Recruit Rockstars Podcast

Recruit Rockstars is the only podcast on the people part of PE & VC portfolio companies.
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Nov 26, 2019

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.

Nov 21, 2019

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.

Nov 19, 2019

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.

Nov 4, 2019

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.

Here's how.

Sep 5, 2019

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.

Aug 29, 2019

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.

Aug 13, 2019

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.

Aug 8, 2019

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.

Jul 31, 2019

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.


Jul 24, 2019

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.


Jul 9, 2019

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.

Jun 13, 2019

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.


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.

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