273: Taking Control of your Career with Korn Ferry’s Gary Burnison

By March 14, 2018Podcasts

 

Korn Ferry’s CEO Gary Burnison talks about the importance of learning agility and areas to consider when evaluating a potential job offer.

You’ll Learn:

  1. Which skills predict success–and which are 200X harder to develop than others
  2. New rules of thumb on timelines that suggest “job hopping” vs “getting stale”
  3. Why happiness is central to your career strategy

About Gary

Gary D. Burnison is the Chief Executive Officer of Korn Ferry, the preeminent global people, and organizational advisory firm. Korn Ferry helps leaders, organizations, and societies succeed by releasing the full power and potential of people. Its nearly 7,000 colleagues deliver services through Korn Ferry and its Hay Group and Futurestep divisions. Mr. Burnison is also a member of the Firm’s Board of Directors.

Items Mentioned in this Show:

Gary Burnison Interview Transcript

Pete Mockaitis
Well, I’d love to start if we can hear a little bit about you and surfing. I understand you use that as a metaphor for many things. Are you also an active surfer in the literal sense?

Gary Burnison

In the literal sense for sure, dude. [laugh] Look, I was raised in Kansas – a long way from where you can actually surf, but in Los Angeles it is… Yeah, you can surf. And it’s kind of my philosophy on life that people get a certain number of waves – maybe some big, some small – and the whole trick is figuring out which ones you ride, how long you stay on, when you bail. And I think life and careers are much like that.

Pete Mockaitis

I hear you, yeah. And so, just to orient listeners here – I’ve been a fan of Korn Ferry for a good while, and fun fact – the birth of the How To Be Awesome At Your Job podcast came from me just shamelessly looking at the bibliography of the book For Your Improvement, and cold out reaching to hundreds of those authors. And then some said “Yes”, and now – well, they say “Yes” more easily and they come to me, which is a cool situation. So thank you for the great work you do in the organization. But could you orient those unfamiliar what’s your company all about?

Gary Burnison

We’re a global organizational consulting firm, so our purpose is to help organizations and people exceed their potential. We’re couple of billion dollars in revenue, we’re all over the world, we’ve got 8,000 employees. And the sole purpose of the company is to improve other companies through their people, through their organizational strategies, how they develop people, how they motivate people, how they pay people. That’s what we’re about.

Pete Mockaitis

Very good. And so, I want to talk most of the time about your book Lose the Resume, Land the Job. But first, I’ve got a couple of tricky ones I want to make sure we’ve got a moment to hit right upfront. And one of them is something I’ve been wrestling with, and others in the Learning and Development industry. I’ve got the Korn Ferry book For Your Improvement open, there’s an appendix called A Developmental Difficulty Matrix, which is a cool graphical representation that shows a number of competencies ranked from hardest to develop to easiest to develop.
And so, I had a buddy of mine in the Learning and Development industry get into a little bit of a scuffle with someone who said, “Hey, wait a minute. That sounds a little bit like a fixed mindset. That’s blasphemous”, to say that some competencies are super hard to develop and thusly you should just hire for them upfront. So how do you square the notions of, you want to be a learner, which is awesome, and a growth mindset is helpful, versus your hard resource that shows some competencies are harder to develop than others.

Gary Burnison

Look, it’s nature versus nurture, right? So it’s an age-old question: Were you born to be a great baseball player, or did you do the right kinds of things, to coaching along the way? It’s one of those things that it’s kind of like, does God exist? To find the ultimate answer is very, very hard. We have a ton of research behind it, but I will tell you that just my practical experience – I’m CEO of a public company, I’ve been the CEO for 11 years. Korn Ferry has done decades of research on this.
It is absolutely true that some skills are much harder to develop than others. And what I would tell you is that in my simple world there’s a left brain and there’s a right brain. And the left brain, for purpose of our conversation, is very analytical, it’s very kind of black and white. The right brain is a whole different world. And as you move up an organization, I would say the number one predictor of success that Korn Ferry has studied in CEOs all over the world, is learning agility. But as you move up, you have to make that transition from your left brain to your right brain, and it is not easy.

