Hiring For Good Ep. 2 with Stan Hanks

Hiring for Good

Episode 2 of our new podcast “Hiring For Good” with CTO and software engineer, Stan Hanks is out now. Stan, a self-proclaimed troublemaker, has a fascinating story of being a pioneer and leader in the tech industry, leading the development and exits of numerous companies. This is truly a valuable and entertaining episode.

Join us every 2nd and 4th Thursday for new episodes on all platforms including Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and YouTube.

Stan Hanks Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/stanleyphanks/

Tanis Morris: Director of Business Development at Acumen Executive Search Email: tanis@acumenexecutivesearch.com

Suzanne Hanifin: President at Acumen Executive Search Email: suzanne@acumenexecutivesearch.com

Acumen Executive Search, Portland, Oregon, is proud to present the Hiring For Good Podcast. We have always been informed and inspired by the leaders, recruiting clients, and executive placement candidates we have the honor of working with…. and now we get a chance to share this wisdom. Follow Acumen Executive Search to be notified of new episodes.

Hiring for Good Ep. 2 Transcript

0:00 thank you so much for being here and this is hiring for good Acumen Executive

0:05 Search podcast I’m going to turn it over to my coworker Tanis to kind of lead

0:11 through this conversation yeah this morning we are having a conversation with Stan Hanks and you know Stan you

0:18 had so many different titles that I wasn’t exactly sure the best way to um

0:24 introduce you title wise um I I usually go with Troublemaker Troublemaker okay

0:30 okay well then Lead Troublemaker Stan Hanks who um you know our our

0:36 conversation here is about hiring for good but we always begin by asking our guests to just kind of tell us a little

0:43 bit about their background and before you even do that I just want to say um

0:49 Suzanne doesn’t know everything about your background and so I’m going to just share with the audience and with Suzanne

0:55 that when I first sat down next to Stan and started talking to him about his

1:00 background I thought maybe I was being punked and there was a hidden camera somewhere because I have rarely

1:07 encountered someone with such a fascinating story to tell and if we only

1:12 get through your story it’s going to be one of the best episodes we ever have so take it away tell us you’re tell us who

1:18 you are you know I I’ll just start I’m from Texas originally um and I don’t

1:23 sound like it cuz I spent a very long time working on that oh but um so the

1:28 question is East Texas West Texas when you when you see the financial news and you hear about West

1:34 Texas intermediate uh as a as a young boy I I was riding around in my dad’s

1:40 utility company truck as he was wiring the power meters to the pumps that pull

1:45 that stuff out of the ground wow wow it was literally 20 miles from my house right so um I wound up uh at Rice University

1:53 uh I have undergraduate degrees in computer science electrical engineering and applied math and a minor in art wow

1:59 and a graduate degree in computer science I was a researcher in the early early days of distributed computing and

2:07 uh wound up one day my adviser walks in and drops this giant pile of documents on my desk and says there’s this arpanet

2:14 thing so I wound up on the team that debugged the tcpip network

2:20 protocol and actually made it work and then in ‘83 I co-wrote the code that opened um the arpanet up to National

2:27 Science Foundation funded schools and in ’86 I was on the National Science Foundation task force for

2:34 commercialization of the internet let’s back up for the people who don’t know exactly what we’re talking about because

2:40 this is this is the this is it I can translate Stan invented the Internet

2:47 well no I didn’t invent it I just wrote some of the code and fixed other people’s code bugged it yeah okay it was

2:54 you know there’s probably 200 of us involved in the whole thing it wasn’t like a solo effort but it was um um

3:01 seriously I’ve got an I’ve still got my 1981 arpanet phone book and it’s it’s 8

3:06 and 1 half by 11 paper typed not even laser printed um double-sided and it’s

3:12 got the names physical addresses and telephone numbers of everyone who has an email account on an arpanet connected

3:20 computer it’s like it’s like you know less than a quarter of an inch thick there’s probably a thousand names in it that was

3:27 literally everyone that was on the internet and in 1981 and now it’s what 7.2 billion connected devices it’s the

3:36 decisions we made about how to design some of this stuff it’s a miracle that works at all we thought we thought that

3:42 like maybe 100,000 devices tops so so I know we’re going through your background

3:48 but I just have a thousand questions wait we’re just

3:55 getting I want to know this so give me one examp example that you are shocked a

4:02 decision you made then that is still being held true today because again the framework is

4:10 still there it’s it’s all there the one of the biggest ones were that we that we

4:15 got right and wrong at the same time was identity because we made it at the time

4:21 a the government was breaking up AT&T and the phone company is looking over the wall at what we’re doing and they’re

4:27 kind of rubbing their hands and saying how can we like turn this data thing into something we can charge for right

4:34 and one of the critical things that we that we decided is to not put unique

4:40 identifiers on transactions on data flows so you can’t say if you don’t know who it is you don’t know where where it’s coming from who where it’s going

