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7 Questions on Leadership with Charlie Saffro

Name: Charlie Saffro

Title: CEO & Founder

Organisation: CS Recruiting, LLC

Meet Charlie, a recruitment expert with a passion for human leadership, talent acquisition and employee retention.

She founded CS Recruiting over a decade ago and has built it from the ground up, managing a multi-million dollar organization and leading a team of over 40 talented recruiters.

As CEO and Founder, Charlie's mission is to create meaningful connections that empower others to discover their full potential.

She a recognized expert in the Logistics industry and her firm has worked with a diverse range of clients nationwide, including Fortune 50 companies and small to medium-sized businesses.

Charlie's goal is to develop long-lasting relationships with clients and candidates, making appropriate and timely career matches for all levels of positions.

Beyond her work, Charlie is also a dedicated yogi and encourages her clients and team to practice mindfulness in the workplace and beyond. She believes that personal development and self-care is crucial to achieving success and fulfillment in all areas of life. Charlie is also a proud mother of three teenage boys and actively volunteers with local organizations to support and empower women in the workforce.

With her wealth of experience, dedication to serving others, and commitment to making meaningful connections, Charlie is a force to be reckoned with.

Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!

I hope Charlie's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!


Jonno White

1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?

Keeping employees engaged, inspired and fulfilled. I believe our people are our biggest asset and our culture is our competitive advantage. Keeping my team "happy" is my biggest focus and my most challenging objective as a leader. I also have learned the hard way that it's statistically impossible to make every team member feel "happy" 100% of the time so you need to know which battles to pursue and where to expend your energy.

2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?

I started my business as a one woman show in 2010. At the time, I had no intentions of starting a business. I was pregnant with my third son, and had just phased out of a recruiting role after my company sold to another organization. I was doing some freelance recruitment for the new company, but never intended to start up my own company until I realized there was a niche need in the market, and I had a solution to help.

While I was doing freelance recruiting work, I put myself on LinkedIn and before I knew it, I was getting inquiries to take on more outside recruiting projects within my industry of supply chain. As an opportunity chaser, I wanted to take advantage of everything that came my way. So, I hustled and did the best I could until I realized that I had to bring add support, or I was going to fail at delivering on the opportunities in front of me.

Even though I was a Recruiter, I had no idea how to hire for my own team. I had worked for my husband previously and he was sitting out his employment agreement in the logistics industry so he had time on his hands. I brought him on as my first hire and soon after that, I hired my first “external employee.” That first external employee is still on my team today as our COO 12 years later. Over the years, we’ve continued to grow and I currently have a team of 40 full time employees.

Fast forward to 2020, the year when everything changed for me as an entrepreneur. At this mark, our company was 10 years old and while I was the "founder," I had always assumed the role of a "contributor." Over the years, we hired and empowered team members to lead and in early 2020, I had surrounded myself with a leadership team of men that I relied on for all "difficult" conversations (anything pertaining to financials or legal was "difficult" for me).

My most trusted co-leader at this time was my husband, Chad, who joined my business during the first year of inception. Just before the pandemic hit, Chad and I had made a mutual decision for him to phase out of the business so he could move on to the next point of his career. Shortly after this plan was made public, our COO unexpectedly resigned and I found myself as the sole person on our leadership team.

This was a huge wake-up-call moment for me where I realized that in order for the business (ie "my baby") to grow and succeed, I had to embrace a true leadership role and get rid of the day-to-day responsibilities that kept me in the micro details of the work. From that moment on, I made strategic decisions to shed my daily tasks and commit to focusing on the macro of our business.

It was a hard transition but looking back, it was the best thing to ever happen to me. 3+ years later, I have truly embraced what it means to be a leader and I focus my efforts on the people on our team, our brand strategy and high level client relationships. No regrets on doing it sooner, it was a step that I had to take at the right time and I'm proud of myself for recognizing the "right time" and giving 110% when that time came.

3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?

Crack of dawn: Focus on "Me" time.

I start my days with meditation and attend a 6am yoga class almost every day of the week. I return home and take a long walk with my dog which allows me to clear my mind and plan for the day ahead. While it can be exhausting to rise early, it's a commitment I've made to myself because I recognize that I have to take care of ME before I can take care of others.

Early morning: Focus on my children

Ensure they have what they need to start their day. I reserve this time before the meetings start to ensure my kids have breakfast, school lunches and rides to school.

Workday: Focus on my team and clients

From 8-5ish every day, I do everything I can to serve my team and clients. I try to manage my schedule with plenty of time for "thinking" and strategic discussions but also make myself available for those that need me. Each week, I make it a priority to do "check-ins" with team members where I enjoy conversations with each contributor that has nothing to do with work. During these conversations, we talk about them as a whole person so I can really understand their needs as a person and professional. My days are usually spent attending meetings (video calls) with internal team members and external clients that are considering our services. While I'm out of the "day to day," I will always make myself available to invest in building client relationships and connecting with the people that need my support and attention.

End of business day: Focus on my family and friends

Once the workday winds down, I shift my focus back to my personal life. As an owner, I've never been able to truly "compartmentalize" work from "life," so I'm technically always thinking about work subconsciously, but I give my energy and attention to my family and others that have supported me to get to where I am today.

4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?

You'll never make everyone happy. The best you can do is SHOW UP ready to give and receive and make strategic decisions that lead to the most favorable outcome for our people and our business.

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?

Right after I assumed a true leadership role in 2020 (see story above), I stumbled upon a book called "Permission to Screw up" by Kristen Hadeed. The author was a young female entrepreneur who writes honestly about the wins and challenges of trying to do it all as a leader. The book itself offered me so many great nuggets and validation around the decisions I was making. So much so that I had the urge to reach out to the author, Kristen on LInkedIn. I sent her a note letting her know that her book inspired me and we ended up connecting for a conversation.

That conversation led me to joining one of Kristen's Mastermind groups and for the last 3 years, I've been part of a group of likeminded leaders that meetings monthly to discuss what it means to be a leader and we support each other through those trials and tribulations. Kristen has since become my mentor, coach and most importantly, my friend. Reading her book made me realize that I had the power in me to do great things and that sharing my story was the best and most useful way for me to help serve others.

6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?

You might feel most productive if you are a contributor because our society has led us to believe that the people who bring in the $'s are the most important people in an organization. However, if you are truly a leader, you'll have the confidence to step out of the day-to-day and to empower other people on your team to produce so you can work ON the business. It's a hard transition and can really mess with your ego since most successful leaders worked their way to the top by contributing. But, it's worth it and true leaders must shed other responsibilities so they can truly lead and find time for strategic thinking and clarity.

7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?

See above about the story of our COO resigning and me stepping into the leadership role I was always meant to be in...I just had to wait for the universe to tell me it was my time:)

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