Visit us at: www.vfandco.com

June 2014

Valerie Frederickson & Company

Put a Spring in your Step

Every year around this time, I try to count up how long I’ve been in The Business, and for how many years I’ve owned VF&Co. This year, it’s a little easier to calculate because next year will be my 20th anniversary. As an early anniversary gift to all of you, my beloved clients, friends, and colleagues, here’s my Top 8 Workplace Anti-Aging tips.

  1. Constantly reinvent yourself. There is a reason why huge multinationals like Genentech (now: Roche) have been my clients for almost two decades and why the hottest startups in software and enterprise work with us. In a nutshell: disruption. I’m constantly upending the status quo in marketing, in sales, even in search analytics. This is what to do to keep yourself refreshed and ahead of the competition when you’ve been doing the same job for a looong time. If you’re working for someone else, it’s the same thing. Don’t wait for focals or 360s, figure it out yourself and be one step ahead.
  2. Take your own inventory/conduct your own 360 once a quarter. Am I acting too much like my DISC profile? Are people included? Who am I avoiding? Which of my bad habits are flaring up? Who have I not gotten feedback from lately? Ask yourself these questions and also regularly follow the discipline of the third party 360. Be a big girl and let your reports know the feedback you got. And then take action.
  3. Buy a new hamster cage. Most of you know that in 2009, I shook things up by moving us out of our Class A commercial space (think large private offices, nice lamps and art work) after 10 cushy years there and into a large loft. At the same time, we traded in our desktop and phone networks and adopted a more mobile lifestyle with laptops and smartphones. Fast forward five years, and we just moved into new commercial space once again at our Menlo Park headquarters, and added a fun and grungy loft in SF. This time, we’re doing an Urban Modern theme, with large, open multi-purpose workspaces so everyone can work in a collaborative environment—including me.
  4. Walk a miles in your customers’ shoes. Put yourself into the hearts and minds of your customers. I had a CEO tell me recently that we have the best reports and communications he has ever experienced with a search firm. That gratifies me because a couple of years ago, I got to thinking. Would my big-shot CEO clients really be interested in reading multi-paragraph bios for every candidate and only interfacing with me when we presented a slate? How would we be able to address dynamic business challenges as they arise? Shouldn’t these changes matter when strategizing on the best candidate for the job? So I challenged my team to come up with a better way to communicate with our clients. And, boy, did they deliver. Today, we have the best-looking, easiest-to-use, most interactive and metrics-driven reports for any search firm ever. I even caught wind through the grapevine that they’ve been passed around internally and copied at one major Fortune 100 company. Plagiarism is frustrating but flattering.
  5. Tweak your culture, even if you follow Cultural Tweaking 101. I asked a thoughtful young Berkeley grad on our staff how the company culture has changed over the year she has been here. Her first comment was that we have become more collaborative. She’s right and, to paraphrase Gwyneth Paltrow, it’s conscious. I felt like staff meetings were becoming ridiculous with the partners doing 90%+ of the talking. So, we shook things up. First, we talked about what was wrong. Then, we set up a new rule where the newest people on each team were tasked bringing us the solution to any number of issues. A new rule is to have cross-functional teams handle projects whenever possible so that we can break up the status quo.
  6. Go outside your comfort zone and against your personal taste. Let’s face it: I’m 50, born and raised in Berkeley, live in a quiet yet charming hamlet of Menlo Park, and like antiques. My taste is somewhat like my town—never completely in fashion, never completely out of fashion. We’re not Palo Alto, we’re not San Francisco, but we’re not Peoria. Yawn. Thank goodness our new offices don’t reflect my personal taste, or we’d have fraying priceless Persian carpets and antique travel posters everywhere, and it would look exactly like when I started the company back in 1995. I’m sitting in the bullpen right now with a persimmon-colored, ugly-as-hell modern couch to my right, much the worse for the bright purple pillows strewn all over it. Everyone thinks it’s cool, and I cheerfully hate it but accept it.
  7. Be humble and have the confidence to know that you can be better. Know that you can always do better in every way, and strive to do so. For me, I’m starting to copy a wonderful discipline that our youngest partner has—rereading ProActive Selling by Skip Miller every three months so that I can remind myself to break my bad habit of talking too much on sales calls, make sure that I ask more questions than make statements, etc. I also just hired an image consultant to help me figure out how I want to look for the next two decades since I’m sort of a combination of looks right now, none of them particularly au courant.
  8. Never give up and keep your bar high. Over the past 19 years, I have seen competitors owning the market one year and going out of business two years later, others aggressively low-balling in our space to gain market share or outright buying business, and others, frustrated when they couldn’t unseat us, making up lies about us. I have kept my head high, my mood calm, and have always focused on treating each client and candidate well, completing our work on time and with excellent results, giving clients a discount or credit when it was warranted, but asking for and receiving the market rates for our work. I think that doing so has allowed me to weather storms and earn my “awesome” reputation. The couple of times I have made mistakes, I’ve owned up to them, apologized to clients in detail, and made good on whatever happened.

