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Accepting Personal Responsibility 

Over the nearly quarter century I have been in the executive search business I have noticed a sad trend where by people deflect responsibility for their actions rather than taking responsibiilty for that they have done in the case of failures but are first in line to take responsibility for their successes. Nothing has illustrated this better than a certain leader that is currently in the spotlight. His polcies have made a significant negative impact on business and society in general but he has yet to take any responsibility for a single failure. He continues to blame his predisessor or "external forces beyond his control" but its never his fault.

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One of my favorite films is Schindler's List, a film about Oskar Schindler, a wealthy German industrialist who during the World War II produced war materials for Germany with the assistance of Jewish slave labor. During the war, Schlindler began to care about the Jews under his charge. He expanded his business and continued to add Jewish workers. In league with a Jewish accountant they saved hundreds of Jews including children from certain death in the gas chambers of Auschwitz. At the conclusion of the film, the Holocaust survivors that Schindler saved and their families filed past the tomb his tomb in Israel and each person placed a stone upon his tomb. Each stone represented person life alive today that Oskar Schindler was responsible for saving. These stones are known as standing stones. The term “what does that stand for” relates to standing stones found throughout the old testament (books of Exodus and Joshua) of the Bible.

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Being Prepared

I recently received a call from a cilent who told me about a presentation he gave at a university. The client went to a local university to make a presentation on having a career in a specific discipline within the accounting industry. After my friend completed his talk, he asked for questions. One student responded immediately and began to ask questions, not just questions but very well prepared questions. The student had clearly invested specific time researching the company and was well versed not only in the speaker's company but also the specific industry the company was engaged in as well. The questions went on for more than thirty minutes while many of the other students in the room just sat and listened to the exchange. The student so impressed the speaker with his in depth knowledge of the company and the industry as well as his specific area of expertise that the speaker decided to hire him. 

This is yet another example that you can turn an opportunity to meet someone or speak with a person in leadership into an opportunity to join the company. It takes determination, planning, time and hard work to prepare for the opportunity to engage the speaker. If done properly and thoroughly you can end up with a job offer. I can't encourage you strongly enough to be prepared for each and every opportunity to engage company leaders and show them what you know. Always keeping in mind that companies hire people to solve the company's problem that they don't have the internal resources to solve. If you can solve this problem for them, chances are they will solve yours by giving you an opportunity to join them. 


Pay it Forward: Living a life of service.

Today I spoke to a classroom of university students about careers. I shared a lot of information with them about what life is like in the real world, the world that instantly arrives the day you get your degree. I started off by telling them the news that none of us want to hear, that the expensive education they have invested in and the hard work they have committed to, well frankly, "it's not about you. It is always about the customer and the employer. I explained that they are training themselves to serve others." I began to explain to the students the value of living a life of service has.

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"Keep your word even when it hurts."

According to the Forbes 400, Jon Huntsman Sr. is the 47th richest man in the world. He got that rich by hard work and living a life of integrity. Jon started the world’s largest privately held chemical company from scratch. He is the inventor of the plastic eating utensils and Styrofoam food containers.

Huntsman has faced many tests of his integrity but the one that really impressed me was when he did a handshake deal to sell part of one of his companies to Great Lakes Chemical for $54 million dollars. By the time the deal closed the value of his company had appreciated to more than $250 million. Great Lakes waited for Huntsman to come back to them and renegotiate the deal but he never did.

Jon Huntsman shook hands at $54 million and that was his price. He said he never questioned his decision because his word is his bond. He made most of his money after he sold that part of the company to Great Lakes.