IAM1716 – Founder Helps Companies Improve Their Hiring Practices

Podcast Interview with Hilliary Turnipseed

Why it was selected for “CBNation Architects”: Hilliary's approach and the impact in the work that she does is extremely valuable especially because we are all in the people business. She creates a more inclusive hiring process and helps to support organizations in attracting and also in creating an environment where employees and candidates can flourish.

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Hilliary Turnipseed Teaser 00:00

I'm a big fan of Judge Judy. I've grown up with her. I just think that she's just the smartest human being in the world. But she says this phrase if something doesn't make sense, it's usually not true. And that allows me really from a day to day to continue to try to separate kinds of facts from feelings.

Intro 00:19

Are you ready to hear business stories and learn effective ways to build relationships, generate sales, and level up your business from awesome CEOs, entrepreneurs, and founders without listening to a long, long, long interview? If so, you've come to the right place. Gresh values your time and is ready to share with you the valuable info you're in search of.

This is the I AM CEO podcast.

Gresham Harkless 00:46

Hello, hello, hello. This is Gresh from the I AM CEO podcast and I appreciate you listening to this episode. If you've been listening this year, you know that we hit 1600 episodes at the beginning of this year. We're doing something a little bit different where we are repurposing our favorite episodes around certain categories, topics, or as I like to call them, business pillars that we think are going to be extremely impactful for CEOs, entrepreneurs, and business owners, and what I like to call the CB nation architects who are looking to level up their organizations

This month we are focused on technology. We're a technology company that does dot, dot, dot. Technology is no longer an afterthought or something that you might do and is actually a core part of your business. If you are a real estate investor, you're using it. If you're a financial firm, if you're a cleaning company, an author, or speaker, you are using technology. If you are in any business, you are using technology, and if you're not, then you're probably going to be disrupted by an organization that is.

So this month we are going to look into purposing episodes that are around technology, whether that be firms or organizations that are actually using and investing in technology as a core part of their products and services or potentially those individuals that are using and leveraging CEO hacks and CEO nuggets that center around technology and sharing ways that we can leverage it as well. Remember that you are a technology company that does dot, dot, dot. Sit back and enjoy this special episode of the I AM CEO podcast.

Hello, hello, hello. This is Gresh from the I AM CEO podcast and I have a very special guest on the show today. I have Hillary Turnipseed of Hill Street Strategies. Hillary, it's great to have you on the show.

Hilliary Turnipseed 02:17

Thanks for having me.

Gresham Harkless 02:19

Super excited to have you on, and before we jumped into the interview, I wanted to read a little bit more about Hillary so you can hear about all the awesome things that she's doing. Hillary is the founder of Hill Street Strategies, and she is an experienced talent acquisition leader with a deep background in early-stage technology, startups, and social impact organizations. She seamlessly integrates diversity, equity, and inclusion strategies into our client's needs with an emphasis on improving team performance and creating frameworks for meaningful employee engagement.

She takes a strength-based human design approach to identifying and retaining top talent. And I love everything that Hillary's doing because diversity, equity, and inclusion is something that is necessary, I think, for businesses and at least the very least to be aware of. So I love the work that you do Hillary.

Super excited to have you on the show. Are you ready to speak to the I AM CEO community?

Hilliary Turnipseed 03:03

Absolutely. Thank you again for having me.

Gresham Harkless 03:06

Super excited. And before we jumped into what you do, I wanted to rewind the clock a little bit, and hear a little bit more on how you got started, what I call your CEO story.

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Hilliary Turnipseed 03:13

Yeah, so my background has always been in talent acquisition. I had been a recruiter since, honestly, my first job out of school once I graduated from college. So it definitely wasn't anything that I went to school for, but it was a happy accident and I've been hooked ever since. About probably four or five years ago, I got bit by the startup bug and really was able to get that seat at the table and really see how companies are built and maintained and how they scale.

After helping a company go from roughly 30 to about 150, I realized that I could cut and do this on my own too, and take a lot of my learnings and best practices and frameworks to other organizations that are using technology to really make an impact. So, that's how I got started into the journey of Hill Street Strategies and really taking all of those best practices and really working with other founders and leaders at various stages in their journey, in their company growth and scaling, and really helping them build more consciously inclusive hiring practices because it is not a pipeline problem. I believe it's fundamentally a people problem.

Gresham Harkless 04:31

Awesome, awesome, awesome. And so, I know you touched a little on it a little bit and how you work. Could you tell us a little bit more on how that process goes and how exactly you support the clients you work with?

