Archives for April, 2017

6 Reasons Your CEO Should Be Fired

My name is Mark Wayman, and I’m an Executive Recruiter focused on gaming and high tech. Over the last thirteen years I have placed 800+ executives. Compensation starts at $100,000, average placement is $250,000, and last year I placed several executives north of a million dollars.

First off, THANK YOU to everyone that read, shared, liked and responded to my last two articles. There were thousands and thousands of you, and though I can’t thank you all individually, consider this a group hug.

Today’s topic is mediocre CEOs…and I know many! We will refer to the CEO as “him”, however mediocrity is not gender biased; applies to both men and women. Outlined below are six reasons a CEO should be terminated. You may be wondering, how did these folks get their jobs? And given their behavior, how do they keep them? Well, my friends, it’s because relationships trump talent every day of the week. They have a relationship with someone on the Board of Directors, or if the company is privately held, they might be the Founder/CEO. Regardless, ego is typically the enemy, so here are my top six reasons they should be terminated.

Focused on Self; NOT Shareholders – Let’s address the elephant in the room. Some CEOs are completely self-focused and not the least bit concerned with company performance or rewarding the shareholders. It’s one thing to abuse company resources when you OWN the company. It’s something completely different to leverage those company resources when you are a publicly traded entity with a Board of Directors and shareholders. I have seen CEOs that flit around on the company jet for vacations; use company funds to buy tables at charity events so they can be the BMOC (big man on campus) with their cronies. They dine at luxurious restaurants and stay at five star hotels when they travel. They use company money to buy front row concert tickets to “entertain clients.” Is that really in the best interest of the shareholders? They justify it with “I deserve it”; however there are plenty of CEOs that don’t abuse company assets.

Does not Participate in Key Hires: “Not My Job” Syndrome – As an Executive Recruiter, dealt with several of these over the years. CEOs so self-focused they don’t have the time to participate in hiring key employees. What a recipe for disaster! It’s one thing to opt out at the lower level, however at the VP level and up, the CEO should at least take a 30 minutes to meet the candidate and validate that the chemistry/culture. Recently I saw two of these situations. In both cases the stock went south, and eventually the CEO was terminated. But not before he/she set the company back five to ten years.

Hires His Drinking Buddies – Not sure which is worse, a CEO that does not participate in key hires, or the one that hires all his friends. This one is a royal pain in my ass. Lord, send me $100 for every search I lost because the CEO hired one of his drinking buddies. I would just go live on an island in the Bahamas. I’ll say it again, and if you get nothing else from this article, understand this: Relationships trump talent. It’s a major reason that mediocre executives continue to get jobs. Over and over! Trust me, as Recruiters we sit there scratching our heads going, “How did that happen?”

Favors Politics Over Good Old Fashioned Hard Work – Great CEOs believe in good old fashioned hard work. My Dad jumped out of a plane over Normandy on D-Day, and then sold shoes at the May Company while he went to college at night. He worked tirelessly for 40 years to build his software business and buy shoe stores. They truly were “the greatest generation.” These days, many CEOs favor politics over hard work. Provided they have a buddy on the Board of Directors, they can hang out for years…and wreck the company. I know one CEO that spent five years running a company into the ground. Eventually the stock dropped so far that the company was acquired and the CEO was terminated. The real losers? The shareholders.

Dips His Pen in the Company Ink – This one comes in two forms, inappropriate relationships, and betrayal of fiduciary responsibility. These days, sexual harassment and inappropriate relationships are all over the news. Most times it’s with an employee; however it could also be with a vendor. For the CEO, it’s essential that his reputation be above reproach. Betrayal of fiduciary responsibility is a second hot topic, aka embezzlement. This could be outright stealing; however again, it also takes the form of “relationships” with vendors. One Executive Recruiter is rumored to provide free cruises to CEOs. Another takes his clients to Strip clubs. Integrity has joined the endangered list in America.

The “Not From Here” Complex – Maybe this is just a Las Vegas thing, but we occasionally get CEOs that are not from here, know nothing about the casino industry, but are under the misguided impression they’re going to show us “Las Vegas hillbillies” how to do gaming. Bahahahaha! Las Vegas is a town of two million run by two hundred, and the gaming industry does not tolerate fools. For the record, casinos are about the most efficiently run business on the planet.  Names withheld to protect the guilty, these folks last a year or two, only because the Board of Directors is too vain to admit they made a hiring mistake.

From Park Place…to the Park Bench: A Headhunters Secrets for NOT Ending Up Unemployed

My name is Mark Wayman, and I’m an Executive Recruiter focused on gaming and high tech. Over the last thirteen years I have placed 800+ executives. Compensation starts at $100,000, average placement is $250,000, and last year I placed several executives north of $1,000,000.

