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Optimum Talks Blog

10 Leadership & Career Tips for the Holiday Season
by Lori Dyne
November 21, 2017

With the holiday season just around the corner, now is the perfect time to review some of our best holiday leadership and career management advice: Eat, drink, and be merry! This season is ideal for networking. Keep a supply of business cards on hand, and be prepared to follow-up after the event with a “great-to-meet-you”…

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Bringing Neuromanagement to the Business World
by Patricia Polischuk
July 12, 2017

“We are not thinking machines that feel, but emotional machines that think.”  – Dr. Antonio Damasio Having spent many years as a coach, I could not agree more with Dr. Damasio’s quote. I have worked with incredibly talented people who have great skills to offer, but are not as successful as they could be because…

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5 Myths About Summer Job Hunting
by Kevin O’Leary
June 23, 2017

One of the worst pieces of bad job search advice is: “You might as well take the summer off.” Really? The misconception that the summer is a job search “dead zone” is common, but nothing could be further from the truth! Summer job search myths have been around for a long time and are repeated…

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The Case for Executive Career Transition Support
by Richard Bucher
May 29, 2017

Branding is a consideration for all of us; personally, professionally and corporately. Our brand is best described as what others say about us when we’re not in the room.  And it’s what those leaving our organization say about our company once they’ve left. Although historically that may not have been an issue, in today’s world…

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Mergers & Acquisitions: Not Having HR At The Table Is a Costly Mistake
by Corrie Anderson
May 16, 2017

You’ve heard the phrase “Pay me now or pay me later”. This became one of the strongest marketing slogans of the 20th century because the message “invest a little early, to avoid big problems later” applies to so many things in life – including mergers and acquisitions. When it comes to mergers and acquisitions, there…

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From Pathfinder to SuccessFinder
by Frances Sardone
February 6, 2017

It’s within each one of us to be successful in the work world. For individuals, the question comes down to what type of work will speak to our potential, offering an engaging and rewarding career? For organizations, the question is how do we source, develop and coach our human potential into profitability? The answer to…

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We Drink Our Own Champagne!
by Jocelyn Bérard
February 6, 2017

We’re all familiar with the expression “The Cobbler’s children have no shoes”. Too often consultants and consulting firms want to be appreciated and recognized for their deep expertise, technical knowledge and skills, but ironically do not apply it to themselves. I am proud to work at a firm that truly believes in the services we…

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The C in C-Suite Stands for Courage
by Jocelyn Bérard
December 19, 2016

Are Canadian corporations and their CEO’s cowardly?  This is the question I heard Michael Enright ask in an October broadcast of The Sunday Edition. Two items spurred this inquiry: In 2012, while Governor of the Bank of Canada, Mr. Carney admonished corporate Canada for “not putting money to work”, essentially for hoarding cash reserves which he referred…

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Shake It: The Art of a Great Handshake
by Kim Hirsch
November 16, 2016

It is said that the practice of shaking hands originated in ancient times to show that you wished for a peaceful interaction and held no weapons in your hands.  Whatever the basis, the handshake has become one of few acceptable forms of physical contact between strangers, and leaves a lasting impression. As someone who shakes…

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Shareholders! Are too many male Canadian board members costing you money?
by Tania Corbett
November 7, 2016

This post is co-authored with Normand Coté. Is the homogeneity of Canadian corporate boards costing shareholders money? On September 28th, the Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA) issued a report indicating that women board membership on TSX listed companies had increased by 1% from last year to 12% in 2016. That’s pretty underwhelming, but unfortunately not surprising. For over 25…

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You Must Diagnose Before You Can Prescribe
by Jocelyn Bérard
October 6, 2016

You’ve hired the best people for your organization. Now it’s time to identify the high-potentials that can take on leadership roles. This is a fundamental business investment designed to sustain your organization’s profitability now, but more importantly, into the future. Essentially you are determining who can lead while you can mentor them; who will lead when you’ve moved on….

