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Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials; what a great mix of people, ranging from age 22 to 62+ across the business world. Growing up in the ’80s, I had a Rubik’s Cube. Unfortunately, was never really good with that item. In recent years, a 6×6 Rubik’s Cube came out. I would offer that this is a great visual analogy of the complex issue of motivating and synchronizing the efforts of your seasoned employees, management team and your brand-new hires.

So, how do we successfully integrate 3 generations, allowing us to properly leverage wisdom/experience, energy and technology acumen? Well, I do not claim to have the answers generations in the workplace(secret sauce), but would offer three tools/practical concepts to “move the ball forward.”

1. Communicate across all spectrums. Boomers love face-to-face interaction. Phone calls are acceptabl; written notes (even email) will generally work. Gen X’ers greatly prefer the phone and sometimes want you to limit after work calls. Millennials (aka Generation Y) are all about email, texting and social media. So, if something important needs to be communicated, vary the timing and platform of your message. Redundancy takes extra time and effort but will help, especially for those bigger companies with a wide range of full and part-time employees.

2. Clear expectations solve most problems. As successful leaders do more often than not, they articulate a specific vision and detail expectations of the department/division/company. Boomers may be hesitant to embrace technology; if that is an issue, be sure they absolutely understand this reluctance may prevent their further progression with the company. Generation X loves schedule flexibility; they are often raising families and crave the opportunities to catch a baseball game or cross country meet with their child. Let them know when it is acceptable and when they need to be in the office. Assumptions can get the best of both managers and staff. Millennials may need mentoring on workplace standards and business etiquette. Give them the benefit of the doubt and ensure someone with more experience guides them properly.

3. Most people want to be appreciated and/or recognized by their employer. This my be a hand-written note from the CEO or department head. Could be a picture with the “big boss” when they over-deliver on a stressful project or meet a pressing deadline. It could be a check for referring a top-notch employee (formal employee referral program or not). Might be recognition on the company’s intranet or newsletter. At the end of the day, simple gratitude goes a long way to improving retention. More often than not, employees leave bosses, not the organization.

Additionally, community service days, mentoring programs and team-building events are fun for all and gives EVERYONE the chance to interact outside of the daily routine. Pick up that Rubik’s Cube and work with it. Stay with it; be disciplined; ask for help; someone on the team can and will help you solve it! Humility and a willingness to ask for assistance show that you value the inputs of others. In the end, when your team knows you care, they will care more about the bottom line.

Thanks for reading!

Happy 4th of July. When you think of this very American holiday, we see images of fireworks, family, friends and food. Before we begin these festivities, take a moment to reflect on a fearless legend of America’s Game – baseball.

After reading today’s article about Lou Gehrig in the Nashville paper (The Tennessean, courtesy of USA Today Sports), it moved me to take a moment to highlight his life, but even more importantly his character. Mr. Gehrig was a model of courage, class and consistency. A few thoughts for your consideration.

Courage – I believe a majority of people consider themselves brave, even some would label themselves as fearless. Imagine facing a catastrophic disease today, how overwhelming that can be for you and your family. Turn back time 75 years and think how you might react. All indications are that he faced his battle with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), now known simply as Lou Gehrig’s disease, with grace and determination. The manner in which Mr. Gehrig stood tall inspired a nation and resonates in 2014. His “luckiest man on earth speech” is still well-known today. When faced with challenges in life and in business, may we strive to follow the model depicted by American heroes like Lou Gehrig.

Class – In today’s world, I would offer that our society can sometimes lack in this area. Whether discussing reality shows or the prevalence of social media in our daily lives, certain individuals will make outlandish claims that are often based on little or no facts. I wonder how Mr. Gehrig would be received today. Think it is safe to say that he would conduct himself in the same manner and display the highest standards of personal conduct; just might be slightly more challenging.

Consistency – This is a topic near and dear to my heart. In life, when I sit with clients, friends or family members, it is my deepest desire to be the same person in every setting. Lou Gehrig embodied that, not just on the ball field but in all facets of his life. In business, it seems like many want to work hard for the short-term, when the spotlight is brightest. However, sustained excellence is the true benchmark of world-class organizations. Just last month, the San Antonio Spurs won their 5th NBA title in 15 years. They have the best record in all of pro sports over the past decade and a half as well. Mr. Gehrig’s ability to perform at the highest level for 17 years, working on the biggest stage in New York is simply incredible.

On a day where we mark America’s independence, may we all strive to be classy, courageous and consistent in each and every undertaking. American heroes like Lou Gehrig and Cal Ripken (who broke his record of 2,130 consecutive games in 1995) would likely nod their head in appreciation. Happy July 4th!

