Keep Calm and Search On | Executive Search Meme

Keep Calm and Search On | Executive Search Meme

Keep Calm and Search On

If you search smarter, you really can “Keep Calm and Search On”. Our retained search brand The Good Search created the “Keep Calm and Search On” graphic and new take on the classic Internet meme to share with our friends. Searching smarter helps ensure that your search will be successful when far too many searches hit the wall. (See Why Executive Searches Fail and What to Do About It.) No more stress.

Originally, the Keep Calm and Carry On saying was featured in a motivational poster published by the British Government in World War II.  It was designed to raise public morale at a time when Great Britain was facing massive air strikes on its cities.

Wikipedia reports that

the poster was hardly ever publicly displayed and was little known until a copy was rediscovered in 2000. It has since been re-issued by a number of private companies, and has been used as the decorative theme for a range of products.”

So if helped British citizens survive the Blitz, we suspect it can help hiring executives and executive recruiters survive the challenges of executive recruiting and talent acquisition.

TheGoodSearch Keep Calm and Search On

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The Good Search Toolkit: Genius Apps

The Good Search Toolkit: Genius Apps

The Good Search ToolKit


The Good Search Toolkit is designed to help us deal with information overload. You have to find a way to handle all that data or it will crush you.  So today I am sharing a few basic Rules and a Toolkit — our curated lists of apps — that should help you keep up with all that information and to manage it so that it doesn’t manage you.

The first step to mastering too much information is understanding where most of the data is coming from. Our every transaction with a company, our every move in an online game, our every message that we make creates data.  Increasingly, we communicate in zeroes and ones and it is changing us. When we communicate in social media, we talk much more (80%) about our own experiences — me, me, me — than we do when we meet face-to-face (40%).  Social media is the soapbox upon which we stand and share. And all that sharing is creating a huge amount of data that speaks volumes about who we are. This clip from Mr. Robot just about sums it up.

Social Networks put the Big in Big Data

Social Networks put the “Big” in “Big Data”.  The information is so vast it is virtually impossible to wrap our minds and arms around it. Moreover, it is so distributed that there is no one place we can go to get current contact and profile information. As General Manager for Cloud Management Strategy at Red Hat Alessandro Perilli has pointed out, though it is 2015, the address book is still broken

Social networks have been doing everything in their power to keep it that way. They engineer their pages to render them unscrapable. They shut down API access. And by rewriting user agreements, they have us licensing our contact and relationship data to them into perpetuity. As in forever.

LinkedIn data is like Hotel California. Check out any time you like, but you can never leave.Click To Tweet

[youtube id=”lrfhf1Gv4Tw”]

Facebook has turned off the Friends data and Hashtag APIs. Twitter throttled API access. LinkedIn cut off access to rich profile APIs. LinkedIn even took away our ability to export our own contacts, but reversed itself after enough of its members made it clear they were not pleased.

The social networks are doing it to monetize their business models by forcing users to go to the websites to access our data. That means more work for you and me.  We surf from LinkedIn to Twitter to Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Tumblr, Snapchat, and back again to stay connected and to communicate. The sheer volume of messages coming at us through every conceivable channel is increasing exponentially as hundreds of emails hit our inboxes each day.

So what’s an executive recruiter to do? For that matter, what is any executive to do?  There is no simple answer because, my friends, no one tool exists that easily and consistently rolls up all our relationship data into one centralized repository.  It takes a plethora of tools  — and, if you’re lucky, a designated social media posse —  to wrangle this omnichannel world of ours. Because at the senior executive level, seriously, who has the time?

I can’t even.

What follows are the basic rules I follow to manage the crazy amount of information we encounter in our work lives. I invite you to share your favorite rules and apps right here so we can all learn from each other and keep the best options available right here for all to enjoy.

The Good Search Rules of Data

Rule #1 He/she who has the data has the power.

Make sure you hold the keys to your data. I recommend building and maintaining a CRM database so that your company owns its data. It can be costly and time-consuming, but for now, remains the best way to stay in control of your most important relationships.

Rule #2 Find a place to put your data.

