I have had women tell me what to do for my entire life. In a way, this starts with my Mom.
My Mom is the toughest business person I know.
I was raised by a single mother who also decided to run a “staffing” company called HRU Technical Resources, the company I run now. My grandmother was my mother’s primary investor to get her off the ground.
My Mom is the toughest business person I know. She does man-business better than any man I’ve ever met. She doesn’t lean in, either. She pushes [!@#$] over. My mother doesn’t understand the idea that women make better leaders because they are more empathetic and understanding. She leads. She leads like Jack Welch leads.
Then I met my wife.
My wife is a Hall of Fame NCAA D1 athlete who beat me at racquetball the very first time she ever played the game. I was killing people at racquetball in college for months. I begged her to play me. She killed me three straight games. I left the court and tossed my racquet into a trash can. To this day, I have never played racquetball ever again.
I’ve been fortunate to have strong, powerful women in my life.
But having a strong wife and a mother who is like Jack Welch hasn’t been the easiest. Many women-owned businesses are also family businesses, and Harvard Business Review estimates that 70% of family-owned business fail or are sold by the second generation. My mother ran our staffing business very well for almost 30 years.
As the current leader, I carry pressure with me like a backpack every single day I walk into the office.
Staffing is a quirky business.
The basis of recruiting will never change.
- People like being pursued. People like to be wanted.
- When someone calls you (or sends you a smoke signal about a job), you want to hear about it.
In that way, staffing is a very simple business concept.
While Mom might not understand social recruiting, she always knew how to get someone interested in an opportunity. You have an opening. You need to go find someone to fill that opening. Simple and hard.
Staffing is no longer staffing
Staffing has developed into a formidable field of recruiters, talent acquisition professionals and talent advisors. How you sell to this industry has changed, too.
I remember the first time I ever truly impressed my Mom. I had an opportunity to speak about recruiting at the Michigan State Annual SHRM conference. My mother decided to come watch me speak, but she also told me it was a waste of time because I could have been on the phone making placements.
Mom didn’t pay to get into the conference, by the way. She just walked in, and no one questioned her. People don’t question someone who carries herself with authority.
It was a packed room, thankfully, and my mother sat in the back. I spoke to corporate HR folks about how they could be more effective talent advisors and spend less money on third-party recruiters. I gave them the plan to put us out of business, knowing how much corporate recruiters hate picking up the phone and doing actual recruiting.
It went great. I had a line of folks waiting to talk to me after and hand me their business cards!
My mother busted her butt her entire life to get in front of HR leaders. There were times when she begged for just a few minutes to talk about our company’s value proposition and why we could help. And there I was standing in front of a line of these same people as they jostled to meet me.
I could see that my mother was very impressed, although she never said it. I can also say that I’m the first man in my family to be worthy of leading a women-owned business.