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Kristen Hadeed      

Founder of Student Maid

Kristen Hadeed never intended to start a cleaning business. But at 19 years old, that’s exactly where she found herself: as the founder and CEO of Student Maid, a company that offered flexible, part-time jobs to college students in Gainesville, Florida.

When she started the business, she had very little cleaning experience—and even less experience with leadership. An incident early on, when 45 people walked out on her at the same time, inspired an obsession with learning everything she could about becoming a better leader. She began to share what she learned with Student Maid team members, and she quickly realized that her company could do more than give people after-school jobs: It could help them learn how to become leaders.

For 14 years, Student Maid offered leadership development and hands-on business experience to its team members, and under Kristen’s leadership, it became known as a place where people felt accepted for who they are, where they were encouraged to fail and embrace their imperfections, and where they were empowered to reach their potential. As word about Student Maid spread, Kristen began helping leaders and organizations around the world create similar environments for their people.

In 2021, Kristen announced a bold, new vision for her company: Student Maid would no longer be a cleaning company. Instead, it would become Student Made, an organization dedicated solely to student leadership development. The change allowed Kristen and her team to fulfill their longtime dream of having a wide-reaching impact on the next generation of leaders, in addition to helping teams and organizations all over the world embrace authentic, human leadership.

Kristen and Student Maid have been featured in news outlets including PBS, FOX, Inc., NBC, TIME, and Forbes. Kristen’s book, Permission To Screw Up, has sold more than 30,000 copies worldwide. Her first TED Talk has more than three million views on YouTube.

Speech Topics


Build a Culture of Belonging

In this session, Kristen shares what she’s learned as an entrepreneur who built a business with an industry-leading retention rate, even though her people spent their days cleaning toilets. She’ll help you see that it’s not only our work that matters . . . it’s how we feel while we are doing that work that makes or breaks our experience. Kristen will challenge you to reflect on the current state of your organization’s culture and help you identify what you can do to take it to the next level. You’ll learn the ingredients of building a culture of belonging, understand your role in creating that environment, and walk away with practical, actionable steps that you can take as soon as the session is over.

  • Learn the key ingredients of building a culture of belonging, and understand the role you play
  • Learn how to create a culture where people feel truly seen, heard, and significant
  • Learn how to find harmony between empathy, compassion, and achieving results
  • Learn how to foster an environment where people feel safe sharing ideas and speaking up
  • Learn how to create an environment where individuality and working preferences are celebrated while still achieving a collaborative dynamic
  • Learn how to create an environment that attracts and engages future talent

Deliver and Accept Feedback Effectively

We’ve all been there: We know we need to have a difficult conversation, but we do everything in our power to avoid it. Feedback conversations are hard, and yet, they’re often the most rewarding and important conversations we can have to help each other grow. When we have the tools to deliver feedback effectively and productively, difficult conversations can result in better relationships, trust, and a stronger culture. In this session, Kristen will teach you how to confront the issues you’ve been avoiding and help you reframe feedback as a powerful chance to build connection.

  • Learn how to give, receive, and solicit feedback productively and compassionately
  • Learn how to cultivate a speak-up culture for yourself and others
  • Understand what might prevent someone from speaking up and learn how to remove those barriers
  • Learn how to intentionally prepare for conversations and ensure messaging is perceived in the way you intend
  • Discover how to ask better questions to get better feedback

Build Meaningful Relationships

There can be many barriers to building relationships. For example, how do you strengthen connection when you aren’t in the same room? How do you build trust and make your interactions count when you are busy? How do you repair a relationship that isn’t where you want it to be? What type of conversations should be over email and what type should be on video or face-to-face? How do you ensure your messaging is received in the way you intended it to be? In this session you’ll learn how to use empathy, authenticity, and vulnerability to build stronger, more trusting relationships in your life and in your work.

  • Learn how to build relationships where people feel seen, heard, and significant
  • Discover how to communicate with empathy
  • Evaluate your emotional intelligence and identify opportunities to expand your EQ
  • Gain tools to be a better listener
  • Look for opportunities to elevate your meetings and learn meeting frameworks that lead to greater connection and trust

Grow Resilience through Self Care

The last few years have demanded so much from us. We’ve all had to learn how to navigate a new normal—often at the expense of our well-being. Years ago, we may have bounced back quickly from setbacks, but as the hits keep coming, it can be harder to find our resilience. More than any other skill she’s picked up on her 15-year entrepreneurial journey, resilience is the one that has served Kristen best. But she’ll be the first to tell you that you can’t have resilience without self-care. It’s important to set boundaries and take care of your own needs first so that your cup is full when you inevitably face challenges. Self-care isn’t selfish; it’s essential to maintaining our capacity for resilience and growth. And the more resilient we are individually and together, the more quickly we can pivot and adapt, the faster we will bounce back after setbacks, and the better we can take care of each other.

  • Strengthen your growth mindset and learn steps to be more resilient in periods of uncertainty, challenges, and change
  • Redefine success in leadership and understand how to make a mindset shift to go from “I come last” to “I must take care of myself so that I can better take care of those around me”
  • Gain methods to empower yourself and others to take risks, find solutions, and move forward despite not having all the answers
  • Learn how to create trust with your team so that people feel safe acknowledging when they need help, when they are struggling, and when they feel overwhelmed
  • Learn how to set boundaries that will protect your emotional and mental energy

Bridge the Generational Gap

New generations entering the workforce isn’t a new phenomenon and it’s not something that will go away. After millennials come Gen Z, and after Gen Z it’s Gen Alpha. The only constant is change, and the fact is that organizations that embrace it and adapt are going to outperform the ones that don’t in the long run. As both a millennial herself and someone who has employed thousands of millennials and Gen Z’ers over the last decade, Kristen will teach you how to look beyond the stereotypes and create an environment that brings out the best in everyone: a place where people of all generations can thrive, contribute, collaborate, and work together in harmony.

  • Learn practical ways to attract and retain the next generation
  • Understand how generational differences contribute to communication and working styles and learn how to bridge the gap
  • Gain tangible tools to help people excel in relationship-building, problem-solving, giving and receiving feedback, and taking ownership of their own growth and development
  • Break down stereotypes and discuss how to create a culture where people are loyal, productive, and highly engaged, regardless of generation, rank, or position

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