These behaviors are not at all limited to CEOs or business leaders. One of my biggest mentors is a not-so-young man who worked for me for five years. His name is Bryan Power, and he is now running HR at Square, one of the hottest and coolest companies in the world. I watched Bryan do many of the behaviors above, and he and I learned together, coached each other, and in many ways, grew up together. I’ve often thought that almost no one in the world is higher functioning than him, and it was a gift to watch him in action developing himself to a higher level. Every single day.

Best,

Ask Valerie

To submit your most daunting HR questions, email us at newsletter@vfandco.com or visit us on Quora.

QHow can you avoid the wrong people for your startup?

That is such a funny question! I would say start off by selecting ethical VCs, avoid arrogant, narrow minded CEOs, find an executive team that doesn’t think it knows everything, and a bunch of employees without an entitlement syndrome.

QWhat’s your favorite interview question?

If you had an unlimited HR budget, how would you spend it?

QWhat is the most common mistake you see in a candidate?

Coming in with a prearranged agenda of what you are going to say, opening your mouth, and never shutting up.

QWhen should I look to contract/temp and when should I look to hire?

From the candidate side: contract/temp work makes sense only for some people. You have to already know how to do your job. You should already be a mature, calm, self-starter who has excellent relationship and communication skills since you will be constantly meeting new people. You need to have skills wildly in demand and a huge network. And you should be able to get your people gratification from somewhere besides your job.

From the employer side: If you are working for a high growth startup and are conducting your first VPHR search, you should definitely bring in a contractor for six to nine months: two to three months during the search, and another three to six months afterwards to keep doing the day-to-day work so that your VPHR can focus on relationship building and strategy. Having someone in the role, even if that person is more focused on transactional work, will help your team develop a willingness to work with a senior HR person and give up some of their control. If you have had a VPHR and just lost yours, you may be better off without an interim from the outside because you can have an internal person step into the role temporarily and what that person will be primarily doing is stuff that an outsider would need to learn.

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Current Executive Searches

HR Executive Searches

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  • With employee population spread across 4 continents, this is an amazing opportunity to employ creative TA strategies across a diverse, sophisticated global talent base
  • The role

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  • Create and set strategies for the recruiting of top-tier talent, university grads, and a vast number of seasonal employees
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  • The company

  • Recognized brand in the digital/tech space
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  • Chicago (HQ), USA, Canada, South America, Europe, APAC, Middle East, Africa
  • Top challenges

  • Develop a global pipeline of executive-level candidates for this newly-acquired subsidiary of a multinational conglomerate
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  • Support one of the fastest-growing, engineer-heavy business units, strategize with peers to rebuild the HR business partner function globally
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  • The locations

  • Menlo Park (HQ), San Francisco, Plano, Atlanta
  • Top challenges

  • Support the sales and marketing function, delivering innovative and creative solutions for our clients that include the hottest startups and Fortune 100's in the Bay Area and globally
  • Exciting note

  • Although this role is concentrated in sales and marketing, this individual will work collaboratively on projects that touch on executive search, consulting, and operations, offering you a plethora of opportunities to own initiatives and plot your own path for career growth.
  • The role

  • Junior Associate, Executive Search
  • The company

  • High-growth, boutique global HR consulting firm
  • The locations

  • Menlo Park, San Francisco, Plano, Atlanta
  • Top challenges

  • Build a pipeline of top-tier HR executives for our clients
  • Exciting note

  • This role will give you the opportunity to meet with executive teams of top companies both in the Bay Area and nationally, and learn about their businesses, then serve as a member of a high-performing, collaborative team to find and place the right HR executive to add to that organization.

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HR Consultant & Contractor's Corner

Our hottest global HR contracting and consulting assignments include:

  • Providing Venture Capital and Private Equity firms with on-demand HR and compensation consulting for their portfolio companies
  • Executive leadership mentoring and “on call” support for CEO’s, CFO’s and HR managers at start-up companies in tech hubs that include San Francisco, Silicon Valley, Austin, Atlanta, Shanghai, and New York
  • HR needs assessment for multiple startups ready to take their businesses through an IPO
  • Coaching executive teams through strategic planning for their leadership development function including succession planning and creating career development paths for high potentials
  • Interim Head of HR assignments with pre-IPO companies in software analytics, digital advertising, and cloud-based services
  • Advising several European and Asian companies interested in relocating their global headquarters to or building regional headquarters in the United States
  • Comprehensive review of compensation programs for post-IPO tech companies, including benchmarking and redesigning of short and long-term incentive plans
  • Customized, high-touch outplacement projects for pre-IPO and mid-sized companies in the midst of restructuring or integrating acquisitions

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HR Events

GOTotal Rewards Conference
June 12, 2014 – Santa Clara, CA

GOGlobal HR Summit
June 17, 2014 – San Francisco

GOSHRM 2014 Annual Conference
June 22-25, 2014 – Orlando, FL

GOHR Star San Francisco
July 16, 2014 – S. San Francisco, CA

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Spotlight on...

