Member Spotlight: sparkspace

Columbus Chamber
The Columbus Chamber provides connections, resources and solutions that help small businesses and Fortune 500 enterprises grow Central Ohio's economy.

Tell us about your company’s mission and values.
Our mission is to be the most inspirational business retreat on the planet – with the purpose of helping our guests get 100% engaged. Our guests are our number one priority – we want for you come into the space feeling inspired, energized and excited to spend the day here with your team.

We believe every person and every company has the potential for total awesomeness…if they choose to pursue it. Our goal with our meeting space and programs (and everything else we do) is to help spark that realization.

What are the services you use the most (or are looking forward to using) from the Columbus Chamber?
sparkspace-52-of-92We’ve attended several CEO Insights programs, which have provided lots of ideas and inspiration from some of Columbus’ most remarkable leaders.

We have also used the Chamber’s research department to help us determine fair salary ranges for new positions that we had never hired for before.

How do you stay engaged with trends that you see in your industry?
My team is constantly looking for ways to improve and innovate…that’s why I love to brag on them. We read, listen to podcasts, attend events and workshops, you name it. There’s always new things we can learn to bring customer service to the next level and that’s what we care about the most.

One of the best ways we stay on top of trends is to simply pay attention to the experiences that we have and then make sure we bring them back to the team. For instance, when I travel, I really pay attention to service experiences, the design of hospitality spaces, and how events are produced. Then when I return, I debrief with the team and we brainstorm how we might apply those ideas to sparkspace.

What do you think differentiates you from your competitors?
sparkspace-23-of-92The space itself and our all-inclusive packaging is unique but really it’s our dedication to service that sets us apart. We want you to have the “best meeting ever”. That means our staff will go above and beyond get you everything you need – and believe me, there have been some strange requests (glow sticks, trucker hats, chocolate- covered insects…)

We also keep things really, really simple. We don’t clutter up our business with tons of bells & whistles. We do one thing and we focus on doing it the absolute best we can in the most efficient way we can. Our clients LOVE this about us.

What is your company culture like?
I only hire people who come with “batteries included.” I spent too many years trying to motivate people who just didn’t seem to have the spark they needed to be a rockstar here. A few years ago I hired what I now consider to be our last mediocre employee. When I finally fired him, I developed a mantra: “No more warm bodies.” When you have such a small, tight staff, every single person makes a huge difference on our culture and our performance.

That has had a huge impact on our company. Team sparkspace is made up of fun people who just love life. It’s amazing the kind of energy a group full of happy people produces. We think our guests feel those “good vibes” too.

We work hard, we work smart, and most importantly we don’t work too much. Nobody is killing themselves on overtime here. Quality of life is a priority for all of us. This is a great place to work for sure, but our home lives are way more important.

What advice would you have appreciated hearing when first starting your career?
sparkspace-5-of-92Don’t try to do everything yourself, stupid. Letting other people lead and contribute is the only way you’ll really succeed. To do that you have to be ok with the fact that they’ll often do things differently than you would.

How do you achieve work/life balance?
That’s simple: Don’t work too much. Realize that you’re not as important as you think you are and go home at a decent time every day. And never, ever work on your vacation. Never ever.

What business leader do you admire the most and why?
Bert & John Jacobs, the founders of the Life Is Good Company. They took a simple idea, have kept it pretty simple, and created a worldwide brand and community that makes people happy…all while enjoying life to the fullest. What could be better than that?

Where is your favorite place to have a meeting outside of the office?
My cabin. It’s an A-frame in the woods on a lake. It’s basically like a giant treehouse. It’s impossible to not have great ideas there.

Why do you think Columbus is a great place to do business?
Columbus is full of great energy and has an amazing collaborative vibe. People love to help each other succeed. It’s a city on the edge of the future that is excited to build and grow, yet somehow stays very connected and approachable. It’s also super easy to get around. For a business that relies on bringing people together from all parts of the city, that’s pretty important.

About Sparkspace
For more than 16 years, sparkspace has been inspiring businesses, teams, and individuals through our one-of-a-kind meeting spaces, public events, and private workshops. Our unique, creative loft-style meeting suites are designed to add an extra “spark” and jolt of energy to your meeting.

Instagram & Twitter: @sparkspace

mark-headshot-0915Mark Henson is the Founder & Chief Imagination Officer for sparkspace