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Barry ShulmanBarry Shulman is a seasoned talent advisor, executive search expert, Predictive Index master, and the Founder of Shulman Associates Talent Advisory with over three decades of extensive experience. He began his career in advertising on Madison Avenue before founding his own management consulting firm in Silicon Valley during the early ’90s. Barry has witnessed the ebb and flow of the tech industry and brings a wealth of knowledge in optimizing business talent. He specializes in providing insightful assessments that aid companies in recruiting, retaining, and managing staff. Barry’s approach is grounded in data analytics and psychology, offering clients transformative solutions for workforce challenges.

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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • [2:42] Barry Shulman shares his journey from being a kid growing up in an entrepreneurial atmosphere to becoming a talent optimization expert
  • [4:14] Barry’s early business ventures and entrepreneurial mindset
  • [9:34] How Barry broke into the corporate communications executive search field
  • [13:49] The pivotal moment when Barry decided to move west and establish his business in Silicon Valley
  • [19:07] The impact of the dot-com bust on business and the resilience needed to rebuild
  • [23:31] A revolutionary talent assessment tool that changed the talent management game
  • [27:14] How businesses can avoid the pitfalls and guesswork in hiring and team building
  • [30:18] The rewarding experience of seeing companies thrive through improved talent optimization

In this episode…

How do you transform a group of individuals into a high-performing team that drives your business forward?

According to Barry Shulman, a seasoned talent advisor with over 30 years of experience, the key lies in understanding your team members’ natural drive and cognitive behaviors. He highlights the importance of using tools like Predictive Index to match individuals’ strengths with their roles, ensuring optimal performance and job satisfaction. By aligning these drives with company goals, businesses can avoid costly hiring mistakes and enhance team cohesion, leading to sustained success.

In this episode of the Rising Entrepreneurs Podcast, host John Corcoran speaks with Barry Shulman, a seasoned talent advisor, executive search expert, Predictive Index master, and the Founder of Shulman Associates Talent Advisory, to discuss how to build winning teams. They talk about Barry’s journey from New York to Silicon Valley, his strategic pivot to management consulting, and the transformative impact of using the Predictive Index tool.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Quotable Moments:

  • “What I found…was that most people in positions of power had no idea how to structure teams or put systems in place.”
  • “The perfect resume can be a nightmare if their behavioral and cognitive drives are not in alignment with the team’s goals.”
  • “With Predictive Index, we’re literally able to figure out what’s happening within teams.”
  • “Not all business is good business, and it takes a certain degree of enlightenment to be a client.”
  • “This [Predictive Index] has really been a game changer for us, the aha moments when you talk about why people behave the way they do.”

Action Steps:

  1. Utilize Predictive Index or a similar tool to assess a candidate’s natural drive and cognitive behavior. It offers a scientific method to determine potential fits for the role and the team dynamic.
  2. Put emphasis on data and analytics in the hiring process to avoid judgment purely based on first impressions, enabling higher accuracy in selecting candidates.
  3. Regularly review team compositions and dynamics to identify areas of mismatch or conflict, fostering a more collaborative and effective workplace using informed assessments.
  4. Be open to reevaluating and restructuring team organization and roles to align more closely with the data-driven insights about your employees.
  5. Prioritize continuous learning for management and leadership on the latest tools and methodologies in talent optimization to maintain an edge in efficient management practices.

Sponsor for this episode…

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Episode Transcript

Intro  0:03

Welcome to the Rising Entrepreneurs Podcast where we feature top founders and entrepreneurs and their journey. Now let’s get started with the show.

John Corcoran  0:13

Welcome everyone. Today we are talking about how to optimize your talent. We all want to optimize everything about our business. Well, what about your talent? How do you recruit? How do you hire and how do you retain the right people for your organization? Our guest today is Barry Shulman. I’ll tell you more about him in a second. So stay tuned. All right. Welcome, everyone. I am the host of this show. And you know, if you’ve listened every week that we get to talk to smart CEOs, founders, and entrepreneurs from all kinds of different companies and you check out the archives we have some great episodes for you there. And of course, this episode is brought to you by EO San Francisco. EO San Francisco is the local chapter of Entrepreneurs Organization, which is a global peer to peer network of more than 18,000 influential business owners with 200 Some chapters in 60 plus countries. So if you are the founder, co founder owner, or controlling shareholder of a company that generates over seven figures a year in revenues, and you want to connect with other like minded successful entrepreneurs, well, then eo is the right fit for you. And the EO SF chapter was founded in 1991. Today has over 120 members in industry, ranging from marketing to agriculture, tech and professional services. To learn how it works or to come to a test drive. Come join us at And before I give an intro to our guest today, I’ll just tell you a bit about myself. So my name is John Corcoran, I’m a member of the Board of EO San Francisco. I’m a Co-founder of Rise25, which is a company that helps b2b businesses get clients referrals and strategic partnerships with done for you podcast. And our guest today is Barry Shulman. He’s a talent advisor, executive search expert and Predictive Index expert, we’ll talk about what that is, if you don’t know what that is, he has over 30 years of experience, working extensively with different executive teams serving as both retained executive search consultant and a leadership coach. He started his career on Madison Avenue in New York City. Recruiting executives later established his own management consulting firm in Silicon Valley in the early 1990s. And so he’s seen a lot of ups and downs over the years, and we’re going to talk about all of those, we’ve seen a lot of that. But I’m Barry, it’s a pleasure to be here today. And I’d love to hear about how people were as a kid, what they were like, and I know you grew up in a family with a lot of different entrepreneurs, your father was an entrepreneur, he had a lot of family members that aren’t entrepreneurs. Take us back to what that was, like, growing up with that kind of atmosphere around you.

