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7 Questions with Michelle Czarnik
helps you in your leadership.
7 Questions with Michelle Czarnik
Name: Michelle Czarnik
Current title: COO + Co-Founder
Current organisation: Boxmedia
Michelle provides the structure and direction to keep the most complex projects on time and on budget. Over 18 years experience in client engagement; extensive background in event planning, detailed scheduling, and project management.
Operations leading internal management and overseeing business operations and human resources within company structure and policy. As a former scratch golfer, Michelle manages with a discipline rare to most. Her frugal nature means no matter the size of a company, she will always run it as if it has only 30 days left in the bank.
Particular focus on production, retail, sporting engagements and charity/foundation work; client engagements include Accenture, Pearson, AICPA.
1. What have you found most challenging as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise?
I think at different stages we face different challenges, if we look at the past 12 months it would be changing the dynamic of our work culture completely.... from a company that thought we had to thrive from being together and group in person collaborations we were given the chance to grow as individuals which in turn made us a stronger group in collaboration. Adjusting to remote work and online EVERYTHING created new opportunities for us as a company as well a great chance to really showcase what we do at BOXMEDIA and how relevant online learning tools are now and will be for the indefinite future to come.
2. How did you become a CEO or executive of a large enterprise? Can you please briefly tell the story?
It kind of is one of those "hallmark" stories.... I left my last career in the golf industry and knew I wanted to join the more normal Monday-Friday work clan, my passion for organizing, coordinating and events seemed to make sense taking on a role as an EA to the CEO (whom is still the current CEO + Founder) over time that role moved from EA to VP of operations to COO + Co-Founder of our baby BOXMEDIA. Us four founders have put in a lot of time together and the blood, sweat and tears we all hear about.... it's true, but we have great open communication policies and we work well together, we are BOX FAMILY.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
I am a mom first and then a COO even though some days it is hard to tell the two apart. I wake up before my kids to try and do the little things we once took for granted like taking a hot shower and enjoying a hot cup of coffee. I get my kids up and ready for school and I have the luxury of taking them to school. From there I head into my office (which is luckily just minutes down the road) and I start my day. I turn the music on and I start with emails and every single day I write a list in a notebook of what I need to do. I highlight them as they are completed and anything not finished that day gets carried over to the next. People have tried for years to switch me to online apps for lists and tasks management but if anyone steals my notebooks and highlighters I would be LOST. I end the day and my goal is to be home by dinner each night with the kids and my husband. Then the real CRAZY starts as two young kids explain their days which can contain details including the color scissors that they used (but I wouldn't change a thing). Is it bedtime yet? Oh and normally a glass of red wine is thrown in there somewhere.
4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
YIKES where do I begin...... I think the lesson I have learned the most (which was the hardest given I am a virgo and very hard on myself did I mention I love to please?) is that criticism or feedback is not personal unless you take it that way it is actually a tool you are given to continue your own growth and development. This is something I continue to work on.
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
Surrounded by Idiots by Thomas Erikson..... now the title is catchy but the book is fantastic in explaining the different types of personalities and communication styles we all hold. If we do not know who we are speaking to "know your audience" how can we expect them to fully grasp the concept.... we might think they're an "idiot" but really we need to adapt our communication style to those we are speaking to. This truly is part of the foundation of how BOXMEDIA operates too, we do not all learn the same way so we need to adapt and redefine learning.
6. How do you build leadership capacity in a large enterprise?
Empowering. Constant growth. Collaboration. Listening.
NO GOSSIP and NO BS. Those are our two biggest policies at BOX.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise so far?
I love seeing people grow and blossom into a role, position, department that maybe they didn't even once think of for themselves. Working in a company with admin, legal, operations, creative, input + strategy, partnership + BD teams and so on..... people come onboard as an admin support role for example and over time realize they have a passion and great skill set for partnership and BD. We really do our best to allow people to grow, expand and continue to learn. When I see someone starting to develop a hidden passion for something they once didn't know existed it both excites me and motivates me. It is a reminder that we can all expand our skill sets and we have to love what we do or no one will love what we make. I guess we have three policies at BOX ;)