Jason Banuski, HR One

During this episode of Driving Leadership, Bill Berthel is with Jason Banuski of HR One, a full-service HR and Payroll firm based in Syracuse NY. Jason and Bill discuss the pleasure and honor they both have in serving all types and sizes of businesses in Central New York and how special it is to be a part of this unique community of caring business owners and leaders.


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*Note: The following text is the output of transcribing from an audio recording. Although the transcription is largely accurate, in some cases may be incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors



[00:00:00] Bill: This week on Driving Leadership, I have a special guest, Jason Banuski of HR one. I know you’re gonna want to tag along this.

You know, not that, I mean, I guess at the end of the day, work is a four-lettered word, but I think we can have fun with it.

[00:00:35] Jason: Yeah. Well, you we’re both familiar with the adage, find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life. Exactly. And it’s really hard when you’re younger to figure out what that’s going to be.

Through the work that I do, I actually have opportunities to speak into college graduates that are getting their first jobs. I do some business etiquette training for them. What’s it, what’s it gonna be like to be in an office all day or to go visit clients? Right? And many of these people have no idea what they want to do, say for the next 45 years of their career.

[00:01:05] Bill: Well, I think it’s an incredible time in our life to make such a. Decision. I think it’s a time of discovery. Yes. Not decision. Yes. And that, I mean, some, some people I’m projecting a little bit, I wasn’t one of those people. Some people know what they want to do when they grow up or want to be right. And I cherish that.

And others need more of a discovery process, right?

[00:01:28] Jason: Yeah. Well I can tell you for me, I was not one of those people. I thought I was gonna be an elementary school teacher. So I went to college to do that. And both my parents are entrepreneurs. Own their own businesses. And they were influencing me to say, you know, teaching right now, it’s gonna be difficult to find a job.

Why don’t you look into business? And then I discovered at Brockport where I went to college, there was an international business and economics degree program, but you had to spend a semester abroad. So I, I really felt like I came back, a different person, more confident. I finished my degree and I started my career in sales.

And I think so many people, In sales, they’re saying, well, you know, I, I don’t know if management or marketing or those things are right or accounting, I don’t know how to balance a balance sheet, so let me see what I can do in sales. And it just worked out so well for me. In fact, the first job I had, I was selling long distance to people during dinnertime.

[00:02:26] Bill: Is that right?

[00:02:27] Jason: I was one of those annoying guys calling and interrupting, but I knew, I knew what I was selling and I knew what our rate was. And all I would do is just ask is, do you know what you’re paying for long distance? And if somebody. Know and say, well then, you know, enjoy your dinner you’re evening and hang up the phone real fast.

But if somebody told me, and I knew that our service was less expensive, then I would tell them that and I would say, in the next two minutes, you know, stay with me on the phone and we can get you converted and you can save money. Right. So it was identifying what their situation was and if I could improve it, then I wanted to engage in a business relationship.

Yes. And if I could not, I wanted to just stay away. And that really helped me thank them. And that’s it. Well, I also learned in that I. To a hundred nos to get one. Yes. Yeah. So, you know, you get to that thing in early in sales. And then from there I ended up getting a job with a software company in Symantec, and they’re an international company and they gave me a job offer to move across the country.

Okay. So I’m sleeping on a futon at a buddy’s place in Rochester, and I get this job offer it’s full benefits and stock options. They doubled my pay, they gave me a relocation check, and then my dad called one day. And he said, would you consider moving back to upstate New York to come work in our family business?

So I’m an early morning riser. It’s okay. Even on vacation, it’s 6:00 AM I go down to the lobby in this gorgeous hotel in, in Yellowstone, and I’m waiting for the coffee to be brewed. And this gentleman that came down that had a lot more gray hair than I did, came down as well, and we started talking. Okay.

He was a family business coach. Oh, no kidding. And here I am moving my family across the country. Mm-hmm. To. In my family business. Wow. And it was, there’s been many moments, but I feel like God just kind of put this person in my path. Yeah. Yeah. To give me advice. And I learned a few things from it. The first thing is this, the value of coaching and somebody that has more experience than you, and just being smart enough to listen to them and heed their advice.

And so he gave me all these great tips about coming into my family business. One of the things he said to me, bill, he said, when you come into your family business, don’t change. Just be a sponge, just absorb what’s going on and find out how did things come to be this way. So joining my family business HR one, and I know that you’re familiar with us, that we do human resource consulting and we have a payroll service, and we work in over 500 organizations throughout upstate New York and just meet so many great business owners and people.

