Corinne Milien is the Founder and CEO of WRK, a trusted talent acquisition and management partner for employers in sports and entertainment. She is a passionate and innovative leader with over 10 years of experience in sports and entertainment, specializing in optimizing human capital for organizations.
Corinne is an engaged civic leader and previously served as the Executive Direct and Co-founder of The Winning Edge Leadership Academy, a non-profit organization which empowers and elevates minority student-athletes and young professionals in sports, media, and entertainment.
Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:
- [07:36] What services does WRK offer to its clients?
- [09:37] WRK’s customer success stories
- [10:53] Corinne talks about how her career has evolved as an immigrant woman of color
- [17:55] The lessons she learned from Pat Summitt and ESPN
- [24:25] Tips for creativity for entrepreneurs
- [30:16] Corinne’s reasons for starting WRK
- [37:31] WRK’s ideal customer profile
- [39:29] The questions she gets from heads of DEI of companies
In this episode…
Are you looking to increase diversity and inclusion in your workforce? How can you overcome bias and barriers for individuals historically excluded from traditional hiring practices?
According to Corinne Milien, simplifying HR operations is fundamental to achieving these goals. But how can this be done without additional costs? By enlisting talent acquisition and talent management teams — experts with extensive experience in sourcing, screening, and selecting candidates that align with the organization’s values, culture, and objectives.
Join host Jeremy Weisz of Inspired Insider in a fascinating conversation with Corinne Milien, Founder and CEO of WRK, as they discuss her journey in providing HR and staffing solutions. Corinne explains the services WRK offers to its clients, how her career has evolved as an immigrant woman of color, WRK’s ideal customer profile, and some of the questions DEI leaders at companies ask.
Resources mentioned in this episode:
- Eastside Golf
- Pat Summitt
- MEAC SWAC Challenge
- Maria Taylor on LinkedIn
- Moolah Kicks
- Wilson Sporting Goods
- Creative Artists Agency
- “[Top Agency Series] Scouting and Creating More Women Leaders With Laura Barnard” on Inspired Insider
- “[Top Women Leaders] Angel Investing the Smart and Healthy Way With Marcia Dawood of Mindshift Capital and Angel Capital Association” on Inspired Insider
- “[Top Black Business Leaders Series] Defeating Racism in Startup Funding with Cheryl Contee of The Impact Seat” on Inspired Insider
- “[Women Leader Series] The Secret to Standing Out and Growing Your Business With Winnie Hart of TwinEngine” on Inspired Insider
Sponsor for this episode
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Cofounders Dr. Jeremy Weisz and John Corcoran credit podcasting as being the best thing they have ever done for their businesses. Podcasting connected them with the founders/CEOs of P90x, Atari, Einstein Bagels, Mattel, Rx Bars, YPO, EO, Lending Tree, Freshdesk, and many more.
The relationships you form through podcasting run deep. Jeremy and John became business partners through podcasting. They have even gone on family vacations and attended weddings of guests who have been on the podcast.
Podcast production has a lot of moving parts and is a big commitment on our end; we only want to work with people who are committed to their business and to cultivating amazing relationships.
Rise25 Cofounders, Dr. Jeremy Weisz and John Corcoran, have been podcasting and advising about podcasting since 2008.
Insider Stories from Top Leaders & Entrepreneurs…
You are listening to Inspired Insider with your host, Dr. Jeremy Weisz.
Jeremy Weisz 0:22
Dr. Jeremy Weisz here founder of inspiredinsider.com where I talk with inspirational entrepreneurs and leaders today is no different. I have Corinne Milien, and she is the founder of WRK. WRK letsdowork.com. And before I formally introduce you, Corinne, you have an amazing background. I always like to point out other episodes, people should check out of the podcast. And since this is part of the top women leaders series, we had Laura Barnard who actually introduced us BREAKTHRU Brands, and I was complimenting you on your logo and your brand. And she’s like, that’s breakthrough. So we’ll talk about some of the conversations you had because you had a long conversation about your vision and what you’re looking for. We also had Marcia Dawood, which is she’s she talked about angel investing in a smart and healthy way. And with Mindshift Capital and the Angel Capital Association. We had the secrets to standing out and growing your business with Winnie Hart of TwinEngine. Cheryl Contee talked about defeating racism in startup funding of impact see which kind of exactly relates to what we’re going to talk about here. So you and Cheryl should know each other at some point, that and many more.
Corinne Milien 1:40
Great for you to make an introduction?
