Copyright © 2020 by Jerry Phillips
All rights reserved.
Printed in the United States of America.
No part of this publication may be reproduced or distributed in any form or by any means without the prior permission of the publisher. Requests for permission should be directed to, or mailed to Permissions, Indie Books International, 2424 Vista Way, Suite 316, Oceanside, CA 92054.
This is a work of fiction, an approach the author is using to impart business lessons. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner (with the exception of cited books and articles). Any other resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
The views and opinions in this book are those of the author at the time of writing this book, and do not reflect the opinions of Indie Books International or its editors.
Neither the publisher nor the author is engaged in rendering legal, tax or other professional services through this book. The information is for business education purposes only. If expert assistance is required, the services of appropriate professionals should be sought. The publisher and the author shall have neither liability nor responsibility to any person or entity with respect to any loss or damage caused directly or indirectly by the information in this publication.
ISBN-13: 978-1-947480-95-7
eISBN: 978-1-9474809-6-4
Library of Congress Control Number: 2020900166
Designed by Joni McPherson,
1 Ninety Days, Or Else
2 Freeze, Flight, Or Fight
3 Roll Up The Sleeves!
4 The Always-Be-Looking-For-Stars Process
5 Process Discipline Yields Success
6 Keep The Rock Stars Happy
A Interview Process Suggestions For A Short Timeframe
B Process Suggestion For Defining Skills And Values
C Build Behavioral Interview Questions
D About The Author
E Acknowledgments
This book is a fable to illustrate the need to always be looking for rock stars and have a process to attract and hire the right people for the role.
A little history for context: When I helped launch the DeWalt brand of power tools at Black and Decker, our fear wasn’t whether we would grow the business. The fear was could we maximize the growth. Our challenge was not just taking share in the market we targeted, but having enough quality people to support the growth. We developed a recruiting process that produced a stellar team of sellers and marketers. Our growth was legendary.
As I worked with other companies, I found the process for finding talent to be hit or miss. The process was random, based on who was doing the hiring. Interviewing was haphazard as well. When I started working with clients on the development of their sales and marketing teams, I found the same challenges.
People are the lifeblood of a company. Without a clear process for recruiting, interviewing, hiring, and development of the team, finding the right talent is difficult and limiting your growth potential. We have worked with clients to develop a rigorous, disciplined process to hire and develop the needed rock star talent. My hope is this fable will help you find your rock stars.
Jerry Phillips
September 2019
Austin, Texas
I’m so disappointed in you, Vincent. When I put you in charge as the CEO, I expected better of you.”
Nobody wants to hear that type of criticism. Especially coming from Donna, the chairman of the board.
Vincent was no exception. He was widely recognized in the industry as a terrific strategist who was outstanding at execution. His secret was the development of his people.
But Donna was criticizing him for an undeserved misfortune. Over the past sixty days other companies had swooped in and taken the top three leaders from his team. All three had taken CEO roles, as a testament to Vincent’s ability to develop his team.
However, Donna, the chairman of the board, saw it differently. She saw it as a threat to her personally, and to the income she was drawing off the company her father had founded. She saw Vincent as a threat, and also saw an opportunity.
The Power Play
Smyth Tools was an old-line manufacturing company that built parts for some of the biggest names in construction equipment. Donna’s father, David, founded the company in the late 1960s and grew it from a small machine shop into a modern, automated facility that produced parts that were used on every major construction project in the world.
After fifty years of heading the company, David chose his oldest daughter to become the chairman.
Donna had little to do with the business, other than attending board meetings, but she was tough, and her father thought that was what the business needed now that he was stepping down. Donna saw it as a mandate. She was, by nature, a skeptic and acted in a narcissistic way. She trusted few people, and heartily enjoyed holding Vincent’s “feet to the fire” on a multitude of things she saw as issues. If he was uncomfortable, she felt he would be more engaged in making money for the company. Making money for the company really meant making money for her. Donna had a very lavish lifestyle, and any threat to the income stream was a personal attack on her and her need for control.
Humble Roots
Vincent knew this when he agreed to take the CEO role, but he was an optimist by nature. He was certain he could lead the company and shield it from Donna’s lack of leadership skills. He grew up “blue collar” in a large Italian family in a diverse working-class neighborhood in South Chicago. His father worked two jobs so his mother could stay home and raise the kids. Vincent knew the value of working hard and working smart. He was an above-average student in high school, and an outstanding wrestler that earned a scholarship to attend the University of Illinois where he majored in Industrial Engineering. In college he excelled both academically and as an athlete, earning dean’s list recognition each semester, and earning all Big 10 honors after a dominating four years of wrestling. The only thing that kept him from becoming an Olympic wrestler was a shoulder injury suffered in a scuffle at a bar, during a team celebration after winning the Big 10 title. While he was initially devastated by the injury and his lack of judgment, he learned from the experience and moved on.
After graduation, Vincent began his career, working in a management training program for a large manufacturing company that ironically, is now a customer of Smyth Tools. He learned a great deal in the program. He learned all phases of manufacturing, but also was exposed to finance, sales, marketing, and operations beyond the manufacturing floor. He had an aptitude for leadership that saw him rise quickly through the program, and the company recognized it. They offered to pay for his MBA if he would make a three-year commitment to the company after he finished. He quickly agreed and entered the Kellogg MBA program at Northwestern University. Once he finished the program, he was armed with even more drive and ambition.
Vincent peaked in his role at the equipment manufacturer in another seven years, as a plant manager. The funnel narrowed as he grew into larger leadership roles and he was receiving weekly inquiries about his availability from multiple recruiters. He really wanted to continue to grow with the company and he was confident he could make a positive impact for more than the plant he was leading. He expressed his desire to become an operations leader across multiple facilities but was shut down by the VP of Operations. He was told he was too young and there were others with more seniority that would be ahead of him on the list. That day he took a call with the recruiter that was supporting a search for a VP of Operations at Smyth Tools.