4:47 you can’t assess a bill for it and if it all and if a whole bunch of users get aggregated into a single point how do

4:53 you pick up and so we made a bunch of affirmative decisions in the design not to include that and the technical

5:00 justification was that the ability to do that this computationally we just didn’t have the horsepower to do it would slow

5:06 everything down and the the further justification was that it would limit

5:11 people’s ability to innovate and that all proved to be completely true and uh and here we are

5:18 today and and nobody knows if you’re a dog right I mean well or the flip side

5:24 is I think you you start with these great intentions and then people take a

5:29 advantage of well so there there’s a bit of that too I’m I’m a hacker I am

5:35 perpetually a three-year-old sitting in front of an of an outlet with two bobby pins going I wonder what would happen I

5:41 I take stuff apart just to see what’s inside and then I poke at it in ways that I’m positive the designers never

5:48 envisioned and that was true for a significant number of us back then and

5:55 uh we we had a pretty good imagination about how things might go but we didn’t

6:00 know right and and over the course of time we got proved wrong time and time again as stuff just went sideways oh I’m

6:08 sure and and then of course then we’ fix it and then we’d go on and and uh um but

6:14 the uh uh there’s so much of this stuff we just never foresaw right I mean I remember

6:20 being on a uh uh closing panel with George Gilder in 2000 at a conference

6:27 put on by one of the semiconductor manufacturers and and and in 2000 gilder’s talking about how how these

6:33 things are going to become the center of our life that we that we won’t actually have computers anymore that you’ll your

6:38 computer will be your cell phone and that you’ll walk in and set it down on a pad and it will connect to via Bluetooth

6:45 to a keyboard into your screen and then when you leave you take it with you and you can do all the same things on the go

6:51 and and I’m like I’m thinking yeah probably and everybody

6:56 else in in the audience is like no no way that’s going to happen just like wrong and um yeah you know guess what he

7:05 was right you know uh 6 years later we get the iPhone and then the world changes and uh uh it’s it’s just

7:12 fascinating to see how wrong we were about so many things and uh and at the same time how right the decisions were

7:19 not to not to try to artificially constrain what you can do because it enabled I mean the the future that we

7:27 live in yeah well and you said one of the goals was to increase Innovation and if you more

7:33 constraints yeah that makes total sense so let’s I want to I we’re only getting

7:39 started this is the in like just keep just buckle up okay

7:45 yeah so um I uh Went up um people that use the kind of high performance computation

7:51 that I worked on in the in the 80s were um uh three-letter agencies um medicine

7:59 and uh oil companies and I wound up doing all the math involved in doing

8:04 underground 3D seismic exploration and rendering MRIs is almost the same hmm Huh

8:12 so going through the Earth versus going through the bra well just the the data that you accumulate and the specific

8:17 computations that you do to evolve it and render it into an image it’s almost exactly the same so I went up doing a

8:23 lot of work in both of those I led a computer science research team for Shell oil for a number of years um moving them

8:29 into distributed computing and away from like CRA supercomputers and IBM

8:34 mainframes and um I uh worked in medicine I was on I was a technical

8:40 director at the WM Kek Center for uh computational biology in Houston for a couple of

8:46 years and I uh you know it’s um fascinating that you wind up in these

8:52 places that you that you I always I never had a career path I never had a goal I never said I’m going that way I

8:58 just looked at at the next most interesting thing that came up and said well let’s go do

9:04 that so I was Chief scientist for a computer company that made supercomputers that were desk side as

9:10 opposed to Data Center um I uh did a lot of work in seismic exploration I did

9:16 some work in satellite imaging uh I did some stuff I can’t talk about um and

9:23 eventually I um one day I’m working for this oil company and I’m running an R&D

9:29 group and I come in and uh there’s this funny looking little guy with a bad

9:34 Tweed suit and round glasses and a briefcase he is clearly not in the right place and I say can I help you and he

9:41 says well I’m from corporate and I knew that the company was in process of being purchased by a company in Connecticut

9:47 and I said oh so you’re you’re from Telo and he says no I’m from Southern Natural Gas and I’m like and he says yeah they

9:54 bought Telo around that time they were buying you and I’m and I’m like vastly

9:59 puzzled by this and he says and and here’s your your new paperwork because your R&D group is now a profit and loss

10:06 center and I’m like he said he said it’s a p&l center and I’m like great what’s

10:11 p&l yeah I’m a scientist and and he explains to me that

10:16 the new Vogue in funding research in in Corporate America is rather than

10:22 allocating a percentage of your gross revenues towards the future that you actually have to go into the company and

10:28 find people that are operators and get them to sponsor your version of what needs to come next oh and I’m like so I

10:36 don’t have a budget he says well no you got a Target but you still have to get people to agree to fund it I’m like well what happens if they don’t and he’s like

