S4E20: Supporting employees to help them succeed, with Olivier Anton (CEO of Sunshine-Me)

An episode of The Impact Multiplier CEO Podcast

S4E20: Supporting employees to help them succeed, with Olivier Anton (CEO of Sunshine-Me)

Olivier Anton (CEO of Sunshine-Me, a new platform helping enterprises provide employees with tools and services to simplify their personal life) speaks with Xquadrant's Founder Richard Medcalf.

In this conversation, you’ll discover:

  • Why hiring 60 young employees in 6 months changes Olivier's perspective on management forever
  • Why employers should support employees in their personal, not just professional, life
  • How Olivier "went slow to go fast" and the specific simple project he ran that transformed his product and built his sales pipeline.

"Putting fruit in the office doesn't make much difference!"

Click to Tweet

Discover your Executive Productivity Score with our fast 10-question calculator!

Watch

More of a video person? No problem.

You can watch this episode and discover more videos on strategy, leadership and purpose over on the Xquadrant YouTube channel.

Transcript

Richard Medcalf
Today I speak with Olivier Anton, who is the Chief Executive of Sunshine-Me, this is a new platform, which has just been launched. It's really interesting. It's aimed to help employers provide their team their employees with services that simplify their family life, their home life, their parenting, their caregiving and, and many other parts of what it means to juggle family and work and it's really interesting interview with this very interesting entrepreneur, Oliver, he gets into what changed his perspective on the relationship between home life and work life and what he see how he actually divides up the market between those kind of customers who believe what he believes and those who don't quite believe what he believes and as well, we got really into an interesting project that he ran to actually identify and optimize his product and it really changed the way he thought about what he had to deliver and it really built a sales pipeline. So this is really practical advice here from Liddy. So hopefully enjoy this conversation with Olivier Anton.

Richard Medcalf
Hi Olivier, and welcome to the show.

Olivier Anton
Hi Richard, thank you so much for your invitation. I'm glad to be here.

Richard Medcalf
Yeah, it's gonna be fun today. We came in contact with each other through Christopher Traggio, who was also a guest on the podcast a while back and and I asked him, you know, who's the CEO that inspires you? He mentioned you, which is obviously you know, it's always great to hear. I'm going to put you on the spot right away and say, I know it's hard to talk about yourself like that but why do you think Christopher might see you as an inspiring person?

Olivier Anton
Well, it's amazing. It's funny, because I would probably tell his name, also, if I had been inspiring to so well, we've met a few years ago, and I think we've been struggling in with interesting situations in the telco industry and we've achieved some interesting stuff together and that's probably why we call it that.

Richard Medcalf
Well, it's nice. I mean, I know that you worked with him back in Liberty global and but now you're doing really interesting business. Right? You've you've set up your own business called Sunshine-Me a platform.

Olivier Anton
Right.

Richard Medcalf
That's also probably something right about being inspirational, right, is to actually go ahead and build something and created and it sounds like there's a bit of a purpose behind this. Don't just tell the story about what sunshine me is, and you want to go there, right? It's quite different business, from telecoms that you were in a few years.

Olivier Anton
Yeah. So it's why it's quite a long story. Because first I inspired Well, I got inspired by things that I noticed being a manager myself in the past, I was struggling with how to make sure people were efficient in what they were doing. And one of the things I've noticed, most of the time, it's that teams needed a better communication, to understand what they need to do, how they were going to achieve their goals and stuff like that. So for a long time, I've been working on how to make sure everybody understand what they have to do. And after that, I realized that the company the mentality has changed year after year and people first were ready to make a lot of efforts to being successful in their jobs, and they were ready to let everything aside and I would say that now, the main target of people of new generation of people is They want to have a balanced life between job and private life. So and that's that was new. I mean, the first time I've been in front of this situation was in 2011, when I had to hire about 60 Gene why people in about in a few minutes, and I said, well, the different dating different of right or wrong, didn't know that they're just different. And I had to adapt. And after why I said, Well, they're not wrong. It's interesting because they they can be successful and efficient in their job, and still saving some time for privacy and balanced for life. And yeah, so I've been thinking on how can I adapt my management to that end? Make sure we're happy? Yeah. So yes.

