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We’re passionate about the world of work, and how we can make it better. To help satisfy our curiosity, we’ve launched an interview series where we pick the brains of experienced leaders, business owners, managers, and individual contributors to get their thoughts on how we can collectively build better.

Annabel Youens

Join us in our next instalment below as entrepreneur and marketing expert Annabel Youens shares actionable insights for building a better world of work, starting today.

We’d love to get to know you a bit better, tell us a bit about your backstory.

As a child, I traveled and lived in Canada, Australia, and Indonesia. My adult life has also involved travel. I lived and worked in New Zealand for 10 years where I co-founded two startups, one in mobile content and the other in online behavioral insights. 

photo of annabel youens

After a few years living in LA growing my company and raising a daughter, I moved back to Victoria, BC to be near family and my oldest friends. 

I currently work with creatives to help them design marketing plans and strategies that align with their values and goals. It fills me with enormous satisfaction to see the people I work with be successful.

If we were to ask a friend to describe your personality to us, what would they say?

Friendly, outgoing, kind, creative, funny, and strategic.

Thinking back to your career journey, what’s an interesting story that stands out?

When I was launching my second startup in New Zealand, we collaborated with a band called The Mint Chicks to release a USB stick of singles. In the early 2000s it was a cutting edge project (pre Spotify), so very exciting and fun to be working in the music industry. 

I remember being incredibly stressed out at our launch party when the lead singer climbed a barbed wire fence three stories above the road. I had visions of the singer falling to his death and the ensuing onslaught of press and health & safety officers. 

The crowd loved the deathifying show and I learnt there are things you just can’t prepare for.

What’s the most impactful lesson you've learned over your career thus far?

People are everything. The jobs I’ve thrived in have come down to the people I’ve worked with everyday. 

I want to be respectfully challenged. I want to be accountable. I want to be valued. I want to be heard. I want to be working in a team for a common goal. 

To get what you need in my career you need to work with people who also want those same things. People make your career and it’s the first thing I look at when assessing an opportunity.

Thanks for giving us some insight into who you are! Let’s jump into things. When you hear the phrase “build a better world of work”, what comes to mind?

I believe the structure of work time and personal time needs to change. Businesses need to be more flexible and fluid with their employees.

For you, what’s the main blocker you see as standing in the way of building a better world of work?

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Commuting to the office is broken. Having a “work personality” and then a “home personality” is also broken. 

People want their time back. We all deserve a job where we can be caregivers, chauffeurs, housekeepers, chefs and creatives when we need that time and space. 

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What’s one thing within our control that we can practically do to build a better world of work today? And, how do you recommend going about it?

I’ve got two ideas: one easy and one hard.

Easy: Look at your recruitment process. 

Are you valuing the time and effort people put into applying for roles at your company?

If there is an in-depth skills evaluation, are you paying people for their time? 

What is the experience your candidates are having through each step of their journey? There is no excuse for,

We thank all candidates for their interest, however only those selected for an interview will be contacted. 

Annabel Youens

High quality candidates will be turned off and ultimately your business will lose. So take a step back.

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Hard: Go remote. 

I know going remote is not practical for every business, but a lot of today's companies can be remote. Every year Buffer does a global survey on remote work and in 2022 survey participants overwhelmingly recommend remote work and would like to continue working remotely. People want the option to work flexibly.

Zapier has an amazing resource called The ultimate guide to remote work. It’s a great starting point for an operations team to look at systems and processes that need to change. Buffer also has great resources on working asynchronously and Slack best practices

The larger your team, the harder it may be to switch to remote practices but the remote trend is going to become the norm. Starting the switch now will help you with retention and recruitment. 

Good luck!

Can you share one thing you’ve experienced, seen, or read about that is leading us towards a better world of work?

Everytime I hear a company has gone remote I get excited. Some companies like Buffer, Toggl and Zapier have been remote for years, but now with big brand companies like Slack, Twitter, AirBnB and Dropbox going remote other companies will start to feel the pressure to change.

I’m curious, thinking about building a better world of work, is there a company and/or leader who stands out to you as someone we should follow? If so, what are they up to?

Well, my favourite podcast is The Knowledge Project with Shane Parrish. Shane has incredible guests from all sorts of fields like genetics, neuroscience, leadership, ancient philosophy and more. 

No matter who the guest is, I come away from each episode with a new idea or tactic to try in my own life. 

To get a sense of the breadth and expertise listen to episode #127 Best of 2021 Conversations.

How can our readers follow your work?

I’m taking a sabbatical from most social media right now, but I am fairly active on LinkedIn and you can also sign up for my newsletter on my website.

Thank you for adding your voice to People Managing People’s interview series on How to Build a Better World of Work!

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By Tim Reitsma

Tim has deep experience in HR, people & culture, leadership, business strategy and operations with a focus on building great teams who are excited about their craft and their organization. With over 15 years of leadership experience, Tim has always been guided by his core values: faith, family, curiosity, and fun. He is a coach, mentor, speaker, advisor, and an active volunteer in his community. Tim loves spending time outdoors with his wife and two kids as well as mountain biking in the north shore mountains.