Pete Mockaitis

Okay, so a couple of things. What precisely do you mean by “learning agility”?

Gary Burnison

Knowing what to do when you don’t know what to do. And so the more situations that you’re in where you have failed, the better are your chances for success in the future. And so what happens is as a CEO, as a leader – doesn’t have to be a CEO – but you’re always going to be in situations that you’ve never been in before. And that could range the whole gamut of possibilities, from being personally sued to dealing with the things that you read about in the papers today around a workplace environment – all of those things you’ve probably never experienced. And guess what? As the leader you can’t say, “I don’t know.”
And so you have to inspire confidence to the organization about where it’s headed and how it’s going to punch through that opening in the sky when it’s a very, very cloudy day. So the right brain is really all around how you connect with others, how you inspire others, how do you get people to wake up without the alarm clock? That is something that has to be learned over time.
And so as we’ve studied people, and you’ve referenced the research that we’ve done – when you start out, and it could be out of high school or out of college, you’re basically a follower. And what you’re going to be doing is going to be very repetitive, and it’s going to be very action-oriented. You’re going to be making rapid, quick, repetitive decisions. But as you progress – and this is the question you were asking – as you progress, that becomes totally reversed. And so you do not, as a CEO or a leader, you don’t want to make rapid decisions. You want to be reflective, you want to be a complex thinker, you want to have Plan C for Plan B for Plan A – almost the polar opposite of somebody starting out in the workforce.

Pete Mockaitis

Yeah, I’ve got a Marshall Goldsmith book title leaping to mind here – What Got You Here Won’t Get You There. So that’s helpful to lay that out. And so, when we talk about some competencies being harder to develop than others, is it like they’re twice as difficult to develop, or is it like 200 times as difficult?

Gary Burnison

Like 200, yeah. So it is this very, very easy to motivate yourself. I shouldn’t say it’s very, very easy. It’s not easy for everybody, but it’s relatively easier to motivate yourself. Now, if you have to do that to five other people, if you’ve got to do that to 50 other people, if you’ve got to do that to 5,000 other people – becomes much, much harder.
Take a simple task, like let’s say you’ve got five friends over and you’re going to go to dinner. And one likes Mexican food, one loves Chinese food, Indian food. You’ve got a whole range of gamuts, and as the leader you’ve got people that have different motivations, they have different self-interest, and they’ve got different tastes in where they want to go to dinner. And so what you’ve got to do is anchor that discussion on where you’re going to dinner in a common purpose and get everybody to agree that we’re going to go have the Happy Meal at McDonald’s.
That is not an easy thing, just with five people figuring out where they’re going to go to dinner. But if you then expand that range of thinking and possibilities to 50 people, 500 people, around strategies to enable a company to succeed, or an organization to succeed, just think about how much harder that actually is.

Pete Mockaitis

Oh, certainly. So the feat is certainly way, way more challenging. And I guess I’m wondering from a competency-development perspective, are you saying that some competencies such as managing conflict, that are in the hardest area, as compared to being tech-savvy or action-oriented on the easiest area – those are 200 times as hard to develop, the harder ones?

Gary Burnison

Oh, for sure. There’s no question about that.

Pete Mockaitis

Alright.

Gary Burnison

And it’s something that, again, a textbook can help, but there’s no substitute for… I can remember the first time my dad pushed me on the bicycle. And so I remember the exact moment as clear as day, and that feeling – there’s nothing like it in the world. And so at Korn Ferry, what we found again through research is when it comes to development, we believe in 70/20/10. In other words, only 10% of your development once you leave your college is actually going to come from the classroom; but 90% is going to be on your assignment or assignments and who you’re working with, and who you’re working for.

