Advice

10 Philly CEOs on the Major Work and Lifestyle Changes They’re Making This Year

From CHOP’s Madeline Bell to Power Home Remodeling’s Asher Raphael, these local CEOs are ambitious and determined, with big plans to launch vlogs, hire more women and finally take time to recharge.


10 Philly CEOs on the major changes they’re making this year. Top Row L to R: Syreeta Scott and Shanti Mayers, cofounders of the Sable Collective; CHOP CEO Madeline Bell. Middle Row: Ajay Raju, CEO and chairman, Dilworth Paxson LLP; Rick Nucci, CEO Guru; Carrie Bourdow,Trevena, Inc. Bottom Row: Felicite Moorman, STRATIS CEO; Cassandra Bailey, CEO Slice Communications; Peter Gonzalez, president and CEO, Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians; Asher Raphael, co-CEO Power Home Remodeling.

Though we’re almost a month into the brand new year, it’s never too late to determine what you want to achieve in the months ahead. For some, that means setting goals for healthy eating, more exercise and being more present. For many local CEOs, however, this also means the chance to set some new goals to grow their company and create a better workplace. BizPhilly spoke to ten local leaders about their goals for their business in the new year, and what they’re hoping to achieve outside of work.

On the Work Front

Building Culture | Madeline Bell, CHOP

The goal: At CHOP, the best ideas come from our frontline staff – the people who care for patients, interact with families, and put our mission into action every day. In 2019, I want to make sure that our CHOP team members feel empowered to develop solutions, make decisions, and find creative ways to support each other and our patients and families.
The plan: Empowering CHOP’s staff is going to take a much larger team! I am currently working with my new Chief Human Resources Officer and other CHOP leaders on a step-by-step plan to create a stronger, more consistent culture at CHOP. We want to ensure that our culture reflects our CHOP values and our commitment to empowering every employee to be creative, make decisions and develop solutions.


More Than Social Media | Cassandra Bailey, Slice Communications

The goal: I want to bring more focus to my team and my company this year. We’ve been working to identify and deliver on the things that are most important for our clients. We can do better at that. We want to make sure the marketing communications we deliver move the needle for them. It’s not just about “doing social media” or putting out press releases.
The plan: We’ve reworked our approach to include scorecards for each team member and client that make sure we’re all focused on the factors that provide the most value.


Creating a Safe Space | Peter Gonzales, Welcoming Center

The goal: We want to create a more welcoming space where immigrants and locals can connect and learn from each other.
The plan: In March, the Welcoming Center will be moving to a great new space in the Chinatown area that is going to make this possible.


Beyond Diversity and Inclusion | Felicite Moorman, STRATIS

The goal: STRATIS is over 50 people now and launched an internal “grassroots” diversity and inclusion group to discuss goals and challenges, but in 2019, we need to hire a Culture Lead who is dedicated to our mission. I want to be the person who knows where everyone’s head is at and what they’re doing in their personal lives, but it’s not practical for our people to chase me down with the organic opportunities decreased so dramatically. That’s a very real growing pain and while the success is planned, the distance between us that success creates is bittersweet.
The plan: I’ve started reaching out to my mentors and entrepreneurial friends. They are a wealth of information here in Philly! This position is unique beyond measure, so it will take a unique effort to find them, and I’m definitely seeking referrals from trusted resources.


Seeking Transparency | Carrie Bourdow, Trevena

The goal: After a recent CEO transition and other company changes, we are taking time to ensure employees have input to and are aware of our new guiding principles focused around our values, our people, our work environment and our business focus. This is important to me because I know that bringing clarity and reinforcing how we want to operate will have a direct impact on our ability to meet our business objectives.
The plan: We started our first employee meeting with a discussion of the guiding principles and why they are important to us. We then followed with small group sessions to ensure we hear from all employees. We plan to highlight employees who are demonstrating “what good looks like” at our quarterly employee meetings.


