Blog - Page 2 of 20

Stop Yelling at the Recruiter, Part 1

My name is Mark Wayman, and for the last 15 years I have owned an Executive Recruiting firm focused on gaming and high tech. Compensation starts at $100,000, average placement is $250,000, and over the years I have placed a number of executives north of a million dollars.

Disclaimer: I only represent candidates I know personally, or by referral. No disrespect intended. I’m a one man show – no Recruiters, no Employees. As such, I’m laser focused on my client searches and representing my candidates.  Executives I have known for many years that have supported my business and charity work. If nothing else, I’m the most loyal person you ever met!  Two most important points to remember about any Executive Recruiter. First, the wrong time to meet a Recruiter is when you are unemployed. Second, they have jockeys (candidates); they are looking for horses (clients).

Any and all comments on this article are welcome, provided they are professional and respectful. That’s what I love about America, we can agree to disagree and still be friends.

Layoffs, Acquisitions and Consolidation: The Odd Man Out – This month a CFO sent me his resume. His company was acquired, and he is odd man out. Not unusual. New Captain, new Sailors. When a company is acquired, it is a common practice to instill “their executives” to run the show.

Angry and Bitter is NOT Attractive – From my first interaction with the CFO, I could tell he was angry and bitter. And I get that. He is being pushed out through no fault of his own. Let me be crystal clear: I have compassion and empathy for his situation. But after 15 years and 900+ executive placements I know one thing for certain – unhappy, bitter people are just too challenging to deal with and to sell. I asked him a few basic questions about compensation, relocation and compliance (background). When asked about compensation he said, “I don’t play that game! You just bring me jobs!” Huh? As an Executive Recruiter, it’s important that I understand your expectations, including compensation and relocation. It allows me to gauge which career opportunities are a good fit.

Companies Hire Smiley, Happy People – Long story short, I declined to represent this CFO. His resume is great, however he needs to decompress and get his head on straight prior to pursuing a new career opportunity. Companies hire happy, smiley people. Not angry, bitter trolls. The last thing you want to do during an interview is make a negative comment about a former employer or Boss. Quite possibly the biggest career deal breaker…ever. Hiring companies are looking for employees that have moved on in life and are ready for a new challenge. As my Dad used to say, “If you are looking for revenge, dig two holes.” I literally know “C” level executives that never worked again because they refused to get over being terminated or laid off.

Stop Yelling at the Recruiter! – Riddle me this. If you lose your job, who is mostly likely to help you? Well, 85% of new jobs come from your professional network and 10% come from Executive Recruiters. How does alienating a Recruiter help improve your situation. First, it is not their fault that you were terminated or laid off. Second, they might be the resource mostly likely to find you that new career opportunity. Like your Mom always said, “Be nice and play well with others.”.

#jobs #careers #hiring #recruiting #executiverecruiting #headhunter #careeradvice #interview #jobtips #humanresources #layoff

Terminations: How They Should Be Conducted

I rarely forward articles, however this one on Termination Procedures is a MUST READ.

The Author is Ron Williams, my close personal friend for the last 20 years. He was career Secret Service (protected 5 Presidents) and owns Talon, a security and risk management firm. As you may know, I spent three years in counter-terrorism working with the CIA/FBI after 9/11, which is how Ron and I met. This article on the right way to handle terminations really hit a nerve.

The article discusses the right protocol for terminating employees, especially those with a violent temper or a propensity for violence. Highly relevant given the current industry consolidation and layoffs. We hear about workplace violence on a daily basis these days. There have been several “incidents” in the casino industry, so don’t take this subject lightly.

And THIS is why I don’t believe in online job postings or cold calling candidates on LinkedIn. No matter how good the resume looks, it’s critical that you understand their background and why they were terminated over the past few years. Alcohol and/or drug abuse? Sexual harassment? Embezzlement? Workplace violence? That won’t be listed on the CV. With further ado, with full credit to Talon CEO Ron Williams (

Terminations: How They Should Be Conducted

A day after Illinois State Police inquired about Gary Martin’s criminal history in 2014, two court clerks in Mississippi discussed whether to send authorities a chilling psychiatric evaluation in which the future mass killer described himself as “an abuser” and admitted to anger issues. “I have a problem controlling my temper … when I get real upset,” Martin told a psychiatrist in 1995, according to court records.

