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HR and Talent Going Post-COVID

Shannon Swift is the Founder and CEO of Swift HR Solutions, a provider of strategic HR services and products for early-stage companies. She has over 20 years of experience in human resources. Before founding Swift HR Solutions in 2004, Shannon held executive HR roles at GoAhead Software, Nastech Pharmaceutical, and Health Team Northwest. She is the past President and a current member of the Lake Washington Human Resources Association (LWHRA), a member of Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) serving on the Seattle Chapter Board, and was named chapter “Member of the Year” in 2002.

Intro  0:04 

Welcome to The Future Is Borderless podcast with David Nilssen. We feature top entrepreneurs and thought leaders from around the world, those who bring a global mindset and a unique perspective to their life and business. Now, let’s get started with the show.

David Nilssen  0:23 

Hi, David Nilssen here I am the host of this podcast on The Future Is Borderless we connect with business leaders from around the world who have what I like to refer to as a borderless mindset. And the purpose of the podcast is to share ideas, new innovations, best practices, things that will help us grow both personally and professionally and ultimately thrive in a rapidly changing world. Now this episode is brought to you by DOXA Talent. DOXA helps businesses to source full-time highly skilled workers from all over the world. And as a result, these companies can scale faster increase margin and improve culture. And they provide everything from accountants, sales, development reps, virtual assistants, and even software engineers to publicly traded companies and even local small businesses. So if you want to learn how to grow your business with offshore talent, simply visit All right, well I’m really excited for today’s episode. today. My guest is Shannon Swift. She is the CEO of Swift HR Solutions. And Swift HR specializes in offering HR talent and leadership services to mid-stage or I should say early to mid-stage companies. And after investing about 20 years of her life in HR and executive roles within healthcare and life sciences technology companies, Shannon started her own business in 2004. She’s an active member of the Entrepreneurs Organization or EO which we’ve talked a lot about here on the podcast, and has actually served as the EO Seattle president. She sits on the Washington Technology Industries Association or WTIA board and was the chair of the Northwest Entrepreneur Network from 2009 to 2011. I should also note that she’s been recognized for her work and was awarded the best service provider to service by Seattleto.o and was named one of the top 100 Women in Seattle tech by tech flash in 2009. She also speaks on a tremendous number of topics around various human resources and talent topics. So with that, Shannon, welcome to the show.

Shannon Swift  2:19 

Hi, thank you, David. It’s great to be here.

David Nilssen  2:21 

Yeah, good to have you on here. I’m excited about this. I mean, obviously, I do a lot of work in the talent space. And so I think talking about, what’s happening within that landscape is gonna be really interesting. But before we jump into, sort of the current state and maybe the future, I want to just hear a little bit about your personal journey and why you chose HR as a career path. And then what inspired you to start Swift HR.

