One critical part of company growth is hiring the right people. The market for talent is a challenge for many CEOs. Hiring the right people is not part of the solution – it is the solution. Today’s guest is Spencer Hadelman at CEO at Advantage Marketing. Inc Magazine ranked his company #1484 on the 2021 Inc 5000 list. Advanta Marketing is a Chicago-based marketing and media agency that has demonstrated a powerful understanding of today’s marketing. Spencer and I talk about the importance of hiring the right people to grow your company. He shares his process for hiring and a powerful question to ask in the hiring process. Learn the right strategy when hiring the right people.
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Spencer Hadelman: The Transcript
About: After a decade of experience in marketing, Spencer Hadelman founded Advantage Marketing in 2015 and has since been leading his team with outside-of-the-box thinking to strategize and implement marketing tactics for some of the most notable higher education institutes, e-commerce and retail businesses, and golf resorts across the country. Spencer and his team have increased awareness and revenue for University of California Berkeley, University of California Santa Barbara, The University of North Carolina, Sand Valley Golf Resort, Bandon Dunes Golf Resort, Sanrio, Mugsy Jeans, and Stance to name a few. Spencer studies the ins and outs of his client’s target audience and uses this knowledge to successfully strategize both traditional and digital media plans with budgets both big and small. He has spoken at multiple education institutes and conferences across the country, educating leadership teams on the best tactics for widespread – yet targeted – awareness, and creating new client acquisition.
Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.
Spencer Hadelman: [00:00:00] I think that when you, when you’re starting off as you know founder, you know, a solo practitioner, however, a company started, you know, you have a level of experience that you can rely on and that’s gonna get you off the ground to a certain level, to a certain plateau of success. But to really scale, to really grow, you cannot do it unless you have the right team, the right culture in place, the right expectation. And, you know, as, as a founder, The initial leadership as they’re spread thin as drank growth periods. If you don’t have the right systems in place, the right growth mechanisms, and personnel, you’re never going to succeed and you’re going to end up plateauing or diminishing at some point,
Intro: Welcome to Growth Think Tank. This is the one and only place where you will get insight from the founders and the CEOs, the fastest-growing privately held companies. I am the host. My name is Gene Hammett. I hope leaders and their teams navigate the defining moments of their growth. Are you ready to grow?
Gene Hammett: Every company [00:01:00] scales because they have the right people today. We look at hiring the right people for your company. If you want to grow your company beyond where it is today, there’s only so many hours that you can work and you know that. So you have to find the right people. You have to develop those people and they can actually grow the business beyond where you are today. Today we have our special guest, Spencer Handelman. He is the founder of advantage marketing. They are kind of a full-service approach, but they also have different service lines to help you get what you need to in the areas of marketing. They work with a lot of industries that don’t really understand the power of marketing, and we’re able to leverage that into more growth. But today we talk about hiring the right people with Spencer, Spencer, shares some of his tips. Of hiring those right people, what he does inside of interviews, what he’s looking for and what often gets in the way of hiring that most people just don’t think about all inside this episode. As you know, we focus on you being the best leader you can be when you’re being a powerful leader, when you’re inspiring us in a sense of ownership.
You have people that are [00:02:00] magnetic to the brand that helps your hiring weed also helps you be the leader that you need to be. If you want to figure out what’s getting in the way of your leadership, whether it’s your time, whether it’s a strategy or approach, or a skill, let’s have a conversation. I have spent 10 years dedicating myself to helping leaders, founders, CEOs, and their teams level up in the ways of leadership. I’d love to help you too. All you have to do is go to GeneHammett.com. Schedule your call, and I’d love to talk to you about what’s getting in your way, help you identify it, and then you can create a plan to move forward. That’s how it works. Just go to Genehammett.com and schedule your call. Now here’s the interview with Spencer,
Gene Hammett: Spencer. How are you?
Spencer Hadelman: I’m doing great, Jean, how are you?
Gene Hammett: I am fantastic. Excited to have this conversation with you. We’ve been talking for a week or so about how your company has grown so fast, making the Inc list. Tell us a little bit about your company.
Spencer Hadelman: Well, it’s a, it’s called advantage marketing. I founded it in the end of 2015, your traditional full-service advertising agency that I think a lot of people are familiar with and, [00:03:00] you know, I’ve broken it out into not necessarily a true advertising agency where I also personally refer to it also as a marketing firm, because I think we do more than advertising and, you know, I have three different divisions. I have a traditional immediate division that. People are familiar with you know, television, audio, radio campaigns, billboards print, direct mail. We have a digital division that focuses on everything on the digital side of social media, Google products being, you know, Amazon, et cetera. And then we have a creative division that does website, design, logo, design branding, et cetera, video editing.