Hilliary Turnipseed 04:39

Yeah, so, in my experience in working with large organizations and small, it's riddled with the whole decision of how to hire, what you need, and what questions to ask. It's really more of a reactive sort of process. And in that sense, I often see a lot of unconscious and I think conscious bias that really impacts the ability to really stretch outside of your comfort zone and hire. What makes you uncomfortable as opposed to comfortable in terms of I think we tend to hire folks who remind us of us or come from a trusted network as a way to really activate quickly, make decisions quickly, and also be really comfortable with that. And so, my philosophy is, hey, before you even get to the point where you need to hire, you need to scale.

Let's take a step back and really think about as a leader, how do you want your employees to feel. How do you want to empower them? How do you want your workplace operating philosophies and values to really be defined so that way when you bring on anyone, regardless of how they're designed, they can really focus on why they were brought in, to begin with and really be leveraged for their strengths in order to be able to do that. What I do is I really take each hiring manager or founder through the process of really articulating those must-haves versus those nice to haves and creating a structure that's very fair and equitable, but also diverse enough in terms of the questions that you're asking and the processes in which you go through the assessment process.

That way, regardless of how a person is, whether they're the loudest person in the room or suffer from imposter syndrome or a lot of underestimated talent, I think really suffer from it. It's really about assessing the candidate for who they are, what makes them, as opposed to this sort of one way, just join a process where it's like this is the need and we're viewing you based on the task at hand, as opposed to the human behind the person that's actually delivering the work.

So it's definitely a process of self-awareness, and self-advocacy. But what I really do is ask those tougher, more uncomfortable questions and then create some policies and also philosophies to really set the team up for long-term, scalable success.

Gresham Harkless 07:08

Nice. I definitely appreciate that and I know the organizations do as well too because this might lead into what I was gonna ask, like your secret sauce the thing you feel sets you apart and makes you unique. Is it that ability to be as you said, an advisor or even a partner to the organization, not just checking a box, but making sure that person can come in and hit the ground running and make that impactful change.

Do you feel like that's what kind of sets you apart and make you unique?

Hilliary Turnipseed 07:28

I think it's a part of it. I'm definitely not one to just come from a place of always, yes, I feel like you're hiring me for my expertise and so you will get my opinion, my informed opinion, whether you wanna take it or not, as a business leader, that is definitely a prerogative, but I definitely I think I'm hired for a lot of my transparency.

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But what I think sets me apart is that I really try to balance the company's needs and the candidate's needs, and sometimes lean a little bit more into more of a candidate advocate approach because a lot of my workforce and a lot of the community work that I do, especially in tech, is really about elevating those underestimated voices and really making sure that I can help companies create a more fair, inclusive, and equitable hiring process where they can realize that there are incredible senior-level female engineers and people of color that are out there.

It's just a matter of do you know where to look and do you know how to articulate your employer brand in a way where you can really showcase why someone would want to work for you and with you as opposed to another organization because it is highly competitive out there. I think the expertise that I bring a little bit more so is really that knowledge of what candidates are really looking for ultimately, when assessing a new opportunity and really being able to translate that into kind of more business needs and more objectives just because of the community work that I do.

Gresham Harkless 09:03

Absolutely appreciate that. I wanted to switch gears a little bit, and I wanted to ask you for what I call a CEO hack. So this could be like an app, a book, or a habit that you have, but what's something that makes you more effective and efficient?

Hilliary Turnipseed 09:15

So I am a firm believer that the more self-aware you are the more you can have an impact. I am in the people business ultimately, and so it is my job to really understand human behavior and human design and adapt myself to those different types of design to really make sure that I get my point across.

This is where a little bit of the woo will come out in me. But I'm a big believer in looking up your human design and doing that self-work of really understanding what you need as an individual, as a leader to not only survive, but to thrive, to then be able to define and articulate the types of people that you need to surround yourself with in order to make sure that you're removing any blockers or blind spots, but also you can really be articulate and really explaining and defining what you want and what you need in order to be set up for success.

I think that ineffective communication is really a leader in why things really fail and don't work. And so if you take the time to look up your human design chart and really start that process of your unique human design and skill, I think ultimately that will just help you show up more conscious in sort of your work and life. And I mentioned that because there are a lot of personality assessments that are out there. But what people fail to realize is that those answers and responses actually change over the course of your career and where you are in your life, but your human design will never change.

That's always been a great kind of north star and grounding force for me to really validate the feelings that I'm having and then also helping me come up with different solutions to really combat any blockers that I might be experiencing because of that.

