Laura Love, is the Founder and Chief Cultural Officer of GroundFloor Media, Inc., which has been recognized four times by OUTSIDE magazine as one of the top five Best Places to Work in America (including twice at No. 1). Laura joins Jim and Jan in a discussion about building a startup around a vision of shared values and culture, and shares leadership basics learned over the years that have given her company an attrition rate of 2 percent (the metric).
[2:21] Laura believes that investing time in the hiring process, including informal meetings, helps discover if a candidate will be a good fit. Immediate and thorough onboarding brings a new associate into the culture and teaches them the values. It is essential for associates to feel welcome and wanted.
[5:08] Laura wants people to feel that the company is a family that always has each other’s back. Extending the family to their clients means getting to know them on a personal level. Feedback to clients comes from a place of integrity and support.
[6:30] Laura started GroundFloor Media from her basement, and she wanted to design a company where people were treated like human beings and where people actually wanted to work because it didn’t feel like work.
[12:58] Laura finds that being personally open and vulnerable with her team allows her team to be open with her when they are going through difficulties.
[14:13] Laura hires based on values. She has filled her company with people who embrace the same values and culture so she knows they will make the decisions she would make if she were present.
[18:34] People remember the words you speak and the feeling behind them. If a leader is not aligned with the words they speak, people will notice. Be intentional and be aligned with what you say.
[26:36] Laura depends on peer groups, and meets quarterly with a forum and checks in with them monthly. She has a ‘painful 7:00 a.m. accountability call’ each week with a peer, where they share experiences, not advice. Laura offers three reasons to get involved. It can be lonely at the top, so feedback advisors are crucial. You are in this together and learn from each other. Your forum is loyal.
[29:57] Laura has one-on-one walking meetings to give associates space to unpack their dreams for her. Then she empowers them to work on that development ideal for four weeks and report back to her.
[32:25] Laura puts an emphasis on hiring people who are smart and able to go create and to make decisions. Laura’s entrepreneur father taught her to do business on a handshake. Use contracts but business should be based on trust and respect, and with people whose company you want to keep. To make the business world better, deal with people you like and respect. We all work harder because of it.
How to contact Laura:
LinkedIn: Laura Love
“Culture is like a heartbeat. You can really feel it when you walk into a room of any company that has a strong culture.”
“We are a family, … we have each others’ back, and that extends to our clients, as well. We are part of their family.”
“I knew that I knew how to do PR. I never imagined owning a company.”
People who see the silver lining in every situation can learn from bad experiences and apply the good in new circumstances.
Unless you are open and vulnerable and allow people to support you in your journey, they will not engage with you when they go through trials.
“If you hire correctly and you hire based on values, then it doesn’t matter as much that you’re not in the room, anymore.”
Much of leadership is about hiring the right people and creating a culture where it’s very intentional but organic.
Culture is set from the top but if it’s only a mandate from the top and it’s not embraced, it will never flourish.
People remember the words you speak and the feeling behind them. If a leader is not aligned with the words they speak, people can sense that.
Leaders give takeaways. The goal is to have people hear you and create their own takeaway.
“Everyone has a chance and a choice. They choose ‘in.’ And if they choose out of our organization I will support them fully.”
“If [a development goal] comes from me, it’s not going to be as impactful as if it’s something they’re dreaming.”
“I hire people much smarter than I am and I get the hell out of their way.”
“Do business with people you like and respect. We all work harder because of it.”
“The biggest learning I’ve had … is so simple, but it’s just — be real. People are so comfortable when somebody’s real.”
“It may mean that it looks messy … it may be painting outside the numbers but at least it’s your artwork and it’s exactly who you are.”
“I would tell people that are younger and starting out — don’t try and be any different than who you are.”
Put together a list for the year of 52 things you will do that scare you or you have never done before.
In 2001, Laura Love decided to take a leap of faith and create a public relations agency that was unlike any she had experienced before. Drawing from a background in journalism and extensive experience in media relations, she launched GroundFloor Media (GFM) out of her basement in Boulder, Colo., with a focus on hiring senior-level talent who both served as strategists and handled tactical execution for clients. Sixteen years later, the peer-to-peer model still stands, and GFM is now an award-winning communications firm focused on public relations and crisis & issues management and staffed by nearly 40 seasoned professionals. In 2016, Laura co-founded GFM’s sister agency, CenterTable, offering social media, digital advertising, website design and development, SEO, video production, creative campaigns and content development.
GFM has been recognized four times by OUTSIDE magazine as one of the top five Best Places to Work in America (including twice at No. 1). GFM was also named the Best Boutique Agency to Work For in the nation by The Holmes Report, an influential public relations industry newsletter. It was also recognized by the Denver Business Journal as one of the top small companies on its Best Places to Work list for seven years in a row. In 2016, GFM was named a Certified B Corporation® by the global nonprofit B Lab®, which recognizes companies meeting the highest global standards for corporate transparency, accountability, and social and environmental performance.
In 2015, Laura created GFM’s primary charitable giving arm called The Get Grounded Foundation. The private 501(c)(3) foundation provides one-year community grants for new or expanded, innovative or entrepreneurial programs or projects within an existing, qualified nonprofit that directly support the healthy development of at-risk or neglected youth between the ages of 3 and 13 in the Denver Metro area.
Community involvement is not only a passion but a way of life for Laura. Since she launched the agency, Laura has dedicated at least 15 percent of GFM’s work to nonprofit clients and pro bono accounts. She serves on numerous boards including Center for Women’s Health Research, Downtown Denver Inc., Early Milestones Colorado, Emmanuel Sanders Foundation, Havern School, Rocky Mountain Children’s Law Center and Tennyson Center for Children. She is a member of the Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce and she serves on the Denver Art Museum’s marketing & strategic alliance committee. She is also past president of the Colorado chapter of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO).
Laura earned a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and a bachelor’s degree from Vanderbilt University. In her spare time, she likes to dabble in real estate investing, is a frustrated interior designer and can’t figure out why she is always last on the Peloton leaderboard. Her teenage daughter just got her driver’s permit (so she encourages you to please stay off of the road), and her two young sons may have given her a gray hair or two, but they also always keep her laughing.