Category Archives: leadership

Dad lessons

“Do as I say not as I do!” – This was/is a favourite saying from my Dad.  Normally trotted out when we as kids, busted doing something, which we found amusing.  Talking with his mouthful and farting/burping in public being a few examples that you cannot go past.  (Those last two normally followed with the infamous “Where ever you may be, let your wind go free”)

———> MY Dad!

Now I’m an experienced Dad (well, I’ve been one now for 8.5 years and have now ramped my Dadness up to cover 3 (not so) little tykes, I’m finding myself morphing into my parents.  Sadly (I feel) it’s not just at home.  It’s creeping into my work life.  It’s quite confronting when you realise that you have people in your team, who are almost a generation younger than you!

I felt this yesterday.  I took an annual leave day to spend what turned out to be a stunning day with the family.  Being school holidays and all, it was the least I could do to at least seem like I was shouldering the load with my wife.  It was a great day, weather wise, couldn’t have asked for better, best Spring day for the season.  We jam packed it with activities which were fun for all of us.  We laughed when we heard about the traffic chaos almost shutting poor Melbourne town down, as I wasn’t needing to battle it.  We played, we worked in the garden, we got haircuts and we played some more!  It was gold!

But I was still drawn to the phone, the little mobile office in my pocket.  I only took one call, which we concluded in less than 2 minutes, but I was still compelled to check.  I’m not sure why.. I’m not a workaholic (sorry boss), sure I enjoy what I do and have a real passion for it, but reflecting back…. seriously? one day?  My mistress iPhone gets me in. (I get grumpy with my team do it) I can remember the days when you just travelled somewhere.  If you were out and someone wanted to catch you, you had to leave a message on a cassette tape on the answering machine (I think I’ve lost my Gen Y readers – check this for clarification) I couldn’t take calls, I couldn’t check status’ (that was done at the pub with the lads) and my message bank was a number of red slips of paper in my cubby hole at work when I returned to the office!  I’m wondering how my kids will actually be able to take a break from the office? They’ll be doing stuff we haven’t even thought of yet.

Is this a comment on me? society? a new working culture?  Does it make you good at your job or just bad at living?

Funnily, I accepted a meeting invitation which takes all of a microsecond to click “Yes” I’ll attend.  This acceptance was followed by a quick email, in capitals no less from one of MY team, saying “GET OFF THE EMAIL!”.  Humph… Double Humph!!!!  She was right mind you, and I would have done exactly the same thing, if the roles had been reversed.  But come on, “Do as I say not as I do!!” I can say that right? 😉

Recruitment Philosophy – What’s yours?

Changing jobs a couple of times in the last 2 years has made me really look at myself and my belief structure in this field, refine this, perhaps even formulate one (or two).  I’ve come to understand what I believe in, when it comes to Recruiting.

It’s not about just going to work, hiring people and going home.  I think people over complicate things to (sometimes) justify their own existence, pad out their “personal brand”, push their agenda or product, or suck up to “Recruiting aficionados”. And please don’t get me started on all those “Social Media is the greatest” conversations!

I’ve been able to break this down to a few key ideals which I believe in when it comes to this profession and what I do.

So what is it?

Dan’s mantra.

  • Recruitment is all about the conversation (medium is irrelevant)
  • Everyone (YES EVERYONE) is hired to solve a business problem
  • Fish where they are
  • Sharing and learning is essential

What’s yours?

The way meetings should be!

This is just a fun post (well for me).

I was going to a meeting the other day and to keep the noise of the kids out of my head (who I was sharing a train carriage with) I had the headphones in just playing some “drown those kids out” type music.  I kept those headphones in all the way to my  meeting.  It gave me an idea….

How cool would it be to enter every meeting with your own entrance music?  (insert imagination dream style music here) “and here…… All the way from up the road….Weighing in at  …… An undisclosed number (lol)… It’s Peerlo’s own…… Daaaaaaaaannnnnn Nuuuurooooooooooo”  You could change it up depending on the tone of the meeting….

I saw a great example on Chuck recently:

(see Chuck..

This is what I would use…..

What would you choose?