Shannon Swift  2:44 

Yeah, so let’s see, I guess right out of college, I went to the University of Washington and I landed in a home infusion therapy company, right out of after graduating, we had 70 branches around the country, it was headquartered down in Southern California, and I was in the Washington branch. And so I was brought in because they were decentralizing all of their payroll and human resources across the US. So they had it all centralized in the corporate office, and they were pushing that all out to the branches. And so I got to start my career with a great foundation in terms of HR training, there wasn’t enough of a role to have a full-time HR role at that point. And so I just kind of like started adding value everywhere I could in the branch office and was doing everything from sales assistant to executive assistant to receptionist to doing the payroll and that has got into accounts payable, and, and then, of course, all the Human Resources side. So as the company was bought, the national company was bought, and we ended up sending off and became a wholly owned for-profit subsidiary of Children’s Hospital. And so at that point, just all kinds of opportunity came and so I got to build the entire HR foundation from the very beginning and following on this great, great group that I had learned from a come up from America. And then at one point, I think I still have my business card, it says, personnel slash marketing coordinator. And so I was like half HR and half marketing. And as the branch continue to grow, the CEO said to me at one point, okay, you’ve got to choose which way you’re going to go. And I said, well, I don’t know anything about marketing. So let’s hire somebody that does. And I’ll go on the HR path. So from there, my husband’s company had about 35 people, and used to reach out to me all the time for questions. Hey, Shannon, and Deb just left and she says, We need to give her Cobra What’s that? And I say, Go stand by your fax machine. Oh, I’m dating myself here. Sorry, David. So, so, so I would just take their calls and help them, you know, figure out what they needed to know. And I thought there must be other small companies out there that have a need for HR and can’t justify having it as a full-time role. And so I ended up finding through one of my volunteer roles on the HR board for her We’re at the Lake Washington Human Resources Association. I, one of my girlfriends had joined a company that did outsourced HR. And so I was like, oh, that’s kind of what I was thinking about doing. So I found myself in a sales role. And my first CEO had said to me, you know, you have unlimited potential, but at some point, if you want to have my job, you’re going to have to get into sales. And I was like, oh, my gosh, no, I’m not going to do sales. And when I took that on, all of my HR friends were like, oh, my gosh, I can’t believe you’re going into sales. And I think guess what, you know, we’re selling an HR all the time, we’re selling benefits. When we roll out the new plan, we want to tell the employees what the features are, we’re selling the company when we’re recruiting people to join our companies. And so I said, we’re selling all the time. And I get to let small companies know that they now have access to HR from the earliest stage. And so that kind of started my outsourced career. From there I was recruited to open the Office of a PEO a professional employer organization in Seattle, f5 labs with my first my very first client with 10 employees. So they’re 1000s. Now, and, and so that was a different model. And so that was really interesting to see kind of this shared employer relationship, model. And so, so I had a really successful branch office, the first successful branch office for trying it. And from there, I ended up going in-house. And with an early-stage software company, I discovered early on about myself that my capacity for team size is about two to 150. And when it gets to 150 employees, I developed an eye twitch. And so I’m a startup junkie. And so I went to a startup with 12 people, and we grew to 150. And then I jumped into a fork, it was a publicly traded pharmaceutical company that had about 60 people and laid their HR Foundation. And that was when I thought, okay, this is really what I want to be doing, I want to work with multiple small companies and lay this really incredible foundation from the earliest stage so that things don’t break. And you know, they don’t get distracted by HR issues, because, they’re launching their business and they didn’t do something with intentionality from the very beginning. And now they have a mess to clean up down the road. So, that was kind of the idea it was quality of life, I’m going to be honest, like, I didn’t set out to grow this, this behemoth that we have now. And it was just, I just wanted to work with some cool companies, smart people doing cool stuff. And take that load off of them so that they could really focus on building amazing companies.

David Nilssen  7:35 

Yeah, so you said it was quality of life, and but you clearly have grown to be a pretty substantial organization. So what is the goal now?

Shannon Swift  7:44 

Oh, my gosh, so it’s really interesting, I think I just kind of let things happen. as opportunities have come, we’ve been consistent from day one about who we are and who we aren’t. We also have a very solid set of values. And fortunately, I’m married to a great, last name. So Swift, so our values are service, win, win integrity, fun and trusted. And we are a holistic solution. So we don’t do projects, we’re really clear about the profile that we have, we’re all super seasoned folks that we just have this amazing like-minded group, when you get us all together in a room, that’s just the energy and just this instant connection, very much like, it’s just an instant connection, because everybody is very philosophically aligned and values aligned and focused on just breathing successful outcomes for their for their clients. And so I think, you know, we, as part of the pandemic, we ended up, we were very provincial, we were in Washington, and Portland, and, and now we’re kind of all across the country, we have team all across the country, I had an opportunity that presented itself back in 2021, to acquire a business in Colorado. So that gave us some folks in other time zones, as well. So it’s just been this really, we’re just having so much fun. I don’t have I think we’ve expanded our business lines, we now have talent that looks and feels like part of their client teams as well. And then we have leadership workshops, as well as product leadership cafe. And for me, it’s just how many companies can we impact in a positive way? And when we look back and we see companies like Zillow and Tableau Software, you know, we laid their initial HR Foundation, and it’s just really rewarding. I think for us, it’s how many companies can we help be successful? And have fun doing it.

David Nilssen  9:41 

That’s exciting. I mean, Zillow, obviously most people would know what that name is. The pelvis is also a massive organization. Now, you said earlier that you guys really specialize on that early to mid-Stage Company. Are there common issues that those companies are dealing with that you guys try and help solve for? I mean, have you seen some commonalities between those?