Join Valerie at HR Star in July

Valerie will be speaking on HR and your career development at the San Francisco event in July. We hope to see all of you there!

VF&Co in Philanthropy

Everyone at VF&Co is super proud of Director Michele Li, who co-hosted the annual benefit for the San Francisco Bay Area chapter of Room to Read, a global education nonprofit that funds literacy and girls’ education programs in Africa and Asia. In the space of four hours, Michele and her team raised over $350,000 to help children in less fortunate areas of the world. We are extremely proud to have our employees participate in philanthropic groups, but to have an employee that helps on such a large scale is extraordinary. Michele, kudos on your outstanding results!

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About VF&Co

Valerie Frederickson & Company (VF&Co) is a human resource executive search, HR consulting and corporate outplacement firm known for helping clients build and sustain winning teams in today´s rapidly changing marketplace. Since 1995, VF&Co specializes in creating customized solutions to meet an organization´s human resource needs at every stage and size from start–up to Global 500.

Outplacement Practice

Re–evaluating your outplacement vendors? Require a higher utilization rate for your outplacement dollar? Need higher touch services and consistency across all markets? Since 1995, VF&Co is the outplacement firm of choice for sophisticated corporate buyers. Join the numerous Fortune 500 employers and small firms who have selected us over their previous vendor and are now enjoying the best of both worlds: each employee well taken care of, and consistency in every city.

Price shopping or need to customize a program? Contact our Corporate Outplacement Team at 650-614-0220 or email them at outplacement@vfandco.com for more information on our outplacement services.

HR Consulting Practice

With the dramatic increase of global technology outsourcing and the continued geographic dispersion of corporate teams, the need for international human resources strategy, design, and project implementation has increased. Our global team of HR consultants has the specialized skills and breadth of expertise to develop and lead your initiatives—saving you time, money, and resources. We can manage the international recruiting function, help you hire key local managers or an entire startup team in an overseas market, and establish HR systems for global expansion.

Why clients choose VF&Co:

  • Results-driven, value-oriented. To keep your HR programs in line with your corporate direction, we provide HR strategy, cost-effective HR infrastructure, and pragmatic HR advice across all critical areas of human resource management.
  • Any size, any stage. We draw upon years of experience with startups, midsize firms and large global enterprises to guide our clients strategically through any stage of growth.
  • Work smarter, not harder. In survey after survey, CEO's say the number-one issue keeping them up at night is "people problems." We help you solve them so that you can get back to focusing on your business.

Contact our HR Consulting Team at 650.614.0220 or email them at consulting@vfandco.com for more information on our HR consulting services

Executive Search Practice

Why clients choose VF&Co as their human resources-specialized executive search firm:

  • Prompt results. The average time from start of search to presentation of the winning HR candidate is 21 days. 50% of HR searches are completed in less than 45 days.
  • Superior results. More than 95% of HR executives placed by VF&Co are still with their companies five years following placement.
  • High client satisfaction. More than 90% of the firm's work is either repeat business or from referrals. A number of clients have been with VF&Co for more than a decade.

You get:

  • Access to the best global human resources executive talent available through extensive networks built upon long–term relationships with U.S. and global executives
  • Customized HR executive search solutions that fit your goals, budget and timeline
  • Interim HR management during the search process, followed by an assimilation period to ensure a smooth transition

Interim HR management during the search process, followed by an assimilation period to ensure a smooth transition Contact our human resources executive search team at 650.614.0220 or email us at executivesearch@vfandco.com to learn how your organization can reap the benefits VF&Co can deliver: Improved performance and greater success through your most valuable asset—your people.

Diversity Statement

VF&Co welcomes and encourages all diversity candidates to contact us directly. We highly value the diversity of our VF&Co team, placement of diverse executives into our client companies and our diverse clients, candidates, and supplier partnerships. We want to help swing the pendulum the other way.

About Our Newsletter

The VF&Co newsletter, "VF&Co In the Know," and VF&Co Executive Search Update are the intellectual property of Valerie Frederickson & Company. They are a free resource to business professionals. To subscribe to this newsletter, email newsletter@vfandco.com.

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