Scott’s Notes

Designing Your Life

Posted by on Sep 19, 2017 in Scott's Notes | 0 comments

Designing Your Life

What do you want to be when you grow up?   When’s the last time someone asked you that?  When you were 10 and you replied optimistically and enthusiastically, “A firefighter” or “A pilot” or “A doctor” or “An Executive Recruiter” (OK no one has ever said that last one!).  Since we are all constantly striving to grow and evolve as professionals and as human beings, it seems to me that we should ask ourselves this questions on a more regular basis.   When I am first introduced to someone who is seeking career guidance or needs help exploring options for their career, it is one of several that I ask them to answer.     Why does it matter?  Well, I guess it’s because it’s your life, and so the better you know the answer to that question professionally, the more successful you will be in articulating your goals and the more prepared you will be in assessing opportunities as they present themselves.  As Tim Brown asserts in Change by Design, it’s important to first inform ourselves about what is at stake and to expose the true costs (and benefits) of the choices we make. …if this is not what life is all about, I don’t know what is.   “How might you” describe what you want to be when you grow up or how you want to progress in your career and your personal life, etc?  And then how can you actually make it happen?   This is often a challenging question and I want to offer an approach to help you answer this question.   During the past year we’ve been working with more companies in the Bay Area and have found that those companies more than most have a “Design Thinking” mindset infused into their DNA.   That may be commonplace in the start-up world, and Dave Evans and Bill Burnett at the Stanford Business School wrote the book Designing your Life to help you apply similar concepts to thinking about your career. Of course, to do this, it’s helpful to understand some of the underlying principles of Design Thinking. And, keep in mind that while Design Thinking can be a Systematic Process, that does NOT mean it is a linear or sequential process…i.e., it can be messy!  Meaning  there is not one way or a “one best way” to move through the process.   So, with that in mind, here are some of principles of Design Thinking: Start with divergence:  Deliberately attempt to expand the range of options rather than narrow them. Heck, just start somewhere…that is what prototyping is all about.  You might have also heard it described as:  creating a “Minimum Viable Product” or “Failing Fast” as a way to learn from the experience Consider the constraints (in this case, in your life): What is it you Desire What is Feasible (possible given time, location, family constraints for example) Viable (primarily economical, but maybe health wise, etc) Plan for inspiration, ideation, implementation – just remember the SPARC acronym: “See-Plan-Act-Refine-Communicate” Define a “brief” to give yourself a starting point/framework/baseline and at the same time allow for serendipity, unpredictability, and the capricious whims of fate, for that is the creative realm from which breakthrough ideas emerge. If you already know what you are after, there is usually not much point in looking.   Of course, you must be in the right frame of mind to allow yourself to do this, so remember that: Curiosity does not thrive if you have grown cynical. The most successful people “embrace the mess.” They allow complexity to exist,...

Read More

Hiring Mastery (Continued)

Posted by on Nov 17, 2016 in Scott's Notes | 0 comments

In our last newsletter, I posted that despite all the technological advances we’ve achieved, the ability to identify, attract, and hire great candidates has become more challenging rather than simpler.  Part of the reason is that we’ve either forgotten or abandoned some basic human principles as a result of our misplaced overreliance on that technology.  By keeping in mind the human element and being purposeful and well-intended on the ultimate goal, we can collectively find and hire the right person for the role. In order to assist with that, I suggested there are some fundamental ways to improve the internal talent acquisition and improve results even when “life happens,” which include: 1)    Recruit your interview team: Ensure that only the people you need, who can add value or are organizationally necessary, are part of the interview team.  Gain their commitment to the process by investing time with them on the requirements of the position, explaining your priorities and what you need from them as participants.  Have back-ups for when there are scheduling conflicts.  Set expectations that any candidates they see will have been well-screened and are serious contenders.  Avoid wasting days after interviews by letting them know up front that their written feedback is important and required immediately after the interview. 2)    Schedules:  These are VERY fluid when dealing with the daily demands on executives (both clients and candidates). If you recruit a committed team of interviewers (and back-ups), this will ensure they prioritize your interviews. The more people on the interview team, the more schedules to manage, so start with a MVP approach (minimally viable participants). Set the number of interview rounds and the type (Skype, phone, in-person) at the start of the search (and stick to it as the candidates’ expectations will be based on this information). Be conscious that you will be recruiting passive candidates that have a job and balance the number of rounds and locations to a minimum. Use technology like Skype, employ an interview day, and schedule on-site interviews on Fridays or Mondays.  Design your interview process to be effective and candidate-friendly. Recognize the negative correlation between large numbers of interviewers and rounds of interviews, and the ability to identify and hire the best talent. 3)    Assessment:  How well your team interviews leaves an impression on the candidate.  Passive candidates are equally interested in a good interview process that helps ensure a good fit for both parties. Set a tenor of “Qualifying Candidates IN” rather than “Screening Them OUT.”  Give each of the interview team members a role.  This ensures that you get pertinent questions answered and minimizes the candidate repeatedly answering the same questions. When your interviewers are reading from the same playbook (consistent understanding of the position and requirements), it reflects well on the company and increases the candidate’s interest. 4)    The Perfect Candidate: DOES NOT EXIST.  Knowing your top three priorities will enable you to rank the pool and make a decision confidently on a final candidate.  Remember, you are likely hiring someone who has 80%+ of your desired requirements but all three of the top priorities. Have confidence in the process, from the extensive research, engagement and screening on the front end, to the interview team assessment on the backend.  Utilizing this process, a pool of 2-4 highly qualified and interested candidates is an excellent result and should result in a successful hire. 5)    Selling:  It is a two-way street (that is why they call it “recruiting!”).  If a candidate appears to be a good fit based on the responses to your questions, leave them time to ask their questions and...

