Grocery stores and retail – that was my life from 15 years old when I had my first “non-ditch-digging/lawn mowing/snow shoveling job” until 1998. Working in the stores ‘facing’ the shelves (if you ever worked in the grocery stores, you know what that means and likely still do it when you shop today), getting shopping carts, bagging groceries and slinging bags of dog food. That was life. I was not an expert at the grocery store world because there were far too many facets of the business that I had little interest in learning and there were, honestly, just far too many facets of the business period. Sure, hand me a pallet jack and boxes of stuff, I could get it stocked and ready for business in less time than most, but an expert in grocery stores? No.

From being in the stores, I moved up through the management ranks and inherited my own store. I had 56 employees in the store I worked at and helped other managers prep and grand open their stores. Being very near the corporate office, we all had to be immaculate and ready for the President of the company to come shopping with their spouse at any time. The store was always stocked, forklifts removed from aisles and everyone had their a-game – at all hours. An expert though? Even after 5 years in that same store, not a chance.

Now, 20 years in the recruiting business. Hard to believe that when I started it was at the height of Y2K remediation projects and people were being hired like crazy. I didn’t even know what we did, I just knew people were being paid a ton of money and they seemed to remove fear from the folks writing the checks. I didn’t know what I did, and I certainly didn’t understand what the people I put to work were doing. In 1998, there was no chance I was an expert.

In 1999, a prospect that had likely received 200 voicemails from me called. Suffice to say it was a turning point and helped launch me in a direction that can only be described as one of the most pivotal and career-changing moments of my career. They literally gave me the break I needed to determine that this industry was indeed the right industry for me. Not for a short-time, but for the long-haul.

In 2002 Phoenix Staff was created. It is the mission of the company to bring our a-game every day. To follow-up and provide feedback to every person who applies and to never leave people hanging. It is our goal to not pester or invade someone’s day with a cold call or anything that could be construed as not helpful, constructive or insightful. These days the recruiting world is vastly different than I have ever witnessed though. As a collective, we are viewed differently and not always with kindness and grace. We make mistakes and errors in judgement, but the goal remains the same – work hard, leave things better than we found them and do right by the people we connect with.

Being a recruiter isn’t simple and very few are experts. If we start with a beginner’s mind or a servant leadership attitude. If we try to have the attitude that there is always more to learn and that WE grow by helping OTHERS grow, that can be counted as a win.