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Business Growth Unleashed: Iain MacGibbon’s Insights – Episode 116

Top tip from Iain MacGibbon.

Discipline is one of the things that is vital to our business

I think discipline is one of the things that that is vital to our business, at all levels. And and if you don’t create it for yourself, and look, I’m not that great at discipline, I’ll fly off and do lots of things that interests me and etc. But I have a board that creates discipline. So if you can’t do it for yourself, go and find it that lets you create it.





business, work, bit, job, shares, clients, talking, discipline, building, people, christchurch, terms, founder, farrow, find, board, shareholder, day, hire, give


Iain MacGibbon  00:00

I’m not going to look at anybody who doesn’t follow that instruction because number one, they didn’t read that. That’s right. And so I was staring at there was something like 40% of them didn’t provide the job it had an attention to detail component was really important. Okay,

Debra Chantry-Taylor  00:16

You’re definitely gonna give a creative person.

Iain MacGibbon  00:20

Wasn’t a great a job where you can say fine. Yeah, they

Debra Chantry-Taylor  00:22

Yeah, they don’t attention. Exactly. That’s interesting. Okay, that’s good. It’s always been my kind of philosophy. And I must admit, even just recently, when I applied, I didn’t get I didn’t get a recruitment agency involved, but I did do. It was for an assistant role. And I actually had people turn up and they get, you know, they’d say, Oh, well, have you seen my CV? It’s like, well, you sent it to me, but I haven’t read it. So you’re just telling me what you’re about.  So, Hello, and Welcome to another episode of Better Business Better Life. Today I’m joined in studio by Ian MacGibbon, who is the founder and managing director of Farrow Jamieson which is an executive search and recruitment business. Is that right? Welcome to the studio in really lovely to have you here.

Iain MacGibbon  01:00

Thank you.

Debra Chantry-Taylor  01:01

So we’re just having a chat, as we always do before the podcast for me to understand a little bit about your business and Farrow Jamieson’s has been around for a long, long time originally founded by two people called Farrow Jamieson, strangely enough, but you took over the business back in 1987.

Iain MacGibbon  01:14

1987. So and stay with the name. I’m not egotistical enough to make it fair, Jameson and MacGibbon. So yes, state stayed on and then ultimately bought out my partner in the business at the time, and then expanded and expanded a bit further last year with another acquisition. So yeah.

Debra Chantry-Taylor  01:23

Yeah. We’re talking about planning on retirement that you bought another business, I’m not leaving anytime soon.

Iain MacGibbon  01:40

I made a deal with my wife that said, as long as I’m still having fun, then it’s all good. Okay. And if it starts to be a drag, then we’ll have to look at things but it’s I’m just having a ball.

Debra Chantry-Taylor  01:55

So tell us a little bit about your journey to where you got to I mean, how did you get involved because this is not your original calling in life is it?

Iain MacGibbon  02:03

Calling, my calling was I went to Otago University that’s a calling and did a BI and AB Com and very cleverly couldn’t didn’t get anything together. So I had to do them one after the other because I have no cross credits. So I was originally market and did a marketing degree and was a marketer with Cerebus. And in two broad bank has all the retail broadens. And ultimately, they ended up joining with another person in an investment vehicle, which we put together and ultimately floated. But the trouble was, we floated at 1986 and a 1987 this little thing called the share maker crash. And the shares that have been floated for $1 worth about 17 cents at the low point I think So ultimately what happened was we privatized it again and then over time, sold it and I was looking for something else to do. And our business Dubai or business from Boston, I looked at all sorts of things. And then because of my wife’s relationship with the executive recruitment world being a commercial psychologist this opportunity came up and I knew a little bit about these sorts of businesses but not a lot and got involved as a 50% shareholder initially and and loved it just just loved it. It’s a very privileged as a word you can use a very privileged position to be in to be in discussions with boards and chief executives and C suite people about a where they’re going in their own lives, but also where their businesses are going. And if your business curious, like me, I’m business curious. I just I like to know what’s going on the things. This is one was so eclectic, you know, one day I’m dealing with a manufacturer of widgets the next day, you’re dealing with a high end service company, etc. And there’s different dynamics I just the whole thing endlessly fascinating and turn around. And suddenly, you’ve been doing it for 30 years or something.

Debra Chantry-Taylor  04:11

So there must have been some highs and lows throughout that time. What were the what are your sort of the things you’re most proud of in the business sense? And then also, personally as well?

Iain MacGibbon  04:22

Well, number one, personally, I’m always immensely proud of my family and my wife. We’ve been married for 42 years.

Debra Chantry-Taylor  04:29


Iain MacGibbon  04:29

Thank you. ENT just had our wedding about son and those sorts of occasions, are an absolute reminder about what’s important in life and seeing, you know, greater families together. And the business itself. Yeah, lots lots of lots of bumps in the road, always making mistakes. Post post the GFC. For those who are not old enough, the global financial crisis.

