Kimberly Burris, Chelsea Woodcock, Kibibi Springs – Co-Founding Team of Positivity

[quote style=”boxed”]We approach innovation by looking to find the right balance between technology and rich human interaction.[/quote]

Kimberly Burris, Chelsea Woodcock Ph.D. and Kibibi Springs share a passion for helping people reach their highest potential. This alignment is what guided each of them to their role in building Positivity, a high-touch, yet scalable way for organizations to gain rich insights into their people dynamics, provide a cutting-edge employee development benefit, and foster a culture that positively impacts the bottom-line. With a collective knowledge and experience base in psychology, technology, finance, marketing and consulting, the team is most engaged while discovering the best ways to collaborate and utilize each other’s strengths.

With a background in both finance and psychology, Kim leads the Positivity team and drives the overall growth and development strategy. Kim has presented her doctoral research internationally on topics of personal effectiveness, authentic leadership, conflict management, and diversity. She has also designed and ran training programs, managed large-scale change management initiatives, and served as a trusted advisor to a diverse group of C-suite executives. Positivity’s mission aligns with her desire to help people lead more successful lives without sacrificing personal happiness.

Chelsea‘s doctoral research focused on leadership and employee engagement. Continuing her focus on developing others, Chelsea has worked in the training and organizational development space, from creating competency assessment tools for C-suite executives to designing and leading training sessions at the Ernst & Young’s Leadership and Professional Development Center at Northern Illinois University. Her background drives the content development, data analysis, assessment tool creation, and coaching/training that support the design, delivery, and measurement of Positivity programs.

An experienced team leader with diverse roles in Fortune 500 communication, marketing, management consulting and coaching, Kibibi leads Positivity’s marketing strategy. Blending a passion for people and change with a focus on behavior and stress, this former entrepreneur has been championing and designing services and programs focused on wellness, stress management and relationship building in the workplace since 2003. As chief curator and editorial director for Positivity’s social media content, she thrives off of disseminating messages to the masses that move people into positive action in their lives.

As a collaborative trio, the Positivity team aims to make a significant and meaningful impact on the quality of employees’ lives.

What are you working on right now?

Currently, we are super excited about leveraging technology to bring individual customization to our programs. If you are familiar with the adaptive testing models that now drive the ACT, GRE and GMAT, we are essentially doing the same thing for soft-skills personal development. Additionally, we are pulling from the latest advancements in e-learning and learning theory to enhance the user experience and add richer analytics for our organizational clients. Stay tuned!

Where did the idea for Positivity come from?

The Founder of our company, Cary Chessick, is a successful entrepreneur and investor with a background in and passion for technology and positive psychology. While developing culture at one of his previous company’s, he applied principles of positive psychology and emotional intelligence to develop his people/culture. Under Cary’s charge, became one of the top 100 companies to work for in Chicago. Fellow business owners began asking Cary for input on how to improve culture in their own organization and Positivity was born.

How do you make money?

Clients pay us to help them develop their employees, provide rich insights into their people and organization, and strengthen their culture. Our core program is an organization-sponsored employee benefit that provides 20-weeks of confidential one-on-one phone-based coaching with a Positivity trained coach. The program content is designed to help employees experience greater well-being and more positive results (both at work and at home). The key to our approach is that it’s scalable, meaning that our core program is priced to be accessible to a broad cross-section of employees. Our model is quite different from traditional culture-consulting and executive coaching which are cost-prohibitive in their ability to directly impact more that a few top-level employees. In addition, we are able to leverage our rich insights into an organization to provide an array of additional services beyond our core program.

What does your typical day look like?

Our team represents the new world of virtual workforces. Between the three of us we rise and shine in the East, Mid-West and West to a day of coaching calls, business development, program designing, client reporting, social media marketing, industry networking and our favorite time – virtual happy hours every other Wednesday using Google Hangout at 6pm EST/5pm CST/3pm PST. Kibibi is happy to get the early shift.

How do you bring ideas to life?

We approach innovation by looking to find the right balance between technology and rich human interaction. Fortunately, our data-driven solutions provide us with frequent opportunities to bring new ideas to life based on what our clients want and need.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

Kim: I am very excited to be a part of driving new trends in employee engagement. Whereas the old-world view on employee engagement focused disproportionately on measurement/assessment, the new-world view gives greater credence to the importance of positive interventions. Engagement surveys are very expensive and can actually do more harm than good if there is no follow-through. Positivity recognizes that organizations are best served when they can allocate resources to measure and develop engagement at the same time!

Chelsea: I love that the academic/scientific world and ‘real-world’ are truly blending. People see how important well-being and happiness are and science is starting to rigorously study them and how we achieve them. This really inspires me to stay on top of the research and to work hard to bring it to life and make it accessible for everyone.

Kibibi: Gamification and app development and their potential for motivating, coaching, and sustaining behavior modification really excites me. Companies and apps like Lumosity, Unstuck, GPS4Soul and Insight Timer have made their way into my daily routines for stress management and personal effectiveness and I look forward to being a part of the evolution in this area.

What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?

Not surprisingly considering our line of work, we all answered the same way. None of us have ever had anything we’d classify as a ‘worst job’ and instead see a progression of professional roles and choices that have synchronously led to where we are today. There’s a learning experience in every job and professional decision.

If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

Again we all answered the same way, every experience has led to the next and we can unanimously agree we wish we’d all known this little secret about life sooner.