Jeremy Weisz 1:42
Yeah, exactly what I just did, I’m gonna send her the episode. And before I introduce Corinne. this episode is brought to you by Rise25. And at Rise25 we help businesses give to and connect to their dream 100 relationships and partnerships. And how do we do that we actually help you run your podcast, we’re easy button for a company to launch and run a podcast. We do the accountability, the full strategy, and all the execution production. So Corinne, kind of call ourselves the magic elves that run around the background and make it look easy for the host. And that’s what we do. And for me, the number one thing in my life is relationships. I’m always looking at ways to give to my best relationships. And I found no better way over the past decade a profile of people and companies I most admire and share with the world what they’re working on. So if you’ve thought about podcasting, you should have questions go to rise25.com and in part of me the reason I love the podcast is I like to make connections for people just like I’m going to connect Cheryl and Corinne together and my past guests too. So check out more episodes. And Corinne, we’re gonna dig into the vision, the mission, but Corinne Milien is a servant leader focusing on solutions to increase diversity inclusion within the workforce. And it really advance professional leadership opportunities for the underrepresented. And as I mentioned, you could check them out the founder of WRK it’s letsdowrk.com. What they do is they’re a talent sourcing firm, and they specialize in conducting sports media, entertainment companies, really any companies, and they have a community of qualified talent, and she’s really driven to eliminate bias and barriers for those historically excluded from traditional hiring practices. And she also is a co-founder of a 501 C three, The Winning Edge Leadership Academy that empowers and elevates minority student-athletes and young professionals as the next generation of leaders in sports and business and she served as a graduate assistant for the legendary coach Pat Summitt of the University of Tennessee before Yeah, I went to the orange ball, actually, the volunteers won.
Corinne Milien 3:55
Good luck, I have to start coming to all the game.
Jeremy Weisz 3:57
And I just kept saying Go Vols. It was great people loved it. And this was before working as an event supervisor for ESPN, where she managed several of the companies permanently owned and operated athletic contests and events. So hear about that. And Corinne, I also wanted to mention too, that you were recognized by Adidas and Impact Hub as one of the eight social entrepreneurs of color creating impact and delivering initiatives that intersect sports equity and creativity. So thanks for joining me.
Corinne Milien 4:29
Oh, I’m so excited. So the best way to start my Friday that’s going to end on the golf course. So I’m excited.
Jeremy Weisz 4:37
Talk about the work you did a little bit with BREAKTHRU and the vision and I’ll pull up your website we can see the beautiful brand but talk about the behind-the-scenes vision and mission.
Corinne Milien 4:50
I am a country girl. I am not a City Mouse and I was in Chicago a couple summers ago working with Wilson Sporting is one of the My partner’s with my nonprofit and I had my dog and we were staying downtown like right across from Trump Tower, all the cars, all the things. And after like six days, I had to get out of there. I hit Laura up, they her and her family literally hadn’t even moved all their boxes in. And now I’m asking if me and my dog can crash on a bed, right? We had done some work, I was managing director of pro-sports assembly, an advocacy group for professionals working in sports, and she did some work with our members and helping them unlock their brands. So we never actually met in person. But I said, hey, I got to get out of here. Can I come crash? And she said, Sure, I got kids, I got dogs, we’re moving. And I said, you don’t even know it’s fine. And one night, we’re talking at dinner, just and I’m a pretty big believer in closed mouths don’t get fed. So I, and they’re pretty curious as well. We had a lot of synergies and our love for basketball. And they were probing me about what I wanted to do. And kind of some challenges that I was facing as a founder. And they took one conversation into, hey, we’re starting BREAKTHRU Brands, we think we can really help you. There are some resources that align here. And again, I am a pretty risky person, I let people know when I’m trying to do because you never know who can help. And without them, I don’t know if you’re showing off this awesome website right now. Yeah, they did a fantastic job. And it really was about empowering me as a leader. So they created the foundation of the side, but I’m able to go in there and make updates and edits and change my picture, and stuff like that. So it wasn’t like, okay, we’re doing this and then you have to lean on us for everything. It’s really been an empowering relationship that now sees me as an advisor for them and helping connect them with as many founders and women as I can.
Jeremy Weisz 7:10
Yeah, if you’re watching the video, if you’re listening the audio, we’re looking at the letsdowrk.com website and the about us page, where you can see some of the companies that they’ve done work with. And you can see Corinne’s bio, and everything else that they do here. Just talk a little bit about I mentioned what work does but talk a little bit more about what you do as a company some of the services you offer.
Corinne Milien 7:36
Yeah, and it’s funny, as you were reading the bio, it speaks to the evolution of work and how we started and the work really I started seven years ago with my nonprofit and doing that talent sourcing at the foundation level of professional development, career development, intentional relationship building for talent that turned into can you help us connect with talent during the summer of 2020. And a lot of organizations making a commitment to being more serious about their hiring practices. And that’s not what the nonprofit was built for. So WRK came about to formalize instead of asking for donations, sending invoices, right, in the talent sourcing space, and that evolved into really coming in, and providing HR and employment services to our businesses. So in our clients, so you see there Eastside Golf, they are a growing company that went from wearing sweatshirts on the golf course to being in a documentary directed by Hannah Storm, and everybody wanting to wear their clothes on and off the golf course, one of the only brands have a collaboration with Jordan, and making me pay a lot of money to look cool on the golf course. The discount is not as good as people would assume. But I’m gonna support those guys. I hired their very first intern with my nonprofit. And as I grew as they grew, we grew together. And so to see that relate, when you talk about relationships, the relationship that I have with Eastside to go again from their first intern to their first full-time employees in December, Disney couldn’t write up a better story.
