. Congratulations.
Christine Khor: Yeah. It was good. It was a lot of fun. Very kitsch, I know, and he didn't want to do it in the beginning, but we did in the end, and he loved it. And I have two amazing boys. They are 13 and 9.
Shelley Rogers: Well, that's a fun age.
Christine Khor: Yes. Very much.
Shelley Rogers: Boys are always busy.
Christine Khor: They are very busy. It's a very interesting time, actually. I have always been a working mother, and as I say to my children and I hope this doesn't go the wrong way, but I never really wanted to stay at home with them. I was very happy to go to work. But, as they get older, I'm finding that I want to spend more time with them. So, it's a very interesting thing because they're becoming very interesting individuals.
Shelley Rogers: Well, I just can't believe how quickly they grow. My son just had his 20th birthday, and I'm like, "Wow, time goes by so quickly
Now, Christine, 17 years ago, you started your first business, which was Market Partners. Can you just tell us a little bit about the journey? You've had with three companies, your ups and downs as an entrepreneur trying to get to that next level? It's sometimes challenging but there's also lots of wins as well. I would love to hear a little bit more about your story.
Christine Khor: I started my first business a little bit by accident, actually. I was working in marketing in FMCG organizations. And through that, I had to manage the recruitment process both as an employer, so looking for talent for my team, but also as a candidate looking for my new role. And I did feel that it was difficult dealing with a lot of recruitment people, because they actually didn't understand me. So what I needed as an employer, or what I needed as a candidate. And it didn't seem to be very personalized.
So, my simple solution, over a couple of glasses of red wine with a girlfriend of mine was, "We should start a recruitment business," and, "How great would that be if sales and marketing people recruited for sales and marketing roles?" So, that's been the premise of why I started the business 17 years ago, and it's still the premise now. So that's still what we do.
Of course, there's been ups and downs over the last 17 years. Things like the GFC, where over that period of time, everybody stopped recruiting. There were lots and lots of redundancies. There wasn't a lot of recruitment. And, a third of the industry in Australia closed because-
Shelley Rogers: Oh, wow.
Christine Khor: Yeah, so it was quite a difficult time. I guess, one of the most proudest things is that we actually survived that, which is really good. We stayed intact, which is great. I had a great team as well, and we all made adjustments. But we stayed together and we stayed operating through that period. So that was wonderful.
I think the biggest learning that I have found as an entrepreneur in business is that you need to look after yourself. If we as the founders or managing directors and leaders within organizations are not on point, are not enthusiastic, then it can be felt throughout the business.
And there has been times during my journey where I haven't loved what I've been doing, and that's just normal, I think, to go through stages where things are more challenging or you're not enjoying things as much. And my advice out there to everybody, especially founders, is take time and take time away to look after yourself. Because if you just push on, your staff will be able to tell, your clients will be able to tell, your customers will be able to tell. And if you're not strong in yourself, then you cannot be strong for others.
So looking after yourself is one of my key learnings. The other thing is, to be really ... for people that you work with, especially in the service organization ... so I'm a service organization, so the people that you work with, both as your peers but also your staff, are the most critical part for your success. And having those that value alignment. So when your values aren't aligned, especially with any shareholders that you've got or any senior staff, it's a very difficult ... it's very difficult, both for you but also for your team. Because it's sort of very disjointed.
And I am very purpose-driven and I value intent. So when I have been working with people that aren't quite aligned, I found it very, very difficult and I don't do that anymore.
Shelley Rogers: I read on your website that 63% of employees do not understand the vision and purpose of the businesses that they currently work for.
Christine Khor: Correct.
Shelley Rogers: If you don't have staff that knows where you're going, how are you going to get to that goal?
Christine Khor: Exactly and I think every time I say that question, people get frustrated and they'll say, "I can't see how they can't know, it's on our website," or it's on our walls or it's in our documentation. But the reality is, there might be a visual representation, but if it's not in people's hearts and psyche, then they don't get it. And the most important thing is, even if they do know what the vision is and could regurgitate it, if they don't understand how their actions, their day-to-day actions add to that vision or that outcome, then it's just as pointless.
Christine Khor: If there's a lofty goal with clever words that somebody's created, that's a wonderful thing, but we need to be really careful about making sure that both goals are bite sized enough or that vision is bite sized enough so everybody in the business understands how their actions each day, make a difference.
