Recruit Rockstars Podcast

Recruit Rockstars is the only podcast on the people part of PE & VC portfolio companies.
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Feb 16, 2018

Want to peek around the corner, and find out how artificial intelligence will be applied to recruiting?

It’s coming sooner than you think.

Phil Alexander is CEO & Founder of Nexus A.I., the next-generation platform that uses A.I. & organizational behavior science to help companies build teams and drive employee engagement.

Nexus emerged out of another company Phil started: Concept Drop, the marketplace that uses A.I. to connect brands with the world's leading creative talent.

In this 20-min episode, Phil & I examine how you can use A.I. to create a competitive advantage in your hiring.

Feb 14, 2018

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 13, 2018

Is it even possible to be TOO transparent with your team?

What does vulnerability mean to you? What does an open-compensation business look like? Do you show your staff the cap table of your company?

Transparency has pro’s & con’s. So I sought out an expert on the matter.

And I found him… in San Francisco

Alex Salkever has been a technology editor at BusinessWeek, a vice president of marketing at Mozilla, and a visiting scholar at Duke University.

He’s also author of 2 acclaimed books: "The Driver in the Driverless Car: How Our Technology Choices Will Create the Future" and "The Immigrant Exodus: Why America is Losing the Global Race to Capture Entrepreneurial Talent" 

In this 20-min episode, Alex & I answer the question: How transparent should you be with your staff?


Feb 8, 2018

So many hiring managers give up so easily. 

Before you invest a fortune on headhunters or job postings, there are a ton of low-cost ways to find Rockstar candidates.

Today I’m joined by Tim Sackett. He’s President at Michigan-Based HRU Technical Resources, a $40M IT & Engineering staffing firm. They’ve got 500 Engineers, IT pros, Designers, and Technicians onsite at clients all over the country.

In this 20-minute episode, Tim & I put our heads together on some of the low-cost, low-hanging fruit ways to find great talent.

You’ll want a pen for this one.

Feb 6, 2018

Work/Life Balance? Bah. Not so much.

I’ve long had an instinct that Work/Life Integration is the true key to a fruitful personal & career life. But I wanted to find an expert to show us the way.

I found him. In Philadelphia. At the Wharton School.

Award-winning Professor Stew Friedman not only shows us how to achieve it, but also how to help your team achieve it. Which will improve your company’s culture and performance. And your ability to recruit more Rockstars.

Stew is a Rockstar in his own right…literally. The New York Times cites the “rockstar adoration” he inspires in his students.

He’s been on the Wharton faculty since 1984. He’s founding director of Wharton’s Work/Life Integration Project, the foremost authority on the topic.

Stew’s been recognized 2x as HR’s Most Influential Thinkers and 3x as Thinkers50’s world’s top 50 business thinkers.

He’s bestselling author of Leading the Life You Want, and Total Leadership. And he hosts the weekly radio show Work and Life on SiriusXM 111 Business Radio.

In this 20-min episode, Stew reveals how and why helping your team achieve work/life integration will help everything about your business.

Feb 1, 2018

Each of your customers is unique, with different needs. You likely personalize your products, services, and approach accordingly.

So too with your employees.

Yet, most companies treat their people all the same. 


Dorri McWhorter knows better. She’s CEO of YWCA Chicago, where she’s transforming the 140-year-old social service agency into a 21st century social enterprise. Dorri is moving the agency into the digital age with technical training for youth & adults. And she’s been named one of the top 100 innovators in Chicago.

In this 20-min interview, Dorri & I discuss personalization for your employees & your teams. How to treat them differently, uniquely but fairly.

Jan 30, 2018

How do your Rockstar employees derail? As their manager, can you prevent it or get them back on track? What are the early warning signs?

Carter Cast knows.

My friend - and fellow Kellogg professor - derailed early in his career… and recovered. Bigtime!