Shannon Swift  10:00 

Oh, absolutely. And I think, there’s also trends and so things of, over the years, we see different issues coming up. I mean, you know, AI is a big one right now mental health. But I think in terms of the earliest stage, it’s really setting foundations for intentionality. And, you know, I coach entrepreneurs that, you know, before you even start hiring, think about who you are as a company and who you aren’t the what are your values, then you want to make sure that you’re hiring to those and hiring people that can bring their whole self to their business. And then philosophies around, you know, what are our philosophies around compensation and benefits. And part of that will be the group that the demographic that we’re trying to attract, part of it will just be what we’re able to do. I know Microsoft, for example, had a philosophy to be, you know, 20%, below market on compensation on salary. For gosh, probably the first 20 years that they were around, but they made up for it with having generous stock options. And then you shift over time, the stock options aren’t, aren’t as much of a attractant over time, and so then your salary start coming up. But I think being intentional about, where do we want to position ourselves relative to the rest of the world with regard to hiring, and benefits and compensation? And then really having those philosophies drive the business decisions that are anything that touches the team?

David Nilssen  11:25 

Yeah, how has that shifted? I mean, it’s funny, we’re sitting at a time and I’m obviously at the time of this recording, we’re in 2023, we’re depending on who you talk to, we’ve come out of a pandemic, or global pandemic, and now, there’s a talent shortage, there’s this debate between am I in an office? Am I out of an office? Am I in a hybrid environment? Like, how is the pandemic changed the landscape for your early-stage clients? And what are you advising them to do about it?

Shannon Swift  11:52 

You know, it’s really opened up so much, and I think, for startup companies that were very geographically constrained, competing with the big guys to get talent has now shifted completely, I mean, it’s like, you know, we can have employees anywhere. And I think a lot of progressive, forward-thinking entrepreneurs and leaders have shifted, as well. And I’ll use Rich Barton itself as an example. When I worked with him back in the early days of Zillow, it was just critical to him that everybody was in the office. And, you know, we had a headquarters in downtown Seattle, and that’s where everybody needed to be. And fast forward to the pandemic times, and he was like, Oh, my gosh, you know, 90% of Zillow never has to come back to the office that they don’t want to. And so I think that companies that are able to really adapt and use technology, and, you know, it, obviously, it takes a lot of creativity, to find different ways to work together and to create that social bond that you want to have across your team. So that they’re really effective together and enjoy working together. So it takes a lot more creative creativity, and, and thought, but to set people up to be successful that way, but I think what I’m seeing is an opening of opportunity, across, we can have people wherever we want to have them. And we’re not constrained anymore to kind of this space that we’re having this one spot.

David Nilssen  13:25 

Yeah, it’s funny I DOXA was actually started as a fully remote operation, but my previous company, Guidant Financial, used to be in an office. And I remember, one time, about a decade and a half ago, we decided to make a policy shift where people could make they could wear jeans on a Friday, right? It was like, we were giving them a gift. And so it’s funny how the world has shifted so much. But I yeah, I was just curious to see sort of how you were viewing that in terms of your clients and what have you.

Shannon Swift  13:54 

Yeah, a lot of our clients are going to have gotten the hybrid model. I mean, there’s one company that we work with it that even before the pandemic, they said, you know, people should be in the office Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and then, everybody was working remotely, and now they’re back to okay, just Mondays and Wednesdays. So people were back to Monday, Wednesday in the office. But what happened was, during the pandemic, a lot of employees ended up moving away. And so they’re like, okay, you know, we’re not going to let these guys go. So they’ve created opportunities to bring people in periodically. But those folks are always remote. And so again, I think it just comes back to being able to be flexible and do what makes sense. But yeah, I see the most successful are companies that are willing to be flexible and go where their employees need to be some people want to be in the office, and they need to be in an office to be effective. So creating that environment where people have a choice is really the setting up the best successful outcome.

David Nilssen  14:53 

Yeah, I’m actually curious, when I think about talent, let’s say I think the HR and then I think of culture and I think of development, right? There’s one component, which is more around the compliance-related issues, then there’s the people-related issues. And then there’s the, what I would call the sort of connective tissue that keeps people within the organization long term. Do you guys advise across those sort of three categories? As I’ve said them? I mean, you might define them differently. But where is your niche?

