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The journey from customer to SocialChorus and connecting corporate strategy to employees on the ground with Kyla Turner

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On this episode of the podcast, we have Kyla Turner, Strategic Advisor at SocialChorus.

Culture, Comms, & Cocktails is internal comms served straight up, so settle in, and drink in the knowledge. Some shaken, some stirred, and maybe even some with a twist, and enjoy the top shelf guest I have lined up for you. I’m your host, Chuck Gose, Senior Strategic Advisor at SocialChorus. On this episode of the podcast, we have Kyla Turner, Strategic Advisor at SocialChorus.

Now, I’m here [at SocialChorus], and as you know, we’re really focused on, okay, how do you level that playing field? How do you give everyone equal access to the information that they need and to what they need to communicate and all row in the same boat together for the mission of the company?

Culture, Comms, & Cocktails Episode 43 Transcript

Chuck Gose: Hello, everyone. This is Culture, Comms & Cocktails, internal comms served straight up. I’m your host, Chuck Gose, senior strategic advisor at SocialChorus. And on this episode of Culture, Comms & Cocktails, we have Kyla Turner, originally guest number four on the podcast, and now, strategic advisor at SocialChorus. So welcome back to the podcast, Kyla.

Kyla Turner: Thank you so much. This is a good place to be under the best circumstances.

Chuck Gose: That’s awesome to hear. So where does the podcast find you today? Where are we seeing you right now?

Kyla Turner: I’m still here in Oklahoma City. It is an abnormally gray day. So I usually have a little more light in here, but Oklahoma City, it’s a good place to be here. I’m here in my office. It is my husband’s hometown, but I have now adopted it as my own.

Chuck Gose: And speaking of your family, how are you and the people you care about doing during this pandemic?

Kyla Turner: I have a lot of gratitude. We are all doing well. It is a tough situation just where we all find ourselves. I think you know the Midwest is being hit especially hard right now, the middle section of the country, and Oklahoma is in there. So it’s a tough time for the state, but we’re doing well. So we’ll just keep going.

Chuck Gose: That’s all we can do. That’s all we can do-

Kyla Turner: True.

Chuck Gose: Follow the rules and keep going. And as I mentioned in the intro, you’ve recently joined SocialChorus as a strategic advisor. So share with everyone a little bit about your career path that led you to this moment.

Kyla Turner: Sure. Well, let’s see. There was that piece where I actually was a journalist. I do have a journalism degree and I was a reporter for a short time and I think that is where that love of storytelling came through. But shortly thereafter, I was very fortunate to join the team at Southwest Airlines, and it was actually the marketing and communications team. And it was an interesting position. I was not at the headquarters in Dallas. I was in a field office in Phoenix. And I think about this a lot now and where I am now and how I think so much of it started with Southwest, of course, because they’re known for their culture, they are legendary about putting employees first and making sure that everyone has ownership of that position and the trust they have in the people who work for them and just how that connects to the bottom line.

Kyla Turner: And all of that is true, but I think about that position especially because I was in a field office. We were the liaison between kind of the corporate strategy for marketing and communications, and then we were out there in the field and we were out there very close to Sky Harbor Airport sitting there in all of the operational meetings as well. And so you kind of saw both sides of the operation and what it took to run an airline and fly an airline day to day, and then the strategy from the headquarters.

Kyla Turner: And I think that is something that has just, that is where I’ve gone in my career. Then onto Love’s, moved to Oklahoma City. We met while we were at Love’s, and then a couple of [inaudible] things and look where I am now. But it is, it is that thing that has followed me is being the liaison between a corporate strategy and a set employees and leaders who are in an office and who are very well connected, and then this different set of employees that are out there making the things happen.

Kyla Turner: It was the same way at Love’s. And to see both worlds and to understand the needs of both and knowing that everyone has different tools and different ways that they’re getting information, I mean, I really think this is where the journey has led me. Because now, I’m here, and as you know, we’re really focused on, okay, how do you level that playing field? How do you give everyone equal access to the information that they need and to what they need to communicate and all row in the same boat together for the mission of the company?

