Alan: Welcome back, I'm here today with Leni Miller, she is the President and Founder of EA Search, a company that's focusing on helping individuals find the right type of work. Leni, welcome to today’s show.
Leni: Thank you.
Alan: Can you give me your background of how you got to where you are today?
Leni: Yes, I have a degree in 18th-century German literature.
Alan: Oh my gosh.
Leni: Which wasn't particularly practical, and I ended up working in an employment agency right out of college. And one thing led to another, and I became a serial entrepreneur in the business. I started two big staffing agencies in San Francisco. One of them is still going strong, called McCall staffing and about 15 years ago I started a retained search practice, which recruits executive assistants to CEOs all across the country. So, my background is always been an employment, one way or the other, and every once in a while I got to use my German, but not very often.
Alan: Well, I imagine that, but you know a lot of things that other people don't?
Alan: So, in the, in the area of searching for new candidates and working with CEOs, what's your process that you go about, how do you get people placed?
Leni: Yes, well the thing that I realized early on my business whether it's for CEOs or it was for less senior people is that in order to place people in jobs that really are right for them I had to identify what is right work for people so over the years I just slowly but surely started defining the formula of what it was that made up right work for people and about 10 years ago I also coproduced a TV series with a friend of mine who was in the outplacement business, Sharon Gadberry, and we were sponsored by Intel and our job was to go find people. It was called home sweet office, to find people who loved their work who had leverage technology and their passions and their values to find work they loved and it was really during that experience that I really saw the, the formula of what it was that made up right work I started seeing that anybody could have it. That anybody could find it, it was just a matter of managing the project, and really knowing yourself well.
Alan: You know, for many of us we need that type of help with finding the right work. It, it, it seems like it seems obvious, yet so many of us get lost in you know, who am I? And how do I, how do I capitalized on what I, need to do best. It reminds me of this book called what color is your parachute.
Leni: Oh yeah, that was the Bible back in the day. Yeah, yeah.
Alan: and so…
Leni: Richard Bolls.
Alan: So, now you just published a book, called Finding the Right Work.
Leni: I did.
Alan: Okay, and Five Steps to the Life that You Love. It’s just not finding work, its finding life.
Leni: Right, right.
Alan: And having a passion for it.
Alan: So, what inspired you to write this book?
Leni: Right, the biggest inspiration came from interviewing so many people who were in wrong work. And Alan I'll tell you one of the things I researched during the writing of my book was that wonderful quote by Henry David Thoreau; where he says most lives live quite, most people live lives, most men lead lives of quiet desperation. And what I didn't know was the second part of that was, and go to their graves with their songs still in their hearts. And so many of the candidates that I would interview, my job was to make sure that those candidates didn’t go to my clients, right. So, so many of the candidates I would interview wouldn’t be there right work and they couldn't even imagine leaving what they were doing because they didn’t know how. They didn't think they could afford it and all the reasons why not so the biggest inspiration was to share what I knew about finding right work with as many people as I could.
Alan: So, if I pick up your book and read through it then, what's my take away there?
Leni: Your take away will be you will understand what you have to do to discover the parameters of your right work.
Alan: Okay, okay so.
Leni: And you’ll be inspired by other people's stories.
Alan: So, who’ve you interviewed for your book, in putting this together?
Leni: Yes, well I decided to interview famous people and ordinary people. Ordinary meaning that people wouldn’t know their names, not that they were ordinary people. And so, I had the great privilege of interviewing Robert Mondavi before he passed away and Robert was a person who at the age of 56 or 57 was kind of booted out of his family wine business because of some internal family problems. He always said no, he wasn't booted out he was just on sabbatical, but the truth was, he was asked to leave. So, Robert Mondavi, also I was privileged to interview Warren Hellman before he passed away. Who was just such an icon in the Bay Area in terms of his contributions as well as the “Hardly Strictly Bluegrass” festival that he created, that he gives to San Francisco every year. And then there’re people that you probably have heard of one of which is called Snorkel Bob. I don’t know if you ever go to Hawaii and you, you rent snorkel?
Alan: Actually I have been to his place there, Snorkel Bob’s.
Leni: Well, he’s in the book and he has some great quotes. But he’s a member the, one of the, he's kind of a funny guy but he said to me in my interview with him, he said Leni, do what you love and sometimes the money follows and sometimes doesn’t. And that's true right, so, right work is very different than just doing what you love.
Alan: Leni, we need to take a quick break, I'm having a fun time with this interview. We’re visiting here today with Leni Miller; she is the president of EA Search, also the book author of Finding the Right Work. We’ll be right back after these messages, but we’ll find out more about what is, the right work.
Alan: Welcome back, and visiting here today with Leni Miller, she is the President of EA Search and also the book author of Finding the Right Work, also the Five Steps to the Life that You Love. And, Leni, before the break we were talking about the book, your background and how you got to where you are today. I want to pick up on this interview though, in having you help us understand what does it mean by finding the right work?
