Predictions for 2016

01/13/2016 09.23 EST

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Most people spend the beginning of the year trying to keep the New Year’s resolutions they’ve embraced alive until at least the end of the month. Because most of us fail at this endeavor – including me – I’ve decided to take a pass on New Year’s resolutions for 2016 and share my predictions for what will happen in the coming year instead. And, to demonstrate the degree of my misguided confidence, I promise to report back next January on my batting average.   Here we go.   The US stock market will go up, down and sideways. However, it will have almost no correlation to the health of our economy and will leave us with the impression that the people and institutions that make the markets move have all of the judgement, patience and emotional maturity of a spoiled 13-year-old. Approximately 50 percent of the country will awake on November 2nd completely panicked and appalled by the voter’s choice for our 45th President. The Republic will survive. I will meet with over 100 executives in transition as a favor to a client, friend or other member of my network. Every one of the 100 executives will tell me they are being completely ignored by the people they know in large global search firms and will express genuine gratitude that I took the time to meet with them. When those 100 executives eventually find employment and need a retained search firm to help build their team, 97...

Rating Philadelphia as a Place to Live and Work: Senior Executive Insights

12/16/2015 02.42 EST

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Click here to view our report: Rating Philadelphia Survey Results – Salveson Stetson Group  

What I Learned in Boston

12/08/2014 09.25 EST

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Random thoughts written on the plane ride back to Philadelphia after attending the Greater Philadelphia Leadership Exchange (October 5-8)   Over the past three days, I had the opportunity to participate in the Greater Philadelphia Leadership Exchange (GPLEX) in Boston.  The GPLEX serves as an annual experience that allows Philadelphia leaders in business, government and non-profit to learn about economic development initiatives underway in other cities with the hope that we can bring back useful ideas to apply to the challenges facing the Greater Philadelphia Region.  This trip was an eye-opening experience for me, and I wanted to share some of the highlights.   First and foremost, I found that there are a lot of incredibly talented people in Philadelphia who are deeply committed to improving the prospects for our Region and its residents.  Our delegation was comprised of approximately 120 outstanding leaders who I believe have the capacity to successfully address the challenges facing Philadelphia – such as educating our children, promoting the growth of our businesses, addressing income equality and modernizing our decaying infrastructure.  I would put these folks up against the brain trusts of any other major metropolitan area in the country.   Second, while there are a number of striking similarities between Philadelphia and Boston, we are very different communities.  Our region is much larger and more diverse than Boston.  As a result, our problems are more complex and our stakeholders are more numerous.  That being said, our friends in Boston seem to...

10 New Year’s Resolutions for 2014

01/13/2014 11.13 EST

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It may be a little bit late, but nonetheless, I am announcing my New Year’s Resolutions for 2014.   I will stop creating retaliatory traffic problems for my rival colleagues near my office by moving the big plant outside my door into the middle of the hallway. If it becomes necessary to create that bottleneck, I will not send an email to my assistant asking her to move the plant for me. I will stop waiting for the sky to fall every time there is a weak jobs report.  I will convince myself that we will never have another recession as severe as the last. I will put a small amount of the money I buried in my garden back into the bank.  At some point. I will take Twitter more seriously. I will submit at least one proposal response to an RFP in the language of Farsi, just to see if anyone notices. I will agree with everyone who tells me that LinkedIn is going to put us out of business. I will never say “I told you so” when they call in two months in need of immediate help on a search. I will stop explaining the business model of retained executive search to well-meaning people who do me the “favor” of sending me resumes of their unemployed friends and neighbors. I will submit my blog entries in a timely manner to She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed so I don’t have to resort to listing my New Year’s Resolutions...

Say-on-Pay Simplified

12/04/2013 04.24 EST

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With “Say-on-Pay” and Dodd-Frank being practically household names, perhaps it is time for a 101 version in case you missed it.   With the financial crisis in 2008, the United States government developed the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), which was set up to buy assets and equity from financial institutions to strengthen the financial sector.  It was signed into law by President George W. Bush on October 3, 2008, and it was a component of the government’s measures to address the subprime mortgage crisis.  TARP originally authorized expenditures of $700 billion.   Out of this same financial crisis, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank) was born, with its fundamental purpose being to rein in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  It also reduced the amount authorized by TARP to $475 billion.  Barney Frank has described TARP as “highly successful and wildly unpopular.”   Fundamentally, over several years, tons of risk was being taken in the housing market by financial institutions that did not suffer any consequences.  These actions created significant economic change, which required a BIG change in legislation.  Translation: loans were made by people who were going to sell the loan, with the incentive being to issue many loans with little concern for borrowers’ ability to pay them back.  Not a good thing.   We saw the Lehman failure followed by the AIG failure.  None of the debts for Lehman were paid, while “all” of the debts for AIG were paid.  However,...

