George McGherin of The McGehrin Group

Transcript of George McGherin, of the McGherin Group, interview by Alan Olsen for the American Dreams Show:

Alan Olsen: Welcome to today’s show I have with me, George. McGehrin George, welcome,

George McGherin: Alan, it’s good to be here. It’s good to catch up with you.

Alan Olsen: So, George, you’re a founder of the McGehrin Group and did quite a few things in your life. But why don’t you give us your story background? How you got where you are today and what it took to get there?

George McGherin: I was kind of I was taught like a lot of money here in the States, I was taught, like a lot of folks to sort of go to school, academically, and when you work for a company, that’s what I was taught at home, right, I was taught zero risk, play it safe. And you work someplace for 20-30 years. And this is I’ll be 46. In April, right. So this is just to give you context, with the generation. I grew up when you still had to, like get up to turn the TV channel, before the remote, so I was just a different. So I did that, I went to school, had the opportunity to travel a little bit in and Europe, got back here to the states got a job for a large corporations. And life was good. Until one day, I got a call from a recruiter- headhunter- who was in Miami, he said, George, there’s an amazing opportunity in Miami, it was for a consulting gig, you need to come down and interview and three or four days later, I was working and in living in Miami, right? So you know, so the weather in New York City, New Jersey, in January is horrendous. And, I was like living the dream. So, in my 20’s, young, didn’t do any due diligence about the opportunity, you know, I jumped on the money, I burned all my bridges with one of these big boards that I was working at in the consulting realm. And life was good for three months. One day, I go into the office, and there’s a sad, sad, sad look on everyone’s face. And the company I was working for was closing down the office. So I was unemployed. You know? So I was like, okay, you know, I asked the HR lady, what do I do when I’m unemployed? Like, what’s the next step? And she said, Well, you need to get unemployment. So I go to the unemployment office in Miami. And the  next thing I know, I’m thinking look at all, like, look at the people next to me and I’ve done everything correctly and I’m still unemployed. I made the decision literally, in the unemployment office, never to work for somebody ever again. I think I had some luck there. I started to evaluate, myself. I’ve done everything I was supposed to do scholastically, I’ve worked hard. I played it the way they told me to, and I’m still unemployed. I thought, if I’m going to fail, I’m going to fail on my own terms. And if I win, I’m gonna win on my own terms. And that was kind of it. So my plan was to go around to these little recruiting agencies, (I run a recruiting company now), look for a job, get a nine to five. And then I can start a business and nighttime, I walked into literally the business that I have now. Got into recruiting, and I’ve had it for 20 years now. But I worked in a small place for like, three months, three months later, I said, I can do it myself. And I started, I took a risk to start a business. And it went from bad to worse. By the way, if you ever I mean, for entrepreneurs out there, it’s not as sexy as it could be. And I went from broke to broker, you know, for three years. And then I just kept on showing up. I remember thinking I’m one day closer to not being poor, one day closer, one day closer… One day, I wasn’t poor and that was the drug that got me hooked.

Alan Olsen: What was your first sale like?

George McGherin: It was terrible. I spent the commission before I earned it. I had a guy this is a recruiting things in accounting. I placed him and he was excited and it was for a senior accounting role. The commission was $12,000 and this is 20 years ago. So he said, George, you know, I’m so excited because of the job you got me I’m gonna go to Disney World to celebrate the new job you got for me? Great. You’re starting Monday perfect. You learn this very quickly in sale, its not real money until it’s actually in your bank account and then sometimes it doesn’t mean anything. He went to Orlando to celebrate his new job, his old boss, while he the guy was in Orlando, calls him up, and he said, Hey, you know, I’ll pay for your weekend there, just come back to work on Monday. That was it. I didn’t know this, because I was also in Miami having fun and celebrating my $12,000 close that I didn’t earn yet I hadn’t even sent the invoice yet. And Monday morning was my first my first reality of the business that I’m in now. Monday morning, I got a frantic call. From my client was Freightliner, they do the trucks. Freightliners was calling me saying Hey, where’s your guy like, he’s not here. And then, I said, let me call the other guy and you call the guy at work his old job, and you pick the phone up. And I just knew this is not good. And then he told me the story. He said, I’m sorry. You know, I just had to do what’s best for my family. And that was my first close. So my second one, unfortunately, I had somebody died, the guy passed away. I was actually was pretty traumatized. But I learned very quickly, it’s not over until the fat lady sings. For those entrepreneurs out there, a deal is something that you’ve received payment for, that’s a deal. Don’t count a million dollar deal, or a $30,000 or $300 deal if someone hasn’t exchanged money for your service yet. So that’s a that’s lesson number one that I’ve taken in the last 20 years and I teach the new guys on my team the same thing. Like it’s not over until it’s over.