Well, for the first 10 years I worked in sales and I worked as a consultant. Okay. And I had no leadership responsibility. I. Until I was ready and I felt that my dad was ready and the business was ready to make that commitment to really be the succession plan in the business to perpetuate it forward.

And we’re never done growing. We’re never done by Oh, not, you know, we, we have to be lifelong leaders. Yeah. Or sorry, lifelong learners as leaders. Both of those, yeah. Yeah. Lifelong leaders. And lifelong leaders. Yeah. Absolutely. Go hand in hand. But we’re, you know, look, I, I read books and I listen to podcasts and I attend seminars and I engage.

Chain. That’s awesome because I can only take my company as far as I know how to take it. Yeah. In fact, I’ll share with you something interesting that I’ve been doing the last five years. There’s a payroll company that’s 10 times our size. Okay. And they’re down in Charlotte, North Carolina, Uhhuh every year.

And they’re so gracious. But I go down and I spend three or four days with them, and I go through all of their different operations and what they’re doing and running an organization 10 times my size so I can Brilliant strategies, Jason. That’s brilliant. Yeah. We don’t compete with. Geographically. And then I come back with pages of notes and then I set my strategy for the year.

And it really has equipped us for growth and we’ve become the fastest growing payroll company in upstate New York. And there’s some, a lot of factors to it, but certainly in part, due to building a strategy from people who know more than I do, have experienced things that I have not yet experienced. And then I just have to be, I guess, smart enough to listen to them and take their advice.

Much like that gentleman back in yellowstone.

[00:06:37] Bill: What else are you doing to set yourself up for success in your business and your leadership? Yeah,

[00:06:41] Jason: so some, some of the things that I’ve been reading, Gina Wickman wrote a book called Traction and it really helped me get a handle on our business and where we were.

And then he has a follow-up book called Rocket Fuel. Mm-hmm. And in there he says that most growth organizations have two roles. One is the strategic long-term planner and the other is the integrator that’s responsible for day-to-day making those things. I’m the strategic long-term planner that is more concerned three years down the road than three months down the road.

Okay. And I’m trying to take a look even in our geographic area here, what’s gonna be happening with the impact of Micron and the other organizations coming in? What’s happening with our labor market? What’s happening with the competition that’s in our community? And I’m watching and observing what other payroll companies are doing right or wrong, and adapting my strategy to that.

I take my dog for runs. Nice. And we go off in these country roads. I haven’t actually trained that When I stop, when cars go by, I put my hand out to the road. He runs underneath me and sits. No kidding. That’s great. Yeah. He’s off leash waits for the car to go. He watches me and then I tell him, okay. And then we start running again.

That’s fabulous. Yeah. So it took, people will literally drive by, roll down their window and say, how did you teach your dog to do that? Yeah, yeah, yeah. And my answer to everyone is it’s 90% the dog, 10% me. Huh? Would I. Is consistent. So even if I don’t feel like stopping, I have to do it. And, and I, I find there’s some leadership things from this that if you have a team and you want to create behaviors in your team, well you have to model those behaviors first.

That’s great. I can’t get my dog to stop at the side of the road if I keep running. Right? Right. I have to also stop and do that. So I’m modeling a behavior that I want him to follow and consistently, and then I have to be consistent. So I find that that’s something that helps when I. With my team is I wanna have rules for all of us to follow.

Mm-hmm. But if we’re following those rules, and that could be anything as simple as meeting quota or making sure that you’re following up with your clients appropriately. My customer service team is following up with calls on a daily basis and tracking those things. As long as we’re doing that look, I am not a micromanager, right?

In fact, if you have micromanagement on one side of the scale, I’m on the far other side. I consider myself a laissez-faire manager. And what I do is I give people freedom. And so here’s my expectations. And as long as you meet these expectations, I’m not concerned if you show up at eight o’clock in the morning or eight 30 in the morning, and if you want to go watch a lacrosse game that your child is involved in and leave the office early, great.

Have that freedom of flexibility, right? What I’m finding in today’s labor market is that’s more valuable to people than wages. I think it’s a skillset to be able then a shift to stop. Think about it’s the hours they put in. No, it’s what they put into the hours. I love that. Yeah. And, and really focusing more on that.

And if we wanna be able to have a workforce that we can attract people that are outside of our geographic area to come work for us and have a wider pool of candidates mm-hmm. That can work from home, then we have to shift those expectations.

[00:10:05] Bill: What challenges are you finding in your leadership, in your business, in in the central New York community?

What challenges are you facing?

