Who is Jim Scholes and the key takeaways in this episode?
If you are an HR professional, let me tell you that this is the episode you shouldn’t miss. Today’s guest is James Scholes. He’s an author, HR and labor relations professional and part of the BOLD Book Tour 2015. James has a fascinating story that is inspiring and will really make you think how you’re making your daily interactions a real and not just an automatic engagement.
In this interview we will discuss:
- The defining moment in Jim’s life
- The little things that make a difference in the life of others
- Why bankruptcy is not a hindrance to success
- The difference between administrative HR versus strategic HR
- Why walking the talk is all that matters in building a great culture
[4:21] Could you share with our listeners, because you didn’t come out of the box ready assembled, I’m quite certain, how was Jim formed?
Answer: I could probably go and commit many heinous crimes and use that as my defense, but rather than do that, I use it as a point in my life to say “What am going to take control of? What can I control?”
There are things I can’t control. There are things I can control. So I’ve been at times in my life where as a single parent with two kids, I had to drop out of college to make a living then go back to night school to finish my first degree.
[7:55] Now Jim, for our listeners who are in the HR field, I think it would be very interesting as you talked about strategic HR. In that approach, does it make sense that the individual looks at the office environment versus culture, versus retention, versus bringing people to your company and gaining the quality people you need to move forward? Isn’t that part of HR today, to look at the environment you have?
Answer: I think when we look at the environment versus culture or desired culture, there should not be a gap. Often there is. You’ll see a mission statement, one thing, like I said before, and the actions do another thing. I think they should be intertwined. I actually asked that in the MBA class that I teach. Now, I taught it for over 10 years and I have CEO’s, professional athletes, the entry level employees in those classes, and they all agree, there’s a gap in the office environment and the stated culture. There’s either a buy-in or accountability issue. If the office environment’s different than the desired culture, somebody is allowing that to happen. I’m using the word “allowing” broadly, but what I mean is this: if you told the company you’re supporting this or that, but actions don’t support it and the managers don’t support it, and they weren’t held accountable, is there going to be a major change? What’s the impetus for me as the employee to follow that, when nobody is enforcing it?
[27:00] What tips would you give an HR professional when it comes to finding talent and bringing the people into the company and interviewing them? How would you help them make a better hiring process?
Answer: There’s an old, old HR saying, “Hire for attitude and train for skills.” Obviously, I’m not going to hire high school graduates to be a brain surgeon. What that’s truly saying is that when all minimum qualifications are being met for the job, hire for the attitude because you cannot train a positive, “get it done” attitude.
You can train the missing little side skill sets they need, but you cannot train for that attitude. So when you’ve got your pool of applicants, when you have that pool of applicants sitting in front of you, look for the one who’s looked you in the eyes and said, “I want this.” The desire, the fire, the passion.
Culture According to Jim:
I would say it’s the defining personality of the company as perceived by two groups, by those who are looking in and those who are within it. Culture is what defines the company when people describe it.
Go To Quote for Inspiration
What Jim Wants His Ideal Company to BE:
- BE Brave
- BE Ready
- BE Willing
Links and Resources Mentioned in this Interview:
Where to Find Jim:
Connect with John on
FULL EPISODE TRANSCRIPT
John: Hey guys, I hope you’re doing well. Thank you for tuning into BE Culture Radio. You’re listening to episode 12. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, we release a new and fresh episode, so make sure you subscribe.
My guest today is James Scholes, HR and Labor Relations Professional and author.
Today, Jim and I are going to talk about what’s lacking in human resources. At the end of the show, if you want to check out the show notes, that’s where you’ll find references, links, and transcripts of today’s episode. Also, they can all be found at BEfurniture.com/episode12.
Now, join me in welcoming Jim.
John: Welcome to BE Culture Radio. And today, we’re going to talk about what is lacking in the HR community. We have a very exciting guest, Jim Scholes. Jim has an extensive background in HR and labor relations.
Jim, how are you today?
Jim: I’m doing wonderful-tastic. How are you?
John: If I was any better I’d be twins and there’d be a lot of unhappy people in New Jersey. [Laughs]
Jim, tell us a little bit about what you do currently.
Jim: Sure. Jim Scholes, SPHR certified professional in human resources, also a motivational coach and change agent for both personal change and company culture change. I’ve been about 23 years in the HR realm. I went through finance and industrial engineering to HR, so I have a diverse background that I apply to a strategic sort of HR.