Kyla Turner: So, yeah, that was a long way of saying it started at Southwest and this journey, I have, I’ve really been putting it together and saying, yeah, there’s a similar theme there and I am definitely where I need to be.

Chuck Gose: Yeah, we certainly have building blocks throughout our career. And you mentioned Southwest, and like you said, they’re obviously known for their culture. What I think is fascinating is there’s a lot of companies that are known for their culture. A lot of organizations hide behind their culture, but with Southwest, they empower their employees with the culture.

Chuck Gose: As someone who used to travel quite a bit back when we could travel, and you would walk through airports. Without even seeing signage, you could tell which was a Southwest gate and which was not a Southwest gate. Because if it was Halloween, it was decorated. If it was Valentine’s day, it was decorated, right? They empowered employees with the culture and I think that’s something that I would love to see more companies embrace. Not hide behind the culture, but use that as a way to empower. They’ve always put employees first and customers second, meaning you treat your employees right, employees treat customers, right? To me, that’s the exact model we should all be following.

Kyla Turner: There you go. I think empower is a very good word. I think I used that they let their employees own their position. So they do, they have this immense trust. If we hired you, we know that we trained you well, we know you have the best attitude to take care of our customers and that you’re aligned with our goals and our bottom line. And all right, we trust you to do the job in the best way that you know how. And I think that might be the thing that sets them apart is that empowerment and that ownership that they give people. And I think that’s where you get that fierce loyalty of people saying, “Yeah, I get to represent the company and I get to still be myself and bring my full self to this position, and do it the way that it makes sense to me.” So I think that’s huge.

Chuck Gose: And we’ve both been career communicators. You mentioned yours. You started out in journalism and then going to Southwest and then Love’s as examples of a part of your career path, but we’re all still learning, right? We’re all still picking up things as we advance in our career. After all we’ve gone through in 2020, what are some things that you’ve learned about communication?

Kyla Turner: I think as communicators, we’ll all agree that it’s become kind of the largest priority and the biggest piece of where we need to be as a company, communicating with our employees, communicating with our customers. And I just, I love seeing companies that are able to, and I think so many have done this, just pivot and flex and do what they need to do.

Kyla Turner: I was actually, after Love’s, I went to Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma, and that’s where I was when the pandemic started. And to watch that company just kind of recreate policies and recreate ways of doing things in order to keep their employees connected, and of course their members too, but I think that’s the biggest thing. I think companies have just had to do things that they never thought they were going to do or maybe they wanted to do for the longest time and this became the time that we had to get it done and do it and open up the lines of communication, really make sure that we are keeping everyone informed and connected and still feeling engaged because these are unprecedented times.

Chuck Gose: Yeah. It seemed like companies learned they needed to get out of their own way on some things, that they seemed to create their own barriers to progress, where they realized like, “Oh no, we did that to ourselves. We don’t need to act that way. We don’t need to have that policy.” So it is great to see companies advance there. And then I’ll be curious when things return to what we thought was once normal, how those companies adjust again. And the ones that did communicate, the ones that did look out for employees and look out for their customers, are ultimately the ones that are going to be successful at that point in time too.

Kyla Turner: I agree. Yeah, it will be interesting to see where we are when we come out of this. All of these changes that we’ve made because companies were more nimble and they did make the changes and they flexed and they moved and they did what they needed to do, I think we all hope that continues. Wherever we land next year, in the middle of next year, that the companies look at that and do say, “Oh, that was easier than we thought it was going to be,” or something we kept doing a certain way because we thought it would be too hard to change, now companies have changed the way that they’ve done it and maybe they see, “Oh, well, okay, we were able to do that in a short amount of time and it paid off and there was value, and let’s keep doing it that way.”

Chuck Gose: Yeah, they certainly have a lot fewer excuses-

Kyla Turner: That’s true.

Chuck Gose: Now around making changes. And you are in an interesting spot having once been a customer of SocialChorus. So let’s talk about that a little bit. What was that experience like working with us now seeing that you’re one of us?