Alan Olsen: So let’s move forward then. Today, your model is how big are you?

George McGherin: So we’ve got 40 people now. To give you a little bit of context I built up this business. In  2008-2009 all my clients at the time eventually became banks and financial institutions. that had 50 people in the team. And in one day, I got a call from all my clients, and hey, George, the party’s over and I literally fired 50 people ,I went from 50 to zero.. And I literally had to start again, after being in business for 8-9 years. I decided at this cross point, do I continue on? Or do I just go get a job for somebody else? I decided to continue on and I built a better mousetrap. So we’ve got, we’ve got 40 people now, but we’ve been remote since 2009. We’ve got four businesses. One is the executive recruiting business, that’s an eight figure business. We’ve got a coaching business, got a brand new business, we just actually started a podcast introduction business so if you want to get on podcast, 24-48 podcasts. We do the bookings for you, we put you on there. So it’s for the entrepreneur, but that’s we’ve got a couple of businesses going on. It’s all related to connections of people. It took me 20 years in business, my system that I have now, I work about two hours a day, I mean, it’s like the four work week, it took me 16 years to figure that out. And then it took me four years to really to get it fine tuned. So it’s not the way they paint it on Instagram. I can tell you that, not at all.

Alan Olsen: You say it’s a two hour work day, but the reality is, you developed systems and processes that require your attention, but when the when the problems come, they come. I love this story here so let’s move into the people that you serve. Okay, when should someone decide to use a recruiting company?

George McGherin: If you’re trying to hire somebody and you’ve struggled, let’s say there’s a lot of turnover, and you actually get to a point where it makes sense to pay a professional to help you- with a coach or in general, I’d say most companies that use us, they looked for a certain role for three or four months, maybe six months, they’ve had some luck, they haven’t had any luck. And they decide to mitigate some of their risk and delegate it to us, right. So I’d say if you having a hard time finding that perfect person, an agency or recruiting agency will save you lots of time, the negative part of it, you know, is that you have to pay a fee. You’re tapping into somebody’s network and as you know, network is everything. So on the recruiting side, we work with a lot of large, large organizations. So the people that we’re dealing with, in general, they’re making from $300,000, a year to $4 – $5 million. The thing I can tell you is that from, from an entrepreneur entrepreneurial standpoint, the ability to get to that person, the decision maker, is what I’ve learned is probably the number two thing I’ve learned is, you need to you need to make sure that you’re always dealing with the decision maker, right? Sometimes it’s the wife, sometimes it’s the owner of the business, sometimes it’s the son… you need to make sure that they’re the person that writes the check, that’s the person you need to get the ok from. And everything else becomes much more easier. That’s the mistake that a lot of the younger entrepreneurs make. They hide behind email, and you need to deal with the owner of the circus and not the clowns. Unfortunately, that’s the reality of the business world. It sounds terrible, but it’s true.

Alan Olsen: How does recruiting at the executive level differ in approach from other levels?

George McGherin: They expect real answers, they do much more due diligence on and you and the opportunity. There is a difference between somebody that makes half a million dollars a year and someone that makes $50,000 a year, right. And I see that in the attitude and in terms of how they prep. They go into win. And they go in with a very positive attitude, like this is theirs to lose. It’s not ‘if I get it,’ I would say they’re extremely positive in the way they talk. But they show up prepared. A lot of them are well educated, but education has nothing to do with it. They’re, well studied, well read, they know the market, they don’t make assumptions. And that’s kind of a big difference. So if you’re selling them, you need to also, you know, make sure that you’re prepared enough to talk to them.

Alan Olsen: Can you tell us a little about your executive branding service and how that came about?