John: You also, if I’m not mistaken, are a part of the BOLD Book Tour?
Jim: Absolutely. I’m very proud of being one of the authors involved in the BOLD Book Tour with Les Brown, Melissa Krivachek, Tracy Hanes, Barbara Pender. I’m very proud of that.
John: We had the distinct pleasure of having Melissa on the show, Barbara’s going to be on the show, and Les has always been one of my heroes. What a great speaker he is.
I’m so excited you took the time to speak with us today. Before we start, can you give us, all of our listeners, the background to your journey, where you came from, and how you got to where you are. I know we’ve talked about it a little bit professionally, but we always like to touch on the personal side.
Jim: Well, my background is a lot of corporate America. I worked for [2:56 Bal National?] for about five years.
I spent about 10 years at UPS on the airline side. I worked through finance, industrial engineering, training and development, and human resources for the Central US, for the airline side, [3:06 inaudible] municipal government.
I was a VP of HR in a global staffing organization. I have just kind of worked my way through the ranks, through the cultures, and brought something with me from each one of those stops all along the way. I was also teaching an MBA program for various colleges for 10 years and I’m currently teaching both in concrete classrooms and in an online environment.
At the same time, I do some speaking on the side, some writing, some motivations and I just fell into that as people needed what I had.
John: Wow, you’re a busy man.
Jim: A little bit.
John: Now, your entrepreneurial story. It sounds like it’s woven throughout your entire career.
Jim: It is. Bear with me a minute on this. I’ve always been motivated and I like motivating people, informally among friends and students.
I’ve been asked to speak by professors of classes, the organizations they work with, and by students for their companies.
While I was still at UPS and teaching on the side, I took a group of students to see a panel of speakers and one of those was Zig Ziglar. When we were all done, they said, “Why weren’t you up there? You’ve motivated us better than that.”
I was flattered. I knew I had no personal relationship with them and Zig, but the students viewed me as one of the motivational people they knew.
That made me think, “Okay, I’m influencing this very small circle, how do I expand that influence?”
I started speaking for a national organization. They book conferences on specific subjects. I’m not name dropping because I consider them a competitor and I’m not going to advertise for them.
But that still didn’t satisfy that internal urge to share the passion or the positiveness that I’ve since coined as the “wonderfultastic” way.
I used to have a little business I called Common Sense Motivation, because I believe that everything that I inspire and instill in companies and people and cultures is really just common sense.
I’ve used the word wonderfultastic for years. It creates an expectation. It creates small people spaces so that’s where I point it. There really was one life changing event that had a huge impact on me but it seems small. Would you like me to share that?
John: Oh, I’d love to hear it.
Jim: I was in Chicago to speak while I was still at UPS. I used to give myself little personal challenges, as I usually call them.
I was in line at the gas station and you saw the typical automatic, “Hi how are you, fine, thank you, thank you, you’re welcome, you’re welcome.”
The lady behind the cashier was not making eye contact. The customers were not making eye contact. It was a very impersonal, informal, rehearsed and automatic exchange. So my goal was to make her look me in the eyes when I got there.
I held on to my cash for just a moment. We still used cash back then, and I held it just for a moment and it made her look up at me, and I said, “Thank you.”
She was smiling. She went back and when she looked up she had a tear in her eye, and she held my hand when she gave me the change and she goes, “I want to thank you.” I’m like, “Why?” “You’re the only person who’s treated me like a person, thank you.” And there was a tear literally rolling down her cheek.
So I got out and got in my car. Obviously, I was not ready to drive at that point. I was sitting there thinking about, “Wow, this was little personal challenge for me, but what a difference just engaging, not in the automatic way, made to one person’s life right there.
It made her tear up and so I thought “Wow. So if I treat every contact as a real contact and not work on automatic, and try to leave every room smiling more than it was when I got there, what will that do?” It kind of started me on that path of what you can do to get things out of the automatic.
So I challenge you, your listeners, everybody there. The next time a waitress, a waiter, a flight attendant, comes up to you and says, “How are you?”, say “Wonderfultastic.” Watch what happens. They come out of the automatic. They’ll most likely repeat the word and say, “I like that,” or they’ll make up their own word, fabulorific, or something like that. But what they will do is they will actually have an engagement with you. In my case, with Jim Scholes.
It will bring them into your world, your realm and, in a way, in sales and entrepreneurship it gives you some control. You are now driving the ship and you have an active listener. It’s little things like that that lead to cultural change, to changes in behaviors and to real engagements with people.
