Constant State of Transition








The past 4 years have seemed like a constant state of transition. I had just come through a fight with cancer and it had a profound impact on the things that truly mattered to me, especially as it related to my career. Making the big sale or closing a massive deal or continuing to climb the corporate ladder with bigger titles and paychecks just didn’t seem to satisfy me any longer. Instead, I valued time with the people that mattered most to me and pouring every ounce of my energy and attention into them. So, that’s what I did.  I had my own company and it did very well. it provided me with the flexibility to work when I wanted, if I wanted, and with whom I wanted. Very nice indeed.

But recently I received a call from an executive friend of mine. It was one of those “who do you know” calls where you know he’s talking about you. He is someone that I have a great deal of respect for, the company was a major global brand, and it was going to help round out some of the gaps in my professional resume and give me some solid experience that would be helpful in the long run. So I threw my name into consideration for the job. While the flexibility that I had been enjoying having my own company was great, the thought of a steady paycheck seemed to be a welcome change too. I went through the interview process quickly and was offered the job within a few days. I start on Monday.

It’s funny how life takes you on these unexpected journeys. I never expected cancer, but quite honestly, cancer was one of the best things that could have happened to me. It helped me to appreciate the people and the circumstances that surrounded me in a way that I seemed to be blind to previously. Starting my own business was great because it gave me room to work my way through these changing emotions, physical changes, and relational changes. And now I have a daughter a little over a year away from starting college and it’s time for yet another change to get me through this next stage in life. Some would call it chance or coincidence when these things happen, but I have a personal belief that God is in control and that He is guiding these occurrences in His perfect timing.

I’m excited to face some new challenges, to interact with people from around the world, and to help take an already well known brand to even loftier places through my work. I’m not excited for the daily commute, especially considering my commute the past few years has been walking from my bedroom and over to my home office a few rooms away. I think I will be challenged, and that’s always a good thing. What’s truly interesting to me though is the timing of all of this. A week from today, I will be cancer free for 3 years. Coincidence? Ehhh, not really.


A Reflection on Cancer

Fight Cancer 2Tomorrow is a day of celebration for me…I was declared “cancer free” on May 1, 2012. My battle with cancer has had a profound impact on me personally and has changed me in many ways. Some in my behaviors, but mostly in my motivations and drivers.

To give you a brief history, I was diagnosed with Atypical Carcinoid Cancer. This is a pretty rare but fast growing cancer usually found in people much older than me. Altogether, I had 16 tumors removed from my small intestine over the course of two surgeries. I also had an emergency third surgery that repaired an issue from my second surgery that was slowly killing me. I lost 80 pounds – 50 of that in a single month. For several months, I had trouble moving from my bedroom to my living room. A full day’s worth of food for me was one cracker with some peanut butter on it. I was in pretty bad shape as cancer had beaten me down physically.

Notice that I said that it had beaten me down physically. Emotionally, mentally, and spiritually, I stayed pretty confident and strong. I tried to keep my sense of humor. No matter how I was feeling, I could always find someone who was worse than me, so I tried to reach out to them and be an encouragement to them. I am a man of faith as well, and surprisingly it never wavered. I think all of these things were keys to my defeat of this awful disease.

I mentioned that my battle changed me in many ways. As a result of facing this disease, I have a few deep desires that I find myself continually drawn to:

Desire 1: I work so that I can enjoy life. This wasn’t how I previously approached my career. I worked to get ahead and to gain more work. I worked for recognition and rewards. I worked for money and nice things. I worked because my work defined me. Now, in my approach to work, I still want to do a good job, be very good at what I do, and I want to be comfortable in my finances, but I do those things so that I can enjoy life in spontaneous and unique ways. Work doesn’t consume my every moment now. I can disengage and relax and separate myself from my work. My family matters to me greatly. My daughter is 16 and I know that my days are numbered where she will be at home and such a big part of my life. Eventually it will come back to just my wife and I, and I look forward to those days too.

Desire 2: Meaningful conversations are key. I believe that once you have felt like death is a real possibility for yourself, relationships matter much more. We live in a world of chatter and small talk. The whole premise of Twitter is that we express our thoughts, but not too deeply. We only get a few characters to do so. I find myself now desperately wanting others to talk to, to engage with, and to do so at a deeper level than what most people are accustomed to. I want to talk about things that matter. I want emotions in those conversations – and the more of them over the course of a single conversation, the better! I want people to know where they stand with me and how I feel about them. One thing that started while I was in the hospital, and unsure how things were going to play out, is that I told people around me what I appreciated most about them and that I loved them. For some, they just didn’t know how to take this and were caught off guard. I’ve continued with that to some degree. I hug. I compliment. I encourage. And I share how I feel with others. This isn’t always comfortable to do, but you never know if this might be the last conversation that you’ll have with that person.

