Archives for February, 2022

6 Important Career Lessons from the Financial Crash of 2008 and the Pandemic of 2020

My name is Mark Wayman, and for the last 16 years I have owned an Executive Recruiting company in Las Vegas, Nevada where I’m focused on the gaming/casino and high tech industries. The business funds my true passion: Charity and Community. A portion of each placement is donated to a dozen national and local charities. To whom much is given…much is required. 

Disclaimer #1: Only Represent Candidates I Know Personally or by Referral – My clients expect me to personally vouch for each and every candidate. Can’t do that with people I don’t know and have never met. No disrespect intended!

 Disclaimer #2: I’m Not Here to Judge – That’s God’s job. My purpose is to provide career counsel based on 16 years of executive recruiting and 1,000+ placements. Hopefully it adds value for a few people.

 Disclaimer #3: Why I Love America – We can agree to disagree and still be friends! I welcome all opinions and viewpoints provided they are professional and respectful. Trolls will be deleted and blocked.

The plague has made for unprecedented times, especially in the hospitality industry. Last year was amazing, and then everything came to a grinding halt in February 2020 and stayed that way for months. When the economy reopened, hiring was brisk for three months…then leveled off as round two of the Pandemic arrived in October. 

When the country was shut down, millions of executives were furloughed and humbled. The plague does not differentiate between the CEO and the $10 an hour employee. For a short time, it felt like people were kinder and wanted to help each other. Like we are all in this together. Many of my executive friends reconsidered their priorities. Maybe my job is not the most important thing in the world? Possibly I should spend more time with my family? Is that former life really worth rushing back to? Unfortunately, once business resumed, most folks went right back to their bad behavior. Interesting how differently people act once the crisis is over and they get called back from furlough.

We are entering a very dangerous phase of the Pandemic. Much worse than the last time around. A small number of people that refused to participate in safety protocols have ruined it for the rest of us. In Nevada, we are under our second “stay at home” order. There is a 50/50 chance the country will be shut down completely in 2021. So I put a few of thoughts on paper about career lessons to consider…when the pendulum swings.

The Pendulum Always Swings – The best advice I ever received about executive recruiting came from the Founder/CEO of a successful boutique recruiting company in 2004. He said, “Mark, the pendulum always swings. Right now (2004) we have 5% unemployment. Everyone has a job. No one returns your calls. People treat you poorly…because they can. They don’t need anything from you. But one day, my friend, that pendulum will swing! Those same people that kicked dirt on you will be the lighting up your cell phone.” In 2008 the pendulum swung (financial crash). In 2020 the pendulum swung (plague).  Lesson: It’s a small world. The same people you pass on the way up are the same people you will see on the way down. As my Dad used to say, “Treat the Janitor the saw as you treat the CEO. It’s the right thing to do.” Kindness is FREE.

Build the Bridge Before You Need to Cross the River – There are two rules in Executive Recruiting. First, Recruiters get people for jobs…not jobs for people. If we don’t fill our executive searches, we don’t eat. Second, the wrong time to meet a Recruiter is when you are unemployed. Make sure you have a professional relationship with one or two Executive Recruiters. If you don’t know any, ask your peers for referrals. Stay in touch with your peers and help when you can. If you see a career opportunity, forward it to someone that is on furlough. Not saying you have to be a Master Networker, but don’t be the person that only calls to ask for a favor. Lesson: Your professional network is your lifeline. Stay in touch with your peers.

Lose the Entitlement Attitude – Here is a comprehensive list of what you are entitled to in life: NOTHING! You are not entitled to a job. This is not Russia, China or North Korea. In 2019, unemployment was 4% and pretty much everyone that wanted to work…got a job. This is 2020 and the world has dramatically changed. My #1 issue with candidates is an expectation they will are entitled to 2019 compensation. Not happening. An expectation that, despite the fact they are unemployed, they are entitled to a 25% pay increase. Not happening. If you are gainfully employed, you are exceedingly blessed. There are millions of people that would love to be in your position. Lesson: Lose the attitude of privilege and entitlement.

Have an Attitude of Gratitude – You would be surprised how many people I place in high paying jobs that never offer a thank you or a cup of coffee. Yes, I am paid to get people jobs, however a little gratitude is always appreciated (and remembered!). In some cases I don’t hear from an executive that I placed for years…until the next time they are unemployed. Goes to character. The secret to happiness? Being grateful and happy right here, right now, regardless of your circumstances. Is your family healthy? Do you have a roof over your head and food on the table? Everything else is a bonus. Lesson: Be generous with your praise and gratitude in all aspects of life. An attitude of gratitude goes a long way in this world.