Martin, then 22, underwent the court-ordered psychiatric examination after he was sentenced to five years in prison for beating his then-girlfriend with an aluminum baseball bat and then stabbing her. He was released after serving less than three years, despite his former girlfriend having objected to his release.

The evaluating psychiatrist detailed Martin’s violent nature, especially when he felt sad or abandoned. The psychiatrist also raised concerns that Martin could harm his ex-girlfriend again, but he wrote that Martin did not pose a threat to the general public at that time. The report ends with an unsettling passage, as the doctor refused to rule out future violence and eerily foreshadowed last week’s deadly shooting in Aurora, Illinois.

On February 20, 2019, Gary Martin reported to the Director of Human Resources at the Henry Pratt Company in Aurora, Illinois. Upon learning that he was being terminated, Gary Martin pulled out a handgun that was registered to him, and shot and killed the Director of Human Resources, the plant manager, and an intern from Northern Illinois University in the HR office. Martin then killed two more employees outside the office in the warehouse and wounded a sixth person. Martin then proceeded to wound five police officers arriving on the scene before being shot and killed by police officers.

Based on Martin’s previous conviction in Mississippi, he was not authorized to own a gun. In fact, he had been instructed to turn the weapon into the police, but no follow up was conducted to ascertain if the weapon was ever relinquished. A review of this chilling case reveals protocols and procedures that should have been in place before the termination process.

First, based on Martin’s past behaviors, it can be assumed that he was being terminated for displaying aberrant and dysfunctional behaviors that gave an indication of a propensity for violence. The company should have consulted with a threat assessment professional or forensic psychologist to determine Martin’s threat level.

Second, a thorough background check should have been conducted before the termination process to determine if Martin had any issues since he was hired 15 years prior to his termination. A background check should have alerted HR that Martin had a criminal record for beating his girlfriend and had been incarcerated in prison. The initial background check when Martin was hired failed to disclose his conviction, but a second more thorough check probably would have disclosed this valuable information.

Third, HR should have hired two armed security officers, with police experience, to be present and alert in the room or immediate vicinity, knowing he had a violent temper.

Fourth, the room should have been set up to have an escape route for the victims in the event Martin became violent.

The personal property of the terminated employee should be given to him/her after termination, and he/she should be escorted off the property by security personnel. A termination is a stressful event, and based on Martin’s past behavior, it should have been anticipated he would react. This is not a newsletter to criticize the folks who lost their lives, but rather a critique for future terminations. When people who have anger management issues and a history of violent behavior are put into stressful situations, they will react to the event in a violent manner.

This sad incident should teach us to be prepared.

Ron Williams

United States Secret Service-Retired


Talon Companies

5 More Issues When Dealing with Layoffs, Part 2

DISCLAIMER: Only represent executives I know personally or by referral. No online job postings, no candidate databases, no unsolicited resumes or cold calls. No disrespect intended!

My name is Mark Wayman, and my day job is Executive Recruiter specializing in gaming/casinos and high tech. Over the last 15 years I have placed 900+ executives between $100,000 and $2,000,000 with the average being $250,000 base salary.

This is the second part of my article layoffs. You can find the first part here:

Due to industry consolidation and the slowing economy, the layoffs have begun. In 2019, interest rates will continue to rise and Wall Street will continue to fall. What goes up, always comes down. It’s been a great 10 year ride of prosperity, however the party is over. That means more layoffs. The days of IBM, 30 years and a gold watch are over.

Ego is the Enemy – This is the #1 challenge I experience with executives that were laid off. They are so busy cussing out their former employer and obsessing about their former Boss that they can’t move forward. Let me tell you something very important: THEY DON’T CARE ABOUT YOU. Stop caring about them. Economies fail; people get laid off. Want to know the right attitude? Try this, “I am a consulting company of one that just happens to be on someone’s payroll.” The days of IBM, 30 years and a gold watch are over.

I’m Retired! – A reward for a career well done. I could not be any happier for you, but don’t tell anyone that will listen, “I’m retired” unless you really are. Once your peers and Executive Recruiters here that, they won’t send you career opportunities. Years ago an executive in his 70s that told me he was retired. Given his age, that made sense. Then he asked to meet for breakfast. Well, I know what that means. The only time this guy asks me to breakfast is to ask for a job. Long story short, I didn’t represent him because he told everybody he was retired. If I submit him as a candidate the client will respond, “He told me he is retired.” If you are retired, great. If not, keep your trap shut.

