Before I answer Alan’s question, let me tell you a small story about Alan! That is, Alan Hooker, whom I met for the first time at the Global Workshop.
The award ceremony was held during the Vendor Fair Reception, Friday evening at Global. Afterwards, Alan approached me and introduced himself and we had an awesome conversation. While we spoke and with the help of one of the vendors who shared his computer with us, we ended up making our way here to the blog, in order to access my favorite diagram.
A = Candidates; B = Hiring Managers; both = Introductions.
Here’s why we did. Alan was struggling with how to reach across the phone lines and catch the attention of his prospects. What I shared was that it is the stories of candidates that empowers you to catch the attention of hiring managers. When you hope to build communication, you have to be able to find the right story to share, and then boldly share it! What I explained to Alan is that the people that make up circle A, your supply of talent, are the place where you find your stories. It is their stories that you then present to the hiring managers that make up circle B. We worked on that, a bit, and then…
Alan asked me a very moving question. “What,” Alan asked, “is your story, Pat?”
Alan is, I believe, a natural recruiter. His listening skills and encouragement got me going, and I sure wish I could just report back to you what I shared with him…but, I’m not able to. You know how stories are, and especially when you have a great listener like Alan, they have a life of their own.
So, even as I was sharing my story with Alan, I knew right then that I’d end up struggling to find “the story” to share with all of you here. Please understand, the number of souls I’ve served, and lessons they’ve taught me go far beyond my ability to recall, let alone to record or crunch down here. Perhaps the first thing to cover, though, are just a few of the facts behind my award, such as I’ve been able to glean so far.
I don’t yet know the history behind MRI’s Consultant of the Year Award. I do have a call into Jack Downing, he’s the head of the vendor committee, in hopes of getting a bit more of the detailed information, but he hasn’t gotten back to me yet. When I asked the good people at CDI how my award was granted to me, they told me that this year there were 152 franchisees who filled out their vendor surveys. Of those, 29 filled out numbers on me and my service. Also, they shared, I received an average score of 7.18 on a scale of 10, rating their satisfaction level. I don’t know what other services were reported upon, nor anything about how the scores are tallied or averaged. Those are all the facts I have so far, but let me turn the clock back now, where my facts are a bit more abundant…
I found my way to MRI, knowing virtually nothing about recruiting, back in 1993 though my cold call selling practice. I’d been consulting to small businesses for about 6 years at the time, and was a die hard generalist. I happily sold my ignorance, and an important part of each client relationship was learning what their business was. As they taught it to me, from scratch, we always found ways to improve if not explode performance. My first MRI Client was Jim Dykeman, and he introduced me to the Vision 2001 Committee, of which he was a member. They were a type of steering committee, composed of 8 of the most successful and influential franchisees in the network. Of the 8 member on that committee, I ended up selling my services to 4. Those 4 clients—and they were pretty big names back then—provided me with entry to the rest of MRI. At the time, their were about 600 offices, and that was of course far more than I could ever possibly serve.
Through 1994, my client list of MRI shops grew to the point that, by the beginning of 1995 I had a decision to make. It was one of the toughest decisions I’ve ever made, too. I realized that I could build a practice and a career serving nothing but MRI shops, but to do so, I’d have to give up my beloved status as a die-hard generalist. In order to process what I’d learned, I wrote my first article, The Consulting Recruiter. It’s gone through four major revisions since then, and sits in its fifth edition, now. Back in January of 1995 when I wrote it, though, it was only four pages. Are you familiar with the word “utopia?” It just means a perfect situation. When Einstein would picture himself on a train traveling at the speed of light, this was a type of physics based utopia. No, I didn’t change subjects on you there, even if it feels like I did. My article was just such a thing. I pictured the perfect recruiter, serving the perfect company. The word for that is utopia. Or, what we can say is that my article was a utopian analysis.
But, more pragmatically what I can share is that, from my analysis, a new dream emerged. On the basis of that dream, the decision wasn’t easy, but it was clear. I discovered the strange belief that recruiting is actually the most important industry, and that the art of recruiting is the most important practice needed by the entire business world. I’ll come back to that in a moment.
Moving forward, in the years of 95 – 97 or so, every time I could, I worked hard to sell my services to recruiting operations outside the MRI family, since I wanted to get a sense of the greater industry itself. Over those years and in a few instances since, I’ve had the pleasure of serving non-MRI shops and I always found something missing. There is actually a simple word for the missing element: community. There may be other excellent recruiter communities out there, and if so, I’m sure one day I’ll happily serve them. But, from 1993 until now, here in 2009, MRI shops have become the thing I specialize in serving. I am a third party, independent entity, and I was absolutely the first such entity to carve out a full time niche in serving the MRI family.
