Rainmakers: featuring business development's elite

Interview with Jeremy King, President & Founder of Benchmark Executive Search

October 31, 2020 Carl Grant III Season 1 Episode 9
Rainmakers: featuring business development's elite
Interview with Jeremy King, President & Founder of Benchmark Executive Search
Chapters
Rainmakers: featuring business development's elite
Interview with Jeremy King, President & Founder of Benchmark Executive Search
Oct 31, 2020 Season 1 Episode 9
Carl Grant III

Jeremy King explains how we should think of every relationship like a personal bank account where we should have a balance by leaving a deposit of kindness.

Host - Carl Grant
Producer - Seth Grant

Show Notes Transcript

Jeremy King explains how we should think of every relationship like a personal bank account where we should have a balance by leaving a deposit of kindness.

Host - Carl Grant
Producer - Seth Grant

Carl Grant:

Welcome to rainmakers. This is a podcast about business development we're going to be featuring featuring the very best in business development in a wide variety of industries. So we can hear about how various professionals do what they do, we're only going to focus on the very best at what they do. And today, we're focusing on Jeremy King. He's President and Founder of Benchmark Executive Search. Jeremy, welcome. Thank you for joining us today. Carl, thanks for having me. So Jeremy, when when we first got to know each other, you reached out to me, I don't know if you remember this, you were living in Austin, Texas at the time. And you reached out to me, and you said, I'm going to be moving to Northern Virginia. And, and he said, the fact that I'm gonna, I'm gonna make my mark, and I just want you to be on my want me to be on your radar. It was, it was kind of a cocky statement, like, Who is this guy? And you did exactly what you said you were gonna do. You came to North Virginia, and you pretty much owned your sector of the search market at the time? How did you have the confidence to call me and say that and then do what you did?

Jeremy King:

Yeah, I certainly did remember that. I think past successes, it was. So I was living in Texas doing executive search in 2000. And I wanted to go after a bigger market. And my boss said, Hey, we don't really do anything in Silicon Valley. Like, well, I'm your guy, you know, let me go crack it. And, you know, established, got a six, five, our code, cell phone, did a press release, and we're opening, opening business here, and just start a cold calling, mostly through the venture community. You know, Hey, who are the best people in town, who are the best founders, best CEOs, best service providers, and I cracked that market and did searches for a lot of the big venture capitalists and CEOs. And one of them was Sean Parker, you know, who's now Facebook, Sean Parker. And so when 911 hit, I just personally affected me and I kind of got mad, I'm like, I'm really not doing anything for the mission. And so I flipped flopped, and said, I want to do want to represent companies in Northern Virginia, and did the same thing. Press Release 73 area code, and started networking. And I was trying to think I think it was arnelle fliesen, actually a tower club when I joined there. And I said, Who do I need to get to know who are the top five people in town? And she said, Carl Grant. So there you go.

Carl Grant:

Interesting. So you got the seven a three area code, you know, I'm in, I'm in Austin, Texas now. And, and I have a 512 area code. But I didn't have to go get a new phone to do that. I got a Google Google Voice number, and it forwards to my phone. So if I move again, I can just switch it again. Anyways, I don't know that Google voice was around when you when you did it back then. But as I've as I've watched you over the years, you've pivoted several times when when the tech boom was was going strong, you were hot and heavy in the tech space. And and I want to hear more about how you managed to network without actually meeting the people because you know, we're at the tail end of the COVID shutdown right now. And it may be long gone by the time this thing airs, who knows. But, you know, we're all being forced to meet people without meeting people, you know, and you were able to pick up the phone and call people without even you know, you're 1000 miles away or more. And you were able to build a network without physically meeting or even seeing these people. How does that work? And then I want to talk to you about your pivots.

Jeremy King:

So I think it starts with aggressiveness, knowing what your goals are, who you have to meet and getting after it. I mean, so cold calls are only part of it. I don't think you can establish the rapport the relationships without meeting people in person. So really, just getting your foot in the door is a cold call, you know, hey, here's the value I provide. I've never really sell. It's, hey, here's what I do. You know, what, what problems are you trying to solve? What executives are you looking for? And then you get on a plane. And if you don't live in that city, and you show up and get to know people, and then you follow up. And so I'm constantly following up with people, just because I'm curious about people. I love connecting them to each other. And you still have to do that in person these days with COVID. Like you said, I think zoom is good for staying in touch with people you already know, clients candidates, but it's really difficult to establish a relationship. Just through zoom just seems it's better than a phone call, but certainly not good as face to face.