Barry Shulman  2:42

Well, John, you know, short of the abject neuroses that I endured growing up in a family full of entrepreneurs, you know, immigrant entrepreneurs, right. So nobody had a job, like nobody worked for anybody, everyone was starting their own businesses. So, you know, my dad basically was an insurance broker. You know, he just started a brokerage, he was just selling insurance, I had an uncle who started a newspaper. You know, everybody started small and got really big, really fast, you know, and started a design business and all of a sudden had many people working for her, it was just normal for me to not see people get up and go to jobs, work, but they didn’t get a job.

John Corcoran  3:37

And so when you in high school started a company called Helping Hands where you actually had caterers who would pay you an hourly rate, and then you would recruit your friends and pay them a lower hourly rate. That probably wasn’t all that abnormal for you. For me, I can say, having interviewed, you know, well over 1000 different guests, it takes a lot of people a long time to realize that, that calculus, a lot of people will just do the work themselves for a long time before they realize oh my gosh, I can hire other people pay them in a little bit less. And then I make the difference. So you realize that at a young age.

Barry Shulman  4:14

I can’t believe I’m talking about this online on tape. This is something that I’ve not really shared with anyone for 30 years, so good on you. I mean, basically what happened was I had a part time job working for a caterer and they called me all the time and I didn’t want to work all the time. And they kind of bamboozled me to work well so at one point the light went off and said God, you know, I’m missing out on all the social time with my friends and you know, they want to make money and I have more money and I’m always loaning them money. So what about so I don’t like to say I pimped out my friends but ultimately, everyone just got together. When we went to the locater I worked for and several others and said it was some chief talent for you. So they build us a, you know, $15 an hour. And maybe they paid us a little less. And I kept a little more than 50%, about 50% and gave the other half to my friends who were thrilled. It was all cash under the table. And it was fun. We weren’t you know, we, we, we joked around and had fun in eighth grade food and, you know, I mean, sounds like a good deal to me. Yeah, it was, it was a good gig while it lasted. And at that point, it was a weekend that I have, like, 45 people out working, you know, like, over the summer, like Memorial Day and Labor.

John Corcoran  5:48

Yeah. That’s amazing. You must have gotten a reputation and your high school go to Barry, if you need a job.

Barry Shulman  5:52

Well, this was in my senior year. And yes, well, let’s leave it at that. reputations.

John Corcoran  6:02

I mean, that’s amazing that you had figured that out. Because I mean, as I said, I’ve seen so many people that take a long time to figure out that lesson. Okay, so you’re basically kind of like stepping into the talent solution space, you’re, you’re helping a company that needs talent, you’ve got the connections to that talent. So you’re, you’re placing that talent. So the next natural step, of course, from here is to start a company where you’re bronzing baby shoes. You’re gonna talk about that.

Barry Shulman  6:33

Have a listen.

John Corcoran  6:34

Explain to those who don’t know what bronze baby shoes are because I remember my grandfather having bronze baby shoes, I think they’re still at my parents house.

Barry Shulman  6:43

John, we not only bronze, but we porcelain. Silver plated, gold plated. Whatever I’ve done Dennis, Glarus, and football cleats and whatever. Basically, I’m in college, I need some extra cash. I’m looking in the New York Times. And there’s a help wanted ad by the berry company. So it caught my eye. So I called the dial on the phone. There’s no internet, obviously, we’re talking about the 80s. And he said, Yeah, he said, I’m looking for a sales rep. In Philadelphia, I was at Temple University. I said, well tell me how this works. And he said, you send me something, I bronze pewter, you know, gold, silver plated. And you sell it for whatever you want. So I had some samples made up, I set them up. And basically women’s clothing and shoe stores around Philadelphia, I paid the store, thing, four bucks for every card that was filled out with a name and the telephone number. And they call me when they have three or four. And I go and I pick them up and I make a phone call. And I ended up spending a lot of time in the living rooms of you know, young moms with screaming kids who were really willing to pay me back in those days, like 50 $75 to have their kids shoes, usually porcelain plated because they wanted to write the name or whatever. But you know, at the end of the year, I was able to buy a car and I had friends who were like walking into the IBM training program. And they were making, you know, $58,000 a year and I was doing more than that doing this. I mean, it was mindless, right. I mean, it was soul sucking. I couldn’t do it indefinitely. But yeah.