Shannon Swift  15:21 

Yeah. And I think, no, that’s a really great question. So and I kind of slice and dice HR a couple of different ways. So one is the transactional side versus the strategic side. So the transactional side, oftentimes, you’ll see that in a small company, it lands under finance. And so that’s just the onboarding, off-boarding Benefits Administration, just the stuff that keeps the day to day running. And then there’s the strategic side, where it’s, you know, back to what are our philosophies around these different areas? And then how do we incorporate the values into every single thing that touches the team? How do we make sure that our hiring is focusing not only on the technical fit, but also on the culture fit? And the, you know, the company fit? How do we make sure that our compensation structure has integrity, and that over time, that we’re building out career path and opportunities for people, and they can see, you know, where their next step is, and how to get from here to there around coaching managers and to be effective with leading their groups benefit strategies, even, you know, it’s like, we’ve got people in different demographics, you know, different geographic demographics. And, you know, what, what are the age? What do people need, as we look at our group year after year? So where are those changing, changes happening? So I think our approach is to be all, so we cover all those bases, I’m going to give a plug for DOXA because DOXA actually has made my team’s lives easier in multiple companies now, where the day-to-day stuff has to happen. And our team is all 15 to 30 years seasoned, experienced folks. And so the fun stuff for us is really that strategic side of working with the CEO and the executive, the rest of the executive team to really think about what are we trying to do this year as a business? And then what are the people things that we need to have in place to support that, and so that day-to-day stuff that has to happen the docs that grew up has just been amazing for us, because you know, that day-to-day stuff is being taken care of, and then we can really focus on the things that we feel are our biggest contribution to our clients?

David Nilssen  17:35 

Oh, I appreciate that. Yeah, well, we certainly enjoy the ability to work with some of your clients, I do want to go back to the landscape. And I really want to talk about hiring now. But something you said a minute ago made me think, it’s an interesting point in time, when we think about talent in general, because COVID, sort of forced us into this environment that proved everybody, we could be in this sort of virtual environment and still be productive. The things that we’ve seen that people still are sort of struggling through, and I’m sure you’re helping your clients navigate is that, when you manage by site, it’s very different than when you manage by objective, right? When everyone’s in the office, it’s a little bit easier. And when you think about training and development, most companies that I’ve seen, they’re a little sloppy on onboarding and development, because they can just have people sit right sides, that’ll sit next to Tom and watch them for the next little bit when you’re in a virtual environment can’t be sloppy. And the last one, I remember so long ago, people said people leave companies met because of the manager, but they stay because they feel like they have a best friend. And in a virtual environment, it’s harder to create some of that connective tissue. And as a virtual company, we focused on connection to purpose, connection to leader connection to people, and try to be very intentional about that. But it’s funny, I bet if we had this interview two years from now, we’ll have a different perspective on some of these things. So, but let’s talk about people within your business. So like, when you go out and you’re looking for new sort of HR executives to continue to help them grow, the impact that you’re having within these businesses, what are the qualities that you’re looking for? What makes a good hire for Swift HR?

Shannon Swift  19:09 

Yeah, I mean, the way that I describe our team is we’re business people first, and we contribute to our clients through the HR function. And so we’re really thinking, most of our team have had been, I mean, everybody on our team has been at the senior most level of HR in their previous organizations, many of us have been in the boardroom. I was corporate secretary for a software company that I was with, and so really, very involved in the entire operations of the business. And so our team, you know, deep generalist experience so they can touch any side, any piece of the HR puzzle, we all have our areas of passion. So some of our team are really focused on leadership development, some on talent acquisition, some are, I’m a culture and values. That’s really my passion and what gets me super excited. So I think everybody on the team has, we have one person on our team we lovingly refer to as our benefits geek. And so she’s always the one that’s keeping our finger on the pulse of the newest benefit trends. And so, but all of them all of our team, our, you know, client first, it really is our values. I mean, it’s service that focus on the client and what makes sense for the client, we leave our ego at the door, it’s all about, what is our client need from us, and we will be the first ones to say, hey, let’s cut back from a day a week, we don’t we, you know, things are stable, we can go down to a half a day a week, and still be just as effective. So we’re the one or conversely, hey, we’re growing really quickly. And rich, it’s time for us to hire a full-time HR person, let’s move out of the fractional bottle, and then we’re going to help get that person on board and drop off. So the win-win you know, our clients get amazing HR talent, our team gets to choose who they work with the integrity. So our team is very predictable. Like, you know, what, what would Karina do, what would Deana do, it’s like, people know, like, how what to predict from behavior from us, we’re in a situation. And then the big one for us is fun. That’s the F and Swift. We have fun with HR, we’re the ones that usually bring levity. We’re serious about providing great, great service, but we don’t take ourselves too seriously. And we bring a lot of energy and fun to the HR function. And then the trust. So our team has to be credible, and they’ve got to know their stuff, and they’ve got to be instantly credible and be able to build rapport quickly. You know, as we were typically on site, a dedicated and my stay on site, we might be on site like this, but our dedicated time is pretty focused, and we have to quickly build those relationships. So that’s kind of our team. They can do anything. But they’re all about setting their clients up for success.

