Based in Menlo Park, Unusual Ventures invests in Seed & Series A startups. Their focus in enterprise & consumer tech.
Unusual has an ‘unusual’ secret weapon.
His name is Jon Volk, and he’s Director of Talent at Unusual. He spots talent for the fund & their portfolio companies.
He’s uniquely qualified, as a former recruiter at Google, Amazon, and AppDynamics.
Venture Capital is all about pattern recognition, even when it comes to hiring. Fortunately, I persuaded Jon to invest 20 minutes sharing his best practices & lessons learned.
Did you know that $300 of supplies are wasted & thrown away during a typical surgery? Not to mention the occasional instrument that’s accidentally left inside the body cavity :-O
Jennifer Fried is CEO & Co-Founder of Chicago-based ExplORer Surgical.
They’ve created workflow management software for the operating room.
Which helps docs & nurses avoid mistakes, achieve better clinical outcomes, save lives, save money on wasted supplies, and avoid patient lawsuits.
She’s raised millions from top VC’s including Aphelion Capital, Elliott Management, M25, Pritzker Group Venture Capital, Wasson Enterprise, SymphonyAlpha Ventures, HBS Alumni Angels, and The George Shultz Innovation Fund.
In this 20-minute conversation, Jennifer reveals how she’s scaled the team. How she hires. Plus, how she took maternity leave from her own startup (…and what she found when she returned.)
Think you're open, honest, and direct with your team?
If you're like most leaders, you could do better.
So I sought out an expert on the topic of giving feedback. And I found him.
Aaron Levy heads Raise The Bar Consulting. He's also author of the fascinating new book "Open, Honest, and Direct."
It has an average of 5-star reviews on Amazon for a reason.
He's one of the best thinkers I've met on the topic of unlocking your team's potential.
Invest 20 minutes with Aaron in this new interview.
David Patterson is known as ‘The SAP Recruiter.’ That’s The with a capital T.
That’s what he does. That’s all he does. And he’s exceptional at it.
As Founder & Managing Director of The Kineta Group, David’s cracked the code on how to entice the most-talented SAP developers to make a career move.
He helps CIOs & IT heads build their teams. And everything he’s learned is relevant if you’re hiring non-SAP tech folks too.
Plus, he’s the most sought-after trainer in the recruitment world. He teaches other recruiters how to recruit - online & off.
So, imagine what he could teach you, in this 20-minute conversation.
Steve Lowisz is an authority on talent, personal development, and business leadership.
And the author of the fascinating new book, Recruiting Sucks (But It Doesn’t Have To)
Best known as Founder & CEO of Qualigence, Steve is a successful 5-time entrepreneur. With experience advising start-ups, PE-backed, and Fortune 500 companies, Steve has a valuable perspective.
And a no-BS approach, which I especially appreciate.
He’s been named Michigan Small Business Person of the Year, E&Y Entrepreneur of the Year finalist, and CEO of one of Best & Brightest Places to Work.
So he knows a thing or two about how to scale your organization.
In this 20-minute conversation, Steve shares how to match your company’s purpose with your employee’s purpose. Do that, and amazing things happen.
I’ve been looking forward to this interview for ages. It’s with a business icon & one of my personal heroes.
Horst Schultze may not be a household name. But you know what he’s accomplished.
A leader in the hotel world, Horst’s teachings & vision reshaped the concepts of service & hospitality across many industries.
As Founding President & COO of The Ritz Carlton Company, he scaled the $2 billion operation worldwide. It was under his leadership that Ritz Carlton was awarded the prestigious Malcolm Baldridge National Quality Award (twice!) making it the first & only hotel company to do so.
From day one, he built a culture of passion for Service (yes, with a capital S) and learned how to hire people who shared the same DNA as himself.
Horst’s professional life began 65 years ago as a server’s assistant in a German resort town. After working for Hilton and Hyatt, he co-founded Ritz Carlton in 1983.
The rest is legend.
I was fortunate to have Horst reveal some of the secrets to building a company culture as a competitive weapon. Hiring people for their unique DNA may not get you to $2 Billion in revenues.
But it’s a great start.
I just had the privilege of interviewing Chris Yeh.
Along with Reid Hoffman, he’s the co-author of Blitzscaling, the book that explains how to build world-changing companies like Amazon, Alibaba & Airbnb in record time.
A writer, investor, and entrepreneur, Chris has had a ringside seat in the world of startups & scaleups since 1995.
And Amazon named Blitzscaling one of their top 20 business & leadership books last year. Which is why I was so excited to spend time with Chris.
What is the secret to starting & scaling massively valuable companies?
In this 20-min conversation, Chris shares a specific set of practices for igniting & managing dizzying growth. Of course, we focused on the often-messy ‘people part’ of Blitzscaling.
I have bad news.
If you’re trying to hire top-performers, your company’s written job descriptions probably aren’t getting the job done.
They may be keeping away the best candidates in droves.
Job descriptions have been around for hundreds of years and most still … stink.
