A conversation with Patty McCord is a series of “aha” moments:

  • The best workers are those who want to be challenged by the toughest problems.
  • The people who are good at creating a project are not always the best people to sustain it.
  • If you want diversity in your workforce, do the work to achieve it.

It’s these “aha” moments that can make a great enterprise.

The problem, says McCord, former Chief Talent Officer for Netflix and morning keynote speaker for the Tech Leadership Conference 2017 in Kitchener, is that too many entrepreneurs don’t seize those moments.

McCord knew she was having an “aha” moment almost 20 years ago when she, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and other team members created a 127-slide PowerPoint presentation about the Netflix work culture. The Netflix Culture Deck has been seen by more than 15 million viewers and reset the bar for any company wanting to rejuvenate its HR processes to build a company of “fully formed adults” who love their work.

Now the principal of Patty McCord Consulting, McCord shares her insights about work culture with multinationals and startups. Those observations will be shared with the world in her new book, “Powerful,” to be published in November, and with the Communitech audience on May 10.

In a telephone interview from Santa Cruz, Calif., McCord suggested that executives who want more women in the workplace shouldn’t wait for the “right” resume to appear. “You’ve got 115 people in your company? Great. Get a yellow legal pad and take 115 minutes and say to every person in your company, ‘Who’s the best woman you ever worked with?’ Call them up and bring them in and interview them. Just do the work. You’ll hire somebody.”

Diversity doesn’t just happen, she says: “You have to seek it.”

One of the challenges of building a successful work culture is remembering that jobs and people evolve. “Sometimes you hire a person to do a job and they do it and it’s done . . . the people who are motivated by building are not usually the same people who are motivated by incremental little tweaks that make it more efficient.”

McCord says HR professionals need to see themselves “as the people who find and keep, for however long is necessary, the right talent to meet the needs of the business, instead of creating systems and processes that create happy employees. You can have a company of happy employees and a failing business.”

What draws the right talent, says McCord, is not the biggest surf, but the biggest problems to be solved. “There’s no surfing in Austin (Texas), but it’s managed to make barbecue look pretty damn hip. It’s about the energy of the place, it’s about the problems people are trying to solve.”

McCord says that Canada, and Waterloo Region, have an edge right now in the search for talent.

“What Canada’s got right now, that we don’t have, is a better immigration policy that’s going to allow you to recruit incredible tech talent from around the world. You have a huge advantage.”