The Need to Be A Star in the Eyes of an Employer

Human Resources concept, choosing the perfect candidate for the job, model are asian people

Human Resources concept, choosing the perfect candidate for the job, model are asian people

It is still a “buyer’s market” in the employment arena. Employers continue to receive sometimes hundreds of resumes per job opening (with many hundreds more being sent for no specific job, but with the hope that someone will notice how terrific is the sender).

Thus, hiring managers and HR departments can and continue to be very selective regarding with whom they spend time speaking.

Whether a candidate is a passive job seeker (currently working, but looking to make a move/switch employers) or in transition, he/she needs to significantly distance themselves from the competition.

Jack Welch, legendary Chairman and CEO of General Electric, wrote in a June 4, 2013 post on LinkedIn:Avoiding These 3 Hiring Mistakes “Every smart idea matters. Every ounce of passion makes a difference. You cannot have a black hole in your organization where a star should be.”

Most of us have, unfortunately, had the opportunity to work with/near some of those “black holes” (co-workers who suck the positive energy right out of a team). These folks are an anchor on the forward progress of an organization. Ah, but the shining star! They can be that beam of light that helps move the organization in the right direction. These stars are the “go-to” type of employees…the “game-changers.”

Clearly, Jack is correct. Hiring managers can only look like geniuses if they tend to hire the candidates who seem to be potential game-changers for their team/organization. Unfortunately, in what has become a sea of sameness, employers continue to struggle to find great/ideal candidates for their open positions.

Thus, the challenge for job seekers is to be seen as a shining star. Below are some tips as to how to go about doing so:

  1. Provide specific examples that clearly demonstrate that you have done what others were unwilling or unable to do—being that “go-to” person has significant value. Managers LOVE having that person on their team who is willing to learn to support/backup multiple functions, even when those duties are not included in his/her job description.
  2. Use metrics to substantiate your accomplishments, but be certain to also provide a context of comparison for such to quantify the degree of the accomplishment. For example, a candidate could state that he/she increased sales by 50% year-over-year. That sounds pretty impressive, unless all of the other members of the sales team increased their sales by at least 75%. But, if the candidate quantifies the 50% metric with something like, “which was the highest percentage increase in the company within the last 25 years”, well, now that’s impressive.
  3. Incorporate various awards, honors, and recognition into your resume, LinkedIn profile, networking dialog and answers to interview questions. Too often candidates list such awards on the bottom of the second page of their resumes. This assumes that the person reading that resume is actually going to read every word on every resume they are reviewing. NOT SO..! Most reviewers are scanning resumes in less than 30 seconds…unless the candidate gives that person a reason to continue reading or quickly makes up his/her mind that the resume in question should go into the “A” pile (i.e., the pile of resumes that made it through the first cut). Each bullet point on the candidate’s resume and in his/her LinkedIn profile, which speaks of accomplishments—along with recommendations on LinkedIn and testimonials by selected references, should always include some sort of quantifier such as an award or recognition of special performance.

This is how a job seeker pushes the bar higher for the other candidates, and can significantly improve the chance of being seen as the ideal candidate.

At one of our Ohio CareerConnect networking functions for job seekers, nationally known motivational speaker and sales/customer service trainer, Marvin Montgomery concluded his comments to those gathered by stating: “Don’t wait for your ship to come in, swim out to it.”

Are you prepared and willing to get noticed and stand out from the crowd by swimming out to your “ship”?

Your Brand is More Than Simply Words on a Page

Job Interview in the Office

I learned a very long time ago that the vast majority of people do business with people, not companies.

In most organizations, the degree of success obtained can often be directly linked back to the strength of the relationships developed between provider and client. Remember that old saying, “Price is only an issue in the perceived absence of value”?

I’ll often go to my local hardware store vs. a big box home improvement retailer because ALL of the employees of the neighborhood establishment seem to know “everything about everything” and are very willing to take all of the time necessary to explain how to use a specific tool or walk a customer, step-by-step, through the process of making a repair (using the part or tool being purchased). The large DIY stores advertise they have this same expertise, but often the actual delivery falls short of that claim.

Job seekers frequently make this same mistake. For example, I’ve reviewed thousands of resumes and all too often I see statements such as, “excellent attention to detail,” only to be “supported” by a multitude of misspelled words, grammatical errors, typos, etc. Such actions do NOT demonstrate paying attention to detail, much less at a level considered to be “Excellent.” I’ve had candidates tell me that they are terrific at building strong relationships and have vast networks of contacts, only to find a poorly constructed LinkedIn profile containing very few connections.

