Recruit Rockstars Podcast

Recruit Rockstars is the only podcast on the people part of PE & VC portfolio companies.
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Nov 2, 2017

Wanna ruin your day?

Hire a B-Player.

You invest all the time and effort and capital landing the candidate you thought was a Rockstar. And instead…

…he turns out to be a B

I want to help you avoid this ugly surprise. 

So I traveled halfway around the world. To Edinburgh Scotland.

There, I found Matt Alder, author of this year’s book “Exceptional Talent”  Matt is the Recruitment Marketing expert with Metashift, a talent attention consultancy that can help you stand out from other employers.

He’s also host of the Recruiting Future Podcast. 

But today, he’s our guest. Don’t miss this 20-minute episode.  No More Bad Hires.

Oct 31, 2017

2? 5? 13?

I’ve long thought about what is the optimal number of candidates to interview for a position. Before choosing, how do I know I’ve seen enough? The right one?

I like choice. We all do. We want to feel like our options are limitless.

But there’s a role to fill. And time isn’t on our side. So what’s the right number?

I went in search of the answer.

And I came up with Josh Narva, Global Head of Talent, from the amazing company Sonos. I worship their products ... smart speakers installed in my home (and yours?)

Josh has been at this recruiting game for a long time. And he’s developed a surprising point of view on the question of “How Many?” His answer will shock you.

In this 20-minute conversation, we talk about how many candidates to interview, how long a search should really take, and what homework you’ve got to do upfront when hiring.

Oct 26, 2017

If you’ve ever started a company, one of the most confusing questions is when to start building a new function … Marketing, Sales, Business Development, and the like.

And which one to build first? And should you start by recruiting the senior leader or junior folks? Plus, how do you upgrade that leader when the role outgrows them?

It’s all pretty daunting.

So I turned to one of my favorite Silicon Valley venture capitalists for the answers.

Greg Sands heads Costanoa Ventures, which he created after a successful tenure as Managing Director at the legendary Sutter Hill Ventures. 

Greg’s on the board of Quizlet, DemandBase, Intaact, and countless others. And he takes a deeply personal and pragmatic approach to building companies.

A little trivia for Gen X’ers: Greg was the first product manager at Netscape Communications, where he wrote the initial business plan and coined the name “Netscape” 

You might miss that browser. But don’t miss this 20-minute fascinating discussion with Greg.


Oct 24, 2017

Leaders matter. But leadership matters ever more. Even if it means sub-optimizing the individual, in order to maximize the output of the whole team.

When it comes to leadership, today’s guest Dave Ulrich, is a world-renowned expert. 

He’s been ranked as the #1 management guru by Business Week, profiled by Fast Company as 1 of the world’s top 10 creative people in business, a top 5 coach in Forbes, and recognized on Thinkers50 as one of the world’s leading business thinkers. Whew!

He’s authored 30 books … including this year’s ‘Victory Through Organization: Why the War for Talent is Failing Your Company and What You Can Do About It’

Dave is also Professor at University of Michigan School of Business. He studies how organizations build capabilities of leadership, speed, learning, accountability, and talent by leveraging human resources.

In this 20-min conversation, Dave & I examine how you can get the most out of your team, the pitfalls to avoid, and why “How?” is the single most important question you can ask.

Oct 19, 2017

It’s always refreshing to find someone passionate, who will actually express a strong point of view. 

But when that person really knows their stuff, it’s even better.

Matt Charney is Executive Editor of Recruiting Daily. So he has an incredible view across the recruiting process. He sees the biggest mistakes that hiring managers make, and knows the best practices that actually work during this war for talent.

If you want to reduce your cost per hire, reduce your time to hire, and overall just hire stronger talent, then invest 20-minutes with me and Matt.

Get a pen. I didn’t stop taking notes during this episode.


Oct 17, 2017

Whether your a CEO, Founder, or Investor, adding the perfect independent board member is one of those rare opportunities to create immense value for your company.

Yet, most mess it up  :-(

I wanted to find out how, when, and why — to do it right. And most importantly, what type of candidate makes an exceptional independent board member.

So, I sought out the expert. 

And I found her. Patricia Lenkov heads Agility Executive Search based in NYC. Following successful stints at the legendary Spencer Stuart and Heidrick & Struggles, she created Agility and has placed a broad array of board members.

In this 20-minute interview, Patricia reveals step-by-step how you can strengthen your board. And the biggest pitfalls to avoid.

Oct 12, 2017

I’m on Millennial overload. 

