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Career Advice, Life Lessons
James philip business insights career advice performance management I caught part of the radio piece on 97.1 today (Detroit) and had to do a little digging on Wilton Speight leaving U of M. On the radio they made it sound like Speight thought he owned the spot. I only did a quick search and here is what MLIVE had as a quote “”Then the first spring practice happened, and I was sharing reps with the other quarterbacks,” Speight said. “It was another quarterback competition, all over again. “ Regardless of why he is leaving, it hit home with me as it’s something I tell people all the time. “You’re only as good as your last performance” And if you’re last performance wasn’t so good, well……….. And if your last performance wasn’t good and your pedigree isn’t good, well….. And while he got injured, the idea remains the same that you’re going to have to re-earn your spot every season. That is if, you even get a chance. Nothing is owed to you. And if your performance history is bad, you’re not even going to get a chance to earn it so think twice about your actions now as they will have consequences later. This happens in sports all the time. Someone had a big year last year and expects more money or whatever the following season. But the problem is, no one really knows what you’re going to do next season until it happens. We see this in sales all the time. Someone crushes it the year before and they are sticking their hand out for more money. But can you do that back to back? What you find out in sales is, most cannot string together winning years, year after winning year. Now there are a few great sales killers out there that do it, most don’t. In fact, the average of sales people may have 1 good year for every 3-4. This goes the same way for careers in general. If your last performance was poor, especially at your last job and your interviewing for a new one, you will be judged for that. What you did 5-10 years ago, no one cares about anymore. What you did last year may not even matter. It is about what you can do now. And if you cannot do jack shit now, then you are SOL….

Before LinkedIn gets bombarded with motivational quotes pasted on top of Jordan Belfort scenes from the Wolf of Wall Street, I wanted to post something up that is a little different to kick off 2017. This started off as a tweet one day that turned into a couple sentences in which I broke down into what you see now (posted up a clip of it in the past.) Not a literary masterpiece nor poetic in any sense but if you are on the grind, trying to build a career, launching or growing a business, finishing a degree or anything in-between where you know you have a long road ahead to reach your goals, this is for you.

Entrepreneurs Anthem 

Not looking forward to Fridays Never going to hate Mondays Weekends are just another day Staying up late AND rising early Always on that steady grind The animal ambition others decry A true hustler in everyone’s eye Will always argue it CAN be done Against all odds never quitting Quantity and quality together By delicate brute force or nothing Doing it when others won’t Creating our own luck Until a miracle appears Our own self-made rollercoaster The highest highs The lowest lows No day ever the same Wouldn’t have it any other way Silence dampens our souls Chaos is our drug of choice The next big idea is our “fix” Even with people’s doubts abound Supreme belief in thyself Until you prove everyone wrong Then it’s on to the next one

Last week, Xuan Liu reached out to me for insights into landing an internship in the private equity or venture capital world. As someone that hires a lot of new grads for several different companies, I always reinforce how important internships are. They can really help you land that first gig right after graduation. As you can imagine, every MBA or like is seeking these type of internships along with other places like Goldman, other top investment banks and the management consulting companies. Just keep in mind you’re facing infinite competition. With that being said here are some tips that may work in the PE \ VC world along with the investment banks, consulting and other large corporations. 1.    Get a well written, compelling pitch letter together. These people are busy so it should be short, to the point yet articulate. Great communication isn’t about how long you can write about something, it is about how short you can write it while getting the message delivered. Focus on what skills make you unique, what skills you have that are relevant to their core focus, how great of a quant you are and even list out some qualitative abilities since some deals end up more about feel than numbers. (but yeah its often about the numbers) 2.    Be prepared to work for free. You’re a quant right? We can argue about how you should be paid blah blah, but the ROI of having that PE or VC on your resume will be far greater than whatever pay you missed out on. If you’re coming out of a top 25 MBA program, with a solid undergrad and GPA you may not have to think about this as your chances of a paid gig is high. But not everyone gets that shot. 3.    Depending on your college, be prepared to relocate for the summer. While you will find some epicenters and clusters of firms, if you’re going to school in the middle of nowhere, you probably don’t have 10 VC’s down the street from you to apply to. And if you have 1 or 2 and plan to bank on those, don’t. 4.    Learn how to use LinkedIn well for your research. Connect so you can contact later, don’t contact someone 2 seconds after they connect. Also learn how to find email addresses or email address schemes. (this is not hard to do) 5.    Create of a list of all friends and family that may give you a warm lead or put in a good word for you somewhere, start here. 6.    Make a list of alum from your school who are in the PE \ VC world. This should be step 2, lean on those that fly the same flag, this can go a long way. (I know one CEO that hired 90% of his people from his alma mater) 7.    Do DEEP research all across the country and find every PE and VC firm that makes sense for you to do work at. Don’t be afraid to contact the super small firms, they don’t see as many applicants but could use the summer help more than many of the large firms. You’re going to have to send out a ton of messages, this is a contact sport, the more you contract with a targeted pitch, the better your odds are. Also don’t be afraid to pickup the phone and follow up with a select few. 8.    Apply to online postings, but like anything posted online, its going to get pounded with resumes. 9.    Don’t be afraid to snail mail a resume or a hand written follow up. Some of our biggest sales came from hand written notes. Put in the hard work, do things that others won’t and you may gain a slight edge. But don’t be crazy or a stalker, relentless persistence won’t get you far here. 10. Reaching out on other social networks is fine, such as Twitter. Again, don’t be a stalker. 11. Search for news about new funds, acquisitions etc and sneak that into your pitch or cover letter. This may give you a slight edge as it shows that are you a decent cybersleuth, that did the research about their firm and took the time to integrate it into the letter. Top firms naturally want the best and brightest, but they also want the highly motivated and ambitious that are great with attention to detail. Lastly, search for internships outside of PE and VC. In the event you can’t pull it off, I would rather see you land an internship at Boeing than to not have anything at all on your resume. So shoot for your goal but have a backup plan to.