The other thing I have to share about the dream that arose in 1995 is this. I was 34 years old at the time, a few months away from turning 35. It was easy to look forward and picture another 30 years of work before I’d be 65, the magic age of purported retirement. No, I’ll likely never retire, but the 30 year stretch kind of jumped up at me. So, the question was, what if you end up specializing in serving MRI shops, and you spend the next 30 years doing that and nothing else? It was a daunting question. To be frank, if it had just been MRI, I doubt I’d have answered positively. But, what I saw was that, to my eye at the time, MRI represented more than just a company or even a community of franchisees. It represented recruiting done right.
What I pictured was that, as good as the MRI world was, there was a long way to go before it rose to the level of power and service I dreamed it might attain. Beyond that, what about all the customers? That is, what about the companies in the greater economy who engaged the services of recruiters? My vision was anchored there, too. What I saw was that for all the value they wisely purchased, there were extraordinary values not yet built that we might, over the coming thirty years, create.
That excited me. It still does.
When I think of MRI shops, of recruiters and recruiting as an art form, I see an unlimited future. I see a process whereby, one by one, as each recruiter rises to the best of his potential, there is a greater impact on the world at large to the point of a wonderful transformation.
When I look at that possibility, then I can easily justify a 30-year plus commitment.
I’m proud to share that the same vision that propelled me then propels me today.
In the years that followed, I kept fairly good track of the number of MRI shops I served, until I hit around 250. At that point, I simply lost track.
Along the way, there were moves my family needed to make, from California to Boston, from Boston to Cancun, Mexico, and then back to the United States, here to the wonderful State of Maryland. There were also many ideas and structures, tools and innovations that I invested into along the way, and of those, there’s one that has to be mentioned, my beloved Lock-On Report™. What a story it has! I do believe that the Lock-On Report™ remains the absolute crème de la crème of instruments for setting and tracking performance goals, while exploding learning and the resulting performance therefrom.
When I introduced it, back in 1996, there was no other third party instrument for such data. In fact, I can claim to actually have invented the idea of that type of service. But, if you get me going about the numbers, that will take over the entire story, and that won’t be a pretty picture. So, the single most important outcome of the creation of the Lock-On Report™ to share here is that, after many starts and stops and stumbles and frustrations, I was finally wise enough to rope my genius son, Nicholas, into taking over the technology challenges in converting a basic idea into a full-fledged service.
I’d created the report with pencil, paper and calculator, and then implemented it with faxed copies at first. Rapidly, my clients, who were of course far more computer literate than me, ported the report format over to their own spread sheets. I was very happy about that, at first, but soon discovered that not one of them could build the report to my satisfaction. Nico will tell you that I’ll never really be satisfied, and he’s right. But, there are certain levels of required functionality, and not a single client-generated report ever satisfied me that way. Well, there were three that came the closest, and those were Mark and Anita Rednick’s, Ron Reeves’ and Don Ancona’s internally generated Lock-On Reports™. But, for all their wonderful efforts, even those best of the best were far from what I pictured.
Thus, enter Nico. I won’t turn this into Nico’s or even Pat & Nico’s story…so, I’ll just say this. No father could be luckier than me. Nico, these years later, has made the Lock-On Report™ an absolutely seamless experience for me. I just get to be an overjoyed user. He takes care of everything. If you think about that, it’s pretty amazing. How lucky can a guy be? But, on top of that, Nico has built his own consulting platform and is now bringing our business fully into the 21st Century. We’ll both tell you more about our vision for the future here, as we go, but I’ll get back to my story, here…
Actually, there’s only one more thing to share for the moment. I obviously don’t know what was in the mind or heart of the 29 people who filled out numbers on me in their 2009 vendor survey. But, I can tell you what has always been in my mind and heart, with each and every person I’ve encountered on this journey. First, if we speak at all, you have my promise that I’ll never assume that we’ll ever speak again. What I mean is this. With each prospect that I meet, I approach the conversation as if the only thing we’ll ever do, has to get done right then. What if we never do actually speak again? If that’s the case, then we have this one moment of time in which to do…to do what? In which to do something that will help move you forward. I take every single phone conversation or e-mail for that matter, with that seriousness—at least to the best of my ability.
Last, if I should be so fortunate and honored as to have the chance to serve you formally, there is a motto I can share that will guide my best efforts. You have a path. When you’re on your path, things go well. When you’re off your path, they don’t go so well. No, I can’t prove this, but it is my belief. So, if we do ever work together you can know in advance that in every session and all our work, I’ll be searching to find your path and help you walk it more powerfully. My motto is simple. It is just this:
One Person, One Path
If I deserve the award I just won, and I believe I do, then my story is that I deserved it by learning a bit better each day how to serve you in walking your path. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.