David Nilssen  21:52 

Yeah, I love the distinction you made earlier between transactional and transformational or strategic maybes, I think you said, and I like that differentiation, because I we recently had an attorney on the show Michelle Bomberger, who’s sort of trying to do something similar, it’s like, stop thinking about legal as a transaction in crisis, but actually something be very strategic to grow the business, obviously, an early investment and how you think about culture and talent, will help set an organization up for success. So I think that makes a ton of sense.

Shannon Swift  22:22 

Yeah. And we partner with the finance head, we find that, we partner with the marketing, because it’s all about marketing, it’s the external brand, and HR is the internal brand. And, and, and we partner with, with legal for sure. To make sure that, you know, it’s like, okay, we need to be doing what makes sense for the company, but we need to understand, you know, what the impact is for decisions that we’re making, so yeah, so definitely partnering with all of those levels.

David Nilssen  22:51 

Yeah, I want to ask you a question about for you now, personally, and that is, you know, obviously, you have this organization that you’re running, but you also are spending a lot of time giving time to the Entrepreneurs Organization that WTA I think Edwin was another one that I mentioned in your bio, like, how do you balance running a business, spending time with your clients, and also giving back?

Shannon Swift  23:16 

Yeah, I think the essence service, the value of service for me, I grew up in the National Park Service. And so my front door, literally was in the claylike, Ranger Station. And we had a million visitors that came through from all over the world every year. And we all were expected to be of service to tourists that came. So my dad, the National Park Ranger might not be around and if somebody needed help, we were there. So I grew up with this service mindset. And so throughout my career, I mean, going back to the early 90s, when I first started volunteering with the human resource Association, so the Society for Human Resource Management is the global HR organization. And so I was in the local chapter like Washington. And so we put on a conference and I that was my first volunteer role. And then I found myself on the board and I was on the board for 10 years, I was chapter president of that organization in 1999. And I remember the year in 2002. And so that was really kind of, I had this I’ve always had these volunteers service focused and so it’s just been part of my career. So from there, I when I started Swift, I joined the Northwest Entrepreneur Network, and I was immediately on the board of that, and I ran that care for two years. So working with just supporting the entrepreneurial community in Seattle, and then and then of course, I joined EO in 2011. And really to become a better leader of my organization as we were growing. And then just automatically, as soon as I was moderator, then I just kind of got pulled into, into continuing my path of leadership with EO and so I think throughout my entire career, there’s always been a component of service and that’s really important to me is to give back. And I in the same time, it really just feeds me and continues to add to my I’m just growing all the time. I will say with regards to the balancing the business when I was chapter president, looking ahead at the folks in front of me, and I was like, you know, how are you running your business and Chuck Bender was, was the one that said, oh, no, you can’t run your business. And so it really helped kind of provide a forcing factor for me to get myself out of the day-to-day. And so if we kind of go back to that transactional versus strategic, I was doing a lot of transactional stuff. And so, everything I was doing, I would say, Okay, who else could be doing this, and I started, like, everything I was doing, I was, I would stop and write it down and say, okay, who else could do this? And I started lobbing stuff off to my team, which was fun for them. So they, they got to do more, and they got to grow. And then I got to really change my role in my own organization. So for me, it’s always have had the service side and, and, and that, and that continues to the service. beads and grows me as well.