Relationships Trump Talent – How else do you explain the knuckleheads that keep getting jobs over and over?  Some have alcohol and drug abuse issues. Others have a history of #MeToo problems, yet they get CEO jobs at publicly traded companies. Names withheld to protect the guilty. Eventually their Karma Bus arrives. My point is this: They keep getting those jobs because they have a buddy that hired them. Typically someone from the Board of Directors. Regardless of how incompetent they are, relationships trump talent. Lesson: Always play well with others. There is no upside to burning bridges. There is no upside to leaving a job on bad terms. It may feed your ego, however it’s a poor long-term career strategy.

Help When You Can – When asked why Paul McCartney was his opening band, Ringo Starr once said, “He wasn’t working. You have to help when you can.” He was kidding; however the same goes for helping your friends and peers. Today I sent out four new executive jobs to 500 people with the message, “If you know of someone that would be a good fit, kindly point them my way. Maybe you know someone on furlough or someone that lost their job completely.” I’ll be lucky to get two referrals. But let me tell you what I will get: Two dozen, “I make more money than that” and “I’m not interested” messages. You didn’t even read the email! Life is not always about YOU. Let’s be clear – my million dollar jobs go to those that that provide referrals and help their friends. Why? Goes to character. Lesson: Help out a friend. One day that friend may be you.

Dealing with Those that Did You Wrong!

My name is Mark Wayman, and for the last 18 years I have owned an Executive Recruiting company in Las Vegas focused on the gaming/casino and high tech industries. Placed 1,000+ executives from $100,000 base salary to $1,000,000. The business funds my true passion: Charity and Community. A portion of each placement is donated to a dozen national and local charities. To whom much is given…much is required.

Disclaimer #1: Only Represent Candidates I Know Personally or by Referral – My clients expect me to personally vouch for each and every candidate, and I can’t do that with people I don’t know and have never met. No disrespect intended. 

Disclaimer #2: I’m Not Here to Judge, That’s God’s Job – My only purpose is to provide career guidance based on my many years of experience. Hopefully it helps a few people. 

Disclaimer #3: Why I Love America – We can agree to disagree and still be friends! I welcome all opinions and viewpoints provided they are professional and respectful. Trolls will be deleted and blocked. This is not Twitter. 

Executive Recruiting Rule Number One – “Executive Recruiters get people for jobs…NOT jobs for people.” As the Owner of an executive recruiting firm, I don’t get a salary or vacation or PTO or paid health insurance. If I don’t get people placed…I don’t eat. Executive Recruiters are laser focused on filling their open jobs. 

Executive Recruiting Rule Number Two – “The wrong time to meet an Executive Recruiter is when you are unemployed.” Again, Executive Recruiters focus on filling their open roles, and it’s much easier to get a job when you are gainfully employed. If you don’t have one or two solid relationships with a top Recruiter, ping your professional network for referrals. Do it now, not when you are unemployed.

Today’s topic is dealing with people that did you wrong. There is just no getting around it; occasionally someone is going to stick it to you. Fortunately, most people in this world have good hearts, morals and ethics, and follow the Golden Rule. But not everyone. Let’s start with three stories:

  • Where is Your Guy? – I placed a Vice President many years ago $250,000. On his start date I get a call from HR, “Where is your guy?” My response, “What? He is not with you? He was supposed to start today. So I call this knucklehead and he says, “I got a better offer from the Venetian, so took that job instead.” He never told the hiring company. He never told me. Unbelievable! I know what you are thinking, “Godfather, you are just mad because you lost the commission.” No, I’m mad because it was humiliating and makes me look incompetent to the client. I care far more about my reputation than any commission.
  • She Don’t Owe You a Favor! – I remember the first time I placed an executive that did not bother to say thank you. It was a CIO for $350,000. Best job of her life…by far. She got to her new employer and literally forgot my name. So I’m telling a friend this story one morning and he says, “Did you get paid?” Well, yes. “She, don’t owe you any favors.” Just had it happen again recently with a VP, Human Resources. Placed her in the best job of her life; now she does not respond to my messages. Maybe I was just born 20 years too late. Back in the 60s and 70s Las Vegas was run on loyalty. Your word meant something. People took care of each other.  These days it feels more transactional.
  • When it’s a Personal Friend…it Hurts – I won’t lie, when someone I consider a personal friend does me wrong, it knocks me off my game for a day or two. There are the REALLY tough ones. The acquaintances I don’t much care about, but when it’s someone I built a relationship with for 20 years, it’s very personal. Because that means they were only in it for the transaction. They are only in it for what I can do for them. Loyalty is a two way street. I can’t tell you how many times I have an executive interview for a President role (when they are unemployed!), but then when they find a job I never hear from them again. In a word: disappointing.

These are just three examples. As an Executive Recruiter, I get screwed over on a regular basis. Clients that give me an executive search, then waste weeks of my time and never hire anyone. Candidates that lack integrity and lie about everything from education to title to compensation. So how do I deal with these situations? Here are a few of my strategies.