Some people are going to love this article; some people are not. If you are reading this, you are ambitious and driven. Most people these days are not. I’m not Chicken Little here to tell you the sky is falling, however based on my experience as a Headhunter performing very senior level searches, I have seen a cultural shift to entitlement, mediocrity and complacency. THAT…is awesome for you! Why? Because hard work and doing the right things WILL be rewarded. What half the people are not trying, those that do, rise to the top.

If your salary is less than $100,000 a year, responding to online ads, although not preferable, is an acceptable career strategy. It’s a herd mentality. Companies get 500 resumes, use key words to find a dozen qualified candidates (maybe!), and then laboriously work through the interview process. Check out for job postings. The preferred route will always be to check with your friends and leverage your peer network. The majority of GOOD jobs are never posted and go to referrals from existing employees.

Family Today; Traitor Tomorrow –I don’t care what your title is or how much money you make, it can all change in the blink of an eye. Remember 2008? Our economy was riding high and everyone was counting their money. Along came Depression 2.0 and tens of thousands of executives were terminated overnight. Even at great companies, the attitude can be “family today; traitor tomorrow.” The day you leave they forget your name. Once had a candidate with a non-compete. Asked if he could get it waived. His response was, “Get it waived? They don’t even return my calls!” Don’t get too comfortable, tomorrow could be your last day.

An Attitude of Gratitude – No matter how brilliant and talented you are…you need PEOPLE. Once placed a VP. He applied online to the company, so I was not getting paid, however he was my friend so I called the President of the hiring company and vouched for him. He gets the job and does not bother to thank me or call me for the next five years until he is terminated. Then he sends me a resume. Just lovely. My parents taught me to thank everyone and anyone that helps me. I send client retro candy after an executive placement. I buy lunches and dinners for those that send referrals. An attitude of gratitude goes a long way in this world.

Glory Days – Bruce Springsteen had them; but you can’t always relive them. Regularly get candidates trying to relive their glory days. One guy was $650,000 20 years ago, then $325,000, then $225,000 in his latest gig. He still thinks he is can get $650,000. He has been unemployed for two years. There was the CFO that was $400,000, but out of work two years. I told him I could do $250,000, however he said that was not acceptable. After four years of unemployment he did find a job for (you guessed it!) $250,000…but lasted nine days. Once you start backsliding on salary, an expectation that you can double your salary and get back to the glory days is not reasonable. Make sure you career aspirations are reasonable and realistic.

Bitter and Resentful is NOT Attractive – The worst candidate I ever dealt with was a CEO. Referred to me by a great source, this candidate’s resume was impeccable. He had been downsized after 20 years with a company, and I could tell by the initial phone call he was bitter and resentful about being laid off. Met him for breakfast to get his head on straight, however he had an ego the size of Mount Everest and refused to listen. Long story short, he did not get the $1,000,000 CEO job, unemployed for a year, got a $400,000 job, terminated again after a year, and is still unemployed to this day. Companies hire happy smiley executives –  humble and genuine is attractive.

Life is Like a Checking Account – You can’t write checks until you make deposits. You want to build strong relationships that will help you find new career opportunities? Be a giver…not a taker. No one likes a taker. You know the one, only calls you when he needs a favor. And most people are that way. If you offer unsolicited assistance to people they will remember you. My favorite question is, “How can I help you.” Be a giver, not a taker.

Build the Bridge BEFORE You Need to Cross the River – Most people live in a glass house and unless their Stepford world gets rocked, never stick their head up. As my Dad used to say, “They would not raise a lick at a snake if it was biting them in the butt.” And that is awesome…until it’s not. You need to build a strong professional network. Relationships are what matter. Not houses and cars and material things. People! Keep in touch with your friends. Keep your professional contacts fresh. A good example is Steve Cootey. He was SVP, Finance at the Las Vegas Sands. Because he is a great people persona and stays in touch with his professional contacts, he was offered the CFO job at Wynn Resorts. Most recently he took the EVP/CAO role with Station Casinos. Build the bridge before you need to cross the river.

Dig the Well BEFORE You Need a Drink – Sorry to mention this twice, however this is a HUGE issue for senior level executives. Arrogance, hubris and ego. Until the day you are terminated. Then you are start rapid dialing people and no one returns your call. I told a close friend after he was laid off, “Well, at least you get to find out who your friends are.” He scoffed at me. Two months later he was not scoffing. Maybe 10% of the people he called for help returned his calls. Why? Because executives are busy, and unless you are calling to do them a big favor, mostly they don’t care and can’t be bothered. I’m not judging, just explaining how the world works. I accepted that as a fact of life 13 years ago when I started my Executive Recruiting business. Over the course of those 13 years I built thousands of relationships. Now when I need a drink…I have a waterfall. Dig the well before you need a drink.