John: I couldn’t agree more. You know, Jim, we all come from somewhere. Myself, I’m one of eight kids and I like to refer to my family as my tribe, and it’s the woven fiber of who I am. My six sisters – I have over 55 people in my immediate family. I have nieces who are vice chancellors in the University of Arkansas education system. I have nephews who are entrepreneurs and they own businesses, and it’s my network. It’s what makes me who I am.
What we were all taught growing up together is that a random act of kindness is not something that should ever be ignored, nor should it ever be taken for granted, but it should be expected from us as human beings because we’re here on this earth to leave the world a better place than we found it.
And that’s my fundamental belief in life. Could you share with our listeners, because you didn’t come out of the box ready assembled, I’m quite certain, how was Jim formed?
Jim: Well, everybody has a back story. I don’t think I’ve ever told this on any stage or any platform like this but there are defining moments in people’s lives and very wholeheartedly they make a choice.
You hear a lot of people convicted of heinous crimes and they cite something from their past that made them that way. Well from the ages 10 to 12, I lost my mother, father, sat next to a brother and see his life exhausted from him, and lost the grandmother that I live with. So I lost mother, father, brother, and grandmother from the ages 10 to 12.
I could probably go and commit many heinous crimes and use that as my defense, but rather than do that, I use it as a point in my life to say, “What am going to take control of? What can I control?”
There are things I can’t control. There are things I can control. So I’ve been at times in my life where as a single parent with two kids I had to drop out of college to make a living then go back to night school to finish my first degree.
I had five dollars on Thursday. Before Friday’s payday, I had to decide between getting milk and bumming a ride to work, and getting gas and doing without the milk. But those weren’t hard times compared to what I went through at 10 to 12. Those were just bumps.
I think what we go through, let’s us put things in perspective, people ask me, “Do you ever have a bad day?” I say, “Those were a long time ago. I don’t have bad days anymore.”
It’s a defining moment, maybe, from 10 to 12. It was short period in my life with a lot that happened that made me make some choices way before some people have to make them. And that choice was what to do with the rest of my life, to control what I could and I think that has made me look at life in categories.
People say, “Do you ever worry?” I said, “I do. But there are only three categories. Firstly, those things that I can do something about. If I can do it now, then I do. There are those that I can do something about, but for some reason or another I can’t until later. And you make a plan and you work it out later. Or there are the things that you can’t affect so it won’t help to worry.
It sounds simple and people go, “It’s not that simple.” And I say, “Why isn’t it?”
You have a large family, I have a large family. You had defining moments, I had defining moments. I think every person who is successful and every person who’s committed heinous crimes had those events and it’s about what they decided to do.
John: I want to thank you for sharing that with us. I know it wasn’t easy, but we do appreciate it and I can’t agree with you more. I think my father used to say to all of us, “The measure of character is what you do when no one is looking.” When you get knocked down, will you get up?
For me, in life, it’s the fact that I’m just not all that bright. I just have had more times where I’ve been knocked down. And I don’t consider myself a victim, and neither do you.
I think, culturally, people need to embrace the fact that bad things happen to good people. So what?
Jim: You heard the quote, “The difference between success and failure is in those who kept trying when they failed.” I met a guy who had $600 million when I met him. He told me he’d been bankrupt twice and lost everything, but came back that third time and made it.
How many of us would have quit after the first bankruptcy? How many more would have quit after the second bankruptcy?
Successful people don’t give up.
John: I don’t think they give up at all. I mean, I’ll share something I don’t really share with people a lot. In 2005, I woke up to a fire in our home. Subsequently, everything we owned was gone, burnt to the ground, the cars melted. We owned only the underwear we were standing in the street in.
It brought me to a place where I think material things are just things. The most important things in my life were my wife and my children, and they were there. So, it changed my paradigm from that point forward and helped me to move in a direction that was about a better life.
As I like to say, “If you build a better life and you treat people the way you want to be treated, and create random acts of kindness, all the other metrics will follow you.” I’m convinced of it, Jim, how about you?
Jim: I am, too. You mentioned my fellow authors on the book tour, Barbara, Melissa, Tracy, and of course Les. If you read the book, Les’s story is that he was labeled as someone who would never do anything in his life and now he is billed as the number one motivational speaker in the US. He proved some people wrong.
I think that what you went through certainly could have been a turning point towards either direction. What each of the other speakers I’m on stage with have is that they all have their stories and I think that’s a common thread throughout humanity. It’s just about what you decide to do with that.
