Recruit Rockstars Podcast

Recruit Rockstars is the only podcast on the people part of PE & VC portfolio companies.
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May 23, 2018

You know that early-stage companies pivot, in search of that elusive product/market fit. Looking for a business model that works.

But do you know that - equally important - people need to pivot as well?

In search of the career, the specific role, and the home to do the best work of their life. People need to find their strengths & what's working, in order to figure out what comes next.

And as leaders, one of our most vital functions is to help our employees do this.

So, I found an expert on how it's done.

Jenny Blake is the author, career strategist and international speaker who helps people organize their brain, move beyond burnout & build sustainable careers they love. 

She's the author of "Pivot: The Only Move That Matters is Your Next One" which won an award for Axiom Best Business Book in the careers category.

After 2 years at a technology start-up, she spent 5 years at Google in Training & Career Development.

So she's helped a ton of people pivot. I'll bet she can help you too.

May 18, 2018

I’ve seen this movie before.

The business ramps from 2 Founders to 10 employees, then to 100, then 1000.

The American dream.

But the talent strategy hasn’t evolved. And that’s when the people problems begin. 

Recruiting, retention, employer brand, compensation design … everything needs to be revisited at each node of growth.

So I sought out an expert to show us how (And I kinda bagged the elephant.)

Kevin Marasco is Chief Marketing Officer of SF-based Zenefits. With 500 employees, they’ve created a super-cool people platform that brings HR, Payroll, & Benefits into a single app. Makes it really easy.

Prior, Kevin was CMO at HireVue and VP Brand at Taleo (acquired by Oracle). He’s been with companies from 2 people to 2,000. So he understands what needs to happen in each phase.

In this 20-minute conversation, Kevin shares the stuff he wishes he knew “back then.” If you hope to scale your business, you can’t afford to miss this episode.



May 16, 2018

Legendary CEO Jack Welch of General Electric said yes.

He simply meant that to get the most out of your team, sometimes you need to praise & compliment; other times, you need to give the tough love.

In my experience, he’s right.

But how to do it? Easier said than done. 

That’s why I was psyched to interview Kim Scott, author of the bestseller Radical Candor. She’s not just writing on theory - she’s lived it.

Kim led AdSense, YouTube, and Doubleclick Online Sales & Operations at Google and then joined Apple to develop & teach a leadership seminar. And she’s been a CEO coach at Dropbox & Twitter.

'Radical Candor: Be a Kickass Boss without Losing your Humanity' is a bestseller on both New York Times & Wall Street Journal. 

In the book - and in this 20-minute conversation, she gives practical advice for how to care about your people, yet at the same time challenge them directly. 

No more of that backstabbing, passive aggressive, bossy pants stuff. Master this skill & you’ll be amazed by the results.

May 10, 2018

The MeToo movement is barely 12 months old, yet companies finally(!) seem to serious about recruiting more Rockstar women. It’s time to improve the gender balance at your company.

70% of executives are male. How does your company compare?

Laurie Ruettimann can show you how.

She’s an internationally recognized public speaker who gives it to you straight. There’s a reason she’s featured in Business Insider, Entrepreneur, Forbes, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal… the list is endless.

And she’s spoken at Harvard Business School, SXSW, Microsoft, Google.

In this 20-minute conversation, Laurie reveals how you should go about it. And the biggest pitfalls to avoid along the way.


May 8, 2018

After you bust your hump to recruit Rockstars to your company, how do you get the most out of them?

Start by building a relationship with them. 

I know that sounds obvious, but most executives are too eager for results, to invest the time really forging trust with new-hires.

So I found an expert on how to do it.

Doug Sandler’s book Nice Guys Finish First is a #1 ranked Amazon Bestseller. 

He specializes in making connections, building relationships & strengthening bonds both inside and outside organizations. 

But don’t let the “Mr. Nice Guy” tag fool you. Doug has entered into many high-level negotiations and is anything but a pushover. 

Many call him the guru on improving relationships.

His Nice Guys on Business Podcast has over 1.2 million downloads and Inc calls it “Most Binge-Worthy”

May 3, 2018

Not many people are successful at starting & building companies, and also building new initiatives within a larger company (...or in this case, one of the largest).

But here’s one … Micah Baldwin

Micah was early or founded six startups, which have raised more than $350,000,000 collectively, with 4 exits.

He successfully launched companies, and grew a publisher base from 0 to 10,000, and monthly page views from 11 million to 450 million per month in just 1 year.

And now, Micah is with Amazon, where he’s created & launched a senior level program for corporate innovation, working with some of the largest enterprises & hottest startups in the world.

In this 20-minute interview, Micah reviews how (and why) he made the switch from entrepreneur to intrepreneur. There’s a ton to be learned, as he’s exceedingly candid about his path.