If you’re parking data in spreadsheets in a folder on your desktop, please stop.  That habit keeps you from sharing the knowledge. The low-tech solution would be to use collaborative spreadsheets in the cloud.  We use Google Sheets for that.  But generally, we use shared docs as worksheets to message and analyze data after exporting the data from our CRM database.

Rule #3 Keep your data in the cloud.

We migrated to Salesforce for a couple of reasons.  I used to host my own SQL database on my own server in my home office. It meant anytime we experienced a power outage or other grid interruption, off-site workers couldn’t access the database. Because I’m technical enough to be a little dangerous, I served as my own database administrator and IT department.  I found I wasted far too much time worrying about backups on site and off. And when I did experience a hardware failure, restoring the OS, installing all the apps on the server, and then getting the data restored was a time-consuming nightmare. I’m talking a week of hell. Salesforce is more costly.  But they worry about our database’s uptime. For the most part, they are our IT department. Better yet, migrating to Salesforce made it easier to get information into the database, which brings us to Rule #4.

Rule #4  Avoid importing and data entry whenever you can.

I can easily sync company and executive information through the Salesforce apps InsideView and ZoomInfo. That is huge. But our work developing current and accurate contact information doesn’t end there.  Inevitably, the contact and career details these services serve up are out-of-date or incomplete or both.

I would use, formerly Jigsaw until Salesforce acquired it. But, when I drilled down, Salesforce fields didn’t play nicely with when syncing. (’s Email field was devoted solely to work emails while Salesforce’s Email field held work and personal emails. You could dedicate another field in Salesforce for work emails and sync with that instead, but that’s not the default field Salesforce uses the send emails. The other one is.)

Rule #5  Backup. Backup. Backup.

Your CRM database records are your crown jewels.  Your client, customer, and relationship insights live there. Do not risk losing that asset.  Invest in automatic backup.  Make sure your copies are available for at least 3-to-6 months. With large databases, you may not notice data missing until you got to find it and discover it is not there.

The Big 3 Social Networks (What I Do Where)


LinkedIn is the default business networking site. But I use it as a data point for our own research that we build out in our CRM database. I rarely, if ever, ask one of my LinkedIn connections to make an introduction.  If I want a referral, I’ll do it outside of LinkedIn. I rarely use LinkedIn InMail. Most of the time, I communicate directly with the person using work emails, phones, and other means. I’d never use LinkedIn as a candidate tracking system.  The primary reason why I avoid doing all these things is because I want to maintain control of our data.  There is a risk to being data-dependent on LinkedIn — they can turn off access to certain kinds of data, turn off your ability to export your data (as they tried recently), and force you to pay increasingly higher amounts for access to the very data you created.


When I have something witty to say, I do it on Twitter, not in a Facebook update. I also turn to Twitter when I want to track (or report) breaking news, and when I want to share something or otherwise connect with other social media savvy leaders in our sector.  My twitter account at  @KristaBradford is my personal soapbox and the place where I do most of my tweeting. There you’ll find commentary on news events, politics, leadership, tech, and recruiting.


Facebook is for friends, people I actually know in the real world.  I recently pared down my Friends to so that Facebook offers me a curated list of my people. I’ve noticed a number of uber-powerful colleagues use Facebook as the network where they hang out because it is private and they can create their own exclusive club out of public view.

The Good Search ToolKit

The Good Search Toolkit of Apps

The Good Search Toolkit consists of apps and services that make my work easier.



Google Calendar

Because we use Google Apps, Google Calendar is what we use for individual and team calendaring. It syncs nicely across platforms and you can easily turn emails into Tasks that are for scheduling.  Google Tasks do not sync with Reminders on iOS or Apple OS X.  So if you want to view tasks on those platforms, you’ll need to find an app to help. (See Calendar5)


Calendar5 bring events and tasks together in your schedule. You can see task along with meetings and events to better plan the day. It has a custom-built task manager that syncs with iOS reminders and with Google Tasks, getting my Google Tasks them onto my iPhone and iPad.


If your work involves scheduling phone calls, TimeTrade can help you get your life back.  It enables people to schedule calls directly onto your calendar, eliminating the mind-numbing back-and-forth in emails attempting to nail down a time.  You control when you want to make yourself available for calls.  The app looks at your latest availability and offers up times.  In our recruiting business, it gives candidates and clients instant gratification by enabling them to schedule a meeting directly on your calendar for an optimal executive search experience.