John: I want to dig into culture a little bit, and I need your help because I want to know what you think company culture is, and how do you define it?
Jim: I would say it’s the defining personality of the company as perceived by two groups, by those who are looking in and those who are within it. Culture is what defines the company when people describe it. It’s how the internal employees, for instance, describe Southwest Airlines. How does the public describe them? On the flip side, how would we describe companies like Enron? How would employees describe that, both pre- and post-catastrophe?
I worked as VP of HR next to the CFO who came in and worked at Enron after the mess. He was the guy hired to clean it up. I heard a lot of stories, a lot of attempts to repair it, and I think that when companies are focused on culture, they need to match what they envision. Oftentimes I see mission statements that appear to be contradicted by action plans.
If Enron had created a culture of open communication, the people who had early concerns would have felt free to speak up, but they didn’t. At Southwest Airlines the employees-only airline, they feel free to speak up. They have a forum to do that. If you’ve been on their airplane then you’ve read their magazines, and they appreciate their employees, they appreciate the input. What a contrast there is in the cultures and the external perceptions of those cultures. I think that’s often forgotten too.
John: Look, Jim, as HR has got to be intertwined with company culture, in your opinion of HR today, is it dated? Is there any type of revolution going on? Are we heading towards a golden age? Because we have a few challenges today, specifically, exactly what you’re talking about.
You have entrepreneurs trying to build emerging companies. You have big companies saying one thing yet doing another, and you have this whole workforce referred to as the “millennials” who are saying, “I don’t buy this stuff.”
Jim: Well, there is a lot more [13:50 inaudible] There is a golden age. There is the new strategic HR versus the administrative HR.
Administrative HR is about keeping being paid on time, keeping my benefits. If I have a question for benefits, I ask you. The strategic side is that they engage in the business brought to the C-Suite table, helping with their strategic decisions and they let you know what their companies think. I looked up the last few years and I watched the highest paid HR executives.
Home Depot led the pack. Their head of HR made over $6 million in 2013, over $5 million last year. Their base pay is only around $580,000 the rest is bonuses and stock awards. They must have been seen as some type of strategic partner to get bonuses like that.
So, what’s the difference? We can talk about that a little bit if you want to. I can give you a small example.
Jim: You want that?
Jim: Let’s take it to manager level. Not everybody is going to make CHR or VP of Global Human Resources. But as a manager one time, I had a general manager. I just started this company and I can tell you strictly, the HR was administrative, and so, I was noticing in some interviews, the head of engineering was getting resumes for people making more than him. It made me wonder about the company’s pay structure account plan.
I had a spread sheet of top 50 key employees’ salaries and put whether they were below first, second, third, fourth, [15:13 inaudible] above the [inaudible 15:14] in the pay bands. And then I color coded red those employees who I considered held critical roles with no succession plan in place, with nobody ready below them. There were some surprising things that made me highlight some of those roles bright yellow. I called a meeting with the VP and GM. I said, here’s what this is, I described it and he goes, “Why did you do this?” I said, “Let me give you one example.” We’ll call him Bret. We’re not using real names, but “Bret, the head of engineering, how valuable is he?” “He’s been here 15 years; I couldn’t replace him overnight.” “What if I told you that he was receiving resumes for people asking to make more than he’s making? Look on his chart. Where is he?” He said, “First quartile.” I said, “How critical is it for you to keep him? Do you think he’s noticing what those resumes are asking for?” “Yeah, what do we need to do?”
We wound up getting the guy a $20,000 raise, and had this one conversation with him, saying that we wanted his loyalty and we want him to stay around. Then we realized what the market was doing to his profession. Now, had I not been a strategic HR and just sat in my office and managed the benefits, the payroll… that individual has since told us that he was going to start looking elsewhere. We would have lost a key talent in the organization.
I can multiply that by about six or seven others on that sheet with whom we took action on that day. What’s noteworthy is that at the very end of that conversation, the GM goes, “When did I ask you for this?” I said, “You didn’t”. He goes, “Why in the last 19 years has the HR never given me this?” I said, “That’s the difference between the administrative and the strategic.”
“Now, do you want me nosing around and being involved or not?” I didn’t leave his side after that. I was at all major meetings. I was at the conference table with the director’s meetings, and I was by his side.
He saw the value of the strategic side of HR. The issue we have in HR is that some companies recognize that, whereas some don’t.
