Category Archives: creativity

Ask and You Shall Receive


By Carmen Lapham, Director of Recruiting and Operations, Q4B

Someone once asked me to give them some advice about the recruiting business and my thoughts on what it takes to be a successful recruiter. Most of the answers that I gave were pretty straight forward, namely, you have to be persistent, willing to take rejection after rejection; you have to know your market; you have to be creative; you must be able to make connections not just with people but with information about companies, candidates and how that information can best be presented; you must have a goal, have a plan and understand that the recruiting business is a numbers game. In other words you have to sell, yourself, your candidates, your client’s opportunity, your organization, your ability to deliver what you promised. You have to be a successful sales person.

Midway through my response to this individual I had the sense that what was being asked was not what I was answering. This individual was looking for the quick, easy answer and we all know that no matter what business you are in, there are no quick, easy answers to how to be successful.

Looking back on this incident I should have handled it differently. I should have asked the individual a question instead of immediately jumping off into giving my 30 second elevator speech answer. The question I should have asked was “Do you know how to ask the right questions?” Being able to ask the right questions is truly the key to success for recruiters, sales people in general and many other professions.

But just asking the right questions is not enough. In a recent blog post from Jim Connolly (one of the marketing thought leaders that Q4B follows) the suggestion is made that there are three additional components to be considered when seeking the best and most complete answers to your “right questions”. You need to ask the right people, you need to ask more questions and you need to question the answers.

Isn’t that what good recruiters do?

In our case, the right people are the hiring managers, the decision makers who can give us answers regarding the position that needs to be filled, why it is open, what the requirements are, the must haves, the performance expectations, the sense of urgency, the profile of the person who last held the position, the opportunity, the selling points for our candidates as to why they would want to work there and an understanding of realistic salary ranges for the position.

And based on the answers that we get from the above questions, we ask more questions in order to get a deeper and more complete understanding of the job order that we are working to fill, the type of relationship that we can expect to have with the client (cooperative or not) and the level of commitment on the part of the client to interviewing and hiring our candidates.

And we sometimes need to question the answers if they don’t ring true or sound too canned. Asking why is the position open and getting the answer that the company is expanding should prompt more questions that will in turn provide better and more complete information that can be used to sell our candidates on the opportunity. Asking what are the performance expectations for the position and getting a laundry list of requirements (see JATS) should elicit more questions about what the candidate needs to be able to do in the first 90 to 180 days and what the client will be evaluating the new hire on when it comes time for review.

There needs to be an understanding between recruiters and hiring managers and decision makers that both sides know that the only reason a company is hiring is that they have a problem. It could be a good problem or a bad problem but it is a problem. And any company that we contact should be asking us one question, their right question and that is “Can you solve my problem?”

So, what would your answer be?



What Ever Happened to WOW!

“I think work and business can be creative and exciting, a hoot, a growth experience, a journey of lifelong learning and constant surprise. But, to be honest, I think such rewards will only be yours if you learn to approach your career and enterprise with the strategy I call…THE PURSUIT OF WOW!”

–          Tom Peters, The Pursuit of WOW!

I was re-reading Tom Peters 1994 best seller, The Pursuit of WOW! and I came across a list of what Peters called Values for the ‘90s. This was a list of 10 aspirations that the author felt would provide some guidance for any size company attempting to achieve business excellence as they tried to navigate the ever changing world of the last few years of the 20th century and beyond.

Here is the list. It is as appropriate today as it was when Peters wrote his book. As you read the list, ask yourself if any or all of the values apply to your company, and if some or all don’t, why not?

Here is the list.

1.    Do fabulous work and be known around the world for your innovativeness.

2.    Attract exciting people – more than a few of whom are a little offbeat.

3.    Raise hell, constantly question “the way things are done around here,” and never, ever rest on your laurels. (Today’s laurels are tomorrow’s compost.)

4.    Make sure that those who leave your company, voluntarily or involuntarily, can testify to having learned a lot, having had special experience, and having made fast friends while they were employed. (You shall be known by your alumni.)

5.    Have a collegial, supportive, yeasty, zany, laughter-filled environment where folks support one another, and politics is as absent as it can be in a human (i.e., imperfect) enterprise.

6.    Ensure that no question or innuendo ever surfaces about your ethics.

7.    Dot the “I”s, cross the “t”s, answer the phones promptly, send out errorless invoices, and in general never forget that the devil is in the details.

8.    Work with exciting customers (and other partners) who turn you on and stretch you, from whom you can learn, and with whom you enjoy associating (and who pay their bills on time, too).

9.    Take in substantially more money than you spend (where spending includes above-average compensation and a very high level of investment in the future).

10.                       Grow via quality services and customers, not via growth for growth’s sake.

So, how did your company do? Any values on this list of ten that you feel your company is not doing? Can you, owner, manager, business leader help your company improve in any of these areas?

I can think of a some companies that live these values each and every day, Zappos, Groupon, SAS, HEB, just to name a few.  I can think of far too many that only pay lip service to most of the listed values and many that don’t make any attempt to embrace them at all. You would think that over the last 17 years since the book was published, the vast majority of company leaders would read this list and say ”We do that. Those are our values. It is one of the reasons we are so successful.”

In this dog eat dog world of business today, are you pursuing the WOW! Or is the (Bow)WOW! pursuing you?