Debra Chantry-Taylor  05:00

So most of my lessons

Iain MacGibbon  05:01

Must be under that one. I figured that executive contracting would come back first before permanent recruitment, executive contracting is where you hire someone to come in and do a specific piece of work for three months, six months might be to evaluate something or to record a market or to do so I thought, yeah, this, people will be cautious and what will happen is adult so, so I invested quite heavily in executive contracting and blew that quarter of a million dollars. Because what happened was people went bang straight back into permanent recruitment to hire people. I just did not see that coming. Yeah, no, no, I wouldn’t have just put the money down and said we’re off. Yeah, we’re hiring and we’re gonna go low point, I think the entry into the South Island we into the South Island market because our Northline clients assets to basically they wanted representation down there. But Christchurch is unique. You know, we’d been in the market. Well, we’re at this point, I think we’ve been in Christchurch for about 18 years. And in Christchurch terms, that means you just got a shortcut. So no one really cared who Farrow Jamieson was, and that’s fine. We were there to really service our clients. And we’ve kind of fixed that by acquisition of a genuine South Island powerhouse and Sheffield south. Still keeping both brands operating differently in the market, merging the brands Yeah. So that entry into Christchurch was was was was a high I think the post is another earthquake story. So one of the things that really visually I can still see it, we were in the foresight bar building in Christchurch and Forsyth Barr building is the building that stayed up. But it went left went right stood up and the entire center core collapsed so they were all the stairwells were a hot there was just a hole in the middle of the building. Everyone was trapped on all the floors. I could not couldn’t leave. So my staff were were trapped, and.

Debra Chantry-Taylor  07:15

Absolutely petrified at that point. Absolutely petrified because they could see the CTV building on fire. Oh, wow. So they knew that if the building caught on fire, there’s nothing I can do. And at the time, we were using Blackberries and Blackberries were the only all the comms had gone down. But BlackBerry messenger was working. I don’t know how they’ve got a secret.

Iain MacGibbon  07:38

Somehow they got out that I had access to the building was going so I was getting these calls from Australian news media saying you have tucking into the building. How can you anyway, my my team were ultimately rescued by crane with a cradle up to the external balcony. And they hopped into the cradle and then got down. Luckily, everyone’s safe. But two doors down from us as a lawyer, and he had two floors down from him was the external carpark which was a raised camper. And there’s a photo of him going down the outside of the building of the rope with a server under his arm. And his rationale was this server is my business. If I don’t take this, I do not have a business. As at that point, we transitioned the entire business into cloud computing before cloud computing became a flank. The wonderful wonderful day where I actually took a sledgehammer to the server room in demolished so. So my team was ultimately rescued by a crane and a cradle came up to the balcony and they climbed in and landed. Actually, none funny story that we had a client interviewing a candidate. And these poor people at the time, they were stacking, and you didn’t get the job, which is I got to know each other. Well, because it for hours and maybe figure the chemistry wasn’t right. So anyway, this lawyer who was two floors down was broken window, put a rope out of the window and clambered down this rope two stories to his car park with a server under his arm, his computer seven, and on the basis that this was his business, and he had no business with. He didn’t have this. And I was looking at this, this boss is absolutely mean. And so we had just been playing around and cloud computing hadn’t become a thing. But we were just playing around. Anyway, that started the journey where we just transitioned everything into the cloud and I was able to finally demolish the server room and the server rack and all that stuff. Which means that when COVID happened the lockdown the impact for us was almost zero we could instantly actually work from home. We were already doing that. We already had all our video stuff set up etc. Yep. And as it turned out, people kept hiring. And so we were able to maximize that on that opportunity. So anyway, lots of.

Debra Chantry-Taylor  10:09

On the way as great as that earthquake was just was something else was met with something that never never happened before.

Iain MacGibbon 10:15

I tell you what, I got across this quite regularly, obviously. They’re each month for a few days last week, I was down there on a Tuesday night. And we couldn’t get into the first four places we wanted to go. It’s six o’clock, we thought we’d go early. Christchurch was harming. Yeah, absolutely.

Debra Chantry-Taylor  10:34

To be fair, though, it’s tough. Because I also get our regular clients down there, it takes a while it’s been taking, it has taken a long time to actually get back up to that. I remember going through a couple of years afterwards, I was looking around, and really, it felt like nothing had changed. And then all of a sudden, it just started and I think the new the new buildings or the residential buildings that they’re building in the city center, in those areas has really changed the whole dynamic of Christchurch.

Iain MacGibbon  10:54

And the convention center. Yes, yeah. So no, I’m, we were early back there. In Christchurch, we wanted to support Christchurch. But for a while there. I’d be visiting. And I was in the central city more than my staff were because they just got used to not ever going back to the central city, but it’s broken down now.

Debra Chantry-Taylor  11:18

That’s good. That’s really good. I think we’ve seen something similar in Auckland, haven’t we with COVID. I mean, I think that we almost got used to not going out. I don’t know it’s taken a long, long time for the hospitality industry to actually recover from that. Yeah. Sadly, sometimes some didn’t. I mean, we lost some iconic kind of brands in that time.

Iain MacGibbon  11:35

Absolutely. I know. A guy who runs a coffee chain. He said the central city ones have really struggled. But the suburban ones have exploded as people working remotely and now they’re meeting Yeah.

Debra Chantry-Taylor  11:47

That’s okay. Makes perfect sense. Okay, so when we were talking before we came on the podcast, you know, you talked about the fact you’ve got lots of different clients. So you do everything from corporate right the way through to, I guess, well financed startups. But there is a sweet spot in terms of those established businesses, sometimes privately owned. And that’s the sweet spot. For me, I work with privately unestablished businesses, and I know that, you know, sometimes there comes a point where it is time for them where they’re no, they’re no longer the right person to be the person running the business. And they might have reached that point themselves, or more than likely their husband or wife has had a bit of a word to him about, you know, not seeing very much of you. And I’m really getting a bit concerned about this, you need to do something about it. And then they come to you and they go, right, we need someone to run the business. What does tells us some stories about that? Because I think that’d be really interesting for the listeners who are potentially thinking about these things.