Read More

Making Hiring Better

Posted by on Aug 16, 2016 in Scott's Notes | 0 comments

Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like life is full of contradictions: First of all, it’s getting easier in so many ways, yet so much more complex Kids are typically more challenging to raise as they are becoming more informed, interesting and interactive There is more and more content and less and less to watch Donald Trump…….. And, in the world of business: As it has become increasingly easier to post and apply for positions yet increasingly difficult to identify and hire great talent. For all the talk about Human Capital being a company’s most important asset, the exercise of acquiring that talent can be more of a “gauntlet” that does not ensure a successful hire and at times prevents it! When you hear your HR team or a recent hire comment that they survived the interview process you should take action before it becomes the cultural norm. Experienced talent is in demand and our clients face an environment where the “War for Talent” is fierce. The stakes have never been higher to identify, attract, assess, and hire efficiently the talent you want to join your company. I emphasized efficiently because it is most often the that last phase in the hiring process where we are seeing our clients have the most challenges with efficiency.  When our clients have approved the hiring of a resource they often have gone through weeks of approvals and want the role filled now (or yesterday).  What is often overlooked is how much control they exercise in that timing. Our review of our searches over the last year shows that the initial stages of getting candidates in and through the top of the recruiting “funnel” takes TGR anywhere from 25 – 35% of the total elapsed time of the search.  This research and recruitment portion of the process is where there is a great amount of variability as we are engaging many, in search of the few that align to the opportunity and have interest at that time.  In other words, if it takes 3 months to complete a search for an executive, we have typically helped our clients by working through that variability and identifying the top candidates within the first month.  The remaining 65-75% of the search process consists of the client feedback, interview and offer process, variables almost completely controlled by the client. While it seems that defining an efficient and straightforward “talent acquisition” process should be a given I also know that at the end of the day, even with the best process and intentions “Life Happens, Work happens, $%@! Happens”.  Everyone has these variables to contend with.  The best defense against these free radicals in the process is to ensure a shared commitment at a high level by those involve in the hiring process and a keen attention to who is involved. As they should be, our clients are focused on making the right hire the first time.  However, our experience is that the more complexity in an interview process (number of rounds, number of interviewers, lack of shared agreement on role priorities, etc) the less efficient, effective and the worse the candidate experience becomes.  Simplicity, clarity and proper expectation setting are the keys to improving the results of the talent acquisition process.  What is exciting is that these are all within the client’s control from the beginning of the search process to the end.  We recommend that just as much care be taken with determining the appropriate process and participants as is given to the requirements for the role itself. In our next newsletter, I will provide...