So I tracked down an expert … a CEO who’s devoted his full-time to mastering the job description. He’s Rob Kelly at Ongig. Their main focus is helping growth companies recruit thru the best job descriptions in their industry.
In this 20-min conversation, Rob reveals what you’re likely doing wrong & how to make your job descriptions far more effective.
Did you know that most kitchens are unprofitable?
Nick Anastasiades is out to change that.
He’s Co-Founder & CEO of 2ndKitchen. Based in Chicago, the company links any business to restaurants in their area so they can use their kitchen to serve food.
As an on-demand service, 2ndKitchen pools the demand in a local neighborhood.
And it’s catching on. Big time. Since completing the Techstars program, the business has been doubling every 3 months.
Not to mention, attracting big-time VC’s including Hyde Park Venture Partners, MATH Venture Partners, Great North Labs, Bragiel Brothers, and M25.
Now, bars, taprooms, hotels, and any business without a kitchen can offer a custom menu to its patrons, leveraging a hyper-local restaurant to cook and deliver the food. 2ndKitchen facilitates the partnership, including payment, fulfillment, and customer support.
But how is Nick building the team that’s building 2ndKitchen?
In this 20-minute conversation, he reveals the process he uses to find & assess talent. And how he learned to cook up a winning culture.
Every wonder how you see ads online that are so targeted to your desires, it’s like they read your mind?
Well, Target Data makes it possible.
This 40-person Chicago-based performance marketing agency leverages data, technology, & content to provide “hypertargeting” for advertisers.
Ross Shelleman is its CEO & Co-Founder. In this 20 minute conversation, he shares his interview process, how he assesses candidates, and some of the challenges he’s overcome in scaling the business.
Jett McCandless is Founder/CEO of Project 44, the most comprehensive global supply chain visibility platform. If you buy anything, you’re touched by P44. Because it’s used by manufacturers, retailers, distributors, and everyone in the supply chain to know what products will arrive where & when.
By any measure, it’s one of Chicago’s fastest-growing companies.
Along the way, he’s raised over $100M in capital from Sapphire Ventures, OpenView Venture Partners, Emergence Capital, Insight Venture Partners, Chicago Ventures, and Pritzker Group Venture Capital.
What I love about Jett is his candor & humility. In this 20-minute conversation, he shares how he’s built the 200-person team, including the challenges & how he’s overcome them.
That includes how to keep the team’s passion at a high level as you scale your business.
How do PE-backed firms successfully execute a rollup strategy?
Here's one that's doing it.
Marquee Dental Partners, based in Nashville, has done 14 acquisitions so far. And somehow, I convinced CEO Fred Ward to reveal how it's done.
Marquee is backed by leading healthcare PE fund Chicago Pacific Founders.
One particular challenge is how to integrate culture in a roll up, particularly when the locations & employees are distributed.
Think it’s challenging to build a remarkable company culture?
Try doing it across 12 offices. And 300 people.
That’s what David Rodnitzky has done. Headquartered in Silicon Valley (but often at 32,000 feet), he’s CEO of 3Q Digital, the fast-growing marketing services agency.
In this 20-minute conversation, David reveals how he’s done it. Mistakes he’s made along the way. And how you can get the most out of your people - no matter where they may be.
Jessica Carrol has some very progressive ideas on performance management.
Based in LA, she’s VP People at Signal Sciences which protects websites & apps by blocking malicious traffic.
Previously, she was in HR at Red Bull, Shopzilla, and Magento.
Along the way, she’s learned a ton of best practices about giving feedback to your employees, coaching them, and developing them.
In this 20 minute conversation, Jessica shares what she’s learned.
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you know that CBD is the hottest thing in health & wellness.
One of the pioneering companies is Sera Labs, based in Southern California.
CEO Nancy Duitch recently raised $5 million in growth capital from ToroVerde, the Canadian-based Cannabis private equity fund.
Sera makes products for CBD-based products for health, wellness, and beauty. They’ve even created Sera Pets (to relax Fido.)
In this 20-minute conversation, Nancy reveals how she’s building the team to capitalize on this burgeoning market category.
If your team develops software, you know that building API’s are the key to pretty much everything. But they get cluttered & messy.
So Adam Leventhal decided to do something about it. Now, he’s Co-Founder and CEO of Transposit, one of SF’s fastest-growing tech companies.
Adam was Chief Technology Officer of Delphix, and spent time in venture capital. Then he saw an opportunity create Transposit.
In fact, they recently raised $12 million from top venture capital firms Sutter Hill Ventures, SignalFire, and Unusual Ventures.
In this 20-minute conversation, Adam reveals how he’s building the team that’s building this great new product.
Four years ago, Karson Humiston had a vision.
And now she’s Founder & CEO of Denver-based Vangst. It’s the recruiting platform created exclusively for the cannabis industry.
Unless you’ve been under a rock (or leaf), you know that the cannabis field has created 300,000 new jobs in the past couple of years. And research projects that’ll triple again shortly.
So she built Vangst to connect industry workers & employers.
In the process, she was named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 list. And Vangst was ranked amongst Entrepreneur Magazine’s 100 Brilliant companies.