Desire 3: No regrets. I think we all have things that run through our minds that we think would be really cool to do.  I know I always have those thoughts. But now, I find myself acting on them. I started my own company. I bought a convertible. I auditioned for The Voice and America’s Got Talent. I’ve run three 5K’s. I speak at events and on webcasts routinely. I started a basketball skills academy for my daughter and her teammates. Now, I don’t anticipate that I will ever have the desire to go jump out of a perfectly good plane, or to strap a bungee around my ankles and hurl myself off of a bridge. There are some things that I just have no desire to do and I won’t regret not trying them at all. But there are others that I am focused on and hope to do in the future.

There are so many negative things that come as a result of cancer, but good can come from any situation if you are seeking it. I certainly have daily reminders of my battle – the scars, the memories, the fears, and my body will never function “normally” again as a result. Few people know, but I am sick, on average, 20-25 times a day. With over 3 feet of my small intestine removed, it impacts the way that I respond to food and drinks. Now, I have become very good at hiding how I feel. I know how to overcome these challenges. Quite honestly, it wears me out sometimes. But even on the worst of my days, when I feel horrible, I am thankful for my life, for my family, for friends, and for the opportunity to experience more of life!

Don’t wait until something tragic occurs to make these changes in your own life. Do them now!

I Heart My Guru List

guruI fully recognize that I would not be where I am today without countless numbers of people who have invested a portion of their lives into mine.  A great example would be a guy named Kenneth Johnson. I’ve never met him, but I attended a private school from 6th – 12th grades. My mom was working three jobs after having recently been divorced, and he approached my mother and offered to enroll me in a great private school in Dallas. We couldn’t afford the tuition, so he paid it for 7 years. That likely totaled more than $40,000 – and he did it anonymously and without the desire for thanks.

As I started considering a career, I was feeling like I should be a minister, so Dr. Doug Wood invited me to be an intern in the youth division of First Baptist Church in Dallas. At the time, it was the world’s largest Baptist church – and I got to work there. I went on to have 17 more years of serving churches as a youth minister after that. And when the time came for me to “retire” from youth ministry, Tom Cottar and Roger Shepherd gave me a shot as I started my own graphic design business. It grew quickly and helped me through a very unstable transition time in my life.

Then came my introduction to recruiting. I knew nothing of it until Mike Mayeux and Gene Brown asked me if I would close my design business and come join them in recruiting. They invested so many conversations with me and helped me to understand the philosophy and the strategic part of recruiting. Later, Dane Reese invested his time and knowledge into me and taught me more of the contract staffing side of the business, and gave me the freedom to develop new lines of business and manage a global team. Now, not many years removed from that introductory period, I am the Managing Director and a Partner at a recruiting firm in Austin. There is no telling where I would be, or what I would be doing, had all of those people not invested in me personally.  I am so thankful for each!

In light of this, I’d like to ask you to do two things:

  1. Think back over your life and consider who the “gurus” were that invested heavily in you. Reflect on them and be thankful to them.
  2. Consider whom you will now become a “guru” to.

A sponge has multiple purposes. It sucks up water,  but it also lets water out of it. Don’t just suck (hahaha). Don’t just be the person who takes and takes and takes. Make it a priority to give and give and give.

What do you think? Are you up for it? Let me hear about your personal gurus and then ways you can become a guru to others!

R.I.P. Recruiting – Thursday, June 27

RIP Cover SlideIf you are a SHRM member, please make plans to join my webcast at 1:00 p.m. Eastern / 12:00 p.m. Central this Thursday, June 27. For a couple of years, I have been speaking of the significant transformation that is coming to recruiting strategies, processes, and methodologies. In the past few months, I have started to hear other well known and trusted leaders within the industry begin to speak of it as well. In this session, we will take a look at where we are and why it is not sustainable. Our current method of recruiting is broken, and it will morph into something totally new in the next 2-3 years (at the latest).

