How you make people feel will be your legacy, don’t forget that.
Laurie Brednich is the CEO of HR Company Store that was founded in 2015. Laurie began her career in the insurance industry working for Horizon Blue Cross and Blue Shield, MetLife and Hartford Steam Boiler. She then decided to take her unique skillset and apply it to the HR sector where she had a lengthy career helping employers maximize their benefit plan offerings. She has held employee benefits leadership positions at American Standard, National Basketball Association, Pinnacle Foods Group (manufacturer of Duncan Hines, Vlasic, and many other iconic foods brands), GoDaddy and most recently Sprouts Farmers Market.
Laurie has successfully implemented employee benefit programs throughout her career spending millions of company and employee dollars. She has successfully reduced healthcare costs without reducing benefits or cost shifting to employees, partnered with a national union group to incorporate wellness deep into an organizations culture and was instrumental in helping one organization joining the Fortune 100 Best Place to Work list.
Laurie has also been quoted in Essence Magazine (April, 2017) and Inc. Magazine (May, 2018) and several other online media outlets as an expert in employer-based health and wellness. In addition, Laurie has spoken at several conferences across the country on a variety of employee benefit topics.
Where did the idea for your company come from?
HR Company Store started out of my own personal frustration with the HR industry. I’ve spent years searching for unique vendors to enhance the benefit programs at the companies I’ve worked for in order to help them attract and retain the best talent. I’ve spent hours working with consultants and reaching out to colleagues and I knew there had to be a more efficient way. It then dawned on me there were more resources to find a plumber or even a restaurant then their was for an HR professional to find a vendor they could spend millions of dollars with on multi-year contracts. So, I said to my husband one day “why isn’t there just an Angie’s List for HR”….and as they say, the rest is history!
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I wake up around 6:00am, take my boys for a walk (my two very spoiled puppies) and then make myself some breakfast. I have to eat in the morning, every morning, they do say it’s the most important meal of the day, and I agree.
I then get to work, like every other entrepreneur I spend the day networking, connecting with potential customers and just doing the business of the business.
Once the day is done, I may go to the gym, then I prepare dinner for me and my husband (this process is expertly supervised by my fur-babies) or go out for dinner.
Then I take 15 minutes at the end of the night to prepare for the next day.
The last part is what makes my days the most productive, that last 15 minutes keeps me on track for the following day, if I didn’t do this I’d be running around like a chicken without a head.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Usually over a cocktail – lol! I seem to get my most creative ideas when I’m relaxing with friends and bouncing ideas back and forth.
What’s one trend that excites you?
How so many companies are incorporating Corporate Social Responsibility into their business model. Giving back and helping others makes the world a better place is what it’s all about. As HR Company Store grows, our goal is to hire disadvantaged women and men into our customer service team. We want to provide a year of contract employment to help them transition back into the workforce and give them them the experience they need to build their resume so they can move on to other organizations and continue to make a great life for themselves and their families.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Sleep! It’s so basic but so needed. You hear stories of entrepreneurs working practically 24/7 and they are treated like heroes. I don’t believe in this. I almost always get at least eight hours of sleep at night, this way I can be on the top of my game each day.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Become an entrepreneur earlier in life. I like to say I’m an almost mid-century female entrepreneur and I really should have started this company in my 30’s not my 40’s. I’m turning the big 5-0 next year!
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
I’m really not a control freak! I’m totally comfortable leading and following. It really depends on the situation. There are a few things that I tend to have control freak tendencies with, for example, how employees are treated and how company communications are crafted. Other than that, I really try to rely on my circle of experts to guide me in making the best decisions for the company.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Change your environment. At least once a week instead of going to the office to work, I go to a local hotel spa and resort. I can sit in the lobby or by the pool (depending on the weather) all day and even order lunch. Listening to the music and the waterfall in the lobby creates a tranquil environment for me to focus and grow my business.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Responding to media inquiries. Three times a day I get an email from a company that is searching for experts to quote in a variety of topics. I read through this each day and if there is something that’s appropriate I respond. This is how I’ve been quoted in Essence Magazine and Inc Magazine and I’ve also been quoted in many online articles including PscyhologyToday, US News and World Reports, Fast Money, Huffington Post and many more. These articles have given me national exposure and just as importantly added creditability to me as a leader and the value my company brings to the HR community.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Early on I had a potentially large professional association tell me they were not interested in partnering. To me, it seemed like a no-brainer, and I couldn’t understand their resistance. This was a huge blow to my confidence. A few months later, I was given the opportunity to partner with a similar professional assoication that was three times the size and I landed it! I realized at that moment, not everyone is going to understand the value HR Company Store can bring to their organization, and if they don’t it’s fine, just move on and don’t dwell over it, dwelling is just a waste of energy,
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I wanted to create a new type of pizza box, one that has flaps on the bottom that can be used to keep the box from tilting on the front seat of a car.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I recently spent $100 on a ticket to see a show in Vegas. We are going on vacation in a few weeks and I can’t wait to go! Creating memories is what life is all about.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
I would have to say Hubspot. This is a customer relationship management tool. I couldn’t live without it. It keeps my head on straight. I can talk /email with upwards of 100 customers a day and I always need to follow up. So this tool keeps me on task – it’s like my own personal assistant. In the beginning I was using a spreadsheet to do that and it was messy to say the least.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I would have to say The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor. The book brings to light that we’ve been doing life wrong. Instead of focusing on this or that which will make you happy, it’s about how being happy will help bring you this or that. A totally different way of thinking.
What is your favorite quote?
I actually have two…
Do what is good, fair and right. Early in my career, I was at the lunch table with my supervisor and others on our team and our CEO came and sat with us. During the conversation about what our benefit offerings were going to be the next year he said, “let’s make sure we do what’s good, fair and right”. That has always stuck with me and pretty much been my personal mantra since.
“People will forget what you said, they’ll forget what you did, but they’ll never forget how you’ve made them feel.” Maya Angelou, Human Resources is all about how we make people feel. We help them be the best version of themselves so they can be the best for the company and their families.
- Always do what is good, fair and right.
- Be happy.
- How you make people feel will be your legacy, don’t forget that.
Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.