10:42 well we’ll have to you know cut projects and fire people and and I’m like wait

10:48 and he and I said well can I get money from people that aren’t inside the company and he thought about it for a

10:53 while and he says well yeah except for people on this list and that that conversation changed my life because I

11:00 discovered that it was way more interesting to figure out how to get people to give me money for technology

11:06 than to just create new technology and so looking back when you

11:12 say that that was such an again you were out of Crossroads you went left versus

11:18 right would you have changed it or or no not not at all not at all so this

11:24 was this is very pivotal I still you know have have created a lot of

11:30 Technology since then but it’s not like I’ve stopped but um the focus shifted

11:35 because I realized that that you know as an academic researcher we had grants and

11:41 until I started writing grants it was like as a grad student I’m just like oh free money right you know people are paying me to do cool stuff and

11:49 um uh that money came from somewhere right how’d it wind up here and and then

11:55 as I start writing grants I’m like it’s slightly less opaque but it’s still pretty opaque please give me money to do

12:01 this cool thing and you put it in an envelope and you send it off and money comes back and it’s

12:07 like it’s different in in the commercial world I I’ve created a thing it’s my

12:12 vision I’ve created this thing it’s wonderful please buy it well I didn’t bother to talk to anybody about it I

12:18 didn’t bother to see if this if anybody else is interested in this I’ve just created this thing and it’s almost like

12:25 in a bubble all by itself and well you just didn’t know how to think about it in that way yet right you realize like

12:31 this is valuable well and a lot of what I do with with uh uh advising companies

12:37 and startup Founders is is to not do that to like figure out what the market actually is before you build the thing

12:44 because if you build the thing um uh and it’s the perfect thing for you well

12:50 that’s that’s one right you you need to go from one to 100 to 10,000 to 10

12:55 million and and um if you don’t talk to people that’s not

13:01 going to happen which is a problem for a lot of technologists because many of them are just deep introverts and and

13:08 the idea of you know coming out of the code cave and going talking to strangers is a

13:14 anathema but um so through the the late 80s and early auns I got involved in uh

13:21 Telecom I was very interested and was I was still helping people build internet companies and working on high read fiber

13:29 optic Communications and point line of sight laser Communications which is basically the same thing without the

13:35 fiber optics and uh cryptography and I wound up going uh picking up a

13:41 Consulting project for a company that um was interested in having fiber optic

13:47 cable locally under their control and it was impossible to get and I met a

13:52 gentleman who had a company in Houston that actually owned a bunch of fiber optic cable and that they were trying to

13:57 sell at that point what was called bypass services so that you you buy a leased line from your PBX to the

14:03 long distance carrier so you don’t pay the local phone company for your long distance calls right extremely lucrative

14:09 but he had all this fiber and he also was interested in data and he put together this working group and I showed

14:15 up and in the middle of it I realized I knew how to solve this problem and that’s where I invented

14:22 IPVPN so um wait let’s pause right there you invented what IP

14:29 VPNs the virtual private networks VPN you got a VPN on your phone so I just wanted to pause so people heard that

14:36 that started in a conference room in Houston Texas in 1991 wow and I later turned that into an

14:43 internet standard for protocol called GRE which is the basis for every every

14:49 following VPN structure that that happened and

14:55 um so I helped them build their business uh I they took a direction that I was

15:01 uninterested in pursuing because they they bet wrong and I knew it and I wasn’t interested in sticking around for

15:07 that wound up doing a bunch of more Consulting started a company that built uh uhh uh uh work from home platform in

15:15 1994 right wow we we moved enough people home for compact computer that they

15:22 didn’t have to build a $43 million building wow right and we’re basically doing this with stone knives

15:29 yes absolutely the internet as most people understand it didn’t really exist

15:34 at that point in time and I was doing this with a lot of Arcane phone company technology and some and it was like an

15:41 intranet well yeah so I want I but I invented some software that made it

15:46 possible for you to to walk up to a uh a desk on campus and pick up the phone and

15:53 dial in a code and all of a sudden this is your desk the ethernet connection is connected your local work group the

15:59 printer that your local printer is the one on your secretary’s desk wherever that is in what year 1990

16:06 3 4 wow right and more importantly your that phone now has your your four

16:11 digit extension yeah right and that I could also do that at home so we uh we were doing some pretty

16:19 cool stuff yeah and I went wind up going through a fairly uh brutal divorce like

16:25 right on the right at that time and uh wound up at loose ends and I got uh

16:31 recruited to run network engineering for a company that was being put together by the Beckle

16:36 Corporation um Riley Beckle one of the the senior the oldest son was sitting in

16:41 cigar bars in San Francisco and all of his friends are dotcom this and dotcom that and

16:47 he’s like I got bulldozers and not very sexy and he wanted a dotcom company and the the

16:53 board agreed to build an internet company but only if it was infrastructure-focused as opposed a