12.9 million Google results for “Millennial employees” … its inescapable. 

YES, this vital group is the future of our workforce. Yet there’s likely still a large segment of your current (and prospective) employees that is older than age 36 (Generation X’ers).

So, I tracked down an expert on how to balance the two. Their needs & preferences couldn’t be more different.

Todd Raphael is Editor-in-Chief of ERE Media, the longest running & most trusted source for information about recruitment, talent acquisition, and talent management.

In this 20-min interview, Todd reveals how to accommodate & attract people GenX’ers. And how to ensure you don’t over-correct.


Oct 10, 2017

It’s brutal out there. Trying to hire Rockstars? The unemployment rate hasn’t been this low in decades.

So, it’s a seller’s market … and talented professionals are the sellers.

Here’s proof. 

Mike Podesto is Chief Career Finder at Find My Profession, a talent agency for busy executives. He’s turned executive search upside down; the agent represents executive candidates.

For a small percentage of your salary, they’ll manage your entire job search. Clients get a career advisor, a redesigned resume, opened doors, and guaranteed interviews.

I’m not sure this is the start of a trend, but it sure is indicative of how competitive the market has become. Invest 20 minutes with me & Mike, and find out.

Oct 5, 2017

You’ve hired a killer VP of Marketing. Your VP of Sales is ahead of plan. So, now it’s time to bring in your first VP of Talent … or to upgrade the one you already have.

You can’t afford to blow this decision. Because this is potentially the most vital player on your team.

So, I went in search of the expert to show you how to go about it. And I found her… in Cincinnati.

Not only is Jennifer McClure the CEO of Unbridled Talent, but also she’s CEO of DisruptHR, the information exchange that connects HR leaders nationally. 

On top of that, she’s led the HR function and been an executive recruiter for years.

In this 20-minute discussion, Jennifer reveals what you need to look for, when to hire your VP of Talent, how to interview candidates, and the big pitfalls to avoid. You can’t afford to miss this episode.

Oct 3, 2017

Why can’t companies seem to give the best talent what they’re seeking? And why do so many great candidates fail to impress employers? 

Most importantly, why is there a 50% failure rate in new hires? That’s right … 1 out of 2 new hires bomb in their first year.

So, I went in search of answers. And I found Jeff Altman, the Big Game Hunter. For years, he was a top executive recruiter - helping companies fill their vacancies with Rockstars.

Then, Jeff switched sides. And began to coach executives on their career progression & leadership. 

So he’s uniquely-qualified to diagnose the disconnect that exists top companies and top talent. Invest 20 minutes with Jeff - your company will thank you, and your personal career will thank you.

Sep 28, 2017

There’s nothing I love better than a good juicy entrepreneur story. Creating a new business, born out of personal need & frustration.

And if it helps us recruit rockstars, all the better.

Josh Tolan is CEO of Sparkhire, which he founded 7 years ago. It’s now the fastest-growing video interviewing company in the world, with over 3,000 corporate clients.

Why video interviewing? Josh was with a 5-person firm in hypergrowth mode. They needed to hire 150 people in 12 months. And the only way to get it done swiftly was by using video for the initial candidate screen.

So, Sparkhire was born.

In this 20-minute interview, Josh reveals the pros & cons of video interviewing. When to use it, when to skip it, the best practices, and most importantly, how it can shave weeks of your current hiring cycle time.

If you’re going to recruit folks during Q4 this year - or if you just love a great startup story - you can’t afford to miss this episode.

Sep 26, 2017

I’m in search of ways to make recruiting more accurate.

And I’ve tracked down one of the most intriguing thought-leaders, Dr. Frida Polli. (She’s certainly one of the most qualified.)

After graduating from Dartmouth, Frida earned her PhD, then an MBA at Harvard Business School. She then became Doctoral Research Fellow at Massachusetts General Hospital… then Neuropsychology Intern at Harvard Medical School… then Postdoctoral Fellow at MIT in their infamous Brain & Cognitive Sciences Department.


Frida decided to use this deep expertise to help employers make better hires. She created Pymetrics to apply cognitive neuroscience to recruiting. Bottom line: she and her team use games & puzzles to identify better hires.

In this 20-minute interview, Frida reveals what she’s learned, what works & what doesn’t, and how using data will bolster your recruiting batting average.

Sep 22, 2017

I just don’t get it. 

Every week, I meet with growth company executives. And I ask to see their Talent Strategy. All I get is blank stares.

How can you possibly expect to grow — and have the talent to fuel that growth — without a gameplan around people.

