Friday, September 26, 2008

Business Schools Gird for Wall Street Woes -

Business Schools Gird for Wall Street Woes -

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Monday, September 15, 2008

The Bounce Back- An Athletes Ability to Overcome Adversity & What it Means to Employers

Eight seconds remain on the clock. Time for one final shot, Joe Craddock (quarterback MTSU) drops back & heaves forward a dream a spiraling miracle to be. The ball is tipped batted around & finally reeled in by Eldred King (receiver MTSU).
(This is not just the culmination of a play, a game or even a weeks practice; this is the opportunity you live for as a competitive athlete. The time when challenge taps you on the shoulder & you must turnaround to answer the call).
King turns & squares his shoulders towards destiny he races forward only to be stopped 1- yard short of his goal. Dejected he hangs his head defeated

The scenario played out here didn’t just occur in Saturday’s game (University of Kentucky & Middle Tennessee State). This scenario is played out multiple times in every game. The sum of a game is measured play by play (134.5 plays per game on average over the last 3 years). That’s 134 opportunities with only two possible outcomes 1:win or 2:lose. This puts an athlete in a unique position. The opportunity to immediately right a blown play, to make amends for a loss. A task easier said than done.

The adversity posed here is not simply limited to play for play; it extends to multiple facets of the game. Bouncing back from an injury, being forced to take the reigns early in your career, a devastating team loss, coaching changes. Etc. The mental fortitude to bounce back from adversity reveals the true toughness of an individual & ultimately separates the good from the great. Just three weeks into this football season we are seeing these scenarios take shape. A fallen Tom Brady, forcing the relatively untested Matt Cassel into the drivers seat. The Ohio State Buckeyes regrouping from a major team loss. Vince Young battling with injury & fan disappointment. These players & teams are forced to respond to these scenarios their ability to control negative emotions pick themselves up & carry-on will ultimately determine their success. But how is the Bounce Back formed?

There are two key components of the Bounce Back:

Control Over Negative Emotions:

Athletes have faced negative situations and the impact of these emotions creates stress, fear, and anger. By facing these issues head on, athletes have learned how to control negative emotions and rather than seeing these problems as threatening, they see them as challenging opportunities. By controlling their emotions, athletes make the bounce back.

Overcome Failure and Disappointment:

Athletes have faced difficult situations and disappointment and have had to deal with errors and loss. Athletes have had to handle stress and cope with adversity by dealing with routine setbacks during competition. By living these experiences, evaluating what happened, and putting necessary steps in place to use the energy of the experience to spur them to do better and deal with problem and pressure situations.

Dr. Melissa Clouthier shares a few key ways to handle adversity

1. Keep the problem in context. Are you dead? No? It could be worse then.

2. Don't generalize the problem. For example, a loser's self-talk goes like this, "Oh you did it again! What a complete screw up. Why do you even try? Life isn't fair." You see this line of reasoning? How did you get from a missed putt to life sucks? A pessimist gets there in no time flat.

3. Use positive self-talk. "Okay, that was a mistake. A bad moment. Let's get it back. More follow-through. Keep it lined up. Better. Better." When you hear an athlete say, "We just had a bad day or bad break. Everyone has them, we'll come back tomorrow." You know that team is okay. How you frame the problem in your mind is very important. Overcomers keep it positive.

4. Forget being realistic. Realists don't make bunker shots from 30 feet out in the rocks and brush in one. They don't. Raging optimists do. Every shot is possible. Realism is limited to the current atmosphere. Optimism allows for possibility. Realists hear that there is a "60% chance of dying with this cancer at this stage" and figure that they're dead like the majority. Optimists think about the 40% who overcame. Dying isn't an option.

5. Hang out with optimists. Realists are such a drag. Realists don't build skyscrapers, don't build light bulbs, don't build computers, and don’t innovate. That isn't to say that realists are wrong, they are more right than optimists more of the time. But they miss opportunities. Hang around the dreamers, builders, and influencers. Their can-do spirit is infectious.