The other thing to realize is that brand and perceived value are basically interchangeable. Your perceived brand IS your perceived value to a prospective employer. Good employers fully understand that their people are their brand and that is why cultural fit is such a critical component in candidate selection.

So, how can you project and demonstrate a strong brand/value, which is a good fit to the culture of the targeted employer?

Following are some points to consider:

All communications should be “perfect.” If your job as a hiring manager was dependent upon finding and hiring the ideal candidate, would you really give serious consideration to someone who’s written and/or verbal communications were not strong to excellent? Think of how frustrated YOU were while working with people and/or management that were poor communicators. There is no bigger obstacle to success than poor communications.

Thus, be “perfect” with that resume and cover letter. Ensure those documents, along with anything online (LinkedIn profile, Twitter posts, etc.) are engaging and professional. The same goes for any verbal communication, whether it is a phone screen, in-person interview or networking conversation.

Extensive research regarding a prospective employer allows the candidate to determine the targeted organization’s brand and company culture. Once the candidate comes to recognize these qualities, it becomes easier for him/her to adapt and customize messaging to the specific employer in order to demonstrate how he/she has flourished in similar environments/cultures in the past.

Ensure that your LinkedIn profile and recommendations truly reflect who you say you are since for many of us (hiring managers) those are the first comprehensive glimpses we have of a candidate. Many people have recommendations in their LinkedIn profile that are not much more than something like this, “Mike is a hard worker and a great guy. I really enjoyed working with Mike.” Trust me; I’ve seen hundreds of such generic recommendations, and none of them would make me believe that the subject candidate might be a potential game-changer on my team.

If you are trying to get me to believe that you are great at building relationships through networking, then I should see evidence of such in your LinkedIn profile (i.e., many skill endorsements, member of at least a few industry related groups, blog with a good number of followers, multiple LinkedIn posts, etc.).

Use social media to demonstrate you are a thought leader within your industry/area of expertise. This can be accomplished by writing your own blog or following and posting comments on other industry related blogs. By doing so, your comments and opinions can be read by anyone who sees the respective blog. Thus, you are not just telling me in your resume how smart you are, you are proving it by sharing that knowledge with others.

Here is an exercise for you, which can be helpful when figuring out your brand and how to best communicate such to a potential employer (or client):

Think about the last few experiences you’ve had over the previous couple of months, from shopping at a mall or online to a visit to a restaurant or doctor’s office.

Dissect those experiences and ask yourself these questions:
• What was the brand/value/culture of the respective organization?
• How was that communicated/demonstrated? WAS it communicated/demonstrated?
• Did what was communicated/demonstrated match my perception of the organization’s brand/value/culture? If so, why? If not, why not?

Now, take what you learned from going through this and apply it to yourself. Thus, ask the same questions of yourself:

• What would others who meet/speak with me perceive as my brand/value?
• Does everything that I’ve written, everything written about me, everything I’ve said and what is said about me effectively communicate that brand/value and do so consistently?
• Am I delivering/demonstrating my brand message and value proposition by HOW I verbally and non-verbally communicate?

Remember that a company’s brand is NOT the words framed and posted in a conference or lunch room. It is the energy which permeates throughout the entire organization, which drives everyone to be on the same page and work toward a common goal. Great companies are “all-in” regarding their brand/culture. Are you “all-in” with yours?

Are You Acting Your Age in Your Job Search?

In mid-November, I’ll turn 60 years old. People around me are having a lot of fun with that, at my expense of course.

My standard reply when someone asks, “How do you feel about turning sixty” is, “Sixty is the new thirty”. That usually results in at least a few smiles, but that is really how I feel and how I act. Ask anyone who knows me and they’ll agree, because that is who I am – that is a part of my personal brand. It is not words that define me/my brand, but my actions.

At our October Ohio CareerConnect networking event for those in a job transition, I reviewed resumes for five people, all of whom had varying degrees of gray hair. I always put on my hiring manager’s “hat” when I’m assisting people with their resumes or overall job search strategies, thus my feedback is provided from that perspective. In regard to those five people, I saw their value–how they could potentially make me “look like a genius” for hiring them and how they had the potential to help a team go from good to great.