So, I went out to find an expert on this topic. And I landed a whale!

Bertrand Dussert is VP of HCM (human capital management) Transformation for Oracle. In this role, he serves as HR transformation & executive advisor to some of Oracle’s largest clients. Prior to Oracle, Bertrand was the global leader for HR shared services, recruitment operations, and workforce planning for American Express.

In this 20-minute discussion, Bertrand and I talk about the importance of developing a talent strategy that maps to your business strategy. What does it consist of, how to execute it, and why so many executives miss the boat. 

Don’t be one of them.


Sep 19, 2017

If you’re like most managers, you have a 1:1 meeting with each of your staff members each week. You probably have one with your boss, too -- or your Board.

And you probably dread them.

So, let’s change that. I tracked down the foremost expert on getting the most out of 1:1’s.

Jonathan Raymond is head of Refound, the firm devoted to helping individual contributors make the leap to world-class people managers. Prior, he was CEO of EMyth, the legendary entrepreneur coaching company.

He’s also the author of the book Good Authority: How to Become the Leader Your Team is Waiting For.

Jonathan has studied and tested more on 1:1’s than anyone I’ve met. In this 20-minute interview, he reveals why they stink, how to change that, how to structure them, what to expect, how often, where…the whole enchilada. You can’t afford to miss this episode.

Sep 14, 2017

Unless you live under a rock, you know that Amazon has gone from selling its 1st book in 1995 to $150B in annual revenues. It’s simply breathtaking.

It’s also scary. If you’re not competing with Amazon, I’ll bet dollars to donuts that you soon will be.

In this very special 150th episode, I tracked down one of the world’s foremost experts on Amazon, John Rossman. As an early Amazon employee (he launched the Amazon Marketplace business), John studied the business inside & out.

He went on to write “The Amazon Way: 14 Leadership Principles of the World’s Most Disruptive Company.” I’ve read this book three times, because it explores Amazon thru the lens of talent.

Turns out, Amazon’s secret isn’t its technology or warehouses or operational excellence or Whole Foods acquisition. It’s none of that, yet all of that. It’s a revolutionary approach to recruiting & leading talent. 

John is Managing Director at Alvarez & Marsal, the prestigious turnaround and growth consulting firm

So, how does Jeff Bezos do it? Invest 20 minutes with John & me, and you’ll find out.

Sep 12, 2017

Regular listeners know that I’m on a mission to find ways to better predict how a candidate will actually do on the job.

Today’s guest has built a company that shares this mission.

Kristin Hamilton is CEO of Koru, based in Seattle. Following a successful career at Microsoft, she turned her focus to finding the crucial predictors.

And she’s identified the 7 things we must look for when vetting candidates.

Stop focusing on things that aren’t predictive. Which college, GPA, firm handshake, industry experience? Nope.

In this 20-minute episode, Kristin reveals how she cracked the code and how to ask the right questions so that you can assess candidates more accurately.

If you’d like to hire more accurately and avoid bad hires, you can’t afford to miss this episode.

Sep 7, 2017

I’ve got something really special for you today.

Regular listeners know that Strong Suit Podcast focuses on the “people part” of your business. Hiring, Firing, the whole enchilada.

But today is a packed episode just about You. You as an individual, as an executive, as a future CEO perhaps.

In this rare episode, I flipped things upside-down by enlisting one of the nation’s foremost experts on career management for executives.

Kevin Kermes is Founder and Partner at Career Attraction, based in sunny St. Petersburg. Forbes ranks it as one of the top career websites.

Most career and job advice is just plain wrong. You’d be floored by what I see from some candidates. What I like about Kevin is that he’s super-practical. He provides unconventional career advice to high-performing professionals.

Next episode, we’ll get back to building your company.  But today, Invest 20 minutes with us to advance your career.

Sep 5, 2017

By now, you know that seeking diversity - of all types - in your organization isn’t just the right thing.

It’s also the smart thing. Your organization should be a reflection of the increasingly diverse makeup of your customer base.

But how to do it?

Thankfully, I just landed an expert on the topic. Anise Wiley-Little was named Chief Human Capital & Diversity Officer of the Kellogg School of Management in 2014. This followed a 27-year career at  Allstate Insurance, most recently as Chief Diversity Officer.

She’s also author of “Profitable Diversity.”

In this 20-minute interview, Anise reveals the best practices for how to increase the diversity of your workforce, and the big mistakes to avoid along the way. Believe me, you can really screw this one up - so you don’t want to miss this episode.

