Losing Incredible People Sucks. Doing Nothing To Learn From It & Improve Would Suck Much More.

In the last two months, I’ve had to say goodbye to two of the most talented young leaders I’ve worked with in my entire career. @markmcspadden and @marcelosomers

And with both I always knew our time would one day end, knowing companies would come knocking soon who have already decided what I hope we do more intently: to focus on retention of top emerging talent like these two, who we were slap-me-silly lucky to get for even a short time.

As for me, Marcelo will always be a part of a milestone in my career as my very first hire as a manager, which I wrote about here long ago. Marcelo is also the one who shot & edited this video that we created together last year: 

I will never forget how many people questioned my “new manager” judgment on him due to his major of all things, and he swiftly blew them away within mere days.

And I hesitated soon after on moving into what was at the time my dream role because I hated the idea of not having him on my team.

My Chair Only Has 3 Legs
But today, I oddly still am struggling to wrap my head around why I’m still feeling gloomy about Mark leaving. I’m thrilled for his new opportunity, but I didn’t expect to be so bummed after having prepared myself for that possibility and I was wrong. It still sucks.

Mark’s efforts and impact are always missed by countless teams, most especially our own as our  DNA was made up of not just any four people, but our specific goofy, talented & family of four.

Any time one of the four was missing, our chair only had 3 legs.

It’s also possible I’m struggling to wrap my head around my first actual direct report leaving as a manager within weeks of another team losing the first person I ever hired as a manager.

Sadface x2.

Call me a dork for being overly sentimental, but I don’t think it’s a bad thing when you’re dealing with years of people’s careers & lives.

The worst thing a company, however, could ever do is let these situations come and go without learning or improving as a result. I’m trying to channel my energy into documenting my thoughts through blogs like this and hope I can refer back to them with a clear head and capture again how critically important it is we always make people our absolute, unequivocal priority.

Yet, today we all know going into the corporate world that:

People love companies. Companies love money. But everyone seems to so easily forget that the money is only as good and plentiful as the people you retain.

Leaving A Legacy of Awesome

End of the day, I hope both of these amazing guys know how exceptionally talented they are and how blessed I feel to have worked alongside them for the last few years.

And today they leave a legacy of unprecedented talent, proving what young visionaries are capable of and setting the bar at a place it will be damn near impossible for all others to reach in the future.

And thus, the below Forbes post caught my eye tonight as it listed the many reasons your top talent is leaving… which also reflected why our mothership said goodbye to a couple of rockstars.

Here’s to a new year filled with exciting challenges, open opportunities to shine their brightest and for a long road ahead in their careers filled with endless possibilities. They certainly are worthy.

Top Ten Reasons Why Large Companies Fail To Keep Their Best Talent

Whether it’s a high-profile tech company like Yahoo!, or a more established conglomerate like GE or Home Depot, large companies have a hard time keeping their best and brightest in house. Recently, GigaOM discussed the troubles at Yahoo! with a flat stock price, vested options for some of their best people, and the apparent free flow of VC dollars luring away some of their best people to do the start-up thing again.

Yet, Yahoo!, GE, Home Depot, and other large established companies have a tremendous advantage in retaining their top talent and don’t. I’ve seen the good and the bad things that large companies do in relation to talent management. Here’s my Top Ten list of what large companies do to lose their top talent :


1. Big Company Bureaucracy. This is probably the #1 reason we hear after the fact from disenchanted employees. However, it’s usually a reason that masks the real reason. No one likes rules that make no sense. But, when top talent is complaining along these lines, it’s usually a sign that they didn’t feel as if they had a say in these rules. They were simply told to follow along and get with the program. No voice in the process and really talented people say “check please.”

2. Failing to Find a Project for the Talent that Ignites Their Passion. Big companies have many moving parts — by definition. Therefore, they usually don’t have people going around to their best and brightest asking them if they’re enjoying their current projects or if they want to work on something new that they’re really interested in which would help the company. HR people are usually too busy keeping up with other things to get into this. The bosses are also usually tapped out on time and this becomes a “nice to have” rather than “must have” conversation. However, unless you see it as a “must have,” say adios to some of your best people. Top talent isn’t driven by money and power, but by the opportunity to be a part of something huge, that will change the world, and for which they are really passionate. Big companies usually never spend the time to figure this out with those people.  

3. Poor Annual Performance Reviews. You would be amazed at how many companies do not do a very effective job at annual performance reviews. Or, if they have them, they are rushed through, with a form quickly filled out and sent off to HR, and back to real work. The impression this leaves with the employee is that my boss — and, therefore, the company — isn’t really interested in my long-term future here. If you’re talented enough, why stay? This one leads into #4….  

4. No Discussion around Career Development. Here’s a secret for most bosses: most employees don’t know what they’ll be doing in 5 years. In our experience, about less than 5% of people could tell you if you asked. However, everyone wants to have a discussion with you about their future. Most bosses never engage with their employees about where they want to go in their careers — even the top talent. This represents a huge opportunity for you and your organization if you do bring it up. Our best clients have separate annual discussions with their employees — apart from their annual or bi-annual performance review meetings — to discuss succession planning or career development. If your best people know that you think there’s a path for them going forward, they’ll be more likely to hang around.  

5. Shifting Whims/Strategic Priorities. I applaud companies trying to build an incubator or “brickhouse” around their talent, by giving them new exciting projects to work on. The challenge for most organizations is not setting up a strategic priority, like establishing an incubator, but sticking with it a year or two from now. Top talent hates to be “jerked around.” If you commit to a project that they will be heading up, you’ve got to give them enough opportunity to deliver what they’ve promised.



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