And. You know, we, we kind of want to cater to different types of clientele and, and some people need us for everything. Some people need us for one division and, you know, I’ve kind of built it out where people within the company have different specialties, and depending on the projects and clients we bring in that’s, that’s where we got.
Gene Hammett: Spencer. We’re going to dive into what got you to where you are, but I’m kind of curious. What do you wish people knew about marketing in today’s world that they just don’t seem to [00:04:00] get? What do you have to keep repeating yourself over and whatnot?
Spencer Hadelman: I think the, you know, it’s, it’s funny. ‘Cause I think, you know, we live in this day and age, this era where information is a new, probably the most important quantity, you know, data information is, you know, the most important, valuable quantity we live with now. And you know, to me, I think that people read stuff on the internet or, or they hear a thing or someone else tells them like, oh, you have to do this. You have to do that. Or this is the new thing. And I think everyone wants the quick, easy win and they think there’s a magic bullet. And yeah, I think overall with marketing, like technology’s changed, but a lot of philosophies of what works hasn’t and you have to have a mix marketing strategy and not everything can be in one, one bucket.
Gene Hammett: Well, I agree with that. That’s what it is, why we rehab podcasts and other elements that actually get the message out there because it helps in so many ways for people to know who you are and like you and trust you. So, Spencer, I appreciate you sharing that piece of this in this interview, but let’s dive into why [00:05:00] your company has grown so fast. We talked about this a couple of days ago, even because it’s all about your people. So why are people and culture such important pieces to fast-growth companies?
Spencer Hadelman: Well, I think that when you, when you’re starting off as you know founder, you know, a solo practitioner, however, a company started, you know, you have a level of experience that you can rely on and that’s gonna get you off the ground to a certain level, to a certain plateau of success, but to really scale, to really grow. You cannot do it unless you have the right team, the right culture in place, the right expectations. And, you know, as, as a founder, any initial leadership as they’re spread thin as during growth periods, if you don’t have the right systems in place, the right growth, you know, mechanisms and personnel, you’re never going to succeed and you’re going to end up plateauing or diminishing at some point.
Gene Hammett: Well, I totally agree with everything you just said there talking about people scaling, talk about the systems of it. As it grows, you have a little bit of chaos that comes to [00:06:00] search that, mix it to a self end and don’t have the systems. How do you hire the right people for your company?
Spencer Hadelman: Well, you know, I think it really comes down to a belief that I hire people, not resumes. I believe. In myself and my ability to coach and my ability to teach my ability to inspire. And I also think sometimes, especially in my field and my world of marketing, when sometimes people come in with very qualified resumes, They don’t want to be pulled new processes or approaches, you know, you can’t feel that adage of can’t future new, you know, an old dog new tricks. Right. So I think sometimes when you have people that are a little more green or what are so competitive or inspired, it makes it easier. I think hiring those separate people, then some people that have overqualified resumes.
Gene Hammett: Now. I think a lot of people have seen it both ways. So what would you say to someone that’s looking at hiring people and there’s like, you know, I can’t really can’t invest that time into the green person. [00:07:00] What do you, what do you say to that approach?
Spencer Hadelman: I think it depends on the stage you are at a company and I think it also, even if you are hiring more experienced people, I think that’s part of the conversation that has to happen through the growth. And the interview process is, you know, what you know, asking questions about, you know, their thoughts on their approaches. Learning new approaches systems, whatever it may be. And I don’t think there’s a right or wrong way, but I do think that it, you know, depending on where you are as a company, you probably want a mix of it. But even the more experienced people, I think have to be open to evolving and change, and that has to be made the plea or by whoever’s, you know, Ryan, HR, or hiring or whatever. Maybe
Gene Hammett: You have, some unique approaches in the hiring process. I’m not sure if you want to share some of these secrets or not, but what could you share with us about your hiring process?
Spencer Hadelman: Yeah, I mean, I think, you know, I have one tactic and I don’t mind sharing it. And, and I think I mentioned to you before, I don’t want to take credit for it because I’m sure if I say I came [00:08:00] up with it, that someone will, the internet would be like, I did it first, but I can tell you no one ever did it to me and I don’t know where I got it from. So, but you know, I, I have a very good memory, my opinion. And so I, before I interview, I prop I read someone’s resume and. They hand me their physical resume a lot of times in an interview. And the first thing I do is I slide it. They hand it to me and I slide it across the table, throw it on the floor. And I do that because I want to see how they react to, an adverse situation. I want to see if if they get scared if it stresses them out, what are their emotional reaction to it? Even though I already know everything on that piece of paper. So any questions I have about it, I already have prepared in my head, but it’s more of about. Seeing how they react, because like, as you know, like clients are going to put you in situations like that or coworkers or me or whomever
Gene Hammett: I got to ask. What’s the most interesting reaction that you got from that move?
