Finding People Who Make a Difference

My name is Brett Blair, and I am a relatively new recruiter and owner of a Sanford Rose Associates Executive Search firm.

I opened my first office in June, 2007, in Howell, Michigan – a suburb of Detroit. Over the next 18 months, I was able to grow the company to 7 employees, including one in Mexico, and in that time frame completed 30 search assignments with revenues in excess of $600,000. I also opened a second office in Nashville, Tennessee, in December 2008.

I have an unusual background, and one that surprises many when they inquire about my success. I am an Industrial Engineer, and went on to obtain an MBA. I worked for 3M and then for Alcoa, and had a 20+ year career in “the cubicle” at these great companies.

My roles were diverse…ranging from engineering to customer service, Manager of Trade Compliance, Human Resources Director, and ultimately General Manager of a $200M international automotive electronics division.

The automotive slump, coupled with a burning desire in my heart to become an entrepreneur, were things that nudged me into leaving Alcoa in early 2007.

Several friends suggested I look into recruiting, and I thought they were absolutely crazy. I had no experience in sales or marketing, and had no interest in going this direction.

I detest making cold calls. I thought that I would find this line of work miserable.

My human resources background, experience which I loved, was the only bit of credibility that I thought I had to support moving in this direction.

I didn’t know myself very well. After looking closely at the executive search profession, I decided to invest in and establish a new recruiting company, and made a very wise choice to join Sanford Rose Associates Executive Search.

So, how could I have such a fast start, especially in this economy, and located in the shadows of severely depressed Detroit, and coming from an automotive manufacturing background?

The answer, I believe, is that I have found my passion (helping people), I am a disciplined goal setter, and I have learned how to “control my thinking.”

As part of my transition to the freedom of owning my business, I began working with a personal development coach. Through this process, I have set specific, measurable goals with 18 month time horizons. I break these down into 90 day increments, and regularly review my progress with my coach, who is in effect my “accountability partner.” I have become an avid reader, watch almost no television, and have become addicted to learning and achieving personal growth.

I attempt to do this in a balanced fashion, aiming at the following six priority areas, listed in order of importance:

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  1. Spiritual Health
  2. Physical Health
  3. Quality of Relationships
  4. Emotional Health
  5. Intellectual Health
  6. Financial Health

I believe that balance and growth in the first five areas will set one up for tremendous financial success….it will just happen if one is ready given the overall quality of his/her life.

So, how does one find “balance” in these six areas?

I believe this is done by first conducting an honest assessment of where an individual stands on each of these six priorities. Then, one can set specific goals for improvement in those areas needing the biggest boost. I firmly believe in the power of setting “written goals,” and I have developed the habit of writing down, and carrying, my goals on a new index card each and every day.

This is a little trick that I use to remind that each and every day starts like a blank sheet of paper… that the past is in the past, and all that matters is what is done “now.” This creates the freedom and opportunity to experience tremendous productivity.

Some examples of my goals are:

  • Spiritual: To “really” pray twice each day; To read the Bible. To read one other spiritual book per month.
  • Physical: Training – I will run the Nashville Marathon on April 25. To eliminate the need for cholesterol drugs via exercise and diet.
  • Relationships: To be a great husband and father; to have weekly meetings to mentor and encourage each of my employees; To establish a “MasterMind” group in Nashville, where I have recently moved
  • Emotional: To read one book on psychology or emotional health per month: to meditate 3 times per week.
  • Intellectual: To improve my reading speed to 1,200 wpm; to read the Wall Street Journal and New York Times daily; to obtain my private pilot’s license by June 1, 2009.
  • Financial: To make ???? $ by December 31, 2009. Also, to make ???$ by December 31, 2012. (This is broken down in to month goals and “activity” goals.)

Controlling one’s thinking, training the brain to stay focused, being optimistic, and being free of worry and regret — these are key. Also critically important is exercise and maintaining a healthy diet.

I have chosen to ignore the news, and I refuse to participate in the current recession. My little company, Sanford Rose Associate-Howell, is aimed at doubling our revenue in 2009.

Surrounding myself with daily opportunities for inspiration, unwavering focus, and dedication to written action plans are my roadmaps to achieving this goal.

Brett Blair is President of Sanford Rose Associates in Brighton. Brett comes from a 22-year corporate career, with prior experience with RE/MAX, 3M, and Alcoa. He enjoyed multiple functional roles over that time, culminating as General Manager of a $200 million automotive parts manufacturing business. Brett holds a BS - Industrial Engineering degree, and an MBA in Finance. He has also studied in Japan and has extensive experience working in Mexico and Europe. Brett is passionate about helping people and through his recruiting business he is able to help people and subsequently organizations.


7 Comments on “Finding People Who Make a Difference

  1. Nice article Brett. The priorities you listed are spot on. I’m sure your success will continue with your accountability and dedication to your goals!

  2. Thanks for the inspiration. I have been recruiting for 8 years and during the peaks and valleys, I find myself seek deeper into self pity and down right fright during the valleys. You’re path is a reminder that I have a choice in how I look at each new day.

  3. Very inspiring and actually a logical and whole approach to managing one’s life. I could not agree more that if you are excited about what you do, your passion will lead you to whatever you define financial success to be. Also, by keeping the non financial priorities in focus, you are not left alone at the end of the journey.

  4. Brett: Outstanding—I have followed a more general goal. I live each day like it will be my last and learn each day like I’m going to live forever. I had no doubt you would do well in your new venture. Keep in touch.

  5. Wow Brett! Great article! Life is so what you make it and how you choose to outline it! Everyday we have choices to make directionaly toward our goals, staying focused and positive is such a foundation to goal success!

  6. Interesting. Congrats on joining the recruitment industry. Sounds like you are adequately crazy.

    With those goals it sounds like you have mastered the 3 hour sleep. Especially with a wife and children.

    The recruitment industry has one of the highest divorce rates of any industy due to the usual hours, etc worked. Although it does sound like you’re not working too long hours. Keep it up!

    In Australia our rates are a lot lower than the UK and US, so maybe we have to work harder. Your 30 roles for average of $20,000 each placement is amazing in Australia. Our perm fee average 10 to 20% and 20% is usually for positions over $100,000 / $150,000. Engineers, etc can be as low as 13% and it’s usually the big companies offering lower – Manpower, Adecco, Select, Drake, etc…..

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