Pete Mockaitis

Yeah. And I want to go there next. We recently had a guest, Carter Cast from Kellogg Business School, and he was a lot of fun, had some great thoughts about career derailers. And he cited a Korn Ferry study, in which managers ranked their own level of skill at competencies, and they had ranked dead last the competency of developing talent, or developing direct reports in others. So, I thought that was pretty striking, and I’m wondering in a world where 90% of learning is kind of happening right there on the spot, on the job, with interactions with boss and others – how do you become, as you say, a learn-it-all effectively, in that undesirable context?

Gary Burnison

I think the other thing is you want to mirror it all. So it is true that most people in all the research we’ve done would not describe themselves as high in terms of developing others. And I think that’s the responsibility of any great manager or leader. It’s much like raising your kids. And I think it’s so much easier to mirror the behavior that you want to see in others, rather than telling people what to do. And so I think that developing others is a little bit like networking. Networking, which we talk about in the book, is really about the other person. It really starts with the other person. And I think that the concept of developing others is not a “tell me” type situation, it’s a “show me” type environment.

Pete Mockaitis

Okay. And so then, if you’re on the more junior side of things, I suppose that’s great advice for those who are doing the mentoring and trying to grow and develop those they’re leading. I guess I’m wondering if you are the leadee, the follower in this relationship and you’ve got a boss who fits right in there, in terms of being on the lower side of being able to develop the direct reports in others, what are some of your best options and career moves to keep that learning going?

Gary Burnison

I think in this… Look, the world is changing, and so Millennials today are probably going to work for 30-35 companies. I’m a Baby Boomer, I will have worked for five. So, the reality of today’s world is it’s not hierarchical anymore; it’s very lateral, and you will be making many, many job moves. When I was younger that was a big negative – you were called a “job hopper”. Now actually we look at resumes and we actually have the opposite view. If you’ve been at one company for a long time, the question is are you stale, can you adapt to new cultures? So it’s going to be very common for people to work for different companies.
I would also say that a truth is that people leave bosses, they don’t necessarily leave companies. And one of the mistakes, even in Millennials and people that are going to have many more career experiences and employers, is that they automatically jump for the wrong reason, and they think the grass is greener, maybe they hate their boss. The truth is, you can actually learn more from bad bosses than you can from great bosses.
And we can all think about our mom or dad, or aunt or uncle, or elders in our life. And how many times have we said to ourselves when we were a kid, “I’m never going to do that to my kid. I’m never going…” And so that very, very basic kind of instinct in human nature is the same one that actually applies in work. And so I believe you can actually learn from a bad boss. I’m not saying you shouldn’t take control, but I would first say embrace it and learn from it.

Pete Mockaitis

Okay, that’s helpful. And I want to follow up quickly on the point about job hopping, and now it’s sort of the opposite. So you have a unique vantage point, and I’d love to get your view for what is the amount of time… I guess it varies a lot, but in terms of how many years you think, “Huh, that’s kind of short and concerning”, versus how many years you say, “Ooh, that’s kind of long and it’s concerning”?

Gary Burnison

Yeah. Look, I’m going to back to happiness. And we can talk more about this as we get into it, but I think it’s got to be paced by your happiness. However, when you put a clinical view of it, perception over reality view of it, today if I look at a resume and the person is there a year, less than a year, maybe slightly over a year – I’m going to raise questions. If they’ve been there kind of two years, two years plus – I’m cool. And so that’s kind of I think a pretty good rule of thumb today. In today’s world it’s very lateral – not ladder, not very hierarchical.

Pete Mockaitis

And on the flipside you mentioned if they’re there too long, you wonder are they stale and maybe not as adaptable.

Gary Burnison

Yeah, isn’t that amazing? It’s so amazing how that switched in my career. Absolutely true. And so, when I start to look at it and I’m kind of like 10, 15 years, kind of plus, those questions are coming into my mind. Ten years I’m okay, but kind of when it gets into the 15 I start to wonder, can they adapt to a new culture?

Pete Mockaitis

And that’s 15 years at the same company.

Gary Burnison

Job. Same company. They’re not the same position, but the same company.