Iain MacGibbon  12:36

Yeah. And supposedly, according to me, there’s a massive chunk of the population of aging founders who are looking for exit. And the reality is either the next generation, not even not interested, quite like the dividend check so much lately. But also in the heart that I really wants to sell out. So it’s in the process of saying, do you put someone else to run it and you become an investor? And if that’s true, what’s an investor look like? They don’t know, they’ve been a founder owner, they don’t really know what I’m best at as, and so you know, you can kind of play this game with them, where you actually try and get them to approach their own job with two hats. One is the CEO of the company, and I’m talking to you as the CEO. And then the other one is the founder is the shareholder. So now let’s talk about a shareholder would you invest in this business? Tell me about the sorts of things that you’d look at. And sometimes when you force them to look at it from a different angle? They admit things that saying, oh, yeah, well, you know, we’re a bit light in this area or but here because now they are trying to think like a shareholder? Yes. But the, the real question you’re you’re getting to is, when do they know that it’s time to let go? And then if you’re doing that process, how do you do it without the wheels coming off? Because there is a litany of mistakes, and stories of people who who got it wrong, you know, they bring someone in who’s a hotshot, and then a year later, it’s just a disaster, lots of time and money. And, and part of that is actually trying to clarify what everybody’s expectation is in here. And when this happens, I’m talking to candidates in much the same way. You know, so what I’m saying to a candidate for a CEO job with the CEO stepping back and going to be chairman and have a board etc.etc., is number one. Tell me about the structure of your board. So you’ve currently got on your accountant and your lawyer. Well, guess what, that’s service providers that they depend on your business for for an income now they might be great people, etc. But the reality is, they’re less likely to challenge you and actually say, we need to justify something, they’ll try and help you cover your checks, maybe not make not so many mistakes. So where’s your board and expertise in terms of things that will genuinely challenge you and provide the discipline at a client of mine who’s very, very wealthy man, but at one point in time was a wealthy man with a lot of debt. And he sold out very well. And he said, the biggest problem for me post selling out was I lost my discipline, because the debt and the bank was a discipline. And I had to report and I had the cabinets and I had this etc. And he had a portfolio of companies, some of which he still owned afterwards. And here’s the thing when I didn’t have that is discipline of the date was, suddenly one of the companies say, look, with just another one and a half million we could do this next month is just leaking. But now, but we’ll be ready in the next year, it’ll be fine. And he said, I realized afterwards, it was all that discipline that comes from debt. So how do you create discipline, when you’re a founder you an issue unique? And a few of them are, most of them will do what they instinctively feel like but don’t really have the discipline about robust decision making or holding yourself to account. And so who’s going to provide that discipline for you on the board? Because the other part of the discipline is, now tell me what you’re stepping back from and what you’re doing. You say you’re not retiring, you go to be the chairman. And so are you shifting offices, one, I’ll keep my office where it is, etc. Okay, so everyone who’s used to that Warren carpet to go straight to your office, is still gonna go straight to your office, how you’re going to flip that, etc. So you have to shake up some of those things and say, Okay, I’m going to have someone on board, and they’re going to be in that office, and I’m going to be working from home, but in the office two days a week or so it’ll drive you nuts for a while. But you’ve got to create this button break boundaries, where there’s new boundaries. And the ones who do that, well, the shoulders lift, they enjoy life, they enjoy their family more, because they they know they haven’t given up on their dream, that dream is still there. Someone else is just taking it to the next level, because maybe they don’t have the skill to move from a 20 million to 50 million business. Yeah, it’s just not the go.

Debra Chantry-Taylor  17:29

Or, I mean, sometimes they are burnt out because of the number of hours they’ve been doing. And then so that you can’t see the wood for the trees, because you are just so busy in the business rather than get be able to take an objective view from looking outside. So.

Iain MacGibbon  17:42

Yeah, supremely client focus, good. What does that mean? Means I spend seven days a week, 24 hours a seven, and the phone’s always on, really, you know, is that important is that the differentiator, the cloud is going to be fine. If you come back to them tomorrow. You know, we have this thing about emails, night. And I tried to say to my team, look, there’s some times when actually you do need to jump on the tools because of mission critical thing. But most of the time, forget it,

Debra Chantry-Taylor  18:12

Nobody’s gonna dive down that email. And I think to be fair, as a visionary and sort of founder myself have several businesses, I’ve been guilty in the past, I don’t ever switch off. And so I will often send emails when I’m thinking about something. But that’s a real challenge, because that means that the person receiving it thinks they should respond, I don’t expect a response from them. I just want to get it out of my head and send it off. But of course, if you know, if you’ve got somebody working for you, if you get an email from the boss, they’re going to think they have to respond. So be very careful your behavior can actually create even not intentionally an environment where people are responding after hours on the weekend, etc.

Iain MacGibbon  18:48

Yes. And some of that is, you might say that wasn’t my intention. That if you are have you asked them about when I send you something, what’s your expectation around that? Just to make sure, I know, we know. You’re just clearing it up. Cool. That’s fine.