Relationships Trump Talent – So how do all the knuckleheads of life keep getting good jobs when talented executives can’t? They understand that relationships trump talent. They keep their connections fresh and have a deep network of friends. On the other hand, I have seen excellent executives that could not get work because they burned all their bridges. A great example is a GM that ran a large hotel/casino in Las Vegas. He was a great analytical guy, but was by no means a people person. He wrangles a GM job because the casino is owned by bozo private equity guys. Only took him a year to ruin the property and get terminated. Meanwhile he was setting fire to bridges all over the industry. Once he gets fired I receive the, “Hey let’s be buddies” email. Another big tip: Don’t get sideways with Executive Recruiters. There is no upside to alienating one of the few people that can help you. Relationships trump talent seven days a week.

Don’t Burn Your Bridges – As a follow-up to the previous paragraph, always remember what Walt Disney said, “It’s a small, small world.” Recently had a VP level candidate. He interviewed, but did not make the finalist list. Rather than thanking me for my time, he sent me a nasty email about how awesome he is and “the hiring company is incompetent and made a big mistake.” I won’t represent him in the future. On the other side of the table, had a hiring SVP that once told me, “I know everyone and don’t need you.” And, of course, now she hates her job because you got passed over. If she had been nice to me, would have been happy to help. And how about the COO that told me, “It’s an honor and privilege to work here; we don’t need Recruiters.” Six months later she was terminated along with all the VPs she had hired. You are SUCH a rock star…until you are not. There is no upside to burning your bridges.

Remember the Golden Rule – This is the bottom line: Treat others as you would be treated. There is no down side to treating people well, and it’s the right thing to do. Don’t let your title or money or power go to your head. As Coldplay said, “Now I sleep alone on the streets I used to own.” There are two verses in the Bible I have always loved. Whatever you did for the least of My Brother, you did for me. To whom much is given, much is expected. Be a giver…not a taker. As your Mom always told you, “Play nice.”

It is NOT an Honor and Privilege to Work Here!

My name is Mark Wayman, and I’m an Executive Recruiter focused on gaming and high tech. Over the last thirteen years I have placed 800+ executives. Compensation starts at $100,000, average placement is $250,000, and last year I placed several executives north of a million dollars.

This article is about FULL EMPLOYMENT.  The most common question I get from clients these days is,”Why can’t I get good candidates.”  There is a reason for that – they are all gainfully employed and not moving.  The article is specifically targeted at Human Resources executives and Hiring Managers. Executives tasked with attracting the most important resource in business: PEOPLE. I don’t care how good your product or service is, without an “A” management team…you will be an also ran.

When I started my Executive Recruiting business in 2004, the economy was at full employment, defined as an unemployment rate of 5% or less. Pretty much everyone that wanted a job…had a job.  In 2008 Depression 2.0 hit. Talk about a dramatic shift in the tide!  The announced unemployment rate in Nevada was 10%. In reality it was closer to 20%. After a long tenuous climb, we find ourselves at 5% unemployment in 2017: full employment.

So if everyone is working, how can companies attract “A” players?  Well, I have been pretty successful: 23 placements in Q416 and 12 in Q117. Here are a few of my tips for attracting the best of the best.

It’s Not an Honor and Privilege to Work Here – This is my #1 piece of advice. At full employment, “A” candidates own the market, not hiring companies. They have their choice of opportunities and commonly get multiple offers. The best and most attractive candidates are getting calls each week from Executive Recruiters. On the other side of the coin, there are very few “A” companies these days. An “A” company is defined as GREAT culture, strong management team, financially sound, excellent location (great place to live) and outstanding compensation. Your company may have one or two of these attributes, but all of them? I remember when the casino industry had 20 or 30 “A” companies, however due to consolidation and other factors there are now about a dozen. You have a couple companies that pay way above market rate, however the culture (and employee turnover!) is dreadful. Then you have you have a couple with great culture, however their compensation packages are well below market rate. And the landscape can change quickly. A company that was on top of the world might be bankrupt tomorrow. My advice to hiring companies? Lose the ego and arrogance – it’s not an honor and privilege to work here.

You MUST Have an Efficient Hiring Process – If you get a strong candidate…MOVE! I’m shocked by the number of fairly good companies that just can’t get this right. Their hiring process is broken. Sometimes I call it “death by due diligence.” If you can’t get someone hired in four weeks or less, you have little chance of landing an “A” player for two reasons. First and foremost, they will have multiple offers and be long gone. Second, they will lose confidence in your company and think, “If they treat me this poorly during the interview, is it really a place I want to work?” If you get a good one hooked, you gotta go!