Unveiled DWS’ not so secret, Secret Millionaire – Danny Wallis talks to me

Last night on Australia’s Channel 9’s Secret Millionaire, my boss Danny Wallis took centre stage as the undercover multi Millionaire do-gooder. Watching this increased my pride in what we are about as a company, as we are most definitely led by the top. Danny does keep a lot of his charitable work hidden from view, under the cover of his hard lined business exterior. But for those who have known him for a while you’ll know his other side. We had an event a few years ago we called “DWS donate a day” whereby every dollar we earned as a company for that day we donated to one of 3 different charities. Note, this was a number of years ago, but we were able to donate $150,000 for that single days work! Let me say it again as I find it pretty impressive $150,000.

For Danny to put himself in the public eye like this is a bit out of character, but I am glad he did. At his return from 10 days without contact with the office, his laptop or mobile phone (Which I think almost killed him) I caught up with him and he allowed me to write down his thoughts. Please read below.

“After spending 10 days in Wollongong, NSW as part of Channel 9’s new reality series The Secret Millionaire, it’s fair to say, it has had a huge impact on me.
I had never previously been to Wollongong and to be honest I wasn’t sure what to expect as what I had heard about it wasn’t really all that complimentary. What I found though was a community full of life and spirit and people doing some amazing work.

As a “volunteer” I spent 10 days dealing with those less fortunate and those very much in need. After spending time with them you realise they aren’t freaks, they’re real people with real emotions who’ve found themselves in a position they can’t control. The scary thing is it could happen to anyone. Luckily though, there are some incredible people out there who do their very best to help and support others within their community.

I spent quite a deal of time at “Darcy House”, a drop in centre for the most disadvantaged and isolated people of the Illawarra. The work they do there is simply inspiring. They provide food, shelter, advocacy, advice and social support and in many cases Darcy House is the final option for many of these people. Each person had their own unique story to tell and they were all unanimous in agreeing that without Darcy House their circumstances would be much, much worse. Darcy House operates on a very modest budget and I knew they would benefit in some way from the donations I was going to make.

I also spent a lot of time with Jim Clabour at the Wollongong Police Citizens Boys Club and the Illawarra amputee association. Jim is a giant of a man with a heart of gold. He lost his leg, from the knee down, in an industrial accident over 20 years ago and since then has devoted his life to helping others. He spends the majority of his time teaching local youth how to box and the importance of discipline. Imagine that, a one legged boxing trainer. The gym was very old and run down but Jim never once complained. He simply made do with what he had and ensured the kids were always made as welcome and as comfortable as possible. Believe it or not, Jim drives a bus part time to help make ends meet. Never been on a bus trip with a one legged driver before so that was definitely a first for me. As a bus driver, Jim makes a great boxing coach. All jokes aside, Jim’s positive attitude and commitment to the youth of region made me pretty certain he too would feature in some way in my final decision of who would benefit from my donations.

Without a doubt the most touching and emotional part of my Secret Millionaire journey was my meetings with the O’Brien family. David and Rebecca O’Brien’s children, Jayden 5 and Billy 3 suffer from the rare skin condition epidermolysis bullosa. The condition causes the skin to blister at the slightest irritation has been a huge emotional and financial drain on the O’Brien’s. The boys will never be able to do what most kids take for granted and watching them struggle through their pain broke my heart. They have blisters all over their bodies and the slightest touch or bump breaks the skin. Regular hospital trips are a part of their lives and Jayden suffers from the condition internally too which means he has to be fed through a tube. Both Jayden and Billy never once complained about anything. They realised they were different to other kids and that’s just how it was. The resilience of children is incredible. There was no doubt I was going to help the O’Briens.

When it came to making my final decision about who would benefit from my donations and by how much there were a lot of things running through my mind.
At the end of my journey on Secret Millionaire, I donated $100,000.
$50,000 went the O’Briens. $30,000 to Jim Clabour and $20,000 to Darcy House.
A lot of the time, many of us just don’t realise how truly lucky and blessed we are. We take so many things for granted and don’t realise there are so many people throughout Australia who are really struggling and doing it tough. This is a great country, however we can make it greater still by taking a leaf out of the book of the people I met and giving back to our communities and helping out those less fortunate. You don’t have to donate thousands and thousands of dollars to make a difference. You can make a difference by simply helping out in any capacity you can.

