This year, as part of our end-of-year coverage, we asked some CEOs of New Jersey tech companies to help NJTechWeekly.com by talking about books they read that influenced their actions as CEO, or gave them ideas that they pulled into their company. Several CEOs were happy to accommodate. This is the first of two articles based on their contributions.
Here Chairman, President and CEO Simon Nynens discusses how he will make Wayside Technology Group a greener place and iCIMS CEO Colin Day speaks about ideas that helped him have the strength to make “conscious, creative and contrarian choices.”
This year a book that influenced our actions in the company was a book called “The Responsibility Revolution: How the Next Generation of Businesses Will Win” by Jeffrey Hollender and Bill Breen. Written by the co-founder and chairman of seventh generation, a household-products company with a deep-green culture, this is a book about how a company can, and should, focus not only on profits, but also on purpose. This book shows it is possible to contribute not only money to shareholders, yet also to the well-being of society and the environment, thereby creating a much more resilient business model.
The software industry has changed a lot in the last decade. We now ship the majority of our products electronically instead of on CDs, paper catalogs have been replaced by websites, invoices are emailed instead of printed, and developers and employees work from home a lot more. Yet we have not reviewed our consumption behavior and our work practices. There are so many easy steps to do better! Take away most of the printers, vending machines, Styrofoam cups, plastic eating coffee machines, plastic cups, tableware, plastic bottles, and more. Install hyper-efficient dishwashers, supply free fruit and vegetables, provide clear filtered water, give employees reusable shopping bags, put in automatic light switches andsolar panels, use household goods only made from biodegradable and/or recycled cleaning products, and so much more.
In designing our new offices we strive to be close to zero emissions, and it is possible! Create a “green committee” and you will be surprised what good this can do for your company. Show your employees and customers the way–they will appreciate you for it. This book is full of great examples of how to do much better as a company. And the greatest part? Your employees, customers and next generations will love you for it.
Though this is not a recently released book, it is one that has made a lasting impact on my personal management strategies, and in many ways, the long-term growth and profitability of iCIMS. In “Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…And Others Don’t” by Jim Collins, he introduces the “Hedgehog Concept,” a theory that organizations are more likely to succeed in outpacing their competitors and become truly great businesses if they focus on one thing, and do it well.
As we watched the recruiting and human resources industry rapidly evolve in the earlier years of our business, there came a time when many of our competitors had started to expand their services beyond applicant tracking, adding learning, payroll, and benefits to their offerings. Once we asked ourselves, “Do we want to be a jack of all trades at the risk of being master of none?” the answer obviously was no. We decided to focus exclusively on talent acquisition. This was a pivotal moment for the company. Stepping away from trying to serve every function of HR allowed us to address new revolutions in mobile, social, and video recruiting technology, and emerge as a leader.
It’s the conscious, creative, and sometimes contrarian choices that will dictate success the future, as laid out in Collin’s findings. That approach has helped us navigate the fluctuations in the economy, and steadily propelled iCIMS’ growth to become one of the most consistently fast growing companies in the state and nationwide for over a decade.