  • Don’t Let People Steal Your Joy – Think the people that did you wrong are obsessing about you? Oh, hell no! As one terminated CEO told me, “Godfather, they forgot my name the day I walked out the door.” When you leave a company, let it go and move on. The world is full of bitter, angry people. Look at all the road rage. My wife was out walking one day and a guy tried to kick our dog! There are many people on a hard journey. They are unemployed. They have COVID. They have financial hardship. If you are healthy…you are blessed. If you are gainfully employed…you are blessed. God, family and friends – everything else in life is a bonus.
  • Focus on the People that WANT to Be on Your Bus – Not everyone is going to like you. There is a long line of Mark Wayman haters. The line starts at the door and goes around the block. Why? Because I would not get them a job or invest in their cooking show or send free Cirque tickets or introduce them to a CEO. So they run around town, “Mark Wayman is a jerk! Mark Wayman is not a Christian because he would not help me.” Here is a great story to emphasize the point. There was an entertainment executive that used to attend my parties, but he was a bit creepy and continually hitting on the women executives. So I 86ed him. Recently he wrote a book and dedicated an entire chapter to trashing me because I would no longer allow him at the parties. The best advice I can give actually came from an A.A meeting, “I was able to stop drinking the day I discovered I don’t give a fat rat’s ass what you have to say about me.” I’m five years sober, but I could start drinking again tomorrow if I worried about what people say. Always remember this: When someone speaks poorly of you, it says nothing about you…and everything about them.
  • Karma is the Most Ruthless Gangster – Remember the guy I told you about that did not show up for work on day one? Five years later he sent me his resume. Seems he was terminated at the Venetian. I responded, “You must have sent this resume to the wrong person, because you are not someone I would represent. We’ll be rooting for you!” That was in 2018 – he remains unemployed to this day. I could tell you a dozen stories about candidates that accepted counter-offers and were terminated six to twelve months later. They only gave you that counter-offer to allow time to find your replacement! Not everyone that treats you poorly will “get theirs”, but what goes around has a tendency to come around. As my Dad used to say, “They will get what’s coming to them; no need for you to help.”
  • If You Seek Revenge, Dig Two Holes – Sure, getting revenge makes your ego feel better, but all that obsessing and stress will age you. And make you drink or do drugs. Over the last 18 years I have only been stiffed twice by clients. In both cases I had an audit trail and could have litigated to receive payment. But I didn’t. I don’t want litigation to be my legacy, and to this day I can say, “I have never sued anyone and no one has ever sued me.” Now I won’t lie, I did recruit away a dozen of their best executives.
  • Not Everyone is an A**hole – Although some days it feels like it. Remember the guy I placed that was a no show on day one? Well, by God’s grace I had another candidate. She accepted the job offer and was highly successful. So successful that she is now the CEO of a large company. This executive never forgot that I helped her during a tough time, and has shown incredible loyalty to me over the years. More importantly, I consider her a personal friend. Not everyone is an a** hole.
  • Never Forget What Mother Teresa Said – I print this poem every month in my newsletter.  Here is a portion: “People are often unreasonable, illogical and self-centered; forgive them anyway. The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow; do good anyway. You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God; it was never between you and them anyway.” Truer words were never spoken. You can’t fix people – that is God’s job.
  • Let Go and Let God! – This…is my secret weapon. Prayer. When I start to get bitter or angry about a situation, I “let go and let God.” I literally lift it up to the Lord and pray for those individuals that have wronged me. If not for prayer…I would still be an alcoholic. It is a poor use of your time to obsess about people that don’t care about you. The Pandemic has drilled home the point that life is short. That family is everything. That before we rush back to things, we should consider what is worth rushing back to. That you are killing yourself for an employer that would replace you in a day if you died.

Compensation: Stop Fighting Over Nickels!

Recently I lost a VP level candidate. He was making $200,000 and I offered him $350,000. But rather than thank me for the incredible job offer, he chose to get bogged down in some of the details. He will never, ever see an offer like that again. 

And let’s be clear on two points. First, this has happened several times this year. Second, I’m not here to arm twist candidates. It is always 100% the candidate’s choice on a job offer. If asked, happy to offer counsel. But the Pandemic made people lose their minds. Counter-offers, competitive offers, asking for money AFTER the offer letter is signed, ghosting on start date.

Here is $50,000 of career advice…completely pro bono. First, stop fighting over nickels! Does the job move your long-term career forward? Is the overall W2 solid? Not just the salary. Evaluate the bonus, equity and benefits. Second, if you don’t remember anything else from this article, remember this: The storm is coming. January revenues were terrible. And it’s going to get worse from here. No more stimulus; no more enhanced unemployment, and rising interest rates are going to humble the stock market and real estate market. Third, the casino world is like Mayberry RFD. A million employees and 200 make all the decisions. Getting sideways with people is a career limiting move. I have seen executives burn a bridge and literally never work again. Karma is a ruthless gangster.  All God gives you is choices. Choose wisely.