I caught the trend but it really took a while for it to set in and make a lot of sense. The trend wasn’t limited to those on work visas or immigrants, it included many US Citizens as well. It was a class of nomadic people that would pick up and move wherever there was good employment. Sometimes any employment. One trend I noticed was the rural areas or metro areas that lacked a certain talent base to sustain the areas of growth often had a large transient workforce. Companies in areas without the talent base were more willing to pay to relocate people or pay for sponsorships. Those without ties to a certain area, such as family or friends, are more likely to pack up and move (regardless of citizenship status.) Those that are deep rooted will give it consideration, but unless they must, they don’t relocate. So those on visas, those on the path to citizenship, and US Citizens without many ties to an area do have an advantage in the employment market. That is where I found 3 hacks for those seeking sponsorship if they are willing to become nomads: 1.       Apply to large companies that need your background. Large enough that the fees to sponsor you don’t matter to them and then go wherever they need you to. 2.       Apply to rural area companies or companies in less desirable areas that really need your background but cannot find it locally or have trouble getting people to relocate. 3.       Try Canada with the long-term plan of getting a TN visa. I recall a conversation recently where we were talking about some of Canada’s growth rates and it was attributed partly to a fluid immigration policy. Small companies in large metro areas that have access to endless talent will be less likely to spend the money on sponsorship, which is very costly. Even large companies in large metros may not have to if the local talent pool fits their needs. You will have to accept that if you’re not in high demand such as an expertise in something in technology, engineering, medicine, etc., you may have to move to land a gig or won’t land a sponsorship at all. If you do get a gig and move, then you may have to move again and again. I have seen people bounce from the east coast, to the west coast, to the southeast, back to the west coast, then the Midwest. They wanted to work and stay in America so they did what they had to. The biggest issue is supply and demand, if your degree and background is not in demand, it will be very tough so you will have to dig deep and research companies all over the country that would value your experience. Getting what you want in life is never easy. And moving to non-desirable areas isn’t exactly…. desirable. But you have to do what is necessary to reach your goals, especially when most of the things affecting your life in this instance are out of your control.

When 2 parties with only self-interest in mind collide, you can end up with something similar to a head-on car crash. Recruiters and candidates need to stop bitching about each other, you both share an equal amount of blame for the failures in the job search process. This site has turned into a cesspool of bitching and complaining and you’re both at fault. It’s turning into some of the news sites where the comment section was just brutal, to the point where they removed the comment section because there was no value. I am not saying any or all of these complaints are valid or not valid, they are just common complaints. Candidates complain that recruiters:
  • Won’t give them feedback
  • Will pressure them to relocate when they don’t want to
  • Ask them to make a long commute
  • Won’t return their phone calls or emails
  • Won’t tell them the company name or location
  • Will ask them to take a pay cut
  • Call them for positions their not qualified for or that are way below them
  • Won’t or can’t give feedback from the company after an interview
Recruiters complain that candidates:
  • No show for interviews making them look bad or cost them clients
  • Lie about their education or job history
  • Misrepresent or withhold salary info
  • Tell the recruiter one thing then tell the hiring manager another
  • Go on interviews only to get a job offer so they can get a counter offer from their current employer.
  • Take weeks to return a call to do an interview
  • Go dark when an offer is presented as the candidate is leveraging someone else
All of the things above won’t change anytime soon. Do you both realize you’re doing grimy things to each other? One side is no better or worse than the other so lets call it even.


Candidates, my best advice: Stop waiting for the phone to ring and stop chasing jobs and companies that don’t want you. If a company wants to hire you, they will, it’s that simple, you cannot follow up and magically force them to hire you. Ever date? How many times have you been ghosted? You keep texting and chasing someone that has no interest in you. They should create a job market version of “He Just Isn’t That In To You” because that is real life. Keep networking, applying and interviewing until you land the job you want. Even if you get a hint that a job is coming, keep searching!!!! Don’t stop applying and interviewing until you get what you want. Recruiters, my best advice: Stop thinking you have control over someone else’s life, you are a headhunter. You hunt heads and bring them to your clients, it is that simple! Candidates WILL and SHOULD always do what is best for them and their families, even if you feel they went about it wrong, you cannot fault them for taking care of themselves and their families. KEEP firing away with the best damn candidates you have until you have a finalist, a #2 and #3 in waiting and don’t stop until the deal is done. This is a mistake so many recruiters make, you’re banking on one candidate and when they back out, you get pissed. You should only get pissed at yourself for not having more candidates in the pipeline. Lets forget the negativity. Candidates, if a company doesn’t hire you, move on, there are so many other positive things for you to focus on in your life, don’t dwell. Recruiters, likewise, just move the hell on and work hard to make your clients happy. Both of you, don’t burn bridges man, the world is shrinking, everyone knows everyone in one way or another and it is completely unnecessary to boot. Find a way to for both of you to get what you want, our job markets are very fluid, it is possible for both parties to win.