Craig DeMarco Podcast – Founding Partner of Upward Projects

craig demarco

Today we’re interviewing Craig DeMarco, one of the founding partners of Upward Projects, which is better known for its family of restaurants including Postino Wine Cafe, Joyride Taco House, Windsor, Churn, and Federal Pizza. In this spirited discussion, Craig shares stories related to:

  • Lessons learned watching his entrepreneurial father
  • The power of venturing off the beaten path, when visiting new places
  • The underrated quality of having a beginner’s mindset
  • Challenges of growing a neighborhood-focused business and the creativity that comes from hard times
  • The amazing power of True Hospitality
  • Why having a purpose beyond profit leads to more profit
  • And, some other odds and ends that involve a VW Rabbit, and Alpine Stereo, skateboarding, and a Playboy wall installation

If you live in the Phoenix area, you’ll love this episode. If you don’t live in the Phoenix area, you’ll want to listen in so you know where to eat the next time you visit the Valley of the Sun. And, if you have no plans to be in Phoenix any time soon, well, this episode is a great example of an inspired leader who wakes up every day with one purpose in mind – to raise vibrations. Enjoy this episode with Craig DeMarco.

Show Highlights

  • 2:00 – Craig’s eclectic history — through family moves, childhood stories, entrepreneurial household
  • 4:03 – Valuable influences from his youth
  • 6:37 – Working for someone else versus working for yourself
  • 8:41 – Stinkweeds Records: the first album he purchased
  • 9:40 – Prioritizing visits to non-touristy areas when traveling with his wife
  • 12:03 – Returning from Italy to face a major neighborhood opposition to a restaurant use permit in Phoenix
  • 16:20 – From naysayers to Postino enthusiasts
  • 17:24 – Purpose: “to create spaces and experiences where people can connect”
  • 20:17 – Aiming for a mission over money
  • 21:00 – Failure rate among entrepreneurial ventures in the restaurant industry; prioritizing historically relevant buildings for these restaurants
  • 24:45 – Creating a neighborhood around Central Ave. in Phoenix, complete with bike paths, etc.
  • 27:50 – Opening Postino at Kierland Commons, as it didn’t fit into the classic strategy for location
  • 30:35 – The power of hospitality (such as serving families with young kids,
  • 34:56 – One anecdote of a hardworking server at the Windsor restaurant in Phoenix
  • 37:00 – Prioritizing employees before restaurant guests and seeking authenticity in new hires
  • 39:04 – Having three other company partners: his wife, and another husband-and-wife team
  • 40:55 – The #1 book Craig DeMarco re-reads and recommends
  • 41:29 – Discussing the pursuit of joy
  • 42:57 – The five core values of Upward Projects
  • 44:59 – Billy Joe Armstrong quote & challenging the status quo

Show Links

5 Restaurants To Add To Your Bucket List

Craig DeMarco Interview

Given the gift of hindsight, as you reflect on your dad and his entrepreneurial spirit, was there ever any emphasis that he stressed on the importance of working for yourself versus working for someone else? Or was this something you just naturally fell into?

It was really a life lesson my dad was drilling into me from an early start. He had many entrepreneurial adventures and was up and was down. But he always said, “You always want to control your destiny.” Working for yourself was a very important core value in our family. So I always knew someday I wanted to start my own company. I stumbled into the restaurant business because, when I was 15 years old, I had my first serious, heavy crush on this gal named Jamie Odell, and wanted to take her out, and realized that if I wanted to ask her on a date I needed a car.

Unfortunately, my parents didn’t have those kind of resources. Even if they did, I don’t know if they would have bought me one. So I rode my BMX bike down to a restaurant and got a job washing dishes, saved up $1200, spent $400 of it on a Volkswagen rabbit, put an $800 alpine stereo in it. It seems appropriate at the age, to have your stereo be more than twice the amount of your car. I’m off on a tangent here but I did end up taking her out on a date, on my 16th birthday, in my rabbit with my alpine stereo to see Modern English, the one hit wonder band that sang “I Melt With You.” So at least I could say I was successful in closing that deal with that first crush.

During the first few years of your marriage, you and your wife Chris traveled a lot. You guys really prioritized visiting the non-touristy, more local-type spots when visiting major destinations. Was that by design? Was there a specific experience that had led you to follow this ‘off the beaten path’ type of philosophy?

My wife injected me with the travel bug, wanderlust, and intellectual curiosity and discovery. She’s always been like that. When we were together traveling, she was always doing research even pre-Internet. She researched Zagat guides or whatever she could get her hands on, and found the coolest, newest, trendiest places to go and see. We love getting off the beaten path as well as having those discovery moments. My favorite story is how Postino came into existence.

For my 30th birthday, my wife and I decided we were going to go to Italy with my mom and dad to celebrate. We’d already been there and done most of the major cities and tourist attractions. So we decided we wanted to see how the locals lived and get lost on a crazy adventure.

Chris Bianco, from Pizzeria Bianco’s name, suggested we check out Luca, a city north of Florence. We found a farmhouse, rented it, flew over it. I rented an Alfa Romeo and drove around the North of Italy for a week or so getting lost in little towns and kind of just meandering around. That’s what led to the spark to do Postino. We had this amazing experience in these little towns where people had a local hangout where wine was accessible and not snobby and affordable. We came back to Arizona looking for that, and it didn’t exist — so we created it.  

Let’s transition. I wanna talk about the concept of hospitality, and I want to focus on Danny Meyer, whose famous book “Setting the Table” talks about the power of hospitality. He says hospitality exists when something happens for you and it is absent when something happens to you. I’d love to get your take on this philosophy of hospitality.