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

Kim: Listen! We learn so much more and can be the most effective when we are able to truly understand others.

Chelsea: I think it’s important to step back, remind yourself of the big picture, and then enjoy the ride.

Kibibi: Exercise and meditate every day. It’s taken me a long time to accept how significant these two activities are to my daily performance.

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

Our service is new and nontraditional in comparison to traditional employee offerings. It’s sometimes hard to get into the old school/traditional businesses and explain to them why this matters so much. We address this by deeply connecting with our clients’ needs and educating them on how good culture drives profits, we call this the Return on Culture. We also work to get to know new, cutting edge companies that inherently see the value Positivity brings to organizations.

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

Any business that’s figuring out how to revolutionize the academic publishing process would be fascinating. Instead of months writing, editing and revising your research papers and the lag time that happens in between – change could be made with a real-time peer-review collaborative system. To get research to market faster and disseminated more broadly.

If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?

We all agree it would do the world a great deal of good to institute, or reinstitute rather, some modern form of civil behavior training beginning in our formative years. We admire the work of Roots of Empathy, (ROE) who are aimed at impacting the relationship development skills of children. Positivity does its part in that equation through its social mission, Score it Forward. With each program activity a participant completes, Positivity donates a soccer ball and provides a lesson in positive psychology to a child in an underserved school.

Tell us something about you that very few people know?

Kim: As a kid, my dream was to be an engineer with NASA.

Chelsea: Despite the work I have done and my education and experience, I still often feel like a kid playing dress up. I used to think there would come a time when I felt like I had ‘grown up and arrived’ but I’ve realized it’s all a journey and believing in yourself and being confident goes a long way.

Kibibi: I am most relaxed and in a state of blissful enjoyment while watching a live NBA basketball game.

What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?

Kim: Top 3 – it’s a great app for keeping you focused on the most important tasks of the day.

Chelsea: Pinterest – it’s just such a happy place where everyone puts out positive things like their inspirational quotes or hopeful future dream home designs. I can’t go on there and not feel good.

Kibibi: Lumosity to grow my brain. I love this app because it adds to my head to toe/inside out workout program.

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

Kim: Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth. This book was my first foray into the principles of behind positive psychology. It helped we through a challenging time in my life and empowered me to pursue some wonderful opportunities both personally and professionally.

Chelsea: Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-Being by Martin Seligman. Now I know I may be a science nerd and like I said I have loved psychology since the day I found it, but I really think this book is great for anyone. It explains how the field of psychology has progressed to this positive focus and Seligman does a good job of making the material relatable and easy to understand. It really got me wanting to make my life better and to help people and I think it would do the same for others.

Kibibi: The Personal MBA by Josh Kaufman. All the essentials of business at your fingertips, diligently researched, digested and relayed in a manner that you can apply directly to your business. I wish I’d had this book 10 years ago. When a friend who’d recently completed their MBA from a top-tier program bought the book in the same week at the recommendation of other program graduates and professors as the best digest of what had just been learned, I knew I’d made the right choice. It did not disappoint.

Three people we should follow on Twitter and why?

Team: @JuntoInstitute, we like the support they provide start-up entrepreneurs and align with their philosophy, @SwitchandShift for championing the human side of business, @KaraSwisher of All Things Digital for a super-sharp and down-to-earth take on the latest and greatest news in the world of technology.

When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?

Team: One of our clients shared an inside joke that their team was enjoying to no end and we laughed out loud when the video that came to our inboxes (on Wednesday no less) was the Geico Camel Hump Day commercial. Classic.

Who is your hero, and why?

Kim: My dad. He passed away when I was 19, but I continue to learn from him almost every day.

Chelsea: Hands down my parents. I come from a multiracial/multicultural background and my mom moved around the world and had to do a lot on her own while my dad served in classified/non-disclosed overseas locations for the US Navy. They’ve overcome a lot of challenges and worked as a team all this time (over 30+yrs of marriage). They’ve taught me a lot about embracing who you are, being tolerant and understanding of others, and most of all how with the right perspective and the proper support you can face anything in life and succeed.

Kibibi: My Parents know their awesome and I tell them often. I recently watched a documentary on Harry Belafonte who has been a favorite celebrity activist of mine for many years. His talent and life commitment to using his public position in life for justice inspires and awes me.

How effective are you in your life?

Kim: I measure effectiveness as happiness and I’ve never been happier!

Chelsea: I’m an ever developing work in progress. I’m highly effective but definitely not 100% as I always have to leave that room to learn and grow…but I am willing to play price is right rules and say 91% just to outbid Kibibi 😉

Kibibi: I would say I’m 90% effective. #lifehacker #alwaysaworkinprogress

What was the last “non-material” possession you spent money on that brought you the most happiness?

Kim: Went to see Funny or Die Oddball Fest. This is Dave Chappelle’s come-back tour. I laughed for about two hours straight.

Chelsea: I took my family out for my dad’s birthday and laughed out loud as my dad pulled the kid move and ate dessert for his meal. I guess I’m not the only one “playing dress up” and pretending to be a grown up.

Kibibi: I celebrated my last birthday by taking three girlfriends to the Ritz Carlton for an overnight slumber party. It was awesome!


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Kim on Linkedin:
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Kibibi on LinkedIn:
Kibibi on Twitter: @KibibiSprings