Nicole Garelick of Crosschq: “In order to make sure we are forming a diverse workforce, we first have to do the work within”

In order to make sure we are forming a diverse workforce, we first have to do the work within. If this practice does not start within our own company, how can we help others to do the same.

The work we do at Crosschq is to give all people the same opportunity. Our work allows people to add more to their story and share the total context beyond the confines of the resume and box checks. This change to the traditional system allows all people more chances in the door, resulting in a more diverse workforce.

At Crosschq, we continuously check ourselves for the potential to introduce bias in a hiring decision. It is our goal as a team to shine in our diversity, to factor in a multitude of internal and external POVs to ensure there is no unconscious bias in how we are building our product.

It is constant work. Being aware of what we can do better is the start.


As a part of our series about strong women leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Nicole Garelick and she is on a mission to build a better workplace.

As the Head of Customer Support at Crosschq, she helps people make hiring decisions with an open mind. Nicole’s background as an entrepreneur and study of relational therapy uniquely translates to building successful teams. Her passion to defy the traditional standards of hiring inspires companies to redefine the application process and think people first.


Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

Myfirst job was in corporate public relations at a big PR firm. After a fews years, I realized this field was simply not for me, and after a few big life moments I decided to pursue a Masters of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy at Northwestern University. After graduating, instead of the typical path, I chose to use my degree and experience to start my own company centered on fixing the way we hire by looking at how people work in the context of relationships and teams to predict success.

The foundation I built and the work I did within my own reference checking company ultimately led to Crosschq.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

One of the most interesting stories is actually the story of how I met Mike Fitzsimmons, the CEO of Crosschq, and how my role all began.

At the time we were introduced, I was living in Mexico City working as the CEO of a small reference checking company that I started.

Out of the blue, I casually got connected to Mike (based out of San Francisco) through a friend and mutual VC connection. We exchanged phone numbers and casually started talking and informally collaborating after discovering pieces of our work mirrored each other. As a solopreneur working remotely in another country, at moments it could feel as if I was working on an island. It felt incredible to find a network and recognition in what I had built across the globe. Shortly after a handful of back-and-forth emails, our work together turned into a more formal capacity as contract work and then ultimately into my current role within the company today.

This story is so important to me because it shows how taking a random call can change the trajectory of your life and career for the better. It was a non-traditional way into a C-Suite role, and it shows there is no typical path.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

The truth is, I make funny mistakes all the time.

One of the best things about Crosschq is that we are a bilingual company. We have team members all over the globe, many in Argentina.

After living in Mexico City for a few years, I really worked on getting my Spanish to a conversational level. My team members really embrace the language and so do I at work, and it is a great way of bonding.

We use Spanish all the time in email, Slack and meetings. While I have grown tremendously in speaking the language, I am by no means perfect. There have been many times that I make silly Spanish errors, like saying “pregnant” in a sentence instead of “embarrassed.” While at the beginning I typed like a third grader in Spanish, my team has always welcomed it. Even though they can tell when I am cheating and using Google Translate.

Today, our love for the language has morphed into a Spanish only Slack channel, and we all go out of our way to log onto calls early for Spanish speaking time.

It has become an important part of our work culture to keep this up.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Absolutely. That person for me is Carlos Reyes, Admissions Officer at University of Wisconsin-Madison (now retired), who was the first person to really give me a chance.

Carlos has really stuck with me all of these years because he set the standard for me to look beyond the traditional definition of success, and see the potential in me and others.

I was told by many that it would be challenging to get into UW-Madison. I took that challenge seriously, and took a chance myself by reaching out to Carlos cold with an ask for a meeting. It was a move of courage, and Carlos responded to my tenacity with an offer to drive down to the Madison campus to meet in-person. He showed me that you can get in the door even if people say you cannot. With perseverance and hustle, rather than marks and stats traditionally valued in the college application process, he inspired confidence and said yes to me.

Carlos’ philosophy ladders all the way back to what inspires us at Crosschq and what we’re setting out to do with our product, to look beyond the typical hiring or admissions process.

In my work, I often talk about how to release and relieve stress. As a busy leader, what do you do to prepare your mind and body before a stressful or high stakes meeting, talk, or decision? Can you share a story or some examples?

Travel and remote style work has really taught me the value of working within your productivity windows. For the majority of my career, I have been on the go, and have learned how to be comfortable and confident with taking meetings from really anywhere. My working and living is a continuous cycle, and it’s a muscle I’ve built to balance it.

For me, I know I am most productive in the mornings and know when I need to carve out downtime and breather times, so I can make space to get centered and in the zone.

During my downtime or prep time, I like to take long walks to collect my thoughts. Breaking up the day helps to center around my productivity and when I work most clearly.

As you know, the United States is currently facing a very important self-reckoning about race, diversity, equality and inclusion. This may be obvious to you, but it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you articulate to our readers a few reasons why it is so important for a business or organization to have a diverse executive team?

In order to make sure we are forming a diverse workforce, we first have to do the work within. If this practice does not start within our own company, how can we help others to do the same.

The work we do at Crosschq is to give all people the same opportunity. Our work allows people to add more to their story and share the total context beyond the confines of the resume and box checks. This change to the traditional system allows all people more chances in the door, resulting in a more diverse workforce.

At Crosschq, we continuously check ourselves for the potential to introduce bias in a hiring decision. It is our goal as a team to shine in our diversity, to factor in a multitude of internal and external POVs to ensure there is no unconscious bias in how we are building our product.

