Resident Showcase: Simon Tulloch

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Simon Tulloch is an executive search expert and helps businesses around New Zealand find the perfect person for the job. 

How did you come across The Distiller?

I found The Distiller through Google. Casey showed me around and I thought it was a great facility. Great community too. I love the 24 hour access and the Friday wind-down is good, although I am always rushing back to my wee kiddies.

What were you doing before you started executive search? 

I graduated from Otago with a B.Com and started work in audit in Dunedin, then headed to London for 2 years. After that, I headed to Tokyo. It was a fantastic time to be there as Japan was opening to the world. Prior it had been a fairly locked shop – exporting out but not importing in. Due to reciprocal market access pressures, suddenly Japan was wide-open for business, for hiring, for ease of Tourism. Japan was boom-town.

I studied some Nihongo and picked up a role In financial markets – as a broker.  I was around the Gordon Gekko types, the arty types, the yoga, meditation types.  It was a crossroads of cultures with no rules, bar mutual respect and tolerance – and it worked really well.  Asia was right on the doorstep too.

I did 5 years total broking, an Otago MBA, years of Japanese language study – and I thought man, these financial markets are a little soulless. I wanted to do something helping people. I’d studied some motivation courses, some Neuro-linguistic programming and how to assist people to self-discover what they want to do. 

Career coaching, helping others, being at the cutting edge with world-leading clients in a global city, and the personal responsibility of my own business line – all appealed. So I entered search. And 21 years later I am still doing it.  

Do you follow a particular process when doing executive search? What does that process look like?

Yes. Very structured. In a nutshell; I research and find people then shouldertap and pitch the opportunity.

It’s people for jobs, not jobs for people. 

I'll start by reviewing the job description, the hiring manager, the team, the business' viability and what they offer in career path and proposed compensation. I'm looking for if these are realistic and viable? "Is this sellable – how would I communicate it?"

I also consider the likely candidate pool. Will they find the role and offering attractive?What would motivate someone to leave a stable role and firm for my client?  

I won’t take the search on if it doesn’t look doable.

After evaluating things I hit the web. I use tools like Linkedin Recruiter and do lots of deep dive web searches using Google advanced operators, attendee lists and social media.  I have some pretty sophisticated tools and a great CRM. 

Then, I screen through my loose long-list and start approaching. I try to find an angle as to why my client’s role would be an attractive career move. I'll work carefully to generate that first interest. Good people are usually happy where they are and the client doesn’t want the serially dissatisfied job-hoppers.

Finally, I generate a pool of interested and suitable candidates and do some pretty intensive screening.  Sophisticated interview questions with a quick Skype/Facetime to ensure they don’t have two heads.

What’s the most common response when you first get in touch with someone you are trying to recruit?

"I am happy where I am – but I will hear you out." Like I said, the good ones are generally happy with where they are and I need to be careful about how I intrigue them. 

Do you tend to look for people that are specialists or people that have broad skills?

Specialists. They could be specialised in broad skills, but they are all standouts. 

What attributes of a person do you first look at when you evaluate them?

I do mid-career types so it's about what achievements they have made. Generally the right work experience in a peer company and a good trajectory of achievements.

Are there any other attributes you would include?

Communication skills. In particular, being able to articulate and being able to influence. I also look for; motivation, energy and drive.

What is the most common mistake a business makes in recruiting or hiring?

Hiring from applicants.

Businesses tend to spend masses of time defining a job, invest in all the tools and research, and then throw it away by choosing from whoever came in through the web or Seek.

It astounds me.

There are 1.6 million people on Linkedin in NZ. It is a menu of people to shouldertap. Yet, companies are to shy to reachout or to engage an intermediary who will provide that “armslength approach”.

I find HR won’t spend $7k to $30k to get someone who will bring in multiples, perhaps millions of dollars. Instead, they hire the best person who is looking for a new role in that 1 month time window. The best ON the market not the best IN the market.

Is there a particular part of executive search and recruitment you find frustrating or difficult? Or a product software or otherwise that doesn’t exist that would make your job easier?

Communicating through gatekeepers. There are some great strategic HR people out there, but there are many who have no concept of the revenue side of the businesss so only think of keeping costs down.

Company founders and leaders know. Pay an extra $10k or $30k and you can get 20x that in return over a year.

How do you use nootropics to perform better at work? Are there any particular nootropics you find better than others?  

Caffeine and theanine are a good mix. That’s about all I use. The theanine is derived from green-tea. Ever wondered why green-tea has just as much caffeine as coffee but doesn’t give jitters – that’s the reason. 

Others are harder to get nowadays. Aniracetam is a good one, it increases verbal flow. Not sure if it’s still available in NZ. Tim Ferriss and Dave Asprey go into detail.

Are there any other tips/tricks you use to enhance your work performance?

I keep a kettle bell at work, do a few stretches, some Wim Hof breathwork.

What is the podcast you most commonly recommend or talk to people about?

I have cycled through a lot – Joe Rogan had some fantastic guests and I followed the path of many of them. Health, self-improvement, rational thought, real history. Currently I am learning a lot from the Corbett Report. How Big Oil Conquered the World was an eyeopener on Rockefellers, education, medicine, and technocracy.

Do you have a strange habit, or something which you do that even you, yourself, consider absurd or odd?

Hmm, being normal in an absurd world?

Not many people agree when I say a cold showers warms us up, but have a cold shower in the morning and you feel warm for hours. Have a hot shower and step out into a Dunedin winter and you are cold again in 5 mins. Go figure! 

INTERVIEW BY ANGUS PAULEY

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