16:59 Flappy Bird right Flappy Bird didn’t exist then yeah I was going to

17:05 say that’s my metric for for uh silly things that nobody saw

17:11 coming so um so we put the company together and before we really

17:16 got online and really en engaged we we had a bunch of data centers and a bunch

17:22 of you know capacity in place and stuff they sold us to GTE and uh I was at l again and I was

17:29 doing some Consulting in the Bay Area and I got a call from some old friends at

17:35 Enron and they said you’ve done a lot of security work for us and network performance work for us and um we bought

17:42 Portland General and they’ve got this they’ve got this unregulated subsidiary

17:47 that’s trying to build a fiber optic Network and we don’t know if we should let them do it if we should kill it or

17:53 if we should put a bunch of money into it could you go figure that out for us and and I came up and gave him

18:01 eventually a business plan for creating a commodity market for bandwidth and that was also based on

18:06 some research I’d done in the in the early 90s and had a different way of kind of looking at things and they liked

18:12 it a lot they they agreed to put $2 billion dollar into the into the company and Enron Broadband was they gave me

18:19 adult supervision I went up with a CEO that had been a senior executive at Enron and and our chief legal counsel

18:25 and and head of Finance for all people that were like coming from the inside but we built this local out of people

18:32 that were in in basically Telecom and the internet and and uh uh cutting edge

18:38 software stuff and it was it was great we Enron gets a bad rap for a lot of

18:43 things they weren’t named the most Innovative company in America five years in a row for nothing yeah I literally

18:50 had Netflix in 1998 I had broadcast quality video on

18:56 demand of anything that you wanted what I didn’t have was studio buy in because we didn’t have digital rights

19:02 management so there was no way that I could only send it to the person that had paid for it and prove that they paid

19:08 for it and have them not send it to somebody else and the studios were like this this is awesome but you need to fix

19:16 that bit right and and of course all that died when Enron crashed in in ‘01

19:22 but um it was it was a blast and then uh in early 2000

19:28 uh some stuff happened that I took exception to and the Department of

19:34 Justice later took even greater exception to and a bunch of people went to prison but I decided I was done and I

19:40 left and I wound up going to work for um as an entrepreneur and residence for a

19:45 couple of venture capital firms now while I was at Enron one of the things that happened is that as a as a chief

19:51 technologist I um their Venture Capital group rolled up to me so I was heavily

19:57 involved in their and their Venture Capital arm and the Investments that they made so um at that point I had raised

20:05 money from venture capitalist and private investors and I had operated companies and had some exits and I now

20:13 I’m running corporate venture capital and then I moved into being an entrepreneur and Residence at Venture

20:18 Capital institutional Venture Venture Capital where I’m helping them make allocations and also was a limited

20:25 partner in some of their funds and um the loop on that closed in early 2002

20:33 after uh Enron died I got a phone call I get this phone call from this this um

20:38 this crazy guy up here in Vancouver Washington and he uh my phone rings I’m

20:44 playing golf in Scottdale and I didn’t have my ringer off for some reason my phone rings the guys I’m playing with

20:50 look at me like are you going to answer that and I answer it and he says you don’t know me but we should talk and I’m

20:57 like holy wow that’s what what a way to open a conversation I mean is this is

21:03 like pictures of my wife with a trail blade you’re calling about my extended warranty I mean it’s like um so uh he

21:11 tells me that he’s an investor and that he’s decided he wants to buy all of the assets of Enon Broadband out of

21:17 bankruptcy and the the people in Houston told him that since I’d built most of it I know where all the bodies are buried

21:23 and since I’m literally in his backyard I still lived in in Southeast Portland that I should um he should talk to me

21:30 and so I said yeah I’d love to help you and he says well I’ve got a meeting in Houston

21:36 tomorrow at 2 p.m. could you be there and I’m like sure I’ll bite I I I’m

21:43 happy to be there and then he said well I’m in rovic right now and I’ve never been to Houston before and I don’t know

21:49 my way around could you pick me up at the airport and take me to the meeting and I’m just I’m dying over here right

21:56 yeah I’m happy to do that so I fly into the South Airport and uh get a car and I

22:02 drive up to the north airport and I pick him and his general counsel up and and

22:07 drive them to to to downtown and we’re up on the 20th floor and it’s old home

22:12 we kind of all these guys and you how’s your wife and kids and what about your dog and did your son win the you

22:18 know and uh and then we sat down and he says well now that we have all got to know each other a little bit I I don’t

22:25 want to waste anybody’s time I propose that I buy all of the assets right now

22:32 with no further due diligence full Assumption of risk for 8 million dollar and he pulls a checkbook out of his out

22:38 of his vest or his his coat pocket and lays it on the table and picks up the pen and these guys collectively

22:46 themselves yeah because they’re making like 3x their normal salary as a retention and they’ve got liquidation

