The leader is not merely an entity to make decisive yet big decisions or to lead on intuitions. But ‘the leader’ is the one who burns the midnight oil when needed, for the greater good of the company. Once a visionary—Steve Jobs—said ‘Do what you love, Love what you do!’ And, Nicole Martin loves what she does, and she does it remarkably well.
Nicole grew up in the countryside of Montana, where—she says “everyone knows you and greets you on the street.” She was an ambitious country girl in pursuit of her passion. Her mentor: her mother, taught her many great things including the importance of being happy. “My mother is highly spiritual, and she raised me with the philosophy of being happy,” says Nicole. “She always believed that you are a special person—she ingrained that in me—and you are capable of anything.” At 18, she left Montana to bring her mother’s philosophy to existence and shifted to Liberty, Illinois. For start, she worked as a receptionist at a pre-Y2K firm where, by accident, she discovered her passion. “They were hiring all these computer experts from overseas, but when they arrived, the company just put them in the reception area because they didn’t know what to do with them,” recalled Nicole. “It was just inhumane.”
The year was 2010, Nicole left her corporate career and established Chicago, Illinois-based HRBoost, LLC. “I’m the accidental entrepreneur,” she quotes; she never intended to create her own company but simply followed her passion to help clients understand the importance human resources can play in developing a strong business. She envisioned seeking leaders who desired to be the next Best & Brightest® employer while providing support to growing businesses facing a myriad of workforce challenges. “I looked back after starting my own business and thought, ‘I started a business. Whoa!’” says this avid Chief Executive Officer and Founder of HRBoost®. The goal was to help businesses create winning workplaces through their people. She desired to ‘bring JOY and PURPOSE to PEOPLE through their Work’. Cut to the year 2012, she realized she needed a team. With 50% growth year over year, it became clear HR outsourcing was not HR as she knew it and HRBoost had found a niche. “By 2013, my company had a solid team and when I looked across a table to see all those that worked for me, I became the Chief Empowerment Officer,” says Nicole.
HRBoost provides solutions with passion to individuals, groups, and businesses alike. “We do not operate under the philosophy that one size fits all. Every leader must align their personal values to the organizational values and define success clearly so that every person can connect their role to a transcendent organizational purpose. Our mission is to provide value-added Human Resource Services that allows each business to do what it does best,” says Nicole. “When HR is aligned, HR is no longer just a partner; it is a fundamental part of the business helping to drive the human side of profitability.”
The company has specialized experience in providing values to small and middle-sized companies, who, unlike their large-company counterparts, can often lack the time and resources to build infrastructure and processes that are beyond core business objectives. “But, every business needs to have a competitive edge in today’s economy,” states Nicole. Both small and large companies need to attract, develop and retain the best talent for their organizations while complying with the ever-changing maze of state and federal regulations. All companies need to be concerned with issues related to compensation, benefits, training, employee retention, talent attraction, and generational agility.
HRBoost has built its reputation on partnering with business leaders to achieve corporate goals while maintaining the integrity and delivering outstanding results. It serves businesses spanning multiple sectors; these include professional services, non-profit organizations, high tech, manufacturing, staffing firms, hospitality, and healthcare. “Our clients are typically from high growth business with 50-250 employees. Our model is to meet the clients wherever they are, thus we provide full-service embedded HRsupport, project to project support, culture design and management training, employee programs and assessments, virtual support, and phone support,” she asserts. Nicole has always felt honored to lead a high-performance team of HR leaders who partner with its business clients to join their journey, to being the best place to work. The company has experienced tremendous growth and is proud to have nearly every client been sourced through word of mouth. “Our appeal and success are due to our personal dedication for each and every client,” expresses Nicole.
The recipe for success
It is easier to witness a bundle of challenges such as criticism, hurdles, and failure in any business. “However, every business organization should be very careful to listen to their clients, their experience, and ways we can better serve them,” suggests Nicole. The flexibility and custom approach to how Nicole and her team work with clients have fueled the company’s growth and success. The main challenge that HRBoost faced was access to capital, both financial and human. “As the business grows, those challenges just increase in their scale,” she continues. To overcome it Nicole belies in empowering her team of boosters, investing in on-go education, and focusing on tools and resources required to optimize them. “I have faith that they will, in turn, delight our clients,” says Nicole. And it did! “I was truly humbled when after years of serving on Advisory Board and being part of a winning organization in my prior roles, my own company took the stage of Best & Brightest® Companies to Work For in Chicago in 2020,” cheers Nicole. She points out that Generational Agility is of utmost importance to businesses that want to succeed and grow. “The greatest concern I see for today is the talent emergency, which I address in detail in my book, “The Talent Emergency,” says Nicole. “It is imperative that companies look within their organizations to ensure that they have a culture which embraces diversity, not only we are speaking to gender, culture, and ethnicity, but also generational diversity. Creating a team that brings multiple views and experiences to a business provides a unique perspective that will elevate the business and ensure continuing success, which in turn will lead them to be the best place to work. Retaining and attracting top talent is a sure way to maximize the human side of profitability and become THE place to work. It must be all about lifestyle now, life stage and you’re ability to meet the talent where it is.”
Find your ‘joy’
Nicole stresses it is imperative to get hands-on experience doing what one seeks to learn. But, she promotes the idea of first discovering the work that will bring you joy and purpose before investing time, energy, and dedicating your life to it. On that note, she advises young women entrepreneurs to “Enjoy the journey and be prepared to learn, unlearn, and relearn. Surround yourself with people who inspire and support you, but also don’t patronize you. Remember, even if it gets harder, or takes longer, stay diligent. Anything you love will be worth it.” Nicole has also published two books that speak directly to women, “though men have let me know they enjoy them equally as well. The Power of Joy and Purpose is my personal story and I share my 7 Presence Principles as I get asked nearly every day, how do I do it all so joyfully?” Nicole answers, “I don’t do it alone.” In another book which she co-authored with John Tinghitella titled, NO FEAR Negotiation for Women. “We set forth a process that women can add to their list of abilities and for the greater benefit of our country,” she claims. “Men are about results and Women are about effort. We need both in business.” She explains that with over 2.2 million women who have left the participating talent pool these past 12 months, everyone should be finding ways to support families more holistically. As flexibility and trust are critical to building a team of women, Nicole believes through the above-mentioned aspects any organization prevails. “I know! My business happens to be all women, and many are in their child-rearing years. Thankfully, I look back at how I built an intellectual playground for myself as a new mother back in 2010,” adds Nicole. “Now my business serves many more who are like I once was and they too, deserve to do the work they have become skilled at and not stop earning just because they want to be mothers and/or grandmothers too.”
Going ahead, the company is looking towards growth. “HRBoost recently engaged a partner to be the HR Expert on Demand and this truly takes the bench strength to small businesses across the country via phone,” shares Nicole. “While they prefer in-person like everyone these days we have gone digital. Thus, our borders are expanding too.”