These bounce back situations got me thinking about a hiring manager I once worked with; a woman who had rather unique ways of identifying talent & finding under valued candidates with huge upsides. Her unorthodox recruiting practices had created a high performance team a team with the reputation for tackling the tough projects & winning. I met with her on a regular basis to discuss recruiting practices & help in the recruiting process.

I recall one fall afternoon we had met to grab a cup of coffee & review a recent resume I had submitted (a great candidate by all measures, fine school, excellent internships, experience, grades etc.) When I walked in to greet her she simply said not interested. Not interested are you kidding? What more could you be looking for? She looked me in the eye & said I don’t hire 4.0’s. I couldn’t believe what she was saying how could you not move on this candidate. That’s when she enlightened me on her hiring philosophy. She wouldn’t hire 4.0’s; she would not hire someone with a perfect record because they never had experienced loss. She said the risk was to great to have them fail & not know how they would react. The bounce back from failure was one of her key qualifications (presuming we all agree failure is one of life’s inevitabilities). This interesting philosophy got me thinking about the athlete’s journey. An athlete’s journey is not unblemished it is fraught with adversity an athletes journey is built upon loss & resurrection. An athlete’s journey is not limited to the field of play but to life. An athlete’s journey is transferable to the workforce & their ability to bounce back makes them a valuable resource.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Phelps Most Sought After Celeb!

Michael Phelps Becomes Top Celebrity Endorser

We knew Michael Phelps was big, but this is just unprecedented.

Phelps has become the most highly sought-after living being to endorse a product on the planet.

The Davie-Brown Index, which keeps track of these rankings, had Phelps all the way down the list at #1,111 just before his historic Olympic medal run in Beijing.

Now, after D-B released their latest rankings since the Olympics concluded, Phelps has shot up to the #1 spot overall.

According to Darren Rovell over at CNBC's Sports Biz, here's how the rest of the list finished up behind the Aquaman:

2. Michael Jordan

3. Tom Hanks

4. Emeril Lagasse

5. Oprah Winfrey

6. Shawn Johnson

7. Michael J. Fox

8. Paul Newman

9. Denzel Washington

10. Morgan Freeman

Phelps is more lovable and marketable than MJ and Tom Hanks right now? And even the celebrity (Morgan Freeman) who was doing the voice over for the Visa commercials about Phelps has been surpassed? Heavy stuff. It even appears that a endorsement hall of famer, Brett Favre's rankings were hurt recently by his big trade to New York.

Also, of note Shawn Johnson is #6 on the list (probably because of her excellent work in that Ortega commercial). [BTW, for some reason they are still waiting on data to place Nastia Liukin, the All-Around gold winning gymnast]

But the Olympic limelight fades quickly. More so than any other athletes, Olympians struggle to keep up sponsorship fervor between Olympic years.

Do you think Phelps can go the distance and maintain the starpower needed to stay #1? He better start bangin' someone really famous and hot soon or, I'm sorry to say, he'll start to move down those rankings faster than some guy who is the fastest swimmer on the planet

CNBC: Michael Phelps Now Most Coveted Celebrity Endorser, September 9, 2008

WALL STREET FIGHTER | Business News and Money Tips for Men

WALL STREET FIGHTER | Business News and Money Tips for Men

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Going to Extremes to Get the Hire

We all know recruiting is a contact sport but theses guys have taken it to a new level.

Snack Vendor -- or Undercover Job Recruiter?

To Fill That Open Position,
These Guys Go to Extremes;
Stalking on the Ski Slopes

It was a humid June morning on David Perry's fourth day of masquerading as a snack-food vendor inside an industrial park. He had one day left on the canteen truck he'd rented for $500.

The executive recruiter, wearing a hairnet and an apron, finally got a customer to tell him what he needed to know: the identity of a technology guru a client had hired Mr. Perry to poach from a competitor.

[David Perry]
Courtesy of David Perry
David Perry has made his living off rogue recruiting tactics.