22:51 bonuses and all kinds of stuff and they’re like trying to turn this into a three-year gig and this guy walks in and

22:57 like in in the first 5 minutes says we’re going to send you home right and he doesn’t he doesn’t realize this and

23:04 I’m watching this unfold and I’m thinking the balls and um we

23:11 um you know it had the predictable outcome yeah would love to do this but we have to do it through a process and

23:17 this and that and the other and we flew back home and um he said I’d really like to hire you to to run this process for

23:23 me and I said what are you going to do with it once you’ve bought it and he says well I figured you’d tell me that oh my gosh and um so I went to work for

23:31 him I was there for 17 years we we did not succeed in uh that acquisition but

23:38 we instead we bought a transatlantic uh fiber optic cable that had been built by 360 networks and then we spent four

23:45 years turning that up so that it actually worked and turning it into a business and acquiring phone companies

23:51 and building a fiber to the home cable TV company in Dublin and and I mean it

23:57 was a blast it we did so much fun stuff um and along the way we bought and sold

24:02 a bunch of companies and and um uh I W up with companies that had gone into

24:08 bankruptcy that I just got cold assets that I got to figure out how to turn into something and sometimes we’ buy

24:14 operating companies and figure out how to merge them and and so I did that for for about 15 years and then we sold our

24:22 last asset in Telecom in 2017 and uh Ken said said um it took me 15 years to get

24:29 out of aluminum and it took me 15 years to get out of uh Telecom I don’t have

24:34 another 15-year project and I gave him some suggestions and he gave me a pile of money to go make some Venture Capital

24:41 Investments and I did that and and they’ve they were very successful and uh

24:47 while I was doing that I fell in love with one of the companies and joined them as an executive and was off doing another thing and then after a couple of

24:54 years that an old colleague of mine back from the Enron days approached me about starting a uh investment fund with him

25:02 to invest in companies that are creating actual science-based hard technology as

25:07 opposed to once again Flappy Bird and um so we I built I invented a new class of

25:14 fund that we it was not a venture capital fund actually we invested in the

25:19 in the patents and you taking it right so we own the we own the IP we had we had

25:25 rights in the in the monetization of the IP but we under the SEC what’s called Soft

25:31 Money Rules you can make uh these additional investments in a to improve the value of your core investment so

25:37 we’d go on the cap table like a venture capitalist so we’d write them a venture capital style check to build the company

25:44 while we’ve also written them a check against the IP and we’re running the whole process of of perfecting the IP

25:50 and Licensing it and all the things right that’s fascinating yeah and and I know at a certain point you

25:58 you didn’t mention but you did Tech transfer so were you sort of it was somewhat of a similar model it was a

26:04 very similar model and mean I had start I mean one of my back when I was at at the Kek Center

26:09 for computational biology at Baylor College of Medicine um uh I was required to start a

26:17 consulting company because the benefits for faculty were horrible because almost

26:23 all the fac faculty were MDS and they were writing their own benefits package through their clinical

26:29 practices and and the head of HR is like yeah you’re not an MD are you and I’m

26:34 like yeah no as it turns out what do I do and he says she says well maybe a

26:39 Consulting practice right so I started this Consulting practice technology transfer Associates and that’s literally

26:45 what we did we we scouted universities and this was before the by Dole Act so

26:52 Stanford probably all that stuff right and we’re we’re super early days scouting stuff that we think is going to be in would would make licensing deals

26:59 with universities and then with we had a selection of corporate clients that had stuff that they were kind of interested

27:05 in and we were basically playing Matchmaker and skimming off the top on each transaction but so I’d done Tech

27:12 transfer and then i’ as you know at at Enron I had a vision for the future that

27:19 was not necessarily the same as people that were running you know internet companies because we had a

27:25 giant Network that was built the way that you’d build an internet backbone but we carried no internet traffic it

27:32 was just our traffic for our services so I had needs that were different so I’m scouting people that have got oh that’s

27:38 some interesting research over there and that’s a little startup company if I twist them just a little bit and give them some money well so I’m I’m trying

27:44 to create this future that isn’t hasn’t wouldn’t exist otherwise yeah we kind of talked about how life is never a

27:52 straight line and how what you think at college grad graduation or high school

27:58 graduation or what have you this is where I’m going to end up and life just

28:04 takes takes you go but it’s all about taking that leap of faith I I knew with

28:11 like the certainty that only a teenager can have what my life was going to be like I was I went specifically to Rice

28:18 University because they had an MD PHD program and I went to because the one of

28:23 the professors Arnie trra was working on synthetic Vision he had this thing where

28:28 he had a contact lens the size of a pingpong ball and an analog video camera

28:34 and a bunch of computer gear and he could induce Vision he could he could

28:39 like you could see shapes with what he was doing he would basically take the input from the camera and digitally