Carter started as marketing manager at PepsiCo. Then he moved to Frito Lay, where he led the development of Tostitos Scoops. After stints at Electronic Arts and Blue Nile, Carter was named CEO of

In 2011, Carter joined the faculty of Kellogg School of Management, where he’s an award-winning professor, teaching entrepreneurship, leadership & marketing.

In addition, Carter is a venture partner for Pritzker Group Venture Capital, where he assesses potential investments and advises portfolio companies.

And now, Carter is author of the outstanding book “The Right (and Wrong) Stuff: How Brilliant Careers are Made – and Unmade” It defines the 5 archetypes that derail successful careers.

In this 20-minute episode, Carter & I explore the role of the manager in this derailing. How to identify it, prevent it, and recover from it. If you hope to be a Rockstar - or recruit & lead them - you can’t afford to miss this episode.

Jan 25, 2018

It’s not often that I get to unveil hot-new research on our Podcast.

Bersin by Deloitte is THE go-to firm when it comes to talent acquisition. They just released a brand new research study, years in the making.

This is big.

My guest today Robin Erickson is VP Talent Acquisition, Engagement, and Retention Research. She leads the research on best practices — what’s working, what’s changing, and what’s missing.

In this 20-minute episode, Robin shares the key findings of this new study. If you’re planning to hire even one person this year, you can’t afford to miss this episode.

Jan 23, 2018

I. Was. Nervous.

When you finally meet one of your business idols, you find yourself tongue-tied. And it shows in this episode.

His book changed my life 25 years ago.

You’ve heard this word: Onboarding. If you hire a fast-learning Rockstar, you shouldn’t need to. Just throw them in the pool, right? Wrong.

Michael Watkins is the world’s leading expert on accelerating transitions i.e. Making sure your Rockstar new hire is successful once they join your company. He’s spent two decades studying, learning, and teaching this.

You can totally mess this up. But Michael will make sure that you don’t.

Most notably, his works include the international bestseller The First 90 Days: Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders at all Levels. The Economist recognized it as "the onboarding bible." 1 million copies sold in 24 languages! Amazon declared it “one of the 100 best leadership & success books to read in your lifetime.”

He’s Professor of Leadership and Organizational Change at IMD, the well-known executive business school in Switzerland. Prior, he was Associate Professor at Harvard Business School.

In his role as co-founder of Genesis Advisers, a transition acceleration consultancy, Michael advises executives globally & the firms that hire them.

In this 20-minute episode,  Michael reveals

what you must do as hiring manager in order to ensure a successful ramp up. If you plan to hire even one Rockstar in 2018, you can’t miss this episode.

Jan 18, 2018

When a PE firm invests in a new portfolio company, one of the primary areas of focus is the people part of the business.

Often, the company hasn’t put in place the right (or any!) processes to ensure that it recruits & keeps rockstar talent.

That’s where today’s guest comes in. Mark Rittmanic is CEO of ForteONE, a national consulting firm that specifically works with PE funds & portfolio companies.

Mark started ForteONE in 2000 and its grown to 60 consultants, most of whom are former business executives (CEO, COO, CFO, etc) from a broad range of industries. PE firms deploy them into portfolio companies that need to dramatically improve performance.

And this gives Mark a broad perspective on the people part of PE companies. In this 20-minute episode, he shares his key observations after working with hundreds of PE companies. And the biggest mistakes they make.

Jan 16, 2018

Let’s get real.

If you’re going to be a great leader, you can’t do it on your own. You need to develop a team of great leaders, who can in turn recruit & energize their teams of Rockstars.

Unfortunately, the managers who report to you likely haven’t been trained & developed when it comes to recruiting & managing. 

Weak middle-managers are the curse of death for an organization.

Simply read your staff’s reviews on and you’ll see what I mean. Just when you feel like you’re educating, inspiring, and communicating for the tenth time, that’s the first time the rank & file are hearing it. And middle-managers are the missing link.