David Nilssen  26:09 

Yeah, that’s good. I love I love, I’m a big fan of catalytic mechanisms, you know, forcing functions to push us out of our comfort zone. So sounds like that worked for you, too. Let’s talk about where the industry and I say that in terms of like, HR and talent management, where’s the industry going in the next call it five to 10 years? What are some of the trends that you’re sort of keeping an eye on? And like, what’s the role that Swift is going to play in all that?

Shannon Swift  26:34 

Yeah, let’s see some of the trends. If I had to pull out some buckets, I would say, benefits is a big one, just the types of benefits that companies are looking at. And it’s everything from, mental health is a huge area right now, how can we help and especially in this environment, we’ve got that people who haven’t really had an opportunity in their career, because they’re so early in their career to have even had that full Office environment experience. And now, they’re trying to figure out how to work in a team, there’s a lot of stress, a lot of anxiety. And so helping with the mental health, I would say other creative benefits are things around like fertility, transgender, inclusion, financial stability, companies helping we have a client called Secure, that’s helping employees to build up financial reserves for emergencies. And so really, I think that there’s a lot of fun stuff happening on the benefit side. So that’s one trend. Another trend is artificial intelligence, People being able to do more and more of their role with the system. And so I think that there’s going to be, I think, two years from now, if you and I are having this conversation, there’s, that’s going to be a we’re going to have seen huge, huge transformation in that area. Let’s see another area. Let’s see. I mean, obviously, just the remote work, right, it’s like it’s getting better and better at setting people up to be successful working in this kind of an environment. And I think global, using global resources, it’s, it used to be that we had a new client, they might be in maybe a couple of different states, when we started working with them at the earliest stage. Now, there are multiple countries. And so that provides a lot of, again, a lot of fun stuff for us. You know, we have a lot of our team have global HR experience. And I think a few years from now, everybody will have global HR experience, because we’ve got, you know, companies like, I’m trying to think I just met with a company this week that has, they have 90 people and they’re in 20 countries. And so, I think that that’s just going to become more and more, more and more a theme that we hear is the world is getting a lot smaller, which is pretty cool.

David Nilssen  28:50 

Wow. I mean, 20 countries and 90 people that is distribution at its finest. It’s funny, I’ll add one to this, because I think the idea of benefits funny, Devin Miller was a guest early on our show, known Devin for a long time, he’s a brilliant entrepreneur. And I agree with you that the benefits the remote work, the AI, I think, related to the remote work, something I think is ripe for additional sort of investment long term is how do we develop people who are early in their careers in a remote environment, it’s harder to sort of like, when you work in an office, it’s easier to understand, like, who’s your cultural Rockstar, who’s really making a difference, it gets a little bit harder to identify some of those hyper high potential individuals in a management by objective organization. So I think that’s going to be a really interesting one for us to sort of figure out as well, but I love it.

Shannon Swift  29:45 

Yeah, communication, though, comes out of that it’s who’s able to effectively influence and really, get their ideas in this environment. I think those skills are definitely the ones that are going to become the leaders, the people that are influencing and getting their voices connecting people. You know, those are, those are skills that are going to be more and more important in this kind of environment.

David Nilssen  30:15 

You know, I actually really appreciate that I’ve never really thought about it from that perspective. But communication training is going to be really important. And it’s funny because I work with people all over the world, and in a lot of cultures where there’s tremendous respect for the hierarchy within an organization. And so oftentimes, you have to really pull that out of people. But I think that’s a really helpful distinction, even for me to think, how do I help enable more of that it’s something we’re conscious of already. But I really think it’s a very important point for anybody who works with global talent, whether, regardless of how you do that, I think that’s something to consider. Shannon, I know we’re getting close to end of our time together, I have a couple last questions for you. One, I always love to just talk to entrepreneurs about failure, because I think, from the outside entrepreneurship looks, can look, I should say, very exciting and sexy, but the reality is that there’s a lot that happens under the hood that people don’t see, when I think about some of my biggest failures, I always think back to 2008, fairly young entrepreneur didn’t have a real blueprint for dealing with crisis. And although I think we did the best we could, and we obviously survived that. When the pandemic hit, I was much better equipped, because of my previous failures. And so I’m just curious, like, from that frame, what is something that has happened in your life where you’re experienced where you took some welts, maybe from that experience, but it’s helped you come out the other side better.

