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How CEOs and Board Members Can Make the Best Hire Together

How CEOs and Board Members Can Make the Best Hire Together

Often times, performance improvement hinges on making an important executive hire that is necessary to fill a key gap in your team. When teams begin to consistently miss their KPIs, MBOs and other metrics, the consequences of low performance fall squarely on the shoulders of the CEO.

Achieving high-growth at a startup is difficult, and it can be an even bigger feat to sustain the same level of growth as a company matures. Series B funding comes with greater expectations for founders and CEOs. Boards can easily decide that in this pivotal moment, given the performance metrics or lack thereof, it may also be time for that dreaded conversation about a succession plan or an immediate replacement plan.

So what can you do as a CEO when you’re in the midst of a turnaround plan or have already launched an executive search and the board is worried about continued deterioration in performance?

First, understand that when any board expresses this concern to the CEO, what they really mean is, ‘You better make something happen fast.’ The hard truth is that they’re not talking about your team’s failure to perform, they’re talking about your failure in leadership performance. And if you’re incapable of solving this problem as a leader, you might have reached the end of your tenure.

Making the right or wrong executive hire in this situation can be your saving grace, or give the board more reason to give you the boot.

The weight of this pressure on a CEO can unfortunately make a hiring process all the more difficult. Board members might want to step into operating roles, make introductions and suggest potential candidates to fill the role. This is well-intentioned, and occasionally seems like a promising idea. As a CEO, you feel obligated to meet those candidates and the feeling is awfully similar to being set up on a blind date by a friend who means well but doesn’t fully understand what your wants and needs are.

These kind of referrals still limit you to Level 2 Recruiting—a blunt, passive recruiting strategy based on referrals, networking and candidates that are leftover from other searches or unemployed (often with good reason). If you end up hiring the person the board recommended and it doesn’t work out—as CEO, you’re still the one responsible for the whole mess.

The biggest factor determining the success or failure of any CEO is his or her ability to recruit and hire well. And when something as important as an executive search—and potentially your own position in an organization—is on the line, you want to make sure that the job is done with mastery.

Rather than you or your board members dabbling in recruiting and using up the precious time and energy you need to drive your team’s performance, bring in the right expert—not just someone referred by the board. Partner with someone who has built companies like yours before, who understands core competencies and culture fit and can elevate your search to Level 3 Recruiting™. Level 3 Recruiting™ is about precision extraction and a refined selection process that secures the top 1{f7a32599756963b989bde631f1a44401cc789db6f847c3735c9e8f651be632a4} A+ executive leaders.

This collaborative process is the best way CEOs and boards, especially in the midst of intense pressure or even in a crisis situation, can make sure they make the best hire.

Insights with VC Legend Itzhak Fisher

Insights with VC Legend Itzhak Fisher

I had the pleasure of sitting down with serial entrepreneur and investor, Itzhak Fisher, for an interview. Itzhak is Founder and General Partner of Pereg Ventures, a Nielsen backed private equity fund. He also served as Executive Vice President, Global Business Development for Nielsen.

Itzhak has a long track record creating new companies and developing them into operationally excellent businesses. As Co-founder and Chairman of Trendum, he took the technologies of this small internet data mining company joined them with VNU, Intelliseek and BuzzMetrics, and sold the new entity to the Nielsen company. In the nineties, Itzhak founded and headed RSL Communications (NASDAQ: RSLC) a Telco company operating in over 20 countries across four continents with over $1.5 billion in revenues.

In our talk, Itzhak opened up about the most important lessons he’s learned on leadership, business and investing.

Every great executive seeks out mentorship. Itzhak Fisher’s mentor just happens to be one of the most influential leaders in the world.

Itzhak also talked candidly about an early business failure. After that experience, he made one rule for himself that he follows to this day. Here it is, straight from the horse’s mouth (he invested in a horse farm).


Itzhak is a world-class leader, and he’s wise enough to know that when it comes to hiring and investing — the last thing he wants to be is the smartest person in the room.

A bonus from my conversation with Itzhak was learning about his history and his vision for the future. It was humbling to learn about his heritage as the son of Holocaust survivors and hear about the incredible work he’s doing to support the next generation of entrepreneurs.


See my full conversation with Itzhak Fisher on the Insights page of You’ll also find more interviews with some of my favorite leaders on the planet.

Are women the greater sex?

Are women the greater sex?

Victor Hugo said “All the forces in the world are not so powerful as an idea whose time has come.” We are living in historic times. And the time for women to be in more executive, business and leadership roles is here now.

Female founders are the fastest growing segment of entrepreneurs, yet they receive less than three percent of venture capital funding. According to research by Korn Ferry, women hold just a quarter of the top jobs across the most prominent C-Suite titles. And that number is even smaller when it comes to the chief executive position. Women hold only 5% of CEO posts; the role that shows the lowest gender diversity in the entire C-suite.

Fortunately, tech and HR are slightly ahead of the curve. 1 in 3 leaders working in tech are women. And the chief human resources officer position is the only C-suite role where there is gender equality – 55 percent of CHROs across industries are women.

There is concrete evidence that in life and especially in business, for creating stronger communities and enterprise value, women are the greater sex.

Companies that fail to recognize this, are actually paying the price. At Twitter, only 13 percent of employees in tech roles are women – a point of embarrassment for the company as it has struggled to secure strategic options.