I’m Retired, Part 2 – Many years ago we sold our software company to IBM. And I retired. For real. I didn’t call everyone and post it all over social media. Simply went to Del Mar, bought a race horse and called it a day. Two weeks later a CEO called and asked for my help with talent. Hmmm…I can help my friends get jobs, support my charity work, and work when and with who I want? OK, I’m not retired.

It’s OK to Decompress – You worked like a sled dog for the last 10 years, so take a month or two off. If you have a one year non-compete, take a year off! You can’t work anyway, so why not spend time with the family or travel the world? What you DON’T want to do is take six to twelve months off because you are looking for a job that does not exist. BAD CAREER STRATEGY. You have to take compensation, relocation and market conditions into consideration during your job search. If you put half a dozen boundaries on it, and ask for way too much money, that is not decompressing. That is called being unreasonable, so get comfortable with unemployment because you will be drawing it for a long time.

The Godfather on Non-Competes – Yeah, I know, your Brother is an Attorney and says they can’t enforce it. Bahahahahaha! Technically he may be right, but your former employer will send a fleet of Attorneys to tie you up in court for a year. At which time…your non-compete will expire. If your non-compete is geographical to Nevada, you have two choices – relocate out of state or sit it out. Anyone that tells me “they can’t enforce my non-compete” is a non-starter for me.

Follow the Golden Rule – I’m amazed at how many people treat me poorly, then send a resume when they get laid off. Behavior goes to character, and I don’t have an interest in representing executives that treat everyone badly until they are unemployed and need help. Always remember this: It’s a short walk from Park Place to the park bench. And one more great lesion: Relationships trump talent. You can be the smartest guy in the room, but when you get laid off, no one returns your call. You are just one more unemployed person. Lose the ego and play nice.

Laid Off? These 5 Things Will Keep You Unemployed for Years

DISCLAIMER: Only represent executives I know personally or by referral. No online job postings, no candidate databases, no unsolicited resumes or cold calls.  No disrespect intended!

My name is Mark Wayman, and my day job is Executive Recruiter specializing in gaming/casinos and high tech. Over the last 15 years I have placed 900+ executives between $100,000 and $2,000,000 with the average being $250,000 base salary.

Today’s topic, unfortunately, is layoffs. They are back like a bad habit. Having lived through Depression 2.0 in 2008, I am intimately familiar with how this movie ends. The good news is I can also give you a few tips that will optimize your ability to find a new career opportunity. Hear are five things that will keep you finding a new job.

Bitterness Towards Your Previous Employer – Let it go! This is my number one piece of advice to candidates that were laid off. There is nothing that ends an interview quicker than bitterness and hostility towards your former employer. Or boss. You MUST let it go! I know good executives that just can’t get past their bitterness. They never worked again. Happy, smiley candidates are far more attractive. Trust me, your old company and boss are not obsessing about you.

Unreasonable Compensation Demands – Super important! If you are gainfully employed, asking for a 10% to 20% bump in compensation is reasonable. When you are unemployed, all jobs are good jobs. Had a candidate this morning that was $200,000 at his last job; however he got laid off and is now seeking $250,000. What? You have a better chance of hitting the lottery. Companies want gainfully employed candidates. The right number is a lateral from your previous compensation. That guy may want $250,000, however if he is unemployed for a year, $150,000 will sound great. You are laughing, however back in 2008 everyone was laughing too. Until they weren’t.

A Lack of Executive Recruiter Relationship – Recruiting 101: Executive Recruiters get people for jobs, NOT jobs for people. If they don’t fill their existing roles…they don’t eat. It’s unfair to ask an Executive Recruiter to drop everything they are doing to handle your job crisis. Recruiting 101: The wrong time to meet an Executive Recruiter is when you are unemployed. Make sure you have a strong relationship with one or two while you are gainfully employed. If you don’t know a good Executive Recruiter, ask your peers for a referral.

Don’t Stay on the Beach Too Long – The most attractive candidates are gainfully employed. After that, candidates that were laid off this week. Once an executive is on the beach (unemployed) for three months their market value drops dramatically. At six months on the beach you will no longer be getting interviews. Which leads us to…

Putting Too Many Boundaries on Your Job Search – One of the big challenges with Las Vegas for 2018 was a lack of senior level jobs. There are roughly a dozen good employers. Then you have the “B” players, and there is nothing wrong with that. Everyone can’t work at MGM Resorts and Caesars Entertainment. So here is the challenge – if most of the companies are laying off, where are you going to work? If you are going to move your career forward, you will most likely need to relocate. I get candidates on regular basis that say, “I want A, B, C, D, E.” By putting several boundaries around your job search you are minimizing your changes of finding a new career opportunity.

