At roughly half my age, Neal Sales-Griffin makes me feel woefully inadequate :-(
He’s a two-time CEO (both of leading coding schools), a Professor at Northwestern University, a former venture capitalist, and one of the nicest guys you’ll never meet.
But more importantly than what Neal does is who Neal is. His backstory is remarkable, filled with obstacles & adversity. The kind of man that I’m proud to call a friend :-)
In this 20-minute interview, Neal shares his incredible story and what he’s learned about creating a vibrant culture, hiring Rockstars, and keeping life in perspective.
Katy Lynch is a Chicago legend. She’s Co-Founder of Codeverse, the just-launched world’s first fully interactive coding school for kids. Her mission is to teach 1 Billion kids to code.
Before that, she was CEO of Techweek, the nation’s largest traveling tech festival. And CEO of SocialKaty, Chicago’s largest social media marketing agency.
So she’s uniquely-qualified to teach us about building a winning culture. In this 20-minute interview, Katy shares her secrets to recruiting rockstars, even before you’ve got revenue or funding.
Recruiting rockstars software developers may seem like an impossible task. There's infinite demand.
But you can do it, if you follow Allison's advice.
Allison DiDominick heads talent acquisition at Civis Analytics, the rocketship company based in Chicago.
She finds & hires the best developers for Civis. And she's done the same for Groupon, Avant, and Enova.
In this 20-minute interview, Allison reveals her secrets. If you'll hire at least one software developer this year, you can't afford to miss this episode.
Derek Nelson is founder and head of Clique Studios, one of the fastest-growing website creation firms in Chicago.
With 400 new websites under his belt, Derek has mastered the science of converting visitors into qualified leads.
In this 20-minute interview, he reveals:
- The first thing to do when designing your next website
- The myths of website conversion
- Why video is so important to driving conversion
- How to avoid groupthink in website design
If job postings aren’t working like they used to, and headhunters are too expensive, you can use your existing employees to attract more rockstars.
Erin Wilson is Co-Founder of Hirepool, the online CRM tool for job seeker. Previously, he was Talent Engineer at Yahoo
In this 20-minute interview, Erin reveals how to leverage your existing employees into a vibrant community to attract more top performers.
Reverb.com is the super-cool eCommerce platform for buying & selling musical instruments, with a swelling community of musicians & content.
Gina Contella, Director of Talent, has built most of the team. In fact, she's already recruited over 100 folks to this fast-growing Chicago company.
In this 20-minute interview, she reveals how she built the amazing Reverb.com team, and the mistakes to avoid as you build yours.
No doubt… Millennials are a very different breed. Aged 18 to 34, they have some unique characteristics & preferences
My guest today is Aaron Levy is CEO of Raise The Bar, a boutique firm that advises employers on recruiting & keeping Millennials.
In this 20-minute interview, Aaron reveals the best practices for captivating this important group, and the key mistakes to avoid.
What’s it like to start a business from scratch & build it to acquisition by Salesforce.com?
Until recently, Jon Roa was CEO & Founder of AKTA, a leading digital experience and engagement consultancy based in Chicago.
In 2010, he started AKTA, which led initiatives for top multinational brands to help innovate, design and engineer forward-thinking mobile products
After 6 years of growth, last year AKTA was successfully acquired by Salesforce.com
In this 20-minute interview, John reveals the people part of that story … how he shaped the culture, recruited rockstars, and executed his people playbook.
The French call it Raison D'être. Every company - raw startup or Fortune 100 - must figure out its ‘reason for being’
This isn’t just mission, vision, values. It’s the whole enchilada - WHY are we doing this?
If you get this wrong - or don’t have one at all - good luck recovering. Because you’ll never be able to build an energized team of Rockstars.
Mert Iseri is CEO & Co-Founder of SwipeSense, a VC-funded company. His company has a HUGE mission: To eradicate medical errors & infections in hospitals. This would save countless lives every year.
In this 20-minute interview, Mert reveals how he & his team crafted this Raison D'être. And how they operationalized it.
Dream big. Mert is.
