There are signs that you are about to lose your job according to Wall Street Journal writer Joanne Lublin. We find that most executives are intensely focused on their jobs to the exclusion of thinking about their career, so we are not too surprised when a new transition client says, “I was totally blind-sided. I didn’t see it coming.” This article which has quotes by Gail Meneley and Hugh Shields has some interesting thoughts for all executives to become more aware about the subtle messages that their boss may be sending when they are in jeopardy of losing their job.
A client recently told me excitedly that she had received a job offer. Her enthusiasm was infectious and I flippantly remarked that “kissing all those frogs” must have worked, remembering a comment she made to me a few months earlier when I saw her leaving the office for yet another meeting. She responded, “Actually, you were right about the importance of networking and pursuing leads. I went to the 7th level in my networking! That’s a lot of frogs!”
This executive’s situation may not be typical of all job searches, but with white collar unemployment still above pre-recession levels, typical executive job searches take nearly double what they did a few years ago (averaging over 7 months). Research indicates people tend to give up after looking for 5 months. This highlights the need to continue following the path to a new job even when you are tempted to give up due to frustration or even if you don’t know exactly where more conversations will lead.
In the Grimm fairy tale, “The Frog Prince”, a spoiled princess reluctantly befriends the Frog Prince who magically transforms into a handsome prince. In modern versions of this story the transformation is invariably triggered by the princess kissing the frog. The phrase, “You have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your handsome prince” is used to encourage those who seek true love, but I really like its use to describe the current job search process. For executives who are used to being pursued by recruiters, it is often very frustrating for them to think they need to work so hard and have hundreds of conversations to find a new job. I often see a shock on their face when they are told that they can’t just wait by the phone for that special call. They get frustrated that recruiters won’t return their calls, and they are not used to asking for help. But, given that over 80% of jobs result from networking, most of us need to network, network and network some more.
The right way to network is really just following a simple process. First, make a list of all the people you know who you think might be of help in your job search. Second, prioritize them by what you think are stronger to weaker relationships. Third, as you have each conversation, make it your goal to get 2 or 3 names of people that individual thinks could be of value in your search. For every conversation it’s either a discussion about a specific job or names of people that may be of help to you. Throughout these conversations, stay on point and keep working your program.
In this executive’s case it required seven levels of contacts to find the right opportunity. So, stay with it … it can take a lot of frogs before you find that special job!
Carter Elenz, a client of Shields Meneley Partners, has been appointed President of Orgain. This company is a mission based, healthy product business. Orgain is the world’s first doctor developed organic ready-to-drink meal replacement. The drinks are made with organic protein, complex carbohydrates, and organic fruits. It was founded by Dr. Andrew Abraham, a young physician and cancer survivor, who developed a healthier version of a Nutritional Shake than conventional brands because he felt he needed it for his recovery. After medical residency, instead of going into medical practice, he started this business. The products come in versions for adults, children and they have a vegan drink. They recently launched an exciting 25 g protein/3g carb organic protein powder for people with active lifestyles.
Mr. Elenz has had industry experience through President and Executive Vice-President roles in Sales and Marketing spanning traditional, lifestyle and specialty consumer products in the food/beverage, health-wellness, high-tech and household categories. Carter has expertise in corporate and shareholder value creation, change management and effective leadership in both early-stage and Fortune 500 environments. He is particularly passionate about a company’s mission and wants consumers to personally benefit from their products. Over the years he has achieved an unparalleled record of business transformation of specialty CPG businesses – Gardenburger, Stonyfield Farm and Seventh Generation – where he has helped them achieve valuations beyond expectations experiencing 100% – 500% growth. These companies became icons of successful crossover from niche into mainstream consumer markets.
Mr. Ravi Saligram, a Shields Meneley Partners client, has accepted an offer to become the new Chief Executive Officer at Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers. Robert Murdoch, Chairman of the Board, stated, “We are very pleased to welcome Ravi Saligram to Ritchie Bros. as CEO. Ravi is a proven leader and an experienced chief executive within the business services sector, and has an impressive track record of driving revenue and profit growth at customer-service focused organizations. Ravi’s recognized talent for cultivating strong corporate cultures and his extensive global business experience will benefit Ritchie Bros. significantly as we enter our next phase of growth.”