Read More

“Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz

Posted by on Jan 28, 2016 in Scott's Notes | 0 comments

“Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz

SUMMARY The four agreements are these: Be impeccable with your word. Don’t take anything personally. Don’t make assumptions. Always do your best. It’s the how and why one should do these things that make The Four Agreements worth reading and remembering. –P. Randall Cohan Purchase on Amazon    Scott’s Notes Is it ever too late for a new year’s resolution? We had our TGR 2016 planning meeting not too long ago, with the help of David Dibble from New Agreements, Inc., who did a great job facilitating our discussions.   In fact, right now, you’re probably all finishing your 2016 kick-off or planning meetings – they are the business equivalent of New Year’s resolutions.  The irony, of course, is that many times they are held in places like Vegas and Miami, so there goes all the personal resolutions: eat better, exercise regularly sleep more, drink less, out the window. While I hadn’t previously been familiar with the Four Agreements suggested by Don Miguel Ruiz: Be Impeccable with Your Word….and first with your thoughts Don’t Take Anything Personally Don’t Make Assumptions Always Do Your Best   or David’s Four New Agreements, 1 Find your purpose 2 Love, Grow, and serve others 3 Be a systems thinker 4 Practice a little every day   Collectively, I was probably conscientious or at least conscious about 7 of the 8 of them.   The one that I probably was less attuned to?  “Be a systems thinker”.  Since then, I’ve really tried to be more aware of the systems that are all around us.   For us at TGR Partners, we are deliberate (“purposeful”) about explaining our Executive Search System as one of the key benefits for the clients and candidates with whom we work .  That system infuses the 4 agreements and new agreements into everything we do.   And, by the way, a corollary to the system’s thinking concept is George Land’s Transformation Theory (and, yes, I took the “easy” way out with the Wikipedia link here).  If you buy into this theory, you come to accept that everything is always changing.  In other words, that is simply natural law.  It’s often summarized in business as the “S curve” of technology innovation.   Here’s the thing:  It’s not just true in business, it’s true in life…in the last week alone, I’ve been exposed to examples of it in sports, at a specific level, describing the sustained success of Tom Brady and Peyton Manning (where the author compares them to Madonna) and at a macro level with Delaware North’s commissioned study on the future of sports (here’s the full report).  And in entertainment – Jamie Foxx in this great podcast with Tim Ferris talks about how his biggest challenge as a performer is himself and not resting on his laurels.  Of course, it’s all around us in the business world too: Since we regularly place Sales Leaders for our clients, I’m reading about the transformation Sales Organizations may require due to significant internal or external disruptions or underperformance relative to expectations based on other factors.   So what?  What should all this mean to us? Since three is the magic number (and about all I can easily remember, I’d ask you to pose these three questions as you make business and personal plans for 2016: Do you buy into the idea that systems (natural AND man-made) govern our world, i.e. they are all around us whether we are conscious of them or not? Do you think that change is inevitable for improvement, or even just sustainability and existence? How does that impact how...

Read More

“Who” by Geoff Smart and Randy Street

Posted by on Sep 4, 2015 in Scott's Notes | 0 comments

“Who” by Geoff Smart and Randy Street

SUMMARY (from book jacket): …The average hiring mistake costs a company $1.5 million or more a year and countless wasted hours. This statistic becomes even more startling when you consider that the typical hiring success rate of managers is only 50 percent… The silver lining is that “who” problems are easily preventable. Based on more than 1,300 hours of interviews with more than 20 billionaires and 300 CEOs, Who presents Smart and Street’s A Method for Hiring. Refined through the largest research study of its kind ever undertaken, the A Method stresses fundamental elements that anyone can implement–and it has a 90 percent success rate…. Purchase on Amazon Scott’s Notes WHO is Serious about Hiring “A” players The title is intended as both a statement and a question. Who is the name of the book written Geoff Smart and Randy Street that was our most recent TGR Partners Book Club selection.  For anyone familiar with the book and the concept of “Top Grading,” Geoff works for the same consulting company, GH Smart, that was formed to help companies better evaluate the talent in their organization companies by adopting a new approach and implementing new processes. Who moves this idea up in the “Hiring Value Chain” by describing how many companies conduct their talent acquisition efforts currently and proposing some new approaches to help them do a better job of identifying, attracting, engaging, evaluating, and adding “A” players to an organization.  They define an “A” player as “A candidate who has at least a 90 percent chance of achieving a set of outcomes that only the top 10 percent of possible candidates could achieve.” AT TGR Partners, we like to say that we help companies that are serious about hiring top talent into important positions at their company.  This book provided an easy-to-remember framework to guide companies in that effort. The components of that framework we call the “4S’s of Serious Hiring”: –       Scorecard –       Source –       Select –       Sell For this newsletter, I will review the SCORECARD element and focus on Sourcing, Selecting, and Selling in subsequent editions. SCORECARD How often does a hiring manager put together a job description for a position based on the Job Requisition Form provided by their Talent Acquisition Group with a bullet-pointed list of tasks and skills/certifications someone in the role will have…It’s probably the rule more than the exception. Smart & Street (more “S’s”!)  suggest that Hiring Managers think about the purpose of having someone fill a role more like having a business strategy that will lead to the selection and hiring of an “A” player. 1)    What MISSION will this person have in this position?   Will this person be responsible for: Designing new products?  Establishing the architecture upon which the products will be built? Ensuring the quality development and deployment of the product?  Selling the Product? 2)    What OUTCOMES will be achieved when this person is in this role?  Be as specific as you can:  This person will identify 2 new products to be introduced to our mid-market clients.  Sales positions are great at this; there is usually a quota assigned to a new sales executive.  How can you identify metrics for other positions?  And if you can’t, should the position exist? 3)    What COMPETENCIES should the person possess?  These are both the skills and experiences the person should have. 4)    What CULTURAL COMPETENCIES (I think of this as “BEHAVIORS”) should the candidate demonstrate?  This part of the scorecard is intended to align the person in this position to the culture of both the company itself and to the function /...

