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What unique traits do executives seek when hiring?

Every business leader has different goals, and what they’re looking for in a candidate is even more diverse, so learn from these ten execs what makes them tick when hiring.





Hiring practices of varying executives

If you ask ten executives what they look for when hiring that other executives miss, you’ll get some pretty interesting answers that are both helpful to job seekers and business leaders alike. Learning from others’ practices can shed light on your own, so we set out to find ten extremely different types of executives in various industries and asked them about their own hiring practices. They spilled the beans below when we asked them what traits they seek when hiring that others likely miss?

Can a candidate handle permanent whitewater?

Steven Cox, CEO of TakeLessons which has been connecting music students and music teachers for seven years said, “There are a few things that we’ve always looked for as a company. Number one, is the applicant genuinely friendly and smarter than most? Those are two traits that go a long way in the development of the type of culture that we want here and that demonstrate a candidate’s ability to work independently or in a group. We look for the ability to be comfortable with what I call “permanent whitewater.” In a start-up, there’s no smooth sailing. This is constant whitewater rafting. We’ll ask ourselves, does this person value safety too much? Would change make them uncomfortable to the point that they couldn’t perform? They need to be able to accept risk, to accept change.”

Cox added, “Finally, we’re looking for a cultural fit. Is this the type of person I would enjoy spending time with? We spend much of our time here at work together. If there are people who are wicked smart with great degrees from great colleges but they are unpleasant to be around, I want nothing to do with them. At the end of the day, I want to build something incredible with incredible people. Jim Rohn once said that you are a product of the five people with whom you spend the most of your time. We spend a lot of time at work and we want to surround ourselves with high performing team players to continually raise the overall intellect of the company.”

I look for personality

Scott Lerner, Founder of natural energy drink company, Solixir said, “The number one trait I look for is personality. I look for this more than experience and educational background. Does this person have what it takes to help drive growth with our company? To sum it up, does this person have the “it” factor no matter how young or old they are?”

Body cues and behavior are critical

Benn Rosales, Founder and CEO of AGBeat said, “When hiring, I am always looking for someone that is as focused on details as I am. I am looking at a candidate’s interpersonal communication skills, and at everything from how polite they are to their general demeanor. I’m looking for signs that their work ethic is superior and that their attitude toward making this company amazing equals my own. Body cues and behavior is just as important to me as what is on their resume.”

One in three employees have been entrepreneurs

Nell Merlino, the woman who started Take Our Daughters to Work Day and Founder of which focuses on women entrepreneurs, said she looks for “Diversity of talent, connections, ages, ethnicity and entrepreneurial spirits. Over one third of the people who have worked for CMI have started their own companies.”

Seeking will over skill

Iggy Fanlo, CEO of Lively (an activity sharing device connecting seniors with their family) said their company looks for “will over skill.”

“Having super talented folks is great; having world class experience is great, but we feel that desire and commitment is more important. In many ways, it’s just like Lively, where we feel the social side of aging (connection) is more important than the physical and medical,” Fanlo said.

The smallest things tell the biggest story

Noelle Federico, CFO of stock photography agency Dreamstime said, “I pay VERY close attention to details… incorrect spelling and incorrect grammar in resumes, template documents that weren’t edited correctly and still have the word sample text lines in them, if the applicant did exactly what we asked when submitting the resume and cover letter. During in-person interviews I look for things like chipped nail polish, runs in nylons, ripped or stained clothes, messy briefcases, unkempt appearance in general, strength of handshake, mannerisms when being asked a question, attitude toward a woman executive etc.”

Federico added, “All of these details will paint you a picture of someone that tells the “real” story… almost anyone can look good on paper and these days it is extremely hard to tell who and what is really over there until sometimes it is too late—however, those minor and small details will tell you if your applicant cares about their appearance and presentation, will tell you about their manners as a human being and how they treat other people and whether or not they listen and pay attention to details. It took me many years of going through the hiring process before I learned that the smallest things would tell me the biggest story.”

Ability to work in a fast-paced environment

Paul Aitken is the CEO of borro, which provides short-term personal asset loans against fine art, jewelry, cars, fine wine, etc. “I always look for new people who have the ability to work in a fast-paced and ever-changing environment. The environment here at borro is very different to most corporates. I would say that my management style is supportive yet demanding and so I expect people to come up with ideas, use initiative and try stuff out. One of the things that I find most enjoyable about setting up a new company is working with new people and building teams.”