Careers: Anyone Can Win – How You Lose Defines Your Character!

Well, not quite as happy for me since I lost a major executive search…that really surprised me. This particular client was in financial distress many years ago. They asked me to find a top notch CEO, which I did, and he completely turned the ship around. One of my best placements…ever.

So when he left after five years, I was pretty certain the client would select me to backfill the role. Nope. After several months of delays, they picked a different Executive Recruiter. What? Fifteen years I have owned this business and I have never, ever been caught so off guard. But it reminded me something important my Dad taught me growing up, and I thought I would share it with you.

Anyone Can Win: It’s How You Lose that Defines Your Character – One of the best lessons my Daddy ever taught me. Who doesn’t like to win? We all do! Anybody can win. It’s how you handle LOSING that defines your character. My response to the client after getting the bad news? “I’m a big fan of the company. If the other Recruiter does not work out, I would love to help. Make no mistake, I’ll be rooting for you!” Why? Because losing graciously is the best option. The only option. Some of you are thinking, “Tell them to go pound sand and thank them for their completely lack of loyalty.” Being negative or nasty does not change anything. There is absolutely no benefit to being ugly. I have a limited amount of time and energy, so I choose to focus on people that WANT to be on my bus. Let’s look at another example: Candidates that don’t get a job offer. Do they say, “Wow, I need to improve my interview skills” or “Probably was not the right culture fit”? Oh hell no! Their feedback is that the company sucks, the hiring manager sucks, and my personal favorite, “It’s their loss.” Bahahahaha! All that says is you are NOT an “A” player. That is how “B” players react. As someone once said, “We have to fail so we can practice being brave.”

Relationships Trump Talent – Trust me, as someone that is immersed in the casino space, I know this better than anyone. How else do you explain the knuckleheads that just keeping job…after…job…after job. They embezzle. They have inappropriate relationships with staff members. They abuse alcoholic and drugs. But they always have a friend that hires them…again. On the Executive Recruiter side I have seen the worst of the worst. Recruiters that take clients to Strip Clubs, send them on Caribbean Cruises and take cash bribes. My Dad raised me to be a person of integrity. I’ll be cleaning ashtrays at Caesars Palace before I do anything that impugns my integrity.

Son, They Will Get What’s Comin’ to ‘Em – Here is something else my Dad taught me, Karma is VERY real. He would say, “Son, they will get what’ comin’ to ‘em. No need for you to help.” And it’s true. If someone treats you poorly, they are probably treating everyone poorly. Eventually they get instant Karma. Fired, terminated, run out of town. I can name a dozen guys that never worked again. When you forgive someone for slighting you, the person you are setting free…is you. Remember, there is only one judge: God. As Mother Teresa says, “It’s between them and God; it was never between you and them anyway.”

Everything Happens for a Reason – I’m not here to preach, however you believe in God…or you don’t. If you are a Believer, you know there is a master plan and everything happens for a reason. If not, then everything is just a random series of events in your life. Sometimes we don’t understand why bad things happen to us. There does not seem to be a legitimate reason. It’s not fair! Let me give you an example. A couple years back I met with the Tribal Council at a big casino. They wanted me to place a new CEO for them. Thought the meeting went really well, however they selected another Recruiter for the CEO search. Gosh darn it! Obviously I was disappointed, however I found out the Recruiter that got that search spent 12 months on it and they never hired anyone. He did not get paid a dime. Sometimes losing is way better than winning.

The Godfather’s 3 Secrets to Sales Success

I was a Chief Information Officer by trade. Wait, I was actually a Pro Bowler at the age of 18; however when I did not make it on the National PBA Tour I went back to school and studied technology and worked my way up to CIO.

Fast forward twenty years and I’m sales. Ugghhh! Am I the only one that dislikes business development? I just despise it.  Ten “no’s” for every “yes.” People with big egos beating you up. People that don’t return your phone calls. Struggling to hit your quota…every…single…month.

So here are the three rules I learned early on in my sales career that made my life much easier. Whether you are new to sales or a seasoned pro. I’ll preface this with the fact I’m a relationship person and NOT a transaction person. Relationship sales focuses on the good of the customer and long-term relationships. Transaction sales, which is what the majority of sales people use, focuses on making your quota at all costs.  And I know many transaction folks.  They are at every networking event pounding down the Scotch and throwing business cards at people.  Just not my thing.  I don’t drink and I don’t attend networking events.