Research shows that female leadership creates a significantly higher ROI. Companies with a female founder saw 63 percent higher ROI than investments with all-male founding teams. Businesses with strong women leadership generated a return on equity of 10.1 percent per year compared to 7.4 percent for those without, according to a 2015 study by MSCI of more than 4,000 companies around the world.

Of the c-suite and board member positions my team of recruiters is asked to fill, close to half our clients are asking for diversity and inclusiveness in the search process. The ‘Mad Men’ era of doing business is a vestige of the industrial economy – when the domestic space was a woman’s queendom and a man’s ego battled in business. Entrepreneurship today is about building communities, tribes and the enterprise value that comes from network effects. The growing evidence is that diversity of thought creates the most value.

When to Hire an Executive Search Firm & How to Find the Best

When to Hire an Executive Search Firm & How to Find the Best

We see it play out every day: show us a promising startup that’s floundering, and we’ll show you an executive team that was built haphazardly or based on short-term thinking.

Building dynamic executive teams is the key to success—an insight that holds doubly true for companies in high-growth mode. Inside the tornado of rapid expansion, emerging businesses won’t survive or thrive without the right executive teams in place to nurture system-wide creativity and protect organizational values. That’s why top CEOs now report spending 30-50% of their time managing human talent.

So when is the right time to hire an executive search firm?

If you’re asking that question, the answer is probably: right now.

Typically, by the time executive search firms are brought on board, companies are already hurting. They’re missing one or more key members of the executive leadership team, stalled on a crucial search, or struggling with a string of bad fits. They’re losing market share or paying the high costs of lost opportunity. Their CEOs find themselves burdened with endless rounds of recruitment, instead of putting their energy where it counts—building the team.

This happens even with some of the most productive, people-savvy CEOs around. Chalk it up to the dynamics of growth. When a business is small, the personal contacts of the C-suite and Board may suffice to build out a strong executive team. Once the business is on a rapid growth trajectory, that’s unlikely to be true. It takes specific expertise to run a fast, agile, and rigorous search. It takes miles of networks. It takes deep wells of HR experience and intuition.

But once you know you need outside help, how do you find the executive search team that’s right for you?

Here are crucial issues to consider:

Find a search firm committed to learning your culture and core values. It’s not enough to understand the list of competencies you seek in a new executive. Each candidate a headhunter brings you should be vetted for the core value set your leadership team honors. They should share your cultural DNA. Otherwise, their presence is likely to cause turbulence at a point where you need to focus on fortification and growth. You need a strong core values match, to be sure and you can’t afford to think short term; sacrificing values fit over skills fit. Neither should your executive search firm.

Ask who will be leading the search. Remember the adage: Success has many fathers, failure is an orphan. The bigger the search firm, the more that people take credit for work of others and the longer your search will take. Make sure your search will be led directly by someone whose name is on the door. It’s that simple. That way the success or failure of your search will reflect directly on the firm you’ve brought on board. It’s the quickest and best way to ensure accountability—and to avoid having a crucial search languish for months on the desk of an overwhelmed associate.

Look for a search partner who has been on the inside, building a company with his or her own hands. A search executive who has been on the inside, rapidly scaling up both an executive team and the functional teams that support them, will understand your needs and growing pains intuitively. They’ll understand the pitfalls of recruitment from the inside out—and they’ll have mastered the art of the executive interview in a way that only happens when your own company is on the line. There is just no substitute for experience.

Look for a search partner who can be a full partner to you. A search firm will be your bridge to talent. It will represent your company to diverse circles of stakeholders, including investors and potential clients. You need to make this choice count on multiple levels. Look for someone with the energy to inspire top talent to join you. Look for someone with the gravitas to represent your firm and its mission in the fullest and most holistic way.

Here at Dave Partners we exist to help entrepreneurs conquer the world with what they are doing. More than just executive search, we build the teams and a real mission-based partnership with the companies that have the greatest opportunity to make the world a better place for us all.

This is our calling. It’s why we love what we do.

The Ultimate Truth About Big Bad Search Firms

The Ultimate Truth About Big Bad Search Firms

There was a saying, “No one ever got fired for buying IBM,” that you might have applied to choosing a big brand search firm. You now realize that these search firms have no clue what you need. Worse, they don’t care.

Too many leaders choose a big brand search firm because of the false sense of security that this brings. The most important thing in choosing an executive search partner is the person who’s actually doing the work, not the brand of the company.

Is your business in high growth mode? Do you want to meet the best candidates? Do you want to meet them fast? Do you want the expert advice of someone who can close the deal? If you work with a big search firm, you’ll be disappointed. Big firms are used to working with companies growing at a slower rate than yours. Their sense of urgency is much more relaxed. Since they’re used to working with big companies, the importance of your search may not be as high as if you were a Fortune 500 company. They might take 9 months to conduct a search. An elite, special forces boutique firm can do it in a fraction of that time.

Remember, the best tech is not at IBM or any of the big tech firms. It’s usually at the smaller, ankle-biter firms that are completely disrupting and re-inventing the category. This is true of boutique executive search firms as well.

To achieve the greatest potential you have as a leader and to realize your entrepreneurial dreams, you’ll need to have the courage to step outside the box of big brand thinking. Rather than rely on flashy names and referrals from other people who have no idea what you need, apply your best critical thinking and executive decision making to choose the search partner that’s right for you.