I ate at Union Square cafe in Manhattan last Tuesday, with my wife, my parents, and my kids, and Danny was in the restaurant. I’ve been a fan since day one, fortunate enough to meet him. So, here’s my take on hospitality, and this is what I tell a lot of the new leadership and it’s very simple. Take a circle and cut it into 3 equal pieces. You’ve got quality products, you’ve got technically-sound service, and you’ve got connections the guest. Start with the quality products — essentially manufacturing. We take raw materials, add some value to them, plate them, and sell them for a profit. We have total control over raw materials we’re using, and we don’t compromise on quality — so our team members have a high level of pride in what they’re serving and they care about it.

The second piece to this puzzle? Technically-sound service. Our training keeps getting better and better, giving you the skillset to do the job effectively. It’s kind of “hit the ball and run to first base.” Take the order correctly, enter it into the computer correctly, deliver it correctly, make sure the guest doesn’t feel like they’re in a business transaction. We have smooth, smooth service.

The third piece, the connection to the guests, is that it’s our obligation, responsibility, and pleasure to raise someone’s vibration. And I tell the team all the time when someone comes to visit us, we’re going to get them for 50-70 minutes at lunch, maybe 75-100 minutes at dinner time, and they’re coming in and life’s tough, they have a flat tire, their kid got bad grades, they’ve gotta get a root canal, who knows. Life’s just up and down, and it’s our job to take them from where they’re at and when they leave, be in a better place.

We need to raise their vibration in a positive way, and that also takes creating those moments and recognizing them and being special, making them feel important, finding ways to interject them with positive energy. And the staff always says to me, if we keep giving our positive energy away to all of the guests, aren’t we going to be depleted? And I say no, that’s really the most fun thing about this, the universe rewards you with more positive energy when you give it out, almost on like a ten X level. So, when someone visits us, yes — we’re going to provide you with great quality products, yes we’re going to give you smooth service, but more than that, we’re going to give you connections.

Thank You for 5 Years of Y Scouts!

thank you for 5 years of y scouts!

Several years ago, Nationwide Insurance ran a TV commercial campaign centered on the tagline, “Life comes at you fast.” When I stop to think about where the last 44 (soon to be 45) years of my life went, the meaning of that phrase hits home in a big way.

More recently, the past 5 years came and went like a Nolan Ryan fastball (sorry for the baseball reference — I don’t even follow the game). I remember sitting down with Max Hansen when we decided to start Y Scouts, and performing a series of Google searches for search strings like, “purpose-based executive search,” and “purpose-driven recruiting.” If you haven’t heard the story, the results of these searches led us nowhere. Nothing came up… zip, zilch, nada. Keep in mind, this was early 2012 — not that long ago, but then again, a lot has happened in the purpose/values/culture space since then.

We almost stopped before we even started. Boy, am I glad we didn’t.

So, here we are. It’s been 5 years since launching Y Scouts, and we can’t think of a more appropriate way to celebrate than saying, “Thank You.” Thank you to:

  • Our families and loved ones for encouraging us to stay the course and follow our dreams

  • Our clients for trusting us with finding the right leaders you need to continue your impact

  • The candidates and leaders we’ve had the pleasure of meeting and connecting with our clients

  • Our friends for supporting us in our journey

  • Our partners and network of providers who help us stay ahead of the curve

  • The movement of purpose-based leaders and organizations who believe Purpose Drives Profit

  • The naysayers and nonbelievers for challenging us

  • Our podcast guests for sharing your stories

  • Our advisory board for sharing your wisdom

  • Brett and the team at Markitors for your help in spreading the Y Scouts message

  • Our Y Scouts alumni for allowing us to be a stop along your career journey

And, a very special thank you to our Y Scouts Team for digging in everyday and helping us transform how people and organizations connect to work that matters.

Here’s to the next 5 years!

With gratitude,
Max & Brian

Katharine Halpin Podcast Interview – President & CEO of The Halpin Co.

katharine halpin

Today, I’m interviewing Katharine Halpin, President & CEO of The Halpin Co. Katharine grew up in the “mad men” era of Mississippi in the 1960s, assuming a great amount of leadership responsibility at a very young age through the oversight of her four siblings, as well as through her working hands-on with clients at her father’s small CPA firm. She carried the knowledge she gained when she “escaped” Mississippi to work with Touche Ross in Dallas, which is now part of Deloitte.

Katharine believes we’re born with innate and unique skillsets, and that leadership, creativity, and innovation are her personal strengths. She’s always been itching to channel them appropriately. This desire also led her to the significant work with which she’s currently engaged. Centered around the concept of organizational-wide alignment, Katharine wrote and published “Alignment for Success: Bringing Out the Best in Yourself, Your Teams and Your Company.”

In it, she offers advice about the importance of leadership and self-diligence. She also notes how these things contribute to successful and positive business results. She presents several helpful ideas about time-management and self-care. They both have had a profound effect on business and organizational efficiency. Currently, Katharine is overseeing The Halpin Co., where she focuses on dynamic team-building and cementing sustainable practices into businesses.

Listen to this episode and more interviews from the Built On Purpose Podcast at yscouts.com/podcast.

Top Resume Tips From HR Managers

resume tips from HR

Keeping a good resume can be both difficult and mundane, and like most things in your career, it requires regular maintenance and updating. If you feel like your resume needs some sprucing up, keep reading to learn about the five best resume tips from HR we have to offer, especially if you’re a professional searching for further or novel work in your particular field.