Perceived value of the candidate to my organization, my team and me always trumps his/her age. Here is the big problem: most older (50+) candidates don’t do a very good job of making me believe that hiring them might just be one of the best career decisions I’ve ever made. Many come across as “old and outdated” either because of the words they use to deliver their message, how they dress and/or their body language.

What can you do to not act your age?

Here are a few things to consider:

Email address: If you are still using an AOL or Hotmail email address, which pretty much puts you in the 50+ crowd, consider creating a Gmail account. Oh, and using something like, “m.perry1954@gmail.com” basically tells the reader that you were probably born in 1954, so don’t be so obvious.

Home phone: Yes, I still have a land line, along with a whole lot of other 50+ people. But, as we now live in a cell phone world, there is no real reason to list anything but your mobile number on a resume or business card. Listing a home phone can make you look behind the times.

Presence on social media: Everyone, at least everyone who is currently employed or seeking to be employed, should have some type of digital footprint. For most this should at least be a LinkedIn profile. Employers will check out a candidate’s online presence as part of their recruiting due diligence. Not having a LinkedIn profile can make you look technology “unfriendly”, which is often associated with being old and outdated. Although LinkedIn is considered a business tool, please remember that your Facebook page is for personal items, not communicating information about your career, skills inventory and key accomplishments.

Also, keep in mind that once you press “send,” what you’ve said is out there forever in the digital world for anyone to see by doing a simple Google search, no matter where you’ve posted it, even by a prospective employer.

Ensure the relevance of the skills and accomplishments included in your resume: Just because you won awards in the early ‘80’s does not mean that you are still performing at that level today. Including “MS-DOS” under your listing of technologies with which you’ve worked does nothing to make me believe you are tech-savvy. Don’t tell me everything you’ve ever done, as most of that may be irrelevant to the skills and competencies I’m seeking for the specific open position at my company. Do thorough research of the targeted employer and be relevant!

Dress for success: A sharp looking suit is pretty much always a good idea, and at a minimum, a sign of respect for those with whom you will be meeting for either an informational interview or actual job interview. If a suit is just not you, at least go visit the company prior to an interview to see how the employees are dressed…then dress one step above that. Just a reminder: a networking event should always be considered the same as a business meeting. Would you show up for an important business meeting in jeans (OK, if you work for a place such as Google, yes…I guess you would, but that is more the exception than the rule)? We’ve had several guest speakers at our monthly networking events and not one of them has shown up in jeans or anything less than professional business attire.

Do a good self-inventory: Take a good look at yourself in a (full length) mirror. Do so with a hiring manager’s hat on and consider this, if your job (as a
hiring manager) was dependent upon finding an enthusiastic game-changer, would you be eager to speak with the person looking back at you in the mirror? What is the first impression you get from that person in the mirror? Would you be proud to introduce this person to the CEO and tell him/her, “This is who I believe, out of the 300 applicants, is my ideal candidate”?

We’ve all heard some version of the following statement, “Price is only an issue in the perceived absence of value.” The word, “age” would easily be substituted in that saying for “Price” and be just as true. When I speak to job seekers groups, my message normally includes reasons why I feel my value as a member of an organization could far outweigh the difference in ages between myself and much younger candidates:

• I’ve had interaction with more clients in more different situations in my career
• I’ve learned from more mistakes (my own and by observing others)
• I’ve interacted with more people at different levels of organizations
• I’ve been on more special projects, more task forces and steering committees
• I’ve hired, trained, mentored and coached more employees
• I’ve earned more performance awards

Bottom line, many (not all) employees in their 50s and 60s, just by virtue of working longer than their much younger counterparts, have the opportunity to amass many more experiences and accumulate more accomplishments. Thus, there can be a lot of value associated with such longevity. So, as I get ready to add another year to my age, I do so feeling not older, but wiser and more valuable.

How about you, are you acting your age?

Job Seekers: Get Your Story Straight!

 

Communication…it can be your greatest ally or most formidable enemy. As a job seeker, you are the CEO of your own job search, along with being the director of marketing and communications.

This means that you are responsible for developing your search’s strategic plan along with being in charge of its implementation. You are managing this project. It’s a multi-step, time-intensive task and, unfortunately, many candidates struggle to do it well.

Communication of your “story” (i.e., why a hiring manager should give you serious consideration as a candidate) is inclusive of all things written, verbalized and put into the digital world by you along with everything written, spoken and put into the digital world by others about you. All of this must be consistent with the message that you wish to deliver/be received by others.