Asana is where I manage our engagements and assign tasks. It is a web and mobile application designed to help teams track their work. It was founded in 2008 by Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz and ex-engineer Justin Rosenstein, who both worked on improving the productivity of employees at Facebook. They offer a free version for a team of up to 15 people.


Customer-Relationship Management

Salesforce Enterprise

Though The Good Search is a retained search firm and though Intellerati our recruiting research brand, we do not use a typical candidate tracking system or executive search database. We opted for Salesforce Enterprise because it is much easier to get data into Salesforce and saves us from having to do a massive amount of data entry. (Getting data out is a whole other matter.) We also like it because we can add custom objects and fields as required, which allows us to tailor our CRM for our clients and to harness the power of a wide array of data. I do not recommend the JobScience recruiting app that sits on Salesforce for reasons I detail in my review in the AppExchange.


The app enhances the workflow and functionality of the Salesforce User Interface.  Salesforce’s native UI is famously unintuitive and click-intensive, and it is often hard to see the information you want to see all in one view.  Skuid helps solve that problem.  If you’re not very nerdy, you’ll likely need a consultant to help implement the solution.


The Salesforce app enables us to sync Company and Contact information so we don’t have to enter or update records by hand.  The contact information often includes social media profile URLs and biographies.  The one limitation is that they list the headquarters address for ALL  employees — even those working at branch offices. The service also aggregates, curates, and delivers inside information and intelligence about companies and your target market.


When we need direct dial information and proper email addresses, ZoomInfo is our go-to-tool. It’s great for getting emails for companies that have no discernable email address formula or who have set up their email server to give ambiguous “maybe” answers when we test email addresses.

Conga Composer

It is one thing to get data into Salesforce. It is quite another thing to get data out and to have it be visually appealing. Conga allows us to do that.  Conga allows us to build very complex reports that include profile photos of candidates.  Compared to other reporting software like Crystal Reports, Conga is much easier. Most of the time we can build the reports ourselves. That’s huge. It makes us much more nimble.

StrikeIron Email Verification 

In our workflow, we always develop and verify contact information. StrikeIron helps us do that.  It gives us definitive Valid and Invalid results for a majority of the emails we test.  It gives us Not Definitive results when the email server is configured to demure. We then use other means to verify the address.  Bottomline, StrikeIron speeds confirming that an email is valid.


Do not rely on scheduled Salesforce exports of your data. The reports are missing one critical thing — relationships between your objects. Use Salesforce’s native scheduled exports and you’ll get an export of all your Contacts but have no idea what Company records they connect to. So if Humpty Dumpty breaks, you will be unable to put him back together again. That’s insane. You must backup your data so that restoring your database is actually possible. We chose Spanning, the first and only backup-and-restore solution delivered directly within the Salesforce interface that automates the backup of our CRM and enables granular, on-page restores.


Data Wrangling


OpenRefine is a free, open source tool that helps you clean up messy data. Formerly Google Refine, the tool helps you clean, standardize, append and transform data from one format into another. It can handle huge datasets — the kind that are so massive they blow up spreadsheets. Yep, OpenRefine can go there. is an easy-to-use scraper, free of charge. You can use the tool to build APIs for all your favorite websites with just a few clicks of the mouse. There are some websites that you’ll discover are design to be unscrapable by basic tools.  But for the rest, does the trick.

OutWit Hub

OutWit Hub is a great tool to master, particularly for websites that are not coded in such a way that makes them easy-to-scrape. It explores the depths of the Web for you, automatically collecting and organizing data and media from online sources. It extracts information elements and organizes them into usable collections.

Google Custom Search

There are times when Google hits you with “are you human” pop-ups, if you are doing a lot of web mining. One workaround is to set up a custom search engine that targets or filters for whatever you are seeking in your search results. You avoid annoying popups and the risk of Google throttling your access to its search results because it incorrectly concluded you were a search bot and not human.


Email Management

Google Apps Gmail

Born of the Cloud in 2007, Gmail quickly rose to prominence as the leading free email application. And while other apps and solutions offer more features, it offers secure and user-friendly experience that includes many extras.