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Your Interview Experience: What Can You Control?
by Kim Hirsch
October 6, 2016

Throughout the course of my career, I have had the good fortune of being interviewed by several employers, all with varying styles, techniques and platforms for their interview process. I have come across everything from rigid and structured interviews, where the interviewer drills down purely to technical competence, to a wide open format, where the…

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Recruiting for Potential: The Value of Story
by Kim Hirsch
September 19, 2016

“Tell us your story”.  As recruiters, this is often our opening interview question. It gives candidates an open forum to walk us through how they’ve progressed throughout their career. Typically, their resume speaks for itself. Many candidates have experience based on sequential positions and have gradually progressed through a traditional career path. However, in a…

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Back to Business: Capitalizing on the Energy of the Fall Season
by Kim Hirsch
August 25, 2016

In our most recent e-newsletter Engaging in Leadership, we discuss the importance of organizations harnessing the energy of the new season as they get “back to business” this fall. But what about the individuals? For any professional, this is a great time to check in on your career progression. Whether your organization offers a formal…

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Board diversity: Why what you see is what you get
by Frances Sardone
July 12, 2016

Do you really want the best person for the job? Perhaps subconsciously what you want is the person who makes you feel the best about yourself, someone who reflects well on you; a person who reinforces what success looks like, sounds like and most importantly, manages like. And since you are successful and you are…

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Become a LinkedIn Guru in Only Minutes a Day
by Kim Hirsch
July 7, 2016

Do you have a LinkedIn profile? If so, when was the last time that you updated it or even logged on for that matter? Even if you do log in from time to time are you truly utilizing the site to its fullest? I know that some people out there still challenge the relevance of…

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Nothing Grows in the State of Perfection
by Tammy Hoffman
June 30, 2016

Nothing can grow in a state of perfection.  Perfection simply does not allow it. It is already perfect, complete. Now, the problem with perfection is, in fact, its’ completeness.  Once perfected, it remains the same, never growing, never changing.  This concept pushes against the nature of life itself, whose drive seems to be to grow forever or cease…

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Performance Management and a Growth Mindset
by Carlos Davidovich
June 9, 2016

This post has been co-authored by Carlos Davidovich and Fran Sardone Carlos and I have been discussing the upcoming event Reinventing Performance Management on June 21. We’ve been reading some of Deloitte’s publications and swapping performance review stories – misery loves company! For Carlos, whose first career was as a medical doctor, this topic gives him a chuckle: I…

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10 Considerations When Writing Your Resume
by Kim Hirsch
May 27, 2016

Let’s face it, nobody likes writing resumes, and unless you are in the world of recruitment, you probably don’t like reading them either. However, the truth is resumes are a necessary evil and fall into the category of other necessary, but undesirable tasks of life, such as taxes, insurance, or even the dreaded dentist. Regardless…

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Reinventing Performance Management
by Carlos Davidovich
May 25, 2016

When I was training leaders on the topic of feedback, we always joked about that day when you receive the email, with many attachments from HR: Performance Assessment day is coming! It was universally viewed as a burden, one more thing to do. It was done quickly to get back to real work. The prevailing…

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Executive Search – The Canadian Difference
by Kim Hirsch
May 24, 2016

As a fourth year university student, I have been fortunate to gain exposure to the search industry by working at Optimum Talent for the past 12 months. As part of my schooling, I had the opportunity to take a course that gave me the freedom to explore an industry that was of interest to me,…

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You’ll Never Survive Working for a Narcissistic Leader – Here’s Why
by Frances Sardone
May 16, 2016

Last month I took issue with the Harvard Business Review (HBR) blog post entitled “How to Work for a Narcissist”. This month I look for perspectives and insights from colleagues here at Optimum Talent to address this issue. In this post, you’ll hear from: Larry Cash, Ph.D Psychology, co-creator and founder of the SuccessFinder Career System….