So I searched for an expert on how to improve in this area. And I found him … in Tulsa of all places.

David Burkus is a bestselling author, a sought-after speaker, and professor of leadership at Oral Roberts University. 

He’s delivered keynotes to the leaders of Fortune 500 companies and the future leaders of the United States Naval Academy. And his TED Talk has been viewed 1.7 million times!!

David’s also the author of the phenomenal book “Under New Management” in which he challenges traditional mindsets.

In this 20-minute episode, David & I examine two of them.

  1. Recruiting - how to hire as a team, just like Whole Foods does (after 60 days, teammates vote new-hires in or out)
  2. Leading & managing - teaching your managers how to coach & develop their teams

Most executives assume their middle-managers are good at hiring. Most aren’t. 

Listen to this episode, and you can change that.

Jan 11, 2018

How do you ensure that your firm’s culture thrives & doesn’t get diluted as it grows? 

You know what I mean. 10 people, then 100, then 1,000. The more you hire, the more that rare precious culture can become diluted.

So I tracked down an expert on how to prevent that syndrome.

Josh Bersin is Founder & Principal of Bersin by Deloitte, the leading provider of research-based membership programs in human resources, talent, and learning. 

Based in San Francisco, Josh is known globally for tracking trends in leadership, management, HR and talent management technologies. He built a successful namesake consulting firm, before its acquisition by Deloitte. 

More than 60% of the Fortune 100 are Bersin members, and more than a million HR professionals read his research each month.

In this 20-minute episode, Josh explains how to ensure that your special culture remains special, and doesn’t dilute with your company’s growth.

Jan 9, 2018

Business is tough. And particularly tough on our bodies. The hours. The stress. The 6-packs… of soda.

Is it even possible to build a healthy business, while building a healthy body?

Ryan Lee is widely considered one of the world’s most influential “lifestyle entrepreneurs.” In fact, he started his first fitness website in 1999.

As a busy stressed entrepreneur, he had his Oh Sh*t Moment last year. And he did something about it.

Ryan has been featured in Entrepreneur and The Wall Street Journal, has written 2 best-selling books, and is the founder of Freedym, the world’s largest lifestyle entrepreneurship media company.

His new company REWIND recently launched the world’s first SuperBar.

In this 20-minute conversation, Ryan reveals how he pulled it all together and took back his life, his health, and his waistline.


Jan 4, 2018

The war for talent is on! 2018 will bring 3.5% unemployment for the first time in 50 years.

Are you ready?

If you’re posting your job descriptions on job boards, good luck. It’s just not enough.

So I tracked down Jeff Dickey-Chasins…he’s (literally!) known as The Job Board Doctor. Jeff is a veteran of the job board industry, including the original marketing director for He’s worked with over 400 job boards (there are tens of thousands!)

In this 20-minute episode, Jeff reveals the best practices for getting the most out of job boards. And how to avoid the biggest pitfalls. Even how to write your job description to get the most Rockstars interested in your role.

If you’re going to hire during 2018, you can’t afford to miss this episode.


Dec 14, 2017

If your Board of Directors s comprised of old white men, don’t be surprised when you employee base mirrors it. 

David Chun is CEO of Equilar, which he started at the bottom of the dot-com bust in 2000. Since then, he’s built the preeminent provider of board intelligence solutions. 

Companies of all sizes rely on Equilar for their most important boardroom decisions, including Board recruiting & compensation. 70% of the Fortune 500 & institutional investors count on David & his incredible dataset.

So, David knows a ton about how to build the ideal board. 

In this 20-minute discussion, we talk about how to go about it. The gotchas and the best practices. 

Whether you’re a CEO, a future CEO, a board member, or an investor, you can’t afford to miss this episode.

Dec 12, 2017

I’ve got some bad news.

We’re in a war for talent. With 4.1% unemployment, candidates have the leverage. And Rockstar candidates have a ton of choices. 