In this 20-minute interview, Karson reveals how she’s building the team that’s building one of the fastest-growing industries in history.
Can an old dog learn new tricks?
Erick Eidus is betting they can.
He's CEO of PupPod, which he founded 4 years ago.
Based in Kirkland Washington, they've created a smartphone-connected puzzle toy for dogs.
When dogs interact with it, they earn food rewards from a bluetooth-connected dispenser
Previously, Erick was with Microsoft and Motorola. Now he's raised outside funding to scale PupPod.
In this episode, Erick shares how he's built a virtual team of employees, some part-time & some full-time. And he reveals the biggest learnings & mistakes as you do the same.
Your next professional transition could make or break your career.
Are you prepared?
My guest is Michael Watkins, author of Master Your Next Move. He also wrote the international bestseller The First 90 Days: Proven Strategies for Getting Up to Speed Faster and Better.
Michael is Professor of Leadership & Organizational Change at IMD Business School.
Transitions into new roles are the most challenging times in the professional lives of leaders. Early missteps can create bad first impressions, leading to negative feedback loops in which leaders look increasingly unsuited for the job. Left unchecked, irreparable harm can have a lasting effect on a leader’s transition to a new position.
In Michael's new book, you'll learn how to avoid making common mistakes — not learning enough about their new company’s culture and politics, trying to do too much too soon, not aligning expectations, and coming in with “the answer” — the likes of which, can lead to underperformance.
Master Your Next Move answers a distinct need, focusing on the most common types of transitions you're likely to face.
In this 20-minute interview, Michael reveals how to stay on track during your next career move. And how to help your new employees do the same.
Scaling a hypergrowth Silicon Valley is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Or in Evan Kaplan’s case, 3 times in a lifetime.
And I was curious to learn how he does it.
Evan is a Silicon Valley legend. A three-time CEO, who’s currently leading Influx Data.
With 130 employees, Influx Data has created a platform for handling the massive amounts of data that are created by the IOT internet of things. (Think about your self-driving Tesla that throws off hundreds of millions of points of data per second. Someone has to process all that data!)
That’s where Influx Data comes in.
Evan previously served as CEO of iPass and Aventail. And if that’s not enough, he climbed the Himalayas. Whew.
In this 20-minute conversation, Evan reveals how to create an amazing culture, how to hire the best, and how to build a remote-first organization.
Change is constant these days.
But when you change your business model, how does your recruiting strategy need to change?
Russell Jones found out.
He’s CEO & Co-Founder of Cargo Chief, based in Palo Alto CA.
Cargo Chief initially started as a rapidly growing tech-enabled freight brokerage. But then other third-party logistics firms said his technology was better than anything they could find.
So, Cargo Chief sold its Chicago brokerage business and is now exclusively licensing its technology to others.
It transformed from brokerage to software company.
In this 20-minute conversation, Russell reveals how he changed the talent strategy to match.
Thinking about building a remote or virtual team?
Thejo Kote can help. He’s Founder & CEO of Airbase.
Based in San Francisco, Airbase is on a mission to simplify spend management. It’s the first all-in-one spend management platform that replaces multiple systems & gives finance teams unparalleled visibility into every dollar spent.
Airbase recently raised $9M in venture capital from First Round Capital & Maynard Webb.
Prior, Thejo was Founder & CEO of Automatic, which was acquired by SiriusXM for $115M.
So he knows a thing or two about building teams. And this time, he’s building a virtual global team.
In this 20-minute conversation, Thejo explains how to do it.
You think you have your hands full with hiring? Sales Reps? Financial Analyst?
Try hiring actual rocket scientists & data experts.
That’s what David Godwin and his leadership team have to do. He’s CEO and Co-Founder of Slingshot Aerospace, which has built the next generation of signal-processing AI.
That allows companies & governments to use earth observation data, which remains the world’s largest untapped data source.
Cool stuff. And above my pay grade.
So I learned a ton about how he hires the best talent, and you will too.
25 years in executive search will teach you a thing or two about hiring.
And in today’s podcast episode, Bernie Layton teaches us about how to do it the right way.
Based in Chicago, Bernie is Managing Director of Stanton Chase, one of the world’s largest & finest retained search firms. He’s successfully performed more than 750 searches for CEO’s, Presidents, SVP’s, and the like.
And he’s done it in a wide range of industries - consumer, consulting, financial, engineering.
So no matter what field you’re in, if you hope to hire Rockstar talent, this 20-minute episode will be eye-opening.
If you work in tech in San Francisco…and even if you don’t…you know Auren Hoffman.
He’s been starting - and growing - and selling companies since his junior year at UC Berkeley.
This master networker cofounded Rapleaf, which was acquired by TowerData. He then led the middleware-provider LiveRamp which was acquired by Acxiom for $300M.
Auren is now CEO of SafeGraph, which builds geospatial truth sets. Not to mention, he’s an angel investor in over 70 tech companies.
So Auren knows a thing or two about hiring & building tech-driven teams.
In this 20-minute candid conversation, he reveals how he’s done it, and the mistakes he’s made along the way.