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TriNet PeopleForce: A Meaningful Week of Business Transformation, Resilience and Courage

October 6, 2021

On the heels of nearly two years shaped by uncertainty and upheaval, TriNet’s second annual, award-winning conference brought together business, culture and the arts with a roster of high-profile leaders to help small and medium-size businesses (SMBs) reimagine, rebuild and move forward as they come out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thousands of business leaders attended the four-day conference, which took place in-person from The Times Center in New York City and virtually from anywhere. The event featured a keynote discussion with Former First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama, as well as sessions with other high-profile leaders across a variety of industries, including Former Georgia House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, Retired U.S. Navy Four-Star Admiral William H. McRaven, 77th U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin, makeup and wellness entrepreneur Bobbi Brown and world-renowned photographer Annie Leibovitz.

Highlights of this innovative and inspiring event are outlined below. The entire conference can also be downloaded to view, on-demand, for a limited time here.

The State of the Union for SMBs

The conference kicked off with a discussion between TriNet President and CEO Burton M. Goldfield and Senior Vice President/Chief Marketing Officer/Chief Communications Officer Michael Mendenhall.

Throughout the conversation, Burton and Michael discussed the overarching workforce trends that TriNet is seeing with its SMB clients and how the workforce is being reshaped, including that:

  • Over 50% of SMBs are planning to continue working remote.
  • 20% of employees of TriNet’s customers have relocated since the beginning of the pandemic.
  • 14% of TriNet clients have moved company locations.

Overall, Burton noted the immense changes occurring in the SMB workforce, from hiring to organizational structure. While businesses are facing some challenges, they are also seeing new chances to innovate. He urged SMBs to remain positive and focus on the opportunities that are emerging from the pandemic – and to take this time to continue the advancement and wide adoption of technology.

Humanity in the Workplace with Michelle Obama

An event highlight was a moderated conversation between Michelle Obama and Michael Mendenhall. The Former First Lady shared that in her business ventures she has always strived to understand the “whole” employee by treating them with empathy and kindness. She took the audience through the stages of her career, her tips for success in business and in life, and her own entrepreneurial journey.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion with Stacey Abrams

Stacey Abrams sat down with author, journalist and television host Tiffany Cross to talk about DEI and its impact on the success of America’s businesses, the economy and the nation as a whole. She also discussed her own entrepreneurial and activist endeavors.

Other amazing take-aways attendees learned from the event are outlined below. Download the entire conference to witness every incredible moment.

  • Making your bed is vital to business success. Admiral William H. McRaven harkened to his best-selling book while sharing timeless advice from his storied military career. He also took a deep dive into the concepts of risk management, preparation and discipline, and how these important military traits can serve entrepreneurs and business leaders in the private sector.
  • The outlook for the U.S. economy is optimistic, but we need to invest a lot in the future of our country, according to 71st U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Dr. Lawrence H. Summers.
  • Digital healthcare has arrived and is here to stay, according to a panel of insurance and telemedicine experts.
  • · The digital revolution—ushered in at lightning speed by the pandemic—is also here to stay. This is according to The People Report, which was created in conjunction with The New York Times’ T Brand Studios and TriNet, and released at TriNet PeopleForce.
  • Cybersecurity is vital to business success, according to sessions by both 77th U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin and TriNet Chief Security Officer Timothy Torres.
  • Fear, risk-taking and uncertainty are part of the process and should be embraced. These were major take-aways from both Bobbi Brown and fashion entrepreneur Rebecca Minkoff.
  • · Sessions by Wharton Professor and best-selling author Jonah Berger, renowned brain coach Jim Kwik, workforce strategist Seth Mattison, leading authority on collaboration and innovation Erica Dhawan, and best-selling author Jay Papasan focused on lesser-explored areas of business success, such as persuasion, brain development, making dreams come true, inspiration, and workforce strategy.
  • Workplace equity was a vital topic at the conference, most notably in the session with Tina Tchen, former President and CEO of TIME’S UP and former chief of staff to First Lady Michelle Obama.
  • The leadership, discipline and business mindset it takes to be a successful athlete was a big topic of conversation in sessions with NBA professional athlete, venture capitalist and entrepreneur Andre Iguodala, as well as world-champion big wave surfers Kai Lenny and Keith Teboul.
  • The opportunities, challenges and trends discussed over four days at TriNet PeopleForce culminated on the final day as Michael sat down with the people we held the conference for—the founders and leaders of the SMBs that TriNet serves! He interviewed eight TriNet clients, including Abram Media, Aerosoles, Aidoc, BlockFi, Dagne Dover, Dailymotion, MHS Artists and NEOU. The discussed their individual stories of taking risks, overcoming obstacles and, ultimately, finding their path to success.