The new CEO of GM was their VP of Global Human Resources. She was in the transition business. They promoted Mary Barra to their CEO. There are other companies when I interviewed that I will ask now. I’ll tell my friends and other HR people, “Do you want to be strategic? You asked that when I interviewed.”
I’ve heard companies say, “Oh no, we only want people to notice there’s a difference.”
Just keep pushing the paper. Well, those companies don’t get what the value is in HR and with all the metrics and all the exposure to the business that your ground level HR people have. They’re not tapping that. Of the best in class companies, if you read that list of the top 40 salaries in HR and you read those companies, and you look at their markets, they are the market leaders. They are the best in class businesses in those areas.
Now, I don’t contribute all that to the HR, but it means they know how to utilize the resources in their business to the best of their abilities.
That’s the revolution, if you want to call it that. I like that. That’s happening in HR, but there’s an awareness in this. There’s awareness among the HR people that we can give more than what we are being asked for and demonstrate that, being proactive now and then, there’ll be recognition from the leaders of companies that there’s an untapped resource at your capacity.
John: Now, Jim, for our listeners who are in the HR field, I think it would be very interesting as you talked about strategic HR. In that approach, does it make sense that the individual looks at the office environment versus culture, versus retention, versus bringing people to your company and gaining the quality people you need to move forward? Isn’t that part of HR today, to look at the environment you have?
Jim: I think when we look at the environment versus culture or desired culture, there should not be a gap. Often there is. You’ll see a mission statement, one thing, like I said before and the actions do another thing. I think they should be intertwined. I actually asked that in the MBA class that I teach. Now, I taught it for over 10 years and I have CEO’s, professional athletes, and the entry level employees in those classes, and they all agree that there’s a gap in the office environment and the stated culture. There’s either a buy-in or accountability issue. If the office environment’s different than the desired culture, somebody is allowing that to happen. I’m using the word, allowing broadly, but what I mean is that if you told the company you’re supporting this or that, but actions don’t support it and managers don’t support it, they weren’t held accountable, is there going to be a major change? What’s the impetus for me as the employee to follow that, when nobody is enforcing it?
So, my opinion on office environment and culture is, there has to be a well known, throughout the organization, support for that.
John: Okay, let me jump in here for a moment. You just talked about how there you are in HR, you’re looking at the organization and someone in procurement comes in and says, “Look at what I did, I did a great thing.” And you looked out and they went out and bought $150 chairs for everybody in the administrative area. Now they’re going to buy that $150 chair, every year for the next five years to replace it or they could have bought a $350 chair once with a lifetime warranty. Not only did you make a poor investment, what message did you send to those people when you put them in a piece of crap?
John: But, Jim, wait a minute. Corporate said he did a good job. He hit his budget. He is a good guy. Pat him on the back. How do you reconcile that, Jim? What do you do? There you are, you’re caught between corporate and the culture, and there you sit in the middle, at HR.
Jim: Right, I think again, it’s about being a proactive HR person. That GM never asked me for that salary analysis and its impact on succession planning and retention. I supplied it to him. In this case, you would have had to hit him between the eyes with the data and I think that’s where the [20:20 inaudible] put on HR professionals comes in. My financial background and my industrial engineering is all about continuous improvement. Continuous improvement will tell you that $350 times 10 years is better than $150 per year for 10 years. You hit him with the facts. You hit him with the numbers. And then you hit them with, “Now do you want to know how the employees are perceiving these “gifts” Mister Manager?” “Oh yeah, weren’t they happy?” “No, they saw that you wasted money. They said, “why are you buying new chairs? I was either happy with my old one or why didn’t you buy me a chair that’ll last.” Now you’re going to spend this every year. I’d rather have a $150 on my bonus check.” And then the manager goes, “They thought that?” Yeah.
John: It’s amazing.
Hey Jim, tell me a story about when you came into a company and it had a negative culture and about what effects it caused. Or vice versa, where you came into a company and you had a real positive culture and you were able to enhance that.
Jim: Well, when I became VP of HR, they have been looking for a year and a half for someone to match the culture. Those were the words they used. When I met with that board and I spoke to them and I asked about HR, they said, “Well, we made these internal scorecards and HR is the lowest scoring department.” Now if you read the CEO’s Linkedin endorsement for me, she said that she knew I would make a change but didn’t realize it would start happening within two weeks.