Balance is everything when building a company.
My guest today is Divey Gulati, Co-Founder of one of Chicago’s fastest-growing companies, ShipBob.
ShipBob provides a direct-to-consumer fulfillment service for websites that want to ship directly to customers.
In this 20 minute interview, Divey & I discuss 2 topics:
Make no mistake. The war for talent is on. You’re competing for talent with Uber, Facebook, and Google. And their pockets are deeper than yours.
So how to do it?
Roger Panetta runs the firm Nimble At Work, which provides executives with tools to attract rockstar talent.
In this 20-minute interview, Roger reveals the secrets to using non-$ rewards to attract rockstars. How to build a culture that keeps them. And the mistakes to avoid along the way.
My guest today is a legend. Christie Hefner is Chairman of Hatch Beauty, a brand & product innovation company. Previously, she served as Executive Chairman of Canyon Ranch Enterprises.
From 1988 to 2008, Christie led Playboy Enterprises, making her the longest serving female Chairman & CEO of a U.S. public company. For three years she was named to FORTUNE’s list of “Most Powerful Women”
She led Playboy onto the Internet, making it the first national magazine on the web. Christie greatly expanded the leveraging of the Playboy brand via licensing. In 2008, Playboy generated close to $1 billion in global sales.
Christie is a passionate advocate of equal rights & opportunities for women. She was the first woman elected to the Chicago chapter of the Young Presidents' Organization & has worked hard to increase the number of women serving on corporate boards nationwide.
In this 20-minute interview, Christie shares what it takes for a business to finally balance the gender mix of its executive team & board of directors, and how women can accelerate their careers.
Did you know that Google has a series of programs called “Moonshots” ? These are some of their biggest bets … self-driving cars, personalized medicine, and stuff I can’t even mention.
My guest today is Amy Vernetti, Director of Leadership Recruiting for those Moonshots at Google. She hand-picks & recruits CEO’s & their direct staff. These people will literally shape our future lives.
Previously, Amy spent 20 years in executive search with Heidrick & Struggles, Korn/Ferry & True Search.
In this 20-minute interview, Amy reveals how she does it, and the pitfalls to avoid.
My guest today is Josh Inglis, who runs Propllr Public Relations in Chicago. He’s one of the P.R. pioneers for Startups.
In this 20-minute interview, Josh reveals:
– Why PR is such a vital marketing component for Startups
– When to hire (or not hire) a PR firm
– How to use PR to directly increase revenues
– How to not blow your big break on CNBC
Brad Feld was my first guest, and he returns today for an intimate Valentine’s Day episode #100. Brad is Managing Director of Foundry Group, a leading venture capital firm with a storied track record.
Outside of work, Brad enjoys a fruitful long-term marriage with a remarkable woman, Amy Batchelor. They even co-wrote the book “Startup Life: Surviving and Thriving in a Relationship with an Entrepreneur”
In this special 35-minute interview, Brad reveals:
- How to stay in love
- Small ways to show your partner that they come ahead of your work
- Making sure that work travel doesn’t kill the magic
- How to build a cadence into your relationship
- Keeping a healthy, vibrant relationship despite the stresses of entrepreneurship
I had the amazing opportunity to interview Tom Blaisdell. Tom is one of Silicon Valley’s top Venture Capitalists focused on consumer/small business-facing startups.
It’s hard to believe that I first met Tom 2 decades ago, when he ran the QuickBooks business at Intuit in Palo Alto (now a $B+ business).
He switched to VC about 15 years ago, and is General Partner with DCM Ventures (with $2B under management)
In this 20-minute interview, Tom reveals:
Did you know there are over 300,000 recruiters in the US?
When it’s time to get outside help hiring a candidate, how can you possibly select the right one?
My guest is Henry Miller, Global Life Science Practice Leader at Diversified Search. He began his search career with Heidrick & Struggles in Healthcare.
Henry has successfully led global searches in US, UK, Germany, France, China & a bunch more.
