AGENT Q&A with MaryBeth Hyland, Founder & Chief Visionary of SparkVisionLast Updated: May 1, 2020
“When we understand each other, we can create environments where everyone thrives…” – MaryBeth Hyland is a leading expert in engaging professionals and creating organisations where people thrive. The Baltimore-based entrepreneur spoke to AGENT about her influential startup business SparkVision
MaryBeth Hyland is the award-winning founder of SparkVision, an influential Baltimore-based startup business that works to create inspiring working environments and organisations where individuals thrive.
“When we understand each other, we can create environments where everyone thrives…”
It was a business idea that had been a long time coming, and finally came to fruition when, at the age of 30 she established the company, inspired by her husband James to go for it, as it was an idea that was worth pursuing.
Having by that point in time (2015) already garnered more than a decade’s experience as an expert in creating purpose-driven movements—grounded in her graduate and post-graduate studies in Social Work and Nonprofit Management.
SparkVision is an aptly-named business—its every action and initiative stems from the simple belief that when you connect people through purpose, there is no limit to what they can do. Over the past three years, SparkVision has helped businesses and organisations to bring life and vitality to their cultures by creating environments that enable people to thrive.
MaryBeth Hyland’s business has become renowned for its expertise in millennial engagement, and the intersect between younger and older generations of professionals. SparkVision has become particularly sought-after by organisations not just with an interest in finding out what do millennials value most and how to engage younger employees and team members, but more specifically in facilitating collaboration between current and future generations of leaders.
The SparkVision offering extends across a wife range of options, including working with organizations to increase employee engagement, to one-time workshops that help foster interpersonal connections and collaboration, while its work with millennials is informed by ongoing proprietary research on High Achieving Millennials.
Marybeth Hyland has a number of impressive laurels, including transforming one low-return program for young professionals into the national best practice model, increasing its membership by 400 percent and helping to elevate her onto the international consulting and training. She is just as active in her local community, mentoring and advising, and among her more recent awards in Baltimore and Maryland are such prestigious honours as Innovator of the Year, Top 100 Women, Civic Engagement Leader, and Leading Women.
12 Questions for MaryBeth Hyland
MaryBeth Hyland looked back on her earliest experiences in businesses and spoke to AGENT about her business ideas, passions and inspirations, and spoke about some of the most important business lessons she has learned, for the benefit of young people who are setting up as entrepreneurs today.
1. Briefly tell us about your business and your business goals.
We help multi-generational organizations who need an unbiased partner to identify the gap between their current and ideal culture. By analyzing their company’s values and behaviors, we work to empower our client’s team members to own their role in crafting culture every day. Our proprietary research on High Achieving Millennials reveals new insights that directly inform our work. So in a nutshell, I work in organizational culture and specialize in millennial engagement! Overall, our business goal is to bring humanity into the workplace by creating opportunities for people to get to know one another in a deep and meaningful way. When we understand each other, we can create environments where everyone thrives.
2. What age were you when you realised you wanted to run your own business?
It was about 3 years ago, when I was 30. But really, it was my husband who made me realize that it was possible and something I should go for now.
3. Who are your business icons and inspirations?
Brene Brown is someone I deeply admire. She’s been able to take heavy topics like shame, guilt, vulnerability and empathy and normalize them in everyday conversation. She’s also done an incredible job of educating the masses and building a business around it. Like most people with a pulse, I also have profound respect for Oprah. Once again, someone who humanizes us all in a way that’s easy to digest and makes us feel connected to one another every time she speaks.
4. What has been your biggest challenge in business, and how did you surmount it?
I’ve said it a million times… the best part about owning my own business is I can do whatever I want. The worst thing about owning my own business is I can do whatever I want! I’m a naturally creative person and get tons of ideas for things I want to build out. It’s a great problem to have, but it can also take me down a path that isn’t the best use of my time in that moment. So, I’ve added team members to vet my ideas through to determine if this is the right time to really dive into creating something new. I can always come back to them!
5. What gives you the most satisfaction in business?
When I’m able to connect and individual or an organization to their values and help them to live in alignment with those core motivators. It often feels like I’m teaching them a new language that serves them for the rest of their lives. It’s incredibly empowering and rewarding to witness.
6. Work-Life balance: is it possible? How do you achieve it?
Balance is all about values + boundaries! I do believe it’s possible but it requires a constant grounding in your personal values and creating clear boundaries in your life to live in alignment with them. So for example, if you have the value of “Unity with Nature” (like me) I need to spend time in nature on a regular basis to feel a sense of balance. When you’re clear on your values and set intentional boundaries (like time blocking + saying “no”) the feeling of balance, or alignment, comes as a result.
7. What is the first thing you do every day?
My husband kisses me goodbye on my forehead before he leaves for work every morning and that’s typically my first interaction for the day. It’s a beautiful reminder that love is everything that matters.
8. What screen saver picture is currently on your phone?
The mountain side on my family’s ranch in Idaho. It brings me peace and provides vision for what I want to do in the future.
9. What is the most important app on your mobile phone, and why?
LinkedIn – it’s become my new best friend for developing intentional and meaningful relationships all over the world.
10. What is the last thing you Googled?
“Chipotle Flank Steak Recipe” – it’s what’s for dinner tonight!
11. What item do you never leave the house without, and why?
My house keys, so I can get back in.
12. What advice would you give to your younger self starting out in business?
Don’t allow others to make you feel less than them because you don’t have a PhD. Your life experience is more valuable than that – own it.