Now, that sounds good and so we turned around HR, bringing in all your people. I met with the employees in HR. I acknowledged their views and I said, “I don’t think we have to fire anybody. I think we have to change our perception and change the way we look at things.” I said, “Let’s go through this. Why do you think they said this? Why do you think they said that?”
We made action plans and I told them, “As long as we address these, I’m not getting rid of anybody.” Now, the whole culture view of HR, the whole culture of the way the company was dealing was being affected by HR of all departments. And what’s amazing is that change, which she still talks about today, I made with the same five employees, the core employees of HR. They were satellite employees, but the same five who [22:19 inaudible] that perception are the same five who changed that perception and it started to change in two weeks.
The problem is making people – it’s what I said about “wonderfultastic.” I took them out of the automatic, where they were just doing HR, not answering emails and not answering phone calls. “I have so much work to do. I have this.” I said, “What’s important?” Let’s talk about what they said. “What does this really mean? What were we really not doing in their eyes?” It doesn’t matter whether you’re doing it or not in their eyes. Oftentimes, they would get an email and start working on it and all they needed to do is send back, “I heard you. I’m going to take these steps, I’ll get back to you tomorrow, or in two days, or a week,” or whatever it was going to take in that project. But instead of communicating back, they just ignored it till they had the answer. The field of course, would look at that as non-responsive, “They didn’t acknowledge my emails, and didn’t answer me. It was the very little things that you have to do.
Now when I’ve worked with CEOs in changing our whole culture, it’s been common sense things. One of the things that I’ve asked them is, “Do you want quick change or do you want change to happen over time? Because if you’re going to just start implementing changes which are not publicized, and you haven’t talked about it, and you’re waiting for people to notice, then it’s going to take a year, or two years to change a culture.”
If you want to have that two-week effect, you have to openly acknowledge that there is a problem. As a CEO, if you’re trying to do that with your company, you have to stand up in a webinar or webcast or a linked meeting and you have to say it like, “I don’t like the way it is. I don’t like the way I’ve been. Please look for positive change, it’s coming.”
If you set that tone, if you set that expectation, then it is a lot different than just waiting for people to notice there’s change. But that would take a humble, yet very confident CEO to do that, wouldn’t it?
John: Oh, Jim, it’s amazing to me because I’ve worked for the big companies and I’ve sat through the meetings. I left. Quite honestly, the job I left was because I was just sick of them. I don’t think – for example, everybody talks about being philanthropic, right? Go to a corporation, “we’re philanthropic, we’re philanthropic.” Go ask the guy or the woman in the corner office what that means to them. “Oh, we have a foundation, we do this.” They don’t live it. There’s no authenticity to it. And to your point that you’re talking about, I mean, for me, for 12 years I’ve been involved in an AAU boys’ basketball program for inner city kids. I’ve successfully been with this program and we’ve sent over 500 kids to college. I’ve mentored kids out into the business world. They had nothing. And I said, if you change the environment of this child to your point when you first started out today – these kids all had a chance to be gang members, hoodlums, you name it, or they could become contributing adults in society.
It took an individual to truly put skin in the game. So when I listen and I hear corporations talk, quite honestly, I don’t believe a lot of what they say because of their actions and what goes on. It’s where I get a chance to talk to a guy like you and it doesn’t matter how good you are, because I think we change the world one child at a time, one individual at a time.
I don’t think people get up in the morning and intend to be crappy people and be dumped on by each other and create a hostile environment. I don’t think anybody is bad.
Jim: No. You have to do it one step at a time. You mentioned, your kids that you work with. I work with what they label “at risk” kids which I found means that you’re not going to college, so you’re a loser to them. [crosstalk]
They put some of these kids in trailers out the back of the high school as juniors and seniors. Do you think other students don’t know why they’re in those trailers? And then they tell them, “We’ve got to work for you to get you your high school diploma.” I go to those kids and I take them on tours of companies, to people who are in a good position and who are making good income though they only had a high school education. I tell them, “You’re not a loser because you’re not going college.”
There are jobs we need, that don’t require college degrees, for this world to go on. I want them to hold their head up and there’s a whole story here that takes a lot longer than we have. I found a kid who really made a difference and who was in need when we were doing videos, and I asked, “What are you good at? He said, “Nothing.” And I said, “Why do you say that?” He said, “Because my mom tells me that.” That was “wow.” I stopped the video. I stopped everything and made a personal case with that kid. He’s one of the great success stories in my past. I don’t use him for publicity; that’s just something you do because you can do it.