Richard Medcalf
Yes, let me just play back a little bit there. So what I heard was that you were, in this phase of trying to recruit 60 People in six months, as you said, and you started to realize that these younger employees had a different approach, which was less kind of purely work driven, and they wanted a balanced life they want they wanted to succeed outside work, as well as inside work, and therefore absent what I understand was a bit of a change in your own approach, which was okay. I can't just try drive them in the same way as before, we're gonna have to manage these people differently.

Olivier Anton
Absolutely, absolutely. And then I realized that we didn't have the tools to do that it because it was totally new. And it was also a mentality that we needed to change in the management teams. So that's when I started thinking differently myself as a manager.

Richard Medcalf
Okay, can I say a couple of things about that? I mean, actually, I think it's interesting, because often people say, oh, you know, the younger generations are different? Well, partly in a way, but for me, it's actually that we've created a different environment. And in other words, there's the same level of job security as there was, there isn't the promise of a big pension payout in the way there was, and so forth. Right. And therefore, I think the response, you know, a generation later from all those changes is okay, well, you know, there isn't that same equation before, perhaps of putting your head down for a few years, and getting to a stage where you feel I'm comfortable, and I'm safe, and, you know, the different world. And so people say, Well, I'm not going to kind of invest, you know, for some into a company for 10 years, who they might well sack me after five, you know, product acquisition, or, you know, it's gonna be downsized, or the company's gonna get bought, or the markets gonna change. And so I think it's got to, it's not just, people are different, in some ways, just that they've had to respond to a new set of events. And I think the question you're asking is, how, as a manager, do we respond to that? And actually create a new contract? If you like,

Olivier Anton
Yes. Because behind that, we needed also to make sure what you create engagement? And how can you create engagement when you when when the people you are managing know that after? Between two and five years, they will probably change? Yes. And so it was quite difficult at first. And so, yeah, I felt it as probably kind of transfer of experience adapted to a new environment. And you right? When I first became manager in 20, in the 2000s, the tools were not the same, were not working the same way. And the management, my managers were different also. Basically, you had to do the things right. If you didn't, then you were losing your job, which is still about right today, but not as often as then. And yeah, we we definitely had to adapt to this new mentality and two things into to set up new levers to make sure people were happy at work and in their private life. 

Richard Medcalf
Okay, so you've got that situation we need to create these new levers, these new tools to help people be happy at home and at work. So how did that lead to the creation of sunshine me? What's the story? You know, what, how did that happen?

Olivier Anton
Well, we wanted to help companies make their very impressed successful and thinking about that we said what's in the entire lifecycle of an employee? When do they struggle the most? And what kind of impact does it have on their performance? And we said, well, at the beginning of of a career, first, you have to learn a lot. And then you, many of them get married, they have kids. And that's a huge moment of distraction. Because it's for sick baby, a lot of things can happen that will probably make them sometimes less performant. So we said, well, maybe we should have few services around that, for that particularly, barrier to make sure based they can focus on what they have to do and feel comfortable, but what is going on at home. So that's how we started.

Richard Medcalf
Okay, so we built some services around parenthood, what kind of things were they?

Olivier Anton
Well, finding childcare solutions, Education Solutions, also some very particular disease that kids can have an way that parents were not prepared for, and that this kind of stuff can be, can take a lot over time and generate a lot of stress. So we want them to we want to save them time and have them get oriented to the solutions.

Richard Medcalf
Okay, so childcare, education, health from that kind of thing. Okay, this thing, yeah. Okay, so perfect. So that's how you kind of get going and then you've expanded from that point, right? You now...