Getting candidates in a different setting

Sanjay Sathe, founder and CEO of RiseSmart, which offers outplacement and career transition services, said that he likes to meet people in different settings.

“Certain behavioral traits do not display themselves in a formal office interview, so if you really like the candidate and want to progress with an offer, it will be helpful to meet the candidate in a social or casual setting. Their guard is down and they will be more open, so you should be able to gather more insight into the candidate and their personality. I also like to introduce the candidate to team members by taking them out for a meal together. That way you can see team interactions and you’ll have multiple people giving you feedback on what they learned. It is critical to invest more time upfront in the hiring process so you don’t regret the hire later.”

Sathe added, “Collaboration is critical in companies, and I try to get more information through all the touch points in the interview process. You might have the most talented person, but if they cannot genuinely collaborate with others and contribute to a team, you have a problem. There needs to be a sense of urgency in the candidate to be a part of your team. This is particularly important in a startup. If that self-motivation and inherent sense of urgency is not there, then it can be problematic. Make sure the candidate’s ego is in check. This can be a deal breaker. Organizations do not have places for folks with an “I, me, myself” attitude. The more senior you are in an organization, the more humble you should be.”

Two jobs from now

Donna Horton Novitsky, CEO of Yiftee (local gifts, on-the-go) had some unique insight. “I like to know what a candidate wants to do two jobs from now. That tells me what they should learn in the job I’m hiring them for and how we can help them meet their personal career goals. If all they want is a paycheck, I’m not interested. I like to see the ambition.”

Looking for a commitment to the mission

Nancy A. Aossey, President and CEO of International Medical Corps said, “There are many things that a C.V. won’t tell you about someone, so I try to look beyond the C.V. and focus on what motivates a candidate, his or her aspirations and what environment they would thrive in. I need to be able to have an authentic conversation with them. The work that International Medical Corps does can be very challenging, so I want candidates to have a good sense of what they are getting into and what kind of people thrive in our culture. I try to set the ground rules for the conversation and candidly explain the organization—its culture and challenges.”

Aossey also said, “I strive to choose people who bring talent and leadership to their own positions – but just as important, have the ability and willingness to groom others and bring out the best in them. I look for people who are willing to learn, so I try to get a sense of how they handle certain situations and whether they can reflect on their actions and how they learned from them. I’ll also ask, “If I were to speak to colleagues or supervisors who weren’t on your reference list, someone whom you didn’t always get along with, what would they say about you?” This causes people to think about themselves in a different way. If you don’t have self-awareness, you’re always going to be outward-looking and blame others for any difficulties. There are a million reasons why we might not be able to get something done, but the question is, what can we do about it? Likewise, there will always be difficult people to work with, but ultimately it’s a matter of taking responsibility and doing something about it.”

Aossey concluded, “Our work takes a certain personality, beyond a commitment to the mission. You have to look past the obvious skills that candidates might bring to the table and focus more on their approach and how they’re going to work with others in difficult situations.”

Marti Trewe reports on business and technology news, chasing his passion for helping entrepreneurs and small businesses to stay well informed in the fast paced 140-character world. Marti rarely sleeps and thrives on reader news tips, especially about startups and big moves in leadership.

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Business Entrepreneur

4 easy ways to keep track of inventory this holiday season

(BUSINESS ENTREPRENEUR) Feeling overwhelmed by your inventory this year? Use these three simple tips to keep your stock managed for the end of the year.



Man scanning inventory with tablet in one hand and a scanner in the other.

2021’s retail holiday season is in full swing. With it comes waves of purchases and shipments, both in stores and online. Holiday inventory management is essential to get the best handle on the continuous rushes. Organization, strategy, and automation are the 3 main steps to stay on top of inventory this year. Deliberate use of these will create a better setup for the coming months.

1. Organize

Organization takes many forms. In the stockroom, a messy workspace will slow down sales and shipments, making the entire store inefficient. However, with the right classifications, labeling, and management, the stockroom can become the leanest place in the store.

First, stores must have a point-of-sale system that can cleanly organize everything into actionable data, according to Software Advice. When a transaction occurs, the system logs it and, from there, employees can get a better understanding of what inventory is selling fastest.