There are some great, committed people and organisations out there and it was my privilege and pleasure to be able to assist, in my own small way, the fantastic work these incredible people do. The circumstances I experienced in Wollongong will stay with me forever and I’m just so glad I was able to help. We all can help. We all should help”

After watching the episode last night, after some nerves (I’m not sure what Danny must have been feeling) when sitting down to watch it, I have to say I am really impressed. And I’m not just saying that because he signs my pay cheques. I really enjoy this show, it highlights some things we just take for granted, and I think it also shows that there are some really caring people out there. Thanks to Channel 9 for putting this show on and thanks to Danny and all the other secret millionaires who agreed to be part of it, giving up their own time and money to help those in the community who need it. Whilst I won’t admit to tears when watching these shows, for some reason there is always some moisture in the eye cavity.

Is "SORRY" really the hardest word?

I love my football, I love my Carlton Football Club, and my mood on the days they play, effectively mirrors the way the team plays. I understand it is a game, but it is a release, an escape if you will. It is a great leveler, CEO’s and Parliamentarians and truck drivers and people without a job, pensioners and students are all the same. It doesn’t matter who you are, if you are personally invested (not so much financially) in some way. The ramifications of those 22 players (AFL team) has on your general state of mind (and voice) is amazing.

The highs you get from a victory, those devastating lows from a defeat, and the constant analysis of your team, where they are now v where they should be, is all consuming.

My team broke my heart this week. Its not like I’m not used to them losing.. however it was the way they lost that was disappointing. There was an obvious plan. It just didn’t work. Plain and simple. Bottom line my team got killed.

Understandably the team got criticised heavily from all corners. However, the coach responsibly said and not to quote but… “we got it wrong. The game plan didn’t work.”

Hopefully, they’ll learn from it and get better from here.

How many of us are strong enough to draw the line in the sand when things aren’t working out. Stand up to your critics (internal and external) and say.. “Yep, that was my mistake. It was a bad call. We tried but it didn’t work. We’ll learn from it, put some more plans in place and continue to get better!”

Admitting to a mistake is the ideal time to make some changes, to gain buy in, and to deliver something. The buy in is normally there because when you make a mistake in the Recruitment world, it has business impacts and the business will want to help you achieve results to help them achieve.

I was once at a Management weekend away, and somehow got myself in the spotlight. It became obvious to all that the theme for the first day was “How Recruitment is ruining our business!” FUN! as I was the only Recruitment person in the room. It was a tough day, the toughest one in my career actually.

Turning up the next day, dragging my sorry behind to the first session, felt like a death march to me, I couldn’t be late, but I couldn’t seem to make myself walk forward. One of the Directors at the time sidled up next to me and asked me how I was doing?

“Honestly? I feel really really bad” Said I
“Really? why? drink too much last night?”
“Nope, yesterday felt like a whole day just attacking me, and I’m not sure how today is going to go.”
“Well”, said the Director “The bad news is that you were right. However the good news is that you were right! If the Executive didn’t think you had what it took to deliver, quite simply you wouldn’t be here. You have the opportunity now to implement all those plans we’ve spoken about, to give solutions. They want you to achieve, you just need to now tell them how you are going to. They will afford you the tools and resources. now you can do it.”

I have to say one of the more powerful little walks I’ve ever had. Liberating if you will, and it turned into a really high level of activity and success for the Recruitment team and the business.

I had to stand up and say essentially OK, what we have been doing isn’t working. As the Manager, I’ll accept responsibility and this is how we solve it.

I’ve heard a lot, people saying don’t apologise, it shows weakness. I really don’t agree, I think it shows strength. It is easy to deflect blame and raise your hands saying.. “it wasn’t me, not my fault etc”, it is way tougher, to stand up straight, hold your head high and say “Yeah, it was a mistake, my mistake. I’m sorry it happened, we’ll rectify this, learn from it and move ahead.”

Is apologising a sign of weakness? Admitting fault or blame a limiting thing for your career?

"Greed is Good"

A catch cry of the 80’s! A time of opulence, bad style and probably even worse music. It was the predecessor of the last recession, a time most famously known in Australia as “the recession we had to have”. We may look back and snicker and scorn, but what will the next generation say about us? I think my hair and suit will stand the test of time, but who knows 🙂

Did “Greed is Good” make a comeback? Like the fashion? If not, what will people in the future see as the straw which broke this economy’s back. Is it the “I want, therefore I get it” attitude of consumerism? or is it leaders asleep at the wheel? Does the global corporate players burden the blame for this, or our leaders, for missing the indicators? Or will we await the movies to tell us what we were/are? Will we find the answer on LinkedIn, Youtube, Facebook or Twitter?