Olivier Anton
Yes, because we said, well, after this particular period, employees get older, and then they are facing over different difficulties. Sometimes their parents get older and are losing their autonomy. So they become caregivers, or well, many, and many different things can happen, but that would disturb the career. And so again, we we, we said, we need to make sure the employer can have a tool in place that can face a lot of these situations. And it's difficult for employer because that there are so many different situation that happened. So we thought that it was our role to make it simpler. And also to make to make it easier to to forecast as in a cost perspective, because they needed to understand how much it's going to cost and how the ROI of the entire thing. So this is why in a way that sat down helped us because we needed to solve this, this this stuff about what price do we have to propose for companies? And what do we have to propose as as a service to make sure this is going to be efficient? Okay, this is why sorry, yeah.

Richard Medcalf
Let me interrupt and just make sure I got the story so far. Right. So you started with parenthood, you then expanded to caregivers. And then you started to think about, okay, how do we go to companies and give them visibility on their costs? Right, and make sure we're giving them the services that they need? Yeah, right. I make sure that we've got the right bundle here. Because it you know, you could do everything right. Yeah. Right. So. So yeah, just take us on that last bit of the story. Right. So how did you go from kind of having this initial little subset of activities to this full featured platform that I know you're actually announcing? Kind of randomly it's today, right, that you're making a big announcement around it? So that wasn't planned? But yeah, how did you kind of get to that stage where you've got something where you've really tested out and proved in the market something.

Olivier Anton
Oh, first, we interviewed a lot of HR directors we made eight interviews in 2021, to make sure that we were thinking right, and that the issues were that we were addressing were the one that they were expecting, and that's how we enlarge the services with our inputs. And first, we wanted to have a main direction that was we need to propose concrete solutions rather than nice to have stuff like fruits in the office or stuff like that. That's nice. It doesn't really bring the concrete solution to a higher today. The big problem. So this is how we selected our first services. And then we felt that it needed to be cheap. And to bring a lot of value. Cheap, because it's easier to make a decision if it doesn't cost so much. And brings a lot of value. And so the main direction was, we want to set up a platform, we've won only fair and make in this platform, we help you make your employees successful.

Richard Medcalf
Got it. Okay, so you interviewed at HR directors to really understand what they needed.

Olivier Anton
Absolutely.

Richard Medcalf
Right and to provide that right and then that's it, because that's quite that's we took quite a while that process, right?

Olivier Anton
Yeah. Yeah. It was a huge job. In some days, we were able to interview five different HR directors in the same day, which I've never done before. I mean, it was really an interesting period, because they were very difficult to get to when we wanted to sell them. Services. But as for interviews, and when we needed to get their reactions in boots, they were quite generous. So that was interesting.

Richard Medcalf
Yeah, absolutely. So, looking back, how important were those interviews? Could you just get the response?

Olivier Anton
Oh no, well, at first, we thought that we would only have five or six interviews with HR director. So we sent a few invitations, but all of them responses were answered positively. So we that's why we kept on in sending invitations and depending on their activities, the answers were different and depending on their population, the qualifications that where they were geographically, veiling the different things. So this is how we fought that really to keep them going and to be sure we will complete at the end.

Richard Medcalf
Yeah, yeah, that's perfect. I think this idea of actually talking with customers and making the effort. It's obvious, right, but often doesn't happen. So I want to make a challenge to listeners, right. Like, when was the last time you interviewed, you know, even eight of your customers, let alone 80? Right. Yeah, who is it that you can talk to, to actually hear what the current frustrations and challenges are of your customers? It's a fantastic point.

Olivier Anton
Yeah, it's it's a big learning for us, too, because it came as a surprise. We didn't learn that. And I would say half of product was set up with him. So that that, and it's it is a strength still today, when we approach new customers and say, well, we've been building this with 80 HR directors. Yes. That's that that gives this strong. Argument.

Richard Medcalf
A couple of questions for you. It'd be the first one is, yeah. Isn't this being too paternalistic? Right. You know, some people might say, Well, shouldn't employees who want to be successful take responsibility for that? Right. You know, should you know, should they be waiting for their company to give her everything on a plate? Yeah, there's a respond to that.