For example, it is not uncommon for someone’s resume and LinkedIn profile to look like they are describing two different people! This same thing also happens frequently in regard to the message a candidate wants to be delivered by their references, connections, contacts, people they’ve met through networking, etc., and what is actually “out there”.

So, how can a candidate ensure that their story is communicated clearly and consistently?

Here are a few things to consider:

The Message: You need to make certain that your written, verbal and digital messages ALL ultimately help a hiring manager answer these two questions:

Why am I going to look like a genius for hiring you?

How are you going to help my team/group go from “good to great”?

In other words…clearly define for me your value, your “it/wow” factor, the skills/traits that you possess, which are key to being considered as an ideal candidate. And, understand that your definition of value and fit should be customized to each targeted employer.

For example, let’s say that you find six employers all who are seeking a Project Manager. It is very likely that, if each of those 6 PM position descriptions have 10 required skills and competencies to be considered a “great match”, all of the 6 would not list the same 10 items and the differences could be significant – thus, the need for customization. Your LinkedIn profile should incorporate what your research shows as the skills, competencies and traits most commonly required by companies seeking the type of position, which you feel is your dream job.

Delivery: Once you have your core message developed, the key is to deliver it consistently through various channels. These channels are inclusive of your: resume, (one page) executive profile, business card, references, Facebook page, personal website, LinkedIn profile, Twitter account, blog, and comments made on various social media postings.

What many candidates fail to recognize is that their story can be told, in part, by whom they follow or are connected with on social media. For example, if I wish to be perceived as a person very knowledgeable in the area of managing projects, then my LinkedIn connections and groups and who I follow on LinkedIn and Twitter should be reflective of such.

Candidates need to also be aware that simply asking someone, “Hey, can you be a reference for me for my job search?” is, by itself, pretty much a useless exercise. WHAT are they going to say about the candidate? It is the jobseeker’s responsibility to select a set of references who are able to speak very specifically in regard to skills and competencies defined as being required/critical to be considered seriously for a position. If I ask references, “One of the critical skills for the position for which we are considering Susan is strong leadership. Tell me specifically why she would be a great fit for us from that perspective,” I expect input that incorporates details related to situations, which they witnessed first-hand, and tell a very compelling story of her proven leadership abilities. This should be a “given” for all references contacted and all recommendations displayed in a candidate’s LinkedIn profile.

Don’t forget that during the entire period of your search, you should be actively developing a “sales force” that will sell the value of you. Your sales team firmly believes in the product, which is YOU. Ultimately, why a hiring manger would look like a genius for adding you to their team, thus helping to move their organization to the next level of performance.

This is the core of what is networking…the building of a powerful and effective sales force. And, like any sales team, all individuals must be selling the same product by describing the same benefits of that product to the potential buyer. Consistency of message hugely effects candidate credibility.

When an employer does their research on a candidate, they are expecting to see (and hear) content/dialog that strongly quantifies the “I’m a great match for the XYZ position at your organization as a result of my…” claims/statements made by the applicant.

Develop a powerful message, which clearly and effectively communicates to hiring managers that bringing you on-board might just be the best career decision that person has ever made, and train your sales team to deliver it with passion and consistency.

This is what CEO’s do.

Finding the Employer that is the Right Fit for You

Just returned from a trip to Florida and had the opportunity to meet a number of people who used to live elsewhere, but now call the Sunshine State their home. The vast majority of those folks moved to be with or take care of parents or just became tired of six months of snow and cold weather every year. One thing that each had in common was that they had found a job that was a great fit for their personality and skill set. Not coincidentally, each of these people seemed very happy with their job and demonstrated an above average level of customer service.

Funny how that works!

Whether you are passively or actively seeking a new place of employment, one of the most critical factors that cannot be ignored is being a great fit for an organization’s culture. Culture is not just a bunch of words in a mission statement or some slick poster on a bulletin board in the break room; it is the day-to-day energy that truly drives a company toward greatness. If you don’t fit well into a company’s culture (i.e., a square peg into a square hole), then I suggest you might look elsewhere for your dream job.

On the short list of key components of what makes up a hiring manager’s ideal candidate, cultural fit is normally at or near the top. This is why so many candidates find themselves having to go through four or more interviews along with taking personality tests. There is tremendous pressure on hiring managers to bring in top-tier talent and this causes many to hesitate when making their final selection.