Cirrus Insight

Connecting Gmail to Salesforce, Cirrus Insight allows users to instantly view leads, contacts, activities, cases, opportunities and more from within Gmail. You can log emails with a click, create new contacts, tasks, and events. You can also sync contacts and calendars.


Mailstrom does a very good job of organizing your email so you can quickly identify the messages you want to delete or archive. You can quickly view messages by sender, subject, time, and size, as well as those from certain mailing lists and social networks. I use this tool to weed-whack, ridding my inbox of hundreds of messages at a time so I can focus on what’s important.


Quickbooks Online

In the cloud, QuickBooks Online offers me an easy way to check our financial position at any given time.  I can pull up our P&L, Balance Sheet, and an assortment of other reports in seconds. It is easy for our CPA and bookkeeper to access and it is backed up. It’s a bulletproof way to manage our finances.


Social Media Management


Buffer enables me to schedule posts across LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. You can configure your browser and mobile devices to enable you to forward content you want to share to Buffer for posting. For a while with when buffer would post on LinkedIn, the photos didn’t quite make it through. But now it appears that issue has been resolved.

CrowdFire (formerly JustUnfollow)

I curate my Twitter followers in CrowdFire. It gives me insights that allow me to Unfollow those who have unfollowed or never followed me back. It allows me to focus on relationships that really are a two-way street.



When I want to engage in 2 way dialog in social media, Hootsuite is the place I go. From there,  I can schedule messages as well as engage with my followers and clients in the field.


When I do research online, I save articles, blog posts, and other goodies to a handy app called Pocket for future reference. When I’m ready to write, I pull up the Pocket app and the articles I saved are all right there to serve as inspiration for my next blog post.


ThinkUp gives you insights into your social networking activity on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and beyond. I’m testing the app and will let you know more what I think about ThinkUp after I’ve gotten a better feel for it.


Content Creation


If you haven’t had the time or patience to master Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, and Dreamweaver and need to come up with eye-candy for your social media, Canva can fix you right up.  The free tool enables you to create graphics in a flash. With social media becoming increasingly reliant on images, Canva is an important tool to add to your toolkit.


Whenever I need a photo for a blog post or social media graphic, iStockPhoto is my first stop.  I prefer to use photos that don’t show the faces of models. Having come from the world of journalism, using photos of people pretending to do work seems much too cheesy. Most of the time, I find abstract and minimalistic images a better, more authentic choice.


WordPress is my preferred platform for blogging and for our for our retained search brand The Good Search and our recruiting research brand Intellerati.  If you’re technically adept, it is easy enough for you to manage the sites yourself.

Divi Theme by Elegant Themes

The theme we use for both our corporate websites (The Good Search and Intellerati) is Divi.  Having previously used Genesis framework and themes,  I find Divi much easier to manage because it offers more flexible and robust functionality. I can do things in Divi that previously required coding or the addition of a WordPress plugin, which can slow website performance.


Monarch is a social sharing WordPress PlugIn created by Elegant Themes. It enables you to add Sharing Buttons in different locations on pages and posts have different social sharing needs. You can select a floating sidebar, have the displayed above or below a post, or on images and video. Pretty neat.


WPEngine offers hassle-free web hosting, fast servers, and services that are tailored just for WordPress. They offer automatic security updates, daily backups, one-click restore points, automatic caching, one-click staging area. And because they devote themselves exclusively to WordPress, technical support is a breeze.  That was not the case for the 3 web hosts I tried before using WPEngine.  If you use WordPress, WPEngine is a no-brainer.


Gravity Forms

Gravity Forms for WordPress is a full featured contact form plugin. It enables us to create forms that website visitors use so that we can get their information into Salesforce. To do that you also need the Gravity Forms Salesforce Add-On.

Gravity Forms Salesforce Add-On

This plugin integrates Gravity Forms with Salesforce, allowing form submissions to be automatically sent to your Salesforce account.


VaultPress offers real-time backup of our WordPress Sites, enabling you to recover any page you inadvertently messed up. VaultPress functions as a secondary backup system to our web hosting service WPEngine which doesn’t nightly backups.

