Jake Norris came over to the PeopleStar Podcast to share how his hobby has taught him to be a better leader! In fishing, Jake has found a parallel to understanding business. In each, you have to have a mission and you have to follow a series of steps to make things perfect.
Jake Norris is a Recruiting and Staffing Industry veteran and founding member of Oakwood Search, a global Recruiting and Staffing Firm.
Hobbies can teach you lessons that can be applied in your work environment.
Good fishermen start their day with a mission and then they follow a series of steps to get their job done.
Recruiting is about finding the right fish.
Create your own system to evaluate candidates, Jake has his Courage In Action score.
Begin with the end in mind.
About Jake Norris
Jake Norris is a Recruiting and Staffing Industry veteran and founding member of Oakwood Search, a global Recruiting and Staffing Firm. Oakwood Search has won numerous awards including Denver Business Journal’s “Fastest-Growing Private Company”, Denver Business Journal’s “Best Small Business” and has twice appeared on the “Inc 5000”.
PeopleStar Podcast Intro: Welcome to the PeopleStar podcast. We deliver leadership perspectives from industry experts on their people, architecture, routines, and culture as they solve HR's newest challenges. And now your host, Julie Rieken.
Julie Rieken: Hi, it's Julie Rieken, the host of PeopleStart podcast, and today I'm so excited, I've got Jake Norris with us. Jake is the CEO of Oakwood Search, a premium staffing and recruiting firm that in today's market they're doing so much. And Jake, you have led and have become a leader of Oakwood. Tell us, how did you get here, and what an exciting time to be in your space.
Jake Norris: Hi, Julie. Yeah, it's nice to talk to you. And thanks for having me on. So a little bit of history, I guess, I moved to Denver and started recruiting and way back in 1998. Back then, it was quite a bit of a different landscape for the recruiting world. We didn't really have job boards. The Internet was relatively new. Generally, what we learned was to build lists and old-school headhunting and recruiting techniques, was really all there was to rely on. Then I moved to, after about five years working with a couple of the large publicly traded recruiting firms, moved into corporate recruiting, and worked out two different Fortune 500 firms as a senior recruiter within their organization, where I started to understand really the internal workings of human resource management, and then moved back into the agency side of the fence and opened Oakwood in 2014.
Julie Rieken: Very cool. Well, what an exciting time to be in the space. And Jake, you and I have some history together through a leadership group that we were both a part of here in Denver. And one of the things I know about you is that not only are you a great leader, but some of the things that you do outside of work have helped you think about work. And I'm specifically thinking about a hobby that you might enjoy. And I'm wondering if you might share a little bit with our audience about your hobby of fishing and how it's applied to you as a leader.
Jake Norris: Sure. Sure. Yeah, fishing, you spend a lot of time out on the river doing a lot of thinking when you're not catching fish. And it's amazing some of the parallels that I've recognized between the two, leadership. You know, first off, with fishing, I was taught that in order to be a good fisherman, you need to get up early, start each day with one mission in mind, to catch fish. And then in order to catch the fish, you go through a process of steps. You have to make sure you cast the perfect drift, you have to make sure you're using the right fly, the right depth. Then you have to be prepared for the fish to hit the fly and instinctively know when to set the hook. And then finally, obviously, you need to be able to bring that fish into shore without snapping the line or letting the fish jump off. So everything has to be done perfectly in order to get a fish. And I see leadership and business kind of the same thing. Everyone's fishing for different results and knowing how to accomplish those is the key to it all.
Jake Norris: You know, I think that's a really cool way to think about leadership. And I also think it's very interesting that you in recruiting have fishing as a hobby and that it's about bringing in the right fish. And what a cool analogy that is, that you as a person see parallels between both fishing in your leadership style and as well as in finding people. And in fact, that leads to the next question. How do you find people when you're not just fishing for good results in business, but finding people to work at Oakwood? What do you look for when you're selecting people to work at Oakwood?
Jake Norris: Sure. That's a great question. We go through, it's always a little bit specific to the role, but we look for a traditional history of results, kind of regardless of the previous company or title, which is really just the context of obtaining the results. But we also determine a pedigree fit to make sure that they're able to operate effectively. And the attitude to fight through the challenges. And then I personally use a score that I created called a Courage In Action score or a CIA score, where I work to understand the individual's ability to try new things and work outside of the box and take risks to accomplish results instead of just kind of going along with the status quo. So that's really it in a nutshell.
Julie Rieken: A Courage In Action score. So I'm guessing when you think about that, you're asking questions of somebody of risks that they may have taken so that you can analyze, will they be? Will they be willing to try new things inside our organization? Is that your end goal when you say it?
Jake Norris: That's it. Exactly. Yep, absolutely. It's understanding business nowadays is such a dynamic world that we all live in. So you really have to have people that can roll with the punches and get creative and work outside of the box because everything's always changing. So being able to identify a high CIA score is a very valuable thing.
Julie Rieken: Totally. And I guess that even plays back to the idea of when you started, there were job boards and now the world's really shifted. And we're in a super interesting space right now. And I guess maybe my last question for you is just thinking about today's market. Here you are. You've seen a lot of shifts in the way that we find people. We have to be able to reel them in using your fishing analogy. And in this space, it's hypercompetitive. Jake, when you think about advice that you might give to those of us that are, so to speak, casting a line and trying to find good people, you're looking for courage and action. But what advice can you give to us employers in this job market about how to be better seekers?
Jake Norris: Sure, sure. You know, everybody, 2021 is off to a screaming start or I guess halfway through the year or more now. And I think the most important thing is, to begin with, the end in mind. So understand at the beginning, how many candidates do I want to see here? Do I feel confident that if I am able to see, I'll be able to choose from that group and make the right decision? You don't want your search to turn into kind of a shopping expedition where just when you find out that you can't get one candidate, you find that you then have no more to choose from. So beginning with the end in mind, knowing what your plan should be, and then trying to execute on that plan is critical.
That's such a good piece of advice. And we've had such good luck working with you at Oakwood. So I want to thank you for that. But I think your tip here of thinking about the end in mind and thinking about how many people do you want to interview, that was actually a transformational question for us. Just thinking about when we come and work with you, how many people are we looking to interview? Is it 2? Is it 5? Is it 20? And putting some bookends on that, on that so that you have an expectation of how many people are we looking for and what's going to be the right shape of that expedition, because I don't want to come home empty-handed, especially in this market.
Jake Norris: Yes. Exactly. Yeah. And it really does help us because we're doing a degree of filtering that goes on. And if we know we want to see five people, it makes it a lot easier for us to identify the top five and make sure those are the ones that you see. So it also helps with the bilateral communication between a vendor, you know, and a client.
Julie Rieken: Totally. Well, I want to really thank you not only for your partnership at Oakwood with helping us personally but for your advice for people that are out there looking in your analogies to fishing. This has been super interesting and just really appreciate your perspective today.
Jake Norris: Well, thank you. It's been a pleasure working with you. It's been nice talking with you today.
Julie Rieken: Awesome. We'll post Oakwood searches information here with our podcast and can't recommend them enough. So thanks, Jake. And thanks for being a guest.
Jake Norris: All right. Thank you, Julie.
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