Green Board Business Ideas
The 15 Best Things My Career Clients Ever Said
Part Three, by William S. Frank

11. I don't know what my future will bring, but I know it will be good.
OUTPLACEMENT is the business of helping people losing their jobs to be re-employed. Sometimes itís done one-on-one, sometimes in groups. I've done onesie-twosies and worked in 5,000-person layoffs.

This time I was headed to an oil and gas company in Wyoming where a manager was to terminate his best friend of 25 years. This was a tough one. Mark, the manager, asked me to meet him the night before to plan the termination meeting. He met me in his hotel room, which was odd.

He was tearful and said he was terminating his best friend, Travis. Their wives were best friends and worked together. Their children were best friends and played together.

    "This is going to ruin their lives and our friendships. This is a small town. The oilfield is laying off. Thereís no work here. Travis and his family will have to relocate. It will tear our families apart. I canít do this."

This was one of the few times I've seen a seasoned manager cry.
The remarkable story has a happy ending, and I tell it here.

12. I'm not retiring—I'm rewiring.
Anna Jo Haynes founded Mile High Montessori Early Learning Centers, a $5 million United Way partner agency that provides daycare and early childhood education to disadvantaged children, ages 0 to 4. There are 1,000 children under her organization's care. As she left the day-to-day management of the non-profit and recruited a President to replace her, friends asked her if she was retiring. She said no, "I'm not retiring—I'm rewiring."

Anna Jo is a national treasure. She continues to represent Mile High Montessori in the community and in the Colorado legislature, passing bills in favor of early childhood education. She's a wonderful example of re-inventing yourself. If you didn't get to meet Mother Theresa, you should sit down with Anna Jo.

13. When you're hiring, you're creating the future of your company.
Dr. Donn Lobdell is one of the smartest men I've met. He's a brilliant scientist as well as a great organizational leader. He was Vice President of Research & Development for COBE Laboratories, a pioneer in artificial kidney, cardiovascular surgery and blood component therapy. While Donn was there, COBE grew from $3 million to $400 million in sales.

Donn left COBE when the company was sold and became my outplacement client. While getting to know him I asked, "What's the most important part of your job?"

I figured he'd say something like, "artificial intelligence, plastic polymers, or statistical sampling." Instead, he said, "Hiring is the most important part of my job—because when you're hiring, you're creating the future of your company." That was brilliant, and I've never forgotten it.

Donn's team called prospective R&D engineers into COBE and asked them to make group presentations. They sent the eager candidates home for two weeks, then invited them back for more interviews. They threw difficult technical problems at them, many mission-critical to the business.

They sent the job hunters home again. The waiting was unbearable; I witnessed it when trying to get candidates hired at COBE, and all of us hated it. Interviews were followed by more interviews.

One day it clicked: they're taking their time to get the right fit. They know the candidates, the candidates know them. There are no surprises. "When you're hiring, you're creating the future of your company."

14. With part-time effort, you get part-time results.
In working with hundreds of candidates to maximize their careers, I've learned that Effort Equals Results (E=R). BIG effort produces BIG results, and sketchy effort yields sketchy results. This is hard to communicate, but A-students get A's and C-students get C's. The same thing happens here.

All my life my mother taught me that "If it's worth doing, it's worth doing right." She didn't just teach it, she hammered it into me. And legendary Green Bay Packers coach, Vince Lombardi said, "Practice doesn't make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect." He also said, "Winning isn't a sometime thing. Winning is an all the time thing."

One of my clients was the grandson of the famous Denver architect, Temple Hoyne Buell. Buell established the largest architectural firm in the Rocky Mountains, and designed and built 300 buildings here. He's a legend. I asked the grandson if he might consider part-time work, and he said, "my grandfather said that 'with part-time effort you get part-time results.'" I've always liked that quote.

15. You-all are a lot smarter than I am.
I met Charles B. McIlwaine when he retired from the Coleman Company. I was hired to provide his career transition counseling(outplacement). Charles had been the Vice President of Corporate Communications & Investor Relations for Coleman, in charge of all public-facing communication for the corporation, including advertising, marketing, and public relations. In addition, Charles was liaison with the industry analysts on Wall Street. It was a big job at the top of a public company.

Charles became a close friend, and later, an investor and shareholder in CareerLab®. He attended our two-hour staff meeting every Monday, and we occasionally had lunch at J. Alexander's with what he called "an adult beverage." Although a prominent executive who had been a personal friend of Sheldon Coleman, Charles was understated. Coming from a powerful position in a big company, having clashed with the titans of Wall Street, I would have expected Charles to be more opinionated, but his style was different. He listened a lot and seldom spoke. But when he spoke in a staff meeting, we took notice.

He would sit in a meeting for an hour not saying much, then would begin with something like this: "You-all are a lot smarter than I am, and I don't know nearly as much as you do about this, but couldn't we consider (fill in the blank: taking an equity partner to increase our market share, or staffing a trade show booth)?"

Charles wasn't from the south; he hailed from Wichita, home of the Coleman Company and the Kansas Jayhawks. He said you-all, not y'all.

Of course, everyone in the room understood that Charles knew way more than we did. Ours was, after all, a six-person company, not a 6,000-person company like Coleman. True to his title, he knew how to communicate. Our staff, board of directors, and clients all loved Charles. He was charming, and that endeared us to him.

Charles B. McIlwaine
Charles B. McIlwaine
(1939-2006)

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