Mr. Perry's client didn't know this person's name. So for days, the recruiter had been asking every coffee, cigarette and sandwich buyer who the "genius" was behind the large, publicly traded company's top-selling piece of software. Finally, an unsuspecting patron spilled the beans, and Mr. Perry got his man. "It was real hard detective work, but it was fun," he says.

Executive recruiters typically rely on networking and corporate contacts to court prospects. But for those like the 48-year-old Mr. Perry -- a small subset of the multimillion-dollar industry -- chasing down top talent for the corner-office and other hard-to-fill jobs is a sport. They are maligned by traditional recruiters, but their tactics -- which can be unconventional, paparazzi-like and some say borderline unethical -- can lead to lucrative careers and long lists of loyal clients.

"How else can you get at these people?" says Mr. Perry, whose search firm, Perry-Martel International Inc., employs three researchers, plus his wife, Anita, who handles miscellaneous tasks. "They're behind steel gates."

Once, after dozens of failed attempts to reach through normal channels the CEO of a technology firm, Mr. Perry says, he hopped a plane and sneaked into the basement of his quarry's New York workplace and gave a janitor $100 and a self-addressed envelope. The Ottawa-based recruiter says he was counting on his target's having a private washroom with a phone -- and asked the janitor to send him its number. Mr. Perry says those digits arrived in the mail a few days later. Soon after, he scored a meeting with the executive, who agreed to take the position Mr. Perry was hawking: CEO of a large, publicly traded software company in New York.

In 2006, Peter Polachi, co-founder of Polachi & Co., a small search firm -- and another aggressive recruiter -- went after an executive whose online corporate bio described his love of fly-fishing in a particular river in Montana. After calling several outposts along the waterway, he found a guide who'd led the executive on numerous expeditions and was able to pinpoint this man's regular spot. "I know how to fly-fish, so I just 'happened' to bump into him," Mr. Polachi says. Though he succeeded in hooking the executive long enough for him to listen, a noncompete agreement prevented the person from changing jobs.

Three years earlier, Mr. Polachi pressed the assistant of a sought-after CEO on why the executive was too busy to take a call. The assistant blurted out that the executive kept such a tight schedule that he got up before dawn every morning just to have time to get his shoes polished. Mr. Polachi, based in Framingham, Mass., drove to New York and, on a hunch, took a seat the next morning at the shoeshine stand in his target's office building. The executive arrived minutes later and noticed a copy of his company's most recent annual report resting on his neighbor's lap. The CEO "struck up a conversation with me," says the headhunter. "At end of day, he was recruited."

[Rogue Illustration]
Gary Hovland

Many senior executives who've been snagged using these extreme methods won't talk publicly about their experience. But clients and associates of Messrs. Perry and Polachi confirm their accounts.

"You're talking about a guy with an exceptionally high batting average," says Steve Panyko, who hired Mr. Perry to handle more than a dozen searches while serving as president of CML Emergency Services Inc., a telecom company that was sold in 2006. He has since retired.

Tod H. Loofbourrow, president and CEO of Authoria Inc., a global talent-management-software provider based in Waltham, Mass., credits Mr. Polachi with recruiting more than half of his firm's 12-person executive team.

The $500 Meeting

Not all ruses pan out. Mr. Perry once showed up at an executive's company Christmas party wearing a crisp white button-down shirt and black dress slacks -- just like the waiters working the event. Grabbing a tray, wine bottle and bar napkin from the kitchen, he walked the room until he found his target. Mr. Perry whispered to the man, "This message was left for you," and handed him a blank envelope. Inside was a note promising a $500 check toward the executive's charity of choice if he'd agree to meet the following day. Mr. Perry got the meeting and sent a check to a Chicago-based children's nonprofit. But during the face-to-face, it became clear that the executive was a poor cultural fit for his client, a large, Midwestern technology firm.