Spencer Hadelman: Someone thought I didn’t did it by accident and picked it up, handed it back to me. You know, that was, that was, that was pretty funny, you know, I, I [00:09:00] think, I think, you know, you get a lot of people that, like, there was, there was one woman who likes, you could visibly tell, like her, she lost like color in her face. Like she didn’t, she didn’t know how to react. And, you know, I, I think it’s, it’s, I think nowadays, you know, between recruiters and. You know, coaches and, and whatever it is. I think people really come in and are paired for interviews. And it’s, I think becoming more and more difficult to tell the difference between like who’s an actor and who’s genuine, you know, in terms of, of that.
So I think that that’s something is, is anytime you can disrupt a situation and see how they react and go off script, I think any, any way you could put, make an interview off script and you’ve got them at their true colors is the best way to go.
Commentary: Spencer. And I have been talking about hiring the right person. Now what you want to make sure that you’re doing really well is making sure you have a skill fit and a culture fit for those roles. The culture fit comes from a lot of different places. One that’s often overlooked is the values of the company. You want to make sure you have certain questions that you ask to assess where they are [00:10:00] naturally with the values of the company. If you’re one of your values is to take ownership, then you might ask a question to determine if they’re willing to blame others or take ownership when something goes wrong. You need to be creative with these questions so that you’re not just giving them the answer, but you want to make sure that you’re able to tune in. So you have the right person that you’re talking to and that you extend that offer to now back to Spencer.
Gene Hammett: I want to dive into the leadership aspect of this. You’ve mentioned coaching a few times. How do you see coaching as a part of your leadership style?
Spencer Hadelman: I think my entire life sports has been a huge part of my life and my biggest mentor. I have always been coaches to me in my, not necessarily my professional life, but you know, a lot of it. And you know, to me, I believe that there’s an element that I, that I pulled from sports where the best coaches are the ones that bring out the best in other people. And you know, for me, it’s what, you know, yeah. Are we not on a field or a court or whatever it may be? [00:11:00] Yeah. We’re not. We’re in an office. Or run zooms or whatever, but how, how do you, as a leader of a company, bring out the best in your team and your group. And, you know, I think that as long as someone knows that you care about them, you love them, that you want the best you can criticize or push them, knowing that they know your, your best intentions and you’re not doing it
Gene Hammett: one of the interesting analogies that I often use in my work as a coach is, you know, how do you move from being a quarterback? Right? Cause a lot of people are really good at organizing the people around this when they’re on the field of play. But real coaching requires you to be on the sidelines and you can’t actually take the field of play. You have to let others, you have to empower them fully. The coach is not allowed to step on the playing field and, and take any snaps or take any, any hit, any balls and whatnot do you follow. that same model with your coaching style?
Spencer Hadelman: I try to, as much as I can. I, I think there are some, like, in my specific instance, there’s, there’s definitely some, you [00:12:00] know, clients or relations where, where I’m still on the field. But there’s a lot where I’ve moved to the offensive coordinator or the head coach or whatever we want to call it. The pitching coach, whatever, whatever sport you want to roll with. But you know, to me, You will never grow or maximize your growth potential as a company, unless you get to a point where, where you are coaching fully from the silent, and you have to allow people to grow and succeed because, you know, one you’ll plateau as a company. If you don’t and two people won’t ever have that full sense of pride and achievement unless they feel like they are the player. The quarterback of a client relation or a division or a situation or whatever it may be. And, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s tough sometimes to give that up, especially, when you it’s your baby or you have pride and you have growth, but at the end of the day, I think you have to rely on,
Commentary: Hold on. Spencer has been talking about coaching. Now I want to take a look at some of the coaching skills that are necessary for you to level up in this area. One is questions. You’ve got to understand how to ask [00:13:00] powerful questions. I don’t mean big, complicated questions. I mean, once they get them to really think about. One question that one of my clients used inside his leadership is, is this your truth? Know, it may sound like an odd question out of context, but I love the question because if you ask an employee, is this your truth? And when they’re trying to explain something to you, and they’re trying to tell you what their fear is, then they will have a different kind of response to that. Then their normal, you know, tried and true. You want them to think about this before they answer? So you want to find out how do you can ask the right questions. The second skill behind this is active listening, listening beyond the words. Yes, it’s good to listen to the words that they say, what’s the emotion behind it. What’s getting in really in the, inside their head, around how they talk. And you’ve gotta be able to ask questions around that. So they fit together. And the third skill is the power of telling stories. There might be, short stories or small stories that you can tell that really demonstrate what you need to convey to someone and what you really want them to understand. And the story is [00:14:00] third person, so they can actually listen to the story and then you could ask them, how does this relate to your situation so that they can go, oh, this is how I see it, because that when they make the move, then they are the one taking ownership of it. If you give it to them, they don’t have as much ownership. Hopefully, you understand these coaching skills, just a little bit for you to be the best leader. You can be a back to Spencer.