George McGherin: All my businesses are like, mistakes turned into business models. You get somebody that asks you the same thing over and over and over again, and it becomes a service, right? So we had for many, many years. We had executives that would say, hey, George, I need a resume down- this was before LinkedIn. And branding wasn’t even a word. You know, they didn’t call it branding. They would call it resume writing. I’d get questions like hey, George, I need somebody, I might be on the market, I need some help on my  resume, do you know somebody? And I would say, Well, no, I don’t know anybody. And one day, a guy said, Hey, George, I got my resume written professionally. Can you take a look at it? And I took a look at it. And I asked him how much he paid, and he said, Well, I paid a couple $1,000 for it. And I looked at it and it wasn’t great work. And I literally marked up the whole document, I said, Tell your resume, writer guy, this is what you need to change. And they didn’t want to change it for him. And I changed it, you know, I did it myself, you know, so I’ve fixed the guy’s resume. And he then said, I’ve got a friend of mine who needs your help, do you want to help him? And one became two, then two became three and, that’s now a seven-figure business. You know, the interesting thing is, a lot of the people we work with on the branding side, feed into the recruiting side. So, 25% of our recruiting revenue stems from the branding business. But we’re working with the same types of people, you know, $300,000 to a couple million bucks a year, we even work with entrepreneurs, folks starting to get their story together, but now it’s the resume and the biography and the speaker’s biography and LinkedIn and that’s how, we started, If you get the question over and over from somebody, sometimes it makes sense to say yes- You know, it’s like that Jim Carrey movie, have you seen that one- where he says yes to everything? And so that’s all we did. I mean, I wish I could say I was smart enough or bright enough to say that I created that business. It was just somebody asked me the question over and over, and I thought, okay, we’ll just, we’ll just charge folks for this and it went up. You know, it’s now it’s a couple $1,000. But it started at $100, then it went to $300 to $500, and now it’s a service, we’re 11 years into it since we’ve had that business. It’s been a wonderful. The thing I like about it is that I get to talk to just cool people. They tell you stories, and you find out what’s going on in the marketplace before it happens. And it was a side hustle turned into business.

Alan Olsen: You’re one of those true entrepreneurs, a critical thinker, and seeing the problems and putting solutions in place.

George McGherin: Yeah but I’m a terrible executer. I’m a great idea guy. But I’ve learned, if I’ve got an idea, I need to get it out of my head and give it to somebody else and let somebody else, you know, rock with it. Because sometimes I’ve had these ideas in my head for years. So I think as an entrepreneur, you have to figure out, who are you? Are you the executer? Are you the idea guy? You can take tests on that, too. There’s a lot of tests, you can see to what kind of personality you have.

Alan Olsen: So, for the listeners, I want to, I want to spend a little bit of time on this, because you bring up a very good point. There’s a mistake people make in the business world. I’ve done over 1000 interviews with entrepreneurs, and some people speed small. And some people got really big. And in the point you brought out there about, I’m a terrible executer is what one of those entrepreneurs who got really big, recognized early on saying that, this is what I do well, but let me go find what the other person does well, that I don’t.

George McGherin: And that’s what I do. I’m decent on the phone. I’m decent in sales situations. I don’t know if I’m great on camera or not it fits my personality. But I’m not great at  administrative tasks, I’m not great at tax and accounting, I’m not good at adding things to the calendar. After we get off today I’ll send a text message to my team, telling them a recap of what happened and I’ll do it using my voice. And then they’ll put it into the system. We use Salesforce as a CRM, but they’ll put it into the CRM because they know me, I won’t do it. I’ll just forget to put it into the CRM basic, a basic $10 task that I don’t do well. But get me a contract with IBM, I can figure that one out, but I can’t use the basic CRM with basic notes. I’m gonna tell you a story about a friend of mine, I have he’s a talented, talented guy that does amazing websites, right? Gets you on Google and the first page. I mean, he’s just talented. But he’s a solopreneur. You know, and literally until the COVID thing, I would see him every day at Starbucks, I mean, literally all day, just sitting there pounding away. And I would tell him, my brother you need to need to you need to delegate this stuff, and you can grow. Solopreneur is fun for about a week, but then you really want to grow and financially be free. You need to hire people.  The problem with the entrepreneur is you’re broke the whole time, right? And you’re robbing Peter to pay Paul. And you’re like, Okay, I just got $500, I need to eat. You need to get to a pivot point where you say, I’m not gonna eat today. I’m gonna hire somebody. And then it ends up being a disaster and then you say, Okay, I’m not gonna eat again. today. I hire a second person, because the first person quit on me. By the third or fourth or fifth or sixth person that you hired, you get one employee that works out and then you free yourself up. Right? So that’s a big, big problem with these entrepreneurs like they want to do everything. There’s mp money in that.

Alan Olsen: And be it the fact that you’re able to admit what you do well and move off what you don’t, speaks a lot for how your business got to where it is today. Moving into social media, a lot of people say, LinkedIn can be a great connector for recruiting and for jobs, and they actually have a service that they provide. What’s your opinion on it? Do you suggest people use LinkedIn?