Which means that you need to provide an amazing candidate experience if you want even a chance of landing them. 

So, I sought out an expert. 

Turns out it’s a longtime friend - Susan Hailey. Susan has incredible experience recruiting Rockstars in Silicon Valley (eBay), Las Vegas (Caesars), and New York.

Now, she’s VP of Global Talent Acquisition at Medidata, the rocketship public company that’s reinventing drug development with its cloud based solutions for clinical researchers.

In this 20-min conversation, Susan reveals how to engage candidates & show them a concierge level experience. Not only will it help you land your first-choice candidate, but also they’re more likely to feel engaged & connected to your company even once they start.

Find out why. You can’t afford to miss this episode.

Dec 7, 2017

In the war for talent, you need to turn over every stone. And here’s one you’re likely missing…


There are 22 million veterans in the US, and there are probably just as many myths & misunderstandings.

So I sought out an expert to fill us in.

I found him in Silicon Valley. Chris Galy is Chief People Officer at Ten-X (formerly 

After his graduation from West Point, Chris served in the Army Flight School before building a successful career as VP Talent Acquisition at Intuit.

In this 20-minute interview, Chris reveals the secrets of tapping into the veteran candidate pool. Where to find them? How to recruit them? What types of roles are the best fit?

And how to finally debunk the myths.

Dec 5, 2017

In today’s war for talent, candidates are becoming far more sophisticated and need to be persuaded to give you the “Yes!”

San Diego-based Anna Runyan has a fascinating job. 

As Founder & CEO of, she educates candidates and teaches them what they should be looking for in their next employer (that’s you!) 

The site gets 500,000 page views/month and is top-ranked by Forbes.

In this 20-minute episode, you’re going to get the behind-the-scenes information so that you can land more Rockstars. You’ll learn what questions you should expect to hear from Rockstar candidates. And the surefire way to lose great talent.

If you’re planning to hire in 2018 - particularly women - you can’t afford to miss this one.

Nov 30, 2017

Jay Goltz is the legendary Chicago Entrepreneur. He even has a block named after him … street sign & all.

He’s the successful - and often blunt - CEO behind Goltz Group, which consists of 5 companies, including Artists Frame Service (the country’s largest picture frame store) and (an online destination for business-appropriate artwork on a budget) 

His company’s culture is often cited by experts. And I’m a customer - the place is remarkable!

Jay doesn’t attribute his success in building a first-class culture to luck or chance. Instead, he points to 4 crucial characteristics of culture. He methodically put them in place over the years, and his companies are bulletproof.

Side note: I highly recommend Jay’s bestselling book, “The Street Smart Entrepreneur” - pick up a copy


Nov 28, 2017

Let’s get real. It’s a buyer’s market.

And you’re not the buyer.

The candidate is. With 4.3% unemployment (actually, 2% amongst college-educated knowledge workers), the war for talent is underway.

And you have to fight like hell to land the best talent. I call ‘em Rockstars… the top 5% in any given category.

I’ve received my fair share of rejections over time. It comes with the territory, being in executive search for 25 years.

So I sought out an expert who could set us straight.

Based in Ontario, David Perry is a fellow executive recruiter. Managing Partner & Founder of Perry-Martel, he’s been doing it for 3 decades. He’s also a fellow author, of the wonderful “Hiring Greatness.”

In this 20-minute interview, David reveals how to seal the deal. How to close even the most hesitant candidate. He explains why addressing the intrinsic needs of the candidate must come first … Even Before Compensation!

If you hope to have a chance of recruiting Rockstars in 2018, you can’t miss this episode.

Nov 21, 2017

There’s a holy grail of recruiting?

No way.

Yep, no joke. This is both faster and less expensive. And the candidates stay longer, and perform better.

What is it?

The Employee Referral Program. Unfortunately, only 66% of companies have one. And the ones that do, really make a mess of theirs.