Good Evening! Just finished a proposal and emailed the documents off to the client. Corresponded today via email with my firm’s Social Media Coordinator. He gave me a great starting point to begin a series of blogs on Millennials. He mentioned to me that your generation is very focused on an organization’s culture. I think that is fantastic (and from what I have seen, I tend to agree)!

As a business person that recently passed the big 40 (well, not that long ago…), I feel compelled to pass along my experiences, and allow the newest generation in Corporate America to apply as wisdom. What do you think?

Some initial thoughts…

  1. Companies love to hire talented people with energy, ideas and values. Most of the Millennials I have been able work with in the past couple of years all seem to exhibit these traits. Keep it up!
  2. One item I notice in the workplace is the use of earbuds. Personally, very rarely do I use these in the workplace. Believe a number of employers will not object to this; what I have not seen are employees or interns asking if this is OK. There is a hierarchy in business and common courtesy and consideration are timeless practices that will never go out of style!
  3. On a related note, I would encourage the “Millennial Mafia” to always look to impress. If given a task or project, showcase your technical abilities and grasp of the bigger world out there. Hiring managers and business executives love to be blown away. Based on some recent interactions with students still in college, I walked away just not blown away. Give that one some thought.

Feel free to follow me on Twitter (@PlumleeAssoc and/or @jmartinplumlee) or connect on LinkedIn. Good luck and stay tuned for my “Millennial Tips” that will begin later this month.

– Martin

…old school is still preferred


Good Day from Franklin TN!

I joke with friends, family and business associates that I am “a 42 year-old man trapped in an 82 year-old man’s body!”  My life and business mentor growing up was my Granddaddy (my mom’s dad).  He owned an independent insurance agency in a small town east of Nashville for 40 years with two other gentlemen.  To this day, his youngest son is in the business and does quite well.  Perhaps my grandfather’s personality and business acumen contributed to his success; I would propose that his intangibles, faith in God and “operating principles” were key factors as well.

As the oldest of six grand kids, I was very fortunate to spend many weeks/weekends/vacations with my grandparents.  The principles taught to me resonate to this day with me:  integrity, dependability, work ethic and manners.  With this as a premise, would love to explore a bit on the subject of business etiquette.  In this day and age of smartphones, social media and never ending list of tasks and priorities, do you find people less considerate than perhaps 20 years ago?

In my business, at least 2/3 of my work is via phone or over email.  I believe it is important to always ask someone on the other end of the line: “Is this a good time?  Do you have a few moments to speak?”  This is certainly appreciated and generally proceeds into a pleasant and productive phone call.  Just the other day, someone from the Northeast called me and fired away; after 20 seconds, I interjected and let this person know that this was not the best time.  Why is that necessary?  Should we not respect each and every person we come in contact with each day?  My thought is that my next million dollar client is one chance meeting or conversation away.

Ever receive an email at an inconvenient time?  If like me, that can happen multiple times in a single day.  Why are we so addicted to email?  We have become enamored with the idea of being busy.  However, in sales and business development, lots of activity does not always lead to compelling results.

Might we do a better job of thinking about email timing? For instance, with my staff, I encourage them to check email 3 times per day.  Before 9am, just after lunch and again prior to going home.  If you need to share something important with a client or a candidate, then use the telephone.  It is counterproductive when you receive multiple emails from vendors, associates or networking contacts about a matter that simply is not time sensitive and would be better received and reviewed either first thing in the morning or at the end of the day.  Microsoft Outlook as the functionality to delay emails going out, even allowing you to set the time.  As a business owner, I want my clients or client prospects reading my mail either early or late in the day; based on their response/request, that will prompt me to call them.  Their job is their focus each day, not necessarily responding to my note or request.

In closing, business is more competitive than ever.  We are all in a hurry and face stress and challenges each day.  Sometimes a deep breath and taking a moment to think about the person on the other end of that email or phone will give you pause. In the long run, we all will succeed more when we think of others first before ourselves.  May we all apply the Golden Rule to business dealings a little bit more in the coming days.

Thank you for reading!


Greetings! This is my 1st ever BLOG so be nice…Actually, would appreciate any constructive feedback — only way to get better.

Do you enjoy the laborious exercise of researching companies, new/growing industries and trends in recruiting and selection? Well, I would speculate that about 95% of us do not! However, a failure to plan is likely to result in you never securing that next great position. Let’s talk about some practical steps and examples to help you gain traction in your search and get ahead of the competition!

Having spent over half of my adult life in the military (15 years), the following acronym is so critical to those who are proactively (and passively) conducting a career search or to those individuals who have unfortunately been down/right/out-sized by their most recent employer.

