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when you do it… everything gets easier

“We need to celebrate the candidate in the recruitment process”

After I circulated this article to the people working with me at zenPeak, it only took a few minutes for the excited comments to come back to me.

The zenPeak approach is to “Internalize Candidates”  It’s a fundamental part of our process and when you do it… everything gets easier.



2010 – a good year but sad too

In 2010 we were busy…

… with training new marketing and search associates, working on some great new job opportunities, working on the oppcourse to Get Working NOW!, planning the new “Marketing Services by zenPeak Recruiters”, plus plus plus!

Personally its been a very good year. The business is growing the way I want it to. I faced up to some challenges and made decisions that I am comfortable with.  I have added more staff and am still looking for a Search Associate, a Marketing Associate both well-paid part-time, work from home positions.

I’ve been learning like crazy this year both personally & professionally – and when you are well into your 50s I think this is a good thing. Finally I know this isn’t a good thing to share to job seekers, but I made a personal decision to never work for anyone else again in my life, and to turn down all offers outside my own business interests. I have a lot to accomplish and its all about the journey!

Sadly, one of my oldest friends, Jack Goldhar passed away suddenly at the end of October. He was single and had devoted 30 years of his life to caring for his severely ill Mom Helen (died 2 years ago), and in the past 2 years his Dad Sam (died in 2010) . Within 6 months of his Dad’s passing, Jack dropped dead. I always say “We like people for their qualities, but we love them for their quirks”  We loved Jack and yes, he was plenty quirky. I still can’t believe he is gone.

I made some new friends at the dog park this year… Wayne, Linda, Charlie, MaryAnn. They often get some of my fresh homemade munchies; bagels, blueberry buns or muffins, and they are usually very happy. My trip to the dog park is my daily midday break for an hour. Many Clients and Candidates have gotten use to hearing a bark in the background if they call me. I do business 24/7 so I always take calls 🙂

and…I’m looking forward to 2011! How about you?

4 Success Habits (Mr. Gray’s speech page 6 paraphrased)

I read this 9 page speech by Mr. Gray as part of Bob Proctor’s bonus materials on a success website. I don’t think the speech is well-written but the truth about achieving success is painfully clear. I am paraphrasing a small part of it, and invite you to email me for the full text.  As an added piece of inspiration, Tony Robbins audio clip about Sylvester Stallone and the making of Rocky is at the bottom.

If you are on a job hunt, or growing a business, I believe Mr. Gray provides great advice…

Reminder to Self:

4 Success Habits – (paraphrased from pg. 6 of Mr. Gray’s speech)


It’s easier to persuade someone to a particular course of action, than to find someone who already wants to do it. So if you lack contacts interested in what you do, then you have unconsciously formed the habit of limiting your contacts to people who already want what you offer. Contacting people who need what you offer, (regardless of their “wants”) is the path to success; and they may also be a source of referrals.

If you don’t call on people who are able to do what you want, but may be unwilling to listen, then you have unconsciously formed the habit of limiting yourself to calling on people who are willing to listen, but may be unable to do what you want. What’s the worst that can happen, and does that involve my pride and ego?

Successful people form the habit of calling on people determined to help them see why its in their best interest to take action. If you don’t do that when calling on people, then you have unconsciously formed the habit of calling on people when you are in a state of mind, willing to let them convince you of their reasons for not taking action.

Working habits according to Mr. Gray take care of themselves if the other 3 habits are looked after. I think they take work too as I can procrastinate with the best of them. Follow ups and persistence need work. I try and make a mental note of how you feel when you are working hard, and getting things done. I know I feel better.

Speaking of mental notes I find that making a mental note of how you feel the instant after hanging up from a telephone call is very helpful. People respond positively to talking with someone who knows their stuff and believes in what they do, even if they disagree or are not interested.

These are the success habits according to Mr. Gray, and they are driven by long term purpose in life.

To get Mr. Gray’s complete speech please email me. Click on the picture to hear Tony Robbins talk about Sylvester Stallone and Rocky.

Rocky with his dog
Rocky with his dog

$140 million gone in 60 minutes

On a February morning this year, MF Global detected an unauthorized open position in wheat futures, placed by one of its brokers, Evan Brent Dooley.  Within an hour the company crystallized a $140 million dollar loss. How they executed these liquidating trades was not elegant or savvy, which may have contributed to the loss. They were trying to cover as fast as possible, so as not to carry an open speculative position on the books – so any clumsiness is understandable.

One failure at MF Global was not having order entry systems to prevent the buildup of large unauthorized positions, by locking out the broker, or requiring approval by management.  What if the problem was fat fingers or a computer glitch, or even a stuck computer key on a keyboard?!

But just as importantly, in an industry where orders are given by voice, and even hand signal,  knowing WHO you empower in your company to transact those trades is paramount. In such a high risk and high-trust environment, like in a hospital surgical theater or in a nuclear missile silo, banks and brokerages need to have a complete toolkit to mitigate these catastrophic risks.