Thinking back 18 months ago… There was a cockiness about the world again, a swagger in business leaders step, share prices were skyrocketing, the next generation was assured. Was to world too confident and self impressed? I saw it in the tech wreck of the early 2000’s. Man IT in pre 2000 was great, BMW’s all round (well not for me unfortunately, I was just getting into it), long boozy lunches, claim them on expenses or not? And that was just the recruiters. IT was THE place to be. If you could spell IT you’d be a millionaire, or so it seemed. Then… BOOM, the old bubble burst as it will, Share options not worth the paper they were written on, IT people out of work, uni students bailing from IT courses, and the IT Recruiter community re-group, get rid of dead wood and wannabe’s and start again.

The last few years have been littered with stories of a “War for Talent”, heaps of attention given to attracting staff to your company, a prevailing feeling of good was in most places, the world seemed short staffed. If you had a bad day, had a disagreement with your boss, got a poor review or someone else you saw as inferior got more money… that was fine… there will be another job, that will pay more, and respect you more… just around the corner, or on the next job board you looked at. tick tick tick.. BOOM, what was that? Ouch.. that was 2009 biting you in the butt.

I wrote in my last blog post about my fear for Gen Y’s…. I wrote

Whilst you cannot discount Gen Y’s, you cannot build an organisation around just that demographic. You will need experience to get through the current climate, you need battle scars, people who have survived downturns in the past, and you need mentors for those entering the workforce. I think now is going to be more important than ever. We are going to have people entering the workforce, already confused as to their part in this world.

Gen Y’s have gone through university with a certain feeling of entitlement, there was a skills shortage remember, the war for talent was well and truly underway. Their career was already mapped out, one company as a stepping stone to the other, 20% increase min each new company, companies falling over themselves to hire them. Now, the world of 2009. Graduate programs getting scrapped, wages getting frozen, job losses everywhere… how did we get this surplus of people? (Recruiters must have been doing one hell of a job!) Their picture of self must have been challenged greatly.

It is not the time for employers to get too excited and get even with the talent market, no matter how tempting it is. We still need to nurture the talent of tomorrow, we still have to keep the stars of today and respect the greats of yesterday. Maybe this new world post 2009 will get rid of these tags, and will work together as survivors of 2009… until the next generation comes along that is.

What we do now is how we will be remembered I think. Take your time, consider everything and act accordingly. The most important word is ACT! Be bold, have conviction, and DELIVER. I know I want to make a difference. I want my kids to look at me as a representative of my generation, and say, “Wow, look at his cool hair, and amazing fashion sense. Boy I glad he did what he did in 2009, 2010, 2011 etc!” (Although realistically 2 of those three won’t happen.) I hope the right one does!

Recruiting Leadership in a challenging economy

There was a discussion I was involved in on the other day, which took many directions, from the effect the US economy has on the rest of the world, to Leadership situational leaders v top down leadership. I saw and was intrigued through the conversation and the different angles people were coming from.

It did get me thinking about about the Situational Leadership (Thanks Steve) and relating it to myself and my situation… yes I do tend to make things all about me. Why not.. I like me. But then I expanded it a little.

When you are a leader in an internal Recruitment function and there is a freeze on or a slow down, how does one keep a team motivated, busy, productive and adding value… after all we are a “cost center” in most companies 🙂

How can you lead when a clear concise message from the business is missing? Lots of companies are in survival mode at the moment, unfortunately Recruitment is not at the forefront of business leaders thinking. If you can’t relate Recruitment to the business goals how can you keep yourself relevant? Saying that is a cop out… as a leader, you should know the goals of the business, how can you sell it to candidates if you don’t know? You have to deal with what you know.. if it changes, goalposts moved or something, deal with that when you know it for sure.

I have a few ideas/suggestions.

1/ Impose yourself in discussions at the top level. Recruitment is a business function, you need to get yourself involved in discussions at the right level. Just like getting involved in online communities.. don’t be shy get in there, say something Dan (good name for a blog that 🙂 )

2/ Engage many areas of the business, CEO, CFO, IT, Sales, HR, interstate, they all need you when the pressure comes on. Build up these relationships now, or even better, get your team to build their relationships with business functions they haven’t been involved with previously.