Kyla Turner: It is fun now to be on the other side of it, and it is definitely bringing back those memories, but I mean, that’s one of the reasons why I’m here is when I was with Love’s and we were looking for a way to do exactly that, to connect the operation and connect our frontline employees that were really doing the work day in and day out, that we had a vision for, okay, how do we want this to look? And we want it to be easy for them. We want it to make sure it aligns with our technology needs and just everything we’re doing as an enterprise.

Kyla Turner: And I felt that at that time that SocialChorus and the team, you were on the team that came to talk with us, really just got it. And I think, I mean, that’s what really started that partnership so well is we had this idea of just everyone being able to be a part, more participative communications and conversations, and just connecting everyone on an equal playing field.

Kyla Turner: The team at SocialChorus not only understood that, but also knew where to go with it. And I think that’s one of the most exciting things today. Now I get to be on this side and see that worked then, and then with all of the changes in all of everywhere that we’re going, that just continues to grow. So I mean, yeah, it is it’s three years that just continues to go in a direction of how can we connect, make even more connections? How can we make it easier for communicators to message and to reach every person to reach them where they are and to make sure that everyone just has the same experience no matter where they are within a company?

Chuck Gose: And now that you are on this side, as you shared, what was it that excited you or interested you about not just joining the SocialChorus team, but also joining our team of advisors, AKA the A Team. What was so interesting or what interested you, again, as a career communicator about joining?

Kyla Turner: I think a lot of it is because I have seen the process, I’ve been through the process as a communicator at Love’s, and I’ve seen it work. And I’ve seen it truly make a difference within a company and how connected those employees feel and how much that can align your employees to the bottom line and kind of where that company is set to go. I watched it just come to life at Love’s.

Kyla Turner: And now, to have this opportunity to work with a really talented team of communicators for our A Team, but also, the talented team behind this platform of just being able to design something that works in this way for so many companies, it’s an exciting place to be. It’s an exciting place to look at and say, “Now I’ve seen it work, I would love to go help others make it work in their organization too.” I know that it can and I love it when people are as excited as we have always been to get this started and to watch the transformation happen with their internal comms.

Chuck Gose: So being a new member of the SocialChorus team and having applied and gone through the interview process and all of that, and the company is growing like crazy. We have tons of openings across all parts of the business there, so marketing, product engineering, customer success. What would be your words of encouragement, Kyla, to those who are either thinking of applying for an opportunity at SocialChorus, or perhaps are contemplating an offer to join the team? What would you want to share with them?

Kyla Turner: First of all, I’d say just do it. That would be the best decision you could make. I can’t say enough about how, I mean, this is different from any position I’ve had. As we’ve talked about, I’ve always been on the other side.

Kyla Turner: And so I think coming into this group, the biggest thing I can see is that they value your experience and your perspective on either communications, discipline, or marketing technology. Wherever you end up in this organization, that’s what I see, is that there’s so much support and also respect for what everyone does within this company. It’s a welcoming environment. I’m in week three and I have never had a more robust and welcoming onboarding plan in this journey that I’m in the middle of with SocialChorus. And it’s eyeopening to see, “Oh, wow, if every company did it like this, everyone would be at a really good place with their new hires.” So it’s wonderful to see it on this side and I would just say, I mean, I can’t say anything else other than go for it. It’s a good place to be.

Chuck Gose: Now, I have a very important question next, Kyla.

Kyla Turner: Yes.

Chuck Gose: As someone who was on the podcast very early on and is now back on the podcast, I need to know which was cooler, being on the podcast now twice or being a part of the A Team and the SocialChorus team?

Kyla Turner: You know, this podcast is pretty darn cool and I know I am very fortunate to now have been on here twice, right? And [inaudible 00:00:14:54]. But yeah, I mean, Chuck, this is wonderful, but the full A Team experience and the full SocialChorus team experience, I keep telling everyone it’s like a dream. This is a really cool place to be. Again, if we go back and say for someone who’s contemplating it, just do it. This is-

Chuck Gose: No, that’s absolutely the right answer. You answered correctly on that. I’m thrilled, Kyla, to have you be a part of this. As you mentioned, I had the privilege of working with you while you were at Love’s and the Love’s team. We continue to work with the team at Love’s, but it’s great having you now be a part of this and bringing your career experience in. We all have different stories we share, we all have different building blocks that we bring to a team. And so having you join and Ray Bauknight join, who was on the podcast earlier, only strengthens us as a team of advisors, but perhaps more importantly, as a team at SocialChorus. Because the more experience we have, it only makes us a greater resource to the customers and industry we support out there.