Top Resume Tips From HR Managers

Highlight Key/Buzz Words

Including important terms or common buzz words unique to your industry will help to distinguish your resume. Clearly highlight specific words and phrases, depending on the skills and experiences that are considered assets to your field. You can seamlessly integrate these words into all of your achievement bullets, so that employers can easily detect obvious and compelling evidence of your activities, expertise and value. Further, if you want to bolden these words, it definitely makes your resume more “skimmable” and draws positive attention to the right places.

Omit Surplus Words

While there are certain words you definitely want to incorporate into your resume, conversely, there are likely words and phrases you could do without as well. In the professional world, your resume is only supposed to be about one page. Regardless, you want to ensure your grammar, syntax, and word economy are concise and clean. If you need a second pair of eyes, grab a peer or family member with excellent writing skills and ask them to help you touch up and potentially condense the writing in your resume to keep it sharp.

Specify Your Skills

You likely know that any good resume includes a “skills” section. This encompasses basic office and professional skills you may have, for instance, Microsoft Office and foreign language proficiency. What skills do you have beyond that, and which ones are particularly relevant to HR? Human development, management, organizational behavior? Think about pertinent skills and experiences you have that you could add to your resume when it’s time to polish it up.

Keep It Short & Sweet

Again, your resume should only be one page. This means you only need to include what you deem the most relevant and valuable. Remind yourself that you’ll often hear “Walk me through your resume” in an interview. Save the lengthy explanations for the cover letters and interviews. Furthermore, make sure your resume is short, sweet, and to the point. Your resume should convey what you’ve done and what you’ve accomplished; the face-to-face meetings are the place to show how you think and the type of employee you’re likely to be.

Timeline

Time your resume appropriately depending on your most recent experience, both professionally and educationally. If you’re not a recent grad, it’s okay to move your education section to the bottom (as opposed to the top, where many people often format it to precede their work experience.) Make sure your timeline is accurate in terms of all the jobs you’ve worked at. Place the most recent ones at the top, and make sure your bullet points clearly convey, in an attractive way, the duties for which you were responsible at each role. This isn’t a groundbreaking tip. But shifting things around and making sure your timeline is clear and linear when it comes to resume editing is a great way to do some spring cleaning.

Resume upkeep isn’t fun, but there’s no reason it needs to be difficult or frustrating. Just keep these resume tips from HR handy when it’s time to give your resume some polishing, and you’ll be looking great!


Y Scouts, a leadership search firm, finds purpose-aligned and performance-proven leaders to help organizations achieve their missions faster. Ready to supercharge your leadership search and get the right person in your organization? Contact Y Scouts.

How To Choose From Multiple Job Offers

How To Choose From Multiple Job Offers

Having multiple companies interested in you and juggling job offers is certainly a good problem to have on your hands. Regardless, it’s difficult to choose between several attractive job offers, and you’ve likely got a lot of options to weigh. Give yourself a pat on the back for all the hard work you’ve demonstrated that has landed you in this situation, and check out the list below to gain some helpful tips about how to choose from multiple job offers.

How To Choose From Multiple Job Offers

Benefits

You may be tempted to choose a job based on the salary or hour pay it provides. This is common. While pay is definitely a factor to consider, your salary has the potential to adjust. If you show up to your job with a positive attitude, dedicated work ethic, and continually perform strongly, your salary will adjust accordingly. Your salary can be upwardly altered by raises and bonuses, while benefits are unlikely to adjust. Try assessing the benefits of your job offers, based on insurance, retirement plans, and vacation time or paid leave.

Culture

You may think assessing a company and choosing a job solely based on the company culture seems silly or unimportant. However, you should keep it in mind while deciding. Did you like and gel with the people who interviewed you, or the other employees you met? Do you know what kinds of events the company puts on for its employees? More importantly, how does the company largely treat their employees? You’re not going to love your job one hundred percent of the time, even if it is your dream job, so being surrounded by a positive culture, friendly office environment and good, like-minded people will end up mattering more to you than you initially may think.

Skills and Advancements

No matter what kind of job you ultimately accept, there is always room for improvement, learning, and growth. Think about the position where you can see yourself most highly refining your skills, as well as the position you feel like may facilitate upward movement within the company. Is one job going to teach you more things, challenge you more, and shape you more than another? Does one job look more promising in terms of linear movements and potential future promotions?

It will require a lot of thought, time, and research about your offers to weigh skills and advancements as reasons to select a job, but they are important things to consider. However, you’ll likely thank yourself later on for considering these things upfront and going in with a solid idea of what to expect. Your decision should largely rest on what you think will benefit your career and professional life the most long-term.

Priorities

You can make countless pro and con lists, ask friends and family which offer they would accept, and even scour this list of tips, along with many others that are likely similar. But the most important thing to identify that should overwhelmingly aid your decision is to identify your priorities. What’s most important to you personally? Whether work-life balance, location, salary, benefits, or any other factor, once you nail down your priorities, you’ll clearly see which job proves the best fit for you.

Hopefully, these tips helped you focus your line of thinking to narrow down and weigh your options. Best of luck when you’re considering how to choose from multiple job offers. Remind yourself that you deserve to be in this admittedly difficult position. Be proud of all your hard work.


Y Scouts, a leadership search firm, finds purpose-aligned and performance-proven leaders to help organizations achieve their missions faster. Ready to supercharge your leadership search and get the right person in your organization? Contact Y Scouts.

XY Theory of Motivation and Management

xy theory

Douglas McGregor, an American social psychologist, proposed his famous X-Y theory in his 1960 book “The Human Side Of Enterprise.” Theory X and Theory Y are still referred to commonly in the field of management and motivation, and while more recent studies have questioned the rigidity of the model, McGregor’s XY Theory remains a valid basic principle from which to develop positive management style and techniques. The XY Theory also remains central to organization design, and to improving organizational culture.