Gresham Harkless 11:00

I want to ask you now for what I call a CEO Nugget. So this could be a word of wisdom or a piece of advice. It might be something you would tell a client, or if you hopped into a time machine, you might tell your younger business self.

Hilliary Turnipseed 11:10

So, this is just a little bit more about me, I'm a big fan of Judge Judy. I've grown up with her. I just think that she's just the smartest human being in the world. She says this phrase “If something doesn't make sense, it's usually not true” That allows me really from a day-to-day to continue to try to separate kind of facts from feelings, whether it's, overcoming imposter syndrome or really trying to figure it out. You have two sides to every story and then the truth.

That's always been another kind of grounding mechanism for me in terms of how to activate. And so that kind of internal kind of gut feeling, I usually ask myself like, does this make sense for me to really activate it? So that's my little nugget.

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Gresham Harkless 11:54

Yeah. I absolutely love that nugget. And I think, so many times we can go against I guess that intuition and thing that we think so many times, but, if you have that, understanding of that, then it's a really good exercise. I love the visual of having Judge Judy saying it as well too. I think that hits the nail on the head for sure.

Hilliary Turnipseed 12:10

You listen to her.

Gresham Harkless 12:10

Yes, I can actually hear her saying that, which I think definitely, hammers at home for sure. I wanted to ask you now my absolute favorite question, which is the definition of what it means to be a CEO and we're hoping to have different quote and quote, CEOs on this show.

So, Hillary, what does being a CEO mean to you?

Hilliary Turnipseed 12:26

Being a CEO means really taking control of your life and what you've defined it as, not what someone else has defined it for you.

Gresham Harkless 12:40

Absolutely love that. I think so many times we forget that we have the ability to be able to do that, to create our own lane, create our own world, and create the change we even hope to see in the world. And I think when you start to lean into that, you understand that then it's an extremely powerful place to be.

Hilliary Turnipseed 12:54

Yeah. If you're gonna be at the top, it's because it's your input, your unique human design that is supposed to be there. And so if you mute yourself, you're doing everyone a disservice.

Being at the top really commands that level of self-awareness and self-advocacy, but also really holding onto that authentic truth because I see a lot of decisions being made, especially at the top where it's based less on kind of that gut intuition and more about what they think other people want will make them happy. But that's often misinformed. And I see a lot more assumptions being made than actual direct conversation.

Gresham Harkless 13:37

Yeah, absolutely. And actually what was coming to my mind is the responsibility as a leader especially too, and having the impact that CEOs can have on business owners, entrepreneurs, startup founders, whatever title it might be. At the end of the day, there's a responsibility because of the impact that you can have to take those steps and be cognizant of that.

Awesome. Well, Hillary, truly appreciate that definition and I appreciate your time even more. What I wanted to do is just pass you the mic, so to speak, just to see if there's anything additional that you can let our readers and listeners know, and of course, how best they can get ahold of you and find about all the awesome things you're working on.

Hilliary Turnipseed 14:08

Thank you so much. This was a great chat and anyone out there can definitely learn more about me and what I do through my website, And feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn and Twitter and for those underestimated founders out there, I'm specifically talking to women and women of color if you haven't picked it up already.

There's an incredible book called The Memo Securing Seat at the Table by Minda Hartz, and that is a book that I recommend every woman of color to read, but also from an ally-ship standpoint. I think it's just a great read overall and the Black Woman's response to Cheryl Sandberg's lean-in, and it's definitely in this new normal that we're in terms of really understanding how to make workplace cultures more equitable.

It's a book that I think everyone should pick up.

Gresham Harkless 15:01

Nice. I definitely appreciate that. We will definitely have the links and information below, for your site and also for that book as well too, so that people can follow up and read about it and learn about it. I love how we talked about like that two-way street and how it's so important that we have conversations, we have actions, and we have all of those things and awareness as well too, towards creating this change.

And I appreciate you for of course doing that, reminding us of how important that is and I hope you have a phenomenal rest of the day.

Outro 15:26

Thank you for listening to the I AM CEO podcast, powered by CB Nation and Blue 16 media. Tune in next time and visit us at I AM CEO is not just a phrase, it's a community. Get your driven CEO gear at

This has been the I AM CEO podcast with Gresham Harkless, Jr. Thank you for listening.


Dave Bonachita - CBNation Writer

This is a post from a CBNation team member. CBNation is a Business to Business (B2B) Brand. We are focused on increasing the success rate. We create content and information focusing on increasing the visibility of and providing resources for CEOs, entrepreneurs and business owners. CBNation consists of blogs(, podcasts, ( and videos ( CBNation is proudly powered by Blue16 Media.

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