George McGherin: On LinkedIn, I have 30,000 connections which is the maximum and I’ve had 30,000 connections since 2008. I’m constantly recycling people. I think LinkedIn is a great business card, I think it’s a great way to sort of quantify some of your story. I think if you just think you’re magically gonna receive, a cash machine with money coming in, it doesn’t work that way. I think it’s a, I think it’s a good starting point, but it is kind of a, 2020-2021 version of a website for a company. If I had a choice between a website and a LinkedIn, I’ll take a LinkedIn profile, you know, all day, if I have a choice. If you and I were to eat out someplace, and you know, at a restaurant, the first thing I’ll do is I’ll go Google, right? When you go and Google, who’s this Alan guy that I just met, he seems like a nice guy who is he? LinkedIn is the first thing that shows up on that search. So I think people are gonna be conscious about, and this is why we started this podcast business to get entrepreneurs on podcast. The reason we started that, is I say, if you Google, Alan Olsen, just Google your name. I mean, you control the whole thing with all your podcasts. It’s like every show you’re working on. And if you Google George McGehrin, I’ve been on 70 shows in the last few months. It’s all shows up. You have to be conscious of how you look on Google for your potential clients. That’s why I like LinkedIn.

Alan Olsen: How has COVID affected your company?

George McGherin: From a finance standpoint, my version of COVID was 2009. We lost everything. So financially, I learned very quickly to have money set away and be prepared. So we were prepared financially. This is probably not the norm, but we’ve grown, we’ve doubled our sales from last year. Literally every business line we have, we’ve doubled in sales. We just pretend like it didn’t happen. I just told my team, listen, there’s a period of  Darwinism here, even when employment numbers are 20% of people that are technically employed 80% of people working, you know, so let’s be part of the 80%. There’s still deals going on, still business going on. We played very pro, you know, pro Darwinism, like, hey, let’s just keep on moving. We hired some recruiters from firms that were laying people off because they didn’t have the money to be able to keep them. So we’re in growth mode. It’s been a great year. I mean, I hate to say that about covid  but we were already set up, everyone on my team works remotely. Very early, I had clients that we’re from Silicon Valley, and I learned, how some of these startup startups do things. And so I had a zoom license as of three to four years ago, it wasn’t a new thing for me. We’ve done really, really well, but it goes back to one thing, Alan, and this is this is for an entrepreneur or anybody. It’s about the relationships you have with people, you’re never gonna do a deal or sale by  sending the most amazing email or text message. You needs to get on the phone with people, meet people face to face. And, you know, zoom or what have you. And, and that’s how you do business deals, you need what I call, the unfair advantage.

Alan Olsen: How does someone reach out to you?

George McGherin: If they’re interested in the recruiting piece, the branding piece, if they’re interested in the in the coaching piece, which is amazing or if they’re interested in getting on a bunch of podcasts, they can look me up on LinkedIn and send me a quick message and then we’ll setup a call from there.

This transcript was electronically generated and may not contain the exact words used.


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Alan Olsen, is the Host of the American Dreams Show and the Managing Partner of  GROCO is a premier family office and tax advisory firm located in the San Francisco Bay area serving clients all over the world.

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Alan L. Olsen, CPA, Wikipedia Bio

George McGherin on Alan Olsen's American Dreams Radio
George McGherin

For close to 20 years, George has run a national executive search/recruiting firm mostly dealing with executive search and leadership at the C-Suite level such as CEO, CFO, CTO, CMO, CIO roles throughout the US, Europe, and South America. Clients include small startups to global organizations, most companies that you will have heard of or products that you have been impacted by. Besides managing his recruiting firm, he also works with similar executives in terms of helping them empower their careers, both on the branding and coaching side of the business. His LinkedIn can be found here:

Alan Olsen on Alan Olsen's American Dreams Radio
Alan Olsen

Alan is managing partner at Greenstein, Rogoff, Olsen & Co., LLP, (GROCO) and is a respected leader in his field. He is also the radio show host to American Dreams. Alan’s CPA firm resides in the San Francisco Bay Area and serves some of the most influential Venture Capitalist in the world. GROCO’s affluent CPA core competency is advising High Net Worth individual clients in tax and financial strategies. Alan is a current member of the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research (S.I.E.P.R.) SIEPR’s goal is to improve long-term economic policy. Alan has more than 25 years of experience in public accounting and develops innovative financial strategies for business enterprises. Alan also serves on President Kim Clark’s BYU-Idaho Advancement council. (President Clark lead the Harvard Business School programs for 30 years prior to joining BYU-idaho. As a specialist in income tax, Alan frequently lectures and writes articles about tax issues for professional organizations and community groups. He also teaches accounting as a member of the adjunct faculty at Ohlone College.

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