Performance Management / HR

Secrets of a Top Gen Y Employer: Sandy Marsico of Sandstorm Design [Podcast]


Sandy_0Vistage member Sandy Marsico started her company Sandstorm Design at age 24 with six employees. It’s now Chicago’s leading marketing, user experience, and web design firm; has been named one of the top 50 Generation Y employers in Chicago; and boasts a very positive culture and productive young staff. So what are her secrets?

Ingraining Core Values

Sandy shares that it’s not enough to have core values; they must be ingrained in everything your employees do. “You can call my office at any time and any person will be able to get you what our three core values are.” Those three values: warrior spirit, learning and sharing and having fun.

We Know Why Gen Y – But How?

Of her Gen Y employees, Sandy says, “They’re the ones that make this place great.” Despite their natural tech-savvy ability to help keep the company on the cutting edge, figuring out how to manage and retain these multitaskers has been a learning experience. How much flexibility is too much?

Sandy has some great tips on finding the perfect balance to keep Gen Y-ers engaged, innovating, and happy without feeling as though they are taking advantage of you. She shares these pointers in the podcast, explaining:

  • Having flexible PTO policies. Treat them like adults and don’t make them ask for time off, but make sure they let you know and are responsible about it.
  • Encouraging fun creative customization of workspaces. “It’s a matter of letting the employees and letting the Gen Y dream and make it their own, but just kind of give them some parameters.”
  • Allowing social media use at work. Sandy says it’s not the technology itself that’s the problem, it’s the individual abusing it. She does not advocate banning social media at work.
  • Accommodating their need to travel and for lifelong learning. When two of her top employees wanted to move to the opposite coast, she simply arranged for them to work remotely.

Best Business Advice

Sandy has a secret weapon for making business decisions about everything from choosing new hires to acquiring new spaces to signing contracts, and that’s to get comfortable living with a healthy amount of risk on a daily basis.

Additionally, she says the best business advice she ever received is to simply always do what’s right. When you can go to bed at night knowing you’ve done the right thing, everything falls into place.

To hear more from Sandy, including how she started Sandstorm Design and her mantra, click here.

Sandy Marsico is the Principal of Sandstorm Design, a user experience firm that turns customer insights into powerful interactive experiences through a unique blend of strategy, marketing, web design and usability services. Learn more at

Category: Performance Management / HR

Tags:  , , , ,

Vistage Staff About the Author: Vistage Staff

Vistage facilitates confidential peer advisory groups for CEOs and other senior leaders, focusing on solving challenges, accelerating growth and improving business performance. Vistage member companies grow 2.2x fa…

Learn More

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *