Category: Outside-In®


4 Things The Avengers Taught Me About Talent Acquisition

April 9th, 2014

By Outside-In® Team Member Caitlin Olszewski

TAMarvel2Anyone and everyone in the industry knows that finding superhero talent is rare and extremely hard to do. When looking for new talent you need to ensure that their skillset can coincide with the team and work together to fulfill the purpose of the business. Each member of your team must bring a unique expertise that ultimately strives for the success of the organization and the growth of the company.

Here are some things to remember when looking beyond masks and capes:

1. Superhero powers are rendered useless if not harnessed and executed properly. Nobody wants a hulk candidate smashing everything in sight, or an archer that cannot master the skill to hit a target. It’s important to look for talent that not only meets the skill requirement, but also has the proven ability to use said skills in action. Screen for specifics and ask for examples of a time your candidate used these skills to overcome common obstacles in your industry.

2. Resumes can be deceiving. Sure, they graduated top of their class from MIT and have two master’s degrees under their armor prior to the age of 19. That doesn’t mean the man behind the iron is the right person for your team or a cultural fit for your company. Face to face interviews with the entire staff are crucial. Bring them into your office and see how they interact with every single person in the company and try to weed out any signs of evil.

3. Candidates must be up to date on all technology and facets of your industry. Although your super serum-enhanced candidate can wield a shield and have an unprecedented patriotism toward your company, they may have been asleep for the last 70 years when it comes to current technology and practices. Whatever your industry, it’s important to troll for candidates that are ahead of the game and know “the next best thing.” If your stellar candidate is slightly lacking in this category, make sure that they have the willingness and drive to learn quickly.

4. Always be comfortable with being in BETA. A company’s work is never “finished”. Look for candidates who can wear multiple suits and focus towards creating a 2.0 improved version. Businesses boom when employees are superhuman and innovative. Troll for candidates with diverse backgrounds within your industry and you can bet on an unstoppable force of business growth and development.

You don’t need Charles Xavier or Cerebro to locate your next talent. At Outside-In® Companies, we offer Blank Sheet of Paper Recruitment Solutions that are completely customizable for your needs! We can help you.

What is Your Personal Operating Philosophy?

April 2nd, 2014

Although each of us has one, few of us have ever sat down to work on it. Yet it still exists and your operating philosophy is at play all of the time. How do you react to people and situations? How do your beliefs impact how you act and perhaps even how you interact with the world around you. Your series of beliefs are your operating philosophy.

Trust me, even if you think you do not have one you do. So we all have a choice to make here to determine our philosophy. People do not know themselves. They know they don’t necessarily like dishonesty or rudeness or folks that lack direction or purpose in their lives. But knowing these things for yourself. Well I think in business and as a talent expert I see all kinds of people who simply have not taken the time to decide who they are and what they stand for. Imagine a culturally led organization asking culture-based questions to folks that don’t know their own culture? Hard to find a match.

So how do you go about defining yours? A business has an operating philosophy that defines in many different ways. Things like a mission statement, values or culture, even things like a purpose define the operating philosophy. They work hard to answer the basic questions of what a business does, why it exists, and how it goes about doing its business. I get asked this everyday as a business owner. And an answer I must give.

As people we have a choice. Are we half full or half empty? Are we reactive or proactive? Are we going to be friendly or nasty? Each of us needs to determine what we stand for and believe in.

ISTJ2I help people refine their personal operating philosophy by asking the following questions:

  • Brainstorm leaders in your community and famous people. What is that you admire about them?

  • Think of who you admire most. Then determine why.

  • Find an assessment tool like Disc, Strengthfinders, Myers-Briggs, or other tools for self-reflection and thinking.

Most important of all is to do some thinking about what the world needs from you. If we truly control our reaction to the world, we get to decide what we put out to the world, right? So the real answer is to define your thinking about your attitudes, beliefs, and values. And be able to talk about them.

So what is your operating philosophy?

Seasons: The Ultimate Agent of Change

March 26th, 2014

Spring is finally here. The temperature and my yard still look like winter; however, we can count on seasonal change. Ironically, we tend to look forward to this change. This winter is easy to forget as we all long for the warm sun and time outside! When the heat of Summer rolls in we will long for cool breezes and crisp Fall days! We accept these changes and embrace them. Why do we not accept other changes?

agent-badgeWith today’s world evolving and shifting right before us, I know most employees struggle with the notion of being an agent of change. Sometimes we all long for normalcy, safety, and just a little status quo. We find comfort in routine and the familiar. However, this is not really the way the world of work stays for long. I believe today’s worker has begun to romanticize the notion of being an agent of change. We all want to believe that we will be the ones that smile in the face of adversity, that take the bad news head on, that are willing to do whatever is asked of in order to live this value. Though truth be told, change is hard. We might have to give up tasks and duties we like and that give us energy. We might even have to take on new tasks that are brand new and unfamiliar, that we might struggle to grasp and master. As employees we might even do things we are not good at and never, ever saw ourselves doing. And when faced with change in reality your response can be very different than perhaps you want or even planned. Reactions to change are personal, unique, and ultimately up to the individual.

I have lived this first hand. Entrepreneurial founders face many crossroads and business challenges. During the “great recession” I found myself cleaning our offices on the weekends. I was also thrust back into leading, selling, and managing in a way I did not have to do for many years. We always have a choice with change. I actually fought it for too long. I ignored the recession, reacted slowly, we kept fighting, but we were not embracing the real realities of the new economy and its impact on our services and the marketplace.

Our goal at the Outside-In® Companies with change? To teach, discuss, equip, lead, educate, and work on our knowledge of the topic of change. We make it a value to remind us of our desire to be change-makers. We want our customers to envy our adaptive and flexible mindset. We want it to be an edge that we use daily to take advantage of business opportunities. And as a feature in working with us that provides our customers a one of a kind benefit. We find that our customers need to drive change and it is very hard work, but a partner that lives, breathes, and eats change seems to make their transition easier and less painful!

To be a true agent you must do more than be willing to be adaptive in your job and to the role you play in your company.  A true change agent seeks to understand why change is absolutely necessary to begin with.  Change is not just happening to you; change is constant for a business.  A business and its leaders must be making adjustments at all times, balancing goals with results, the external marketplace with internal resources, etc.  A company with a real advantage has to do less work convincing and influencing staff why change is necessary.  And gets to spend more time being productive!

Outside-In® Ubiquity

March 19th, 2014

Last year we realized that Outside-In® Companies have done much work to achieve our written and stated purpose. You see, we like a purpose because it is more actionable than a mission statement. I hope you don’t care for mission statements—they get put on lobby walls and above doors of conference rooms, but are not often talked about or brought to life. I am not sure what consultancy started to charge tens of thousands of dollars to Corporate America sometime in the 80s, but they should have to give their money back. In fact, most are not active in the day-to-day lives of the typical employee. Committees write them, yet no one understands them. And it’s easy to know why, they are just a bunch of jargon and buzzword-filled statements that impress but have no real purpose. In fact, most mission statements don’t seem to make any sense and are foolish, even!

purposeNow, purpose–this is why I hope you bolt out of bed every morning and get excited about what you’re doing. (Of course you love your job and career, right?) All of us at times need to think in longer terms, say 10-15 years in order to achieve and dream. Creating a big future and broader meaning for being are critical to culture and the experience that your employees and customers feel when they are a part of your organization. This is what drives you through thick and thin. And it is why I am writing this story. A purpose needs to be talked about, be actionable, and be alive and well in every single meeting. There is little coincidence that we use the word ubiquity in our purpose. We want our purpose everywhere, every place, all of the time. And everyday we bolt of bed to climb the Outside-In®  Mt. Everest. We put it out there for others to use. Now we need to get inside people and create a doctrine of beliefs that people can find useful to making their lives better and more fulfilled!

We have always wanted to get Outside-In® to become a household name in business. We registered the trademark in 2004. We wanted to encourage its use and not litigate, defend, or protect our claim. To me, the greatest form of flattery was when the national business magazine, or local technology blog used Outside-In® in a way that described customer-centered thinking and a culture that is, in essence, built around the customer.

I have a shelf full of books and an electronic database of references to our precious, Outside-In® moniker. Here’s four:

Getting Outside-In® in everyday language was fun. This was hard work. This is still a vibrant goal.  But we wanted to think bigger and differently about the next ten years. To us, Outside-In® is about our values and how they can play a role in our lives as employees, as parents, as neighbors and siblings, frankly all of life’s roles. We started to think that perhaps our new purpose is about showing everyone that Outside-In® Ubiquity is quite possibly the best thought we ever had. We started to hear from employees that they were taking our values home and into their personal lives. That they helped show the teenager the value of homework, that they improved relationships with neighbors—that our values were becoming ubiquitous. This makes a lot of sense. If you hire for values you have employees that generally came there for those congruent reasons. If we are rewarded, recognized, and appraised consistently against these values then the purpose becomes more like an Outside-In® tattoo. It is forever omnipresent in our lives.

Outside-In® Talent Seminar: Trends of the Contingent Workforce

March 3rd, 2014

Last Thursday, we held our second Outside-In® Talent Seminar of 2014, Trends of the Contingent Workforce. Business professionals and knowledge-seeking individuals joined us at Newark’s own Klondike Kates for some hand shaking, a hot breakfast, and a very illuminating discussion.

workforceFounder and CEO of the Outside-In® Companies, Chris Burkhard, led the conference on the realities of todays evolving workforce. Through discussing the outlooks of the three different age brackets, Chris illustrated how the nature of employment is evolving, and how the workforce (people) and the structure of work (business) are rapidly changing. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that there are now 2.78 million contract and temp workers in the U.S.—an all time high! This increase proves that a structural shift is occurring as the career system is quickly evolving.

Many of our guests provided positive feedback about Chris’s natural ability to public speak as well as the networking and intriguing discussions that occurred afterwards. “I appreciated the upbeat atmosphere and the opportunity to meet some different folks from the community,” said Patricia Dill. “Chris’s comments were interesting and thought provoking. My daughter and her beau are in the demographic he discussed and they are both seeking work that is meaningful. They want whatever they end up doing to have an impact in addition to paying the bills.”

Interested in attending our Outside-In® Talent Seminars? We’ll be offering eight more seminars this year, continuing Thursday, March 27th with The Importance of Planning your Workforce and Working your Talent Plan, presented by Outside-In® Group Lead Lisa Van Ess. Join us for a valuable discussion on the steps and strategies Talent Acquisition and Talent Management professionals should take to move upward and onward from “reactivity” to “proactivity”. Get your tickets here.

The “No Flip” Entrepreneur

February 26th, 2014

Most entrepreneurs aren’t trying to create a technology revolution with an innovation that advances society in some unique way. That is just what the media reports because it makes for better articles. Imagine the impact of the twenty-something changing the world and selling it quickly for lots of money. Impressive for sure. And I imagine important in some way to our economy. Don’t get me wrong, I embrace technology as a tool in my business. Over 13 years, 52 quarters, and 156 months, I have operated and ran my company. I went into the details there for a reason. Most of us do not build our companies to flip them. Very few have goals to get Venture Capital or Institutional monies invested into their business. Even fewer have high hopes of an IPO.

smallgiantsMy goal was to run my company for nine years. This was in my first business plan. (Which, by the way, was 88 pages long!) Call it my Jerry Maguire version of the talent industry. The nine years were set to give me time to build it, boot strap it, grow it, sell it, and cash out. Then something happened. Call it life I guess. Time went by, we began to receive awards, and employees came and employees went. Markets changed for our services so we adapted and responded with new ones. The Economy roared and then spurted almost to a stop—Ironically in year eight! So, plans are set for a reason. Plans drive a stake in the ground. And when you get there you start all over again.

One of my mentors who runs a national consulting company once challenged me on my nine year plan, “Chris, do you like your company? Does it provide for you and your family as well as your employees? Do you serve customers that count on you?” Then he added, “Why not have it both ways? Enjoy and celebrate what you have accomplished and always work on making it better.”

I would rather focus on how my company or my customers can be profitable, create a measurable Outside-In® experience, and maintain a values based environment and culture that is unique, even quirky in its efforts to be authentic.

I want to have a “boring” company. Predictable revenues. Managed growth. I want to maintain a caring environment that not only focuses on the health and vitality of the culture, but also develops the discipline and practices to have a well-executed business strategy.

There are many entrepreneurial leaders out there that are in it for the long haul. We have worked long and hard to get our business’s out of the proverbial garage and into something relevant in our industries. We are Small Giants, forces to be reckoned with that don’t feel the need to sell out to be the biggest, but instead, choose to be the greatest.

Three Things Grandmom Rose Taught Me About Leadership

February 12th, 2014

photo 2My Grandmom Rose was an amazing person. When she was young, she absolutely loved to dance. When she was older, during a time when marrying those of another religion was uncommon, she left her Jewish faith to marry a man of a different one. And for decades, she fought for the underdog through volunteering for the rights and privileges of the blind here in Delaware. She lived to be well over 102—but her wisdom is infinite. Although Rose died a few years ago, I think of her often. How could I not? Whenever I was sick as a child, Rose played 97 straight games of candyland with me. Imagine that. I think she let me win every time, too.

Today, I thought I would share a few thoughts on Rose’s lifestyle that I think translates pretty darn well into reminders for all of us in leadership positions.

1. Have a sense of mindfulness. This is a hard one. Are you centered and focused on the moment or the task at hand? Are you in the meeting you’re in? Or are you messaging others on your cell phone and trying to keep up with the rest of your day? Rose never knew technology and its advantages, but you always knew she was focused on you when you were sitting in front of her. As a leader, are you giving 100% to the team or person in front of you? Or do your distractions show? Does your lack of attention send the message that your time there is not important? Value the face time.

2. Ask valuable questions. If you’re in a sales, leadership, consulting, or frankly any role in life, there is nothing better than the ability to invest in others through asking questions. If you knew Rose she could ask some humdingers. They would just keep coming, too. They were good and stimulating questions. She genuinely cared about you and life—this showed through her investment in you. As a leader, how many times do you catch yourself talking, maybe dulling out general advice because it’s easier and feels good. Certainly easier than asking the style of questions that help people work through their own challenges and opportunities. Staff members want more than answers. They want skills they can use again and again. Does your leadership style involve a healthy sense of curiosity and frequently asking questions? Or are you too busy to lead and simply give out answers just to keep the day moving along?

3. Do one thing at a time. This sounds so…well, impossible in today’s world. Rose was really great about doing one thing at a time. I think she just wouldn’t understand why we think it is a good idea to multi-task to the point of exhaustion. Leaders get that adrenaline rush. Fight that fire. Answer that email. Text that message. All of these are signs of a normal, hectic day. However, before we know it the day is done. Did you accomplish your most important task? Did you finish what you started? It may seem old fashioned, but there is something to working on the hardest thing first and working on it until it is completed. It’s even more impressive if you do so without succumbing to the constant distractions of smart phones, tablets, and laptops!

When I was young, Rose took me to Gino’s for lunch every week for almost a year to collect that week’s plastic NFL football helmet. Each time she would laugh as I would eat one Giant burger and then ask for a second one! Rose knew what was important in relationships. She knew what to bother with. If you see me turn off my phone, close my laptop, or shut the door to focus, know that in some small way, it’s my ode to Rose!

Interrupt Us!

January 29th, 2014

At Outside-In® Companies we have a value that is rooted in being responsive. Responsive is somewhat nebulous because it means something different to everyone. The key to being responsive is to be Outside-In® with your audience. To do this you must ask the questions, “If I got back in touch with you tomorrow at 9am would that meet your needs? Is an email summarizing our pricing by end of day going to work for you? Honey, if I take the trash out before dinner is that ok?” I think you get the idea. We must all work hard to establish expectations with our various relationships if we hope to have any shot of living up to (and exceeding) our own standards.Responsive

We like to take responsive one step further here at Outside-In® companies. Each and every one of us answers the phone during office hours and we set a standard of picking up in three rings. We’re competitive so two rings is better; one ring is best. Hard to do better then that, although we would if we could. Being responsive is a cultural mindset that starts with leadership. Like a drumbeat, it must have a consistent and never ending rhythm.

However, that is not good enough. Part of being responsive is the demonstration of our commitment to it. When you call our offices we will ask you if you would like the person you are calling for interrupted. Please take us up on it! So few will, but, we know you called for a reason. To show you the importance we expect our staff to be able to juggle calls, take your call quickly, and arrange the best way to get that thing done your were calling about. Of course there are exceptions. However, most of the time we can juggle and we know it makes our customers more productive. Most importantly, being responsive stops the game of phone tag cold!

Welcome to our value of being responsive!

Knot Your Average Ribbon Cutting

January 15th, 2014

Have you ever seen a councilman sweat under the pressure of playing a larger-than-life game of Jenga? On Monday, we joined The Greater Newark Economic Development Partnership (GNEDP), local elected officials, and members of the business community for a chance to be kids again and to celebrate the business partnership of CBI Group, Placers, and Barton Career Advisors.

A few months ago, we announced our official three-brand partnership under our shared values-based culture, Outside-In®. As Outside-In® Companies, we are united by a mindset that advocates putting the customer first in all scenarios, at all times. The companies’ consider our customers to include clients, internal employees, and even vendors.

In true Outside-In® fashion, we opted to have a “ribbon tying” in lieu of the traditional “ribbon cutting”, a literal representation of the merging of our brands to the public.

DSC_0031Mayor Polly Sierre and New Castle County Chamber Member/Incubator Tenant Matthew Doyle kicked off the ribbon tying by recognizing the Outside-In® Companies for its job-creating venture, contribution to the community, and charitable company culture.

However, our event was not all suits and ties. We humorously participated in a giant-sized Jenga game to encourage our guests to take positive social risks and network with our community. Part of our Outside-In® Family, Newark’s own Klondike Kates provided a picnic-style catering spread and exceptional Service to the Nth Degree.

Together under the Outside-In® name, CBI Group, Placers, and Barton Career Advisors continue to serve the national marketplace offering talent solutions in recruitment, staffing, and outplacement.

What Do You Need for Christmas?

December 16th, 2013

Guest blog spot by Caitlin Olszewski, Communications & Design Coordinator

When you’re a kid, Christmas is about as magical as it gets. (I have yet to see a unicorn, okay?) The fact that you go to bed with a belly full of apple pie and ice cream to wake up to toys and treasure underneath your tree is the highlight of the year. And parents, those behavioral Jedi mind tricks you can use on your kids while “the elves are watching” are truly miracles in themselves.

“What do you want for Christmas?” The question all of us were asked year-after-year by the red-velvet-clad cookie connoisseur sparked elaborate answers of Transformers, high-tech gadgets, and cavity-inducing candy. However, the moment you opened a present to unveil a pair of socks or the dreaded pack of underwear you immediately came to the conclusion that you were on the naughty list. What if you actually wanted those things and worried more about your cold toes than the latest toys? What if all you wanted for Christmas were simply things that you absolutely needed?

Each year, we partner with Delaware Social Service’s Adopt-a-Family Holiday Gift Assistance program. The program provides the sponsor with a brief description of the circumstances that led each family to the need for assistance. We survey through the available families looking to make their holiday season extra merry and bright. This year, when I was reading each informational bio, one family stuck out in particular.

adoptafamA recently-singled father and his 7-year-old daughter were simply asking for a $200 gift card for groceries along with hats and scarves to brave the cold weather. So what did we do? We used our Service to the Nth Degree value to provide roughly $600 in gift cards to make their Christmas extraordinary. However, we all know that there’s nothing like the suspense and sound of ripping open wrapping paper on Christmas morning, so we set off to provide presents and various necessities for our family to make their holiday a little more Outside-In®.

Through working as a team and providing peace of mind for our adopted family this season, we helped keep the spirit of Christmas alive for them, as well as ourselves. No matter what you celebrate, I hope you can discover your own holiday magic this season and share it with those around you who truly need it.

Want to be a part of the Adopt-a-Family program next year? Click here for more information.

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