Going Against the Grain, Jana Rich, Podcast #117

Jana Rich is the Founder of Rich Talent Group a boutique executive search firm focused on building diverse, innovative leadership teams. Jana and I talked about her transition from marketing to recruitment, and the readiness work around building inclusive teams.

You can listen to it on Itunes here.

Comments (Archived):

  1. Bryce T.

    Going Against the Grain, Jana Rich, Podcast #117“When we started in April 2014, we said there’s really only two things you going to need to know about us, it’s high growth consumer tech, and diverse and inclusive teams.”0:37 You started your own company five years ago (?)0:48 So, where did you grow up? From little town, Norway, Maine, 4,000 people. 1:14 And what were your parents doing there? Was adopted out of foster care at two years old. Foster family fabricated medical records saying (Jana) was deaf. Because in theory it would keep out of adoption process, they had eight foster children, they needed the cash.2:26 Mom, youngest of seven, only one to graduate high school. Dad, who didn’t graduate high school died when six years old. “For most of life, it’s been my Mom and I.”3:04 The foster family called when 18 years old. Wanted to meet. “I remember very clearly coming home…my immediate reaction was no.” “And my mother said, ‘you have to go, because I took the phone call, and if you don’t go, it will look like I’m keeping you from them.” “But, it was clear to me that I needed to keep the peace and to go.”5:31 So then you went off to Vassar (?) “So, coming back to the high-school thing, I had somehow learned that education was the ticket out.” “So our living room had everything from Harvard to Hofstra and anything in between, because I was trying to get smart.”7:26 “I was so immersed in Vassar because it was the best thing that ever happened to me. It was like my world opened up 56 million times.”7:40 “The tag line for Vassar for me back then, was ‘we don’t tolerate intolerance.’”7:47 “And the other thing that’s happening for me at a very young age, is I didn’t have the language for it, but I absolutely new I was gay.”8:53 “And when I show up at Vassar, it’s one of the things I love about the place, if you are whatever the opposite is of norm, whatever that would be, you’re infinitely cooler.”9:31 Vassar, life changing. “Those four years were everything.”10:20 Always been interested in people, and placement. Being president of class. “You got to choose your student council. And I made a very conscious effort that every particular different type of person was around that table. And that makes for difficult team to lead. But, I absolutely loved it, because it felt like we were coming out at the other end with just better decisions.”10:59 When you graduated, and took off your rose colored glasses, where did you go? Turned down the two job offers had in admissions at college campuses. “I say to myself, what is it that I really want to do that I’m afraid to try to do.” Wanted to start out writing for Vanity Fair, or go into public relations.11:28 First job out of college, making $17,500, found through Vassar alum who worked for Howard Rubenstein in NYC who represents celebrities in crises.12:10 The entertainment practice of Howard Rubenstein is the hot sexy place to be, “and I get that job somehow. And it was quickly for me not what I wanted.”12:37 Moved over to the “corporate side.” “Those were the quote en quote, ‘boring people,’ but they were also the people of substance.” JW: “It was the best career path you took.”13:09 Was thinking about marketing, when a mentor invited her to work for PWC. Luckily wasn’t accounting, but was the start of a management consulting practice that was going to compete with companies like Accenture and Deloitte. Because of PR training, went out to do focus groups with the top 20 business schools, and then come back and help out with the messaging and positioning, and help train the partners.14:28 “And now you’re going to go out, to those same 20 campuses, and recruit 400 MBA’s over the next two years.” “We do it and do it successfully.”15:00 Go off to business school. Got into both Northwestern Kellogg and Stanford, chose Stanford. Thinking would get into management consulting.15:47 “Thank God for summer internships. It was 12 weeks of try it before you decide you’re going to do it. And it wasn’t for me.”17:22 Turned down job offer after internship, boss/mentor who had previous experience said “Maybe you’d like to go into executive recruitment?” “My truthful thought bubble inside my head was, I didn’t climb out of the backwoods of Maine to get a Stanford MBA to do that.”17:58 Korn Ferry in San Francisco. Connecting the pieces. “The issues that made my heart sing were around people and building teams.” 19:18 Another important piece of this story. Stanford Business School ’94 – ’96. Beginning of the internet. “I can help these entrepreneurs build these companies in a space I’m passionate about.”20:34 And then you went through a series of different companies, what was the aha that you decided I can do this on my own? A conversation with professor Irv Grousbeck. 22:00 End of 2001, the dot com bust. “What a perfect time to build a foundation, maybe things will be a little quiet for awhile, but we’ll catch it on the upswing.”22:46 Ended up staying for 12 ½ years at Korn Ferry. Learned from some of the best of the business.23:25 18 years at this point from business school. “Everyone asks what was that pivotal moment.” Sheryl Sandberg, (who she met in 1999 in D.C.) asked if wanted to help with big search. Knew initially it was going to be a challenge in terms of getting fee agreements done. Decided to leave. Called Sheryl letting her know she was leaving. “She screams into the phone and said, ‘I get to be your first client.’”26:11 “We opened the doors day one with eight clients.”26:26 JW: “You have made a major commitment in the past five and a half years to placing women and minorities.” “When we started in April 2014, we said there’s really only two things you going to need to know about us, it’s high growth consumer tech, and diverse and inclusive teams.”28:28 “The other thing that is important is that we got a team of 15 people, every single member of that team is either, woman, a person of color, or LGBTQ. So part of it too, is you got to have a team that has unique access authentically into these communities and who cares about it and for them the mission is important.”29:25 75% of work is in San Francisco, and 25% in New York. LA is going to continue to grow.30:39 “And I think the most important part too is, it’s not just about getting big in terms of size. It’s about choosing the right companies you want to partner with.” 31:22 How do you work with a founder about how to write the spec. 33:32 “What we’re also trying to do is to do great work around inclusive teams, not just diverse teams, but inclusive teams.”35:18 “Great recruiters, I believe do operate that way, meaning, they care more about understanding the whole puzzle, they’re psychologists in a way, you’re trying to figure out what makes the organization tick to do the right job.”

    1. Gotham Gal

      Thank you thank you!!!