At Y Scouts, we find this especially interesting when examining how we connect people and companies to work that matters. Management can be done in several ways — but when done right, it moves the company forward.

The XY Theory proves a simple reminder of the natural rules for managing people, which (under the pressure of day-to-day business) may end up easily forgotten.

McGregor’s ideas suggest that there are two fundamental approaches to managing people. Many managers gravitate toward Theory X, and usually obtain poor results. Enlightened managers, on the other hand, use Theory Y, which produces better performance and results. Furthermore, it allows people to grow and develop.

Take a closer look at the XY Theory. Which type of manager are you — and which type of management do you prefer?

Theory X (‘Authoritarian Management’ Style)

  • The average person dislikes work and will avoid it in various ways.
  • Thus, most people must be forced with the threat of punishment to work toward organizational objectives.
  • The average person prefers to be directed, to avoid responsibility, is relatively unambitious, and wants security above all else.

Theory Y (‘Participative Management’ Style)

  • Effort in work is as natural as work and play.
  • People will apply self-control and self-direction in the pursuit of organizational objectives, without external control or the threat of punishment.
  • Commitment to objectives is a function of rewards associated with their achievement.
  • People usually accept and often seek responsibility.
  • The capacity to use a high degree of imagination, ingenuity and creativity in solving organizational problems is widely, not narrowly, distributed in the population.
  • In industry the intellectual potential of the average person is only partly utilized.

Characteristics of the X Theory Manager

Perhaps the most noticeable aspects of XY Theory present themselves in the behaviors of autocratic managers and organizations which use autocratic management styles.

What are the characteristics of a Theory X manager? Typically some, most or all of these:

  • results-driven and deadline-driven, to the exclusion of everything else
  • intolerant
  • issues deadlines and ultimatums
  • distant and detached
  • aloof and arrogant
  • elitist
  • short temper
  • shouts
  • issues instructions, directions, edicts
  • issues threats to make people follow instructions
  • demands, never asks
  • does not participate
  • does not team-build
  • unconcerned about staff welfare, or morale
  • proud, sometimes to the point of self-destruction
  • one-way communicator
  • poor listener
  • fundamentally insecure and possibly neurotic
  • anti-social
  • vengeful and recriminatory
  • does not thank or praise
  • withholds rewards, and suppresses pay and remunerations levels
  • scrutinises expenditure to the point of false economy
  • seeks culprits for failures or shortfalls
  • seeks to apportion blame instead of focusing on learning from the experience and preventing recurrence
  • does not invite or welcome suggestions
  • takes criticism badly and likely to retaliate if from below or peer group
  • poor at proper delegating — but believes they delegate well
  • thinks giving orders is delegating
  • holds on to responsibility but shifts accountability to subordinates
  • relatively unconcerned with investing in anything to gain future improvements
  • unhappy

How to Manage Upwards: Managing Your X Theory Boss

Working for an X theory boss isn’t easy – some extreme X theory managers make extremely unpleasant ones, but there are ways of managing them upwards. Avoid confrontation (unless you genuinely feel bullied, which presents a different matter) and deliver results.

  • Theory X managers (or indeed theory Y managers displaying theory X behavior) primarily remain results-oriented. So orientate your your own discussions and dealings with them around results – i.e. what you can deliver and when.
  • Also, Theory X managers prove facts and figures oriented. So, cut out the incidentals, and measure and substantiate anything you say and do for them, especially reporting on results and activities.
  • Theory X managers generally don’t understand or have an interest in the human issues, so don’t try to appeal to their sense of humanity or morality. Set your own objectives to meet their organizational aims and agree these with the managers. Their traits include: self-starting, self-motivating, self-disciplined and well-organized. The more the X theory manager sees you are managing yourself and producing results, the less they’ll feel the need to do it for you.
  • Always deliver your commitments as well as promises. If you have an unrealistic task and/or deadline, state the reasons why it’s not realistic. But remain sure of your ground, don’t be negative; stay constructive as to how the overall aim can happen in a way that you know you can deliver.
  • Stand up for yourself, but constructively — so avoid confrontation. Never threaten or go over their heads if you feel dissatisfied. Otherwise, you’ll end up in trouble.
  • If an X theory boss tells you how to do things in ways that do not feel comfortable or right for you, then don’t question the process. Instead, simply confirm the required end-result, and check if you can do things more efficiently if the chance arises. They’ll normally agree to this, which effectively gives you control over the ‘how’, provided you deliver the ‘what’ and ‘when’.

The essence of managing upwards X theory managers? Focus and get agreement on the results as well as deadlines. If you consistently deliver, you’ll increasingly receive more leeway on how you go about the tasks, which amounts to more freedom. Many X theory managers end up forced into it by the short-term demands of the organization and their own superiors. An X theory manager usually categorizes someone with their own problems, so try not to give them any more.

Theory Z – William Ouchi

The Theory Z was developed by William Ouchi, a professor of management at UCLA, Los Angeles, and a board member of several large US organizations.

Theory Z is also often referred to as the ‘Japanese’ management style. Nevertheless, Theory Z essentially advocates a combination of all that’s best about theory Y and modern Japanese management, which places a large amount of freedom and trust with workers, and assumes that workers have a strong loyalty and interest in team-working and the organization.

Theory Z also places more reliance on the attitude and responsibilities of the workers, whereas Mcgregor’s XY theory mainly focuses on management and motivation from the manager’s and organization’s perspective. There is no doubt that Ouchi’s Theory Z model offers excellent ideas, albeit it lacking the simple elegance of Mcgregor’s model, which let’s face it, thousands of organizations and managers around the world have still yet to embrace. For this reason, Theory Z may for some be like trying to manage the kitchen at the Ritz before mastering the ability to cook a decent fried breakfast.