Ritchie Bros. is the world’s largest industrial auctioneer, which is headquartered in Vancouver, BC, Canada and has more than 1,400 full-time employees worldwide. “Ritchie Bros. leading market position, deep operational expertise in unreserved auctions and highly engaged teams committed to customer service attracted me to this role,” said Mr. Saligram. “I am excited by the opportunity to further grow the core business in both North America and internationally, and scale new e-based business models to provide comprehensive solutions to customers. I look forward to partnering with our team to make Ritchie Bros. the premier global equipment solutions company.”
Mr. Saligram’s 35-year professional career includes three years as President and Chief Executive Officer of OfficeMax and more than 20 years of general management experience at ARAMARK, Intercontinental Hotels Group, and SC Johnson. He has lived in five countries and worked in many more across five continents. Ravi is noted for his ability to lead consumer, B-to-B and digital businesses and has considerable experience running global, multi-unit service organizations and overseeing large sales teams. We are pleased for Ravi and know that he will add considerable value to Ritchie Bros.
Julie Vander Weele is now the Chief Administrative Officer of RMB Capital. RMB Capital is an independent investment advisory firm with more than $3.8 billion in assets under management. The firm provides affluent individuals and institutional clients with a high standard of care and is dedicated to serving their best interests. RMB operates in four distinct business units: wealth management, asset management, alternative investments, and retirement plan consulting. RMB is headquartered in Chicago with offices in Denver and Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
Julie’s previous work was as Senior Managing Director at Mesirow Financial Investment Management, Inc. She joined the firm in 1986 and her area of focus included investment advisory services, investment products, and wealth management. Ms. Vander Weele managed the investment advisory services, retirement plan advisory, and investment strategies divisions.
She is a member of Rush Neurobehavorial Center Advisory Board and Board of Governors of Investment Advisory Association. Ms. Vander Weele is a Member of Friends of Prentice Board of Directors, The Chicago Network, and The 100 Club of Chicago Board. She was a Trustee of Illinois Council on Economic Education. Previously, Julie was the Chairman of SIA Central States District, Director of Girl Scouts of Chicago, and the President at The Bond Club of Chicago. She holds NASD series 7 and series 8 licenses. Ms. Vander Weele earned a B.S. degree in Marketing from Northern Illinois University and a Master’s degree in Management from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.
Typically people try to emulate others that they think have an impactful leadership style without considering what characteristics or competencies they naturally bring to their leadership. Naively, they think that if they act like Jack Welch or Steve Jobs … or conversely don’t act like one of the bosses in the movie “Horrible Bosses” they will be a great leader. There are numerous books, articles and blogs about how to be a successful leader. For example, this blog points out the top ten qualities that make a great leader or another one describes the four critical traits of great leaders. While some of this information can be an interesting read and can serve as a useful reminder, in general, I am not a big fan of this content as the writers tend to dumb-down what it takes to lead. But, most importantly they often miss the two key factors for us to understand regarding leadership. First, one must understand himself, and second, we must understand our audience.
I guest lectured recently In Ron Culp’s graduate PR class at DePaul University and spoke about knowing yourself to define your leadership style, then knowing your audience to understand what people need to experience to want to be lead by you. In this class we completed the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator to learn what style we naturally emphasize when leading others. Through sharing their MBTI types, the students were able to learn about the diversity of types within this group and what each would need from a leader to respond favorably. Then, we discussed how they would each would have to adjust their natural style to be effective leading this group.
The correct melding of “you with they” can produce this situation as David Foster Wallace wrote, “A leader’s real ‘authority’ is a power you voluntarily give him, and you grant him this authority not with resentment or resignation but happily.” (From “Up, Simba: Seven Days on the Trail of an Anticandidate,” in the book “Consider the Lobster and Other Essays”.)
The deck that I developed for this class can be viewed here.
Florida Ice & Farm Co. (FIFCO), parent-company of North American Breweries (NAB), today announced that Kris Sirchio has been named chief executive officer of North American Breweries, effective April 14, 2014. In this role, Kris will lead all facets of NAB, including its brewery operations, alehouses, and sales and marketing efforts.
Kris has an extensive business background where he has led profit and growth across some of the world’s best and most diverse companies and brands including; Brown-Forman, Syngenta, and Procter & Gamble. Most recently, Kris served as Executive Vice President, Global Chief Marketing Officer and Executive Committee Member at Brown-Forman, a global manufacturer and marketer of premium alcoholic beverages including Jack Daniels. Prior to joining Brown-Forman, Kris worked in Switzerland for Syngenta, a world-leading multi-billion dollar agri-business where he served as a Global Business Unit leader. Kris built his early career at Procter & Gamble in Europe in Marketing where he spent 13+ years leading some of the company’s largest brands. He started his career with Ernst & Young in management consulting. Kris holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Duke University, where he was also a member of the 1986 Division 1 Men’s Soccer National Championship team, and a Master of Business Administration from Southern Methodist University.