In the back, employees can change the inventory layout to prioritize items that are selling well. Keeping that area fully staffed at all times may be the best move during the retail holiday season rush. For instance, employees can categorize clothing by material, size, and color.

The store will need to use a full-featured inventory management system. With it, employees can accurately track what goes in and out of the store through scanning barcodes and logging shipments. With a better handle on what consumers need, its location in the stockroom and better tracking, backorders, and sellouts can decrease.

2. Strategize

Retailers must have a clear strategy for holiday inventory. Otherwise, the rushes and high demands and orders can easily overwhelm employees and result in lost revenue. We are already seeing orders falling behind due to multiple shortages, including chips and even, employees themselves. Combined with organization, a plan should involve prioritizing customers’ needs and interests and increasing item accessibility.

Just as employees can organize the stockroom based on what consumers will be buying the most, they can also rearrange the store to put those items toward the front. That way, people can get what they’re looking for right away. This strategy will work online as well — where the site advertises the popular items on the main page.

Then, based on what POS and inventory management systems report, managers can order more sought-after items ahead of time. At home or in person, consumers get what they want without frustration, while retailers know the exact numbers in their inventory.

Another crucial area to focus on is in-store pickup. Some consumers don’t want to pay for shipping. Instead, in-store pickup ships their order to the nearest retail location, where they can quickly claim it. Especially during the holiday rush, designating a separate section for these items will be essential for a strategic inventory.

3. Automate

Automation is a broad topic when it comes to holiday inventory. With this wide scope, though, retailers can integrate countless systems to conquer the rushes more effectively. Helpful gadgets and organization equipment include Internet of Things sensors and big data. They will go a long way in monitoring inventory at all times.

IoT sensors are small and practical. While they can attach to any items in the stockroom, they’ll be invaluable for everyone along the supply chain to use. The sensors show merchandise’s exact location and specifications, which an inventory management system will automatically present in actionable ways.

When retailers use the information from sales and inventory, it falls under the category of big data. With the right analytics and prediction software, employees can use this data to understand coming trends and better understand what they’ll need to order and when.

If businesses — retail and warehouses alike — are looking for an efficient way to find stock without wasting time, they can use robots to retrieve it. These autonomous robots cut down on search times when they know the exact location based on IoT sensors or barcode scanning.

4. Make Post-Holiday Changes

The work continues even after the retail holiday season ends. However, businesses can take steps to optimize their setups for months afterward to keep drawing people in through next year’s holiday season.

The first step is to declutter. Get rid of things that will no longer be a priority to most consumers. A sale or clearance section is an efficient way to profit from obsolete inventory.

Then, it’s time to step back and reevaluate the landscape. What has changed for consumers? What new trends are emerging? Social media will be invaluable to track how customers want to spend their money in the coming year. It’s also a critical place to build an e-commerce presence for the future.

A Lasting Central Inventory

Year-round, but especially during the holiday season, inventory must be a critical factor for any retailer or warehouse. With better organization, strategy, and automation, the workplace can run more smoothly. These factors will also improve communication across the supply chain, making the holidays a profitable breeze for all retailers.

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Business Entrepreneur

Maintenance costs add up: How to decrease expenses to increase revenue

(ENTREPRENEUR) When it comes to managing your business cost-effectively, you have to be mindful of your balance sheet. It’s not all about revenue!



Women writing in balance sheet workbook of maintenance costs.

When it comes to managing your business in a cost-effective way, you have to be mindful of your balance sheet. It’s not all about revenue. Sometimes, it’s the expense side of the ledger that needs a little attention. More specifically, you have to think through maintenance costs in order to maintain a lean operation.

6 Ways to Lower Maintenance Costs

Maintenance costs add up quickly. Whether it’s the minor kind (a few hundred dollars here and a couple thousand there) or the major kind (massive five- and six-figure incidents), maintenance is not cheap. Thus, anything you can do to lower these costs will be a huge help. Here are several tips:

  1. Simplify Procedures

We make maintenance way more complicated than necessary. The first step is to just simplify your procedures. You do this by reviewing all procedures and looking for redundancies and/or tasks that aren’t necessary to the objective. When there are too many steps in a process, people are likely to be overwhelmed or confused (which obviously leads to poor outcomes). In this case, simple is best.

  1. Invest in the Right Software

Consider what percentage of your maintenance processes are performed manually versus automatically. While there are certain tasks that require manual input from a skilled technician, there are countless tasks that can be offloaded and streamlined.