The solution is a combination of internal watchdog systems that use trading patterns, fuzzy logic and neural networks to instantly detect problems in real-time, along with a program of independent testing and assessment to evaluate whether or not the firm’s current or prospective employees, are potentially the next front-page news rogue trader.

I was an employee at MF Global at the time of this incident, and could chronicle the significant damage this event, and the operational reaction, did to the company’s brokers ability to carry on normal business. I won’t get into it because my interest is not in the blame game. My interest is in testing and assessing people to ensure peak work performance in high-risk and high-trust jobs.

Are we at a market bottom? 4 ways to tell.

At a market top what do you see?

Everyone is an expert; they arrive at their broker with shopping bags full of cash to put into stocks because “the market is going up” and they don’t want to miss out. Or they heard a tip on a company. Or they heard about a new IPO. Forget valuations… “it’s different this time”.

They abandon their regular occupations and interests,  and become full-time traders or investors. Whether it is 1927 or 2007, no difference.

Silly behavior permeates up as well. Trading desks, “hedge” funds, seek out new angles and products that extend the momentum, or offer a quick hit on riches. Some do make out like bandits but the higher you are, the harder the fall. THESE ARE PEOPLE IN HIGH-RISK AND HIGH-TRUST POSITIONS. Some will usually go to jail when the party ends.

The 2008 collapse has been brutal and frightening and costly. Usually bear markets are quick and painful, but this is more. Too many failed banks, brokerages and insurance companies. Not just earnings hits, but failures. Also have you noticed that people who were infallible don’t know what to do? George Bush doesn’t know, Alan Greenspan or Ben Bernanke don’t know, Henry Paulson doesn’t know, Congress doesn’t know. Not exactly a confidence builder.

We are looking at a structural reset, and that takes longer. The capital markets environment needs time to shake out every last ounce of irrational exuberance, over-confidence and amateur participant. But beyond that, time is needed to remove uncertainty and allow planning and confidence in predictable business performance; specifically predictable earnings. Market participants need to reform and rebuild.

Time is needed to look around the rooms at banks or brokerages or insurance companies and know whether the men or women will protect your company or put it at risk.

so, Are we at a market bottom?

I doubt it. Here’s why?

(1) You can try and gauge when the moment is, that investors can buy a share with confidence in future earnings.  Look for new measures of earnings predictability to be talked about. The markets need confidence in earnings projections. – not there yet.

(2) You you can also look at the folks with the shopping bags. They are not the smart money. Until they curse the words “stocks” and mutual funds and are determined to only buy a bank deposit in the future.  Look for online trading companies to shut down – not there yet.

(3) Until the terminology and marketing of equities takes on a new form we won’t be there because nobody believes the “feel good”, “we’re smart”, “trust us”  blather in advertising. Look for personality-based companies and promotions. Would I trust Jim Cramer more than an actor in good wardrobe? – hell yes. Would I trust CEOs of companies that emerge from this mess unscathed? – oh ya.  – not there yet.

(4) Finally banks, brokers and insurance companies, in fact every co. in the financial services business needs to clean house, and describe how they are doing it, and make a policy of it. They need to assess and test every person in a HIGH-RISK AND HIGH-TRUST role, and make sure they are occupationally and psychologically suited to their job.

Opportunity is Knocking!

I was listening to the all-night radio show “Coast to Coast” last night and they were talking about you know what… the terrible economy.

The guest talked about one result of GM/Ford/Chrysler failures, would be a shortage of the cars, bringing about higher prices and no buying incentives. Supply and Demand.

For a person starting a new business this could be a time of opportunity. As stores and offices close up, the supply of goods and services shrinks. If your goods and services are what people want, there will be demand, and you will be surrounded by dropping supply.  Entrenched businesses will be in survival mode, service will likely slip, and they will lose customers.

If your dream is to open a store, or if you need an office… your rent costs will shrunk because of too much supply.  Now, you can probably go month to month as a start, or sign a more advantageous lease from a desperate landlord.

If you need to hire staff or seek out a partner, the best people will be more receptive  and will likely work for less $. This gives you an opportunity you didn’t have a year ago.

Is it a great time for wage earners and job security?… no.  But is this a new trend?… no.

There is a saying in the brokerage business that the best time to start is in a bad market. Brokers stop calling their clients, and clients are ready to switch if you have a sound investment idea. In a rising market everyone is a genius and people don’t switch. A great investment idea now is a safe deposit with federal government FDIC guarantees. Tomorrow it might be a stock that is emerging from the recession with growing revenues and earnings.

I think the same applies to many businesses as these tumultuous times shake up traditional behaviors, and loosen up relationships, so customers will give the feisty upstart a chance!

Today, I am excited about the future of Canada and the United States.