So, how do you know if you are the right fit for a targeted employer and if that employer is a great fit for your personality? In my opinion, the only way to do this effectively is with a lot of focused research prior to an interview and a high degree of observation during the interview process.

Here are some suggestions for types of research that can do much to help determine if an opportunity/company and you are a great match:

Perform a thorough review of the company’s website, press releases, Facebook page, blog and Twitter postings and associated LinkedIn group discussions. What is the image they are projecting? Would you be proud to be associated with this organization…why? Can you see yourself carrying their “corporate banner”? Do an Internet search for forums written by former and current employees – about what are they most often communicating and how well does that match up with who and what you are?

Use the “Advanced” People Search function on LinkedIn to find profiles for those that already work in the department/group in which you have an interest. Thoroughly review their individual profiles and find commonalities among existing employees in the targeted group. Do you “look” like the people who were already hired for that group by the current hiring manager?  What skills are the hiring manager seeking from his/her ideal candidate? Do you have a key skill or competency, which is being sought by the hiring manger that the current employees (based upon their LinkedIn profiles) do not? If so, use that to your advantage, beginning with the cover letter and resume!

Visit the company a couple of days prior to your scheduled interview not only to figure out how long it will take you to get there (plan on arriving at the same time as your scheduled interview to learn what traffic might be like on that route at that time of day…you don’t want to be late). Use this opportunity to observe what types of clients are visiting the location and to see how the employees are dressed and how they are interacting with each other and the visitors. You can learn much about a company’s true culture from just a few minutes of close observation. While you’re standing there, ask yourself, “Would I be thrilled being a part of this team/organization? Could I flourish here and find the type of success and sense of accomplishment, which I am seeking?”

Find people you know who either are currently employed by or used to work for the targeted company or one of its competitors or clients and ask them for opinions regarding the organization’s culture, employee environment, training and support for workers/staff, customer service philosophy, etc. Networking events are great sources for this type of information.

Seek out reports written by financial/stock analysts if the targeted organization is a public company. These folks are paid to be experts on certain companies and will report on the good, the bad and the ugly aspects of their direction, management team’s philosophy, willingness to invest in people and technology and vision going forward.

How are you treated during the interview process? Remember, the company is seeking to find top talent and should be on their best behavior in order to “woo” you. If you aren’t getting “first date” level attention and treatment, then what will things be like when the “honeymoon” is over? I’ve had many people with whom I’ve done job search coaching tell me about interviewers who they felt treated them poorly or even may have lied to them. At those moments, these candidates realized, “I could never be happy here”.

Yes, all of this research can take a lot of time, if done properly, but it can save a candidate from making a poor career decision resulting in months or years of miserable employment (I recently assisted a candidate with his resume and during that process he told me how he had “really hated” his last few jobs. The candidate admitted that he had never done any of the research such as I’ve suggested in this post and that if he had, things might have been very different regarding the jobs in which he wound up.)

Let me wrap up this post by going back to Florida for a moment. One of the people we met was Tina, the person who took care of all of the rentals (boogie boards, kayaks, chairs, umbrellas, etc.) on the beach we visited. While she was setting up the chairs and umbrella we rented for the day, we learned that Tina was from New Jersey and had moved with her husband and two children to the area a few years prior to be near her parents (who had retired there). I remarked that I was very impressed with her level of customer service (we had watched her assist other “renters” before getting to us) and engaging personality. She looked at us and with the waves and a warm ocean breeze gently rolling in behind her, extended both arms and said, “This is my office (indicating “her” stretch of beach) and this is how I dress for work each day (i.e., floppy hat, bare feet, shorts and a tank top with the employer’s logo). What’s not to love about this?” Good points! She went on to say, “The hours are right and my boys get to see their grandparents whenever they want”. All of this looked and sounded for her like a match made in heaven, as the saying goes.

Tina finished our conversation by stating with a big smile, “This really is my dream job”.

What’s yours?

Don’t Ever Give Up During a Job Search

Everyone who has experienced a forced job transition knows that there are a host of emotions to deal with during that period, many of which are not very pleasant. For the majority of the people with whom I do job search coaching, the most powerful of the “not too pleasant” variety are a lack of self-confidence and growing sense of self-doubt.