Y Scouts, a leadership search firm, finds purpose-aligned and performance-proven leaders to help organizations achieve their missions faster. Ready to supercharge your leadership search and get the right person in your organization? Contact Y Scouts.

Paul Spiegelman Podcast Interview – Chief Culture Officer at Stericycle

paul spiegelman

Today I am interviewing Paul Spiegelman, the chief culture officer for Stericycle, a globally traded public company with over 25,000 employees. Prior to that, he was the founder & CEO of BerylHealth, a company that won nine awards as a best place to work. Paul is a New York Times bestselling author of three books about culture and employee engagement, and he speaks often on the topic to convince other businesses about the power of values-driven leadership and the ROI of culture. He also acts as CEO of the Small Giants Community, a membership organization of small-business leaders who believe that as a business you don’t have to be big to have a big impact.

Paul says the relationship between culture and building a great business has become a passion for him, discussing his journey from leaving a career at a law firm to collaborate with his two brothers to create a revolutionary new company. He reflects on the values his parents instilled in him and his brothers, and how it renders them kind, caring people with good core values and a strong potential for leadership.

Paul genuinely believes culture lies in both the grassroots origins and the outreach strategies of the business. He also feels companies flourish by selling who they are, not what they do. This episode is full of endearing lessons about family, teamwork, and genuine leadership that everybody will appreciate. Enjoy this interview with Paul Spiegelman.

Show Highlights

  • 2:10 – Paul Spiegelman practiced law before moving into the call center space. How culture played into it
  • 7:38 – Family feelings on company culture
  • 10:06 – Story of a major, multimillion-dollar call center he was trying to win a contract for
  • 19:48 – Why it’s hard for seasoned leaders to express how much they care
  • 23:52 – Work/life balance vs. work/life integration
  • 27:50 – Acquisition of BerylHealth by Stericycle
  • 45:17 – Treating culture like a process, and being CEO of Small Giants Community
  • 49:05 – Time frame of Small Giants (three years)
  • 53:18 – Recruiting
  • 57:32 – Purpose, Appreciation & Learning pillars – focus on learning to make a transition into becoming more present with family, work, etc.

Show Links

Paul Spiegelman Podcast

You practiced law for a couple of years before starting BerylHealth, a call center focused in the healthcare space. I could probably arrive at the conclusion that you would never become such a culture champion. How did you truly become an ambassador for the positive effects of culture and what it’s done for the businesses you have been part of?

It’s safe to say that neither industry is probably known for really high cultural standards or internal engagement. The idea of culture and its relation to building a great business certainly became a passion of mine over the years. It’s something that grew over time and wasn’t necessarily by initial design. When I left the law practice to start my business with my two brothers, we did it because we knew we wanted to do something in business together at some point. It really wasn’t a call center business; it was a business to help people with medical conditions get help at home in the case of an emergency.

The “Help! I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” commercials — that wasn’t us, because we couldn’t afford to sell to the public, but the idea was the same. We could help people who had medical emergencies in their home, and we could send help out. We started in an 8×10 room, and we had a cot that one of us would sleep in because we were 24/7 day one. Then, we would put a receiving unit in their home that would dial our response center. We went out to start to sell those services to local hospitals so they could offer the service to patients leaving the hospital.

Actually, we didn’t know what a call center was; we were kind of a monitoring center. I would say that the whole cultural evolution began a couple years into the business, when we had 10 or 12 employees. Employees would comment, “This is a really fun place to work. We always do things together, socialize together, and you and your brothers seem to genuinely care about us as people.”

Then, we started to ask questions about where they used to work. The comments started to flow about how poorly they were treated. Our approach seemed unique. We didn’t know why — we can only conclude that our parents raised their boys to be good people and to have core values. My dad always said, “Always be nice, never burn a bridge, and treat people with respect.”

Not everyone acts that way in business. But we had something special — so we built on it. “We’re going to do more and more of this.”

Leadership is collaborative, team-focused and culture-focused.

Why do you think it’s so hard for some leaders — ones that have been around the block, who have some decent tenure under their belt — to express how much they care?

In my experience, it seems there are three different types of people. For the first type, it comes pretty naturally to them to care. It’s not something they have to fight to do or to express.

Then, you have the one who gets it, but they don’t know how to do this stuff. Teach me how to do it.

Then, the third doesn’t care at all. That’s been interesting for me — and I thought there was this third group. I sold my company to a large public company. For the last four years I’ve been the chief culture officer there. So, I’ve gotten to know many of these corporate executives who grew up in the “big company” world, and they were much more comfortable in the command-and-control-style of leadership. In many cases, I thought those people were jerks and didn’t care at all. When I got to know them, I found that they do indeed care and they have hearts — they just don’t know any different. Now, we’re challenging them by saying, “Did you realize there’s another way?”

Instead of just focusing on hitting the numbers, would you be open to the idea of focusing on your team? Then, you’d get this warm-and-fuzzy feeling about what it’s like to impact people’s lives. So, over the years, I’ve come to realize there are probably just the two camps.

Talk about the notion of work-life balance. Some of these leaders grew up in a time and place where this was a big emphasis. “I have to be a persona that fits my job title when I go to work, and then when I go home, I get to be husband, or father, or whatever my role is there.” There was a very clear line between my “work” self and my “rest of my life” self. Where do you fall on this notion of work-life balance?

