Recently I had the opportunity to sit down with the team members at The Newell Group and go beyond the “biography”. Yes, you can read about their education, career history and hobbies by checking out our website. But if you really want to get to know them, get a former journalist to throw a few softball questions at them and see what happens…
First up, in part one of our series “Beyond the Recruiter”, meet Dannie A. Newell, Founder and CEO of The Newell Group.
How did you become a recruiter?
I was working for Baby Superstore and Toys ‘R’ Us had bought the company and I was going to have to move to New York. I had the opportunity to stay in Greenville if I could find a job. And since there were no jobs in retail, I ended up looking into executive search based on the recommendation of a friend who had actually bought a franchise in Columbus, Ohio. Next thing you know, here we are, twenty years later, still recruiting every day.
What drew you to recruiting? What makes it a business that was attractive to you that still makes it something you love to do every day?
Originally what attracted me to recruiting was that it was a chance to stay in retail, stay connected to the contacts and friends that I had made, still keep my finger on the pulse in that industry that I grew up in without actually having to work in retail.
The other thing that was really attractive to me about search was that I love the win-win-win aspect of recruiting – the fact that we’re improving somebody’s life, getting them a job better than the one they had, increasing their career opportunities, helping clients grow share-holder value or improve their services, and it’s a win for us as a firm because we’re going to get rewarded for those placements… So it is one of the rare win-win-win’s that I ever came across.
What’s a funny story or moment you want to share from your own experience recruiting?
There have been so many… Right from the beginning I thought it was funny that I had never been in sales and I had never been in recruiting, so I started a recruiting firm. So right away, I thought it was a suspicious start for me. As it turns out I had some sales skills my whole life and just didn’t know it.
One thing I think is pretty funny about recruiting is it will make you laugh, cuss and cry all in the same day and there aren’t a lot of jobs that will give you that kind of emotional range. Recruiting has done that several times for us which is one of the things we love about it.
What can you tell us about Dannie A. Newell that you wouldn’t learn from reading his resume?
My passion for hiking. I’m trying to hike the “Top 10” hiking spots in the world – it’s a bit of an ambiguous list, everyone has a different list. So I just decided I would check off as many of the Top 20 as I can and call that my Top 10. I am working my way through the list, and it’s brought some great adventures to my wife and I. I wouldn’t be able to do that if I wasn’t in executive search. Executive search is a very demanding job, a lot of hours, but you can get some freedom when you work with a team.
Another interesting thing about me is I was actually through Basic Training in the Army in 1980 and finished Basic Training before I finished my Eagle Project. So, I can honestly say I was in the U.S. Army and the Eagle Scouts at the same time because I went in the Army when I was 17. So I was actually a graduate of Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri and came home and finished my Eagle project before I went back to AIT.
And like I said, I had never been in sales and was always afraid of sales. When I had friends in sales I was like “Oh my gosh, I could never have a commission job, I don’t know how you do it,” and next thing you I was starting up a business that was the ultimate commission job. When you start your own business you realize quickly you get paid just what you’re worth and that makes you really dig in and work hard. And it’s been an amazing adventure and amazing journey, I wouldn’t do it any other way. I wish I could go back and do it all again, even if it was the exact same way because it’s been that much fun.