In this 20-minute interview, Henry reveals the things you Must know when selecting a search firm. Including the inside secrets that headhunters don’t want you to know.
Jim O’Malley recruited much of the amazing leadership team to Fifth Third Bank. Now he’s Partner at TalentRise, a fast-growing talent firm based in Chicago.
He’s got over 20 years of recruiting executives to companies large & small.
In this revealing interview, Jim shares:
– The 3 characteristics that define a Rockstar
– A real-life example of behavioral interviewing
– When & how to sell a Rockstar on the position
– How to onboard a new hire, and set them up for success
In nearly 100 podcast episodes, Parker Krex is my youngest guest ever.
Parker is CEO of BrickLoot, the Lego subscription service for brick-lovers. Believe it or not, a huge chunk of his customers are grownups.
In this 20-minute interview, Parker reveals: How he came up with the idea / How he acquired 2,000 paid subscribers / How to be scrappy without outside capital / How to ace your classes while running a business.
Dave Mayer is CEO of Technical Integrity, one of the fastest-growing recruiting firms in Denver/Boulder.
When he's not snowboarding, Dave is finding the best Software Developers. That's all he does... and It's not easy.
In this 20-minute interview, Dave reveals:
- How to "test drive" a Developer before extending an offer
- When it's a good (or bad) idea to hire an existing team of 5 Developers
- Why compensation is often the least important thing to a Developer
- How to find Developers these days (many are pulling their profiles off LinkedIn!)
- Interviewing Developers for culture fit, even when they're introverts
Few people are more qualified to teach growth companies the secrets of recruiting than Betsy Tilkemeier.
Following successful careers at the 3 top headhunting firms – Korn/Ferry, Russell Reynolds, Heidrick & Struggles – she ventured on her own to start North Line Partners.
There, she’s successfully filled key roles for high-growth companies: Revolution Foods, Plum Organics, KIND Snacks, Omaha Steaks, See’s Candies, The Pampered Chef.
In this 20-minute interview, Betsy reveals:
– How to figure out what skills you truly need in your next hire
– The biggest mistakes people make when hiring
– How to interview candidates for cultural fit
– Why Rockstar talent won’t move for a lateral position
How do you build a healthy, vibrant culture from the very start?
My guest today, Steven Collens, has done it. He’s CEO of Matter, a Chicago-based community of entrepreneurs & innovators working together to harness technology to improve healthcare.
After successful careers in industry (Abbott) & private investing (Pritzker Group Venture Capital), Steven has assembled 130 healthcare tech startups under the Matter masthead.
In this 20-minute interview, Steven reveals how he formulated the values & culture from day one, how to recruit rockstars, and what to do after a hiring mistake.
Not many PE’s hang up their investment hat & switch sides to start a business from scratch.
But Cameron Smith did it. And here’s how.
With a decade of Private Equity experience & Kellogg MBA in-hand, Cameron had a big idea: Create an innovative way to educate students.
And he’s done it with Bennett Day School, one of Chicago’s premier private schools.
In this 20-minute interview, Cameron reveals why he made the switch, the things he’s learned about recruiting & building a team, and the mistakes he’s made.
There’s perhaps no greater mystery than the world of Private Equity investors, and how they decide to write the check or walk away.
Much of it comes down to Talent.
My guest today, Shoshana Vernick, is Managing Director of the Education Opportunity Fund at Sterling Partners, with billions under management.
In this 20-minute discussion, Shoshana walks thru how she evaluates Talent before deciding whether to make an investment. And how she works with leadership teams after writing the check.
How'd you like to go instead the Boardroom of venture capital-funded company? To see how the Board of Directors really works?
Today's guest is Jason Heltzer, Partner at Origin Ventures, a leading Chicago VC fund with $60M under management.
Jason is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship at Chicago Booth, where he teaches the venture capital and private equity lab class.
He's worked with dozens of VC portfolio companies & sat in many hundreds of Board meetings. In this 20-minute discussion, Jason reveals:
- what really happens in the Boardroom
- the personalities & dynamics
- the value of independent board members
- how the ideal Board meeting is structured