Ask An Entrepreneur: Three Ways to Enable Human Connection in Business

Rimma Boshernitsan is the founder and CEO of DIALOGUE, a San Francisco-based agency, focused on helping companies gain a competitive advantage by designing experiences of human connection. Prior to founding DIALOGUE, Rimma was a strategic advisor to CEOs of emerging businesses and Fortune 500 companies, working with some of the most well-known brands: Deloitte Consulting, Apple, Aesop, Levi’s, Kraft Foods, and Chevron. @Rimmabosh

Rimma was recently interviewed by Nishika de Rosairo for our Ask an Entrepreneur series…

With more and more startups in hyper-growth coupled with billions of dollars in funding, companies are at risk of losing sight of the most important aspect of conducting business: human connection.

Human connection is not only important in analyzing and understanding the consumer, it is just as important in creating the end product.

As an entrepreneur and business owner, how do you enable ‘connection’ in a way that paves a path for innovation and drives potential?

Create Meaning Through Shared Values –  Always Introduce Difference

The more clear you are about what your company stands for, what the belief system is, and what the non-negotiables are, the easier it will be to create meaningful relationships with the right customers and hire the right employees.

In our work, we’ve found that shared values, yet potentially differing points of view, contribute to the most diverse opinions, the most innovative thinking, and a high likelihood that the end product has the true impact.

Hiring for just shared values alone is not enough. Hiring people who can challenge each other and embrace the variety of opinions at the table ensures for a rich dialogue that will better inform the reason your company exists and the problems it solves for your customers.

Promote and Enable Curiosity as a Cultural Value – Think Big Picture

This is easy to say, yet hard to do when things are running at 100 miles per minute. Quickly understanding your company’s ‘why’ will drive your people and product towards better results and insight into what truly matters.

Why are particular customers being pursued? Why should they care about the product? Why are the mission, vision and values important? What purpose does the product serve in the world?

Whether understanding the reasoning for a colleague’s decision or empathizing with a customer in a rough situation, keeping the ‘why’ in mind naturally leads to increased curiosity, deeper knowledge, and a greater emotional connection — both at an employee level, and more importantly when designing the customer experience.

By leading with curiosity, you bring human connection back to the forefront and establish it as a core principle by which your company operates.

Design For Intention – Cultivate Collective Intelligence Through Dialogue

Collective intelligence is built through human connection. Yet, we are more often than not attached to our devices, running to the next meeting and answering the next most urgent email.

In this day and age, our productivity around connection happens by way of technology, often times with our devices rather than with our colleagues. What if we could measure our goals by how connected we are to one another? Or by how many different ways we discussed a problem? And then of course, by its ultimate solution?

What if we went back to being humans, connecting to one another for resources and ideas, rather than just to technology?

If our intention is to be more connected to one another, ourselves, and the larger goal for the organization, then we have to intentionally design for human-to-human connection. By doing so, we activate and amplify collaboration and creativity. We create opportunities to really see our clients, our colleagues and ourselves in a new light. To enable greater intention, it is important to tie the type of relationship (and therefore the type of connection you are seeking to create) to the core values of the organization.

Below are a few tips on how to shape your ‘connection’:

  • Create opportunities for cross-pollination of ideas to occur.

  • Create forums for dialogue amongst customers, employees and thought leaders both within and outside of your company.

  • Promote face-to-face interactions between colleagues and clients.

  • Enable people to go beyond the “dailies” to truly get to know one another. Email, Slack, Asana are great, however, what’s the opportunity cost of not moving beyond digital communication?

  • High touch, intentional moments of exchange can go a long way. Part of creating meaning and setting intention is building on our curiosity as humans, building on what motivates and drives us as a species rather than just thinking about “us” in the context of the company. What are the small ways to make a big impact? What impact is that experience trying to achieve? How can the interaction you create amplify the vision of the company and more importantly, can it amplify brand loyalty from your customers?

By connecting to one another, we make the invisible – visible, and take ourselves and each other to the next level.

Making the Leap: From Corporate Employee to Entrepreneur

Today’s post comes from Nishika de Rosairo, CEO, Creative Director, and founder of dE ROSAIRO. Before becoming an entrepreneur, Nishika built a corporate career with Deloitte, Cisco, and Salesforce. In addition to leading her business, Nishika serves on several boards including Startup Women, Upward, and the Center for International Business Education and Research.

“Aren’t you scared?”
“What will you do if you fail?”
“You have no experience in the industry, how will you succeed?”
“Don’t worry, you can always go back to Corporate America”

… and so the questions and comments flooded in…

What surprised me the most was that these questions and comments were being dished out from a combination of people who knew me very well, and also from those who didn’t know me at all.

I soon started to realize that non-entrepreneurs were projecting their own anxieties of starting a business onto me.

So the real question became:

How do you listen to the parts that matter, and turn off the parts that don’t?

An Entrepreneur is Born

For me, entrepreneurship has always felt very real. I was still a teenager when I came to the realization that life would be boring if everyone succumbed to practices and principles denoting linear patterns of thinking and execution, simply because they made life easy to explain and easy to understand.

My version of happiness started to emerge around the same time when I turned to mentors such as Sir Richard Branson and Anthony Robbins. They taught me that happiness was a state of mind, achieved through a non-linear journey of strategy, discovery, and perspective: the perfect mindset for an entrepreneur.

