Recruit Rockstars Podcast

Recruit Rockstars is the only podcast on the people part of PE & VC portfolio companies.
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Jun 5, 2019

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.

May 31, 2019

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.

May 23, 2019

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.

May 9, 2019

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.

May 6, 2019

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.

Apr 16, 2019

Do you remember the Blue Shirts?

This army of well-trained, huge-smiling, sales staff at Best Buy built the company to what it is today.

Yes, they’ve been Amazon-ed a bit, but still they survive. The Blue Shirts are why. When everything else (huge product assortment, low prices, easy returns) are commoditized, only service will save you.

And Best Buy’s sales staff serve. Bigtime.

But how does Best Buy energize that 100,000-person army?

Enter Jennifer Rock & Michael Voss. These two executives built the legendary employee communications function at Best Buy from the ground-up. They created the messaging & energy that electrified the Blue Shirts.

After a decade of this work, Jennifer & Michael left to share their secrets. (You can get a glimpse in their new novel Operation Clusterpuck.)

And you can listen to my 20-minute interview, where they reveal the secrets of outstanding employee communications.

Apr 9, 2019

If you don’t know the name Abakar Saidov, you soon will.

Because he may have cracked the code on how to build a relationship with the candidates you want to hire.

For years, I’ve said that “just in time hiring” stinks.

By the time you realize you need to hire someone, and then start, you’re already too late.

You need to dig your well before your thirsty. In hiring, that means you need to build relationships with candidates ahead of time.

That’s where Abakar comes in. He’s CEO and Co-Founder of London-based Beamery. He’s on a mission to transform recruitment by empowering companies to treat candidates like customers.

In fact, he’s helped invent CRM Candidate Relationship Management. It’s like for Recruitment.

Abakar now has over 100 employees & $40 Million in venture funding from Index Ventures, Workday Ventures, EQT Partners, and M12. He’s on a roll.

In this 20 minute conversation, Abakar shares the keys to hooking the candidates you really want. Before you even need them.


Apr 5, 2019

There’s potentially no harder hiring task these days than landing Rockstar software developers.

So, I wanted to find an expert at it. Someone who has a dramatically different approach.

I found him.

Based in London, Hung Lee is CEO of Workshape, the matching service for tech talent. It’s software that helps you recruit software engineers by focusing on specific areas of interest. Which results in a high-signal, zero-noise talent marketplace

Hung is also creator & curator of Recruiting Brainfood, the best curated recruiting content delivered to your inbox, once a week.

In this 20 minute conversation, Hung reveals how to go about finding & hiring the best software engineers.

Mar 13, 2019

Let’s get real.

For your business to succeed, you need a team of happy & productive employees.

Which means you need to keep your best people. Otherwise, you’ll always be scrambling to get new ones onto your leaky ship.

But how can you keep your best people when we’re at 3.7% unemployment? And when 90,000 headhunters like me are calling them every day?

Here’s the irony:

To keep them, you need to help them advance their career. That’s right… You have to do everything in your power to prepare them to leave you.

You need to help them advance their career. Develop new skills. Build their confidence. Master new skills.

But yikes. If you do that, they might leave you.


Or they may be so grateful …and learning so much… that they can’t afford to leave you. Even when the phone rings.

These 2 goals conflict - growing them & keeping them. So, I found an expert Marti Konstant of Konstant Change, to help us make sense of it all. For 10 years, she’s been developing the concept of ‘Agile Careers.’ She knows more about it than anyone I’ve met.

In this 20-minute conversation, she reveals what’s most important to your best people. And how to ensure they never leave you.

Mar 8, 2019

In 1991, Mark Kaufman started as a physical therapist. 28 years later, he’s built Athletico into the dominant force in physical therapy.

Based in Chicago, Athletico now has 400 Midwestern locations with 4,500 employees.

And importantly, Mark had the forethought in 2011 to have a third-party start measuring outcomes… something not often done in the field.

Recently, BDT Capital Partners made a significant long-term growth equity investment in the company.

In this 20-minute conversation, Mark reveals how he built the industry-leading company, one foam roller at a time.

Mar 5, 2019

Rachel Ohlsson is a Rockstar who recruits Rockstars.

Easier said than done.

As Manager of Talent for Chicago-based Oak Street Health, the fast-growing group of primary care centers for adults on Medicare in medically-underserved communities, Rachel’s learned one of the keys:

The ‘WOW!’ interview.

Rockstar candidates who aren’t impressed by the way you interview them aren’t likely to say Yes.

In this 20-minute conversation, Rachel reveals everything she knows about the WOW! interview and how to incorporate it into your hiring process.

Grab a pen for this one.

Feb 13, 2019

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Can you build a durable company & a successful relationship at the same time? 

Some days, it seems like an unlikely balancing act.

One of the nation’s leading venture capitalists, and my dear friend Brad Feld, knows that you can.

And in this bonus V-Day episode of Strong Suit Podcast, Brad shows us the way.