Money, Title or Equity: Nobody Rides for Free – For the “A” candidates, prepare to ante up. No one takes a lateral during full employment unless they hate their job, and in that case, you have to wonder if they are really an “A” candidate. To be competitive you will need to offer a 15% to 25% compensation increase, a better title (moving up from Director to VP) and/or stock options. If you can’t offer some combination of these components, you will be challenged to hire great talent. Hey, don’t shoot the messenger!

Nobody Wants to Work for You – This is a BIG issue in the casino world. Once you get a reputation as a terrible place to work, you will never attract quality employees. It can take years, or even decades, to fix. Typically this is a cultural issue, as in, your culture is TERRIBLE. You treat employees poorly, and when they quit for greener pastures, they throw your company under the bus to anyone that will listen. How do you think I know so much about every gaming company in the universe? After reviewing 50,000 resumes, interviewing 5,000 executives and making 800+ placements, I can tell you which companies are in the “A” and “B” categories, and which ones are off the charts…bad. And I can quote scripture and verse on why those companies rank that way. Treat your employees with respect and professionalism.

Stop With Your Sour Grapes Already – This is the, “It’s not me, it’s you” syndrome. I’ll give you a great example. Placed a “C” level executive at what appeared to be an “A” company. His background was a Master’s Degree, 5 years at an “A” company and another 5 years at a second “A” company. That, my friends, is an “A” player. He quit after eight months and commented, “Worst company and culture ever.” So I fill the role a second time. Candidate is coming off a ten year gig at a major casino. Same result. She quits after nine months with the comment “Terrible place to work.” Meanwhile, the company is lobbing rocks at the two executives. “They are not talented.” “They were not very good.” Well, I don’t know much, but I know those two executives are top notch. The only common thread in all your dysfunctional relationships…is YOU. I stopped placing executives for that hiring company. Not a good place to work. Second example. Spent two months on a COO search and identified THE guy. Impeccable pedigree. Despite the fact I told the hiring company multiple times he was looking for a 20% increase in base salary, they offer him 25% LESS than his current salary. He declines the offer. Then they start throwing rocks at the candidate, saying he was not that great. Wait, you just made him and offer, right? Sour grapes is unattractive and paints your company in a bad light. NO WHINING!

We Have 10 Great Candidates for that Position – I’ll never forget the GM that told me he had 10 great candidates for a particular role. My response was, “There are not 10 great candidates on the planet. Maybe 5? Love you like a Brother, but that is just not possible.” Over the years I have figured this one out. YOUR idea of “A” candidate and my idea of “A” candidate may be vastly different. I only represent the best of the best, the top 2%, and they aren’t out applying to your online job postings. They are gainfully employed at “A” companies with outstanding pedigrees that other “A” companies salivate over. And another tip, candidates don’t list their alcohol, drug and gambling problems on their resume. They don’t tell you why they got terminated. Translation: A good looking resume does not always ensure success. Due diligence required.

Treat EVERYONE Courtesy and Respect – Always, always, always treat candidates with professionalism and respect. If a candidate invests the time to interview, for the love of Jesus, Joseph and Mary, give them closure. Don’t leave them hanging! If you treat a candidate poorly, they will tell 10 of their friends. Pretty quickly all you get is “B” candidates and the unemployed. That goes for Executive Recruiters as well. Don’t believe in them? Fine, but play nice. Do you know how many HR people kicked dirt on me, then got fired six months later and sent me a resume with their tail between their legs? Dozens. There is no downside to the Golden Rule. As my Daddy always said, “Treat everyone with kindness. It’s the right thing to do.”

Don’t Spam Your Job Postings – If one Executive Recruiter is good, that does not mean spamming your job posting to five Recruiters is even better. Much like the candidate that spams their resume, it is unattractive. Personally, I have no interest in working with companies that use more than two Recruiters on a search. Not only does it NOT produce more quality candidates, it shows a lack of loyalty and smells like desperation.

Pay Your Bills! – This is common sense, right? Even after I get an executive placed, I still need to get paid. Believe it or not, there are companies that slow roll invoice, and in some cases, don’t pay at all. Slow roll means to “late pay.” The invoice is due 30 days after the candidate start date. Most Recruiters don’t mind the check coming a week late, however if it’s a month late it paints the hiring company in a bad light. Then you have a certain casino company that stiffed me completely on a GM placement. Not to give it away, but the CEO is a narcissistic megalomaniac that just loves to sue people. Be sure to pay your bills in a timely manner.

Paint a Picasso! – During full employment, you want to paint a picture of an organization that is a GREAT place to work. That starts with CULTURE. Culture is far and away the #1 attribute of great companies. If you don’t have a strong culture, nothing else matters. You just become that casino company that has to pay 30% above market compensation because they have the highest turnover rate in the industry. Everybody wants to work there…for about a day. Pay at or above market rate, move quickly and efficiently during the hiring process, and treat candidates courteously and professionally. Paint your company as a Picasso.