Google Analytics

If you have a blog, set up a Google Analytics Account. It’s free and allows you to track the growth and interests of your readership. Once you set up your account and add your domain, you’ll get a code to add to your website that allows you to track unique visitors, page views, bounce rate, and a slew of other metrics across your social media footprint.

Yoast SEO

If you have a WordPress blog or website, the Yoast SEO plugin offers just the tool for Search Engine Optimization (SEO). It analyzes your page and helps you figure out what you need to do to tune it to make Google and other search engines happy.

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Laszlo Bock | Work Rules Book and Video

Laszlo Bock | Work Rules Book and Video

Work Rules! (And So Does Laszlo Bock)

Laszlo Bock is the innovative, data-driven human resources director who helped transform Google’s workforce and culture. He worked there for a decade. He has stepped down to found Humu, a machine learning company that wants to “make work better”.

While at Google, Laszlo led the company’s people function and was responsible for attracting, developing, retaining, and delighting “Googlers.” He believes that giving people freedom and supplementing our instincts with hard science are steps on the path to making work meaningful and people happy.

During Bock’s tenure, Google has been named the Best Company to Work For more than 30 times around the world and received over 100 awards as an employer of choice. In 2010, he was named “Human Resources Executive of the Year” by HR Executive Magazine.

Below is a video presentation by Laszlo Bock:

He is the author of “WORK RULES! Insights from Inside Google to Transform How You Live and Lead”, which has been named one of the top 15 business books of 2015. It is a read we continue to recommend.

Laszlo Bock Quote Work Rules!_ Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead

An Experiment in Longevity | Elysium Basis

An Experiment in Longevity | Elysium Basis

An Experiment in Longevity

As the CEO of a technology executive search firm, we are a nerdy recruiting practice. That is why we share our favorite technology recruiting scenes from the hit HBO series Silicon Valley, It is also why scientific experiments hold a certain “shiny object” appeal.  As a result, my husband and I have started taking the Elysium Health nutraceutical Basis as an experiment in longevity.

(For the record, I have no direct or indirect relationship with Elysium. I have not been paid for the above post. I simply find the science interesting.)

Longevity Elysium Health Basis Experiment

The Science of Elysium

Elysium Health has turned chemicals that lengthen the lives of mice and worms in the laboratory into the over-the-counter vitamin pill that people can take to combat aging. Only thing is there can be a huge difference between what works in the lab on other life forms and what works on live human beings. So, my friends, while this may extend our lives — while it is possible — it is, by no means, certain.

MIT Technology Review put it this way:

This means there’s no guarantee that Elysium’s first product, a blue pill called Basis that is going on sale this week, will actually keep you young. The product contains a chemical precursor to nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, or NAD, a compound that cells use to carry out metabolic reactions like releasing energy from glucose. The compound is believed cause some effects similar to a diet that is severely short on calories—a proven way to make a mouse live longer.

A Skeptic’s Reasoning

So why take longevity vitamins that may not work? Hmmm. Well, the company has five Nobel Prize winners advising it including neuroscientist Eric Kandel, biologist Thomas Südhof, origin-of-life theorist Jack Szostak, and the 2013 laureate in chemistry Martin Karplus. I’m taking a flyer on their collective intelligence. If it doesn’t work, all it costs me is the $60 per month for the supplement.  If it works, well, we’ll be making history.

Experiment Update

Update: Since first writing the above post, a local physician told me that he and a number of his patients have started taking the supplement. He reports that they observe greater energy and that their hair has gotten thicker and is growing faster. As for the fountain of youth thing. The jury is still out. That said, I must confess that I have not been compliant taking the supplement. I have not taken the supplement consistently enough to observe any change. Upon hearing the news from the doctor, I set a reminder to take the supplement daily to see if I observe the same results that the physician has observed. I will keep you posted on how the experiment goes. If you also take the supplement, let me know your thoughts.

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Recruit Passive Candidates | Slideshare

Recruit Passive Candidates | Slideshare

Recruit Passive Candidates | Slideshare

A powerpoint presentation that we created about how to recruit passive candidates.

With few exceptions, the best-of-the-best candidates are passive candidates. Most are not actively looking for a job because they are engaged in their work, successful, and companies do whatever they can to retain them. Consequently, if you want to build a team of star players, they will rarely come to you. They are not actively trolling career websites or job postings looking for their next opportunity.  Rather, recruiters come to them.