Pete Mockaitis

Well, then I think maybe there’s another point, like if you’re in the same position… I come from strategy consulting Bain & Company, where it’s up or out, but I guess in quote-unquote “normal” industries…

Gary Burnison

See, that’s the other thing that people don’t necessarily recognize, is that… So when I look at a resume I’m going to spend literally, I bet I spend 20 seconds. And what I look at is a couple of things. I look at career progression, and I think most people, whether it’s overt or covert, that’s what they’re looking for.
So in other words, they want to see that from the time of college to the most recent, that you’re actually progressing, in terms of scale, scope and size – what I would call “the three S’s”. And it very much is an S-curve. So we’re going to want to see that you’ve taken on more scale, bigger teams, more complexity, in other words you’re being promoted. So it could be the same company, but if you’re in the same position for that whole time at that company, that’s probably going to be viewed as a negative.

Pete Mockaitis

Right, yeah. So when you say “that amount of time”, it’s like 10 years?

Gary Burnison

Yeah, if you’re kind of in the same position… Because again, we’re going to come back to say the number one predictor of success that Korn Ferry would say, is learning agility. It’s just curiosity, right? Curiosity in terms of music, in terms of what you read, the whole deal. And we actually test for that.
And then if you believe that you’re learning through others and you’re learning on the job – well, if you’re doing the same thing you’re just exercising the same muscle. So it’s a little bit like going down to the gym – well, if you keep doing pull-ups and that’s all you do – well, one part of your body is going to be disproportionate to the other part. So in terms of a more holistic exercise routine you’re going to want to exercise many more muscles than just your arms. It’s the same thing in a job and a career.

Pete Mockaitis

Okay. Understood, thank you. So now let’s talk about the book here. It’s called Lose the Resume, Land the Job. What’s the big idea behind it?

Gary Burnison

The big idea is most people are clueless; that most people do more research in terms of buying a washing machine than actually thinking about their career and their next job. And it’s blowing me away, from college students to Fortune 100 board members. And there’s this kind of view that, “Okay, I’m like miserable. I can’t wait for jury duty. I just can’t go into this place anymore. My boss is a jerk. I’m not going anywhere. He or she’s promised a performance review six times over the last six months. I finally got one last week, and it was five minutes.”
We’ve all, all been there. The problem is, all of us, what we do – the first thing is we get out a piece of paper or we get out a computer and we start updating this little thing called the resume. And what happens is we sit there, we start to agonize over verbs or adjectives. We think we’re Hemingway.

Pete Mockaitis

The font. The font, Gary!

Gary Burnison

Yeah, the font, the size, the space. And three hours go by, you’re so frustrated that you just go back to that miserable boss again. Or you complete the exercise and you blindly send resumes. And my view is, if that’s what you’re doing, you just as well go down to 7-Eleven and buy a lottery ticket. Because your chances of getting hired cold through that resume are just as good as playing the lotto.

Pete Mockaitis

Alright, understood. Okay, and I want to dig into the sort of thoughtlessness piece you mentioned. I love it, it was well-stated – the unspoken truths there, when it comes to the amount of time spent researching a washing machine or a TV. I love numbers. I couldn’t help it, I had to look it up. An Ipsos survey put research of a TV purchase at four hours. And I don’t know if you were sort of being cheeky or data-driven with that assertion, but I’m wondering, have you done some research or studies in terms of how much time, energy, thought, attention, folks on quote-unquote “average” are putting into their career planning and path and next move?

Gary Burnison

Very little. Again, I just see it. I can’t tell you how many thousands of resumes I’ve received, and guess where those go? Nowhere.

Pete Mockaitis

In the recycling bin.

Gary Burnison

Yeah, they do. They do. And that’s just the unvarnished truth. And I’m not speaking just for myself; I can tell you that’s what happens. And so there’s this naive view on the part of everybody that, “I can just kind of blindly send out this resume and it’s going to work” or, “I’m going to be plucked out of the ocean like I’m this fabulous fish, and I’m going to get discovered.” It just doesn’t happen. It’s not reality. And so my view is, like you would do with other things in your life, take control.