Read More

“The Story of Purpose: The Path to Creating a Brighter Brand, Greater Company, and a Lasting Legacy” by Joey Reiman

Posted by on Apr 23, 2015 in Scott's Notes | 0 comments

“The Story of Purpose: The Path to Creating a Brighter Brand, Greater Company, and a Lasting Legacy” by Joey Reiman

SUMMARY (from book jacket): Some ideas are bigger than others, and the Master Idea—your company’s purpose—is the biggest. When Nike said, Just Do It, the company put a voice to the belief that human beings have no limits. When Disney asked people to wish upon a star, they instantly established the powerful idea that life is magical. The Story of Purpose details a proven approach to engage and align leadership and associates, suppliers and manufacturers, a sales force and customers, and brands and consumers through a higher purpose… Instead of focusing on what keeps you up at night, The Story of Purpose will leave you asking yourself “what gets me up in the morning?” Purchase on Amazon   Scott’s Notes Maybe its because I am getting older (and, hopefully, wiser), but I notice myself being more reflective of “metaphysical” questions of what gets me out of bed in the morning and “why am I here.” Plus, I am finding that more senior-level candidates we work with are looking not just at the next rung on the career level in considering new opportunities, but rather where they can make a valuable contribution. Furthermore, several recent studies and surveys have demonstrated that Millennials entering the workforce have different views on work and careers than their hard charging Baby Boomer (and now Gen X) parents.   Of course, I did have a sage colleague suggested to me early in my career that I consider the following question: “What are you doing every day to get you where you want to be?” That idea, along with a professor in college who encouraged us to have a life spent 1/3 learning, 1/3 earning, and 1/3 serving has directed some of the recent books we have read. These include “How will you measure your life” by Clayton Christensen, “What I Wish I Knew When I was 20” by Tina Seelig and “The Story of Purpose” by Joey Rieman.   In the Story of Purpose, Rieman provides examples where a number of well-known companies display how they are trying to expand on their mission based on the underlying premise…“Mission is what you do. Vision is where you are going. Purpose is why you are here,” Reiman says. It’s the why that matters most.   From a purely business perspective, Reiman argues that companies today whose only goal has been to make money need to delve deeper to identify their purpose, i.e. the way in which they can connect with consumers to make their lives better while also becoming productive and caring members of the world community. For the employees of those companies that take on the challenge seriously, the benefits can be significant: “Purpose is the force that has the ability to tip the scales and shift from a business model that is self-serving to one that serves others.”   In making the translation from a corporate to a personal message, Reiman offers this definition: “Purpose empowers you to make a difference in people’s lives. It offers the opportunity to ignite you and your employees’ spirits, liberate your creativity, unleash your compassion for others, all while driving dramatic business results. Purpose is why you get up in the morning. It’s why you sleep well at night.”   Of course, that is the $64,000 question: Why am I here / what is the meaning of life?   I’m certainly not going to try to resolve that in a 500 word or so newsletter, but from a professional perspective, Reiman defines purpose as the place where your talents and the needs of the company intersect. He calls this...

Read More