A Thanksgiving challenge: Just get greedy. You’ll totally thank me later.

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As a kid I grew up in Plymouth, MN but our family ended up going to a Church in a neighboring town of Golden Valley.   Church was never at the top of my list of things to do on a weekend. There was school, homework, and activities that crowded the week, and finally a weekend rolled around and it was off to Church.   Damn….   It was tolerable and everyone was nice but it was the Weekend!!! I’m sure I had some more important weekend type stuff that was waiting for me! Shortly thereafter, my parents found out about church Youth Group and decided it would be good for me.   Another Church activity? Come on…    It was a group of adult lead, Jr. and Sr. Highschoolers that got together for events, volunteering, and just fun times.  Turns out it was one of the best things that could have happened to me and  I still have some pretty close friends from that era.

The culmination of Youth Group was always our summer service project creatively titled “Work Camp.”   It’s where a bunch of kids get on a well worn bus and road trip to some poor or depressed area to help people fix up their houses. On the surface – not an ideal Summer vacation. Invariably it was hot, humid, buggy, and our rent-a-bus always seemed eager for at least one in-trip break down.  It was an experience that turned out to have a pretty large influence on the type of person I am today.

In addition to Work Camp there were also a million other volunteer events that ate up our year. Some were fun. Some were not.   But the one constant for me was always how I felt pre-event.   It was balancing “I just don’t wanna go” with the inevidable “hey where were you” type questions at Church the following week if I didn’t show. All in all it was good for me; you know, character building type stuff.

Some time later,  I started to became aware of how I felt after volunteering.   It was odd – I felt good. Really good.   Sure I was tired and I just gave up a quarter of my weekend – but I was energized and just generally happy.   I liked it.   And so I became greedy about giving. I liked it and I wanted to do more.  I was doing something good for someone I didn’t know, or would likely never meet – but…   It felt really good!

Time went on and I went off to school, came back , got married, had a kid, got divorced, started my business and life just got busy.   Think it happens to a lot of people.   It took me a long time to realize it but – I did finally notice that I was missing the feeling I got from volunteering and I needed to get that back.  Its a good type of greed/addiction.   In my 42 years on the planet I’ve never heard someone say “Yaaaa… Jeff – your volunteering is really getting out of control and we’re concerned about you.   Time to back off a little.”

Nope!  Time to get greedy again!


Sooo…   The Challenge:

A funny thing happens when you put pen to paper and then share it.   The level of accountability goes way up – and for me that has always been a positive thing.

So I’ve got two goals I’d like your help with. Hold me accountable; ask me how its going, and even better join me!

  1. Give time: It’s easy – but it’s also easy to just put it off and “do it next time.”   My daughter Maeve and I will be volunteering every month on a Saturday.   Its such a small thing, but over time it can have a big impact. I’ll be blogging and posting pictures on the when and where of each place, event, etc.   Would be great for those of you who are local to join us!   For those of you who live in other states – join along in spirit or better yet, volunteer in your community! Please let me know if you would like to join.
  1. Give money: For me giving of time is always more rewarding than money.   However – the money part is essential and I’m continually amazed by how far charities can stretch a dollar. Many of you know that I started my own Headhunting firm a few years ago; Insitu Search. It’s a simple business: Clients pay me search fees for finding and hiring top level talent they have difficulty recruiting themselves. I have goals for myself and for my business. One goal for my business in 2016 is to be able to donate one of my Search fees, on behalf of my clients, to a charity. This would be professionally rewarding for me and something I’d like to do every year going forward. 2016 sounds like a great time to start!


There it is. So simple, but so easy to forget to do.


Travel safe this holiday week and enjoy time with friends and family. And in this time of Thanks and Giving – don’t forget to be greedy and allow yourself an abundance of happiness – you’ll thank me later!

Why do I do what I do?

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It was Summer and this poor college kid needed a job. Bad.  I walked into the Fargo, ND branch of Manpower to get going and quickly realized I didn’t have the first clue what I was doing. After seemingly endless (and useless) testing for dexterity, arithmetic, and organization, Jeff the manager said “we really don’t have anything for you, but have you ever considered recruiting”?   Really?   Are you kidding me?   Dude… I don’t know the first thing about any of this stuff.   I can’t find a job – so you want to hire me to help other people find one? Ok…

Two weeks and two interviews later and I was starring down the barrel of my very first offer letter with a hefty $23,500.00 salary. The extra $500 was a special exception from corporate. They must have spotted potential.

And so I entered the great world of contingent labor having no idea what that meant.   My first week consisted of training, training, and more training. “Graduation day” arrived and I was off to a social/professional happy hour gathering with prospective clients. We were young recruits armed with fancy looking business cards ready to do some serious damage. How could we lose?   We had training, drive, and… did I mention business cards??

I hated every minute of it.

It was scripted and intrusive. Why would these savvy professionals want to talk with a young marginally trained stranger? It was awkward and I was thankful for the two drink allotment and 7:30pm cut off time.

I struggled along for a time. It was a job – no passion, no excitement.   Time to relo to Minneapolis which would undoubtedly be better. Manpower gave me a base – now it was time to flex my muscle. So I started my days in the high-powered Search industry. Better money and more opportunity. It was exciting stuff but I still had not bought in to my career choice. I just didn’t get it. Our industry was considered the ambulance chasers of hiring. Big fees, questionable service, too much shoddy competition – clients needed us and hated us all at the same time.

My days were spent trolling job boards, assembling worthless call metrics, and wondering how I could game the system to maximize my commission. One day – I actually got to recruit.   I mean literally pull someone out of a job they were perfectly secure in. He was not looking to leave and definitely not interested in taking a new risk.   Now this was a challenge. Short story – I did it.   Pretty exciting stuff and pretty big commission, but that’s not where the light bulb went on for me. Don’t get me wrong – the money was great.   I just was not passionate about this stuff yet.   2 months passed and I got a call from this guy I hired. He wanted to have lunch.   My first thought was “oh crap” he wants out.   Lunch came and he shared with me how happy he was. Not just with his job, but in his personal life as well.   He was fine where he was but he was just going through the motions. Quarter after quarter, and year after year.   His malaise was spilling over into his marriage and home life. Basically, he was bored with life.   This new company, responsibility, and focus reinvigorated every part of his being and it all started because I made a phone call. Actually it was 3 phone calls – He didn’t return my first two.

My passion for this industry started during that lunch. I had made a difference in someone’s life. I get to do something everyday that’s profoundly impactful to people.   Changing peoples lives for the better, one person at a time. Empowering people to better their career hits on almost every level of Maslow’s Hierarchy. It’s rewarding and exciting and it’s why I do what I do.

Fast forward through more years, more jobs, and here I sit. Helping people find work, but more importantly helping put people in a position where they feel valued and energized.

Everyone has a story of how they came to do what they do and almost all are fascinating to me. This is mine.

So this is the start to the Insitu Search blog.   In the coming months I’ll share more about my myself, my company, and my industry.  I hope you find it valuable, and as I like to say:   “More to come”!