I grew up with an adventurous spirit, and by the time I reached my 30s, I was living on my fourth continent, had traveled to over 40 countries, and my career in the corporate world was ripe and flourishing. Over my 10 years in Corporate America, I had the incredible opportunity of learning a repertoire of deep knowledge and expertise from the best of the best: Deloitte Consulting, Salesforce, Apple, Levi, Cisco, Chevron, and many others.


Even still, I wanted more.

I decided it was time to turn in the stability of a steady paycheck for something that was much more adventurous and impactful.

I wanted to change the world, one design at a time.


Building a Business

Finally, my business – dE ROSAIRO (pronounced ‘day ro-zai-ro’) — was born: it was a childhood dream coupled with a deep desire to influence the world through the inherent psychology behind the clothes we wear.

I spent 10 months writing my business plan and building the business on nights and weekends, all while still employed full time at Salesforce. At the end of that time, I had my first collection of sketches sitting on hangers in a sales showroom in Los Angeles. I built dE ROSAIRO on the founding principle of ‘Look Feel Lead’, which translates into — how you Look, is how you Feel, is how you Lead. The idea being that how we dress influences how we feel, and on the flipside, how we feel influences how we dress.

No matter how many people have shared their years of wisdom with me, not one person, or any one experience, could have truly prepared me for the broad depth and range of mental and physical strength it takes to be an entrepreneur.

Doubt is Part of the Journey

There are days I have wanted to pull my hair out, and then there are days that I know I am doing exactly what I should be. I would be lying if I didn’t admit the rough days.  

But the truth is: doubt is a part of the journey, as it continues to provide me with an opportunity to question even my most basic set of assumptions. Healthy businesses cannot be built on complacency and self-assurance.

Mistakes will be made, money will be lost, and through it all, the question that we will need to keep answering is – am I still aligned with my vision?

Why does alignment matter? It matters for two key reasons:

  1. When we launch a business, we should aim to build a foundation that aligns with our personal set of values. We need to ask ourselves: what matters to me? How do I want to affect the lives of others? What do I want my legacy to be?
  2. Doing ‘good business’ is no longer the icing on the cake; in today’s world it is a basic expectation. This means we each have a role to play.

Through this journey, what I’ve come to discover is: there is no greater measure of self-fulfillment than when profit, individual values, and ‘good business’ intersect.

So when you’re on the brink of YOUR entrepreneurial journey, and when people ask you:

“Aren’t you scared?”
“What will you do if you fail?”
“You have no experience in the industry, how will you succeed?”

Tell them that you would rather give it your best shot than regret not trying.

Tell them that you desire transformative growth in your life that a steady paycheck cannot provide.

Tell them that changing the world is worth the calculated gamble.

Ask An Entrepreneur: Building a Startup In a New Industry

Daniela Tudor has been involved in the Seattle and Los Angeles tech scene since 2007. Currently, she is a Partner of The Beats Running Group and Co-Founder / CEO of Pala-linq, a mobile application helping those in recovery from addictions. Outside of work, she has a diverse range of passions including music, travel, and giving back to the community. @danielaluzit

Daniela was recently interviewed by Nishika de Rosairo for our Ask an Entrepreneur series…

How Do I Build A Startup In An Industry That I Have Never Worked In Before?

Before you make a decision to do so, make sure you have ONE thing aligned with this new industry you are about to break into: PASSION.

If you are not passionate about the industry you are looking to build a startup in where you have zero knowledge, I highly suggest you look for something else. The reason is, that there’s going to be difficulties and if you lack passion and knowledge in the area, the motivation for making money will not be enough to enable you to make it through tough times until you reach success. PERIOD.

Now, that we have that sorted, here’s a couple simple guidelines to build a startup in an area you have never worked before.

1. Be humble
You may be an expert in another field but all of that goes out the door when you enter a new field. You will not know their own unique industry lingo and you won’t know the main players. Don’t let that discourage you, just be humble and be open acknowledging the fact that you are there to learn and help the industry.

2. Question everything, while listening / reading up on everything
Being new to the industry puts you in a unique position to bring new perspectives that those on the inside may be missing out on; this is a HUGE value add that you will bring as you enter the new industry. Do not be afraid to question everything, but do it respectfully; this will also strengthen your relationship with those you are speaking with. At the same time, while you are questioning everything get INFORMED. This means reading up on everything you can and actively listening to people in the industry regardless of their position. You should be hungry to learn every aspect of the new industry you are looking to break into, and can include reading blogs, going to conferences, reading books and other publications that people in that industry recommend.

3. Network, network, network!
Google who the industry leaders are, do your research and go meet them! This means messaging them on LinkedIN, going to conferences, reading their literature and networking your way to meet the gatekeepers / leaders in the industry. Get these people to co-sign and support what you are working on. On the other hand, also build strong relationships with your local / small scale businesses in the industry. Having both sides of the coin in your corner will sky rocket you to success in the industry!

I started Pala-linq, a mobile application that integrates with activity trackers to provide accountability and connection for those in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction to ultimately prevent relapse, due to my own journey into recovery. I had zero experience professionally in the addiction or medical space, but I did come from the tech industry and had built out a startup prior.

I implemented the steps above, and 12 months later we are funded and on schedule to release the product to the community and treatment centers in May! It’s been a journey full of ups and downs and really it’s just the beginning – every day there isn’t anything else I’d rather be working on.