As we experience a generational shift in our workforce, we will also experience a shift in our recruitment strategies to re-engage in the human element of our industry. There is no doubt that it will be a good mix of high tech and high touch, but the engagement of people will be paramount to a recruiter’s success. The days of letting technology do all of the recruiter’s work are coming to an end. Current day recruiting will die…may it R.I.P.

Don’t miss this critically important webcast!

Loyalty vs Happiness?

LoyaltyI have recently made a career move, and it wasn’t as easy as one might think. I had been the National Engagement Manager and IT Division Head at Stark Talent for more than 2 years. I was a senior manager who managed a global team of recruiters, but I also developed an Operations Manual, implemented an Applicant Tracking System, and offered many new ideas that shaped the direction of the company. I reported to the President of Stark, someone that I held in high regard professionally and personally. It would be fair to say that I was deeply invested into the success of Stark.

What made it difficult to leave was the portion of my life that I experienced while with Stark. After only being there a few short months, I went in to have a routine surgery done that was supposed to be quick and easy, and it turned into a cancer diagnosis – 3 surgeries – 16 tumors being removed – potential death after the 2nd surgery – and months of recovery. Not only was this a challenge emotionally and physically, but it reshaped the values and priorities that I had established. This was a complete transformation, in every way possible. My employer told me to take as much time as I needed to recover – I know others say that, but they were incredible in their response to me. They paid my full salary the entire time I was out. They paid all of my commissions on top of that. I never once got an email or a text asking when I thought I might return – no pressure on me at all. It was the best way that I could imagine an employer responding.

But when I returned to work full time, I just wasn’t the same person that I was prior to the medical issues that I had faced. Before, my focus was on success, money, recognition, titles, and being respected by those around me. My priorities had shifted to things like: family, faith, friends, deep conversations, making the most of my time, etc. I even had a conversation with my boss one day and told him, “I’m not the same person that you hired. Are you good with me staying in the same role, or should I move into something else for the good of the team?” Now don’t get me wrong, I still wanted to be very good at what I did, and I still wanted to be rewarded for it, but it just didn’t drive me the way it used to.  I worked (from home) the entire time that I was recovering from my surgeries and still wanted to work hard and do what was right regarding my employer.

Within a few months, I was declared “cancer free.” It wasn’t the end of my health issues, but it relieved the most critical aspect of it.  I was traveling again, working in the office each day, and putting in long hours…but I just wasn’t happy with what I was doing. I enjoy recruiting and the industry that I am a part of, but as with any organization – there were certain aspects of my job, personalities to deal with, and frustrations that would arise, and I just couldn’t get past them. It was trying to balance the new me that wanted to make the most of every day given to me fighting against the part of me that felt like it might a losing proposition and a waste of time. I was driving 3 hours a day round trip just to commute for work. I didn’t see the doors open at all times for me to run my line of business the way that I felt like it should be done. As a result, I was weary, tired, resentful, and ready for a change.

But how could I make a move? How could I leave this company that treated me so well in my toughest time? What would they think? What would others think of me? What would I think of myself? This was such a struggle in weighing the loyalty that I felt to my employer vs the happiness that I was lacking! What should win out? I mean, I had been unhappy for many months and had many opportunities presented to me where I could have left, but I kept telling myself that I just couldn’t leave. It came down to this: How much loyalty was enough?

Late one afternoon, I was presented with the opportunity to make a move to a new company as their Managing Director and to become a Partner. It was an outstanding offer! Good salary…ownership…be my own boss…do things that I felt like they should be done. It was all of the things that I was looking for. As always, my mind immediately starting asking if there was any way that I could seriously leave where I was in order to take this opportunity. For me, I had to go with my gut and move quickly or I would second guess myself to no end. I told them that I was interested but that I needed an offer in my hands in just a few hours if they really wanted me. The offer came and I made my move.

Working out the loyalty vs happiness issue has not been easy. I finally had to come to a place where I could say that I gave my previous employer everything that I had. While there, I worked as hard for them as I possibly could. I also believe that I left that company better than I found it. I shook hands with everyone on my way out the door, held my head high, and just believed that I couldn’t have done anything more for them than I had done. I’ve had moments of guilt hit me since then, but in my heart – I believe I made the right move.

It matters greatly to me that I be a man of integrity and of solid character. This single decision made me wrestle with those things and how you can come out on both sides with your integrity and character in place from both points of view. I don’t know if I succeeded or not, I guess that is up to others to decide. I feel confident in my decision and hopeful that others can understand the reasoning and thought that went into it.