Leni: Okay, first of all, I’d say that each human being has right work, that’s unique to them. It’s absolutely unique, and so one of the biggest and most important aspects of right work, is knowing yourself well enough to know what the ingredients are what the parameters are to your right work. And Alan, right work shifts throughout life. When my baby was born my parameters and my priorities for work were very different, now I’m the grandmother and she's all grown up. So, the formula really, for right work, is to understand your deepest values. You know, what are non-negotiable in your life in terms of your value, values. Second thing, is to start really identifying and discovering your strongest talents. These are the things you probably came in with when you were a little kid; you were probably using them in a different way than you do as a grown-up and also your strongest skills. And finally, really know those priorities in life. Few people allow themselves the time to understand what are their priorities, and a lot of times people don't think they deserve to have those priorities matched in their job. And priorities are things like, I don’t want to be more than 20 minutes from home or I don’t want to work for a company that selling guns. You know, or I don't want to be with people who don't share my values. Those are all priorities and, when you identify them clearly, you can line them up with your values and with your strongest skills and abilities and if you do, you will find right work.
Alan: Do you get a lot of people coming to you that are still employed actively?
Leni: Oh yes.
Alan: And then they come to you and say Leni, I'm not happy, and so what process you walk a person through?
Leni: Yes, that's a really good question. You know, the biggest thing is to have them really understand why not? Because it's through understanding, many times, people have jobs that teach them what they don't want. You know, it's a horrible experience, but what they come away from it with is, I don't want to work for, let's say a guy whose greed is good as his biggest value. You know, or I don't want to work two hours from home and get stuck in traffic and not seeing my children anymore. So what we do, is we really get beneath, well your unhappy with that but why, why are you really unhappy? Because usually there’re deeper reasons.
Alan: You know Leni, you remind me of my first job when I went to go work for the IRS.
Leni: I can’t imagine you with the IRS!
Alan: Oh, the first welcome gift they said welcome to the IRS, and the first thing we're going to do, is audit your returns.
Leni: Oh, no kidding?
Alan: And they said, pull out your returns. I said, do I have to? Do you want your job?
Alan: And so, one of the guys said, what if I quit? They said, doesn't matter, we’re going to audit you anyway.
Leni: Anyway! Oh that’s a story oh my gosh.
Alan: Well, it was an interesting job. You know, first of all I had no money so I had no fears.
Leni: Right, right
Alan: With that, but you know, you learn early on
Alan: You know that to
Leni: How long did you stay?
Alan: Oh, long enough to get out of there. It was 2 and ½ years, I went through the training program, and once I was trained, then I went on to bigger and better pastures.
Leni: But also an important point is that, that probably was a platform in a way for other things. Like people love doing business with people who know the IRS, right? So, that's a value added, even though it wasn’t a job you wanted to stay with. And I always tell people that someday you’ll look back and you see; that was value-added job.
Alan: Well now, I’ll tell you, to qualify this, I loved my job at the IRS. My wife walked in there one day after 2 and ½ years and she told me I need to quit my job. And I said why? I like my job, and she says no, I have no friends. I said why? She said that when they find out that you work for the IRS, they run away!
Leni: Very funny, that’s very funny.
Alan: We needed we need to take a quick break here and I want to get back to about what's going in today's job market and what people should be assessing about their own lives here.
Leni: Thank you.
Alan: We’ll be right back after these messages.
Alan: Welcome back I’m visiting here today with Leni Miller, she’s a President of EA Search and also the author of the book, Finding Right Work, Five Steps to a Life You Love. And Leni before the break, we were talking about, what is the definition of the right work? And as we went through this process, so you know, when people find themselves in work that they don't like, you know, how do they make adjustments there? I want to turn over though to today's job market. First of all, how we doing out there?
Leni: Well you know, it's interesting. There is such a dichotomy that often isn't expressed in the media and it upsets me. But what’s happening is we’re beginning to see a talent shortage in this country of Americans that are trained for the jobs that exist. And we have this mega high unemployment rate, so you have you know nobody mentioning that the biggest issue is education and managing expectations and inspiring people to be self-reliant and their way of training themselves. And we have unemployment, but along with that this is always a theory one's own theory, but my theory…
Alan: Talk about; you talk about reliance in the book though, don’t you?
Leni: Oh yeah, oh yeah, well, I don’t know if you've ever heard of Warren Dennis, but he's a futurist who spoke once at a lecture I was at. And he said the illiteracy of the 21st century, is when people will not be committed to lifelong learning. And the self-reliance required in today's job market, in today's work market, I call it a work market because the job, as a way of working is disappearing. Technology has been fully utilized in factories, it's been fully utilized in companies and many jobs have disappeared. And Alan, they’re not going to come back in my opinion. But, that doesn't mean that there's not a lot of work out there, there is a lot of work for people to do, it’s just that they may have to discover what it is this is, another reason I wrote the book, for themselves. Find a need and fill it; and there’re many stories in my book about people that did just that.
Alan: You know if I'd been out of work for, say longer than six months, I would imagine it's hard for some people to feel that they can ever come back into the market.
Leni: It is hard.
Alan: And what advice would you have for them?