I + A = G, Your Formula for Success

“Only companies that can consistently bring imaginative, value-added products, services and value propositions to market will survive and grow in our rapidly-changing economy.”

–       Robert B. Tucker, Driving Growth Through Innovation

The current issue of Fast Company features the world’s 50 most innovative companies along with a Top 10 list of innovative companies in 21 key industries and 4 major emerging markets. The companies listed had all exhibited to some degree or another some level of creative thinking, implemented ingenious processes and offered intelligent products or services.

To no one’s surprise the list included Apple at number one, along with Google, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Groupon, Evernote as well as some more mainstream companies like AT&T, Nissan, IBM, Intel, Dow Chemical and Boeing. The list was so varied, from size of company to market sector to time in business, thus proving that innovation can be found anywhere.

In looking over the list I wondered if there was one common denominator, one thing that all the listed companies possessed regardless of size, market sector or time in business. I decided that every company has a culture of innovation, and without that culture, none of the companies would have made the list, some would no longer be in business or would never have existed at all.

If you are not sure if your company has a culture of innovation here are some questions you could ask.

–      How would you describe your organizations culture: its values, beliefs, behaviors?

–      What stories get told around your firm that encourage innovative behavior, and what stories get told that do the opposite?

–      How big a gap exists between what you believe to be your firm’s optimal climate for innovation and the one that exists presently?

–      Does your business unit or company have the right balance of people at all levels of the organization to ensure a culture open to innovation?

–      What barriers are responsible for blocking increased innovative output?

–      Do you have enough people who can champion ideas, who can lead teams to come forth with new products, services and business models?

Once you have the answers to these questions and think that you understand your company’s culture, you can consider the next step on your road to being an innovative company, bringing on innovative talent.

Here are some of the characteristics that innovative people seem to have in common. Innovative people:

–      Are creative: they ask questions constantly, like looking for solutions, exploring new areas

–      Have broad interests: are eager to learn, like exploring ideas with others, have hobbies, are multidisciplinary

–      Are problem solvers: have an experimental style, “do it first, explain later,” are not afraid to make mistakes, take multiple approaches to problems, willing to do the unexpected

–      Are self-motivated/energized: are self-starters/driven, results oriented, have a passion about what they do, take initiative

–      Have a strong work ethic: are committed, work in cycles, flexible, not structured work habits, are tenacious

–      Are resourceful: are able to network to solve problems and get information, are able to get things done through others. 

When we engage with our clients to provide some level of managed recruiting service we are always looking for talent that has the right combination of experience, attitude and ability and would be comfortable in the client’s environment, would fit the culture. Trying to put an innovative type candidate into a company that is not open to innovation is akin to putting a square peg in a round hole. It just won’t work.

Answering the questions about your company’s culture, deciding that your company would want to become more innovative and then putting in place a process that encourages attracting the innovative talent that you will need is not an easy task. It will take work. But think of the pay off, and the idea that someday your company could be on a similar list. Life should be so good!

So what about the formula, I + A = G?  It is Innovation + Action = Growth and thanks to John Jantsch with Duct Tape Marketing for sending it on.

How to Get Rich Quick!

First of all, if you are looking for a good stock tip, or the name of the long-shot in the 6th race at Sam Houston Race Track, or the combination of numbers in the Mega Powerball Global Lottery (3-13-23-33-43, 34 Powerball number) this is not the place.

Getting rich is somewhat subjective. Each of us has an idea of what rich is. For some, perhaps most, rich is having enough money to live and enjoy the things that we like without having to worry about where the money is coming from. It could also be about job satisfaction and self-fulfillment. For others, rich is living a lifestyle that we only see on “The Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” or “Private Islands for Sale”.

Regardless of how you define rich, getting rich for most of us is a matter of planning, saving, investing and highly dependent on the type of work that we do.

In his best selling book, Soft Selling in a Hard World, Jerry Vass suggests that there are only three ways to get rich, to make exceptional money:

  • To work in a place nobody wants to be,
  • To perform work nobody else wants to do, or
  • To perform work that nobody else can do.

Yes there are exceptions to this. You could have worked or are working for a company that recently went public and your stock options now allow you to go and shop for your own private island.

However, it is Vass’s third option that could apply to everyone in the working world regardless of the type of work that you perform. Let me explain.

To perform work that nobody else can do does not imply that unique, one of a kind talent is required to do that type of work. It does imply that no matter what type of work you do, that you do it the best that you can, that you bring passion, dedication, a strong work ethic, determination, a thirst for learning, initiative, creativity and achievement to your work. In other words you make your work, Your Work and no one else can do Your Work.

This sounds easier than it is. It also sounds intuitive. Doesn’t everyone approach their work this way? Doesn’t every employer look for people with the above mentioned attributes? The answer is NO. If everyone approached work this way and employers only looked for these types of candidates, then everyone would be rich. And we know that is not the case.

But why not? What is preventing workers from approaching their job with the attributes mentioned above and making it something that only they can do? What is preventing employers from looking for employees with these same attributes that will make them (the employees and employer) rich?

These are each the $64MM question. And if I had the answers I would be rich, be on my private island and blogging about the availability of fresh limes for my imported Key Lime Pie.

Do you have the answers? Or are you just waiting for that next hot tip or winning lottery number (3-13-23-33-43, 34 Powerball)?