“Kris is a strong executive leader with globally recognized expertise in general management, marketing, brand strategy and consumer insights,” said Ramón Mendiola, chief executive officer for FlFCO. “He has demonstrated success in building and growing some of the world’s best companies and brands. He also has a proven track record of creating strategies that build strong teams and organizations that deliver breakthrough results. We are honored to have him help write the next chapter in the history of North American Breweries.”
In addition to his extensive business experience, Kris has served on several national, state, and local for-profit and not-for-profit Boards. He currently serves as the Board Chair for The Nature Conservancy, Kentucky Chapter, one of the world’s leading conservation organizations. Kris and his wife Wendy are also both WE DAY Ambassadors, helping to bring an innovative service-learning movement for youth to the US.
Many of our career transition clients are overwhelmed with the prospect of keeping track of their networking activities and ask us for advice as to the best way to do this. This is not surprising as for some this is the first time in many years that they don’t have an admin to help organize them. Others are new to the job search process and don’t have a clue how to stay on top of their search activities. We have realized that what a person needs during a job search is an easy to learnand always accessible customer relationship manager (CRM) system, like the sales force perhaps had at your last company. Examples of such programs like Salesforce.com or Goldmine or ACT! help keep track of sales leads, just like you need to keep track of your networking activity so that nothing falls into the cracks. Plus, a system that will provide reminders are essential to keep you on track and motivated. But, most of our clients have found that each has a steep learning curve and is not designed for a job search. We find that executives are contacting over a 1000 other executives during a typical job search and given that this can occur over many months, it is easy to forget what you have done and what you need to do. So, what is the best way to stay organized during a job search? The following will provide you with a few suggestions.
The first step is to open up a personal email account if you don’t have one already. Many of our clients use Gmail as it is both web based and can be accessed on your devices. Use an email address that is close to your name, not your hobby or your fraternity nick name as you will be using that address to contact recruiters, people you will network with and your prospective employer. In addition, you will be putting this address on your resume and in your LinkedIn profile (more about that in another blog post).
Second, use a database or CRM tool that is easy to use and does not require much time to get started. Your job is to find that next job, not learn all the features of a complex tool. We would like you to continue to use this system after you get your next job as networking and managing your career should now become an active part of your life, if it hasn’t before.
We recommend a few options to manage your contacts:
1. Gmail has the option for Contacts. This feature is helpful for accessing contact information quickly, but it is not easy to use it for updating notes and adding reminders.
2. Microsoft Outlook, especially Office 365, is another email program which most executives have experience, but it can be difficult to use as a CRM for the same reasons as Gmail.
3. Microsoft Excel is a very good platform for managing contact activity and is easy to track, but it is not as good once again for reminders and can become cumbersome for lengthy job searches when you have networked with 500 to 600 people.
4. Salesforce is a great CRM, but is far too complicated for most executives that have not used it before. There is not a free version so you should be really committed to it if you are going to go this route.
5. LinkedIn Contacts – LinkedIn Contacts can bring all your contacts from your address books, emails, calendars, and your LinkedIn network, and keeps them up to date. They have been expanding this aspect of their service and now you can categorize (tag) people, send group notes and make notes regarding your activities regarding other executives. Some executives don’t like the idea of LinkedIn knowing all their activity, don’t want them to have access to their personal address books (you don’t have to import this information) and it does not yet provide enough customization, such as unique names in multiple emails, for managing a job search.
6. Jibberjobber (www.jibberjobber.com) is a web-based CRM designed just for executives in transition. It helps you keep track of your job search, networking contacts and other career management information. There is a free and paid version; it is an excellent platform for organizing your search contacts and even has an automated feature for updating you on job postings within your search criteria. The concerns our clients have had is that it is something new to learn when they want to get on with their networking and that the information does not reside on their computer. However, we like the fact it was designed specifically for managing a search and can be used throughout your career. Plus, it provides 24/7 accessibility on all your devices.
Most clients start off with MS Outlook as they are most familiar with this email product. But, as their activities increase over the first month of the search, they begin to notice the limitations of Outlook as a CRM. We encourage you to give the free version of JibberJobber a try while using whatever other system you prefer. Give this trial a couple weeks even if it means duplicating your work to see what is best serving your current needs and what you think would be best for you in six months when you have over 300 entries to manage. Then, commit yourself to using whichever one you pick and stay with it over the course of your job search.
