From a young age, I always had a lot of “get up and go.” I was constantly on the move in work and in life; it was instilled in me by hardworking parents who were a true inspiration. My first real job at 12 years old was a paper route that required predawn wakeups seven days a week. A few years ago, while in New Orleans I came across this sculpture called Go! As you can see in the picture above, it is a porcelain-headed, handmade figure, delicately balanced on a wheel on a downward incline, which gives the sense that he is about to GO! (Kudos to the extremely talented artist Cathy Rose who created him.) Go! is the first thing I see every day when I wake up in the morning. He always puts a smile on my face as I say to myself it is time to get up and go!

Fuel for the fire

What is it now that fuels the fire to get up and go every morning? Many things, but two are the driving force. The first is to provide excellent service to my clients and candidates, which I deliver by “putting good people with good people.” In one of my first roles as a recruiting manager, my trainer was pacing me through the qualities the firm looked for in new hires. She said: “When you ask someone why they want to be in the recruiting industry, and they reply, ‘Because I like people, I’m a people person.’ Do not hire them.” After 30+ years in recruiting I still think this is true. Liking people has little to do with what recruiters do day in and day out. For me, the benefit of being in this profession as long as I have is the ability to be selective with whom I work. Many of the relationships I have built over the course of years have manifested many additional searches – the experience of a search may be transactional, but the essence of successful search is all about building relationships and repeat clients. The result of putting good people with good people is that great things happen. By working with good people, even when a search gets challenging, ultimately the results are predictable, and the process is enjoyable. That is the real fuel for the fire.

The second thing getting me up in the morning is mentoring a few select folks to help them make their way up in the recruiting industry. This has been an unexpected joy in my professional life the last few years. Working on my own can sometimes be a bit isolating, despite all the client and candidate calls I make. And mentoring has actually increased my focus on client work because it has rejuvenated my sense of awe in what we do in search and confirmed my passion for the work itself. It is interesting, while I think I am the mentor, it is very much a two-way street, and I have learned as much as I have offered! While I have no ambition to become a full-time recruiter coach, it is truly fun and an honor to be able to share some of the lessons learned in my lengthy career as a self-employed executive search consultant. It is said that giving back is more rewarding than anything else, and it has been true for me. This sentiment is elegantly expressed by Cullen Hightower, who wrote: “The true measure of your worth includes all the benefits others have gained from your success.” I hope to continue to do this pro bono work for many years to come.

A match made in…

When I first decided to become a recruiter, I was only a couple of years into my finance career. My parents had helped me financially to attend and graduate from Loyola Marymount University – a major investment. I was so nervous when I was getting ready to call my parents to let them know I would not be pursuing a career in finance – but of all things I was going to be a recruiter! I thought they would be so disappointed. Ha! The opposite was true. They laughed and told me that they had always been “match makers” and had put many couples together. They said recruiting is all about match making and that it was in my DNA. They encouraged me and believed I had discovered a true path to happiness. And I did.

Ultimately the end of a successful search process results in a good match. One of the most important matches of all in a company is between CEO and CFO. As I have blogged more than once, it is not unlike a marriage, and I would wager that CEO and CFO may spend more waking hours together than with their respective spouses. If it is not a good match it is lose (CEO), lose (CFO), lose (Company). Attaining the technical elements of what a company needs in a CFO is not the hardest part in my work anymore. The magic and value creation I provide is making a good match. And it is more than in my DNA – it is earned from almost 30 years of putting people together. What I am most proud of professionally is not having to employ my 12-month guarantee because of a bad match in the history of Arnold Partners! We measure the good matches by enterprise value creation – IPOs, Market Cap, M&A exits, which all added up is now in the 10s of billions of dollars.

What is your get up and go motivation? How do you sustain it? I’d love to hear from anyone on this topic.

Cheers, Dave