Kieran Canisius

Manipulation is not always an evil skill. It is often used and believed to be negative, but I see it and use it for good things too. My definition of manipulation has to do with a combination of influence and actions that achieve a desirable result.

Kieran Canisius is the CEO and Co-Founder of a Collective which houses the five unique businesses, Seuss Consulting, Seuss Recruitment, GCP Central, iGina and Zocket. She is a vivid entrepreneur and career expert with over sixteen years of industry experience. Not only is Kieran a great leader, but she also has a passion for speaking at conferences on a variety of topics such as HR Tech, diversity, employer branding, and entrepreneurship. Kieran has always been committed to helping businesses and people grow.

Where did the idea for Zocket come from?

My business partner, Sabine Hutchison and I, were sitting in a train on the way to a client and we were asking ourselves, “With all of the technological advancements, why is it so hard for candidates to find the right company and for companies to find the right staff?” Since we are not complainers or quitters, we dug into the issue. During that process, we came up with the idea of creating a platform ourselves that tackles this issue, and with that Zocket was born.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

In short: varied and interactive. During my office hours workday, it is all about our employees, customers, and suppliers. I focus on the human interaction that our businesses need in order to be effective and successful. In those meetings, we often discuss deliverables, challenges, motivation, finance and the impact from a strategic and high level to minute detail, depending on the individual.

How do you bring ideas to life?

If you would ask my colleagues, the answer would be “By talking it out and drawing on the walls”. Our office has many glass and whiteboard walls so that we can conceptualize and visualize problems and solutions, prior to forming it into visually simple and understandable presentations and reports.

However, the basis of it is the verbal word. It is important to ask questions and carefully listen to the answers, alongside with summarizing and repeating what you hear. We sketch out the problem on the walls and keep re-drawing it, until it encompasses the idea and gives clarity for the next step.

But when speaking in front of an audience, I bring my ideas to life by showing my own passion for a topic. Often, I get excitement and passion back from those who agree. Proof of an idea that is alive, is when there are more voices added and the idea evolves further. In my opinion, if an idea is alive, it evolves, whereas only the static that is frozen or dead, does not.

What’s one trend that excites you?

The understanding of technology is a tool that should positively affect HUMAN impact. I am very happy that we are moving away from fear or misconception of what technology can do. We are actually thinking about the usefulness for automation and improving standard practices so that we can feed the strength that humans will always have over technology, which are things like passion, empathy and drive.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

Transparency and buy-in. I am always testing out ideas, opinions, thoughts and approaches with our employees, clients, suppliers, friends and family. I am not afraid of sharing my opinion, and what we are doing or where we are going. I have always experienced this as giving benefit to whatever we implement and how it will be perceived.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Sometimes the people around you will not understand your journey. They do not need to though because it is not for them – You are doing it for yourself.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

Manipulation is not always an evil skill. It is often used and believed to be negative, but I see it and use it for good things too. My definition of manipulation has to do with a combination of influence and actions that achieve a desirable result. When we categorize skills to be purely evil, we tend to run away from them because it would make us look evil. The skill itself is not evil, it is characterized by the way it is used. We all do it, why not call a spade, a spade?

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Question yourself and welcome critical questions from others. Do not get defensive but try to understand everything about where the question/comment came from. This helps you to strengthen your approach.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

For any business, service or challenge, we start out with the problem in mind and identifying main contributing factors. When we are developing tech solutions, we make sure to focus on solving one thing really well rather than trying to solve every problem at once. When you try to tackle every problem at once, it will often lead to losing focus and understanding from your clients.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

I looked for investment at the wrong time. But I turned it around and earned money with another business.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Ask yourself: Can I use my experience, or can I produce a product to change other people’s lives? Having a business idea where your passion lies, is the key ingredient to making it succeed. I know I am not sharing an actual idea, but that is because I believe that a business idea is something that needs to be personalized in order to succeed. Reflect on yourself and on what makes you happy, can you identify a problem in that area that you are able to solve with either a product or service? If the answer is yes, then you have your business idea.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

Actually, today I spent 100 dollars on new socks and underwear for our companies’ “Giving Back” project. Every year we organize a project to give back to the local community, as we believe that we have been given so much to achieve the success we now have, and that we should not forget to also give back to those in need. This time, we donated clothes to the homeless shelter in an effort to alleviate cold and hardship of others.

It was the best 100 dollars I spent as it reminds me, during the heavy push of establishing a business, dealing with bugs, and new technologies, and an enthusiastic but limited-investing client base, I have so much to be grateful for. It is so easy to forget how much I do have when I focus on everything I still need to do or get for our company. The 100 dollars grounded me and made me grateful for all that I have.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

HubSpot! As most tech companies do, we invested heavily in developing the tech and the marketing of it, and all throughout we needed to have an automated machine to allow our lean sales engagement (marketing & sales) team to establish, attract and convert clients. Without HubSpot, it would be so volatile and completely dependent on when we would have time to do sales, rather than a continuous activity.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

As I love reading, there is not one book in particular that I could recommend. However, my latest read was “Quiet” by Susan Cain and described the power and strength of introverts in the “loud” world we live in today. As an extrovert myself, it was very interesting to read about this and I definitely recommend this book to others as well.

What is your favorite quote?

“You don’t have a right to the cards you believe you should have been dealt. You have an obligation to play the hell out of the ones you’re holding.” – Cheryl Strayed.

Key Learnings:

1. There is a solution to every problem – Instead of letting negativity taking over you when facing a problem, try to find or create a solution. Complaining will not solve anything, you have to take action in order to see results.

2. Feedback is important – Ask yourself, but also allow others to ask you critical questions. Do not be afraid of criticism; it is a helpful tool that allows you to see things clearly and improves your approach.

3. Do not forget to give back to the community – In this dynamic era, many forget to be grateful for what they have and that there are still so many people who are less fortunate. It is important that we make an effort to give back, even the smallest contributions can make a change.

4. Never stop exploring and learning!


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