In summary, a job search which will occur over many months with hundreds of contacts and thousands of activities will result in far too much information to keep in your head. A CRM system is critically important to managing your job search. Just like in sales, getting a job is a numbers game and you need to have a simple and effective way of managing the old and new contacts that your networking activity will produce. We recommend that you try out JibberJobber, but most importantly choose a system that is effective for you, then stick with it.
A recent WSJ article “When Chief Executives Become Job Seekers” “When Chief Executives Become Job Seekers” by Rachel Feintzeig (March 5, 2014) focuses on the issues that prior CEOs face when they are looking for a new CEO position.
Ravi Saligram, former CEO of OfficeMax and Shields Meneley Partners client, along with our firm co-founder Gail Meneley were quoted in this article. The author points out that a CEO search is not that different from other C-suite searches in the current job market. She notes and we agree that with rare exception prior CEOs need to engage in similar career transition activities as other unemployed executives; they must contact recruiters, join LinkedIn and network, network, network to land that next position.
We expect that the typical “50-something” CEO has built up a stable of executive recruiters who he or she can reach out to during a career transition. Even still we have found that most CEO searches do take longer than other C-suite positions.However, the length of time to find that next CEO role is even greater now than before the recession. Gail points out in this article that it is not unusual for the search to take 10 to 12 months, as compared to 8 to 10 months a few years ago.
The main reason for this longer “shelf time” for CEOs is that during the recession C-suite churn slowed as boards and CEOs were reluctant to change out top executives. author notes that even though CEOs have a relatively low unemployment rate—1.6% compared with 6.6% for all workers (Bureau of Labor Statistics) turnover in the top job has been fairly low. She writes, “The number of larger companies appointing new leaders reached a nine-year low in 2012, when only 37 companies appointed new chiefs, according to search firm Spencer Stuart.”
Ms. Feintzeig quotes one former CEO, “’My entire career, I had always been the one who was so actively pursued,’ she says, and she now feels ‘lulled’ into semiretirement … she wishes she had been more aggressive in pursuing opportunities when she could.” This is a common experience for our CEO clients as well. As such, we believe that unemployed CEOs need to focus their search in a manner similar to other C-suite executives. Put simply, he or she must be pro-active and not just wait by the phone or computer in reactive mode. We believe getting the next job is your current job.
Parkinson’s disease, named after a doctor who first described the disease in 1817, is a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system with an unknown origin. Most people first experience it by watching an older relative’s labored walking or their eating with shaky hands. Public awareness campaigns such as those by Michael J. Fox have helped people have a better understanding of this disease. In my case it was as a little boy watching wide-eyed as my grandmother tried to drink a cup of coffee while it spilled on the way to her mouth … and that was with two hands holding the shaking cup. Like what happened to my grandmother as the disease progresses dementia and depression are typically seen. Treatment is usually effective in the beginning stages through the use of neurotransmitter medications. But, these drugs become ineffective at treating the symptoms over time. There is no cure for the disease.
In Lori’s Lessons, author Carol Ferring Shepley tells the story of how Lori Patin, who has had Parkinson’s for over fifteen years, and her husband Bob are dealing with the disease. It is an inspirational memoir that focuses on how someone has taken on the challenges of having Parkinson’s and through that has learned about living. But more than that it is a book about the Patins and how they are dealing with Parkinson’s together. As much a story about what Lori has learned about life, her lessons, it is a story about what a caretaker can learn about what it means to be a loving partner to a spouse who is living with a chronic disease.
From a coma in 2011 with Bob making plans for Lori’s care at home, to currently living at home with the disease in remission Lori and Bob have quite a story to tell. This is not one of those miraculous Hollywood types, but one that focuses on what life can be when you focus on living with a foundation of love, hope and faith. This story offers a way to achieve the miracles you create yourself when you blend health focused activities with the right mix of positive thoughts and a very involved loving spouse.
So, Lori’s Lessons for me is a love story between two people who deeply care for each other and have made a commitment to be “with” each other. I have watched Bob call her every couple of hours when we have been on business trips together and know that he provides physical support with her activities of daily living when he is at home. He has adjusted his work responsibilities, so he is not gone from home as much as earlier in his career. But, more than the specific activities that Bob does for Lori he is “aware” of Lori in ways that most couples have never experienced with their spouse. To me this memoir is as much about what Lori has learned because of this disease, but what Bob has learned about what it means to be a husband. From this perspective, it is a story of the love between two people who accept each other as they are now and have committed to focus on living together every day.