I don’t think there’s any such thing. So I just call it “life.” Obviously, our smartphones keep us connected 24/7 to what’s going on with each other. I love that. Yes, we need an appropriate balance so that we pay attention (both to work and to our family). That’s why we use that message while building the culture in the company to say that we’re going to incorporate home and work together. Whether it be the quarterly newsletter that we would send to the homes of our employees with coloring books in the end for the kids to fill out. Or the Family Day, where we would bring in carnival rides to the parking lot and invite the families to come and participate. Or the annual contest for the T-shirt design that came from kids participating.

We’re there to not only be their work life, but also in many cases to be their social life, too. We’re in a call center with a lot of single moms, people making $29,000 or $30,000 a year living paycheck to paycheck. The least we can do is show that we care about them and also involve them and their families. Some of their best friends and relationships are with people at work — so let’s have Movie Night and get people together. We encourage people to socialize with each other.

The person who’s 100% focused on work, who comes home and perhaps doesn’t fully pay attention to what the kids are saying, and your spouse saying, “Snap out of it!” — that means I don’t have the correct balance.

With the acquisition of BerylHealth by Stericycle back in 2012, I imagine you had many thoughts racing through your mind. You’d been a part of BerylHealth, founding it, and running it for what would’ve been 30 years in 2015. What was going through your mind as the entrepreneur, as one of the founders, as the leader of the business being acquired?

Up until we sold, we never had any outside capital in the business. So I’m very proud of that, and I think it contributed to how we were able to build our culture. There came a time around 2009 when a few things were happening. One, the business had really grown and we saw a greater opportunity to accelerate our growth in healthcare. I had also diversified my own time; I had written a couple of books, I’d been doing some speaking, I had started some other organizations. So I saw some opportunity for me to do some other things.

We decided to raise some outside capital (hiring an investment banker, putting a book together, and it ended up getting a lot of attention at the time. It wasn’t a great time for deal-making, but we indeed got 20 bids on the company. We ultimately signed a letter of intent to sell the company to a private equity firm.

But the kind of questions you were just asking really hit me hard during the due-diligence phase. I started to question whether the culture of the organization could be sustained in a private equity-type environment. I also realized that if I was going to leave one legacy for myself, my family and the company, it was the survival of the culture we’d built. Or else, I’d be a hypocrite. Luckily at that time, we didn’t need that money to grow, but it was very opportunistic for us to go down that road. At the eleventh hour, with about two weeks to go, I walked away from the deal. While I can’t say that private equity is wrong, it’s really not compatible with the business we had built.

So, I went back to work and told everyone. The management team was mostly saying, now what do we do? How are we going to grow? I said we would build a new plan on our own. I started to rack up some debt, we maxed out our $5 million line of credit, I put money back into the company for the first time ever. We actually lowered our profitability by 50%. We needed to achieve a much more robust goal. But then, Stericycle approached me in November 2011. I’d never heard of this company. It turns out, they’re a waste disposal company in healthcare. Why would they be calling us?

I learned quickly that these big companies diversify, expand and get into new areas. A few years prior, they got into the patient communication business. My initial reaction was, Thanks but no thanks. I said from a valuation standpoint it wouldn’t even make sense, because we invested all this money. They kept at it. The initial offer was quite attractive — but we didn’t stop there; it took us almost a year to do it. I had several considerations — not just financial — because I didn’t want our culture swallowed up.

The turning point for me was meeting the CEO of Stericycle. He pulled me aside, and he said, “Paul, I’ve heard a lot about your company, your culture and what you’ve built. It sounds like you guys have a wonderful reputation. I don’t know if we can get a deal done with you guys, but I want to be honest with you: Our company has had tremendous financial success. We’ve been a Wall Street darling for years, very customer-focused. But we have never really looked at the employee as a key stakeholder in the business. As the new CEO, I want that to be my stamp on the business. I want to learn from you. Would you be open to me coming down to Texas see if I can learn what you’ve done?”

I said, “Of course! I’d be honored.” Two weeks later, he came down, we spent some time together, and I thought, this guy gets it. Once that started and I built other relationships in the business — those ensuing months — I thought, wow, our company culture would survive within this larger organization.”

For Paul Spiegelman and other podcast interviews from the Built On Purpose Podcast, please visit yscouts.com/podcast.


Y Scouts, a leadership search firm, finds purpose-aligned and performance-proven leaders to help organizations achieve their missions faster. Ready to supercharge your leadership search and get the right person in your organization? Contact Y Scouts.

Team Building Today

team building

Y Scouts Co-Founder & CEO Max Hansen was recently featured in the Arizona Journal of Real Estate & Business in an article about team building. What does it take to build a solid, successful, sustainable team in today’s world? Here, he answers that question — so enjoy his deep-diving insight on team building today.

Team Building Today

With baby boomers retiring and millennials entering the workforce, the concept of work constantly changes shape. Now, younger generations refuse to view work as an exchange of time for pay. And with research showing that by 2030 millennials will make up nearly 75 percent of the global workforce, it’s more important than ever to pay attention to the evolving concept of work.

Three events altered how people perceived being part of a team. Parents asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” With millennials, that question became, “What do you want to be a part of?”

9/11

The September 11 attacks signaled a wake-up call: our lives could be snuffed out at any moment. We spend three-quarters of our lives in the workplace — so building great teams in a positive environment rose in importance.

Crash of 2008

Many millennials watched their parents work tirelessly at jobs they didn’t enjoy just to bring money home — no matter how miserable work was. Fast-forward: in the 2015 Deloitte Millennial Survey, six in 10 respondents said “sense of purpose” is part of the reason they chose their current employer.

Evolution of Technology

Technology has also changed team building. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, millennials are 2.5 times more likely to be early adopters of technology than are older generations. Those in Generation Z are also adept researchers, based on the tools they’re exposed to. They know how to find information. Up to 30 percent watch lessons online, 20 percent read textbooks on tablets, and 32 percent work with classmates online. As technology changes, so does the idea of incorporating it into team building and fostering an innovative culture.