Olivier Anton
That's, that's a very interesting point, because that helps us sort the companies in two categories. One, considering it's not the job to interfere into so much privacy because sometimes we deal about intimacy with when you bring support for a kid, that's a sick kid or stuff like that and for those who already think that they know that employees now accept that their employer cares about this kind of off stuff, but in both cases, that the target is the same way they the main objective is to make sure that as a team, they perform better and to perform better. There's a lot of conditions to gather and make sure that they have someone to rely on When they're facing difficulties that they can't talk to so many people, for many reasons, is is a very strong argument as an employer, and the fact that we are referred party, and the employer doesn't have to know about all the details that we are taking care of out, is also strong thing because they they feel comfortable talking with experts that we have put them through and still they are acknowledging that it still thinks to their employer that they are getting this so...

Richard Medcalf
Yeah, this is like even benefits where I mean, so you know, even if you believe that it's not really your job, you might still say, Well, if pragmatically, this frees up time for my employees so that they can spend more time doing their job, that's a good thing. Or if it reduces attrition, you know, because people don't want to leave, because they've got these nice benefits, then those are all visible kind of mercenary approaches, but they would still they're still valuable, valid, right?

Olivier Anton
And one of the good question, during these eight interviews will, how far? Do you think it's relevant or consistent for you as a company to go right and pay for these services? And when do you think it should be your employee. And this is how also we, we finalize, and put the, the limit of this is taken care of by your company, and the rest, you have to pay for it.

Richard Medcalf
Got it. So I know you've been doing this for you know, a couple of years now, you know, you founded the company, you've been building it up and you've just launched this this new platform for companies to offer these services to their employees. What's been the what's been the hardest challenge for you personally, as as a founder and CEO?

Olivier Anton
You mean, in this particular experience?

Richard Medcalf
Yeah. What's been Yeah, what's been your stretch, right? And you've had, you know, what have you had to learn about yourself? or what have you had to kind of manage as you've gone through that learning for you?

Olivier Anton
Well, I'd say, probably, that's it, it's not enough to have the right birth, you also need to meet a lot of customers to make sure that they are ready to use it. And even if, even if you're able to meet a lot of people, then they still have to convince internally that they do have something very good. So we've been working also on how to bring clues that we were doing something relevant and efficient. So this is why we did a lot, also an administration part in the platform for HR so that they can follow some statistics and get elements to prove that they were doing the right thing.

Richard Medcalf
Yeah, yeah. Right. So especially when you're doing a business to business sale, right. It's not just about convincing the buyers and opposite view is giving them the tools to do your sales job internally, right. Absolutely. complex organization.

Olivier Anton
Absolutely. Yeah. And to be and to complete, probably my answer. You can be a good thinker. You can be strategically efficient on learning the information about market that it's another thing to get to customers prospect and ask for interviews and so on. So for that I was lucky enough to have a partner who's better than I am in this car. And the two of us probably are making it We're globally. 

Richard Medcalf
Yeah, but fantastic. So at least this is a great subject, right of setting up the environment to make you employee successful. I mean, I think it's, it happens in so many levels, right, you know, you can do it within the processes and systems within your company. But then there's all these other distractions in complicated lives, which I think it's really interesting to see, to see this this angle, and also then the within that this deeper level of the sales process of actually doing the hard work, talking to customers, that's not the fastest way to build a product, right? Because you've got to have all those conversations and set them up and reach out. But you get that depth of insight, and you build relationships at the same time. You're also valuable. So why don't we kind of switch over and let's just do a few quickfire questions before we wrap up? And because, you know, as somebody who's running a business has been had leadership roles, you know, I know you've been hundreds and hundreds of people in previous roles. I think it's interesting to get your insights, what's a favorite quote of yours that inspires you or or shapes? You?

Olivier Anton
I would say probably, it's an Italian one can a piano? Yes. pasado en la sala Voluntown. I mean, it's, for me, it means that it's important to build on Rob spaces, rather than aiming to grow fast. And I, I appreciate that, that I think it's wise to make sure you have the Solomon fundamental in place before before.

Richard Medcalf
Put foundations down, right. Yeah. built on sand. Yeah, yeah, it's great one. And so it was always a difficulty, right? You have this desire often to go fast. 