Pete Mockaitis

Alright. And one way you recommend taking that control is you have a handy acronym – to showcase your ACT. Can you unpack that a little bit for us?

Gary Burnison

Yes, absolutely. And that’s really in the context of meeting a company, doing an interview. Before that if you want to take control of your career, I think you have to first start with purpose and you have to first start with happiness, because if you’re happy you’re probably motivated, if you’re motivated you’re probably going to outperform, and you’re going to love what you’re doing.
So I think the first step, rather than updating the resume, which everybody goes to – that’s the first thing people do – I would say don’t do that. I would say actually look at yourself, in terms of strengths, weaknesses, blind spots. What does that tell you about yourself? What is your life’s purpose? What do you like doing? And from that I would sit there and say, “Okay, what industries, sectors, then companies actually kind of line up against that purpose and what I love doing?” And that includes, by the way, cities – where I want to live.
Then what you want to do is you want to do the whole six degrees of separation thing. You absolutely want to update the resume, and in the book we’ve got ways to do it the right way, but you want to get that warm introduction. So my view is, don’t just look and see if there’s an opening at a job; actually take control and proactively target the places you want to work, and get a warm introduction into those companies.

Pete Mockaitis

Alright, very good. And how is that done well, in terms of really making that work for you?

Gary Burnison

The whole effort around networking does require work. I mean you have to roll up your sleeves; you have to actually research who really works at this company, where did they go to school, what are their backgrounds, what are they involved in the community? You have to do it the good old-fashioned way, offline as well. You’ve got to ask somebody who maybe knows somebody who knows somebody who works at the company. I will tell you that if you just do a random sample and ask people how they got their job, I think what you’re going to find five times out of 10, is that one way or another, they knew somebody at the company, that they somehow, someway got turned on to it.
And so I go back to when we were kids, what happened? Well, there was the ice cream shop, there was the grocery store, there was the bike shop, but you went down to that store and you filled out an application. Well, what actually happened before that? Well, probably somebody had told you that that’s a really cool place to work, or you shopped there.
But the point is, you proactively targeted where you wanted to work. And what happens then over a span of 10, 20, 50 years later – we forget that. And that most basic principle of taking control and targeting opportunities – you just forget, and you automatically go to the resume. And the resume, trust me, is only 10% of it. People think it’s 90%; it’s actually only 10%.

Pete Mockaitis

Okay, so you’re doing the networking, and then the principles here are you’re thinking clearly about knowing yourself and your interests, your values, your passions, your strengths, your weaknesses and all that stuff. And then you’re doing your research on folks. And then any other key tips to share to round out the networking perspective and being focused on the other person, etcetera?

Gary Burnison

You had talked about… So I do have tips, in terms of the resume and how you should do a resume. There’s tips, and you asked the question about ACT. That’s in the context of interviewing. So when I think about interviewing, I do think of ACT; and even in the resume preparation. “A” for being authentic, “C” for connecting, and “T” for giving somebody a taste of who you are.
And here’s the deal, is that we each make judgments, whether you like it or not, on another human being within the first seven seconds of meeting that person. So if you assume for a moment that it’s true that that happens – and you may not believe it’s seven seconds; you may believe it’s two seconds, you may believe it’s two minutes – but the reality is it’s sooner rather than later, and we all have preconceived… Our brain works in very mysterious ways.
So what that means is, you’re going to have to do your homework ahead of time, and you’re going to have to find those immediate connection points, because most people think of an interview like, “I’m going to go have a root canal.” It’s this cross between the root canal and Disneyland, and it’s a terrifying experience. And I think that part of the book is to kind of change people’s thinking around, quote, “the interview”, and don’t treat it like an interrogation or you’re having your tooth pulled, but rather make it a conversation.

Pete Mockaitis

Okay. And so then, dig into that a little bit. You lay out some deadly sins of interviewing. Could you share perhaps some of the deadliest and the most commonly occurring?