An Unscientific Assessment of the Economy

09/26/2013 11.52 EST

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Relying on economists for predictions about the tone of our economy can be a frustrating business. After all, everyone knows the First Law of Economics:  For every economist, there exists an equal and opposite economist. The Second Law is that they are both wrong.   So what’s a person – who works in a business that is intimately tied to the economy, but who never once stepped foot in the business school during both his undergraduate and graduate school years – to do?   Rely on unscientific, subjective information, of course.   So here is my hot-off-the-press amateur assessment of the economy: things are improving. Here’s my case:   We just closed a search in which the placement received a sizable counter-offer from his employer when he went in to resign. They are a professional services firm that is swamped with work. The line at Starbucks is definitely getting longer. I met a very senior-level executive last week who decided to leave a high-paying job, purely voluntarily, so she could conduct a job search to take a different direction in her career. We recently closed two search assignments for a client company with candidates who had multiple offers in hand, leading to a mini bidding war. I do not consider it idiotic that I am buying organic, boutique food for my cats. Our firm is hiring again, for the first time in about five years. The new iPhone just sold about 100 million jillion units in 23...

Why are we Working in the Summer?

08/05/2013 12.44 EST

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Our firm is a member of IIC Partners, one of the top 10 retained executive search groups in the world with 46 offices in 35 countries.  Several months ago, I volunteered to lead a work group to conduct IIC’s first-ever global survey.  The topic we chose was succession planning and we will be able to share what we believe will be some very interesting results in the fall.   The survey was drafted, vetted and ready to go by mid-June.  The plan was to invite participation during July.   Throughout this project, I have learned quite a bit about cultural differences, language, gender bias and various other nuances of trying to get a group of 10 people from 10 different countries to agree on survey questions.  Let’s just say I understand now why the United Nations needs such a big building in New York – and a peace-keeping force.  But we soldiered on and the survey went live.   That’s when I learned about another cultural difference:  working in the summer.   Some of our partner firms flat-out told us that they essentially close their businesses for the better part of either July or August.  Business slows to a trickle over the summer months and most of their clients are gone.  That’s just the way it is.   Then there are the people who are on holiday/vacation/leave – call it what you like.  They have messages that say that they will be out of the office until...

Tips for Recruiters Looking to Recruit Out-of-Town Job Candidates

06/24/2013 02.07 EST

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This article was originally published on Brazen Life, a lifestyle and career blog for ambitious young professionals.     Your CFO job is in Chicago, but your top candidate is in Atlanta. She has a child who’s a sophomore in high school, and her mortgage is $200,000 underwater. She loves your company and the career opportunity, but can’t get herself over the relocation hurdle.   Sound familiar? Unfortunately, for many recruiters, it’s an all too familiar scenario as they go to market for top talent. Seventy-six percent of employers surveyed last year reported that relocation is still an issue for candidates. Moving for a job can be a tough sell—so how do you turn a “no” into a “yes” with a rockstar candidate when relocation is the only thing standing in your way?   It’s not completely hopeless. Last year, 44 percent of workers said they’d relocate for the right job, and data from 2011 reports that interstate residential shipments were up significantly from the recession, suggesting Americans might be more open to moving for out-of-state jobs. Plus, general job satisfaction remains low, with the majority of employees in the U.S. and Canada unhappy at work.   Despite these encouraging trends, a rigid approach on your company’s part will not put you fully in the game for relocating top talent. In order to successfully compete, your company needs to look at each case individually, rather than trying to fit every candidate into your standard relocation policy.   Candidate objections...

Post Recession: Executive Pay on the Rise

01/04/2013 02.46 EST

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In the years leading up to the recession, the talent market was hot. Unemployment in 2007 was hovering in the 4.5 percent range and U.S. GDP growth – while not as robust as the late 1990s – had recovered nicely from the business and geo-political turmoil of the early part of the decade.   These factors created a business environment where the need for new senior executive talent was at a premium, and the price companies were willing to pay for such talent showed it.   In a recent study of our executive placements since 2006, we found that executives changing jobs in the two years leading up to the financial meltdown enjoyed a windfall in terms of compensation increases. On average, they were receiving an increase in total compensation of almost 25 percent.   Executive pay drops with the economy – 56% in 2 years   Adding to low unemployment and high GDP growth, a key demographic issue seemed to be fueling this increased appetite for talent: the upcoming mass retirement of the Baby Boomer generation. The eldest of the Baby Boomers were turning 60 in 2006. They had recouped their investment losses, their retirement accounts were bursting at the seams, and they appeared on the verge of enjoying the “New 40” at their leisure. Then, well, you know the story.   As the enormity of the financial meltdown took hold in late 2008, it threw U.S. corporations into turmoil. At first, they were paralyzed and began instituting hiring...

Random Thoughts

04/09/2012 02.04 EST

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One of the problems in writing a blog is that on periodic occasions, you actually have to write one. After several entries, I’ve found—at least over the short-term—that I’ve run out of insights that merit 500 words or more on a regular basis. I’ve also come to the conclusion that those who are able to consistently churn out content are either a lot smarter than me or are hopelessly deluded narcissists. Given my own narcissistic tendencies, I choose to believe they are more delusional than brilliant.   Regardless, I am still faced with the task of either writing this entry or facing the wrath of the Senior Partner in the firm. So, rather than bore you with a well-thought-out analysis of a critical business challenge, I’ll settle for a more flow-of-consciousness series of info bytes on issues that have come up recently in our business. This approach also has the added bonus of one of these nuggets being picked up more broadly in the 140-character world in which we live.   So, what’s going on in the world of executive employment?   Relocation is becoming more challenging as the market heats up. In virtually every national search I’ve conducted in the past year, we’ve had to overcome some obstacle around relocation. It simply is the nature of the real estate market that mortgages are underwater and companies refuse to significantly alter their existing relo policies. For candidates, this means understanding the fact that very, very few companies...