Realizing Your Dreams Through Bravery with Daniel Powter and Annie Leibovitz

The conference ended the way it began: with a moving and dramatic world-premiere! Multi-platinum recording artist Daniel Powter debuted a new single inspired by the bravery and resilience of small and medium-size businesses. His performance of his new song “Brave” was accompanied by photographs from world-renowned photographer Annie Leibovitz, taken of TriNet customers and shared for the first time at TriNet PeopleForce. Attendees were also treated to a conversation with this dynamic duo on their paths to artistic success.


The full roster of prominent speakers at TriNet PeopleForce included:

  • Michelle Obama, Former First Lady of the United States
  • Stacey Abrams, Former Georgia House of Representatives Minority Leader
  • Dr. Lawrence H. Summers, 71st U.S. Secretary of the Treasury
  • Steven Mnuchin, 77th U.S. Secretary of the Treasury
  • Admiral William H. McRaven, Retired U.S. Navy Four-Star admiral and former Chancellor of the University of Texas
  • Bobbi Brown, Makeup artist, entrepreneur and best-selling author
  • Annie Leibovitz, World-renowned photographer
  • World-premiere performances by Arielle Jacobs, Broadway Actor, Singer and Voiceover Artist; Joshua Henry, Tony & Grammy-Nominated Broadway Performer, Writer and Musician; Krysta Rodriguez, Actor of Stage and Screen; Lauren Lovette, Principal Dancer, New York City Ballet and Julian MacKay, Principal Dancer, San Francisco Ballet
  • Andre Iguodala, NBA champion, Olympic Gold Medalist, Tech Investor
  • Erica Dhawan, Best-selling author and Founder & CEO of Cotential
  • Jonah Berger, Professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, best-selling author and expert on change
  • Jim Kwik, New York Times best-selling author and CEO of Kwik Brain
  • Jay Papasan, Author, VP of Strategic Content at Keller Williams Realty and Co-Founder of ProduKtive
  • Seth Mattison, Internationally Renowned Workforce Strategist and Management Trend-Spotter
  • Tina Tchen, Former President and CEO of TIME’S UP and former Chief of Staff to First Lady Michelle Obama
  • Rebecca Minkoff, Leading fashion designer and best-selling author
  • Kai Lenny, World-champion big wave surfer
  • Keith Teboul, Professional windsurfer
  • Daniel Powter, Multi-platinum recording artist and songwriter
  • · Ralph Clark, President and CEO, Shotspotter
  • · Honorable Maria Contreras-Sweet, 24th Administrator, U.S. Small Business Administration, Managing Partner, Contreras-Sweet Companies, LLC
  • Other TriNet senior executives: SVP/CLO/Secretary Samantha Wellington; EVP/COO Olivier Kohler; EVP/CFO Kelly Tuminelli; SVP/Chief Sales Officer Jonathan LeCompte; SVP of Human Resources Catherine Wragg; SVP of Insurance Services Edward Griese; Chief Product Officer Lisa Reeves; Chief Security Officer Timothy Torres
  • Entrepreneurs and business leaders from among TriNet’s 17,000+ SMB customers.

This communication is for informational purposes only; it is not legal, tax or accounting advice; and is not an offer to sell, buy or procure insurance.

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