“Plan the Work and Work the Plan” or in Army Acronym Speak: PTW & WTP

What does this look like? Style simply does not matter. This is all about substance. Most people are comfortable with building a contact matrix in Excel as the baseline document for this process. Of course, you are going to compile most of your contact names from your smart phone, LinkedIn and other sites. In my 10 years of recruiting, it has been the best practice for transitioning candidates to have at least 100 potential referring sources. Realistically speaking, only 1 in 5 candidates have put in the appropriate amount of sweat equity to prepare a proper plan to career redemption.

As we discussed today in a local transition group, a key to success would be having 3 to 5 specific hiring managers at each of your top companies (25 is a great starting point, stretch goal might be 50 or so). So, this will give you 75 to 125 contacts to aid you in your job search. Let me share with you a practical example.

I recall a few years ago of a local executive named Bill. He was given a pink slip and asked to move on from a major subsidiary of a local Fortune 1000 company. Quite simply, I will never forget his story: a prime example of planning, persistence, dedication and follow-thru. Over a 9 month period, he contacted about 150 people, interviewed with 22 companies, received 9 second or final-round interviews. In the end, he secured 3 offers and landed a great position with an employer of choice!

Bottom line: this is hard work and a numbers game. As you meet with “centers of influence” or hiring managers at local firms, always offer to provide help in some capacity. Today, you may be reaching out to others for help. Tomorrow, be sure to pick up the phone or return an email for someone in need. Good luck and let me know how I can assist you in 2014!

The Industrial Revolution changed the US forever in the late 19th and early part of the 20th century.  In terms of moving resources around the nation, the railroad was instrumental.  I like to paint this picture as I coach candidates on how to accelerate while also streamlining their individual transition plan.

In the 21st century, technology has become such a part of our lives that if you are away from your “computing platform”  for more than four hours, you feel as if you have lost a full day of productivity.  This lends itself to unrealistic expectations around connectivity.  We could spend hours discussing how to better plan, prioritize and focus one’s time (perhaps a future blog topic).  In fact, today’s world is more connected than ever and will continue to rise in this regard for years to come.  It is my opinion, this can make it even more challenging to access those individuals that can be of the most benefit in a job search.

Statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shown below verify that about 4 out of jobs that are filled in the United States via networking or thru recruiters.  About 30% of jobs are filled via job boards and company web sites.  The remainder of positions are filled thru advertising, internal promotions, etc.  So, how do you network more effectively, while also selecting a finite number of recruiters that can truly benefit your search?


Statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics


Let’s start with networking.  It is so important that I encourage candidates to spend at least 4 hours a day networking.  Meeting at a coffee house is a great way to meet with someone, while also keeping your costs down.  Additionally, in the Nashville area, there are a number of coffee shops that are well known as business meet up locations.  Sometimes, you create your own luck.  Best days to conduct these sessions are typically Tuesdays thru Fridays.

Ever heard of the 4 P’s?  Prior planning prevents poor performance.  Well, that was a very popular reminder in the military.  This certainly applies in the job search & transition process.  It is mind-blowing to me that only 15 to 20% of the candidates I meet with come prepared.  If you have a plan, I will work 10x harder to help place you.  However, if you can only name a handful of companies that interest you, then as I coach my team to say: “We may not be your best resource.”  Simply stated, no one cares about you more than you!  Take the time, whether at 5:30am or at 10pm at night to research companies and industries, data-mine LinkedIn and review the aggregator alerts (Indeed and Simply Hired).

Finally, a few tips on recruiters.  If you ask around your local market, conferring with HR Executives, Business Owners and other Corporate citizens, you will quickly find some good ones, and perhaps a few that might not be ideal for you during your current search.  Within your inner circle of advisors, ask your close friends and colleagues which recruiting firms their companies utilize most frequently.

I am very selective on recruiters that I will recommend to candidates.  Currently, there are less than 10 names that I keep on my short list.  Following a decade in the business, that is a little surprising.  However, I only will recommend recruiters that will treat my referrals like gold and make themselves available within 48-hours of a referral.  Look for that recruiter that is both high quality and quick to respond to you and your specific needs.

Who knows what the future holds?  The world of recruiting looks much different today than it did around the late 1990s and early 2000s.  As I like to share with people, think “Semper Gumbi” – Always Flexible.  At the end, we must always strive to be better each and every day.

As my hometown of Nashville continues to grow, mass transit is a hot topic.  Light rail might be part of the answer.  Looking regionally and nationally, perhaps in the next 20-30 years, high speed trains will connect the largest cities in our great nation.

Today, you can build your own locomotive and truly accelerate your career search.  Leverage your referral base, as well as that of some of the most connected people in business: recruiters.

As always, good luck in your search!  Remember: there is always a solution!

-Martin Plumlee

Founder and CEO
Plumlee & Associates
“Excellence in Executive Search and Outplacement Services”