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Team Effectiveness…Yeah Sure, We’ve Heard it all!
by Jocelyn Bérard
May 12, 2016

You have heard it and most likely you have experienced it too. Team building, team effectiveness training, and catchy slogans like TEAM: Together Everyone Achieves More and There is no I in team. I have seen so many challenging situations, not to say horror stories in which I think the acronym TEAM could instead mean,…

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First Impressions
by Kim Hirsch
May 5, 2016

Do you ever wonder how a good or a bad day begins? At what point do you determine if it is going to be a good day or bad day?  Can the people we meet affect our day?  Can a simple smile do the trick? I never realized the impact that I could have on…

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The Banality of Management Advice
by Frances Sardone
April 29, 2016

On April 1st, 2016, Harvard Business Review (HBR) published a post entitled How to Work for a Narcissistic Boss.  Given both the date and the title, I was prepared for a prank.  Like the HBR cartoons, I hoped for a little erudite satire on the self-perpetuating vanity of corporate culture.  Nope.  It’s a post offering…

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Career Change – Why Wait?
by Kim Hirsch
April 19, 2016

How many of you know someone who is unhappy in their job or career? Likely, the majority of you know several people. In fact, you might even be one of these people! Almost five years ago, at 45 years old, I decided to leave the world of accounting to become a recruiter. Why you ask?…

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Career Management + Career Accountability = Life Time Employment
by Sandra Boyd
April 14, 2016

Some of us are told education is the key for success; others are told to work for a large company, the government or a bank, and the expected result is a job for life. The truth is that in a very volatile marketplace in the 21st century, there is no one ingredient for success. You…

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Listen, Learn, Lead – With your Whole Brain. The Business of Neuroscience
by Carlos Davidovich
April 12, 2016

“We cannot deny emotions, leading change is leading emotions. Our rational brain helps us to arrive at conclusions but our emotional brain’s conclusions are those that lead to actions.” The application of Neuroscience in business is called Neuromanagement. By definition, Neuromanagement is the art of synchronizing the science of the brain with human behaviours in…

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Transition – No Laughing Matter?
by Margaret Maich
April 3, 2016

Remember the executive ‘tribe’ I wrote about in my last blog? I’ve been thinking more about what makes that concept work and what moves it from the equivalent of a support group for a bad break-up, to something special, unique and highly effective. One of the things that I keep coming back to is the importance of humour…

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What Eulogies and Careers Have in Common
by Sandra Boyd
March 31, 2016

According to Common Last Words of Dying People in the Huffington Post, over 56% of dying people talked about their careers and how important they were in their lives.  Yet, careers are easily dismissed as not important, especially as people step into retirement or during the later stages of our life.  How many times have we heard “your career…

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Stop Paying Lip Service to the 70:20:10
by Jocelyn Bérard
March 24, 2016

The ‘70:20:10’ approach to development is fairly well known to HR professionals and line managers.  This approach denotes that about 70% of what adults learn comes from experience (learning by doing), 20% comes from others (working with a good leader or coach and receiving feedback), and 10% comes from formal learning (taking a classroom or…

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Where did my ‘Tribe’ Go?
by Margaret Maich
March 24, 2016

“A tribe is a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea. For millions of years, human beings have been part of one tribe or another. A group needs only two things to be a tribe: a shared interest and a way to communicate.” ― Seth Godin. You have…

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5 Tips to Move your Job Search Strategy From Passive to ACTIVE
by Debra Adey
March 22, 2016

What does it take to build momentum, maintain motivation and develop more opportunities during your job search? An active approach! Many job seekers keep themselves very busy searching for opportunities; they spend hours a day searching through job boards, responding to ads, customizing their resume and writing cover letters. They may even fuss over their…

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Managers & Employees – How You Need to Behave During a Termination Meeting
by Sandra Boyd
March 17, 2016

I have been privy to thousands of corporate transitions, including my own, and through these processes I have observed both good and bad behaviours from managers and employees. The impact of a termination for many of us is a defining moment – in an instant my finances, family and a million emotions flashed before me –…

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Six Simple Steps That Will Help Build your Connections on LinkedIn
by Frances Sardone
March 17, 2016

For the past eight years I have been helping people going through career transition. In today’s world, a major component of that process is effectively managing your personal LinkedIn profile and developing a strategy for how to utilize it. After someone has updated their profile, I always assign the same homework – start connecting!  Your…

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Compensation – When Does It Make Sense To Take a Step Backward?
by Kim Hirsch
March 8, 2016