In fact, top companies go to great lengths to court the favor of rock star executives and technologists they would like to recruit. They assign executives and a point person in talent acquisition to manage the relationship. They stay in touch and arrange dinners, meetings at conferences, and other get-togethers to build the relationship.  They look across their organization to identify possible opportunities for the key executives. They often create opportunities tailored for the star. For ideas, check the Harvard Business Review book Finding & Keeping the Best People

When you recruit passive candidates, you must think holistically about what ultimately will attract the best talent to your company and about how to get the pieces in place across the organization to accomplish that goal.

[slideshare id=”717735″]

Content of Deck

1. The Art of Recruiting Passive Candidates Making a Business Case by Krista Bradford
2. The Art of Recruiting Passives

  • How to market opportunities to candidates in our current economic environment
  • Why easy recruiting solutions will get harder to use
  • How to construct your pitch to make a business case
  • How to recruit across multiple channels: email, voicemail, texting, and Facebook poking
  • How to find the shortest path to the winning candidate

3. Economic Turbulence
4. Gas Crisis
5. Housing Crisis
6. Financial Crisis
7. Career Crisis
8. Opportunity Abounds
9. Opportunity Abounds
10. Candidates + Job Postings + Social Networking
11. Smart Not so smart Efficient Inefficient Job Boards Jobster NotchUp You
12. Candidate ID
13. Candidate ID
14. Candidate ID
15. Candidate ID
16. Candidate ID
17. The Good Search Way Target the best candidates. If you target everyone else, you will fail.
18. Candidate Development
19. Make sure you’re informed
20. Candidate Development
21. Step 2 – Build a business case
22. Step 2 – Build a business case

  • Check your company press releases for hot company descriptions.
  • Check Hoovers or Google Finance for numbers to tout: market cap, revenues, growth, employees, cash reserves.
  • Compare cost-of-living with calculators on,,,
  • Compare commutes in Google Maps

23. Candidate Development
24. Candidate Development
25. Candidate Development
26. Candidate Development
27. Candidate Development
28. Candidate Development
29. Candidate Development
30. Candidate Development
31. Map teams as you go in
32. Questions? Krista Bradford CEO, The Good Search, LLC

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Candidate Sourcing Slideshare

Candidate Sourcing Slideshare

Candidate Sourcing SlideShare

A presentation I put together about candidate sourcing called The Art of Identifying and Recruiting Passive Candidates. (See below). How you identify, profile, qualify, and, ultimately, recruit passive candidates is what ultimately determines the success of an executive search engagement. It is how you fill a senior executive or senior engineering opening.

Candidate Sourcing is About Control

Candidate Sourcing is all about control. Candidate sourcing enables you to be proactive — instead of posting a job and hoping an ideal candidate sees the opportunity and is motivated to apply — you are proactively reaching out to the people you’ve identified as contenders. In doing so, you flip a switch and go from reactive (“We’ve gotten a lot of applicants. But so far, I’m none of them are right.”) to proactive (“Here’s a list of the best-and-brightest. Out of that list, here’s who is open to making a move at this time.”)

Candidate sourcing, also known as passive candidate recruitment, puts you in control.

Candidate Sourcing The Good Search AMP photo

Candidate Sourcing Focuses Viable Contenders

As a best practice, candidate sourcing focuses on the most qualified. It avoids spinning through a list of lesser, underwhelming prospects just because their titles look right. An inordinate amount of time is wasted recruiting people who are wrong or who are unlikely to respond to your outreach for obvious reasons.  Rather you go from targeting everyone with the right title at target companies to focusing on the few who matter. In doing so, candidate sourcing turns that mountain of passive prospects into a molehill. You replace the shotgun approach with one more resembling a sniper. Suddenly, you recruit faster-better.

For more on the topic, check the Candidate Spotting article we wrote about candidate sourcing a while ago on It still holds true today.

[slideshare id=”3063864″]

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Outliers: The Story of Success

Outliers: The Story of Success


In his book Outliers, Author Malcolm Gladwell asks the question: what makes high-achievers different? His answer is that we pay too much attention to what successful people are like, and too little attention to where they are from: that is, their culture, their family, their generation, and the idiosyncratic experiences of their upbringing.