Gary Burnison

Oh man, I’ve seen it all. Listen, don’t confuse community service and prison. And I’ve actually had that. I once interviewed somebody… I’ll tell you two sides of it – I interviewed somebody, and there was this “Friends of the Freeway”. And I started to probe a little bit and it turned out it really wasn’t “Friends of the Freeway”; it was actually prison time. And the other side of that is somebody who was completely honest, and they had actually been convicted of manslaughter. A very, very sad story, but the person was dead honest. And abusive relationship, the whole thing. The person got hired.
And so, these deadly sins of interviewing – number one, never lie. Don’t exaggerate. Don’t claim success for all of humanity, that it rested on your shoulders. So, that’s number one – don’t lie, don’t inflate, don’t exaggerate. Number two – don’t be late, be on time. Number three – don’t dress like you’re going on Dancing with the Stars. So in other words, you’ve got to do your homework, which is kind of like another sin of interviewing. You have to do your homework ahead of time. So, those are a few thought starters.

Pete Mockaitis

Yeah, that’s good. I got a real kick out of, in the book you mentioned, don’t eat during your interview, and don’t shout out “Lunch!”, even if it is your lunch hour and you have to get right back to your other job afterwards. And it just made me chuckle.

Gary Burnison

Look, I’ve seen it all, I’ve got to tell you. And we’ve seen it all. We’ve seen people interviewing at Pepsi and asking for a Coke. We’ve seen people interviewing at a fast food place and the candidate actually asked the question, “Do you really eat this crap?” But I think the biggest thing is just not being prepared, not doing your homework. You’ve got to actually know what you’re going to wear, go there ahead of time, know what the commute’s like, Google the person, go on LinkedIn, make sure you’re dressed appropriately for the gig, for the culture, that you bring your resume, that you bring a notepad, but don’t bring your mom. And I’m telling you, we’ve also seen people bringing their mom. Not a good idea.

Pete Mockaitis

Well, that opens up so many new topics for another podcast – sort of the mindset that could lead to that sense that that was acceptable is intriguing. But you tell me, Gary – before we shift gears and hear about a few of your favorite things, any other key points you really want to make sure to share with this group first?

Gary Burnison

Take control. I just hate to see people that they actually don’t plan their careers, that it’s more kind of by happenstance. And I think it’s becoming more common for people to have worked for different employers. Job hopping is not a stigma anymore; that’s actually how you learn. You learn through who you’re working for, and people ignore that. People focus on the money, which I get. Look, I was the first one to go to college, I’ve been there. I know what it’s like, I’ve been there, trust me.
But what people ignore is their boss. They ignore the fact of who they’re going to work for. The boss is actually going to have a gigantic determinant of your happiness and success. Culture. People now focus on the title and the money and the ring, but they won’t focus on the culture. Well, the truth is, most people won’t fail or succeed based on whether they were technically competent; they’re going to fail or succeed because there wasn’t that culture fit. And people totally ignore that.
And so a company is no different than a house or a family. People coming into my house don’t have to take off their shoes – that’s kind of customary. Well, in another person’s house maybe they do need to take off their shoes. Well, that person’s not right or wrong, and I’m not right or wrong. But the reality is, each company has a very, very unique culture and you have to spend as much time thinking about whether that culture is going to invigorate you and keep you motivated. And most people just don’t focus on culture; they focus on money.

Pete Mockaitis

Well, I’d love to get your quick take – maybe could you drop for us three rapid-fire, hard-hitting cultural mismatches you see that are destructive, like, “Hey, the candidate loves this but the company is that”, and sadness ensues?

Gary Burnison

I see all the time companies have these great job descriptions, they’re so long, and they seem so strategic and so lofty, and yet when you ask, “Okay, but what am I really going to do on Monday?”, there’s this huge gap between what the job description says versus what you’re actually going to do. So make sure you actually know what you’re going to do. It may sound stupid but, “What do you want me to accomplish in the first month? What do you want me to accomplish in the first six months?” That’s number one.
Number two is around culture. I think one of the easiest ways to tell that is how people dress. So, what’s that like? Or people’s offices, if it’s offices. Is it open door, closed door, do families get together, do they not get together, are there virtual employees or they’re not virtual, do you have to go in the office? Dress and kind of everyday stuff reveals a multitude around culture.

