The Rotary Club of Hudson was recently entertained by Jan Gusich, Founder and CEO of Akhia, a Hudson-based strategic communications firm serving major corporate clients in the Cleveland area and internationally. Founded in 1996, Akhia boasts record lengths of client relationships and has been recognized as one of the Top 100 places to work.
Employing a lot of millennials, Gusich explained that workplace culture is critical to hiring and retaining the best and the brightest. Their cultures includes open, honest communication, flexibility for work-life balance, and events that help to create a fun and dynamic workplace. “With Millennials, it’s important to them that they understand the company’s purpose, and their individual role in driving that purpose. They are also interested in both professional and personal development.” Gusich said that an employer has to provide leadership in every endeavor, not just the running of the business. It’s about setting an example and living the company’s values. “These things are required because hiring and retaining good people is the lifeblood of an agency and top task of management,” she said.
Gusich listed the 7 common traits of leaders and entrepreneurs as:
  1. Putting others first and living a humbleness that is inspiring
  2. Fostering integrity and honesty
  3. Having a capacity for compassion, sensitivity and understanding
  4. Ability to bridge big vision and the smallest details
  5. Taking responsibility for your own behavior
  6. Inspiring others to go beyond their preconceived limits
  7. Mental toughness and resilience, especially under pressure
Having built Akhia starting with herself and one other employee, Gusich offered the following five rules of entrepreneurship:
  • It requires passion and purpose about problems that you can solve
  • The harder you work the luckier you get
  • You must be willing to do things that no one else is willing to do
  • Realize that education doesn’t ensure success, though constant learning is a necessity
  • Recognizing that simple is hard
Gusich is planning to transfer majority ownership of the company at the end of this month, but will stay on with the organization in a strategic role. In her new semi-retired role, she will devote her energies to the community and charitable organizations that she has helped guide for many years.
Rotary members are People of Action applying leadership to solve social issues, tackle community challenges and find lasting solutions to the world’s systemic problems.