Can you think of a situation in which you would consider taking a step back in compensation? Can it ever be a long-term, strategic career move?  Most people in Talent Acquisition will probably say that it is never a good idea, but I take another view.  In certain circumstances, it can actually be the best…

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The Most Important Performance Review You Will Ever Complete
by Kim Hirsch
January 27, 2016

It is already the last week in January and the new members at the gym are starting to disappear. The annual collapse of New Year’s resolutions has begun and it’s almost back to business as usual. For some, resolutions consist of health or personal goals, whereas for others it may be more related to professional…

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Accepting a Counter Offer
by Kim Hirsch
January 8, 2016

So you’ve spent the last several weeks returning calls from the office hallways, conducting early morning Skype interviews from home and sneaking through the back entrance of your competitor’s offices. Finally, the covert conversations with your potential new employer have paid off. You have been presented with an offer and you are delighted. You walk…

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Experience is Overrated
by Kim Hirsch
November 24, 2015

Interview rooms everywhere are filled with eager recruiters and hiring managers screening an “ideal candidate” with the perfect amount of experience for their role. You know, the been-there-done-that individual that comes from the same industry and has the identical job title. Recruiters have always put a lot of stock into candidates who come from desirable…

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Stay Engaged With Your Top Performers
by Kim Hirsch
November 10, 2015

When is the best time to find out what your company can do to keep high-performing employees from leaving? It isn’t during the exit interview – by then, it’s already too late. The new offer has been accepted, resignation notice given and the personal contents box already packed. Now is not the time to start…

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The Lesser Known Benefits of Employer Sponsored Volunteering
by Kim Hirsch
October 29, 2015

Organizations that support and empower their employees’ volunteer efforts generally have lower turnover rates and higher corporate returns.  We know that volunteering makes people feel good and can make the world a better place, but how exactly does this translate into a positive impact for a business? To understand the business impacts, often we need…

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The “Truth-Serum” Interview Question
by Kim Hirsch
October 16, 2015

The old adage that “People are hired for their skills and fired for their behavior” is not about to be dismissed anytime soon. Poor-behaving executives are being sent packing simply by exhibiting attitudes and behavioral patterns that are toxic to the organization, regardless of their ability to do the job. Seasoned recruiters know this well and spend…

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Unleashing the Collective Potential of Diverse Teams in the Workplace
by Kim Hirsch
September 30, 2015

I recently had the opportunity to attend a KidSport charity event with some of my colleagues. During the evening, we watched a few short videos featuring people who benefit from the program here in Saskatchewan.  In one testimonial video, a young girl was asked what she enjoys most about being involved in organized sport.  She…

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The Interview: How to position yourself for success
by Kim Hirsch
August 25, 2015

One of the most common questions that I get asked by candidates is, “What does a successful interview look like?” As a Search Manager, I spend a significant amount of time preparing my candidates for that first interaction with my clients. In order to understand what it takes to have a successful interview and first…

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Stakeholder Engagement and the Recruitment Process
by Kim Hirsch
July 23, 2015

Stakeholder management, consultation and engagement have become increasingly prevalent in the business community as more and more corporations and industries recognize the value of these interactions. Not only is stakeholder consultation a vital component of corporate social responsibility, but businesses that engage with and listen to the needs of their stakeholders consistently out-perform their peers….

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Job hunting during an economic slump can be a strategic career move
by Kim Hirsch
June 24, 2015

Everyone has heard the old adage when it comes to employers making changes in their workforce – last in, first out. Unfortunately, this saying has permeated people’s beliefs leading many to use it as a reason to avoid making a career move. This thought is particularly dominant during an economic downturn, when people frequently put…

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9 Reasons Why You Should Consider Hiring a Contractor
by Kim Hirsch
May 27, 2015

9 Reasons Why You Should Consider Hiring a Contractor by Kim Hirsch In today’s unpredictable business world, permanent roles are not always suitable for the needs of an organization.  Increasingly, companies are relying on contract or interim employees to augment their teams during periods of organizational change. Sometimes there is foresight to these changes such as…

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“Terrifying Oil Skills Shortage Delays Projects and Raises Risks”
by Kim Hirsch
July 25, 2014

Jane Christopherson of The Curzon Partnership Featured in Financial Times article: “Terrifying Oil Skills Shortage Delays Projects and Raises Risks” When Jane Christopherson tries to recruit experienced oil workers, she almost always receives the same reaction. “They say: “I’m getting a bit tired of this. You’re the fourth person I’ve heard from this week,” she…

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Need help?
by Kim Hirsch
June 26, 2013

“Need help?” The man standing in front of me was clean, his most notable feature. Everyone else was caked in mud. Stunned, I said “Pardon me?” He said it again, “Do you need help? I have a really large dolly in my truck too.” It sunk in. He was a perfect stranger, offering to help….