 Brad has been an early stage investor & entrepreneur for 30 years. Prior to co-founding Boulder-based Foundry Group, he co-founded Mobius Venture Capital. Brad is also a co-founder of Techstars.

Brad’s a writer and speaker on the topics of VC investing & entrepreneurship. He’s written some outstanding books as including “Venture Deals” and “Startup Boards”

If that wasn’t enough, he’s also an art collector & long-distance runner. He’s completed 25 marathons as part of his mission to finish a marathon in each of the 50 states.

In this 20-min episode, Brad shares the secrets of being in love while loving your business. It CAN be done.


Feb 7, 2019

One of the most unique roles you may think about adding to your company is the COO Chief Operating Officer.

Often known as the “right hand” or “number two” or “second in command”

The relationship between CEO & COO is vital, and nobody has studied it as intimately as Cameron Herold. He even created the COO Alliance.

Cameron is a top business consultant, best-selling author, and speaker. Named by Forbes Magazine as “The CEO Whisperer,” Cameron has touched thousands of businesses directly. By age 35, he had built two $100M companies. And by 42, he had grown 1-800-GOT-JUNK? from $2M to $106M in revenue in just 6 years.

Cameron has since gone on to help hundreds of companies grow, and exponentially increase revenue. He has earned his reputation by showing his clients how to double their profit in just three years - the process outlined in his bestselling book “Double Double.”

In this 20-minute conversation, Cameron reveals what you need in a COO, where to find one, when to add one, and how to make it a screaming success.

Feb 5, 2019

James Ellis has become one of the gurus of recruiting properly.

Between the two of us, we’ve seen 40 years of recruiting mistakes. And pulled out most of our hair in the process. (What remains is grey.)

Based in Chicago, James is host of The TalentCast… the only other recruiting podcast I listen to.

He’s clear, edgy (but not just to be annoying), practical, and has pushed my thinking. Essentially, we’ve concluded, that to hire the best just do the opposite of what everyone else is doing. That’s how bad most executives are at it.

James rants. I chime in.

And we swear A LOT.

Don’t lose your hair or go grey. Instead invest 20 minutes on this episode.

Jan 18, 2019

Jason Lauritsen is one of my all-time favorite experts on employee engagement.

He’s incredibly insightful. Which we need, because employees are more disengaged than ever.

I’ve featured him on my podcast before. And with his new book Unlocking High Performance just released, I’m doing it again.

In this 20-minute conversation, Jason reveals how to use performance management to engage & empower your employees to reach their full potential.

Jan 15, 2019

In case you missed it, Google For Jobs launched in 2018 and is quickly shaking up the way your candidates look for jobs.

In fact, 73% of all job seekers start their job search on Google. But, if you’re like most employers, you’re still missing this massive opportunity to engage directly with highly qualified candidates.

Unfortunately, the process for posting jobs to Google For Jobs requires deep coding expertise and access to the page code for every job post.

Until now.

Based in Woburn Massachusetts, Jobiak created the industry’s first AI-based recruitment marketing platform specifically for Google For Jobs.

Jobiak’s platform scans your job posts, identifies the attributes that Google requires, and structures the Google tags—all without touching the underlying code.

Jobiak is the brainchild of Founder & CEO Venkat Janapareddy.

Previously, he founded Gozaik, the social jobs platform which helped employers engage with job seekers on Twitter & Facebook. Monster Worldwide acquired Gozaik.

In this 20-minute conversation, Venkat reveals everything you need to know about Google For Jobs and how to get the most out of this powerful & free resource.

Dec 18, 2018

You have one key job.

And that’s to ensure that you’re creating a wonderful place to work.

Because that’s the only thing that’s going to attract top-performers. Unfortunately, most companies suffer with lousy managers.

And that’s the key reason people leave. Or won’t come in the first place.

Alexi Robichaux, Co-founder & CEO of BetterUp, is out to change that. Based in San Francisco, his company delivers personalized & professional coaching to improve the scalability of your business.

To make sure you have Rockstar managers in every seat. Managers who help your employees find meaning in their work.

Executive coaching has been life-transforming for me. It’ll do the same for you & your team.

In this 20-minute conversation, Alex reveals how to do it.

Dec 11, 2018

Shally Steckerl is often credited with being one of the founders of the Talent Sourcing specialization within Recruitment and HR.

A globally recognized recruiting thought leader, over the last two decades, Shally has helped build sourcing organizations for Microsoft, Google, Coca Cola, and Cisco, amongst others.

Today, as President of The Sourcing Institute and Director of The Sourcing Institute Foundation a 501(c)(3) public charity, Mr. Steckerl advises recruiting leaders on successfully embedding key sourcing initiatives into their current efforts.

In short, he knows where to find the Rockstar talent. Even in a tight labor market.

Often compared to a shot of adrenalin for recruitment organizations held back by confusion, hesitation, or fear Shally's unparalleled obsession for talent sourcing continuously drives him to probe for practical solutions where nobody has looked before.