3/ Keep the communication strong within the team. Keep your communication open, keep having team meetings, one on one’s etc to ensure consistency and that any fears, frustrations etc can be allayed.

4/ Celebrate wins. Make a noise, ensure the whole business knows how your team rocks

5/ Gimmicks
. Ok this is a weakness of mine… I love a good gimmick. We have a mascot in our team.. the envy of the business. Pete King, the Recruitment duck. Agencies ring bells (well they used too in my day), we quack the duck. Whoever makes the latest hire keeps the duck! This mascot has had his own column in our newsletter, presented at company meetings etc. Now the gimmicks don’t always work… I have had many a lead balloon moment… more of those another day. Be careful, they need to be relevant to your team, not just amusing to you. (lesson learned)

6/ Don’t let you frustrations show to the team. As a leader you are the barometer, if you are always moaning about everything, being slack as there is no urgent need to hire etc.. your team will reflect this too. You and your team cannot afford that.

7/ Brainstorm for the upturn coming (they do follow downturns.. trust me.. the dates are just not set yet. I love these discussions, the freedom to think.

8/ Educate the business about your market. Get your team involved in this. You are the front line. Management/Directors, will and do make assumptions based on something they’ve read or heard or plainly assumed… make a Mgt newsletter or equivalent to add your market intelligence to their thinking. Biggest misnomer at the moment I think is that it will be easier to hire good people at the moment and those great people will be cheap as they will be thankful to be in work. Don’t let your Executive sound mis-guided, help them understand our world. (or is it just mine?)

9/ Educate your team – Do team webinars ( is a great source for these, ensure that everyone is reading articles and getting involved in online communities, ( is a great area for this) and get them to report back to the group as to what they have learned or discussed etc. Or of course run some training yourself.

10/ Don’t stop Recruiting – But don’t lie to the talent pool you are building, ensure that your candidates understand where you are coming from. However, you need to keep building. The market moves quickly, people leave etc, you may be required to adjust and react quickly. If you are prepared with a real, well managed Talent Pool, which delivers, you and your team will really stand out.

It is a challenging role at the moment, hard to build momentum, to allow your team to feed (as I like to call it). I would like to hear other tactics people are using Internally to ensure that their area is still rocking even in this market. Don’t be down hearted, we aren’t in this alone. Have fun, enjoy yourself and bring your team on the journey, when the world turns once more and you are overloaded with requirements everyone will look back on these times with rose coloured glasses… “ahhhh remember when we had time to read and think?”

Tomorrow’s leaders today a preview of the future

It’s really hard not to write about this… so I won’t even try. Warning for those about to read.. bias Dad alert

Today I had the day off work, it’s that time of year, children’s Christmas concerts, school break ups and the like. I got to do something very rare I think for a career dad.. I got to spend a whole day observing and helping out in my son’s 2 Kindergarten sessions (yes we have him booked in 2 different schools for enough contact hours to keep him stimulated). What a blessing… I rarely get a glimpse of him in this world, his own world, his own social engagement, my viewing is normally in my own controlled world, where I have a say in the environment and can control it to a point. What an eye opener, to view my son as a human being, who interacts on his own, has his own social circles and is learning how to cultivate relationships. Humbling is a word that came to mind.

Tomorrow’s leaders today, you can see the politics in play… “I’m not your friend today!”, or “he’s not your friend.. he’s my friend.. go away!” you see the suck ups, the bully’s, the leaders, the followers, the power struggle if there is multiple people wanting to be the leader or the social groups forming when those opposing leaders pick sides. An uncomplicated microcosm of the world I know.

Do we over complicate things when thinking about what we do and how we do it? I dislike office politics , but really, should I fight it, or just go with it? is it something that is just human nature? These kids pick up on it, with little help from the outside world, it seems innate. And beautiful.

Watching them grow up will be fun.. I’ve been told it goes very quickly and I need to enjoy it whilst it lasts. It is hard to avoid a little tinge of guilt as you fill in the leave form for the day of just fun at Kinder… but hey.. if you get the chance… TAKE IT, that smile you’ll find.. priceless.