Olivier Anton
But does everyone see well, you can go fast, faster doing this and this and this. But I think we need to test and learn. It's still a brand new product and brand new environment. So we want to make sure it's sufficient before. growing too fast. We have a few, a couple of customers who asked us to go with them. Well, who asked us if we were going to be able to go with them in the UK, in Germany and Spain. And obviously, we want to that we want to make sure before that we have the right product to go. So maybe we'll do that in 2022 Maybe next year. And then Oh, yeah.

Richard Medcalf
Right. Yeah. Fantastic. What about a favorite app? What's you know, what's, what's an app on your phone, which gives you competitive advantage or efficiency or product? To smile?

Olivier Anton
Well, I'm probably surprising that one of them is caffeine. It's, it's a press release. So it's, I can get access to any newspaper I want in within a single application. And it's something I use a lot because I think it's very inspiring.

Richard Medcalf
What's that called? Again? I didn't catch it.

Olivier Anton
Cafeyn. So Cafeyn and obviously, you can meet zoom also about that size. We use that everyday, it's probably saved us.

Richard Medcalf
Absolutely. What about what about a book, what's what's the book that's really influenced you as a leader?

Olivier Anton
Um,I think the one book that I read that really inspired me as I would say, as a manager, was lacto. The system from Michel cosy. That was when I was a student, and his size sociologist, and I think he's made an impressive work about understanding how people were interacting, and how to manage that and that was probably a key book that I've read.

Richard Medcalf
What advice would you give your 20 year old self?

Olivier Anton
Probably, what I would probably give my 20 year old self to advice is first learn the language. Because it's an even if I'm quite not too bad in it. I still need technical to explain what we can what it comes to when I want to do something so it's, it's something I regret, and go abroad as soon as you can and learn from friend people.

Richard Medcalf
Great advice. Yep, yeah, the IT language is making me think yes, I was. I was reading my my son's book, you know, my young son's book about learning Python the other day, so I'm trying to catch him up. Finally, I guess apart from Christopher, you know, who's an impactful CEO, you know, who you know who you know, who could be another great guest for future episode, you know, who inspires you?

Olivier Anton
Personally? Who?

Richard Medcalf
Yeah, probably. Somebody like that, or somebody that you'd recommend? Yeah. I mean, um, you know? Yeah, I'd ask you.

Olivier Anton
Well, first as people that are out, I mean, Bella, who is, for example, very inspiring CEO, because he, I think he's very good in decision making, and very consistent in making the right decisions. So it's, for me, it's, I compare performing CEOs to sports people, the high level is to be consistent, year after year in performance, so and so about, I don't think about someone I personally know really, probably my friend, Lohan, forsale, who was sharing the adventure and co founded one on a to Onyx in 2005. Was very, is still very inspiring for me. And I use him as a partner, sparring partner to sometimes to to help me think about what's, what are the next steps?

Richard Medcalf
So what's what's what do you find inspiring about about him? What's his you know, what's strange, just interesting to think about, you know, what is it and people who inspire it? That's my after question.

Olivier Anton
For me because we have different way of thinking, I would say, I'm a salesman, and VO, originally, so I can easily think about how to manage salespeople, how they're going to react to this kind of stuff, and so on. When he is a communication, man. So he thinks about product is about how to bring a product to market and this is the first and not how we're going to sell it. So together we we had interesting discussions and then.

Richard Medcalf
Yeah, no, perfect. Yeah. Often we need those different views just to triangulate on on on the way forward to finally review. What's next right? What's next for essentially me? What's the kind of would you love to see happen in the next couple of years with that?

Olivier Anton
Well, we what we would like to happen is that we would like to become reference in in our domestic market in France, and make sure that a lot of companies are using us. And for that, we've, we still think that we need to keep on thinking about what's going to strengthen our our products, and make sure we are really thinking about everything we can on this life, cycle four for HR, and make sure we have an answer to all the D distractions that can happen during this life cycle.