In this 20-minute conversation, Shally shows how it’s done.

Dec 4, 2018

Admins, Executive Assistants, Chiefs of Staff, EA’s … call them what you want. The assistant is the bedrock of any company.

And they can make your life far easier - or far harder. A good one is worth their weight in gold.

But, because the relationship between you & your assistant is incredible intimate, they’re very hard to find.

So, I tracked down the expert.

Hilani Ellis leads the Denver-based company called Exceptional Admins. She’s wildly passionate about remarkable assistants, and she matches the best of them with the executives who need them.

In this 20-minute conversation, Hilani reveals how & where to find them, how to onboard them, and what makes this relationship so magical when it works well.

Nov 13, 2018

Jason VandeBoom is CEO of ActiveCampaign, a privately-held leader in email marketing automation. (I’m a raving fan because I use it to stay in touch with my customers.)

He founded the company 13 years ago, built it steadily & bootstrapped with no outside capital. And then, 2 years ago, BANG!

Silversmith Capital Partners invested $20 million, and Jason ramped the business from 30 employees to over 300.

Now based in Chicago & Sydney, the business has 60,000 small business customers all over the world.

In this 20-minute interview, Jason reveals how to recruit, build, and lead a team in the face of hypergrowth. Not an easy thing to do.

Nov 9, 2018

In a 3.7% unemployment market, you’re lucky to find an amazing candidate.

But once you find them, do you extend the offer?

Or do you keep looking?

Jason Fiftal is uniquely qualified to help us answer the question. He’s Chief Operating Officer of ghSmart, which has created an unrivaled reputation for helping executives make that decision.

In the next 20 minutes, Jason shares a specific framework for helping you decide.

Never settle.

Oct 30, 2018

Autumn Manning is co-founder and CEO of YouEarnedIt, a leading HR SaaS company that improves bottom-line performance metrics by enhancing the employee experience.

Based in Austin, she has a compelling vision: to improve the lives of employees everywhere, one company at a time.

Autumn's been featured in The New York Times and HuffPost, Inc., Business Insider, and Entrepreneur.

Under her leadership, YouEarnedIt created the world's most robust employee experience platform and was named to Entrepreneur Magazine's list of Best Company Cultures in 2017.

In this 20-minute conversation, Autumn shares what she's learned about employee experience and how to get yours right.


Oct 23, 2018

Unless you’ve been under a rock, you know that LinkedIn is where you’re most likely to find your next job.

But it’s also where you’re likely to find your next hire. And your best candidates.

But only if your LinkedIn profile… and your company’s page… are super compelling.


Because it’s the very first place that a candidate is likely to look, to learn more about you. That’s right… You.

Candidates want to know who they’re going to be working for. And even before they invest their time applying & interviewing, they want to know if they’re likely to learn something from you.

So, I tracked down an expert. In fact, the expert.

Donna Serdula pioneered the concept of LinkedIn profile optimization and is the author of LinkedIn Profile Optimization For Dummies. She and her team of 40 writers have helped thousands of LinkedIn users strategically write their profile in order to engage with their audience and grow their brand.

(And that includes employer brand.)

If you hope to recruit even one person by the end of this year, you’ve got to update your LinkedIn profile & catch this 20-minute episode with Donna.

Oct 18, 2018

Did you know that 80% of job opportunities at $100,000+ filled every month aren’t advertised?

Despite the internet, it’s still a highly inefficient & hidden market.

Joe Meyer, Founder & CEO of Execthread, intends to change that. It’s NYC-based VC-backed job-sharing network that enables executives to access that “hidden job market.”

ExecThread has become the largest global aggregator of unpublished executive-level job opportunities.

Joe has been a successful start-up CEO and operating executive at high-growth tech companies including HopStop (acquired by Apple), Quigo (acquired by AOL) and eBay. He’s been named Entrepreneur of the Year by Crain's New York Business.

And investors have taken notice. He’s raised $6.5 million in capital from Canaan Partners, Javelin Venture Partners, NextView Ventures, and Corazon Capital.

In this 20-minute conversation, Joe explains how it works & why. If you’re looking for a senior-level role, or senior-level talent, pull on this thread & listen.

Oct 16, 2018

Following a successful career at Google Japan, Renee Wong left to start Castbox 3 years ago.

It’s an award-winning global podcast platform that enables anyone to easily find, access, create, and enjoy spoken audio content. (I’m a fanboy.)

Castbox’s proprietary technology includes cool features like curated podcast recommendations & in-audio deep search to customize your listening experience.

With 40 employees in Beijing, Palo Alto, and Hong Kong, Renee’s riding a the very big wave of podcasting.

And investors are taking notice…

She’s raised millions in venture capital from GV (Google’s venture capital arm), Qiming Venture Partners, IDG Capital, SIG China, GSR Ventures, and ZhenFund.

In this 20-minute episode, Renee reveals how she leads a distributed team that literally spans the globe. (And you think you’ve got leadership challenges?…)

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