Shannon Swift  31:44 

I mean, the first one that I’m thinking of is just, it’s a very current one. So it’s like, the first thing that popped into my head. So we’ve been really fortunate to be a referral only business from six weeks before we started, I had my first client reach out, say, hey, her during her shingle, and I need help, and here’s the model, I think you should do. So I was incredibly fortunate to get started with a paying customer before I had a logo or a website or anything. But we’ve been because we’ve been such a referral based organization over time, it’s now 10 years, I’m embarrassed. 10 years ago, we created this product, and I just thought, oh, this thing is just gonna sell because everything just kind of happens for us. And, and so I didn’t put enough focus and attention on the marketing side. And here I am this much later. And I’m finally getting a marketing effort around this. And it’s our Swift leadership Cafe product. And it’s a leadership development, leader lead. So we train somebody inside of an organization to train the train their team on leadership development topics, and so they’re all done within an hour, they can do it on any schedule, if you’ve got shifts, you can do it, and people around the globe, you can do it on your own time schedule. And there’s now 21 different topics that we have. So we’ve been adding one to two per year, but I haven’t cracked the nut on how to actually get it out to the masses. And so the the failure that I have is that I did, I didn’t do it fast enough. I didn’t give it enough serious attention fast enough. And so I’m kind of paying for that now. But um, you know, it’s kind of like, giving a good effort now. I think, as I look over my time with Swift, that’s been kind of a trend is that I don’t do things quickly enough. And, and I just, I remember, you know, one of my forum mates, years ago, we were kind of mapping out where we were spending our time. And I was doing my own accounting for 10 years, I did my own accounting. And he was like, okay, this is non-custodial, but you’re not coming back next month, if you don’t have a bookkeeper. And the first time I got a bookkeeper bill, I went, Oh my gosh, that’s all it costs. And so I think that I have tended to, to not move as aggressively and so. So yeah, so failure for me is a lot of time and money that has gone into things that it could have gone into something better.

David Nilssen  34:19 

Yeah, it’s funny I do things come to mind. One is I think a referral only business is such a efficient way to grow from a marketing standpoint. So I think that’s a real blessing that you’ve been able to do that. The second thing is that I always say what makes us successful early in our business is our kryptonite. It’s like our superpower becomes our kryptonite, right? It’s like I’m chief cook and bottle washer, I do it all. I do it all. And then as you start to let go of those things, there’s a little fear and anxiety but as you’ve seen already in Swift right, you start to delegate this stuff away and all sudden you realize, Oh, I get to work on like half scale strategic issues. You get a little bit of…

Shannon Swift  34:56 

It’s more fun stuff.

David Nilssen  34:58 

So true. Hey, Shannon, last question for you. I always love asking people because I think entrepreneurs tend to be lifelong learners, what is something today that you’re really investing in to try and learn and sort of up-level your own skill set?

Shannon Swift  35:11 

That’s a great question. I’m really kind of diving into different tools different artificial intelligence, and just different tools that are going to help that the workforce up for this, this next, this next journey that we’re jumping into, and it’s, it’s everything from tools around, how do we, something you alluded to earlier is how are we developing people when we’re in a remote environment? And how are we identifying those stars. So I think that there are tools around just bringing our teams along, you know, knowledge, knowledge workers, things are changing so quickly, you can’t even you can’t really even hire for today, you have to hire for adaptability for tomorrow, and people that just want to learn and grow. And so I’m just I’m really, really interested in anything to do with technologies that are helping us work remotely, that are helping us work smarter that are helping us learn and grow and develop our people, regardless of where they are.

David Nilssen  36:17 

All right, well, I think we’ll leave it there. We’ve been listening to Shannon Swift, the CEO of Swift HR Solutions. And I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the time today, Shannon, where can people go to learn more about the work that you’re doing?

Shannon Swift  36:29 

So our website is And then the Swift Leadership Cafe, which is our leader-led program is It has its own site, but you can get there from our regular site as well. Those are the two places.

David Nilssen  36:44 

We’ll get those into the show notes so that any of the people that are looking at this later will be able to see that but thanks again for being on the show today.

Shannon Swift  36:51 

Great talking with you, David, thank you for having me.

Outro  36:55 

Thank you for listening to The Future Is Borderless podcast with David Nilssen. Be sure to click subscribe to future episodes so you can hear from more top entrepreneurs and thought leaders, and we’ll see you again next time.

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