Building great teams is at the crux of today’s workforce. The end result of placing leaders into better cultures? More productive employees who feel like they provide value. Since the employment rate is so low, employment agencies are seeing executive-level leaders negotiate right when they walk in the door. These executives are focused on salaries at $300k and require to be channeled to understand the role, the impact and what the company does first. A perfect culture fit ceases negotiations. Choosing culture over cash has changed today’s concept of team building.

The low employment rate has also pushed companies and individuals to evaluate each other during the hiring process. Instead of opening the interview by discussing hard skills or role specifics, employers must ask about the candidate. Then, open up about the company and culture. What does everyone do outside the office? What team-building exercises does the company engage in? Today, these seemingly small factors help match a perfect fit for the purpose of culture.

Team building used to be done: post jobs and pray. But neither party ended up happy.

Candidates enter interviews wearing a mask. When asked more deep-diving questions, it proves you care about the candidate on a personal level. Jumping into hard skills — “Describe what you did at your last job” — never reveals the candidate’s authentic side. The mask remains, and the candidate won’t buy into your culture unless you start with personality and move on to purpose, values, leadership philosophy and culture.

It’s a premier method to build teams today, particularly with younger generations shifting how we approach work.

Original story here.


Y Scouts, Inc. is highly respected as pioneers of a Purpose Based Leadership Search Firm on a global scale with a focus on U.S. based companies headquartered out of Scottsdale, AZ. Max and his team have had the privilege of working with some of the most purpose and values-driven companies in the U.S. www.yscouts.com.

Danielle Harlan – Founder & CEO, Center for Advancing Leadership & Human Potential

danielle harlan

Danielle Harlan is the author of “The New Alpha: Join the Rising Movement of Influencers and Changemakers who are Redefining Leadership.” She’s also the Founder & CEO of the Center for Advancing Leadership & Human Potential. 

Growing up in a small oceanside town in California, Danielle’s perspective was slowly shaped by the conglomerate of open-minded, thoughtful people surrounding her, inviting her to question how she can go above and beyond individual success to truly benefit her community. Before pursuing a masters and PhD, Danielle worked for Teach for America and taught special education in a fairly under-resourced area of San Jose. She feels like she derived purpose and also gave back to her community through this area of strenuous, yet rewarding, work.

Danielle says leadership and human potential have been woven into everything she’s done, right down to her doctorate-level dissertation for a Stanford PhD in political science. After earning several degrees as the first person in her family to graduate from college, Danielle wrote and published her book, as well as founded The Center for Advancing Leadership and Human Potential. Danielle’s work as both an author and CEO focuses on what our responsibilities as human beings are to others. They also focus on how we can maximize our impact on others through leadership.

Show Highlights

  • 3:17 – Growing up
  • 5:56 – Teach for America: How Danielle decided to teach kids with special needs
  • 11:50 – Challenges with the curriculum when teaching
  • 14:20 – The Carnegie Foundation
  • 17:38 – Breaking away from that impactful work to pursue social science & leadership
  • 23:55 – Data from Gallup: getting better employment satisfaction scores & productivity
  • 25:16 – The “Traditional Alpha” leader
  • 29:00 – The three core focuses of “The New Alpha” book: personal excellence
  • 39:50 – How to best help a leader who’s accustomed to traditional leadership styles
  • 45:30 – The most selfish thing leaders can do
  • 48:00 – Prioritization of health, wellness and stress management in leadership roles
  • 59:00 – A Grateful Dead comparison in marketing
  • 1:05:50 – Danielle’s hidden talent

Show Links

Danielle Harlan Podcast Interview

Give us a sense of who you are as an individual, in addition to this great work you and your team are working on. 

I’m here actually in the bay area in California, but I grew up in a little coastal town called Big Sur. And it’s interesting because at the time I just thought, “Oh, it’s a beautiful place to grow up by the ocean and the redwoods and all that.”

But Big Sur is actually known as the seed of the human potential movement. There was a lot going on there in the ’60s and ’70s. But I grew up in that community of open-minded, thoughtful people. They really thought, “What are my roles and my responsibilities to my community?” It certainly shaped my perspectives as an adult in a deep way.

I went on to the University of Maryland on the east coast. I became the first person in my family to graduate from college. Anyone who’s had the opportunity to attend college can sort of attest to this, but it was a point in my life where I realized, “Wow, what an incredible amount of privilege to have this education, to be surrounded by so many amazing people and great organizations.”

That also really got me thinking about my responsibilities to others, now that I have this privilege.

And so through University of Maryland, I found out about Teach for America, became a special education teacher and then went on to grad school because I really wanted to better understand the issues. I did my doctorate and master’s degree at Stanford, and studied political science.

All of this seemed so random; at the time, I was just following gut instincts, but I think leadership and human potential were woven into everything that I did — even down to what my dissertation was on in political science — I looked at leadership on the Supreme Court, group decision-making, all of these things that at the time just seemed interesting and cool. But later, that research came into play in such deep ways: my leadership roles, and then also writing “The New Alpha” book and also founding the Center for Leadership & Human Potential. It revolved around how leadership can really help us maximize our impact in the world and solve the problems that we care most about.

At what point did the Teach for America pursuit come into play?

I remember sitting in the car with my mom in the early ’90s right when Teach for America was new. She said, Hey, I heard about this program for teachers. I honestly didn’t even think about that conversation until so many years later when I was in college, when there were Teach for America recruiters on campus.