John: It’s amazing. All my kids say to me, John, “Why don’t we have these sneaker contracts? We’re the oldest AAU program in Jersey, 34 NBA players have come out of it and over a thousand Division One players.” I’m like, “Because I will never let someone exploit you. You are not for sale.”
Every year, I go out and raise the money, the $100,000 it takes to run the program. I go out and cobble it together through corporations. I make sure we are a 501(c)(3) organization. We just make sure of it because I just think, “What message am I sending, going back to the culture.” If you create a culture of entitlement, what did they learn? So, from that perspective, let me get off my soap box, Jim.
I just feel so strongly about the world we live in. But I want to ask you this question: what tips would you give an HR professional when it comes to finding talent and bringing people into the company, interviewing them, and how would you help them make a better hiring process?
Jim: There’s an old, old HR saying, “Hire for attitude and train for skills.” Obviously, I’m not going to hire high school graduates to be brain surgeons. What that’s truly saying is, with all minimum qualifications being met for the job, hire for the attitude because you cannot train a positive, “get it done” attitude.
You can train the missing little side skill sets they need, but you cannot train for that attitude. So when you’ve got your pool of applicants, when you have that pool of applicants sitting in front of you, look for the one who’s looked you in the eyes and said, “I want this.” The desire, the fire, the passion.
John: What’s more important [27:46 inaudible] is our need.
Jim: Actually, I would rather have somebody who wants it. I told my students, “Manage your career. You’re not going to be discovered.” I went to a guy that was – the whole other department at UPS stood in front of him in the hallway – so they had to stop and look at me and I said, “I’m Jim Scholes, I’m going to work for you one day.” And he laughed. I said, “You laugh now, but when you get three resumes on your desk from a division manager saying, “Here’s the ones I’ve picked up,” one of those names is going to be the guy who said I want to work for you.” And guess what, he and I laughed about that later when I got hired in his department. He says that’s exactly what happened. He took three names on my desk and saw one that was familiar.
John: Good for you, man. [crosstalk]
Jim: I told somebody I wanted it. There’s a lot to be said in that but if you need the job, what is the need. Right now, the economy is taking a dump. My recruiters say I can get employees cheaply. Yeah, until the economy turns, and then they’re going to jump ship. What about the person who wants to work for me because I have the passion, I have given them something, and I have made them feel that they’re going to gain something by working here? That’s the person I want.
John: Now, what tips would you give the entrepreneurs from the emerging companies who are starting to hire aggressively? They’re starting to build their business and they want to create a culture, they want to create great teams. What do you tell them, Jim?
Jim: Walk the walk. Act the way you want to be. If applicants perceive your vision and passion, they’ll want to be a part of it. Sell yourself, sell your vision, sell them on the fact that they’re helping you get that. You hire passion, you hire fire, you hire desire.
So, for them to have that, don’t you have to have that? So if you don’t believe in what you’re doing as an entrepreneur, you’re not going to hire anybody else who’s going to believe in it either. So walk the walk and act that way.
John: A funny anecdote about that is about how when my wife and I started this business that we have 12 years ago, we started to hire people. We had the same core people then we’ve had some people on the edges come and become some of the core, and some have not.
The interesting thing for me is that I do the process, and people will say, “What rules do you have in the company?” Early on, I finally went home one day to Kyra and said, “Kyra, they want us to have rules.” She said, “We have rules.” I said, “We do?” She said, “Yeah, we have one rule. Treat people the way you want to be treated and be the change you wish to see. Other than that, there are no rules.”
So, I thought about them, and like she said, those two rules cover everything.
Jim: They really do, don’t they?
John: If they don’t get it, we can’t hire them. And I think that’s an advantage we have as a small company. But we’ve embraced that culture and pushed it down throughout the entire organization. And we’ve created a linear organization versus a hierarchical organization, to the point that everybody’s opinion matters and they all matter equally, mine and theirs. As my father used to say, “Okay, all of you get eight votes, I get nine. So, I get one vote until there’s everybody else around you.” [crosstalk]
Jim: I believe in that.
John: So that works. What’s the most common mistake you see, Jim?
Jim: Great ideas, great dreams, but no plans, no need analysis. They just leap. In my chapter in BOLD, I talked about leaping in with all you have, but that’s only after setting up the plans for success and knowing and analyzing what you’re getting into.