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Why you should trust that stranger in finance
by Kim Hirsch
March 4, 2013

“Some may think one of the strangest things to do is believe in a stranger, but if not one stranger believed in us, once upon a time, where would we all be today? … someone did it for you.”  – Anne Kreamer Kind of makes you think, right? This statement is borrowed from a great blog called…

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The Art of Conversation
by Kim Hirsch
February 14, 2013

In all facets of business, success stems from one fluid idea. This idea is lost unless the creator articulates it; and ultimately an idea is useless until it’s shared. As a result, I think conversation is arguably the most important aspect of creating influence in the professional world. Borrowing a phrase from Milton Wright; “To…

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Take What You Need
by Kim Hirsch
January 18, 2013

The other night, I read a great book on leadership titled “Turn The Ship Around” by L. David Marquet. Captain Marquet commanded a nuclear-powered submarine called the USS Santa Fe. The crew went from being “worst to first.” The Santa Fe earned awards for being the most improved ship in the Pacific, and most combat-effective…

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ALL ABOARD! Steering the New Employee in the Right Direction
by Kim Hirsch
December 13, 2012

I used to wonder what “Onboarding and Orientation” was all about.  What do you mean I need to board a company ship and orient myself into unchartered waters?  I am sure this is exactly how a lot of new employees feel when they first start their new job and are introduced to the Onboarding and…

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Technology and Productivity
by Kim Hirsch
December 10, 2012

A colleague once told me that he thought the internet was a fad.  He had predicted it would go the way of the hoola-hoop, the ant farm, and the pog; and virtually disappear from society altogether after enjoying a massive – but short – “cult following”.  To be fair, at the time of our conversation he…

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What Kind of Leader Am I?
by Kim Hirsch
November 9, 2012

As I’m thinking about the flavor of the day, nothing strikes me more than the topic of effective leadership. Countless books have been written on how to be a better leader. The proliferation of resources on this topic is mind-boggling. Is it about the latest research?  Or about the science of leadership? Perhaps it’s about…

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Pondering Pachyderms and the Black Box of Succession
by Kim Hirsch
August 21, 2012

Ask four different people what succession planning is, and I guarantee that you’ll get four different answers.  AND each one of those people will declare with unmitigated certainty that they are absolutely right!  And most likely, they are! Succession Planning is probably near the top of the list of the most overused business words used…

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Let Your Light Shine
by Kim Hirsch
July 19, 2012

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?… And as we let our own…

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Are You Wishing or Planning?
by Kim Hirsch
May 18, 2012

Most days I take the same route home and pass by an Extended Care facility that has a large sign beside the road.  I’m not sure when, but I started to notice that the board had very interesting little sayings or suggestions on a regular basis.  Last month the message was “A goal without a…

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What makes leadership seem so simple yet so hard to do?
by Kim Hirsch
May 10, 2012

This is the question I was left with after attending the leadership symposium yesterday in Calgary with Marshall Goldsmith, the world’s authority on leadership. Marshall left me with a number of powerful yet straightforward thoughts that if applied consistently – should help to improve my leadership capability. Quality x Commitment = Probability of Success How…

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Strategy and the Giant Squid
by Kim Hirsch
April 3, 2012

Strategy and the Giant Squid by Kim Hirsch Recently I was watching a documentary on nature that featured the Giant Squid, and I came to two conclusions: 1) The giant squid is an unbelievable marvel of evolution; and, 2) There are uncanny parallels between evolution in nature and the development and execution of business strategy. Business…

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On Compensation, Keeping Great People, and Old World Wisdom
by Kim Hirsch
February 3, 2012