May 1, 2018

I’ll be honest. 

I was shaking in my boots for this podcast interview. 

How often do we get to interview our business idol?

Tom Peters’ first book “In Search of Excellence” single-handedly created the business book genre.

And it changed how I look at business. I’ve read every word of all 17 of his bestselling books.

In this 20-minute interview, Tom & I covered a ton of ground, including…

  • How can your business out-Amazon Amazon?
  • What is leadership really about in 2018?
  • And What is “Give-a-Sh*t”ism?

Educated at Stanford. Consulted at McKinsey & Company. Served in US Navy. Worked in the White House. 

They don’t come any bolder than Tom Peters. He’s truly the guru of management gurus.

Apr 26, 2018

The war for talent has gone global.

As if it wasn’t already hard enough to recruit Rockstars, now you’re competing for talent with companies across the world, not just across town.

So in this episode, we’re going global to learn about your competition.

Based in Sydney, Greg Savage is the highest-profile recruiter in Australia. He’s built 4 firms during his 40 years, most notably leading the giant Aquent as its International CEO.

In fact, Greg was voted “most influential person in Australian recruitment in the past 60 years.” Yowza!

In this 20-minute episode, Greg & I discuss your “moments of truth” with a candidate. 

Any moment of contact where emotions are triggered (the first phone call, the interview, extending the offer, etc). You’ve gotta remember that these situations evoke emotion in the candidate… flattery, suspicion, fear of making a bad decision, etc.

We talk about how to prepare for, and address them. And how to nail those moments of truth every time.

Apr 24, 2018

How can Co-Founders start & grow a business without killing each other?

You may know that 66% of early-stage companies fail due to people problems. And the #1 root cause? Co-Founders that just can’t make it together.

And who can blame them? 80 hours a week together - yikes!

But did you know that there’s therapy for those Co-Founders?

Now, there is.

Based in Chicago, Myra Castaneda & Shira Galston are the creators of Amity. It creates a safe space to explore the complex relationships, on both a business level and an interpersonal level, to build trust, communication, and empathy.

They’ve applied their considerable therapy experience to this crucial need. Co-Founders squabble, yes. But more importantly, they avoid talking about the things that they really need to discuss. 

So Myra & Shira facilitate the discussion and help Co-Founders heal. In this 20-minute discussion, they reveal the best practices to develop a healthy relationship. And the biggest mistakes to avoid.


Apr 19, 2018

You should be so lucky to have David Cancel’s problems.

He’s founded 5 companies. His current one, Boston-based Drift, continues to double year after year. Drift gives you a unified view of your customers across e-mail, web, social media, mobile channels, plus the ability to trigger marketing campaigns based on real-time  behavior. Pretty slick.

That’s Hypergrowth mode. 

And it creates unique challenges when it comes to recruiting: Hiring a team of consistent Rockstars, while drinking from a firehose.

Yet he’s done it time after time. Heck, his previous startup Performable was acquired by HubSpot.

So, I had to ask David how he does it. He’s known for building great teams.

He attributes much of his success to an unorthodox way of Interviewing candidates, and Onboarding them once they accept (And they usually accept!)

In this 20-minute conversation, David shares his secrets. And the rookie mistakes to avoid.

Apr 17, 2018

If I had one quarter, and I had to place it on the betting table when it comes to recruiting…

I’d place it on Referrals every single time.

Referrals are cheaper, faster, better. They stay longer. They match your company’s DNA better.

So how to find more referrals?

I asked Nick Cromydas, CEO of Chicago-based Hunt Club, a new type of recruiting firm. They leverage referrals to fill roles faster & better.

Cold calling, spamming on Linkedin, impersonal mass mails, treating candidates like a transaction ... These no longer work in today's war for talent.

If you’re tired of posting & praying on job boards, take a sip from the elixir of Referrals. In this 20-minute episode, Nick reveals the best practices and the mistakes to avoid.

Apr 12, 2018

I’ve read every word written by Josh Steimle. 

He’s an author, speaker, and entrepreneur who has figured out how (and why) to make your company’s CEO an “Influencer”

It’s a gamechanger to make him or her the face of your company & your mission.

Josh has written over 300 articles for Fortune, Time, Forbes, Inc. He’s the author of the book “Chief Marketing Officers at Work” (recognized in Success Magazine as 1 of the 5 best business books in 2016)

He’s also the founder of Influencer Inc., a publishing, training, and events company that turns executives into thought leaders.

In this 20-minute discussion, Josh reveals how to go about making your CEO a visible thought leader, and how it’ll make your recruiting job that much easier.

Apr 10, 2018

What is a talent strategy & when do you need to create one?

