By the time this Newsletter goes to print, 2021 is in the history books. When reflecting on all that has happened in the past two years, it’s fair to say that we’ve been through a lot. If you are new to our industry in the last 12 months, you may have not been drawn to such an opportunity if not but for what you experienced during Covid. Be thankful for what you went through as it allowed to be where you are today! If you have been in the industry for some time, you are likely seeing a surge in production that is unparalleled. Be thankful for what you went through as it allowed you to be where you are today!

Are you sensing a theme? John Maxwell sums it up perfectly: “Change is inevitable. Growth is optional.”

 There are times in life, both personally and professionally, where circumstances can change at such a rapid speed that our opinions, perspectives, and course of action can change by the day, if not by the hour. When faced with such circumstances, there are generally three groups of people:

  • Those who take reflective but action-oriented responses to do whatever can be done to mitigate the challenges and seize opportunities
  • Those who simply panic and overload themselves and others with reactions that may be reasonable but tend to only exacerbate the challenges
  • Those who are simply bystanders; the proverbial “deer in the headlights”

As search professionals responsible for impacting companies and changing lives, we have an obligation to do all we can to put ourselves in the first group. When there is so much we cannot control, we can control being the loudest voice in the room.

How can we capitalize on challenges and emerge stronger, both as recruiters and as a collective industry?

With all that seems to divide the world today, it turns out that we might not be as far apart as it seems. The news feeds on extremes; no longer just a 30-minute daily segment or a newspaper on your doorstep. Rather, social media is the source of news for many. With that shift, it also means now that news is a commodity; media outlets fight for clicks and viewership. Headlines are now competing for your business, and extremes are great for business.

More than ever, it is essential to realize that most issues are not problems to be solved. Rather, they are polarities to be managed. There are usually no solutions that don’t have additional problems within that solution. It is important to understand that continuum, evaluate both intended and unintended outcomes, and recognize that most everything is gray. Generally, individuals would declare that they want freedom to assemble, free speech, and the like. They also want safety. If we sacrifice all our freedoms, it is easy to establish order and security. If we don’t sacrifice any freedoms, then security we crave is all but impossible. Thus, there is no perfect solution.

Seeing this as a polarity to manage versus a right/wrong approach shifts our paradigm and allows all to better understand each other’s perspective. It is possible to hold two opposing views simultaneously in a world that needs optimization over perfection.

Success is abundant right now; the revenues of our Sanford Rose Network doubled in 2021 over 2020. Are you surrounded by an all-star team?

Why does being part of an all-star team matter? Sports fans get to enjoy the psychological benefits of winning, even if they have nothing to do with the players or games, says Stephen Reysen, associate professor at Texas A&M University-Commerce who studies identity and fandom. “Individuals feel that the fan interest (in this case a sport team) is a part of them,” Reysen says. “So when the team is winning, you feel like you are winning even though you are not a player.”

Okay, so what does that have to do with anything? It’s only natural, when faced with a new challenge, to harbor a dirty little secret – that deep down inside, you have no idea what you are doing. Many high achievers (aka recruiters) can at times, feel like complete frauds; your accomplishments are just the result of serendipitous luck. Although you’ve been told many times that one of the secrets to success is “fake it until you make it,” this can also lead to what many label as imposter syndrome – a feeling of inadequacy despite evidence that indicates you’re skilled and quite successful.

Here’s the good news: although you at times may not be happy with your personal production or feel in control of placements that went sideways, you are completely in control of where you choose to step. You are entirely in control of your voice, your message to others, and your attitude. Recognize that perfectionism and imposter syndrome are often a related pair. Many high performing individuals set excessively high goals for themselves and tend to have a twinge of control-freak woven in; historically, if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself. In situations that feel challenging, it may feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders – so distribute the weight. Find other leaders and recruiters who have been where you are today, and learn from them. Create opportunities by delegating responsibilities, and don’t expect immediate perfection from others.

Remember that you are better than you think you are, smarter than you think you are, and more worthy than you believe.

And remember the importance of surrounding yourself with others who have your back. Seek out all of the opportunities available to you for continued education, testing out new tech tools that are working for others, and chances for collaboration! Because ultimately, it might be that the support we seek comes from a who rather than a what. People in our lives are what truly shape us. When times are good, our families, friends, work associates, clients…they know us; in times of adversity, we truly know them. Choose to be the kind of person you would want in your life when you face personal adversity. Choose empathy over judgment. Choose optimism over pessimism. Choose to give over taking. Choose to be the person that makes others feel better after they interact with you. Choose to be with people who make you a better you.

Most spend as much time with work associates as they do with even the closest family or friends. What if all of us made a concerted effort to be the best version of ourselves with each other? What if we all treated each other the way that s/he wants to be treated? What if the who we are collectively provides much of the comfort we all seek? What if we then did our best to take this way of being to our family, friends, and community?

Times of adversity shape who you will become, but also expose who you are now.

Diamonds are just chunks of coal that did well under pressure. 

 Be the diamond.


Karen Schmidt, President – Sanford Rose Associates