They Don’t Know You Well Enough to Hate You – First thing to understand, especially if you are new to Sales, is that there is a massive amount of REJECTION. I’m not going to sugarcoat it. Some days it’s 10 “no’s” for every “yes.” Always remember this: They don’t know you well enough to hate you. It has NOTHING to do with you. They are just not buying what you are selling. Don’t take it personally. There is a whole world of business clowns out there that are going kick dirt on you and treat you poorly. But as my Dad said, “They will get what’s coming to ‘em son. No need for you to help.” When I first started my Executive Recruiting business…it was brutal. I was kicked, beaten down and treated unprofessionally. Then came 2008 and they all came scurrying back like a bunch of roaches.  Instant Karma.  As Mother Teresa said, It’s between them and God, it was never between you and them anyway.”

Not All Business is Good Business – Recently a CEO wanted me to take on a big Executive Search. Told him I would love to work with him, however the job would require a Retainer (money up front to ensure I am compensated for my time.) Despite my excellent history with this client, and what I thought was a great relationship with the CEO, they declined. And I walked away. Why? Because they wasted 100 hours of my time previously. Why? Because they always pay way below market rate compensation. Hey, I like Timex, but this is Rolex. And most importantly because they have a history of hiring their friends after I’ve invested valuable time on the search. All business is NOT good business. Would I love to do that search?  Absolutely!  But those terms are 100% in their favor.  IT’S BAD BUSINESS.  One more story. I sold a client a million dollars of personal computers many years ago. They wanted a 3% margin with Net 30 -3 terms. You read that right. If they pay in 30 days my profit margin is ZERO. So I sell them the PCs.  They “late pay” and take their 3% discount anyway!  The God’s honest truth. They are a major Las Vegas company, however I rarely do business with them.  Everyone gets treated like a vendor as opposed to a business partner. to be crystal clear: Every client is NOT a good client. I don’t care how big they are. If they treat you like a vendor and won’t let you make a profit…it’s BAD BUSINESS.  Focus on the good clients!

By Referral Only – No cold calling! That is an IBM sales strategy circa 1965. Not only do I NOT take cold calls, I’m offended by anyone that tries it. We all have 24 hours in the day. The President, the Queen of England, Bill Gates, you, me. Time is the great equalizer.  Do you know the #1 fear of high level executives in America?  Having their time wasted by cold callers. Worst…strategy…ever. If you want to meet a company or an executive, find someone close to them that will make the introduction. A REFERRAL.  Now here is the key: You MUST have an outstanding value proposition. No CEO wants to “chat” or “network” with someone selling goods and services. How are you going to increase revenue? How are you going to reduce expenses? Come up with an amazing value proposition, then have their best friend introduce you.  It’s all about your unique value proposition.


Ellen Calls Out Lady Gaga: Why Didn’t You Return my Message?

Am I the only one that is frustrated when people don’t return my messages? I’ll bet NOT. It’s a total hot button for me!  Many years ago I left a couple messages for a client of mine. No response. So I’m having breakfast with a mutual friend and he says, “Don’t worry, Tim will call you when he wants something.” Sure enough, two weeks later I get a call, “Can you get me into the Foundation Room?” Bahahahaha! In a nutshell, that is the answer: My value proposition was not strong enough. Let’s look at a few legitimate (and not so legitimate!) reasons people don’t return your messages.

The Right Way to Leave a Message – I’m not a huge fan of texting or calling people unless it’s something very important. Why? Because we are all running on the treadmill of life. Busy, busy, busy. Texts are disruptive so I reserve them for family emergencies. I’ll pick up the phone for something important; however as an Executive Recruiter I don’t want to come off as aggressive. For most items, email works great, and people can return the message when they have an opportunity. The right way to leave a voice message is to slowly state your name, company if necessary, your phone number and THE PURPOSE OF YOUR CALL. Then say your name and phone number a second time.

The Legitimate Reasons

Your Unique Value Proposition – The reason most people don’t get back to you is your value proposition is not strong enough. There is a certain CEO that never gets back to me on anything. One day I emailed to ask if I could make an intro to a new client for his company. He responded in 30 seconds. Or how about the time I congratulated someone on winning an award. Same thing – immediate response. Last one. “I have a $500,000 job and thought you might be interested.” 100% response rate. Make sure you have a strong value proposition! 