Both of these emotions can stop a job search in its tracks. A good interviewer/hiring manager can quickly detect self-doubt or a lack of self-confidence in a candidate through tone of voice, body language, lack of eye contact, lack of passion in the delivery of answers/exchange of dialog and weak resume or LinkedIn profile.

That said, the real question for candidates then becomes, “OK, then how can I overcome these negative feelings?”

Start by embracing what we’ve all heard so many times over the years that we control our own destiny. Try thinking of that concept in this manner, “E+R=O”. What this short equation really means is that the outcome (O) of an event (E) is determined in large part by a person’s reaction (R) to that event. For example, two marketing professionals (Ron and Sue) are laid off from their respective employers with each having tenure of 20+ years (same event). Ron sees the forced separation as something personal and almost immediately feels the reason for such was because he is “old”. Ron can’t seem to shake the bitterness.

Sue, although not thrilled with losing her job, sees this as an opportunity to find her “dream job”. Both Ron and Sue eventually find new jobs, but Ron’s search takes significantly longer than does Sue’s. Sue is perceived to be a potential game-changer, Ron is not, which is due mainly to the fact that Ron goes into interviews with a defeatist attitude (“you’re probably not going to take me because I’m old”), while Sue’s passion and excitement related to her finding the “greener grass” comes through clearly in her resume, LinkedIn Profile and interview dialog.

Same Event, different Reactions, significantly different Outcomes.

I have had many, many hiring managers relate to me how candidates with basically the same skill set and experience can be perceived so differently during the search process with much of that coming as a result of their overall approach (passionate and motivated vs. “woe is me”).

Here are some tips to help you create a more positive outcome:

Embrace the change – Once you’ve lost your job, you can’t undo it. You can spend time complaining about it or invest that same time towards finding the greener grass. That’s a nice way of saying, “Get over it”…quickly. Experience has shown me that the “glass half full” people find re-employment much faster than those who see the glass as half empty.

Don’t underestimate your value to a potential employer. Recently I had the opportunity to meet and speak with a gentleman who had just retired after 20 years in the Air Force. He retired at the rank of Lt. Colonel. He told me, “I’ve not had to write a resume during the last 20 years and not sure what to do to look like an attractive candidate to a hiring manager (outside of the Air Force). This person had several assignments during his time in the service with much of that in the HR field, yet he was convinced that civilian employers would not see a twenty-year veteran as a desirable candidate (for an HR position). When I asked him to tell me what he felt were the top three skills that an HR professional would need to have to be considered seriously as a candidate, he replied, “Leadership, attention to detail and communication”. When I said to the former Lt. Colonel, “So, you did not lead people during any of your time in the Air Force?” and “You never paid attention to details and you were a poor communicator?” he laughed and said, “I guess that I never thought about it in those terms.”

I advised him that many hiring managers in my network have a high degree of respect for veterans and almost always associate them with the following skills/traits: leadership, disciplined, good listening, team building/motivation, self-starter, very professional, strong loyalty and good communication (giving clear directions). My message was simple: Military service is a plus for many employers, not a minus. Thus, it should be used in that manner when seeking employment as a civilian.

It’s not about a former employer or title, it’s what candidates accomplished that really matters. Ultimately, everything candidates write and what is written about them, what they say and what is said about them must provide the hiring manager with the perception that they might be a potential game-changer. Titles are most often meaningless, while quantified accomplishments that include a context of comparison (e.g., “highest degree of revenue improvement by a relationship manager in the 50-year history of the company”) can seal the deal. We live in a “what have you done for me lately” society and thus, employers are seeking candidates who they perceive as being able to quickly contribute towards taking their team/group to the next level.

Project your self-confidence. Remember that if I perceive that you don’t believe in yourself, then how do you expect my boss, my best prospects/clients or me to believe in you? Passion plus posture (body language) and dynamic presentation projects self-confidence.

So, instead of allowing the “tail to wag the dog”, I suggest quickly getting past the negative emotions that seem to come along with the separation package. Sell the value of YOU and allow your passion and self-confidence to convince me that you are my ideal candidate, my game-changer.

In an impassioned speech at the ESPN ESPY awards in 1993, basketball coach Jim Valvano (nicknamed, “Jimmy V”), who was at the time dying of cancer, spoke to the audience about his family, his love of coaching and working with athletes and his approach to dealing with the many challenges throughout his life, including his fight with cancer. He basically summed up his remarks with what later became a mantra for millions who heard his speech then and as it has been replayed many times since:

“Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up”