Carl Grant:

Yeah. So I've been struggling with that. Because, you know, we've been locked up for six months now. And for the most part, I mean, I'm out and about if people want to meet, but what I have done is if I'm meeting somebody for the first time Jeremy, I'll do a zoom video meeting with them. Because I'm kind of zoomed out, I can only spend so much time on zoom, you can't check your emails, you can't even look at your phone, because people will see what you're doing. And, and so if I already know somebody, I'll just do a phone call with them. Or you know if I can handle it by email handle by email, but I found I've gotten to know some people by zoom pretty well. It's not the same, like I'm going to lunch with the venture capitalist today. And he's taking me out on his boat because he's been working from his boat. That's gonna be a cool experience. Like, you know, I've never been taken to lunch on a boat.

Jeremy King:

Well, theres social distancing at its best, right?

Carl Grant:

Yeah. I think I've already had this thing back in January, to be honest with you. yeah. I'm not too worried about it. But But I respect others. If they're worried about it, I, you know, where am I masking, stay six feet apart or do whatever, whatever makes people comfortable, right. But but the zoom thing has been working pretty well. But But yeah, you and I both have had, you know, 20 plus years of meeting people in person. And we've got an established network, I imagine this is pretty hard for somebody who's just locked up and can't even get a zoom meeting with somebody. And they're not as bold as you. But anyways, let's go and talk about your pivots. Because when the tech tech bubble burst, what was the early 2000s? You, you totally pivoted, and moved into Gov Con, and Cybersecurity and totally reinvented yourself, talk about how you did that.

Jeremy King:

I think you follow the money. Where's the market, where's the opportunity? The first seven, eight years of my career, it was all commercial, venture capital back commercial startups. And wherever the VCs were putting their money at the time, we were experts at, you know, so from basically seeing the whole stack being built. And then yeah, when the crash, it really coincided with 911, we just kind of re evaluated and said, Hey, I want to serve the mission. I think the D O D IT budget alone that year was four times the amount of all venture capital deployed that year. It was, and so you follow the money. And it's not just government contractors who are getting some of that money. It's a lot of hot tech companies with real capabilities. And so we were kind of at that intersection of national security and cyber security.

Carl Grant:

Mm hmm. And you also have founded and served as a board member of mission link and America's warrior partnership, and, and, you know, done some meaningful nonprofit type stuff out, but tell me what kind of role those nonprofits play in in your business development?

Jeremy King:

Well, it's still about being around good people, and good people that want to do good things usually kind of clumped together. And so mission link was a great example. It was never started. With business development in mind, it was started as a winner, wouldn't it be cool if there was a room of buyers and sellers, in this case, government officials, and startups that have had a real product or service, and you're very selective, and you put the room together, and you get out of the way, and you kind of let magic happen. And so, you know, that's established my network as much as executive search as just being in the right rooms at the right time. Whether, you know, I helped co found it, or it was an event that I got my way into, again, it's, it's all about people, and when you can kind of be where they are. And on the charity side, it's about helping people. And it's really give give more than you get. I mean, I think that's kind of something that sums me up. Everything I do is what can I do to help, you know, not what's in it for me.

Carl Grant:

Yeah, and that seems to be a common theme from my guests is giving more than you get. And, and I've had the same experience with a nonprofit organization I've formed with, with others, it wasn't myself, the high tech prayer breakfast 19, 19 plus years ago, and that certainly wasn't done for business development purposes. That was a, you know, that was a mission that I was given. And, and I did it for the right reasons. But what's happened is out of that, you know, you get 820 people come into an event every year, and you get table host hosting tables, and you get to know these people, and you get to know the people who are planning it and and you get to know them on a level beyond like, you know, what leads can we share and and what, you know, what companies are you chasing or whatever, you know, it's it's, you know, when you pray for my, my son, he's sick he's, he's, you know, in the hospital, you really get to know people on a very personal deep level and, and real relationships form. And then it's natural that you just want to work with these people when when there's business to be done because you know them you know, what makes them tick. Is that the same type of experience you've had with these types of organizations and the her foundation maybe you talk about that a little bit.

Jeremy King:

Yeah, and I've been to many your prayer, breakfast and They're wonderful, just because it's important. And I think what it does is it strips off. Everyone's so focused on business business, let's get the deal. You go, right, you know, cut to the chase. Well, people are people, they have a lot of other interests. And that's where bonds are formed. It's not really on the business side, it's, it's playing golf, it's talking about each other's kids. It's in a prayer breakfast, it's helping veterans in a nonprofit event. You know, the, her foundation is a pregnancy disease my wife had. And so we were the ones who said, Well, we don't want any other woman to have to suffer through this again, since there was no cause or cure, and establish the largest one on Earth. So it's things like that, that gives us personal satisfaction. And, you know, all the collective wisdom and knowledge that we get to learn from all these amazing executives that we get to meet, I try to pass that on to the next generation, whether it's senior officials coming out of government, or The Boy Scouts every year, asked me to put together a speaker series for their honors scouts in an Eagle Scouts. And I'm in the room just with a pen and paper listening with just like these kids are this just great leadership, strategies and experiences. So I think you have to be a lifelong learner. You have to just be curious about people. And you have to be interested in them because you care, not just because it's a strategy. It's you genuinely care about people.