[00:10:12] Jason: Yeah. You know, with, with upstate New York, it’s. A feeling of optimism right now. And earlier we mentioned Micron coming in. Mm-hmm. And what that’s gonna mean. And I think in the long term it is gonna revolutionize this area. We’re gonna have great high paying jobs and it’s invest

[00:10:27] Bill: it change Central New York, isn’t it?

It is. I mean, like for the positive. Yes. And I think so too.

[00:10:30] Jason: Yes. But to get there, to get there, there’s gonna be some challenges. Yeah. Right now we don’t have a lot of people moving to the area. So when Micron opens their doors and they say they have these great new jobs. Yeah. They. Pulling from the local existing labor, of course market, which is tight as it is, but my encouragement for people is that don’t be concerned about people leaving.

Focus more on people staying. And how we do that are things like having stay interviews. Yes. All right. We’re all familiar with exit interviews. Somebody leaves. So we ask ’em, geez, what could we have done to keep you, keep you here? Well, why don’t you interview the people that are staying and say what keeps you here?

Love that. And think about your culture and finding people. Fit that culture.

[00:11:15] Bill: Well. Before the cameras were rolling and we were recording, you asked a question of me that I so appreciated we’re both fans of Stephen Covey’s work. Yes. And the principle of keeping the end in mind. Yes. You asked me what, what I hoped from this video, which I so appreciated, but as a leader, keeping variable ends in mind.

Mm-hmm. Being strategic about that. Mm-hmm. And being flexible and adaptable. Yes. Along the way sounds really. Your leadership in your work? Yes.

[00:11:46] Jason: Yeah. Yeah. I, I think that your team needs to have confidence that the company and the organization knows where it’s going. Mm-hmm. And at the same time, as we talked about earlier, nobody has it all figured out.

And leaders need to exude confidence, but at the same time, be humble enough to understand I need to continue to learn and adapt my strategy based on what’s happening in the community and conversations with people and. Those individuals that I surround myself with and continue to look at our strategy and, and make it newer and different as we move down the road, but that, that confidence, I think is, is really important.

I interviewed somebody for our team and we were early into the interview process and I’m sitting observing this interview and one of my consultants asked her a question about getting into a situation that’s unknown, and her answer was, after a few moments. Thought, well, I just fake it till I make it.

Mm-hmm. And I knew in that moment I was gonna hire her. Mm-hmm. It was like, whatever else you’re gonna ask her. That’s, this is I want this in my culture. Sure. Because I think that’s important that we have a level of, of confidence and optimism because it’s really easy to look at surrounding things and to find reasons to not be optimistic.

Sure. I, I just refuse to believe.

We get to meet so many unique people here in upstate New York. I know you’ve used the phrase before, hidden gems. Yeah. And there are so many great people and businesses that you don’t know about. You know, the ones that are advertised on television are the ones Sure. That get some media attention.

And those are, that’s all great. But there’s so many other businesses and organizations that are doing incredible work here in this area, led by really great people and the ability to get to know these people. And through the work that we do is a real blessing.

[00:13:55] Bill: I’d encourage more folks to reach out, go on discovery.

Yes. In in their own neighborhoods.

[00:14:02] Jason: Yeah. Walk around downtown. Absolutely. Go look at the different restaurants and shops that are there and maybe outside of downtown Syracuse, whatever your downtown is. Absolutely. In your communities and learn these small business of businesses, what they offer. And if I can also be a little bit bold.

Yeah, yeah. Do a with them, you know, I don’t know, buy a coffee from them or a sandwich or you know, some something for your home or a gift for someone. Absolutely. And even if it’s a $20 transaction, it’s supporting our local community. And I think that’s so important. We’re all in this together. We’re in this community together.

Yeah. And to be here and support one another, and there’s great things on the horizon. For upstate New York. I truly believe that. I think that there are gonna be some, some challenges as we move ahead over these next 10 years, but man, the future is exciting and, and bright and I’m just happy to be a part of it.

[00:14:55] Bill: And the sun’s out now and there. How did you do that?

[00:14:59] Jason: You know, you put out positive energy.

[00:15:01] Bill: Good job, man. Yeah. Comes right back to you. Good job, Jason. This has been a blast.

[00:15:06] Jason: Yeah, thank you. Yeah, thank you. I really appreciate it. Thank you.



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1 Comment

  1. Ralph Bott on April 27, 2023 at 11:14 am

    Bill, another enlightening discussion of Driving Leadership. I did not know of HR One, it certainly sounds like an outstanding company from Jason description and via his communication style. I love the point you both made on Stephen Covey 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Jason had great examples of how he leads and insights on the local business community.

    Keep these pod casts coming, they are interesting to any leader or emerging leader who is open to learning in our every changing work environments.

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