MY ADVICE TO THE HARVARD PRESIDENT SEARCH COMMITTEE (and to any organization seeking a new leader)

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As a Director of the Harvard Alumni Association, as well as an alumnus, I have more than a passing interest in which candidates the University should consider for its next president. But, more importantly, as the founder of staffing and recruiting firm Pivot Management Partners, I’d advise Harvard, along with any organization recruiting a new leader at the chief executive level, to keep in mind the following five thoughts during the search process: https://medium.com/@scottgilly/my-advice-to-the-harvard-president-search-committee-and-to-any-organization-seeking-a-new-leader-207ea3387a7

 

Two Skills I Learned Working Summers In a Garment Factory

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My latest post is about how spending summer vacations doing quality control on high-end dresses taught me two valuable skills for success that are more vital in today’s automated world than ever before.

Read more on Medium: https://medium.com/@scottgilly/two-skills-i-learned-working-summers-in-a-garment-factory-af530566dc9e

DirectDep, Instantly book court reports 24/7

Instantly book the court reporters you want – 24/7 – on the only platform that delivers up-to-the-minute, real-time availability of the top court reporters in your city. Select from a network of the best court reporters with searchable profiles and verified ratings from the attorneys who work with them. Simplify and lower the cost of every deposition booking transaction, from start to finish in just minutes.

As the Founder and CEO of DirectDep, a cloud-based technology platform for law firm professionals to instantly book court reporters and related services for depositions in real- time, 24 hours a day, Scott Gilly is leading innovation that benefits everyone in the legal deposition marketplace. He is a former practicing lawyer with over 20 years of in-the- trenches litigation experience working with court reporters and other litigation support providers.

 

 

I helped settle million-dollar contracts for everyone from Derek Jeter to Kenny Rogers — here are the 3 best negotiation tips I can give you

Scott Gilly

(As seen in the Business Insider)

Every year, many Major League Baseball players who are unable to settle their contracts – including some playing in Tuesday’s All-Star Game – wind up in salary arbitration. How they handle that process – their strategy and approach, and even their demeanor in the hearing room – has a big impact on whether they win or lose. Those same strategies provide valuable lessons to millions of others now engaged in a process that has become a summer ritual like the All-Star Game: the mid-year performance review.

During the first decade of my career, I was privileged to participate in many high-profile salary arbitrations on behalf of Major League Baseball clubs – including those against Ivan Rodriguez, Johnny Damon, Steve Avery, Chuck Knoblauch, Andruw Jones, Kevin Brown, and Kenny Rogers. And now as an entrepreneur who provides recruiting and talent management services I have noticed several important parallels.

Salary arbitration is a regimented, established process for deciding a player’s monetary compensation for the coming season that is, of course, unique to baseball. The main difference from regular workplace performance reviews is that in arbitration an independent third-party makes the final, binding decision on compensation. Another big difference is that most workers don’t approach their performance reviews with the same sophisticated, advance preparation that baseball players bring to arbitration. But they should.

While some workplaces have more regimented performance review systems than others, every performance review meeting is an opportunity to make your best arguments about your work and how you should be compensated.

Here are a few key takeaways from my experience working on baseball salary arbitration hearings that all employees should use in their own performance reviews:

1. Know Your Stats

One of the beautiful things about baseball is its rich history of data: home runs, RBIs, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, ERA, saves, and on and on. In salary arbitration, each side marshals these statistics in voluminous exhibit books – tied together in a short written brief – to support its case. Both sides advocate for the salary they think is appropriate based on the player’s performance and salary compared to those of other major league players.

One of your most important responsibilities as an employee is to know how your performance will be judged. If you are an investment banker, is your key metric the number of deals you have advised on or total deal volume, or both? How is each weighted? If you are a reporter, is the number of stories more important than page views? Are page views more important than shares of your stories? Luckily, digital technology is making it easier to track performance for many jobs in many industries. But if hard data isn’t available, record your own accomplishments, experiences, and improvements throughout the year and bring to your review whatever comparables you can summon to support your position.

Scott Gilly

2. Emphasize Your Long-Term Value

Two of the more interesting salary arbitration hearings I worked on were the cases against Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera. The hearings were in February 1999, after the Yankees had just won their second World Series Championship in three seasons (and just before they went on to win another two in a row). We lost both cases.