Jeremy Weisz 9:26
So with Eastside Golf, what kind of work did you do with them? So it sounds like you help them find an intern. You also help them find some full-time staff too.
Corinne Milien 9:37
Yeah. So in the beginning, it was just help us find the intern. Now it’s we are helping them stay compliant as they grow from just the two founders and maybe a couple of contractors to having full-time staff, vendors and contractors office space. So we’re coming in and providing the full suite of HR. We’re in the new generation where we don’t have office space, we don’t need a lot of people, fractional is a new wave. So we are essentially fractional HR. So we’re coming in and doing payroll processing Employee Benefits Administration, talent management, what does Taylor look like in three years if she’s in this company starting out as an executive assistant, right. So we are coming in making sure they are able to focus on their goals of intersecting golf and the culture while we take care of their people.
Jeremy Weisz 10:37
I really want to hear the evolution you have fascinating evolution of your career. And I don’t know if we want to start at the what point is the Air Force come into play and why the Air Force?
Corinne Milien 10:53
I was a good bad kid in high school, I was a student council president, but I also found any opportunity not to take class. So ASVAB, one day, hey, you can get out of class and we take the ASVAB. Sure. So the ASVAB couple of weeks later, the recruiters Colin, hey, did we scored really well. Let’s talk sure to get me out of class again, ended up saying to me, you’ll be a pharmacy tech, you can take this degree. And after four years, blah, blah, blah, convinced my mom, 17 years old, first-generation American, so military, that was not a thing. So but my dad was gung-ho about it. And it was just an opportunity. So I am 17 going through basic training. And by the time I’m 18, I’m in Germany, serving my country, learning a lot about that side of the world, as a first-generation Americans had already been used to traveling, it was get on a plane, somebody in Haiti will pick you up, and then they’ll put you back on the plane at the end of the summer. And then we’ll go from there, right. So the traveling wasn’t new to me. But being able to go to Amsterdam for three new years in a row, being able to go watch a movie in Luxembourg, going to spend four days in Paris from my birthday, as an 18-year-old, 19 year old and also serving my country. I sometimes forget how hard my job was, it was command and control. But I always found time to get involved. I want to volunteer Airmen of the year, because I was coaching basketball on base, I was coaching softball, and that’s kind of where I got into sports actually, sports was not a big part of my life growing up. I played golf since I was seven but and I played on my high school team. But it wasn’t like I was on the basketball team. And the track, that was not the case. But it was fun. My friends did it. And it got me out of thing. So getting on base though, and starting to coach and realizing the development opportunities, and the ability to influence the next generation I was hooked. And I upset the base commander’s daughter by not making her the captain. And he was very impressed, impressed enough to write a recommendation to the Air Force Academy. So and he just retired from generals of the Air Force actually. But without him seeing the desire to be fair, and equal and all opportunities. I’m not at the Air Force Academy doing what I was doing.
Jeremy Weisz 13:32
What was it like? Corinne, and being a woman of color in the Air Force, I imagine it’s predominantly male, and predominantly white.
Corinne Milien 13:44
Yes. And then in Germany, and our offices were was in a hangar with the mechanics. So it was like the manliest of the men overnight for four days in a row. Like it was all the things but um, I think it really propelled my ability to be a chameleon. Right? I can go in any room and find some way that you and I are connected, we have something in common. And when you focus on the ways that we have things in common, all the other things can go away and now we have open dialogue, we can challenge each other. And that’s what I’ve been doing for a very long time is challenging people but they see where I’m coming from the empathy is real because I’ve been in all these spaces where people told me the only reason I got into the Air Force Academy was because I was there to meet a quota or whatever the case may be, but you know, I got a big smile. I have pretty charming and I tend to disarm people in their preconceived notions.
Jeremy Weisz 14:48
What did you find were people’s preconceived notions.
Corinne Milien 14:53
Well, I’m also from south of Atlanta. And I the hairs usually like this And so most people are very surprised that I’ve played golf since I was seven. Like, they always asked, oh, what position did you play? Or what event did you run? And I’m like, no golf. I was on the high school team. So that’s a preconception both English is not my first language. And I was always like to translate it for my parents. So I saw a lot more of the preconceived notions were put on my parents, right, like, oh, they’re not very smart or something like that. And I’m like, sitting here, my mom speaks six languages, and you’re telling her she’s not very smart. So but I think that just made me I don’t want to downplay right, like I don’t want to say water off a duck’s back because you feel it, it hurts. It takes a little chunk out of the armor once in a while, especially when you know you should be in the room. But it was something that is a part of my story and a part of my journey that I look back on and it makes me able to sit in a conference room with 10 people that don’t look like me never had the same experience, but bring my authentic self because it’s not going to kill me, obviously.