Pete Mockaitis

Well, that’s intriguing. And so could you share, “Hey, if you see this, it tends to mean that” kinds of quick rules of thumb there?

Gary Burnison

If you walk into an office and it seems like… And I’ve gone into places, trust me, and I thought I was at a mortuary. Now, that may be great for some people; I’m not saying that that’s not great. I mean some people may love hardwood, dark wood panel, shag carpet, drop a needle, everybody hears it. That could be great; it’s not me. So, you just have to make sure that you know what’s you, and I can’t tell you what’s you.
But those very, very basic things, man – open your eyes. I’ll never forget this company – the people would put “Stop” signs on their door, that you couldn’t come in. And that’s just not me. I’ve been in companies where the office doors are closed all the time. That’s not me, but it could be somebody else. So you just have to look at those – they seem pedestrian, they seem rudimentary, but I guarantee you they are probably the most important.

Pete Mockaitis

Okay, thank you. Well now, could you share with us a favorite quote, something you find inspiring?

Gary Burnison

What’s on my mind these days is, “Don’t talk about it; be about it.” And the world is at an interesting place, and the left is further left and the right’s further right. And there’s obviously a lot of conversations from socio-economic to the workplace environment. And for me personally right now, that’s kind of my motto, is that, “Let’s not just talk about it; let’s be about it.”

Pete Mockaitis

Alright, thank you. And how about a favorite study or experiment or a piece of research?

Gary Burnison

Well, I’ll only talk about right now – probably Mao Tse-Tung, The Little Red Book. China – I’ve lived in China. It’s a very mysterious place, and you think you know it and in fact you don’t know anything. So that’s actually what I’m turned on by these days, that’s kind of what I’m reading. And I’m trying to gather from that – even though very communist and you might find it counter-intuitive – but I’m trying to glean kind of humanity. What the overall theme right now for me is really just, don’t talk about it; be about it.

Pete Mockaitis

Okay. And how about a favorite tool, something that helps you be awesome at your job?

Gary Burnison

I read, read, read. And so I wake up in the morning before anybody, and I go to bed at night doing the same thing. And it’s not so much novels; it’s just kind of being in the world and current events. So I’d say that probably helps me because again, a big part of what I do is trying to connect with others. And we are in 60 different countries, many different cultures, 8,000 people. I think that to the extent that I am broader, I’m going to have a better chance of connecting with others. And as a leader it’s really not about the leader; it’s about whether you can create followership, which is not easy to do.

Pete Mockaitis

Okay. And is there a particular nugget that you share that you find is often quoted back to you or really seems to be connecting, resonating with folks, retweeting and taking notes?

Gary Burnison

Yeah, it gets thrown back at me all the time because we’re all human beings and we’re all flawed. But I’ve always tried to have an orientation of, does somebody feel better after the conversation than before? And I fail at that all the time. Absolutely fail at that all the time. But I try to hold that out and I check myself against the glass. I think that’s a pretty good yardstick for a leader, that you want people to feel better no matter the situation, after than before.

Pete Mockaitis

Alright. And Gary, if folks want to learn more or get in touch, where would you point them?

Gary Burnison

LoseTheResume.com. We’ve got the book there, we’ve got a whole business of Korn Ferry around helping people with their careers – KFAdvance.com, books on Amazon. So that’s where to find out more.

Pete Mockaitis

Alright. And do you have a final challenge or a call to action for those seeking to be awesome at their jobs?

Gary Burnison

Be indispensable to somebody else, and find your purpose.

Pete Mockaitis
Alright. Well Gary, thanks so much for taking this time; I know it is in high demand. And for all the work you do in leading Korn Ferry and the cool stuff that comes out of it, I’ve been a longtime admirer and this was a lot of fun for me.

Gary Burnison

Thank you very much. It’s great.

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The Gold Nugget

The Gold Nugget

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