Shelley Rogers: Absolutely, when I'm coaching clients, I make sure that when they're hiring the staff like you're talking about, it's all tied to the same vision and values. The core values of the company are critical and like you just said, it's not about just having them pasted on the wall. I encourage my clients to have like quarterly themes that tie in a core value and basically, the other employees will nominate employees that have given examples or shown examples of actually performing the core values for the business. And then they tie that into a rewards program, which really starts getting all the staff understanding and living the core values. But it definitely has to start from the top.
Christine Khor: Absolutely.
Shelley Rogers: So basically, the first company was Market Partners, then how did you transition to where you are today?
Christine Khor: So there's been two transitions to where we are today. The first was we went national, so we've merged with an organization in Sydney and that's where we became ... we had three offices in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane and we did that for quite a number of years, but the issue there was what I alluded to before, a values mismatch between some of the shareholders. And although we were a relatively successful business, we were a large business and big 10, there was a misalignment there. And it took me a while to understand that and it was a very tough decision, but my current business partner and I decided to leave that joint business because of that values misalignment.
Because at the end of the day, you cannot do your best work if you feel that your integrity is being challenged. And I'm not saying that my values are any better than anybody else's, so let's be clear about that. You cannot make a judgment on other people's values, they are what they are. But for me, they were different enough from my values that I felt that I couldn't do my best work.
And that was a very interesting time for me actually, and it took me going overseas to Uganda with the Hunger Project to realize that I had choice and I think that this was a very interesting learning for me and in fact, a time has changed my life. I was feeling not totally alive within my business and I saw the opportunity to go to, as I just said, Uganda with the Hunger Project.
So for those people that don't know, the Hunger Project is a global organization with a mandate to end world hunger by 2030. And we do this through the education and empowerment of women. They have leadership and immersion programs and I was lucky enough to go on one of those trips in 2012. And what happened was that I saw the way women in Uganda are living or shall I say existing, and what I realized is that we have the most incredible amount of opportunity and choice and resources here in Australia, that at times, I didn't see.
I think when you get into your own little loop and especially as entrepreneurs, business can be difficult, we have very hard labor laws, we pay a lot of tax, we've got a lot of bureaucracy, we've got competitive markets. It's very easy to get into this groove of, "Oh my God, this is so hard? What should I do? It's not fair," and not saying that you have choice.
But going overseas and seeing the real burden that people have, just to feed their children once a day, made me realize how blessed I was and how much choice I had. I also realized that at that time, if I had been born anywhere else in the world apart from Australia, if I'd been born in India or Uganda or Malawi or any number of the developing countries in the world, I would be dead by now. Because I had a very difficult second birth when my son came and I nearly died in Australia with the best medical treatment that money could buy. I nearly died here. There's no doubt that I would have died if I'd been anywhere else.
And at that point, I realized that my life is a blessing and that you need to live your life with purpose but also with joy. Like it's not enough to have a successful business and lots of money, if you're not enjoying what you're doing. So at that point, that's when I made that very difficult decision to leave that organization and restart Chorus Executive.
And of Chorus Executive now is ... we've been being able to expand it and do more of the things that we love to do. So recruitment is still very much a core of what we do, when we use our grow methodology that we created. Anybody that's been in the coaching sphere would understand grow, from a coaching perspective, but we've adapted that from recruitment. So very much goal, research, reliability options and win-win, and we take our clients and also our candidates through this process to be able to better match them.
But in addition to that, what we've been able to do is develop our coaching and our branding services. At the heart of who I am, I've had sort of 15 years in marketing and then I've had 17 years in now recruitment. So for me, bringing those two things together into our leadership branding, our personal branding services, I'm just in heaven, that I get to work on developing brand, but people's individual brand, but also I get to work with people to help them achieve or actualize within the workplace.
That's what drives me and I'm just in absolute heaven at the moment because I get to use the two things that I love most. Or the two skills that I love most.
Shelley Rogers: And I just wanted to mention to our guests that Christine has a short little YouTube video that kind of explains grow and her methodology, which we'll include on the show notes page for you to take a peek at. And I just wanted to step back because when you were talking about going to Africa and helping with the Hunger Project, you were very passionate. Would you say that that was your aha moment?