Huh…What? – It’s quite possible your message got garbled, or you were speaking too quickly. If they don’t get back to you, email them in a couple days.

They Forgot – One of my best clients called during breakfast and I committed to getting right back to him. Totally forgot, and the next morning I was appalled. Called and apologized profusely. Sometimes we get really busy, and unless we write things down, we just flat forget. We are human.

You are Not #1 on the Priority List – I know YOU are the most important person to you, HOWEVER you can’t expect people to drop what they are doing all the time. I get a dozen people a week that get fired and think I’m going to make them my #1 priority. Nope. God, family, friends. Then business, and my clients come first. If you are in sales, I know you want to close the deal. I know you want to make your quota, but your quota is not your client’s primary concern. Are you with me? The more pressure you exert, the worse the outcome.

Cold Calls – Unacceptable. If you want to speak with someone, get a referral. As one executive recently posted on LinkedIn, “I get 200 cold calls a week. If I took all those calls, there would be no time left to do my job.” Spot on! I don’t take cold calls. Unless the number is in my Rolodex, everything goes to voicemail. Why? Because I get 20 cold calls a day from candidates. Executive Recruiters get people for jobs…not jobs for people.

Did You Get my Email? – Does it drive you crazy when someone sends you an email, then calls ten minutes later to ask if you received it? I get it, some people are attached to their phones and/or work 70 hours a week. I don’t. And I get 500+ emails a day and up to 50 phone calls. I have to focus on what’s important. That could be family issues, filling a big executive search or helping a friend. This is not the TV show 24. Don’t expect people to return your messages immediately. Give them 24 hours.

Health Issues – They could be out sick or be having health challenges. Your call does not make their radar if they have the flu.

Vacation or Traveling – Most people use “out of office” replies on their email, but not always. They may be traveling. Cut them a little slack and try back in a few days.

People Asking for Free Stuff – Do I look like a ticket agent? Lord send me $20 for every person that asked for free hotel rooms and tickets. I don’t ask for free stuff! These are my clients. They make money by selling hotel rooms and tickets. Don’t ask for things you are not entitled to.

No Means NO – I had a guy apply for a CFO role. He was not a fit, and I courteously and professionally told him I could not represent him. He fired back a nasty email. My response was, “At this level I stick with executives I know personally.” There is good reason for that. I don’t get to make mistakes. My reputation is attached to every candidate I submit. Far too risky to submit executives I don’t know and have never met. Once I professionally say, “No thank you” I no longer owe anyone an explanation.

Everyone is on a Hard Journey – You have no idea what’s going on in their life. Alcoholism. Divorce. Death in the family. There are so many trials and tribulation in life. Don’t immediately assume someone hates you because they don’t get back to you right away. They don’t know you well enough to hate you!

The Excuses (Not Cool!)

You Can’t do Anything for Them – Yep, this is the big one. They are not buying what you are selling. We call these people “acquaintances.” Friends ALWAYS call you back. I could write pages about the people that dismiss me, and then plead for assistance when they get terminated. Pretty crappy, huh? Such is life. It’s just human nature – 90% of people only call to ask for something.

Narcissistic Meglomanics – You know the kind! Arrogant. Egotistical. They wear Ultimate Hubris Cologne. These folks, and they are many, only care about themselves. It’s a character defect. Sure, they call their Boss back. Or anyone that might be able to do something for them, however it’s best to avoid them. They will never add value. Focus on the good people.

Awkward! – In some cases they are uncomfortable speaking with you. They don’t want to tell you “no” and figure you will go away if they just don’t return your calls.

They Will Get What’s Coming to ‘Em – When I started by Executive Recruiting business 15 years ago, someone much smarter than me gave me some advice. He said, “You know Mark, it’s all good right now. Full employment; no one returns your calls. But trust me, the pendulum always swings, and when the economy goes south your phone will light up like a Christmas tree. All the people that treated you poorly and dismissed you will suddenly remember your cell phone number.” August 2008 he became a Prophet. And as my Daddy used to say, “Son, they will get what’s coming to ‘em. No need for you to help.” Those that treat everyone around them poorly eventually have problems. Karma is very real.

Personally, I return every single message, including cold calls. In many cases the response is, “Thank you so much, however I don’t have interest at this time” or “I only represent candidates I know personally or by referral.” Dismissing people says, “You are not important.” Getting back to people is the right thing to do, and the way my Dad raised me.