50% (Yes, half!) of your new hires should come via your Employee Referral Program. If they don’t, this episode is for you. Because you’re missing a trick (or your culture stinks… in which case you have far bigger problems).

Laura Bilazarian shows us the way. She’s CEO of Teamable Software, based in San Francisco. She started the company 4 years ago to help employers hire faster & smarter thru their employees’ social network. Teamable’s clients now include Uber, Lyft, Oracle, and ESPN.

Invest 20 minutes with me & Laura, and you’ll never look at recruiting the same way again.

Nov 16, 2017

Let’s face it. You’re not the perfect leader. You know it. I know it. 

And your team knows it.

And they’re telling other people.

Yikes. Anonymous employee review websites - like Glassdoor - are booming. Call it the “Yelpification” of leadership. Your employees rate you publicly for the world to see. How vulnerable!

And this isn’t going away. So, what to do?

I tracked down the authority on this topic - Joel Cheesman in Indianapolis. Joel’s worked in the online job business for 20 years. And now, he’s the Founder of Ratedly.

Ratedly monitors Glassdoor & all the other employee review sites so that you don’t have to. He’s studied this topic inside-out.

In this 20-minute conversation, Joel reveals what you should (and shouldn’t) do. How to handle the reviews - especially the negative ones. Do they matter? What are the misconceptions? And what to do about that one employee that you never seem to make happy?

If you’re planning to hire during 2018, you can’t afford to skip this episode. Because Glassdoor has become the first place your prospective candidates check you out.

Nov 14, 2017

I’ve known Lynn Perkins for 20 years & she’s the real thing.

7 years ago, out of personal need (yet another babysitter cancelled for her baby twins), she created UrbanSitter. 

It’s the San Francisco-based online service & mobile app that allows parents to search for, book, pay, review, and recommend babysitters & nannies.

Fast forward to today. She’s successfully built a robust 2-sided model … with sitters on one side and parents on the other.

But how did she do it? 

How do you recruit Rockstar talent when they’re not employees? How do you build a healthy culture that pervades both sides of the marketplace? And how do you land the early believers when the business model is still just a concept?

In this 20-minute discussion, Lynn reveals the secrets of how she pulled it off. 

By the end, I’m sure you’ll agree she is the epitome of a Rockstar.


Nov 9, 2017

There are tens of thousands of recruiting and HR technology platforms & applications. Whew!

But, are any of them actually worth the investment? Will they help you recruit better? faster? cheaper?

I sought out the one person who would know.

John Sumser is a legend of the recruiting world. He's the principal analyst for HRExaminer, the independent analysis firm covering HR Tech.

So, John conducts deep research into the nooks & crannies of all these platforms, to identify rapidly-evolving trends.

And figure out which ones are actually worth your investment.

In this 20-minute interview, John tells us where to start, what to buy, and what to skip. So, don't skip this episode.

Nov 7, 2017

I have a confession to make. And it may come as a shock.

I’ll just come right out and say it.

I’m a white male.

That’s right. White. And male.

I’m not terribly embarrassed. But sometimes I’m flummoxed. And a lot of my podcast listeners are too.

What do you do if you lead a company or a department, and you’re a white male trying to improve gender equality?

It’s well-documented that achieving gender equality isn’t just the right thing; it’s the smart thing. More than half of your customers are likely women.

So, how to know when you’ve achieved gender equality, and how do you get there? What’s the first step to get you on the path?

I went in search of a guru on the topic.

And I found one, in Sangita Kasturi. She’s CEO of Action Inclusion, which consults with organizations to build diversity strategies, cross-cultural intelligence and high impact communication. She’s an expert in leveraging female and diverse talent.

Sangita is on the board of directors of the Women’s Fund of Greater Milwaukee and is a board director of Chicago’s Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). She is a founding member of the Chicago chapter of Women on Boards 2020.

In this 20-minute conversation, Sangita helps this bumbling white male with some of the most important questions.

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