We went into arbitration knowing that both players were indisputably great, one-of-a-kind stars who had contributed to the Yankees success well beyond their respective $750,000 salaries. But their salary demands were unprecedented and far outside of Major League Baseball’s established salary structure. Jeter sought a raise to $5 million for one year; Rivera wanted $4.25 million. We made the case that the players were overreaching at this relatively early stage of their careers and that the club’s offer to raise their salaries by four times compensated them amply.

Both players were exceptionally modest, polite, and respectful in the hearing room, which made good impressions on everyone. But what stood out to me was a subtle, non-verbal cue they used to emphasize their value to their employer. Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman proudly wore his World Series ring, and he was right to be proud of his team’s accomplishment. Neither player, however, had on his ring. I can still see the arbitrator in Jeter’s case look at Cashman’s ring as he sat down and then turn his head to see Jeter’s bare hand. The same thing happened in Rivera’s hearing. The subtle message was that these stars were not hanging their hats on that one championship season. They did not communicate their value in a way that was tied to that season, but in a larger, forward-looking way as if their best years were yet to come. This was something both players delivered on, contributing memorably to the Yankees’ successes over the rest of their storied careers. The lesson here is that emphasizing your long-term value in the right way is often more powerful than making demands.

3. Play Hard, Play Nice

It is not easy for baseball executives to balance arguing down the financial worth of a star player with the need to maintain that player’s motivation and self-confidence. Salary arbitrations, by definition, let players know exactly how much their boss thinks they’re worth. And it can be a powerfully negative charge to a player’s psyche if he comes out on the losing end. In the same way, employees (and their managers) should not get so caught up in winning their argument that they harm the working relationship. Both sides need to remember that they still have to work together after these meetings. It is best for all parties to approach performance and compensation meetings with the view that they are just one part of a long relationship. You need to remember that, as members of a larger organization, you are building an overall body of work and career progression that is more important than any short-term payoff.

All performance-based discussions in the workplace – formal reviews, informal feedback, or that meeting where you ask for a raise – are important opportunities to emphasize your achievements and improvements, so be as prepared as you can. Because you often have just one chance to make your case with little time – much like the strict confines of the salary arbitration room – it is best to distill your pitch to its most salient points. And it doesn’t pay to overreach or resurrect and argue every little point from the year. Before your meeting, rehearse your pitch with your spouse or a trusted friend or colleague. Success, as any athlete will tell you, is 99 percent practice and preparation.

In the end, if it doesn’t go your way, you should go out and prove yourself “on the field,” as they do in baseball. Demonstrating your talent, in sports and in business, is far more persuasive than anything else.

Scott Gilly, Founder and CEO of Pivot Management Partners and DirectDep LLC, participated in salary arbitrations on behalf of Major League Baseball clubs while a lawyer at Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP.

What the NBA Draft Can Teach Us About Team Building

Scott Gilly

Watching people sit around a table on the phone during the NBA draft is hardly riveting TV. But for those of us who build teams in the business world, the NBA draft and other sports drafts offer valuable lessons.

I’ve always been an NBA draft geek, mainly because I played basketball growing up and dreamed of one day being a lottery pick. I played four years at Harvard, and was team captain my senior year, but it is safe to say I was never going to be a pro.

But since college, as the founder of a law firm built from the ground up and currently as a recruiter, entrepreneur, and venture investor, I have found that watching how teams go about the draft can be highly instructive. I’ll be watching the NBA draft on Thursday at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn to see which teams are able to add the talent that will build their rosters in the right way and take them to the next level.

Here are four takeaways from the NBA draft that I use to evaluate talent:

1. Drill the Culture

Some basketball coaches – we won’t mention any names – have been known to make players physically ill running drills. Not many of those coaches, however, have been known to have equally rigorous conversations with players and staff about the team’s culture, values, and purpose.

The best NBA coaches, and by extension franchises (the San Antonio Spurs, Los Angeles Lakers, and Boston Celtics come to mind) drill potential draft choices not only on physical ability, but also on mental maturity and emotional intelligence. Increasingly, they are doing this with data and analytics that measure psychological growth as accurately as vertical leap. This enables team executives to assess the potential draftee’s “fit” with its culture and gauge their ability to meet expectations on and off the court. By having these conversations before the draft, teams can avoid blowing a pick on a potentially disruptive player.

Too few recruiters and hiring managers drill potential candidates on the culture of their organizations at the start of the hiring process. Yet, according to a study by executive search firm Korn Ferry, 72 percent of executives say that culture is extremely important for organizational performance. Not discussing culture early and often with a potential hire is like an NBA team waiting until after drafting a player to give them a work out.