Some professionals say they're flattered by the recruiters' efforts to court them. "I like an aggressive person," says Brian Clark, who was recruited by Mr. Perry in the mid-1990s to a small technology company in Ottawa. Mr. Clark recalls Mr. Perry calling him every day for two weeks pitching the job. He wasn't interested in working for a start-up but finally budged after Mr. Perry mailed him a $600 plane ticket, leaving that week, to the potential-employer's office.

[Peter Polachi]
Courtesy of Peter Polachi
Peter Polachi, an extreme recruiter.

Mr. Clark, now vice president and general manager at Jade Software Corp. in Atlanta, later hired Mr. Perry to recruit talent for him. In 2002, the headhunter set his sights on Blake Carruthers for a sales position at Jade. When Mr. Carruthers failed to return the recruiter's numerous calls, he found himself face-to-face with Mr. Perry on a remote mountain-bike trail. Mr. Carruthers was about to traverse an intricate 15-mile path with a group of hardcore bikers. "I thought that maybe he was trying to lose some weight," says Mr. Carruthers of his double-take upon seeing Mr. Perry on a bike. It worked, though: He took the job.

That was the second time that Mr. Carruthers ran into Mr. Perry on a mountain. A few years earlier, the sales executive was skiing on an expert-level hill at a Quebec resort when he spotted Mr. Perry, an amateur skier, his arms flailing for Mr. Carruthers's attention and seemingly stuck halfway down the slope. "Within 30 seconds he goes, 'I got this opportunity I want to talk to you about,' " recalls Mr. Carruthers, who had been dodging the recruiter's phone calls.

Companies that Mr. Perry and Mr. Polachi poach from aren't as thrilled and consider rogue recruiters a menace. Mr. Perry says he has received more than 40 cease-and-desist letters, plus threats of lawsuits from employers he's lured talent from during his career. Some might argue that his job involves trespassing, but so far he hasn't been arrested.

Many in the recruiting industry also take issue with the brazen approach to headhunting. "It cheapens the reality of the hard work that goes into executive search," says Peter Felix, president of the Association of Executive Search Consultants, an industry group with 6,000 recruiter members in 70 countries.

[Rogue illustration]
Gary Hovland

"If you're in the business of recruiting leadership candidates, you have to bring tact, grace and integrity to the profession," adds Joseph Daniel McCool, who wrote "Deciding Who Leads" about the recruiting industry. "Reaching somebody in the bathroom, that's not the image that most search professionals would gravitate toward," he says.

Mr. Perry, whose Tudor-style home rests on one-and-a-half acres in the posh neighborhood of Gatineau, Quebec, says he earns about $500,000 a year.

Lucrative for Some

The average for recruiters who work on retainer at the partner level ranges from $350,000 to $400,000, says Brent W. Skinner, a director of executive-search research at Kennedy Information Inc. i n Peterborough, N.H. "But the ceiling can be much, much higher for exceptional performers in lucrative niches," he adds.

Mr. Perry charges clients about a third of the total first-year compensation for the jobs he fills and insists his recruiting style works. In 22 years, he says he has completed 991 searches for jobs paying roughly $170 million in salaries.

"I don't care if you're available [or not], I don't care if you want to move," says Mr. Perry. "I have to get in front of you and tell you why you should listen to me."

Write to Sarah E. Needleman at

Thursday, September 04, 2008

The Corporate Playbook - News and Events: NFL Veteran/Notre Dame Graduate shares success story with Guardian Life!

The Corporate Playbook - News and Events: NFL Veteran/Notre Dame Graduate shares success story with Guardian Life!

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6.5 Reasons Why Management Trainee Positions are Great for Athletes!

6.5 Reasons Why Management Trainee Positions are Great for Athletes:

We recently spent time with two Fortune 500 companies- Sherwin Williams & Enterprise Rent-A-Car (quick background here- between Sherwin Williams & Enterprise you have arguably the two best entry level employers & management trainee programs available). The purpose of our talks was to focus on the needs of their Management Trainee programs. During this process we uncovered a few key takeaways about best in class Management Trainee Programs & how the skills acquired during the course of athletic play are directly transferable into these types of positions.