Aug 31, 2017

If you’re like most executives, you spend a good portion of your time figuring out which of your company’s manual processes can be automated & digitized. It’s the new normal.

But, have you stopped to think about how the change will impact your people?

My guest today, Anthony Onesto, is a guru of digital transformation. He’s General Manager for Konrad Group, a global innovation company. And before that, he was the first head of human resources for FreshDirect, which he took from 30 employees to 2,000 in just 5 years.

So, he understands the impact of this digitization on your people.

In this 20-minute interview, Anthony reveals how to get your arms around it, the best practices for prioritizing the changes, how to get your team onboard — or how to lose them if you don’t.

If you plan to be around in 2025, you can’t afford to miss this interview.

Aug 29, 2017

How do you assess candidates in most predictive way before you hire them full time? My guest today has an innovative solution.

Jeffrey Moss is the Founder & CEO of Parker Dewey. After spending 15 years in private equity & venture capital, he took the plunge into entrepreneurship.

He created Parker Dewey to connect companies with graduating college students & recent alumni. Employers can provide short-term projects to get those “we really should” tasks done, and also to see the talent in action. It’s far better than an interview or a reference check.

Meanwhile, recent students get real-world experience. This is a win-win.

Jeffrey’s also become an expert in what Millennials want, need, and crave in an employer. In this 20-minute interview, he reveals all.

Aug 25, 2017

Matt Moore is Chief Talent Officer at Alpine Investors, the SF-based private equity firm with $900M under management. 

He joined following a storied career at Silicon Valley’s executive search firm SPMB Schweichler Price Mullarkey Barry. So, Matt has a broad perspective across Alpine’s portfolio companies. 

He’s cracked a code: As a company grows, there are times when you’ll need to trade up/replace your talent.

In other words, what got you here may not get you there.

In this 20-minute interview, Matt reveals how to think about your talent needs… and how they evolve as your business evolves. And of course, how to make the tough decision to replace some of your loyal team members.

Aug 22, 2017

Let’s be honest… It’s become a candidate’s market. Record low unemployment. Good luck finding a Rockstar, let alone getting them to say Yes.

But it can be done.

Today’s guest reveals the secrets to engaging the top talent that aren’t actively looking for a new role. Julie Stone is Director of Talent Acquisition for Equity LifeStyle Properties. Prior, she was in a similar role with Cushman & Wakefield. 

Along the way, she’s learned how to get the best candidates to listen. How to get them to table. And how to get the Yes.

If you’re going to hire anyone during the rest of this year, invest 20 minutes with this episode.


Aug 3, 2017

If you're like me, you've wondered if it's okay to text candidates? Or is that too much? It's a great intimate fast way to communicate, but does it cross some boundary? Can I text them on the weekend? etc. etc.

I found the person with the answers.

Erik Kostelnik is Founder/CEO of TextRecruit, the candidate & employee engagement platform that leverages text, chat and AI to optimize the hiring funnel. His clients include UPS, Aramark, Sodexo, US Marines, Randstad, and VMware.

Erik is a guru on social media recruiting, and in particular texting.

In this 20-minute episode, Erik reveals what you really need to know about how, when, why (and why not) to text candidates. Invest a few minutes and you'll out-recruit your competition.

Aug 1, 2017

If you're a raving fan of the Podcast -- and let's be honest, who's not? -- you know that we spend alot of time learning how to recruit Rockstars from experts.

But what good is it to choose carefully, pay competitive compensation, and then not captivate the hearts & minds of the people you've worked so hard to attract? Most employees have 'checked out'

My guest today is Jason Lauritsen. He's been described as a “workplace evangelist.” He believes to his core that work must be a rewarding and fulfilling experience for every employee.

He's dissected employee engagement. He speaks globally about it. He's written the book "Social Gravity" all about it.

And Jason's identified the ONE thing that you can do to 10x your employee engagement. Most managers just don't do it -- sad, but true. In this 20-minute interview, you'll learn how to avoid their mistake.

Jul 27, 2017

Loyal listeners know that we talk a lot about how to recruit Rockstars. 

But how do you then get the most out of them?

My guest today, Stephen Lynch, has some brilliant insights. He’s Head of Strategy & Consultant at

So, Stephen gets unique insights into the day to day operations of thousands of growth companies around the world. He gets to see what really works & what doesn’t - in terms of strategic planning and business execution, goal setting, tracking performance, running effective meetings, engaging employees and holding them accountable. 

In this 20-minute interview, Stephen shares his observations on how to get the most out of your team. (Some of the insights will surprise you.)

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