Christine Khor: I've had a few aha moments, but it was definitely the one that led to a significant change and when I talk about this, I do a bit of speaking now. When I talk about this, I always say that when I came back from Uganda, I changed everything except for my husband. So we changed the business, we changed where we were going to live, we'd what we were going to do where we were going send the children to school, we changed ... I went back to school and did a coaching degree. As I said, we totally changed the business and how we approached it. We even moved office. That was the extent.
So literally everything changed for me at home and at work. As I said, except for my husband, I actually kept him.
Shelley Rogers: I'm sure he is pretty happy about that. That's great. I kind of want to ask, what's the best advice somebody has given you?
Christine Khor: I'm blessed to have a lot of people giving me lots of their own learning, but I think the one I take to heart, there's two parts of it, but they lead to the same thing. One is whenever I am in a situation of difficult decision making or just a difficult time in work, particularly, or even in life, the comment that a friend of mine and it's really simple is, "No one's going to die, Chris, step back."
The other one, which is an interesting one is care less. And this came from ... I don't know where I got it from, but I remember this concept of caring less because I think as entrepreneurs and founders, and I'm going to put the gender card in here as well, as women, we can be quite perfectionist about things and worry about things that really we shouldn't have to worry about. So the concept of just caring less, that doesn't mean do less, that doesn't mean be ambitious, but if things aren't going 100% right, it's okay. It's okay to be 80%. Maybe it's okay to be 75%. But stop beating yourself up.
So I guess at times what I'm feeling under pressure, when I'm feeling stressed, I remind myself of those two things. A, no one's going to die and B, just care less.
Shelley Rogers: I like that, thank you for sharing that. So I know you've been traveling a lot, you're pretty busy. Obviously, family, juggling business. What personal habits do you find contribute to your success and how do you maintain them?
Christine Khor: There's a couple of things, the first thing is that, with respect to email and just general communication, I'm very efficient with that. So I deal with any communications immediately, so I'm not redoing things. I don't file things into folders and do it later. I just do it. I'm very effective like that. And sometimes that does lead to issues because I make decisions very quickly, so it'll be yes, no, let's do this, let's not do that, and I can be very quick about that stuff. But I think it's better to make a decision than no decision at all. That's one thing that I do.
Secondly, I don't have a lot of regrets. So whatever has happened, happened. I try not to ... it doesn't mean that I don't sit down and look at a decision or look at an action and think how could I have done it better. Whether it's a good outcome or a bad outcome, I do spend a lot of time reflecting, thinking how could I have done this differently, how can I do it better, but that's not regrets. There's a difference between regretting and a difference between learning from previous behavior.
I refuse to spend time regretting things, because things are done.
Shelley Rogers: Right, can't change it.
Christine Khor: You can't change it and deal with the consequence of it, but we also need to learn from it. And what I would say there, it's a subtle difference, but it's a major difference. Looking back and seeing how you could do things differently is a positive thing, it's a learning thing. It's about being very self-aware and very self-honest about the behaviors, the decisions, the information, etc., that you could have treated differently to get a different outcome, but it's not about beating yourself up. It's not about saying, "My God, I'm so stupid, I shouldn't have done that. Why did I listen to him? Why did I do this?" It's not about that, it's about how to handle it differently.
The thing that I'm doing more so now and I think it's because I'm now. literally just turned 50 last week, and what I've realized is that I'm not as young as I used to be, although I'm still very young at heart. But I have to look after myself better and what that means is taking time to literally smell the roses. It is going for more walks, exercises, eating better and also spending a lot more time doing meditation. And just breathing and being present. Breathing and being present. I think they're very important things.
I think when I was younger, I ... in fact, I wore it as a bit of a badge to say, "I can't do meditation or yoga because I'm so busy. I've got too many things in my brain. I can't relax." I felt that was a good thing. Only now do I realize that that's really actually quite stupid.
Shelley Rogers: That's an excuse.
Christine Khor: Yeah, it's really important to not be busy and to breathe and to take time out. So those are things that I'm doing at the moment. And just enjoying myself. And I'll tell you the other thing, is spending time with people that you want to spend time with. Not people you feel that you have to spend time with or people who make you feel bad. We all have people in our lives that you leave that meeting or you leave that breakfast or you leave that function and you think you feel bad about yourself. I refuse to be with anyone that makes me feel bad about myself.
Shelley Rogers: Life's too short, I agree.
Christine Khor: Completely.
