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Strong Suit Podcast

Strong Suit is the playbook for recruiting Rockstars. You'll learn how to hire twice as fast. With half the mistakes. No more bad hires. ... Ready! Aim! Hire!
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Strong Suit Podcast
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Mar 8, 2017

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.

Mar 2, 2017

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:

  1. Co-Founders - how do you start a company with someone who’s been a friend for 30 years & still stay that way
  2. How to build & lead a startup that has 2 distinct subcultures (white collar & logistics warehouse)
Feb 28, 2017

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.

Feb 23, 2017

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.

Feb 21, 2017

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.

Feb 17, 2017

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

Feb 13, 2017

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

Feb 10, 2017

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:

  • What VC’s really look for in an entrepreneur
  • How to know when you’ve made a hiring mistake, and what to do
  • Sole Founder or Co-Founders?
  • How do VC’s & Founders really think about “exit” (sale, IPO, etc)
  • The “must-read” list he gives to each of his portfolio companies
Feb 9, 2017

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.

 

Feb 8, 2017

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

Feb 7, 2017

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.

Feb 6, 2017

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

Feb 2, 2017

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

 

Jan 31, 2017

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.

Jan 26, 2017

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.

Jan 24, 2017

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.

Jan 19, 2017

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

Jan 10, 2017

My guest Adam Robinson is Chief Hireologist & CEO of Hireology, one of Chicago’s fastest-growing companies. They’ve raised millions in venture capital to crack the recruiting code.

Adam has made a science of the recruiting process, by creating a software product that focuses on the most-predictive elements of the recruiting process.

In this 20-minute interview, Adam reveals the FOUR factors that are most-predictive of candidate success. If you don’t nail these four, you’re wasting your time. Regardless of industry, level, or job, these are the ones that matter most. 

Everything else is just noise.

 

Jan 9, 2017

What must you do after the interview to ensure that you hire a rockstar every time?

My guest today is Mary Beth Wynn, SVP of People at Jellyvision. They’ve been recognized as having one of the most unique & healthy cultures in the tech industry.

In this 20-minute segment, Mary Beth walks through the 3 key things you must get right even after the interview 

(1) Doing reference checks the right way 

(2) Using a job audition to “test drive” the candidate before extending an offer 

(3) Crafting an offer letter that gets the “Yes” every time

 

Jan 5, 2017

Building a winning culture is hard... But combining two cultures into one is nearly impossible.

My guest today, Matt Moog, has done it. 

As CEO of PowerReviews, Matt combined his company with a competitor. Merging brands & technologies was simple, compared to the challenge of combining cultures.

In this 20-minute interview, Matt reveals step-by-step how he did it. What to do before, during, and after an acquisition. Everything you must do to ensure the corporate culture is unstoppable after the deal. And the mistakes you must avoid.

If you've ever been curious about how cultures survive a merger, you can't afford to miss this conversation.

Jan 3, 2017

The war for talent is ON. So, how do you compete with the likes of Google, Facebook, and Uber to attract Rockstars to your fledgling company? Especially when you can't pay top dollar.

My guest today is Kevin Willer. He's uniquely-qualified to show us how.

Kevin is Partner at Chicago Ventures, the fund with $100M under management & dozens of upstart portfolio companies.

And before that, Kevin was the very First employee of Google in Chicago. Back in 2000 - when nobody had heard of Google - he built a Rockstar team of hundreds & put them on the map.

In this 20-minute interview, Kevin shows us how to compete for talent with the big names. The mistakes to avoid. And why talent should be your #1 priority in 2017.

Dec 15, 2016

Nicole Dessain is Founder & Chief Strategist of Talent Imperative. She’s also President of Disrupt HR Chicago.

In this 20-minute interview, Nicole reveals why you should create a disruptive H.R. function in your company, the 5 ways to do it, and the major impact that you can expect.

If you want to learn the ways to unleash talent in your organization, you can’t miss this episode.

Dec 13, 2016

You’ve got a great new idea. A prospective customer. Perhaps even some software written. 

And now it’s time to start adding people to your team.

When you’re first starting out, signing new employees takes a huge leap of faith. And choosing your Co-Founder is a game-changing decision.

With 10 years investment experience, Imran Ahmad heads the OCA EDGE seed program at OCA Ventures. He & his team have made 17 investments in early-stage companies. So he’s seen the mistakes that entrepreneurs make, and the best practices to avoid the pitfalls. 

If you recently started a company - or you’re thinking about it in 2017 - you can’t afford to miss this 20 minute episode.

Dec 8, 2016

If you’re like most leaders, giving feedback to your staff isn’t your idea of a good time. Who likes running the risk of hurt feelings?

So, in this episode, my guest is Jennifer Marszalek. She’s Chief Talent Officer at Havas Chicago, part of the global marketing agency. Her team has 400 employees. Prior, she was the head of H.R. at GrubHub and SurePayroll.

In this 20-minute interview, Jennifer reveals how to give feedback the right way so your people develop but still love you / So that its not painful for you / How to give feedback to Millennials

Dec 6, 2016

Today’s guest is Jeff Maters, Managing Director of Network Ventures, the fast-growing Chicago-based VC fund. Jeff has been investing in early-stage companies since joining Pritzker Group Venture Capital as employee #3.

Because Jeff has worked with so many early-stage firms, he’s seen the same problems over & over. In this 20-minute interview, Jeff reveals the most common mistakes CEO’s make and how to avoid them / How to choose a Co-Founder / How to decide when to start hiring or when to wait.

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