2. Think Right Piece, Not Missing Piece

What’s the difference between the right piece and the missing piece? Look no further than this year’s NBA Champion Golden State Warriors.

In 2016, after setting an NBA regular season record for wins and taking a 3-1 series lead, the Warriors ended up losing the championship to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in seven games. This year, the Warriors didn’t set any regular season records, but they did take back the title from the Cavs in five games. No small amount of credit for their win goes to Kevin Durant.

Durant wasn’t the missing piece – the Warriors won 73 games a year earlier without him. He was the right piece, the one player needed to make them champions again. As gifted as Durant is with the basketball, his greater contribution may have been opening up avenues for the Warriors’ other players, from clearer looks for Steph Curry’s threes to more room for Draymond Green to grab boards. Durant’s fit, versatility, and unselfishness were as important to the team’s success as his talent.

Other NBA scouts, and all those building business organizations, could take a lesson from the Warriors. Building a successful team is not just about filling a role, it is also about the ability to recognize rare skills that allow current and newly recruited talent to maximize their own contributions.

3. Debate Selection

Since active basketball team rosters are smaller than those in other sports – 12 players versus 53 in football, 25 in baseball, and 20 in hockey – drafting the right player is even more crucial. Vigorous debate among the owner, general manager, and coaching staff is not only common, but also essential to making the right selection. After all, millions of dollars – and the team’s success – are at stake with every selection.

Workflow in many organizations typically moves in sequence from one department to the next – for instance from legal to marketing to sales. But to keep pace with digital advances, the current trend in the corporate world is toward smaller focused teams with talent from different departments working on a project in unison. These smaller corporate teams, not unlike basketball teams, must effectively communicate in a fast-paced environment and continually adjust in real time. And team members count. While a wrong hire may not cost a large organization as much as a busted lottery pick, every hire counts for them too. There are many negative consequences of hiring the wrong person, including undermining employee morale and cohesiveness, lost productivity, and the cost of trying to rehabilitate and then replacing the wrong hire, as well as repairing the lingering damage with customers and your own team. Your success as a manager, and the success of your organization, depends on the people you hire.

Potential candidates, just like potential draft picks, should be exposed to a range of employees who can debate their impressions with the hiring authority. In addition to human resources and the hiring authority, managers in adjacent departments, both senior and junior team members, and others should also meet potential candidates. Only one person can ultimately be responsible for the hire, but others must be encouraged to provide valuable feedback that gives a more complete picture of candidates and how they might fit with the organization’s culture and needs.

4. Make the Business Case

As part of the NBA’s new collective bargaining agreement, Steph Curry is eligible for a new contract that could be worth upwards of $200 million. With the Warriors’ two NBA championships in the last three years, sold out home games, national media attention, and millions in merchandising revenue, a strong business case can be made to justify Curry’s upcoming payday.

But what’s the business case justifying a new draft pick’s compensation? Annual salary projections for first round picks in this year’s NBA draft range from $1.16 million to $5.86 million for the top overall pick. The return-on-investment may be realized fivefold – or not at all.

Even the most aggressive and cash-rich organizations can’t risk overpaying their recruits and free agents. Not many NBA teams can afford to sign the best free agent, because of salary cap and payroll restrictions. Similarly, in the business world, few organizations can offer salaries for top engineering talent to match those at Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google.

That is why it’s important for teams to evaluate candidates from all angles and be sure that their pick is right, and worth the money they’ll be paying. No one gets them all right, but the teams that get most of them right are the ones that rise to the top.

There are many different methodologies out there, but I try to keep it simple by focusing on three things. First, outline what you expect new hires to accomplish to justify the minimum compensation for their roles. Second, identify how new hires can move beyond those minimum expectations, and figure out how to compensate them when they do. And third, create a plan for new hires that will help them become high achievers, accomplishing a lot more than the minimum expectations.

Even with advances in data and analytics, evaluating talent is as much art as it is science. The intangibles that potential recruits, in both sports and business, bring to bear will always be difficult to measure. Building championship teams – in sports and business – is a process that begins with great hiring. And the internal preparation that goes into how teams draft and hire can shoot them to the top or leave them in the basement.

Scott Gilly, Founder and CEO of Pivot Management Partners and DirectDep LLC, was captain of the Harvard basketball team during the 1989-90 season.