Gene Hammett: A lot of people embrace the coaching skills that are necessary for them to bring that into their leadership style. I think they don’t really understand, you know, where the line gets drawn. You know, there are some times in coaching where questions are the only thing. That we use and there at other times we actually tell clients, but I think a lot of leaders air to the telling more than questions. Do you have any kind of way to remind yourself that the power of questions inside your coaching?
Spencer Hadelman: Well, I think that’s a good question. I think that you know, some, if you have the ability to. Get to where you’re trying to go with questions or push the limits or, you know, you know, circumvent, you know, [00:15:00] inefficient processes. You know, I, I feel like there’s a lot of different ways that we can all go about it, but you know, to me, you know, I think it’s, it’s, it’s hard to like, make a statement on that question in general. Like, I, I feel it’s like almost a case by case basis, you know, I, I want to give a better answer, but I feel it’s, it’s something that, you know, for me, It would be like a case by case basis. And I think if you have a cookie-cutter approach, I think that those are sometimes when people get in trouble as well.
Gene Hammett: I want to start to wrap this up, but we’ve been talking about hiring the right people. Spencer, what have we left out that you feel like is important and building the right team and hiring the right people?
Spencer Hadelman: well, I think, I think also part of its personality and culture, and it’s not. like I don’t want to say, like, you know, I wouldn’t recommend a culture, a process where it’s like a fraternity or sorority where it’s like, everyone’s the same, or, you know, that’s not what I mean by that, but I do mean that part of it is like, if you were, you know, an NBA GM or something, and you’re putting together a team, it’s not just [00:16:00] about skill set. It’s also. How the players are, will interact with each other on the board or how they complement each other or whatever may be. So I think that that’s a big miss by a lot of companies that growth stages is, is thinking through and identifying personalities. And, and like I mentioned earlier, right? It’s like people prepare for their interviews, they’re coached up for their interviews. And so sometimes it’s hard to allow their true personalities from an interview. But I think that if you can find different ways to identify that. And see how that will match with the role or the team that they’re going to work with or whatever it may be. That’s, that’s definitely a crucial point that I believe needs to be addressed.
Gene Hammett: One last question. What have you had to learn the hard way and growing your company and being the leader that you are today?
Spencer Hadelman: That I only have so many hours in my day and I only to keep a good work-life balance to keep your sanity, to keep, you know, everything that makes you, the person you are, that, you know, clients, employees, and whoever wants to be around [00:17:00] that you have. Make an effort to be as efficient with your time management as possible. And you know, like that finding out the hard way. I mean, I think that’s, that’s something where, you know, I think our company has grown a lot, but I think we should have probably grown more and I think we will grow more. once we got even better processes in that I think that you have to be willing to sacrifice. And if you don’t, you’ll learn some hard business lessons.
Gene Hammett: Well, I know a lot of leaders here struggle with that whole time component and we did a whole series on optimizing your time. If you’re ever interested in going deeper into that topic, make sure you are anyone that wants to listening and check out that series that talked about 20 different founders about how they optimize their time. So that being said, Spencer really appreciates you being here and sharing your experience here and your wisdom.
Spencer Hadelman: Thank you so much for, I mean, Gene and it’s been awesome. If you need anything from me, you know, please, please don’t have
Gene Hammett: I mean, where I reflect on what you just heard and what I’ve taken away from today’s interview, we’ve heard this many times before that you want to hire for a culture fit, [00:18:00] not just a skill fit. And I think it takes both in today’s world and knows it’s hard to hire the right people, but hiring the wrong people is such a big mistake. It will not only set you back, but it’ll cause you a lot of stress. Maybe even drive away some of the good people inside your team. What Spencer’s been talking about is how do you identify the right people for your organization taking into account the skill fit, the culture fit, but also the fit with others and how the personalities will mix together.
Looking at leadership in that coaching style, a very powerful way to get people to grow through that, whatever challenges were in front of them. So, if you are looking for ways to level up, your leadership would love to invite you to a conversation. Absolutely not going to try to sell you anything. I promise you. This is what I love to do is just help people that want to be better leaders, identify what’s getting in their way and help them move forward to create that plan.
It’s absolutely free to just go to Genehammett.com and go. You can register for schedule your call right there, and you’ll help you become the leader that your team deserves. It’s going to Genehammett.com and schedule a call now.
As always lead with courage. We’ll see you next time.[00:19:00]
Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.
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