Debra Chantry-Taylor  19:06

And you do and you try and sort of say, hey, look, listen, I don’t want you to answer on the weekend, or whatever. And then I get some my my current assistant, Denise, I mean, she often responds like, what are you doing responding to me? You know, I don’t expect a response. It’s just be getting stuff out of my head. But yeah.

Iain MacGibbon  19:20

I try and do the same with with Outlook. I knew I had a problem with Outlook. When I’ve got two monitors. outlook was on the left hand one and my main working one was on the writing one, and I got a sneak because you’re always looking this way. Yeah. And so like at some turn off, turn off notifications, minimize outlook, etc. And then just work on the other things and then have things that prompt you to say, Hey, do you want to check your email?

Debra Chantry-Taylor  19:46

Have you mentioned that? Well, no. Okay. I’m gonna say, I’ve tried, because I’m gonna say I’ve heard I’ve heard of people that actually only answer their emails twice a day. I can’t believe it, but I’ve heard of it.

Iain MacGibbon  19:58

I’m looking through i was i I tried for a while to this whole inbox 00. Yes, I tried that, in the in the stress of getting their inbox zero was worse.

Debra Chantry-Taylor  20:10

But I think I’ve got better at it, I think the one thing I have done is I’ve got, I have turned off notifications on my phone, I’ve noticed that not having that red circle that pops up that says that there’s something there waiting for you on social media on email on all those things, is just means you then get to choose when you go in and look as opposed to being drawn by that.

Iain MacGibbon  20:28

We use teams. And so with the chat functions a bit like a Slack type thing. And so we find that the easiest way to communicate because you’re not sending an email writing the saying, hey, that happened. Yep. It’s all under control. Yeah, correct. Sorted.

Debra Chantry-Taylor  20:44

Yeah, we actually use Slack with EOS, which is, which is the same sort of thing. And it’s also good for searching back on things as well. I find trying to find find things and emails can sometimes be a bit of a nightmare errors. If you’ve got your Slack channels, your team channels set up, it makes it a little bit easier. Yeah, I think.

Iain MacGibbon  20:58

Might my hang up is normally around expectations. You know, I have an expectation that something’s going to happen instantly. I’ve trained it, we just shift houses and ship to the houses. And there’s a few things to do now, dry it at our holiday place, end up here. And give my wife a hard time because she has this thing of how hard can it be like we could do that interview? How could it be? Okay. Well, quite hard as it turns out, hire somebody to do it. Like what enjoy fiddling?

Debra Chantry-Taylor  21:33

Yeah, yeah, me too. Okay, cool. So we’re talking about we were talking about, you know, looking for if you’ve made the decision that you actually do not want to be involved in the day to day business, but still want to be part of it, which I think we all don’t think is an option. But it’s a really great option. Because if you get the right person there, you can literally just have that sort of governance role shareholder role, rather than actually working in the business. But once you’ve made that decision, it’s a hard one to make. How do you work with them to help them find the right person? So if they’ve got their head in the right space, and they know that that’s what they want to do? How do you work with them to find the right person? One of the things you’re looking for? What’s the process?

Iain MacGibbon  22:09

So firstly, you got to try and figure out, are they just trying to back away from something that’s just causing them to burn out? In other words, they want someone to manage the business? Or are they genuinely missing out on opportunities where the business could grow? That I have the fire or the expertise to do it? Yeah. Because that’s fundamentally different thing about one of them’s I just need to be able to unplug and sleep at night and know that the business is taking over and doing okay. So once you figure out what that is, and in the scenario where actually, I’ve, I’m seeing all these opportunities in the market, but I just can’t get to them, then I’m looking for somebody who can land those sorts of opportunities. And so that’s about business case, evaluating something the saying, Yeah, can we do it? And then the question you ask the founder at that point, is saying, okay, that’s the engine that drives that is cash. So you tell me about what you need out of this. Because you can’t go down that track, and you want to go out and buy a new $15 million launch? What What’s your knee? What do you want to do, if you want a new launch, that’s fine. But that’s means we’re now going to change what we want to do in the business. And so fundamentally, if they’re sitting, then they’ve got the batch, the BMW.

Debra Chantry-Taylor  23:38

All the bits they want.

Iain MacGibbon  23:41

Then you can make some decisions about saying, Okay, if if the business needed 234 million to actually start to achieve these next goals? Is that possible? Yes, it is, as I’m prepared to commit that we just need enough to live on. Now you can start to define the person and then you say to them, okay, so the next thing you want to do is if you are backing off to this, but what’s your role look like? As your investor? And therefore, what do you need to fill the bits that you can no longer do? So that they’ll never write their own job description, they’ve never probably written the job description. They live, they’re never going to do this. But, but you can help them sort of speak out. What does that look like? Does that look like you want two days a week off? Or does that look like you just want the stress off and you need someone to drive it and you want to be? Let’s call it the passenger, but that’s not for you. And so once they understand that the reason to try and spend so much time doing that is like you can’t, if you can’t articulate that you can’t tell the potential candidate about the risks, right, because smart candidates will come and say, How much prefer is this guy? Oh, Well done about really exiting the business. Because here’s the war stories. Suddenly someone’s you know, like the old days I remember this in the days of fax machines, oh, yes, it was a guy who was the chief executive of good business. He had the fax machine inside his office so he could see everything that.