No More Cold Calls!

I read an interesting post from a senior level executive on LinkedIn. He complained about all the people soliciting him; as many as 200 a week. I get that. Totally. As an Executive Recruiter I get a dozen cold calls a day. Mostly candidates looking for work, however there are also the solicitors. Products, services, people asking for introductions or investments.

This executive was saying that if he took all those cold calls and meetings, he would literally get nothing done at work. And he is spot on. I know I don’t want to work 70 hours a week with the majority of that time meeting with people I don’t know and have never met.  On the other hand, I have compassion for their situation. Mostly people out of work and desperate to find a new job. Here are a few thoughts on the topic of COLD CALLS.

This is What I Do; I Don’t Apologize for It – I used to be a Mechanic in a Bowling Alley. We had a chemical salesman that sold us cleaning agents. Whenever he showed up, we all made fun of him hawking spray bottles and cleaner. Bahahahaha! What a crappy job! One day he says, “You know what Mark, this job puts food on my table and pays for my kids to go to school. I don’t apologize for it.” I never gave him grief again. Why? Because he is absolutely right. We are all selling something. Trust me, I have taken my share of poor treatment from people, mostly Human Resources executives that feel recruiting is “their job” or are envious of my relationships with their top executives. The funny part is, they are the first people to send me a resume when they get terminated.

Referrals are the Only Way to Fly! – The best way to develop new business is by referral. I don’t cold call customers, I determine the correct executive to approach, find a common friend and ask for an introduction. Rather than ask for a meeting, I send over a company PDF with client testimonials and say, “If I can ever help, let me know.” Time is the great leveler and an executive’s most valuable asset. We all have 24 hours in a day. Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, me, you. And I have no interest in wasting someone’s valuable time unless I can add value.

An Attitude of Gratitude – The last point I want to make is super important: Be thankful for what you have. Right here, right now. If you have your health, your family and friends, everything else is a bonus. This executive has a great job at a great company. And that is awesome…until the day it isn’t. It’s a short walk from Park Place to the Park Bench, so show a little compassion. I’m not saying take all the meetings, however I personally respond to every single cold call, even if my answer is a polite “no thank you.” My wife and I were blessed to celebrate our fifth Wedding Anniversary in South Africa. We are animal lovers; however the highlight of our trip was a visit to the Mazinyane Pre-School and Swa Vana Orphanage. It reminded us that everything is relative in life. While Americans are marching up and down the streets whining about what they don’t have, these kids literally have zero. They are ecstatic to be able to attend school or be at the Orphanage. Why? Because it could be a whole lot worse. Be grateful for what you DO have.  And always remember this, everyone is on a tough journey, so be kind.



It’s a Short Walk from Park Place to the Park Bench: The Right Way to Leave Your Job

I used to rule the world, Seas would rise when I gave the word.  Now in the morning, I sleep alone, Sweep the streets I used to own. (Viva La Vida, Coldplay)

On the tenth anniversary of Depression 2.0, I was thinking about how executives should gracefully exit a job.  Over the last 12 months I have seen it done incorrectly a hundred times, with the requisite poor results. Whether you are terminated, laid off or quitting, here are a few recommendations.

You are a Consulting Company of ONE – This is a mindset. View yourself as a company of ONE, a consultant that just happens to be on someone’s payroll.  The days of 30 years at IBM and the gold watch are over. By loyal to your employer; but me more loyal to yourself, your family and your career. When the company is done with you…they are done with you. Never, ever forget that.  They don’t give a fat rat’s ass about your mortgage or kid’s education. When Depression 2.0 hit in 2008, millions of executives were laid off without notice. Watch out for #1.

You are Family…Until you are Not – You are family until the day you are not, then they terminate you and enforce your non-compete. Senior level executives that think they are “immortal” are shocked back to reality when they are terminated without warning. I can name a dozen CEOs and GMs that got too big for their britches and were unceremoniously run off. Always treat people with courtesy, dignity and respect no matter how impressive your title.  Those same people you passed on the way up…are the same people you will pass on the way down. Cultivate your professional network. Make friends with an Executive Recruiter or two. The wrong time to call a Recruiter is when you are unemployed. You are not immortal.