Chuck Gose: Now, next very important question. We’ve spent time talking about culture and we’ve spent time talking about communications. The podcast is called Culture, Comms & Cocktails, and Kyla, to this day, everybody, you have to go back and listen to the fourth episode when Kyla was on. I think she has, at the time, what was the greatest cocktail recommendation. Because not only was it one I had not heard of, but it was very detailed on… You had two options to go get the best version of that cocktail. So you have to go back and listen to find out what that was. It’s worth listening to it. So putting you back on the spot here, Kyla. What is your next cocktail recommendation for the listeners out there?

Kyla Turner: Yeah, I’ve thought about this. And Chuck, this is going to be a big surprise to you. The Diablo, that is still one of my favorites. That has tequila in it. And I’m kind of a tequila connoisseur, but I will tell you this. I’m going to give you my cocktail recommendation of what I’ve been doing lately, especially during this pandemic. It’s called the un-cocktail. I call it the un-cocktail because, I don’t know, I hear this from everyone, but during this pandemic, we all kind of started out having a little more wine with dinner or a cocktail every night and it became kind of a thing. And I got to a point where I was like I don’t even look forward to this anymore. I’m not enjoying it as much.

Kyla Turner: So lately, I’ve been making an un-cocktail, which is a shot of apple cider vinegar over ice, and then you pour in just whatever kind of sparkling water you have, Topo Chico or anything that you have will do, and a squeeze of lemon. And then you can put some, you can put a little sweetener in there if you want because it is pretty sour. I kind of like sour.

Kyla Turner: So I have been drinking apple cider vinegar and sparkling water as my cocktail of choice at night because, I will tell you, it’s good for you. Oh, you have to get the apple cider vinegar, the fancy kind. It’s organic. It has the mother vine in the bottom. Make sure you’re doing that. And I will tell you, they say it’s good for you, and I feel good when I drink that.

Kyla Turner: So I have to share that one because that’s what I’ve been doing lately and it’s wonderful and it’s completely different. And maybe after all of this is over, we’ll go back to drinking Diablos and whatnot on the patio.

Chuck Gose: That might be the most 2020 recommendation for a cocktail-

Kyla Turner: I know.

Chuck Gose: To be the un-cocktail. Now, I will say as someone who has tried the apple cider vinegar shots for health reasons just straight, it’s brutal.

Kyla Turner: No, don’t do that.

Chuck Gose: It’s brutal.

Kyla Turner: No. No, you need the sparkling water. You need the little squeeze of lemon. You need some honey or some sweetener if you want to do it that way too, but you need all of that. And it kind of feels, I mean, you feel like a drinking a cocktail and you can just sip it. And there is something, I actually feel it. I don’t know if it’s in my head, but I feel like I’m doing something good for myself.

Chuck Gose: Well, again, I’m not disappointed in your recommendation, Kyla. It’s so great having you back on the podcast, but more importantly, it is great having you be a part of the SocialChorus team and our team of advisors. Thank you again for taking the time to talk with us.

Kyla Turner: Good to see you, Chuck.

Chuck Gose: If you enjoyed what you heard from this episode and want to check out others, find Culture, Comms & Cocktails on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify or wherever you like to listen. And when you do, hit that subscribe button so you don’t miss any future episodes. This has been Culture, Comms & Cocktails, internal comms served straight up. Thanks for listening.

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SocialChorus is the creator of FirstUp, the platform that makes the digital employee experience work for every worker. Using our powerful orchestration engine, we bring personalized information and systems access to every employee where they are—on any endpoint or device, in any language, anywhere in the world. Whether they’re wired, mobile, frontline, distributed or essential, FirstUp gives employees what they need to do their jobs efficiently, and companies what they need to achieve agility. That’s how we help enterprise customers like Amazon, ABInBev, Ford and GSK continue to transform their businesses.

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