Career Discovery Channel: Talking Recruiting, Negotiations, and Zip Lines with Jennifer Johnson|
1. How do you want your name to appear?
2. Describe your first “real” job. What are you doing now?
My first job began two days after I graduated from college which is actually indicative for how I live my life – head on. Most kids hung around during the summer before going to work in the fall or took great European backpacking trips. Me? I put on my brand new black Jones New York pant suit and reported for work at 9am less than 48 hours after I shook the hand of the Dean and got a piece of paper saying I was legit! As my first job, I worked as “Assistant Finance Director” for a Texas Supreme Court Campaign. The title was over blown – I basically just dialed for dollars and opened envelopes with dollar bills enclosed. My candidate ran on the same ticket as George W. Bush when he ran for governor in 1998; regardless of which side of the aisle your politics fall, it was an amazing time to be involved in Texas politics. Scroll forward 13 years to April 2011 – I launched my own niche executive search firm specializing in placing marketing professionals into law firms.
3. What was the best piece of advice you’ve received?
“Before you come charging into my office and start talking, stop and think about whether this thing that is so important to you right this minute will be at all important to me.” – Rick Morrow, Partner, Locke Lord LLP (Austin, TX).
I was a recruiting coordinator and Rick was the Partner in charge of recruiting in our law firm office. I was young and eager. He saw potential in me and encouraged me to succeed but he (clearly) didn’t know what he had uncovered in me; I was constantly thinking of the next best idea and went to tell him about them as they came to mind (sometimes 3-4x daily!). One day he sat me down and explained business as it applies to a law firm: as a partner, his first priority daily is to serve his clients. Administrative work – recruiting new talent to the firm and other things such as marketing and even billing clients – came after that. And some days he didn’t get to administrative work at all. I’ve found that this advice is really applicable in any work environment: you never know what’s going on with people on the other end of the phone line or other side of the door so always be mindful on approach.
When knocking on a colleague’s door or calling a client on the phone I always lead with “Is now an OK time to speak/for us to catch up?” and let them tell me…
4. Brag. Tell us about something really great or that you’re proud of or excited about.
I’ve been on a mission the past year to step outside of my comfort zone personally and professionally. I’m terrified of heights. Over July 4th weekend this year I went with a couple friends to conquer North America’s fastest and tallest zip line. I’ve never paid more attention to anything in my life as when I was listening to the 18 year old kids telling us how to strap ourselves into the gear and imparting their safety wisdom upon us. Strapped into my harness extra tight (lost some blood flow, but better leg amputation than falling out completely), I approached the first of 6 zip lines we would encounter over the next 3 hours. The podium I had to hurl myself off of was 800ft in the sky; I was going to take a running jump and would be zipped off to ultimately go 50mph over a canyon to be, allegedly, caught by a teenager (who stayed out way too late the night before doing who-knows-what) who weighed less than me (I was convinced) on the other side. I was shaking uncontrollably and talking to myself. I was beyond surprised to find that I had the mental strength to make myself, as Nike puts it, just do it! And I did it. And it gave me confidence I didn’t know I had that has spilled over into the various channels of my life. SCORE!
5. 40 under 40. Ones to Watch. Most Powerful. So many lists out there….. who is on your list (and why)?
Emily May: Executive Director, HollaBack
Emily founded this amazing organization in 2005 that focuses on eliminating street harassment using mobile technology. It is now a worldwide movement. She left her stable corporate job last year to focus on this non-profit fulltime and has taken the world by storm! I served in a advisory capacity to the Board of Hollaback last year and found Emily to be so inspiring! Not to mention well-spoken and wicked smart! She’s been featured by Time.com, The New York Times, ABC news, MSNBC, the BBC and a whole lot more! Here’s her bio – I can’t do her justice: http://www.ihollaback.org/about/who-we-are/
6. What do you plan to accomplish by Summer?
Personally, I’d like to go an entire month without eating gluten and to run a 5K (and keep up) with my friend Alyssa. Professionally, I’d like to have booked 5 speaking engagements on the topic of “Unpacking and Mapping Your Career Business Plan” and to have successfully launched a new award I developed over the past couple of months for the Legal Marketing Association called “Rising Star” which will honor one or more young professionals who are “ones to watch” in the industry.
Kelly Hoey is a co-founder of Women Innovate Mobile.