If you’re like most business leaders, your firm has a product strategy, a sales strategy, a funding strategy, a marketing strategy. But NO talent strategy.


Why is the most important thing also the most overlooked thing? Let’s find out.

Will Staney is Founder of Proactive Talent Strategies, the talent acquisition company focused on helping organizations optimize their recruiting & employer branding. His clients include GoDaddy, GE Digital,

He’s also the former Head of Global Talent Acquisition at rapidly-growing startups Twilio & Glassdoor. Prior to that, he held recruiting leadership roles at VMware, SuccessFactors, and SAP.

In this 20-minute conversation, Will explains what is (and isn’t) part of a successful talent strategy, how & when to create one, and the rookie mistakes to avoid.

Apr 5, 2018

What can firefighters teach us about teamwork & its impact on the bottom line?

A ton, according to today’s guest Erica Keswin. Erica & I went to school together many years ago.

Since then, she’s worked in organization & leadership development at Hay Group and Booz Allen & Hamilton and worked as an Executive Director at Russell Reynolds Associates. Her book ‘Bring Your Human to Work’ debuts in Fall 2018.

Erica was fascinated by a 2015 Cornell study showing that firemen who eat together are actually better at their jobs … they save more lives!

So she crafted The Spaghetti Project, to examine how relationships at work lead to increased performance. It’s based on the concept of bringing the ‘whole self’ to work, with an emphasis on trust & vulnerability.

In this 20-minute interview, Erica reveals how you can improve the level of connectedness of your team, and thus improve your business results.

Apr 3, 2018

David Allen’s book “Getting Things Done” changed my life. I read it when it debuted in 2001 & multiple times since.

Now published in 28 languages, “GTD” is recognized as the definitive book on personal productivity. And David is the world’s leading authority on the topic (Even Howard Stern is a believer.)

GTD rests on the idea of moving planned tasks out of the mind by recording them externally & then breaking them into actionable work items. 

David was the first to establish that the mind is exceptional at having ideas, but not so great at holding them. After decades of in-the-field research, David wrote the international best-seller.

In this 20-minute episode, David & I tackle one of the biggest stumbling blocks for leaders:

Do I do it or delegate it? (Some do too much; others delegate too freely.) 

It turns out, there IS a way to decide. And you’ll discover it here.

Mar 29, 2018

I’m always on the hunt for untapped sources of great talent. With record-low unemployment, you’ve gotta dig deep.

And I found one.

Allison O’Kelly created Mom Corps out of necessity. In 2003, she was a mom with 2 kids under 2. A talented MBA & CPA, she realized that full-time work wasn’t practical at the moment.

So, she created the perfect job for herself. Then, she made it her mission to help other experienced professionals so the same. 

Today, Mom Corps has grown to a nationwide talent advisory, search, and staffing firm.

Allison’s received the Ernst & Young Entrepreneurial Winning Woman Award, and been featured on The Today Show.

In this 20-minute interview, she reveals what she’s learned along the way. How to tap into this massive talent pool. And the biggest mistakes to avoid.


Mar 27, 2018

Once you’ve worked your tail off to recruit a team of Rockstars, how do you manage them around projects?

Yes, even Rockstars need to be led & held accountable. Our goal is to get the best work from them.

So I sought out an expert on how to do it. And I found him… in Estonia 

With just 1.3M population, it’s the home of Skype and has some fascinating things to teach us about leadership. 

Jüri Kaljundi is Co-Founder of Weekdone, a team management, weekly reporting, and internal communication tool for hassle-free weekly employee status reports. Weekdone makes managers & employees more productive. 

In this 20-minute discussion, Jüri shares what he’s learned about best practices & the biggest mistakes when leading your team.

Mar 22, 2018

After you work so hard to win the war for talent & hire Rockstars, how do you keep them engaged & happy? 

Let’s be honest.

Your employees are overwhelmed. And like most managers, you’re likely stuck in a rut of managing meetings, slipping deadlines, and frustration about the nature of work.

I didn’t want the 50,000 foot hoity-toity strategy. I went looking for practical & actionable tactics.

And I found it in Sacramento, of all places.

Shawn Murphy is the author of “The Optimistic Workplace” and a weekly columnist in Inc. He’s also the Founder & CEO of WorqIQ.

Shawn has identified potential levers that can help you dramatically improve the experience of work. 

In this 20-minute interview, he shares actionable ways to hang on to your most talented folks.

Mar 20, 2018

In this over-heated market, finding an investor isn’t hard.

But finding an investor who adds Real value to your business is another matter.

The difference between dumb money & value-added money can’t be overstated. So I tracked down a brilliant woman who recent did just that.

Amanda Lannert is CEO of Jellyvision, the progressive & legendary business based in Chicago. She’s been a key figure in driving its growth since its founding in 2001.