Leni: You know, read my book, number one. Because it addresses that, but number two, I would say, that they may be looking for work in all the wrong places. And by that I mean, that it used to be that you could respond to an ad and find a job, right. Or, you could, you know, look online and get a job even as recently as five years ago. Now the network is king, like what you have to do is you have to garner the forces of all the people you know and expand your network, also you have to be clear about what it is you want to do with your time relative to work. And if you don't have the right skills, you have to get yourself to a point where you can go get the skills that you need. And there are a lot of government programs these days to train people, so you have to take it on, you have to kind of become your own headhunter and not be reliant on other people to find you a job. And it may be a job, and it may not be a job, it may be working as a sort of a mini consultant in your own business. Or, it could be learning a new skill so that you can drive a truck during the day, if, you just never know where it can go and it depends on your own priority.
Alan: What about this social entrepreneur where, where they get into, dealing more with social issues that are not necessarily about making money, but creating change?
Leni: Well I'll tell you, I just came from a conference this weekend called wisdom 2.0 that was sponsored by Google and LinkedIn and all the big boys down at, the young the big boys, down in Silicon Valley. And there are a lot of people making a big difference socially and also making a lot of money. So, it doesn't mean if you have an interest in making a difference in the world, it does not exclude the opportunity to make a great deal of money, and I think Google is a good example of that. They are really doing amazing things in their investments in nonprofits and socially valid companies and also, people love to work there because of a lot of the things they get in terms of education and training. So, you don't have to you know, expect that you’re going to be a nonprofit just because you’re doing good in the world.
Alan: You know I’m going, I want to turnover and talk about, for those people that are saying I want to get back to work. In addition to your book, are there programs that, that you, you feel would be the best place for them to start with trying to find out who they are and what their real passions are?
Leni: You know, I think that it’s, it is passions, but it's also, understand what's important in life. So, this is the advice I would give. Get out a pad of yellow paper and on top of it right priorities. And write down the five things that are the most important relative to work. And that could be number one, make money, number two, work close to home, number three, do whatever. And then understand what your strongest talents and skills are. Ask your friends, what am I really good at? What is it that you can see in me that perhaps I don't see in myself? And then also, write down what your values are. You know, what is really important to you as a human being, and then begin to talk to people about where they see you. If you need training there a lot of, I can't really list off all the training options, but you know, go to the library. Use local resources; you don't have to spend money to start getting a lot of information anymore. But you have to become your own headhunter; you have to become the person that is going to make this happen. So, what does that mean? You can’t expect somebody else to find you a job anymore. You have to take it on yourself.
Alan: I think that's excellent advice and, and so many of us often will go to another person saying, solve my life. When we have all the tools that are necessary, to solve our own issues there.
Leni: Right, right.
Alan: I think, was it Col. Sanders at the age of 67 started Kentucky Fried Chicken?
Leni: Right, right, exactly. And Robert Mondavi who's interviewed in my book started a brand-new winery at 57 but he also became the person that educated the entire country in the value of fine wines we used to drink mostly beer, cheap wine and bourbon.
Alan: That’s amazing, you know, just as a side note though, one thing he missed, you know what a bottle of wine goes for in China, if it comes from France today?
Alan: It's ridiculous, now this is not all bottles, but I've seen upwards of $15,000 a bottle.
Leni: Of the really good Rothschild
Alan: Of the really good, they’ve, the French have convinced the Chinese that if its wine from France it’s worth that.
Leni: Well, and a lot of taste test that they did from the Napa Valley after Robert got going and all these other winners came to show that that's no longer true.
Alan: I agree. So we just to get Robert over to...
Alan: The program over there to China there. Well, okay so if a person wants more information on your book, Finding Right Work.
Leni: Dot com
Alan: Okay, FindingRightWork.com, and any other, if they want to go to EA Search, how do they find you for helping with career?
Leni: Yes, EAsearch.com
Alan: Okay, real easy. We've been visiting here today with Leni Miller, of EA Search.com and also the author the book Finding Right Work, Leni, thank you for joining today’s show.
Leni: Thank you Alan so much.
Alan: We’ll be right back after these messages.
About Leni Miller:
Leni Miller is the Founder and President of EASearch, LLC, a premier search firm specializing in senior level executive support. With over 30 year’s experience and a passionate mission for finding the “right” support staff for individuals and leaders in all industries, Leni’s high rate of success reflects her many years of expertise in effective assessment and matching of senior executive management with the most effective of support staff.
Before starting EASearch, Leni was the Co-Founder and President of McCall Staffing in San Francisco, Founder and President of Leni Miller Personnel, and Co-Founder/Producer of “Home Sweet Office”; a TV series focused on the emerging workplace sponsored by Intel Corporation. Leni has recently published her first book, “Finding Right Work; Five Steps To a Life You Love”.
Leni’s commitment to “giving back” is apparent through her many professional and volunteer affiliations, including her roles as the former Director for Junior Achievement, National Association of Women Business Owners, World Business Academy, and the “Center for Attitudinal Healing”. In addition she is a member of the Association for Corporate Growth, Women President’s Organization; San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, Sausalito Chamber of Commerce and was one of the first women in the world to be admitted to the Rotary Club as a member of the second oldest club in the Rotary World; San Francisco.
Leni graduated with honors from Columbia University and holds a BA in German Language Studies.