Jesus Christ, I’m on the clock here again.  It’s a good thing my wife made me quit smoking.  I’d need a carton to keep these nerves at bay. Now, instead I compulsively refresh my stock portfolio. It’s down 40%.  In four seconds it’ll be back up.


Just checked. It’s down 45%. Shit, that doesn’t help.


Well, at least I’ve still got Bourbon. As long as I’m in this business I’ll never give that up. It’s noon somewhere for chrissake.


It’s D-day on a Moby-Dick-like deal I’ve been working on since August. If they don’t sign off on this guy, I’m throwing in the towel. Thrill of the chase my ass.  As I type this, I’m waiting to hear from the COO on whether or not they’ll make an offer. 


Since August I’ve been working with this tech company who asked us to find them a CMO. They brought us in after several failed efforts with other search firms and from what I can tell, after determining that their internal recruiters were inept. It’s been an interesting ride, mostly because I like the company’s founders, enjoy working with their executive team, and believe in their model. In most respects, I think they are well positioned for rapid growth. And growth is what they need at this point.  They’ve shed their start-up skin and now focus on scalability.  So, the vacancy in marketing is a huge problem. That huge problem has existed for nearly two years.  It’s symptomatic of a problem in process. A lot of cigarettes can be smoked in two years.


I’m not a “throw-everything-against-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks” type of dude.  I don’t farm many résumés from external job boards.  I'm pretty old school in that regard. We fight tooth and nail for every candidate that I end up on the phone with. And a small percentage of those people ever find themselves in front of my clients.  So, I’ve only presented a dozen candidates in the last 6 months.  Maybe that seems like a small number to you, but every one of those candidates could rock at this job in their sleep.  And every one of those candidates was a cultural fit.  And every one of those candidates was ready to jump ship from their current vessel—vessels I’ll remind you were cruising toward tech greatness.  These were home runs. To hell with that, these were grand slams smashed from Texas to Oaxaca.  Yet only one of these people made it here, to D-day.


Of course, they love this chosen one. Purportedly they were ready to hire him before he walked through the door.  And I don’t blame them. This guy is a dream. I’m straight and I’m married and even I start feeling like a teenage boy in reproductive health class when I talk to this guy about his marketing prowess.  He is, by every count, the perfect fit.  And he’s sitting on two very strong offers from other companies that are presumably equally in love with this guy.  So why has my client asked the Tyson Beckford of technology marketing in for 10 separate meetings, including a marathon day of 5 meetings in 5 hours with 5 different Directors/Sr. Directors (in other words, people who would eventually report to him)?


The fact is they’ve had a helluva time filling this role.  The candidate pool prior to our involvement lacked luster, they made a couple bad hires and compromises, and now they’re gun shy. But what that really means is that they’ve put actors who should be in supporting roles into the spotlight, granted senators and congressmen veto power, given Scotty the keys to the USS Enterprise. Great Scott!

And now, after yesterday’s “final” meeting, a 3 hour presentation by Mr. Right in front of the company’s entire Executive team, they’re deliberating further.


I think they’re calling all their timeouts to ice the kicker.  Well it’s working, dammit. On the bright side, every single one of my stocks has reached their 5 year low.  It’s a good time to buy more.  I’m also considering investing in Marlboro.


Jeremy Spring is a Managing Partner at Élever Professional

He contributes regularly to the blog at

Views: 636

Comment by Bill Schultz on January 9, 2012 at 2:09pm

Marketing is one of the toughest searches in High Tech because it's been historically unmeasureable.  Even when things  go well, usually sales or engineering takes the credit.  It's changing with all the analytics available these days.  I don't know what to tell you except don't let it paralyze you.  Easier said than done.  

Comment by Jeremy Spring on January 9, 2012 at 2:16pm

@Bill- too many other irons in the fire to get hung up on this one.  It's been a client I've romanced for philosophical reasons, probably against my better judgment.  If this deal falls through, it will serve as an adequate impetus to move them down the depth chart. And hell,my travails here inspired a blog post that I had fun writing, so not a total loss. Thanks for the note.

Comment by Bill Schultz on January 9, 2012 at 2:42pm

Whatever doesn't kill you, usually leaves a big scar.  ;0)

Comment by Sandra McCartt on January 9, 2012 at 4:36pm

@Bill, i loughed so hard at that that i started choking.  I will plagarize.

Comment by Valentino Martinez on January 9, 2012 at 5:07pm


This is so déjà vu.  All of us have scar tissue going down this the gut wrenching is mandatory.

The good news is—this post captures the trials and tribulations so well--you can also consider a sidebar activity--writing suspense novels. 

Now, the right ending is needed because the right effort was given.

Comment by Amy Ala Miller on January 9, 2012 at 6:05pm

@Bill I love that... I'm stealing it too.

@Jeremy, we're dying over here... any news!??

Comment by Jeremy Spring on January 9, 2012 at 6:13pm

Yes, but nothing decisive.

Comment by Jeremy Spring on January 9, 2012 at 6:16pm

@Valentino- thanks for the kind note.

Comment by Sandra McCartt on January 9, 2012 at 11:07pm
What the hell do you mean, yes but nothing decisive. Now I feel like you are the double talking client.
Comment by John Comyn on January 10, 2012 at 2:03am

Extremely patient candidate you have there. He has to be saying to himself "do I really want to work here". Either that or all is not well in the state of Denmark. Maybe it is time to withdraw the candidate. It might put a stick of dynamite up there asses!


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