She recently sealed a sizable funding for the company. In this 20-minute interview, she shows us how. Amanda started with a unique recruiting approach: “The board works for me.”

Under Amanda’s leadership, Jellyvision has grown to serve 1,300 mostly Fortune 1000 clients with ALEX, the most helpful employee decision support platform on the planet. Meanwhile, the company has been recognized as a best place to work.

Amanda has been named CEO of the Year multiple times.

This interview helps explain why.

Mar 15, 2018

If you’re like most business leaders - woman or man - you’re trying to figure out how to recruit more women. 

At all levels. In all roles. 

From software developer to board of directors.

So, I sought out an expert to show us the way…

I’ve been a fan of Joann Lublin for a long time. For 15 years, she’s been at The Wall Street Journal as its Managing News Editor.

Joann covers leadership & management issues, including a monthly career column called “Your Executive Career” She also knows a ton about improving the gender balance, which she wrote about in her 2016 book "Earning It: Hard-Won Lessons from Trailblazing Women at the Top of the Business World”

In this 20-minute conversation, Joann reveals what’s truly important to women. Best practices to bringing more into your company. And the biggest pitfalls to avoid.

Mar 13, 2018

If your company recruits creative types, you need to know how to pursue them the right way. You know, designers - artists - writers - software developers.

Because they think completely differently, and need different things than your left-brained folks.

So, I sought out an expert to show us how.

Marc Landsberg is CEO of SOCIALDEVIANT, the native social media agency he started 5 years ago in Chicago. They create cross-platform engagement & content to help companies tell their brand stories.

He began his creative career at Leo Burnett, the legendary ad agency, as EVP Corporate Strategy. Marc’s even worked in private equity.

In this 20-minute interview, Marc reveals the best practices for finding & landing right-brainers. And the biggest mistakes to avoid.

Mar 8, 2018

Can I be honest with you?

If your company is like most, your job descriptions stink.

Boring. Lifeless. Uninspiring.

And about as likely to attract Rockstar candidates, as a fishing hook with no bait on it.

So, I sought out the foremost expert on job descriptions and it turns out there’s one simple way to dramatically improve them:

Video !

Kristoffer “KC” Carter mastered his craft during 9 years with Centro, the ad-tech start-up with a *legendary* workplace culture. Centro won one “Best Place to Work” award after another. 

Now as a culture advisor, KC teaches companies how to attract, onboard, and retain their ideal people.

And he’s mastered the “culture definition video” which shows your prospective employees why they should come meet with you.

If you’re gonna be hiring during 2018, this 20-minute episode will make your job far easier.

Mar 6, 2018

Let’s be honest. 

In today’s hyper-transparent & controversial world, something is gonna blow up at your company. The question isn’t if… it’s when. 

Then, the next question is how will you handle it? (It’s a true test of your leadership)

Today’s guest shows us the way. Dan Hill is CEO of Hill Impact, the top-ranked crisis communications firm.

Dan is trusted by world leaders, CEO’s, and celebrities to defend & repair brands. He is America's most quoted & sought-after expert on brand positioning and reputation, appearing in the New York Times, USA Today, L.A. Times, and Washington Post.

For 25 years, he’s advised public & private sector leaders. Dan is known as a true "fixer," routinely navigating complex challenges to deliver positive outcomes against seemingly impossible odds.

In this 20-minute episode, Dan shares the best practices you need to know, and how to avoid making your bad problem worse.


Feb 22, 2018

Let’s be honest…

The US government sure doesn’t make it easy to recruit & land a rockstar employee from outside the US.

Yet, it’s a remarkable source of great candidates.

I needed to get schooled on this, because it’s complex & rapidly-changing.

So, I sought out an expert. And found him… in Chicago.

Dick Burke is CEO of Envoy Global, the leading immigration management platform that makes it seamless for companies to hire & manage an international workforce by combining expert legal representation & proprietary technology.

They make it easy for eligible employees, families and individuals to legally live & work in the U.S.

Dick is a super-sharp expert. Prior, he was President of

I learned a ton in 20 minutes, and I guarantee that you will too.

Feb 20, 2018

If you haven’t heard of the field of Neuroleadership, you soon will.

This is the brain-based approach to business, performance, and organization change.

Dr. David Rock coined the term ‘Neuroleadership’ and is the Director of the NeuroLeadership Institute, a global initiative bringing neuroscientists & leadership experts together to build a new science for leadership development.

With operations in 24 countries, the Institute helps organizations operationalize brain research in order to develop better leaders.

He’s also the author of the bestsellers 'Your Brain at Work' and 'Quiet Leadership'

In this 20-minute episode, David & I examine Neuroleadership and what it can do for your management style & your company’s growth.

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