A lot of times, I think the dream is that “I have this great vision, I’m just going to quit my job and do it.” Get a banker to back that business plan…
Great ideas, great dreams but they don’t make the steps to get there. I told people 10 years before I lived in Texas that I was going to live in Houston, the Dallas area, and be a VP of HR. When I got that job, they go, “You were lucky.” I’m like, “You don’t get it.”
John: That little thing called planning has a little bit to do with luck.
Jim: It does.
John: It took us – Kyra and I spent two years planning and refining our business plan before we started the business. When I tell people, they are like, “When did you start your business?” And I say, “2005.” And they look at me and I say, “Oh, that’s when I opened the door,” and she’ll look at them and go, “We started our business in 2002 at the end of the year.” But they’re like, “No.” And I’m like, “Be careful.” So I think to your point, if you’re not planning it out, to all the listeners, the entrepreneurs, to Jim’s point – you don’t just jump up one morning and say, I’m the king of the world. It doesn’t work that way.
Jim: Just in the movies.
John: Let’s talk a little bit about your writing and the book. How did you get there? How did that happen?
Jim: I was invited. Melissa and Tracy invited me to the book, and Tracy knew me really well and sometimes he’s called my twin brother. They thought I would have something to contribute after I’d read the book in its entirety and all the other chapters. I think we have one heck of a motivational tool for people who are looking to go out on their own.
John: Now Jim, we’re going into the lightning round because we’ve come into the end of our time and I really appreciate you taking the time to talk to me and share some great insights to us.
Jim: What’s your go-to quote for inspiration?
Jim: There are two, “Act the way you want to be and you’ll be the way you act” by Leo Buscaglia. You really have to think about that one and it has a lot of deep meaning. And then, “Nothing great in the world has ever been accomplished without passion.” That was by Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. So, “Act the way you want to be and you’ll be the way you act,” so you form your own reality, and “Nothing great in the world has ever been accomplished without passion.” I believe that wholeheartedly.
John: Those are great quotes. What book changed your life?
Jim: Well, books have been part of my life since childhood. They let me escape the confines of home, an overbearing grandmother who wouldn’t let me off the block except to go to the library all afternoon. Through my formative years in management, I think “High Five” by Ken Blanchard was a good turning book. And then, most recently, “Making a Difference” by Steve Gilliland.
I actually met him at a conference we were co-speaking at, and got the book and had him sign it. I read it and I was like, “Wow.” Of the recently published books in the last few years, “Making a Difference” by Steve Gilliland is really a good book which I would recommend.
John: Okay, other than your company – because in this question your company doesn’t count (even though it does) – what company do you admire the most as it relates to their culture and why?
Jim: Have you ever heard of the Patagonia story?
John: Yes, great story.
Jim: Patagonia. It was a case study in one of the classes I taught and I fell in love with them. If they weren’t so far up North, I’d try to work for them one day but, you know, I don’t like the snow. They do two month long retreats for their employees, fully paid, where they go and work for a non-profit organization. They give one percent of their overall revenue or 10% of the profits, whichever is greater, to environmental causes.
They only hire employees who are passionate. They don’t have to be outdoor snowboarders, surfers, skiers, but they have to be passionate about something. Their own website even, even if it’s music. You have to have a passion to work for us.
They have onsite day care with videos around the company where people can watch the kids. And it’s all you want to work here, your passion is going to show in your product and their products speaks for itself.
They’ve given, to date, over $60 million to environmental causes. So, how can you not love a success story like that?
John: They’re a great company. Great company. All right Jim, if you were to describe your culture for the ideal company in three words, what would it be?
Jim: BE Brave. BE Ready. And BE Willing. You have to be willing to take the steps and give yourself permission. So be brave, be ready, and be willing.
John: Thank you. Now, Jim, how can our listeners reach out to you? Can you share with them a little insight on how we can reach out to you through Twitter, email, or some upcoming events.
Jim: It’s all “wonderfultastic” as www.wonderfultastic.com is my website, @Wonderfultastic is my Twitter, Facebook.com/, guess what, wonderfultastic. So all you have to remember is one word and you can be socially connected with Jim.
John: Jim, this has been a wonderfultastic time for me. We never end a show without me sharing my favorite quote by Maya Angelou which says, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
And we hope, we’ve made you feel warm, comfortable, and embraced, and we thank you for your time.
Jim: Thanks a lot. I really, really have.
John: Jim, be well and I hope you’ll come back and visit us again.
Jim: Yes, sir.
John: Thank you so much, bye.
[END OF INTERVIEW]