Richard Medcalf
Okay, so you want to become that, yeah, to create that reference. Within within the French market. I know you didn't said perhaps expand broader and that over the next 12 to 24 months as well. What's going to what's going What are you going to need to do differently, right, this is a question I love because the when we want to multiply an impact, you know, we always hit our own limits, right? We always come up against the way we always do things. And we get a certain level of result. I'm always interested in, what's the shift going to need to be to move you to a new level of result. Right. So what's your personal challenge as you...

Olivier Anton
Well? Yeah. I think that the difficult path Well, the step is to move from 10 to 15 employees to 4050. It's because you have to adapt your processes, split the work differently between people today, a lot of people are doing different tasks, many tasks. And when you move to a big a larger organization, you have to reorganize all that and right Sometimes you have to change people because they're not interested in doing less things and so on. So it's, it's, it's a difficult transition. So that's probably the biggest difficulty we'll have in front of us.

Richard Medcalf
And what will be your specific challenge within that?

Olivier Anton
My specific challenge will be to decide when we will move to hire, to hire more people, and do that change, because it's a decision that depends on on the means that we have. And so when are we going to be ready to invest? So much money to move to the next level? It's a risk also.

Richard Medcalf
Yeah, perfect. So let's wrap up. If people want to find out more about you, or about Sunshine-Me, you know, where do they go? As I say, I think it's really interesting platform and I'm sure you will be interested in finding out where?

Olivier Anton
Obviously, our websites sunshine-me.fr where we can find a lot of information about the product itself, even if we wouldn't be able to save a platform because it's only for customers and obviously, they can reach me on my LinkedIn profile, which is totally open, they can get my even my phone number.

Richard Medcalf
Perfect. Well, Olivier, it's been great, really interesting talking to you. I know you're relatively early stages of the business, but I think I've loved this. Yeah, this this this holistic view, right? Thinking about employees and thinking about what does it take to make them successful and to free them up for doing what they need to be doing? And then this kind of insight into the b2b sales process? Right? I know, you're, you're targeting some pretty large companies at times, not always, but they're all at a reasonable size and some of them are very large and the way that you kind of took a slightly different approach to getting it right, right, laying the firm foundations, doing the interviews, having the conversations and adjusting your value proposition. So I think these been some really fantastic insights. Thank you for sharing them with us today.

Olivier Anton
Thank you appreciate it. It was very interesting experiences.

Richard Medcalf
And all the best of the future. Thanks Olivier. 

**Note: This transcript is automatically generated.
Please excuse any errors.

Beyond the podcast...

Once you've subscribed to the podcast, why not go deeper and subscribe to the Xquadrant Insider?

This is our complementary email newsletter that focuses on multiplying value and impact at the intersection of leadership, strategy and purpose.  Originally designed for our private clients, we've made this available to a wider audience of high-achieving and purpose-driven leaders.


More from The Impact Multiplier CEO Podcast...

S8E15: A hub that attracts top tech talent, with Jason Wojahn (CEO, Thirdera)

S8E15: A hub that attracts top tech talent, with Jason Wojahn (CEO, Thirdera)

S8E14: Maintaining agility in a 6000-person business, with Cahê Kuczera Toporowicz (EVP, Amaris Consulting)

S8E14: Maintaining agility in a 6000-person business, with Cahê Kuczera Toporowicz (EVP, Amaris Consulting)

S8E13: Inspiring the team as you scale into 30 markets, with Timo Buetefisch (CEO, Cooltra)

S8E13: Inspiring the team as you scale into 30 markets, with Timo Buetefisch (CEO, Cooltra)

S8E12: Becoming co-CEO, with Matthias Berlit (CEO, Inform GmbH)

S8E12: Becoming co-CEO, with Matthias Berlit (CEO, Inform GmbH)

S8E11: Bringing specific vision to a business, with Silke Zschweigert (CEO, Jonckers)

S8E11: Bringing specific vision to a business, with Silke Zschweigert (CEO, Jonckers)

S4E21: Finding what’s next, with Evan Sohn (CEO, Recruiter.com)

S4E21: Finding what’s next, with Evan Sohn (CEO, Recruiter.com)
{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}
>