It is constant work. Being aware of what we can do better is the start.

As a business leader, can you please share a few steps we must take to truly create an inclusive, representative, and equitable society? Kindly share a story or example for each.

My goal is resume-less hiring. As a leader with an atypical career path, I dream to move away from the traditional experiences of what success looks like (education, company names, titles).

Going all the way back to my experience with Carlos at UW-Madison to Mike reaching out as a co-CEO , my career has happened through a series of chances taken when I was not the picture perfect applicant.

I often reflect on what my career path could have looked like if these individuals would have turned to the typical patterns of success, and not mutually practiced bravery to move forward together.

I believe we need to look beyond the resume to create an inclusive, representative, equitable society.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. Most of our readers — in fact, most people — think they have a pretty good idea of what a CEO or executive does. But in just a few words can you explain what an executive does that is different from the responsibilities of the other leaders?

As Head of Customer Support, my role is a bit unique as I am very hands-on. When you are still at the point of having a small team, you drive strategy just as much as you do a lot of the day-to-day work. My role deals with finding a lot of that balance.

In order to drive effective strategy, I like to maintain a close relationship to the customer, which in our case is often the Head of Talent Acquisition. My favorite parts of the day are when I get to speak to the customer directly — we are so lucky to have fun customers. It’s equally invigorating and interesting because you are helping to understand people, build the best teams and work through the hiring process. I learn the most when I speak to our customers directly, when we are directly problem solving together — it’s an opportunity to make our product better every time.

What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a CEO or executive. Can you explain what you mean?

I think one myth might be that you feel important and high-up in your career. And even more importantly, that you have it all figured out. I can proudly say I am still figuring it out. Especially being part of Customer Support, I am always problem solving, learning and changing.

Not having everything figured out is okay, even at the C-Suite level.

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by women executives that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?

I think about this a lot — finding the balance between being taken seriously without overcompensating and being too aggressive.

When I first started at Crosschq as a young woman and only woman on the team, I would find myself often leaning into an aggressive manner or tone to get a point across — thinking this is what I needed to do in order to be taken seriously, versus trusting that I would be taken seriously.

As a self-aware woman, I often questioned if this was real or perceived. And this would lead me to act in a way that was not completely true to who I am. I was going outside of my true character in order to establish authority.

I eventually stepped outside of this and came back into my own voice to establish authority in my own way.

I do not believe men often question their own voice in order to be taken seriously, as it is part of a male’s traditional character to establish authority.

Rather than looking to other co-workers to discover how I was seen or perceived through gender or language, I tap back into my own true way of stating my POV and opinion — gender aside.

What is the most striking difference between your actual job and how you thought the job would be?

Truthfully, I had no idea this would end up being my job. Years ago, I didn’t know this could even be a job. Today, I can’t imagine any other job would be more fun than this work.

Work doesn’t feel like work, because I genuinely love working with customers and how much I get out of my time with them.

Through my job, I get the chance to coach, help people understand people and how they fit into a team; it’s genuinely interesting and fun.

Certainly, not everyone is cut out to be an executive. In your opinion, which specific traits increase the likelihood that a person will be a successful executive and what type of person should avoid aspiring to be an executive? Can you explain what you mean?

Transparently, I do not agree with the sentiment of this question. I believe everyone has the qualities in them to be a leader. Leaders come in all shapes and sizes.

I could say that I may not have been qualified to be an executive, yet here I am.

What advice would you give to other women leaders to help their team to thrive?

Embrace radical transparency and empathy.

I constantly practice transparency in team collaboration and leadership. I match that with a level of empathy, to maintain an understanding that I deeply care.

Women are set-up to bring empathy into the workplace. We need to model that for some of our male co-workers who often forget to take care of themselves, and in turn do not model that for others.

How have you used your success to make the world a better place?

The focus of my career is to always give people a chance, and redefine the traditional rockstar seal of approval along the way.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

Do not doubt yourself and what you are capable of.

Never be afraid to say that you will “look into it” when you do not know the answer. No one expects you to have all of the answers. And you usually get into more trouble when you pretend to know. When I was first asked to do technical tasks that I was unfamiliar with, I never said no and instead constantly learned which led me to this role.

People are people.

People want to be spoken to as people. Forget titles. So much can be solved with compassion. We are people at work and outside of work.

Work should be fun.

If work is fun, it’s working for you.

Be open to job descriptions.

Don’t let the idea of what you think you are going to be get in the way of what you could really do. Case in point, I never thought this is where I would be today.

9–5 does not exist, in a good way.

You can control your work hours and work within the confines of your own productivity. You can work where you do your work best. Hustle is hustle, but it does not need to be all day everyday. Opting into this practice will make you more successful as opposed to less. I’ve learned this slowly as I took my work remote and across the globe, now I will never look back.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

My push for resume-less hiring will forever remain constant, and I hope it will become a widespread movement. The moment we see the potential in hiring beyond the limitations of check marks, education, role requirements and toward raw skills and character, we will give more people the chance for opportunity.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Leaders must invest a reasonable amount of time attending to fears and feelings.” — Brene Brown

The people that have allowed me to be human in the workplace have allowed me to show up as my best self, or however I am able to show up that day. When this precedent starts from leaders, it creates an equal, empathetic, transparent culture. A permission slip to have a life beyond work and freedom to show up as myself.

We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them

It would be an incredible honor to have a meal with Brene Brown or Michele Obama — two amazing female leaders who are authentic and powerful, while being uniquely themselves.

source: www.medium.com


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