28:44 process it and stimulate your brain and I’m like I want that and the $6 million

28:49 man had been on on TV right and my thing was I I I really wanted to work in

28:55 cybernetic technology I wanted the the the digital bionic bionic thing and I

29:01 was by God gonna do that well so it turns out um I

29:07 didn’t Arnie left in my second year and the his group disbanded and the guy that

29:12 that took over running the bioengineering group was a cardiac guy and he just wasn’t as

29:18 interesting and um I discovered uh I discovered I’d been building programs

29:26 you know in high school people think about like programming in schools these days and they’ve got laptops and writing

29:32 code and Python and stuff I had a computer that had switches and had

29:37 256 bytes of memory oh my gosh right oh yeah and um it uh so figuring out how to

29:43 write control systems and stuff um and and I’m writing it all in machine

29:49 language and hand coding into ones and zeros and and when I got to to Rice I I

29:55 discovered programming languages in my world kind of expanded a great deal and I got involved in really complicated

30:01 programming projects and and then I discovered networks and which is like

30:06 this giant left turn right and and I kind of came back because I’ve been involved in a lot of Biotech startups

30:12 and and and um I’m I’m I just can’t stay away from it it’s not too late you can

30:18 end up with your but it’s so and but at every turn I’m I’m going I’m mining my

30:25 business going on down my path and I see something I go oh wow and the next thing

30:30 I know I’m doing that well I love it and here’s something interesting so um I

30:36 think traditionally in a a space where there are people who write a lot of code

30:42 and kind of you can get your head a little buried and and really be in your lane um it can be difficult

30:51 to um develop and cultivate the skill set

30:59 of management of communicating the efficacy of these

31:05 ideas to lay people and you know did you always inherently possess that skill or

31:11 is this something well arguably I did but one of the one of the the facets of my

31:19 development was in in junior high I became en entranced by debate and in

31:25 high school I was I was very successful and I was also involved in drama where I

31:31 was also pretty successful and I was always a writer I

31:36 mean I’m I’m fairly prolific I still write on a quora constantly but I um uh

31:44 I’ve always been a communicator and I’ve always been understood that um if you

31:50 can’t per persuade other people uh to understand how you’re seeing things that

31:56 nothing’s going to happen cause you’re limited to what you yourself can do as an individual and if you’re if you’re

32:01 very lucky you you partner with a group of people that have a similar Vision but it’s still a small group effort if

32:07 you’re going to really have an impact you have to be able to communicate and so I one of I I encourage people that I

32:14 Mentor that don’t sort of have those skills to to get involved with something like Toast Masters or or something where

32:20 they can they can we speaking becomes second nature and and some kind improv I

32:26 send people to improv a lot too well and and again here you’ve done so much and

32:31 taken those leftand turns sometimes jumped right without looking and yet

32:38 with all of this you spent 15 years with one organization there had have been whether

32:45 it’s leadership or Vision what what kept you there well there there were a couple of things um one is that my son’s mom

32:52 had some very complicated medical stuff and uh he was born right around the time

32:57 that I started there I guess I’d been there a couple of years um so some stability was necessary but even that

33:04 wasn’t adequate uh inducement as the as the legal term of art goes um for me it

33:11 was that I had the same desk and I had the same phone number and the same email but I ran like seven different companies

33:19 for these guys I did 15 merger and acquisition uh plays I I was it was

33:26 something different every day and so with that and being the on the leadership and running these

33:33 organization what do you think is the most important traits that you bring as a leader whether you walk into an

33:40 establish company you build a company I’m curious is number one

33:46 curiosity is because I I I want to know particularly if I’m coming into someplace you know frequently we would I

33:53 would I just like come in and someone to plop a bunch of paper on my desk and we own these guys now figure out what to do

33:59 with them right and I was like oh freaking great um how did who are you

34:04 how did you get there what’s the backstory who thought this was a good idea and why where did it go wrong who

34:10 didn’t see the iceberg right how do we how do we prevent that so I’m curious number one

34:16 and and I uh I I listen a lot I I I

34:21 truly believe that that in many instances I probably have got the the answer but

34:27 I’m never sure about that until I’ve listened to everybody as a consultant one of the things I learned was that no

34:33 matter how bad the problem was inside the company that I was Consulting for somebody inside the company had the

34:40 answer and they just weren’t being listened to that’s it and who is that individual and why are they not being

34:46 listened to because that’s the thing I have to fix so that was a that was a big piece of it the other thing is that I

34:53 understood very very early on that as an executive my own job is to remove all

34:58 the obstacles for my people oh that’s beautifully said wow there that that’s

35:05 that’s it you know they the there was um uh there was a book that was super popular in the in the late 80s called

35:12 Soul of a New Machine by Tracy Kitter and it was about the the origin or about

35:17 the process of creating this new um computer system at the data General and