Hiring More Women | Asher Raphael, Power Home Remodeling

The goal: In 2019 a particular focus of mine is to increase female hires. We launched a women’s initiative two years ago to help combat the stigma that the home improvement industry isn’t friendly to women, and it’s made huge strides but we still have a long way to go. The specific goals of the initiative are to hire more women and expedite the growth of the women already in our walls. Last year men made up 67% of our applicant pool, while females made up just 33%. This discrepancy is why increasing female hires is a top priority on my 2019 list.
The plan: While we’re continually recognized as one of the best workplaces in the country, hiring at Power still relies heavily on referrals as we fight the stigma of the home remodeling industry. We’ve found that our people are our best advocates and when they’re thriving here they want their friends to join them. That’s why we offer our employees a $2,000 bonus for every referral hire. To encourage our employees to keep women top of mind when thinking about referrals, in 2019 we are offering an additional $1,000 for female referrals. With this additional incentive and examples of thriving women throughout the business, I’m confident we will meet our 2019 hiring goals.

On the Lifestyle Front

Setting Boundaries | Shanti Mayers and Syreeta Scott, The Sable Collective

The goal: As two working mothers we want to create more moments of stillness for ourselves. When we have moments to sit, reflect and simply release, we find that we come back to work far more restored with creativity and energy for our business and customers.
The plan: We are actually becoming far stricter with our schedules. When you know what you are going to do daily and set up your weekly schedule ahead of time, you can be responsible for always writing in a day with a task of “nothing to do.” We are working on really upholding those boundaries! Let’s see how it works!


Finding a New Consciousness| Ajay Raju, Dilworth Paxson

The goal: I’ve always tended to talk more than I listen, and for the past few years I’ve been making a conscious effort to listen more than I talk. This is far easier said than done for me, because it’s meant not merely shedding a bad habit but trying to fundamentally rewire my basic mental circuitry. So in 2019, I’m going to apply structure and discipline to that effort, which means longer silent retreats, periodic sound fasts, mindfulness and self-awareness exercises, and generally, trying to speak only to the extent necessary. My end goal here is not just to be quieter, but to try to advance from a linear, data-centric mode of thought to a more comprehensive state of consciousness.
The plan: I have become a student of Vedanta and Ayurvedic schools of thought. The principles I’ve learned from their instruction and my own ongoing studies provide a framework for my efforts to embrace silence and mindfulness. In my spare time, I make paintings, and incorporating these Eastern ideas even into that process has already proven valuable.


Spending Time With Nature | Peter Gonzales

The goal: Spend less time looking at screens and more time appreciating nature.
The plan: We just adopted a rescue dog and will be out exploring Wissahickon Valley Park more often.


Spending Time With Books | Rick Nucci, Guru

The goal: More reading! Every time I look at my queue in my kindle app I start to wish that sleeping were optional. There is so much great content and so few hours in the day to consume it all.
The plan: One thing I am trying is an app called Blinkist. It gives you a 15 minute summary of a book that you can either read or listen to. So I have added all the books from my kindle queue. After getting the summary, I can either actually read the book if it seems useful and interesting, or move on if not. Way more efficient!


Launching a Vlog | Felicite Moorman

The goal: In my personal life, my travel schedule is creating challenges for me to meet with people as much as I’d like, from a mentoring perspective. In 2019, I plan on launching my personal vlog, WTFelicite?! It’s a little instruction, a little humor, and hopefully a lot of inspiration on entrepreneurship. I need to get more information to more people and vlogging is an incredible way to share more!
The plan: As for vlogging, we homeschooled our three kids for several years, until they said I was micro-managing them! So, we renovated our homeschool studio into a dedicated video studio to optimize our content creation time! No setup! I try not to travel on the weekends and all three kids have pretty rampant social lives, so if I can get into that studio most Friday nights when they’re out, I think we have a winning strategy! I have 52 weeks of topics planned out and ready.


Finding Time to Recharge | Madeline Bell

The goal: Running at a fast pace and overcommitting is situation normal for me, and it can be draining. In 2019, I want to be much more mindful about finding time to recharge, whether that means spending time with my new granddaughter, paddle boarding, hiking with my husband, or just relaxing and enjoying some downtime. When I find a good balance between my work and the rest of my life – and it’s certainly not easy! – I am more effective at my job, and I’m happier, too. I want to support my staff and set a good example so they feel comfortable prioritizing work-life balance as well.
The plan: In terms of finding time to recharge, I have made commitments to myself and have asked my husband to help me live up to them. He is the one person I can always count on to remind me to make time for myself and my family.


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