Debra Chantry-Taylor  25:19

Came through a little bit not letting go, isn’t it?

Iain MacGibbon  25:22

Just like, when you walk into his office, the alarm went off in my head? Oh, well, I like to keep an eye on. So he’s that? Yeah. So there’s lots of clues about really how genuine someone is about letting go. And then you’ve got to be a truth teller to the person coming into the role by saying, Here’s what I think the challenges will be. They have said all these things, I believe them. But it hasn’t happened yet. Right. So we’re all going to take a leap of faith here. But here’s what I think you can do to try and mitigate that. And, and sometimes that’s about the board, creating a board if they haven’t got one. And there’s lots of different options you can do to do that, in terms of putting something together just a governance board that will provide some of that discipline, but also provide a bit of an area where they can air some of this, right, because some of it will get touchy, because there’ll be things where someone passionately believes that they want to do it. And I’ve found that passionately believes that that is the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard or not the dumbest, but it’s just not gonna work. And so they have to find the mechanisms to work through that. And the final bit is, which they don’t like very much is. So what’s the divorce look like? If this doesn’t work, how are you going to get out of it? Because to get this guy, you promised a bunch of things, you know, you promised some shares, or you promised down the track to look at something and, and suddenly you don’t deliver on that, then things go feral, then things get legal, then things get really, really messy. And it costs everyone time and money. So you plan the divorce before the marriage.

Debra Chantry-Taylor  27:12

And I think a lot of people think that’s a real negative way. But I’ve actually believe if you have a plan B, and you know that it’s in a drawer somewhere that you can access if need be, then it gives you a lot more confidence in terms of executing on planet.

Iain MacGibbon  27:25

Yeah. And so we’ll give you, you know, shares in the business. While.

Debra Chantry-Taylor  27:32

I was gonna ask you about shares, that’s my next question is like, what do you think about giving shares? But anyway.

Iain MacGibbon  27:37

I mean, personally, the minimum I’ve owned the business 50%, right, yeah. But I get it if someone wants to come in, but agree what the valuation methodology is. And it’s going to be based on EBIT or on asset growth, or whatever it is. And everyone knows what levers.

Debra Chantry-Taylor  27:57

Yeah, see what you measure boards, you know what it looks like, that’s it.

Iain MacGibbon  28:00

I moved the dial from eight to 10, you get rewarded for what the cynical chief executive says will, you know, two years down the track, I get, I get the opportunity to buy into the business. I’ve put two years in and I have moved the dial. And here’a bit more and founder says, Yeah, but that’s what you’re paid to do. Yeah. And so

Debra Chantry-Taylor  28:23

I’ve been really clear in the beginning, what that might look like in terms of Yeah, that’s fair enough. And I also think there’s an option to kind of, there’s almost like a pathway, because you can do B class shares fairly easily, and profit share, even if you don’t do shares. And that gives an opportunity to reward sort of the good, good work if you like. But I think when you start giving shares in the business, it’s like a marriage, right? You’re going into this something that is now becoming a wee bit more serious than just dating or getting engaged, you’re now actually committing to something long term.

Iain MacGibbon  28:53

In discussing with with a company where the three of them in the business, and two of them regard number three as a drag, but number three is 20%. And so they can outvote the person. But the reality is, board meetings are horrific. And so deal with it.

Debra Chantry-Taylor  29:15

I’ve had a couple of clients where they’ve been some of the things but we’ve even more shareholders as you got a couple that are just almost like a rotten apple in the in the governance side of it. But also because they have a day to day job in the business as well. They start to affect the entire culture of the business. And so they’re only minority shareholders, but the impact that they have, can still be huge, even though they actually can’t make the decisions at the board.

Iain MacGibbon  29:38

Yeah, for some reason, some people regard the guerrilla tactics as being an honorable thing to do. You know, it’s my it’s my job to actually point out some narky thing in here that actually has no relevance. So yes, plenty of those going through and that’s about also making sure that not only on the board but you surround your I’ve always had a view that you surround yourself with people that are smarter than you are. And for a founder, that’s often quite difficult. Because people have praised you for a long time about your vision and your energy and your amazing you into the room and things happen. And suddenly, you’re not Superman anymore. You’re just like guy. Yeah.

Debra Chantry-Taylor  30:28

And I think it’s because there’s a couple of things going on. But there’s, there’s that side of it. And then there’s also this is this is your baby. You know, you have literally, I mean, if you think about you with Jemison, you know, you took it from wherever it was, when you started to where it is. Now you’ve you’ve seen it grow, you’ve seen it go through its cycles through its teen years through its growth stages. And then all of a sudden, you’re saying, hey, now you look after it? Yeah.

Iain MacGibbon  30:50

I think there’s, there’s a lot of things said about that. And you’re here to bet this is my baby. But when you talk to them, that’s not true. That’s not true. That’s ego. And it’s not because they are passionate that someone will hurt. You know, I view when someone says something is emotional, this is my baby. Yeah, it’s a view of protection and who is like a family thing? It’s a protection, you’ll hurt it, etc. But when you really get to it, that’s not it. It’s actually this is mine.

Debra Chantry-Taylor  31:26

Right? Just take baby. Yeah. So it’s actually mine. So I own it. This is sharing in the same pattern.