Carl Grant:

And so when you started out, you went to Florida State University, you studied political science. How did you? How did you go from political science to executive search, and we have a lot of students that listen to this podcast. And I always like to ask the question, how, how do you, you know, go from studying something that's seems unrelated to what you're doing to becoming very good at what you do an executive search? were the first steps that you took, and how did you know that you wanted to do this?

Jeremy King:

Well, nobody grows up saying they want to be a headhunter. I don't think you you kind of fall into it in during your path. But Florida State, I thought I wanted to go into politics and change the world until I interviewed on the hill. And it was, you know, the Assistant to the assistant legislative aide. And I said, You know what, I'd rather make my name and business maybe one day, find other ways to give back. And just through kind of luck and chance I met someone and started a fundraising company. And that led me to Errol's internet, if you remember them, when AOL and prodigy came out. And that led me to kind of running all their indirect channel sales. So that was like 1994. So that's stating these um, but I've seen how technology changes things. And through kind of a project I did for, for my mentor, involves the government and in a big country around the world, and they needed to thread the needle and I somehow was selected for this task. And I call called my way through and, and I took it to a headhunter, friend of mine, who I kept pestering for a year said, I want to do what you do. He said, You're too young, build your network. And I finally went back to them told the story and proved it to him. And he goes, you're kidding. So now look, here, here it is. He's like, Alright, you start Monday. And so that's how I got into it. That's not a path. I don't think anyone else will follow. But it's something I thought I would be good at. And once I got into it, I really loved it. And I had a passion for it. And that's what I would recommend to anyone is you have to try multiple things. You may not love the first thing you try. It may not be what you majored in. Because what what matter, really, it's the results, and you're not going to have good results unless you enjoy doing it.

Carl Grant:

Again, I got one last question for you, Jeremy. And this is somebody who the very first job I had was a cold calling job. It took this job or I had to call mainly senior citizens and try to get them to take take credit cards or whatever we were trying to get them to say. And it was miserable. I hated it. I hated calling people on the phone that didn't want to talk to me. But you seem to to be able to do this. What advice do you have for somebody who you know, is terrified of picking up the phone and calling somebody they don't know? What do you say to them? And how do you get the other person to want to talk to you?

Jeremy King:

Yeah, good question, Carl. Cold Calling is not for everybody. My dad was a truck broker. And at like 13 or 14, when my voice changed, she put me on the phones. And I started cold calling and I kind of liked it. And you know, maybe one out of 50 did you get results, but I like the challenge of it. So you're right. Most people don't like doing it. And they probably shouldn't go into sales or business development. Because you have to actually welcome the rejection because you know, it's just around the corner, but cold calling so you know, it's still getting to know people and whatever you do in life in your career, you still are gonna have to pick up the phone and advocate for yourself. So it may not be what you do as a profession. But you you can't, you know, hide behind the phone at some point, you're just gonna have to talk to people and get to know people. And a lot of them you won't know.

Carl Grant:

Jeremy, you mentioned that you had a couple of anecdotes that you wanted to share with our listeners today. And I was wondering if you'd be willing to just go ahead and share those with us?

Jeremy King:

Sure, yes. So following up on on the theme of give more than you get, the way I see this is, let's say for every hundred people I meet, maybe only five need what I'm offering are selling executive search services. And let's say I get two or three of those as clients. I think a lot of people would say great, a couple new clients, couple new searches, let's go. Well, that's that's how I look at it. But I also look at it as I'm also leaving 95 relationships on the table that I could do something for, or add value to or introduce to people. So that I think has served me well, because I really do want to help and then that comes back down the road. The other is something that my mentor taught me years and years ago. He said, think of everyone you meet as like a personal bank account. So you have a balance with everyone you meet, no matter who it is personal work. And every time you do something nice for someone, you take your time to do a favor or you do an introduction, whatever it is you're adding to that credit balance. And he said, everyone in life you meet you will ultimately want to credit balance with and I always thought that was a neat way to look at it.

Carl Grant:

That's a great parting thought, Jeremy. Thank you so much for joining us on Rainmakers, Jeremy King, Founder and President of Benchmark Executive Search.