35:24 there’s this guy Tom West who who kind of brackets the book he Tracy meets him in a yacht race and this guy’s like

35:31 intensity and focus and ability to like you know get the yacht through this horrible storm in the in the off the

35:37 coast of New England just Captivate him who is this guy where’ he come from what does he do for a living and then we go

35:44 through the story of the building this computer and at the end it’s bracketed because he eventually leaves the team

35:50 and goes and does something else and after he leaves people discover that in the background he’s been doing all this

35:57 stuff necessary to get this thing out the door that nobody even knew was there like figuring out what kind of power

36:02 cord to use and what kind of power cord in all the different countries and the paint and and how to get the packaging

36:08 so that you can ship I mean all the and and from all that stuff all the way down to like arranging for for H1B visas for

36:15 some of the engineers and all this background stuff that nobody saw because he was so adept at just doing it and

36:23 smoothing the path for them and I read that I was I was still an undergrad and I read that and it made a enormous

36:30 impact on me about thinking about teams and Leadership and I looked for that in the leaders that I that I you know

36:37 resonated with that ability to to make it possible for me to get my job done and then as that leader because again

36:44 you surround yourself with similar people and this podcast is called hiring for good talk about when you’ve how you

36:54 hire and and how do you know it’s the right right fit that’s a that’s a super

37:00 good question I’ll I’ll lead by saying that when I’m building a new company my

37:05 first hire is HR and my second hire is accounting apart from Founders right

37:11 because if you get either of those two things wrong you’re just screwed right yes and and it’s a very

37:18 engineering approach it’s very why structural yes but at the same time most

37:24 of my my you know technically minded cohort or like oh I’m looking for a chief engineer for this and a guy that

37:30 can machine learning that and I’m like doesn’t really matter dude right you’re going to screw up get them on board

37:37 you’re going to have problems you’re going to compensate them wrong you’re going to not have the right agreements in place you’re gonna I mean it’s just like

37:43 all the things so I um I uh frankly it’s

37:50 it’s hard to characterize because I recruit for capability and possibilities

37:56 rather than proven track record yeah right now remember I’m creating a future that doesn’t exist you know it’s

38:04 so interesting because you know I I don’t know how familiar are with our company but we have a very successful

38:11 track record of placement and part of the reason that our placements stick is

38:16 because we recruit based on culture you know values and goals alignment first

38:23 skill set second they have to the the leader in has to fit with the company

38:29 but if you’re building a company from nothing I’m like tell me like I’m just

38:37 it’s a different paradig it’s a completely different thing but a lot of it is you know I I um I joke about

38:44 management by Tom Sawyer right because I’m really good at getting people this is great I’m really good at getting

38:50 other people to paint my fence right and and uh um there there’s an element of

38:55 that it’s like a lot of it is like this is what we’re here for this is where we’re going there’s a you know third

39:00 star of the left in s on morning right it’s a um how we can there I don’t know

39:06 we’ll figure it out well I need I need somebody that can do this okay let’s find somebody that can do that is that

39:12 somebody we should own or set somebody we should contract is this an ongoing core skill or is this something we need

39:17 to solve a problem today because I don’t want to own that guy right um and uh I’m very surgical in the

39:24 way that I think about that stuff you know the the people that make the core team the people that that are the the

39:30 center of this are have got to be ethically aligned they’ve they’ve got to be aligned in in intent and purpose and

39:37 they’ve got to be more importantly to me aligned in the way that they see the rest of the employees right they’re not

39:43 replaceable cogs they’re not they’re not they’re not uh disposable they’re real people with real lives and real skills

39:50 and interests above what they show up to work with right and so I’m kind of looking around the edge is the resume

39:57 and I’m trying to figure out now like how do you what do you doing what do you do for fun how do you how do you how do

40:03 you manage your life do you have side projects what’s motivating you what’s the thing that you would because

40:09 ultimately I describe my my uh aspiration is to be paid to do something

40:15 I would pay to do right so I’m looking for those I’m going to have you say that again I want to be paid to do something

40:23 I would pay to do do I like that I like it too because if you

40:29 love what you’re doing you’ll never work a day in your life that’s right that’s the saying goes but um I I I recruit for

40:35 capability now if I’m running if I’m turning a company around a lot of times it’s a little different because it’s

40:40 like I’ve got stuff that’s actually on fire and there’s a joke in my industry it’s like uh why did elephants have flat

40:47 feet no why did ducks have flat feet to stamp out fires why do elephants have flat feet why to stamp out burning

40:55 ducks pretty good so um I’m I’m typically

41:00 looking for elephants and and because I’ve got a bunch of burning ducks and uh it’s uh so that’s a

41:07 different thing there’s point skills that I need there’s and a lot of times I get into companies that are seriously

41:14 out of compliance and so and that was the iceberg that they hit and of course I need Specialists for that right but um