Iain MacGibbon  31:31

Yeah. I would have to learn to share.

Debra Chantry-Taylor  31:36

Only child to suddenly having a much better analogy, isn’t it? Yeah. Yes. Simply Okay, great. I look, I’m sure we could talk all day, because I’m sure we’ve got lots of war stories you could share. But sadly, we have gotten limited time. And I want to extract some more gold from you. So you’ve been through a lot, both in terms of owning your own business, but also working with others in their business. What are the three kind of top tips that you would share with people listening?

Iain MacGibbon  32:03

Well, I have the the arrogance to sort of, say his his the sermon from the mount. What I can say is that I think discipline is one of the things that that is vital to our business, at all levels. And and if you don’t create it for yourself, and look, I’m not that great at discipline, I’ll fly off and do lots of things that interests me and etc. But I have a board that creates discipline. So if you can’t do it for yourself, go and find it that lets you create it.

Debra Chantry-Taylor  32:35

And I think that many obviously a board is great from that governance perspective. Obviously EOS is a model that we use in terms of the operational inside the business and operating system that gives you a framework. And I think particularly for entrepreneurial types, it’s not trying to stop them from having those amazing, crazy ideas and fight but it’s about actually putting some structure around it so others around them can get the best out of them.

Iain MacGibbon  32:57

Absolutely, yeah. And I think so the discipline is there. I think New Zealand’s number eight why people hold that up and saying, you know, we advising number? Well, I think it’s held us back.

Debra Chantry-Taylor  33:08

I’m so pleased to hear that. Because at the moment, I would think a few conversations with people. I think that it’s great that we can be a little bit sort of India engine in general, ingenious and creative. But I also think it sort of gives us a small, small picture. And like rather than big picture thinking, it’s like, well, we have to do it ourselves. And it’s like, actually let let go that somebody else is a specialist in that do that and you do what you’re really, really good at.

Iain MacGibbon  33:31

Absolutely right. And that’s exactly what I think that that too often we said to ourselves, look, I’ll figure it out, it’ll be cheaper or 3d to do a halfpipe job with someone else can come in, they do it better, it’ll be sustainable, and it’ll be better than you can ever do it. Now, if you want to faff around and if you do that, that’s fine. But don’t hamper the business by doing that. Go and find another vehicle like DIY. So be careful about the sort of, yes, it costs money but use impact planners, you know, either contractors or people you know can come in and actually make a difference and in go and all that stuff about fail fast. If it’s not working, get rid of it. Move on. I was talking with someone at Microsoft Asia pack once and he said New Zealand is pretty much unique and around the globe and Microsoft. Because we don’t kill projects. They say right out there. That’s not gonna work. We kill it. And you said next minute, we’re four months down the track. It pops up again. Someone’s been quietly working. And I think that’s so true about our psyche. We don’t we’re not hard enough to say that there’s not a runner. You kill it. Yeah, we go. Well, I’ll start right. We’ll just show this one.

Debra Chantry-Taylor  34:47

Yeah, well, we’ll pivot a wee bit and we’ll come back to it. No, that’s okay. And also, I think that there’s a really great book by Dan Sullivan, who’s strategic coach, he talks about who not how. So it’s like rather than worrying about how you Don’t go find somebody who can do it, whether that be a business partner, whether that be somebody you’re going to a strange partnership with, or just an expert, that will actually do it in a fraction of the time that it will take you. And sure there’ll be a cost associated, but what is the cost of time in your business? What’s the cost of your time in the business as well? Yeah,

Iain MacGibbon  35:16

Absolute right.And, and then it’s really gets down to the sort of hiring great people, I mean, of the people wasn’t so close.

Debra Chantry-Taylor  35:22

Yeah, that would definitely be people’s smart people. Yeah,

Iain MacGibbon  35:25

We hire people who were in real real struggle in New Zealand at the moment, and that we we gave up training, essentially, I think, for 20 years, because we can bring in talent at the level we want. And now, mostly, we can’t, and so we have to train again. But it’s like turning on the training switch. How are we training people again, hire for this, the attitude and the ability to learn, and then teach them or get them the skills or let them watch a YouTube video for probably tell them everything they need to know. But let them grow and then train them to the next job. We we could essentially hire in at the levels we wanted to and now we can’t because they’re not available. So we’re going to have to hire at the level below and let them grow into the job by training and mentoring and much more effort around that training and mentoring, stop thinking about saying I need someone to come and do that job 100% today, because it’s unlikely to happen, go and find someone who’s got the most fabulous attitude and as a culture fit for the business. And we’ll learn how to do 100% of the job, and it might take them a year to get there. In the meantime, they just adding value to the business by being energetic and culturally aware of what they’re doing.

Debra Chantry-Taylor  36:43

Yeah, I must admit I was working with a large corporates some time ago, and they didn’t use a recruitment agency was really disappointing. So whenever I was trying to build my team, I had to go through the internal kind of recruitment thing. And they would have some criteria around and what level the job was what skills they had to have, with a certain level, I had to have a degree and I have lots of degrees. So I’m not convinced against degrees, but I don’t believe they add a huge amount of value, I actually believe attitude is like is the key thing. And so they would send me through CVS, and I would just keep rejecting and I go, there’s nothing in here that excites me about this person. But you know, and so show me the reject. So you can’t see the rejects. I want to see the rejects. And to be honest, I never look at CVS. Most important thing for me was always a covering letter. Because I reckon CV is a bollocks if I’m honest. That’s an English British term, typical British term. You know, anybody can make a CV look great. But it’s actually if you get that generic cover letter that goes, do Mr. or Miss emulador Dear Sir, or Madam. And I’m really excited about your insert job from insert company and all the rest of generic you kind of go this person cannot even bother to make an effort with a cover letter. What on earth are they going to do when they work for me? So I used to push back against the HR department, go give me the rejects, I’d look at the cover letters, I get people on person that and then I will be the interview, I would never even look at their CV. Just talk to them.