I’m one of those lucky people who has a remarkable mentor.  At the end of every single lunch when we get together, I feel buoyed (we always laugh – a lot!), inspired, and that (as quickly as the world changes), there are just some basic fundamentals that never really vary. Bill tells the story of…

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Just “Follow Up” Already!
by Kim Hirsch
January 20, 2012

Recently I was chatting with a friend of mine from University that had the opportunity to work for a digital marketing firm in Vancouver. Always a marketing major he poked fun at my apparent inability to understand the gravity of search engine optimization and the potential implication of click-through rates driving sales to a company….

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Getting the Generation Gap
by Kim Hirsch
January 6, 2012

The Young Guns (me, my sisters and cousins) took on the Stormin’ Normans (Grandpa and the other +45s) in a family board game this Christmas. While bantering over points, the differences in the generations became apparent. Us Young Guns were trying to gain advantage and argue for our points in a different way than the…

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Own It! – Being an Up and Coming Female Executive
by Kim Hirsch
December 12, 2011

Not long ago a past colleague mailed me (yes, through real snail mail) a newspaper clipping with a yellow Post-It that read “This reminded me of you!”.  The Globe & Mail article “Women, power and the imposter syndrome”, written by Margaret Wente, was a quick and insightful statement about women in the workplace, and our…

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Buzzwords of Business
by Kim Hirsch
October 24, 2011

Through regular communication with clients, conversations with colleagues, and recently reading a large stack of resumes, it has become wildly apparent to me that we business people communicate in our own unique language. Words like “synergy,” “right-sizing,” “elevator-pitch,” and “post-mortem” form part of our daily vocabulary.  But when it comes right down to it, what…

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Awesome job, Jobs.
by Kim Hirsch
October 7, 2011

In the late 90’s I worked on a well-renowned golf course.  I was part of a small food and beverage team that ran the clubhouse – and much like the game of golf, many days were standard.  With the exception of one in particular. Myself and my colleagues walked down the steps to display fruit and…

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Not overplaying our strengths
by Kim Hirsch
October 2, 2011

In my last post, I touched briefly on the Competing Values Framework developed by Robert E. Quinn.  Quinn’s research has led him to the conclusion that leaders must be aware of the paradoxes framed in the Competing Values Framework.  For instance, as leaders we must simultaneously instil organizational values for collaboration and effective teaming while…

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Lessons From The Trenches – Exit Right!
by Kim Hirsch
September 9, 2011

In my last blog post (Lessons from the Trenches – Succession Gone Well) I shared the story of the founder who, upon generously offering stock in his highly profitable company to senior managers, was astonished by their utter refusal.  For that business leader, and other owners contemplating exit strategies, the key messages for finding and preparing…

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Finding balance – in our strengths?
by Kim Hirsch
August 30, 2011

As individuals and leaders we have beliefs and we make assumptions.  In most circumstances our beliefs and assumptions have served us well, helping us navigate our personal and professional life challenges and capture opportunities.  Increasingly, management thinkers and writers encourage us to focus on our strengths, to shine a light on them and shape our…

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Is executing strategy like going on a diet?
by Kim Hirsch
August 10, 2011

In my previous post I acknowledged that to simplify this nebulous concept of strategy an organization should ask three simple questions: Why do you exist? What are you going to do? How are you going to do it? Therefore, after you and your leadership team come up with some brilliant and unique answers to the…

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Lessons From The Trenches – Succession Gone Well!
by Kim Hirsch
July 29, 2011

Surprisingly, it’s rare that we are invited in to a company, which is going through succession, by the founder. More often, the invitation is via a discreet meeting initiated by a worried senior employee, or a frustrated family member who is anxious about their future and the future of the company. A recent exception was…

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Strategy / Strategic Planning – What is it and why do we all have an opinion on it?
by Kim Hirsch
June 21, 2011

I recently received an email from a client in regard to how we might refresh their strategic plan in the fall.  A recent hire with a background in strategic planning had reviewed the organization’s existing strategic plan and provided perspective on how it could be improved. I reviewed the ideas – agreed with some, disagreed…

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