Shelley Rogers: Another thing on the health I'd like to add is sleep. I find as I get older, I definitely am trying to get those eight hours in. So very important for me to feel motivated and ready to go the next day with just that right amount of sleep.
Christine Khor: Absolutely.
Shelley Rogers: Now, you published your first book, Hire Love. Can you just tell us a little bit ... like the motivation for writing it and how that whole experience went?
Christine Khor: So one of the things that drives me is helping people become self-actualized in their careers. And because career is such an important part of your life, if you are actually not happy in your career, it will impact many other parts of your life. And we use our methodology internally of how to match individuals with organizations. And as a recruiter, a lot of our job is actually being that career counsellor. It's actually helping people identify what they're good at, what they like, what they want to do, what's important to them, and help them set goals. And we do that using our grow methodology, as I said. Goals, research, reality, options and win-win. At the same time we do that with our employers, and then that's how we match.
But what we do know is that not everybody has access to using us as a recruitment company or even recruitment people. And so what we wanted to do was have this book, so employers could use the methodology and think about how to adjust their own recruitment process, so that they could hire the best people. So eventually, if they can hire the right people, not only will they be more successful as an organization, but they will have happier people in their organization. And for me, having happier people in their organization means that we have happier people at home. There's a whole correlation down the line.
So that's why we wrote the book, to help people who don't have access to us, to actually have some of our thinking. It's taken me 17 years to realize this stuff. And I'm just in the process now, finalizing our second book. Actually, it's with the editor now and it's called the Dream Jobs Journal. So it's exactly the same process, but it's actually for employees. So people who are looking for work, because again, we do a lot of coaching in our business, but not everybody has the access to a career coach, either because they just physically don't have access or don't have the funds to be able to pay a coach.
So what we wanted to do is put our methodology down on paper to help people at least go through the thinking and the journey to help them find the careers and the jobs that fulfil them.
Shelley Rogers: And Christine has been kind enough to provide our listeners with her workbook. So it's called Hire Love Workbook and it's amazing. I checked it out. So it's a very helpful tool and we'll have that on our show notes page for everybody to have access to as well. So thank you so much for that Christine.
Christine Khor: You're welcome. Just on that, the book, Hire Love is available on Amazon, on both hard copy and ebook and 20% of all revenue will go to The Hunger Project.
Shelley Rogers: Oh, nice, we'll have links to your book on our show notes as well.
Christine Khor: Beautiful.
Shelley Rogers: So besides your book, what other book do you love and why? What has been the takeaways from that book?
Christine Khor: I read all sorts of different things, so I guess I'm just looking at my bookshelf now as we're speaking, and I have two parts of what I love to read. So one of them is I read a lot of biographies and they tend to be of strong women. So they can go anywhere from Coco Chanel through to the first Queen Elizabeth. And I guess what inspires me around that is amazing people and amazing women doing things that they shouldn't be doing. So I love that, about people just being themselves and going against the grain and doing things for passion, rather than because they're supposed to do. So that's one part.
A book that I'm reading at the moment, that I am enjoying, but it's a little bit frightening, is The 100-Year Life, and that book is around technology and better healthcare and medicine advancements, medical advancements. My son, at nine years old now, will live to on average, 108. So that changes the way we need to think about, not just our total life, but also our careers. Because what you learn going to uni at 20 is not going to be relevant, especially in this technological era, for a worker at 65. And we're already seeing that.
But this is going to be much more significant as years go by. So although it's a very fascinating book, it is a little bit scary because for a lot of us, we're going to have to re-change the way we think about employment, education, learning and financial planning. Because again, the old rule of you study for 20 years, you work for 20 years, retire for 20 years and you die. 70 but you've got enough money, that's not going to be the case anymore. How do we look after ourselves financially?
Shelley Rogers: That's a great book. We'll have a link to that one on our show notes page as well. Christine, you were a finalist in the Telstra Women's Business Award in 2015, so congratulations. That's huge. Can you just share that story?
Christine Khor: It was a really interesting time actually, so I had been nominated for the Telstra Women's Business a number of times and I think I applied maybe once before, but most of the other times I didn't fill the nomination form. And every time I got called about that, I'd say, "I don't think I've done anything that good at the moment." Or I didn't have the time. So for whatever reason, I didn't fill in the documentation.