6.5 Reasons Why Management Trainee Programs are Great for Athletes:

1. Promotions based on performance:
If there is one thing you should know as an athlete, nothing is promised or given to you. You have to earn what you get and you earn this through superior, consistent performance. There is no entitlement in playing time; you are given the opportunity during practice to outperform your competition and based on that performance, you are compensated with playing time. Whether you are a freshman or senior, playing time goes to those who perform. So as an athlete, in evaluating a career opportunity, it is important to understand how promotions or compensation is based. Is it based on seniority (meaning a merit increase in salary or promotions based solely on tenure) or is the career path based on your individual performance and ability to meet core objectives? Many management trainee programs have a performance based plan, allowing the top performers the opportunity to earn more and advance up in the company. This creates an opportunity for someone with an athletic background that knows how to perform under pressure, the opportunity to advance on his or her own merit.

2. Team Play & Adaptability:

One of the most attractive features of a management trainee program is the ability to learn all facets of the business. However, this often requires working with multiple teams and adapting quickly to their individual needs while working towards changing goals. As an athlete, you understand the importance of team work and pushing teammates to reach a common goal (think back to your last team victory, the camaraderie, the thrill of working together to accomplish a single win. Now think to the future of life after sports in your career, the only way to replicate that feeling is working on a team project, the long hours, the research & finally the thrill of nailing the challenge). You also understand that teams change, circumstances change and goals change. You have to work quickly to adapt to the new team dynamics while still working towards a common goal. Management trainee programs provide the opportunity to experience the thrill of team victory while also being rewarded on your individual contributions.

3. Handling Criticism & Applying Coaching:
Management trainees are subject to very hands-on coaching and mentoring opportunities. This provides the adequate support as a trainee transitions into new roles and learns new aspects of the business. Just like in athletics, you will pick up certain pieces of the game quicker than others, but in order to play, you have to develop a level of competency in all facets (with the exception of Shaq’s free throw abilities). Your ability to handle criticism in the deficient areas of business, while being able to practically apply the coaching to improve in those areas, will determine your individual and team success.

4. Playing to your Strengths:
As previously mentioned in #2, rotations and learning multiple areas of the core business are common practices in management trainee positions. However, just like a coach wouldn’t start a defensive tackle as a defensive back, you will ultimately be placed in the area that best suits your skills. So, although the d-lineman needs to know where that d-back is in the defensive formation, he won’t have to worry about being asked to play that position. This is true in the rotations as well. You will learn from multiple disciplines marketing, accounting, customer service, sales, management etc. However, the area in which you have excelled will ultimately determine your final position.

5. Demonstrated Leadership Ability:
Big surprise!!! Companies are looking for individuals with leadership qualities (I hope you can sense my sarcasm here). As an athlete, whether you were elected team captain or not, you developed real leadership qualities. During the course of play, there were situations where you had to encourage teammates, push teammates and challenge each other to improve. These are the core principles in management: Motivate your team to outperform their own expectations and to achieve their goals. You’ve been there & done that!

6.5. Willingness to Relocate:
I understand this one may seem strange, but hear me out. As stated in #1, many of these management trainee programs promote based on performance. However, in order to keep climbing the corporate ladder, you will often times have to make a move to seize an opportunity (I loose count quickly when I think of my teammates who have moved across the country in order to keep moving up in the company). What’s interesting here is a stat generated from The Corporate Playbook network. Of the teammates who have responded during the signup process, 65% have indicated a willingness to relocate with an average distance of nearly 1400 miles. Now, I have my own theories on this albeit completely devoid of any quantitative data, but here it goes. Many athletes are forced to leave the comforts of their hometown in order to pursue their goal of playing at the collegiate level. I think this translates into the pursuit of their career goals as well. Many athletes are willing to make sacrifices in order to pursue their goals and those willing to sacrifice often achieve their goals in a timelier manner and exceed in the transition from sports into business.