Iain MacGibbon  37:59

Someone I said, Look, if you’re applying for this job, here’s what I want you to do. I want you to write a cover letter and I want you to cover these two points. And and I’d set up to the my team. I said I’m not going to look at anybody who doesn’t follow that instruction. Because number one, they didn’t read that. That’s right. And so I was staggered. That was something like 40% of them didn’t provide the job. It had an attention to detail component that was really important.

Debra Chantry-Taylor  38:27

Okay, you’re definitely looking for creative person.

Iain MacGibbon  38:31

Wanting to create a job where you can say fine,

Debra Chantry-Taylor  38:33

Yeah, they don’t attention. Exactly. That’s interesting. Okay, that’s good. It’s always been my kind of philosophy. And I must admit, even just recently, when I applied, I did, again, didn’t get a recruitment agency involved, but I did do it was for an assistant role. And I actually had people turn up and they get, you know, they’d say, Oh, well, have you seen my CV. It’s like, well, you sent it to me, but I haven’t read it. So you’re just telling me what you’re about. But I do actually, I have some I think I shared with you when I first came to New Zealand, so I’m not a native of New Zealand. I came from UK and then through Australia mentor here. My first recruitment agency experience was was Sheffield. And certainly, I believe that good recruitment agencies not truly there anymore, but they can add a huge amount of value, because they actually took the time to get to know me, they they didn’t look at, you know, they didn’t put me into a box. I think sometimes people can kind of go, you fit this box. And so therefore, this is the only role we put you forward for they were they took the time to actually, you know, look at what executive pleasure I could go into. Yeah. So yeah, I’m so tell me a little bit. So what isn’t good recruitment or recommend search agency look like?

Iain MacGibbon  39:33

So we’re in a unique position. We have optics both ways in the sense that we’re talking to a client company and trying to understand what’s going on. Here’s the brief bit like a CV or whatever. Tell me about why you really and one of those sorts of things is that people rattle off all these things that they require, and then so I might say to them, okay, so In 12 months time we hire this person in 12 months time, you’re saying in we’ve got to go out for lunch, because this has just been fantastic. The best person I’ve ever had in the business, and she’s just a superstar. What have they done?

Debra Chantry-Taylor  40:12


Iain MacGibbon  40:13

Oh, well, what I really want, and then they’ll start to tell you what the real issues that they want to address, not what’s on the job description. I really want them to deal with the culture in this part of the business or whatever. Okay, so now I need to know what some person can do. And most people that I interview in C suite type roles. Not not serial interviewers, but they know how to be interviewed, right? Give me an example of. And so my answer to them is that look, I’m, you’re good at this, you know, you’re obviously, good candidate. We’re not looking for somebody who is a really good candidate, we want a really good employee for the business. And to do that, I need to ask about you, I want to know about you. And so we’ll just leave the business things for a while. It’s totally up to you. And it makes some people quite uncomfortable.

Debra Chantry-Taylor  41:13

Because I prepared for those questions. Tell me about a time when I got the ball one time, you know, when would it? Have you ever sat? Anybody? It’s like, yeah, of course. I’m working through that. But yeah, you expect certain questions.

Iain MacGibbon  41:24

Yeah. And then when you talk to them, you realize what they are as people. They might be? Shallow, narcissistic, weak.

Debra Chantry-Taylor  41:35

Don’t have any of those.

Iain MacGibbon  41:36

Might be just a wonderful, empathetic leader that is just right, for a business that needs us. People have their arms, or someone wrapped their arms around them. You’re the person for that. Yeah. And the next person might be a weapon. Great. But this isn’t the business for you. I’ve got another business for you that actually needs someone to come in with a Sharpie. Yeah, exactly. And so the fit is, is really important. And it’s really hard sometimes because I’m not hiring them. And so I get to the end of a process. And the client says, I’ve really decided it’s going to be B and you go, right, what do you. I thought I had a real shot there. So you look at it, but in the end, it’s, it’s, it’s the high, all we can do is advise them about what we think are all the pieces of the puzzle. And of course, over time, I’ve been around a time. So you know, I’ve seen people’s careers, I’ve seen the mistakes I’ve made. I am still staggered that you know, there’s some people still getting high profile jobs, and I was getting a tornado behind them, but just a lot of disaster. But no one asked them about the trail. Anyway, personal.


Debra Chantry-Taylor  43:00

So that’s another question I’m going to ask you as well, because I mean, it’s not just you in this business. So you’ve got a whole bunch of people in Christchurch and Auckland working with you. How have you gone about finding the right people for your business? And what sort of training did they get because I’m, I’ve been guilty in the past, we talk about delegating elevated in the US, that means that you know, make sure that you’re only doing the stuff you’re really great at and love or really good at and like and delegate the rest. There’s a difference when delegation and abdication I’m really good at abdication. I don’t want to do that you don’t get that sorted out, and don’t give them the time and the energy to actually train them. And I’m getting better as I recognize it. But tell me a little about your how you.