The reason I connected with the ideas behind that organization and the reason I still do stems from being the first in my family to graduate from college. I saw how that experience gave me access to resources, jobs and a network that many people didn’t have. Many smart people didn’t have the opportunities I did, who were probably much more intelligent and competent than I was. Just because I have this college degree my world is forever different. And so I felt like I wanted to really pay it forward. I got a lot through great mentors and teachers and professors. Being able to give back gave me a sense of purpose and still does.

One of your first teaching gigs happened at a relatively under-resourced part of San Jose, and it involved teaching kindergarten students with special needs. So, why special needs? Why in an under-resourced area?

I remember when I was a special ed teacher full time, people were always like, “You must be a saint.”

I’ll tell you honestly that when I joined Teach for America I didn’t think I’d teach special ed. I had a really naive view of what special education was. Overall, I just assumed it was the most challenging and most intense. Technically, there are many categories of learning differences that fall into special education. So, when I got to San Jose, they said they assigned me to the English and Social Studies middle school. Every teacher’s dream, right?

But they actually said they have a really high need in special education. “Would you consider doing that?” My background wasn’t in education. The school district and Teach for America said they’d train me, and they could give me the skills and confidence needed to be successful. That is, if I was willing to do it.

Teach for America itself is a two-year commitment, and I knew I wasn’t going to be a full-time classroom teacher. I didn’t know that teaching would become a deep, integral part of myself as a human being and a leader. I thought, well, I have a limited amount of time in this experience. So I want to throw myself in in a way that I feel is going to make the biggest impact.

And it turns out that special education was a great choice and a great way to make that impact.

Also personally, I got so much more out of that experience than if I’d chosen something less challenging. Working with students with learning differences challenged me to find ways to help people reach their potential that didn’t follow the conventional path. All of them were so brilliant and so eager to learn and improve. It was just a deeply fulfilling experience. When I look back on my career and all the different things I’ve done and the impact I’ve had in different domains, certainly being a special ed teacher was one of the most meaningful and impactful aspects of my career.


Y Scouts, a leadership search firm, finds purpose-aligned and performance-proven leaders to help organizations achieve their missions faster. Ready to supercharge your leadership search and get the right person in your organization? Contact Y Scouts.

The Passive Candidates vs. The Unemployed Candidates

passive candidates

When it comes to vetting candidates for a role, there are many factors to consider. What’s the culture fit? Does the resume experience align? What do reference checks reveal? Is the job applicant currently out of work, or simply a passive candidate? Here, we asked a handful of business leaders to dive into the passive candidates versus the unemployed ones.

The Passive Candidates vs. The Unemployed Candidates

Be Cautious

As millennials start to dictate the new hiring trends, it’s sometimes hard to distinguish between an active and a passive job seeker. Side hustling has become a way of life, and if the job seeker has completely put his/her career on hold, waiting for another job opportunity, then it raises a red flag with me. It wouldn’t necessarily be a stop sign — I would still interview them, but I would try to raise the question and pinpoint their exact situation.This is a great gray area, but it is really telling for businesses looking for specific skills — especially the companies seeking extremely proactive people.

– Neil Napier, CEO of JobRack

Seek Out Passive Candidates

As an organization who headhunts top performing salespeople, we target gainfully employed (or passive) candidates. Why? In the sales industry, candidates who are employed, or have longer job stays, tend to be A-players. If they are unemployed, or have shorter job stays, it’s an indication to us as recruiters that they were either let go for not meeting targets or quit because they weren’t generating sales, thus not earning commission.

While there are some exceptions, we only go after gainfully employed salespeople. So to us, it is extremely important.

Tips for other organizations: Headhunt these candidates yourself. Don’t go looking for passive candidates on job boards or websites such as Indeed or Monster. The gainfully employed candidates aren’t spending their days applying to jobs. Find them through social networks like LinkedIn, and reach out to them with the opportunity.

– Taylor Dumouchel, Executive Sales Recruiter at Peak Sales Recruiting

Look For Other Qualities

You might think that passive candidates hold an advantage, considering that they are currently working. But that’s not always true. Although the economy has generally recovered from the most recent economic downturn, the unemployment rate is by no means low. There are still plenty of qualified folks out there looking for work. And while this is something to pay attention to, it is probably a mistake to factor someone in or out based upon any particular status – passive or unemployed.

Instead, look at other more reliable characteristics such as a solid work history, stellar references, or even smaller things like showing up for the interview on time with a well-written resume, as a quick example.

You might want to vet an unemployed candidate a little more thoroughly than a passive one, such as finding out why they have yet to find a new job, but either candidate could potentially be a benefit to your organization.

– Andrew Schrage, CEO of Money Crashers

Seek Out Quality, Regardless Of Employment Status

As a business owner I would have more problems with a passive candidate than an unemployed one.

When I’m vetting a candidate, I look more at their skills and dedication to their craft than whether they are employed or not.

As a very specific example, if I’m looking for a social media manager and I come across someone who is unemployed but has been studying for a few years and really knows his craft, that candidate would have a lot more potential to me than someone who is passive and doesn’t seem to care that much about his work.

When it comes down to vetting, I would always recommended looking into what work your perspective candidate has done in the past. Have they had any successes with their profession? Can they prove that they are a professional at their work? You can also research and ask open-ended questions about their profession and see what type of answers they give to evaluate if they sound right for the job.

You should also never rush into hiring someone. Always give it at least a few days after your interview to think it over and decide if they’re right for the position.

– Alex Reichmann, CEO of iTestCash

When it comes to vetting passive candidates and unemployed candidates, what’s your approach? Let us know!


Y Scouts is a leadership search firm that finds purpose-aligned and performance-proven leaders to help organizations achieve their missions faster. Ready to supercharge your leadership search and get the right person in your organization? Contact Y Scouts.