Gladwell observes that talent alone does not make us high-achievers: it also takes a hell of a lot of practice. In the book, he theorizes that to become a top-performing outlier, one needs about 10,000 hours of practice.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Case in point: Bill Gates and The Beatles. Gladwell explains practice is what makes software billionaires and great soccer players. Practice is how so many Asians excel at math and how the Beatles became one of the greatest rock ‘n’ roll bands in history.

Book Quote from Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

10,000 Hour Rule Challenged

A Princeton study was subsequently cited as proof that Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000-hour theory was somehow flawed.  Business Insider bluntly asserted, “New Study Destroys Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 Hour Rule”. However, my read of the Princeton study comes away with a different understanding of the researchers’ meta-analysis of 88 studies on deliberate practice. The researchers concluded:

“We conclude that deliberate practice is important, but not as important as has been argued.”

 The researchers were not referring to the work of Malcolm Gladwell but to that of K. Anders Ericsson who in 1993 argued that “individual differences in ultimate performance can largely be accounted for by differential amounts of past and current levels of practice.” The Princeton researchers found that practice accounted for just a 12% difference in performance in various domains. Interestingly, it found variance in performance not explained by deliberate practice.

Practice Alone Does Not Make the Outlier

The researchers theorize that the age that someone starts to practice seriously may be a critical factor — that there may be an optimal age to learn something. Another factor is intelligence and specific abilities, which we interpret to mean the kind of talent that is baked into our DNA. The researchers say further study of these other areas is necessary to really understand what it takes to be a top performer. If you’d like to read the study, you can find a PDF of it here: Deliberate Practice and Performance in Music, Games, Sports, Education, and Professions: A Meta-Analysis. My read of the document and of Gladwell’s assertions find them in agreement. Still, Malcolm Gladwell took a lot of heat from people who seemed to misinterpret his book. So, to set the record straight, he wrote a piece for the New Yorker.

Malcolm Gladwell’s Explanation

In a New Yorker article entitled, Complexity and the Ten-Thousand-Hour Rule, author Malcolm Gladwell clarified his work in Outliers for those too attention-deprived to read the work more closely. Gladwell was not saying that practice made up for a lack of talent. In the New Yorker article, he explained,

“No one succeeds at a high level without innate talent, I wrote: “achievement is talent plus preparation.” But the ten-thousand-hour research reminds us that “the closer psychologists look at the careers of the gifted, the smaller the role innate talent seems to play and the bigger the role preparation seems to play.” In cognitively demanding fields, there are no naturals. Nobody walks into an operating room, straight out of a surgical rotation, and does world-class neurosurgery. And second—and more crucially for the theme of Outliers—the amount of practice necessary for exceptional performance is so extensive that people who end up on top need help. They invariably have access to lucky breaks or privileges or conditions that make all those years of practice possible.”

Clearly, there is an art and science to understanding exceptional talent. For more on the topic of top performers, see To Recruit a Rock Star, It Helps to Know Them and How to Recognize Great Talent in Executive Search.

Cybersecurity Classic The Art of Deception

Cybersecurity Classic The Art of Deception

Cybersecurity Classic The Art of Deception

The Art of Deception is a brilliant cybersecurity book written by legendary hacker Kevin Mitnick. In stunning detail, he shares how social engineering works — how he and other hackers con people into giving up passwords, account numbers, and social security numbers. Deception is how hackers acquire the keys to the kingdom. Published in 2002, it remains a cybersecurity classic. The primary point of his book? In cybersecurity, we, humans, are the weakest link.

As executive search firm that recruits top technology executives in cybersecurity, we are a nerdy practice. That is why we recommend the hit television series Mr. Robot, a psychological thriller that follows a young programmer who works as a cyber-security engineer by day and a vigilante hacker by night. The series has made hackers human. (For more, check our blog post, Mr. Robot Must-See TV for Cybersecurity Search Firm)

Cybersecurity classic The Art of Deception by Kevin D. Mitnick

World’s Most Famous Hacker

Kevin Mitnick is considered by many in cybersecurity to be the world’s most famous hacker. At one point, he made the FBI’s “Most Wanted” list because he hacked into 40 major corporations. He didn’t do it for anything but the sport of it. Because it was there. To see if he could. The FBI saw it differently. Mitnick was arrested in 1995 and spend five years in prison for various computer and communications-related crimes. Mitnick was convicted of copying software unlawfully. However, Mitnick supporters found the punishment excessive, claiming many of the cybersecurity charges against him were trumped-up and not based on actual losses.