Iain MacGibbon  43:38

Made lots of mistakes. So I thought that you needed someone with a presence and someone who could sell the business and you know, when they were there and and therefore were a manifestation of yourself going through there. But but really, and you and I had mentioned this earlier on, I think the most too many people have small ears and big mouth. So the best people I’ve found in this business, people who are confident or arrogant, who are listeners rather than talkers, but overall business curious. If you’re curious. Then you’ll ask the next question about the business or about the person. Now if you’ve got a form that says here’s the five questions, anyone can ask five questions. But what if halfway through question to a person hesitate and your brain goes there’s something here? Yeah, I’ll ask another question about that in a slightly different way. Because there’s something going on. It’s a bit like a reference check. And we when we do reference checks most people if the referee they don’t want to say anything bad about the person, but it’s a bit of a Hansel and Gretel. I’ll drop the breadcrumbs and if you pick them up the I’ll tell you. And so the worst thing you can do in a reference check is have a form and have your head down filling out a form and not listening for those things. Because they’ll say, things that will put a pause in, or they’ll say, probably, and other sort of qualifying words. And you go, hang on, there’s a story here. Ken, can you tell me a little bit more about that? And then they’ll tell you the real deal? Yeah. So that’s a curiosity. I like to hire people who are curious, and who every new person that we bring into the business is, is as a drain and I don’t mean that in a bad way. But but just energy required to get a new person in and in the team and going through takes energy out of me and other people. So you got to be sure that you’re investing that in something that’s going to produce a return. And the way you can I figure that you can do that is if you get someone who’s, who’s asking you questions about the business and about their clients, etc. Such that when the situation gets tricky with a client, and will always have that where they don’t offer the money, they say they’re going to offer or, or something else, the person’s confident enough to say, that’s not what we agreed. Or I’m curious about why you’re actually changing check now what’s happened because something must have happened. And so yeah, that’s, that’s my then whatever, they’ve got a degree or, or an expertise in an area. It’s all secondary to that.

Debra Chantry-Taylor  46:36

I love it. Yeah, I think I, I think I was that curious child as a child, and probably even more so as an adult, if I’m honest.

Iain MacGibbon  46:41

Well, often you find and if again, if you’re asking about people and their families, etc. People have had business discussions, they didn’t know about it, because it was at the dinner table. And the father or the mother was talking about things and they were used to companies being bandied around or business situations being bandied around not even know it. But they are a level above people who’ve never had exposure to business, because I’ve got a business psyche already going on at the head. Yeah. That’s in the DNA almost

Debra Chantry-Taylor  47:13

When it comes back to your wife. So come commercial psychiatry, psychology. If somebody wants to work with you, how would they go about finding you and what is your ideal client look like?

Iain MacGibbon  47:29

So we have a couple of brands Farah Jemison and Sheffield South Island, going through if you want to work with us. I think it’s what we want challenge you were not difficult. But we will ask you some questions. If you if you just think if you you just want to come to a place in your state, you know, get me somebody, we’re not the right place. But if you want to have discussion about what you want to do and grow, you know, we’re probably hopeless in our own profile, etc. But what we do because our clients tend to be just loyal and they use us because we get results. We’re proud of what we do. But yeah, jump on to, my ugly faces, they’re more than happy to have a coffee. I think it’s my duty. Duty is the wrong way. But I’m it’s incumbent on me to have coffee with people and I have a lot of coffee with the candidates and in the light to just end with people who are in other recruitment firms often just to sort of share that sort of growth and things that they should think about coming through not necessarily becoming joining us. But just because when you’ve been around and I’m still in the woods, God worlds going around me a few times. There’s things you can impart that it’s it would be useful for others to learn. So I feel if someone’s have a coffee and to share what was going on in the business and whether or not we can help. You can buy but yeah, I’ll have a coffee.

Debra Chantry-Taylor  49:00

I love that energy. I look, I feel very grateful that I’ve come across you through Ryan having had you on his podcast. So I really enjoyed our conversation both out of the podcast room and in the podcast room. Thank you very, very much for your time. Really appreciate you coming in.

Iain MacGibbon  49:15

All right, nice to meet you. Thank you

ound me a few times. There’s things you can impart that it’s it would be useful for others to learn. So I feel if someone’s have a coffee and to share what was going on in the business and whether or not we can help. You can buy but yeah, I’ll have a coffee.

Debra Chantry-Taylor  49:00

I love that energy. I look, I feel very grateful that I’ve come across you through Ryan having had you on his podcast. So I really enjoyed our conversation both out of the podcast room and in the podcast room. Thank you very, very much for your time. Really appreciate you coming in.

Iain MacGibbon  49:15

All right, nice to meet you. Thank you





Debra Chantry-Taylor 

Professional  EOS Implementer | Entrepreneurial Leadership & Business Coach | Business Owner

#betterbusinessbetterlife #entrepreneur #leadership #eosimplementer #professionaleosimplementer #entrepreneurialbusinesscoach

Professional EOS Implementer New Zealand

Professional EOS Implementer  Australia

Professional EOS Implementer UK

Professional EOS Implementer NZ

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