The key to automating is to pick the right software. These programs integrate with your equipment and use data analytics and machine learning to predict when certain parts or systems will need repairs. This allows maintenance teams to move quickly.

  1. Choose Quality Equipment

You can reduce many maintenance issues by simply investing in quality equipment on the front end. It might cost you more initially, but it’ll save you money over the long haul.

Consider, for example, two pieces of equipment: Machine A ($10,000) and Machine B ($15,000). Machine A costs significantly less, but it requires $1,000 in maintenance costs per year. Machine B costs more upfront, but only requires $300 in maintenance costs per year. That means Machine B costs $700 less per year to maintain. Over a 10-year span, that results in $7,000 in savings (which obviously outpaces the $5,000 more that was spent upfront). On top of that, there’s less downtime and greater reliability. It’s just an example, but you get the idea! 

Internet access

  1. Emphasize Preventive Maintenance

Most businesses have a reactionary approach to maintenance. They wait until there’s an issue and then they address it. And though this can work, it’s usually more expensive. Not only does it lead to more serious issues, but there’s typically downtime associated with the repair. Preventative maintenance is the better approach.

The key to a good preventative maintenance program is to structure it appropriately. This means basing your preventative maintenance on operating hours rather than the calendar.

“The problem with servicing a machine every so many months is that the amount of time you use it can vary,” Onsite Installer explains. “Servicing an item every 30 days, for example, may mean you’re over-or-under-servicing it based on actual hours.”

The best way to stay on track with your preventative maintenance is to use a SaaS-based maintenance system that collects and analyzes data in real-time so that you know precisely when to address something.

  1. Hire the Right People

It’s easy to get so focused on equipment, software, and processes that we forget about the importance of people. However, at the end of the day, your business is built on the backs of people. As they go, so the company goes. The best piece of advice is to hire people who are meticulous, diligent, and proactive.

  1. Train People Well

Hiring good people is just the start. You also need to train these people so they embrace your goals and processes. Help them understand the importance of maintenance and give them the knowledge, skills, and tools needed to carry out their responsibilities in a timely and cost-effective manner.

Talking in a meeting

Putting it All Together

There’s nothing easy about maintenance. It’s gritty, expensive work that doesn’t always look good on paper. But do you know what does look good on paper? Being able to point to thousands of dollars in savings because of smart, proactive decision-making. Use these tips to get ahead!

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Business Entrepreneur

Entrepreneurs and freelancers are ditching Calendly for the all new zcal

(ENTREPRENEUR) Sure, Calendly can be efficient and organized, but it can sometimes feel cold and transactional. For a more personal experience, try zcal.



Woman using welcome video of herself on zcal.

Have you ever been emailing back and forth with someone trying to set up a time for a call or a coffee and they send you a link to their Calendly? Sure, it’s efficient and organized, but it can sometimes feel cold and transactional. This is why Saurabh Chandarana and, co-founder, Eric Yieh designed zcal, a scheduling alternative that makes the process more personal and human.

First, the creators have designed a booking page that provides a delightful, on-brand experience for anyone booking a meeting with you. Self-expression has been put front and center, letting organizers showcase themselves with a cover photo, welcome video, and personal intro.

These elements both inform and entertain guests, helping them answer the two most important questions before every meeting: “Who exactly am I meeting?” and “Why should I be excited to meet them?”

Second, they’ve made it easy to create personalized links so you never have to worry about insulting anyone with a generic booking link. Simply select from your contact list to instantly personalize a link in seconds with your recipient’s name, email, and profile picture.

Best of all? This tool is free forever.

The creators believe that calendar scheduling, like email, is an essential utility that should be accessible to absolutely everyone. So, we’ve decided to make zcal completely free (forever!) for personal use. The free plan includes many of the premium features you pay for elsewhere including unlimited links and calendar accounts, and we have plenty more in the pipeline.

Now, for the unique features.

You can get instant context on the people you meet with a personal intro and brand your page with a cover photo – upload your own or select from 1M+ Unsplash photos.

The platform also allows you to showcase yourself with a welcome video that gets people excited to meet you. You can even share your link as an animated gif or formatted email text. Finally, you can coordinate large group meetings with meeting polls (see ya, Doodle!)

Want to fit zcal into your schedule? Check it out here.

Group meeting using zcal for polls.

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