41:21 for the most part if I’m building a new company I am recruiting for capability I’m recruiting for because you know it’s

41:27 like uh God kids ask me all the time what programming language should I learn and I’m like I don’t really care yeah I

41:34 forgotten how many programming languages I’ve used if you know what you’re doing if you understand the theoretical underpinnings of computation and how to

41:41 algorithmically break things down and how systems work you can pick up a language you know doesn’t matter and I’m

41:48 going to summarize what you said you said curiosity humility because again no e

41:56 egos treat people well Vision you brought up Vision have it doesn’t matter

42:02 how we do it but this is where we’re getting there capabilities comp and

42:09 possibilities and lastly compassion yeah those are the those are the critical elements for me I think we’ve just had a

42:16 master class honestly we have one more question I have I have kind of a great

42:21 ending question too sure who are your Heroes and who do you you aspire to be

42:28 okay so one of my heroes is Bill Lear Bill Lear Bill Lear so Bill Bill is a is

42:35 a case study in all kinds of things he um at the time that he was born there was a there was an actual theorem in

42:42 electrical engineering about the minimum size of an antenna for a radio and this is taught like in secondy year

42:48 electrical engineering classes in college right Bill drops out of school in the sixth

42:54 grade because he has to work to to support his family but he’s fascinated by this radio stuff and he’s got a car

43:00 he’s got a crappy car and he decides he wants to put a radio in his car and so Bill builds a radio that he can put in

43:07 his car that is actually the origin of Motorola get out I had no idea and and

43:15 he’s the he’s one of the two co-founders in Motorola and he didn’t have any idea

43:21 that the laws of physics said that he couldn’t do what he just did he just figured it out right and he went on to

43:28 do the lit was the same kind of thing people are like ah that’ll never work it’s kind of bumblebees well let stop

43:33 bumblebees from flying so Bill bludging his people into figuring out how to make a small jet work and eight track tape he

43:40 invented that too right I and knew about the jet just I didn’t know about the

43:45 track I didn’t know yeah and and um the thing is that at the time eight Track tape

43:52 tape actually had better sound quality than cassette because they the 8 Track tape is moving at a constant velocity

43:59 and cassette this was hard because if you move the motor at constant speed the tape doesn’t move at constant velocity

44:05 because as the Reel gets bigger or smaller the velocity changes right so being able to have uh Control Systems

44:12 engineered to maintain constant velocity on tape was like a late thing for cassette and bills like continuous

44:21 loop one motor yeah okay this will be fine right and they were everywhere in

44:26 the 70s yeah trust me I yes I remember those so and and again it was on those

44:32 things he just didn’t know he just like well I’m going to solve this and and go straight to to to you

44:39 know working on so he’s always a big hero of mine because he was he

44:44 was this Maverick who who would have a vision and go for it and that was uh

44:50 he’s the he’s the the tpol in the in the tent of that Pantheon right um um but uh

44:57 that’s and that’s and that’s a there’s an instructive lesson in that absolutely I tell people all the time when you

45:03 fully describe something you’ve also proscribed things you’ve said this is the way and by saying this is the way

45:09 you’ve said all these other things are not the way what have you left on the table what have you missed are you even

45:15 remotely curious about that cuz I am yeah yeah and when you talk about a

45:22 legacy and what you would want to

45:27 either give wisdom provide this again it it sounds like it’s going back to that

45:34 Curiosity but I’ll have you put in your words what do you want your legacy to be um I’ve been quietly been the man

45:42 behind the curtain on a whole bunch of stuff and uh I’m okay with that I don’t

45:48 need like a monument or statue or anything I’ve got a I’ve got a I’ve got

45:54 a collection of friends and collaborators and people that I value who value me and

46:01 the impact that I’ve had on their lives um that’s my legacy that’s amazing and

46:08 we’re gonna call you the Wizard of Oz thank you so much I mean I feel like

46:17 I could just sit and ask you questions for a really much longer time than this

46:22 we may have to have you back

46:28 yes we’ll have to get into all you know I we didn’t talk a ton about hiring but

46:33 I don’t even care because this is so I mean really like the philosophy that

46:38 you’re bringing to your work and to your teams and to the things that you’re

46:44 passionate about is is really like a framework for how to approach every and you know I

46:50 just really resad leadership and and vision and you hire the right person and

46:56 look what you’ve accomplished absolutely what a pleasure thank you so much thank you so much for

47:02 inviting me oh my gosh let’s do it again all right thank you thank you

47:07 thanks for joining us today at hiring for good if you were inspired by our conversation don’t forget to like follow

47:14 And subscribe wherever you get your podcast and if you want to learn more about our Executive Search Services

47:20 check us out at www.hiringforgood.net or our company website Acumen Executive

47:26 Search thanks so much and don’t forget to join us next time for another in-depth conversation about

47:32 transformational leadership until then have fun