When I got the nomination again in 2015, it was actually a time where I thought, "I've done an amazing job this year." With myself and with my team, we had done an amazing job, we'd rebranded our business, we'd created these new services, revenues had increased, etc., etc. And we made more people happy. We'd filled more jobs and we found dream jobs for more candidates and satisfied our clients better than we ever had before.
And the last year that I actually thought I deserve it, and so I filled in the form, it did take quite a long time and I remember being in the interview. So what happens is, and I'm not 100% sure of the numbers, but it's something like nomination, they get X amount of submissions and then they interview a group of people. So I got to the interview stage and I remember the lady ... I was interviewed by three people and I remember the female saying, "Why now, Christine? Why do you deserve to win this one?"
And I looked her in the eye and I think that's what got me as a finalist, I actually said, "Because this time I deserve it." I hadn't deserved it before, but this time I deserved it. Between me and my team, we had done this. I'm a big believer, I can't run a business without a great team, but the reality is, my team can't be great without a great leader.
Shelley Rogers: Exactly.
Christine Khor: I take my credit where I say that I did a great job that year with everything that I did and part of that great job was having an amazing team behind me and with me, to make us successful. And it's very rare I think, for founders to pat themselves on the back, it's even rarer for women to do that in such an outspoken way. But at that particular time, I felt that I absolutely deserved it. Have I made other mistakes before that and post that? Absolutely. And could I do things differently? Absolutely, but there are times that you just know that you've done well and you should not be so humble, that you never acknowledge that for yourself.
Shelley Rogers: That's well said. I was at a Business Chicks event and Carolyn Creswell the founder of Carman's, was a keynote speaker and she won the Telstra Business Award, I think it was in 2012 and it was interesting, when she was sharing her story, she revealed how she won the award. And she said she had nominated herself like every year, for 15 years and never won. And then she was giggling because she says people would come up to me after I won the award and said, oh, you're like an overnight success and she's like, actually no, I've been growing my business since 1992 and the key is never give up.
Christine Khor: That's right.
Shelley Rogers: So that was good. Congratulations on that. Now, you love innovation, you talk about innovation and growth as being your passion. What's inspiring to you right now?
Christine Khor: I don't know if you want to have another three hour conversation, but I've just come back from Vegas, where I attended the HR Tech Conference and I am very inspired by that. So I can't say too much because we're all in development now, but I've started another business called Peeplmatch, which is P-E-E-P-L match.com, and we are working on that at the moment to be another tool to help people find their dream jobs. And for employers to find the people that they need.
Our vision is that every employee should love what they do and should feel that they belong in the place that they work. So I can't say too much, but we've been working on this project for about a year now. But I went overseas and I saw what the best in HR Tech are doing and there is a market for us, so I'm very excited at the moment.
Shelley Rogers: Congratulations and then that actually leads into my question. This time next year, where will you be, one year from today?
Christine Khor: You will be hearing more about me and Peeplmatch, that's what will be happening.
Shelley Rogers: Lovely, well, good luck with Peeplmatch, it sounds very exciting and this concludes our Inspiring Greatness interview with Christine Kohr, but before I go, would you just please either share some parting recommendations or a quote that inspires you?
Christine Khor: A quote that inspires me.
Shelley Rogers: Or parting recommendations.
Christine Khor: I'll give you a quote. If it's not quite right now, it means it's not the end of the story, because at the end of the story, it will always turn out fine.
Shelley Rogers: I love that. Thank you. You can get more information, Christine's website is Chorus, C-H-O-R-U-S - executive.com.au. We have three really cool free resources for you. I mentioned two earlier and the other one Christine is a position description example.
Christine Khor: Correct.
Shelley Rogers: What's the KPI one? Maybe explain that one.
Christine Khor: Key performance indicators. So with employers, it's very important to have really key performance indicators for your employees and they are clear about what they need to do. Because if they're not clear about what they need to do, then they can go off on tangents.
Shelley Rogers: Absolutely, so metrics to measure your employees. Wonderful. Thank you so much for being such an inspiration and such an inspiring guest on our podcast.
Christine Khor: You are very welcome, thank you for your time.
Shelley Rogers: If you are listening to this podcast for the first time, welcome, and if you are a faithful listener, thank you. Please don't forget to subscribe to Inspiring Greatness on iTunes and Stitcher. I would love to hear your comments and it would be greatly appreciated if you'd give us a rating and review.
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