If You Can’t Pay Cash, You Can’t Have One – That was my Dad’s advice. Translation: Have zero debt and six months of salary in a savings account. Unfortunately, most people spend every nickel they get on “stuff”, so when they lose their job it’s a full-on financial crisis. Did you know 70% of Americans can’t afford to retire? In general, a $100,000 job search takes one to three months. At $300,000 it might be six to twelve months. Hope for the best; plan for the worst.

It’s a Small, Small World: Exit Gracefully – Walt Disney was right. Relationships trump talent. If you remember nothing else, remember this: DON’T BURN BRIDGES. It may feed your ego, however it can come back to haunt you in a big way. When I placed GMs for Ameristar Casinos, the CEO would send the resume to his 10 existing GMs. If anyone had an issue with the candidate, they were disqualified. Las Vegas is a town of 2,000,000 run by 200. And they all know each other. You make a mistake in Las Vegas and you get run out of town. Shake hands and part friends when you exit. There is no upside to burning bridges.

The Walk Away Package – Once the company fires a shot across the bow, and you know they are unhappy with you, make the best of the situation. Go to your boss and say, “If you don’t want me here, I don’t want to be here. Let’s work something out.” Don’t stay until the bitter end. You are NOT going to make a comeback.  I have seen executives get 12 to 18 month’s severance pay. Heck, I can name a couple CEOs that got millions of dollars to walk away. Get a great severance package and move on.

Why Nobody Returns Your Calls – They say you are blessed to have five true friends during your lifetime. When you get terminated, you find out who they are. Why?  Because you are just one more unemployed person. You can’t buy from the vendors. You can’t get people jobs. And when you can’t DO for people, they forget your name. Not being cynical, just realistic. Most people are acquaintances. Don’t take it personally. Focus on the people that want to be on your bus.

Everything Happens for a Reason – Coulda, woulda, shoulda. Don’t obsess about it. Your company and Boss are not obsessing about YOU.  Take responsibility for your actions and move on. Bitterness and unhappiness come through during an interview; let it go. Take some time off, decompress and get your head back in the game. Besides, if God is for us, who can be against us?  Everything happens for a reason.


Ryan Serhant’s (Million Dollar Listing) LONGEST Day – 3 Sales Lessons, 3 Life Lessons

I enjoy watching Million Dollar Listing, the Bravo show about Realtors. The show strikes a chord with me because Realtors sell real estate and as an Executive Recruiter, I sell people.

In a recent episode, Realtor Ryan Serhant lost the biggest deal of his career – the opportunity to sell out a building in China. Ryan couldn’t get a business Visa due to the current political climate (tariffs, trade war) between the US and China. No Visa, no deal.

To add insult to injury, Ryan lost another major real estate deal the same day. He had been following up with a Developer for three years on a particular property. When he met with the Developer Ryan was shocked to find out they were interviewing other Brokers, and was even more surprised when they eventually selected a different Broker. He was OUT. That is one long day.

I own an Executive Recruiting company; my wife owns her book of business (insurance). We have something in common with Ryan Serhant – if we don’t sell, we don’t eat. No salary. We have to pay for our health insurance. No sick days or vacation days. Success is a product of activity, hustle and old fashioned hard work. Here are the three lessons I took away from Ryan’s longest day.

Lesson #1: Don’t Stress Over Things You Can’t Control – Stress is actually defined as worrying about situations or people you have no control over. Despite his best efforts, Ryan could not get a business Visa for China. It’s frustrating, but at the end of the day Ryan had no control over the situation. I once closed 9 deals in a row. On the other hand, I once lost 5 deals in a row that I thought were a cinch. Worrying and stressing out won’t change anything. Everything happens for a reason. Move on.

Lesson #2: Not Everyone Wants to be Your Friend – Ryan thought the Developer was his friend. And she probably is, however I can understand his disappointment when he was not selected for the project. Trust me, been there many times. Heck, half the people I get jobs don’t even say thank you. My wife had a big account for years. She saved them hundreds of thousands of dollars, fine-tuned their program (they were a mess!) and did an outstanding job in every aspect. One day a new person shows up and changes brokers. We thought we were personal friends with the CEO. Nope. My point is that not everyone wants to be your friend. Don’t go through life bitter and unhappy because people don’t meet your expectations. They rarely do.

Lesson #3: Never, Ever Give Up! – My Dad gave me plenty of great advice; however this was the best and most important: Never, ever give up. Some people learn from adversity, others are crushed by it. Put another way, anyone can win. The true test of character is how you lose. You can’t control how other people treat you, only how you react to it. No matter how poorly a day goes, get up the next morning and try again.