Hacker Redemption

The author who literally wrote (and lived) The Art of Deception is now a trusted cybersecurity consultant to the Fortune 500 and governments worldwide. Kevin Mitnick is Chief Executive Officer of the security firm Mitnick Security Consulting, LLC which helps test companies’ security strengths, weaknesses, and potential loopholes.

He mentors leaders, executives, and staff on both the theory and practice of social engineering, topics on which he is considered a leading global authority. The redeemed hacker also helps consumers—from students to retirees— learn how to protect their information and themselves from harm. In fact,  he’s written a book about it called The Art of Invisibility, The World’s Most Famous Hacker Teaches You How to Be Safe in the Age of Big Brother and Big Data.

Hacking Executive Search

The Good Search recruits senior executives and technologists in cybersecurity.  In that industry, companies typically focus on one of two things: keeping the bad guys out and letting the good guys in.  We recently placed the Head of Product for a company that does the latter, a sector called identity and access management. They let the good guys in. Recently, Stephen Colbert let Kevin Mitnick in as a guest on his show Late Night with Stephen Colbert.

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The Soul of Leadership: Unlocking Your Potential for Greatness

The Soul of Leadership: Unlocking Your Potential for Greatness

The Soul of Leadership

The Soul of Leadership is a dimension worth cultivating in one’s career. Mindfulness is playing an increasing role in all areas of our lives. It repeatedly yields positive results. So it stands to reason that honoring the spiritual side of our work lives will bring greater meaning and purpose to our work. In fact, Author Deepak Chopra writes that leadership takes both heart and soul as in his book, The Soul of Leadership: Unlocking Your Potential for Greatness.

Chopra brings rebrands success as something far beyond financial gain. In The Soul of Leadership, Chopra examines spirituality in the workplace and offers ways to reverse negative attitudes to fosters a positive working environment. Chopra offers a succinct guide that employs his principles. In doing so, the author shares the stories of two leaders who have made millions following the deepest inclinations of their souls, In fact, Chopra believes the only path to true success is finding and honoring one’s calling. Our careers are a hero’s journey. (For more on that, see Executive Search and The Hero’s Journey.) For that reason, we recommend the book The Soul of Leadership and applying its methods in your career.

Leadership Consciousness

The author contends that great leaders must develop consciousness. So in this way, Chopra goes where few business courses in leadership have dared. Most business schools serve up case studies for analysis, to compare less successful leaders to those who have delivered the greatest return on their corporation’s investment. While technical and managerial skills are important, Chopra has found that human skills are far harder to teach and pass on. “Yet they are the key to persuading other people to follow you.”

Here, Deepak Chopra shares the book’s insights in a presentation at Pershing’s Financial Solution Conference.

The Soul of Leadership Presentation

The Soul of Leadership by Deepak Chopra

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business‎

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business‎

The Power of Habit

The power of habit is a power you can harness. So, before you decide to eliminate or add a new habit,  check out this book by Pulitzer Prize-winning business reporter Charles Duhigg. He details what science now knows about why habits exist and how they can be changed. In doing so, he distills a vast amount of fascinating information about these habits of ours that seem to run on autopilot.

Habits Run on Autopilot

Research has found we have no brain activity when one of our habit programs is running. I found that data point stunning. It explains why habits are so very hard to change because we simply are not conscious when they are running. However, with insight offered in the book The Power of Habit, we have the knowledge we need to reshape our habits to lead more rewarding lives.

The Power of Habit

The Power of Habit Presentation

Charles Duhigg shared his insights from The Power of Habit in a presentation he gave to Microsoft Research.

The Power of Habit is a book we highly recommend. Another business book worth checking out is The Soul of Leadership: Unlocking Your Potential for Greatness.

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