John Salveson and I launched Salveson Stetson Group, a retained executive search firm, 25 years ago. On one hand, I feel the years have flown by, and on the other hand, so many professional, life experiences and personal milestones are embedded in those years, which makes it feel like a lifetime. I feel so blessed to have been on this journey with some of the best partners and colleagues while navigating major world events like 9/11, a recession, acquisition and merger and even a pandemic. You would be forgiven to think the pandemic would bring us to our knees but instead, it demonstrated our resiliency and adaptability.
What are some of the life lessons we have learned along this 25-year journey?
- Surround yourself with talent: I know our business has endured due to the collection of team members we call colleagues. They have a variety of diverse strengths, but the most common traits have been loyalty, ownership, client and candidate focus and finally commitment to the firm and each other. SSG would not have thrived over the years without the talented team we have built.
- Authenticity: If I have learned anything, it is that you have to be true to yourself. That means don’t accept assignments that aren’t a good fit just for the revenue or don’t “yes” a client just so they feel you are listening to them even if you don’t agree with their position. It doesn’t help you or the client. Committing wholeheartedly to the clients that you work with and showing up in an authentic way pays off.
- Be Honest: Whether you are talking to a colleague or a client, let them know how you feel about what is on your mind. Include positive as well as constructive feedback in your exchange. Life is too short, and they deserve your direct advice and counsel—even if it is difficult at times to hear.
- Collaboration: Be a collaborative partner; listen to others when they need a sounding board; pitch in when someone is struggling; be open-minded to considering different ways of doing things; be a good team player.
- Admit to mistakes: When mistakes happen, admit them and figure out a plan to correct them. I have found most clients really appreciate this direct approach, and it builds stronger relationships in the long term.
- Community Partnerships: Our communities need support from businesses. Our firm is committed to being involved on non-profit boards, and I feel so proud of the organizations we have supported over the years. Many of us have served in multiple leadership roles, and it has made a difference in our communities.
- Show a little kindness: Clients and colleagues have good and bad days. Showing empathy and a little grace goes a long way. It is easy to get “ticked off” when someone says something that irritates you, but it is always best to show your kind side and take the high road.
These are just a few lessons we have learned along the way, but with those lessons also come some accomplishments that stand out. Three of the accomplishments I am most proud of are:
- Helping so many executives advance in their career journeys.
- Creating many meaningful careers for our own colleagues.
- Integrating into a larger entity with my colleagues from MPI: Furst Group and NuBrick Partners. We are learning from each other, and it makes me even more confident of our growth in the years ahead.
Thank you to all of our clients, friends, advisors and colleagues. We appreciate all that you have done to ensure our success. The past quarter-century has been an exciting ride, and we look forward to a bright future—together.