John Corcoran  8:42

Yeah. And it sounds like it was kind of like an irresistible offer when you went into these stores, because I don’t know what your arrangement was with the stores. But you’re kind of providing a service for them that allows them to serve their customers in a deeper way.

Barry Shulman  8:57

They got cash in their pockets. I mean, some stores, I would have to give them 30, 40, 50 bucks, you know, every couple of weeks because they would have that many names for me. So anyway, look, I mean, working on my own has never been an issue.

John Corcoran  9:14

Yeah. So you, you end up going. You work on Madison Avenue. And you get into, I guess more officially or formally into the talent advisory work to talk about some of the early work that you did, because that then led you to going west going to Silicon Valley in the early 90s. Right?

Barry Shulman  9:34

So in spite of or despite my falling into management consulting by accident, I was responding to an ad in the New York Times again, for an account executive position with at the time what was the country’s largest independent public relations agency? That’s called Rubenstein associates, how Rubenstein used to get names, the streets changed in New York. For anybody who was a client was a big power broker. I was working at the family newspaper at the time and decided it was not for me. And so I answered an ad and took the train up to New York, put one of my aunt and uncle’s addresses on the resume. So they didn’t know I lived in Philly. And I showed up, I got called in for an AE interview. And it sounds like an interview. But I ended up at the address that was not the agency. And I was in the MetLife building, standing there in the office of a guy who was a recruiter, and I’m like, Wait, I thought I was interviewing at Rubenstein. He said, Well, I recruited them. And within 15 minutes of the conversation, he said, I want you to work for me. And my base basically looked at him and said, Wait, what do you do? You know, I was 29 years old. So I ended up working for him. I always said that if someone’s successful, wanted me to work with them, I would do it. And my way of measuring success for him was like on the 23rd floor of the MetLife building, and he had leather furniture. And he had to be successful. Yeah. And so he had some decent clients. And I ended up recruiting people, and placing people and I really liked it. So I got into recruitment, kind of by accident. And then I went from his small sole proprietorship into what was at the time, the country’s largest public relations, corporate communications, executive search on it’s called the Goldman Group. So again, despite barging into the Goldman Group without a an appointment, trying to get an interview with the CEO, and despite asking if Mr. Goldman was there, and being told Elaine Goldman is out, and you don’t have an appointment, no, and offending people in, you know, in places that I shouldn’t have, I was hired ultimately there and spent five years learning how to walk down the long call in a corporation, I’m talking at the time, Chase Manhattan, city core, you know, these were all the initial conditions of what we now know of as I was in Dow Chemical, like, helping source candidates for crisis work, if this is right after Bo Paul, you know, and doing a lot of work for the agencies, the PR agencies, the crisis firms that supported these corporations, it was, it was, I basically got an MBA, working in this firm that was just doing all this high profile work. And the second week of work, my boss said to me, come on, we’re going shopping, I’m like, for what? She said, Well, I gotta get you some suits, and you need glasses. And I was like, the lay my eyes are like, the only perfect thing on my body. She said, You look like you’re 25 years old, I need you to look like you’re 40, it’s not gonna happen. But so you know, I just got dressed up and just learned how to do it.

John Corcoran  13:30

Yeah. And so what led you then to go west? Did you do it? Did you end up starting your company actually, in I believe, in Palo Alto and Silicon Valley, which, you know, that’s no easy thing to do when you have your network in New York to then go and start a new company on the other side of the country?

Barry Shulman  13:49

Well, that’s the beauty of being 29 years old and naive. So you know, I spent about five years in New York City. And the first couple of years in New York, I thought that everyone in the world should have to live in New York City because how else are you going to learn how to get along with people and understand compromise and such. But by the fifth year, beginning of the fifth year, I realized for me, it was a pretty unhealthy place to live and I needed to get out and I asked the CEO if she was interested in starting what would be Goldman West and she’s standing there looking at like successful but yet young, 29 year old and kind of took a pass. And so it was probably the best thing that ever happened for me because with less than 10 grand. I moved out here and rented a room. I had a couple of clients that I had already started working with from New York who were here and they gave me an assignment here or there and they introduced me and i Everyone said don’t be in San Francisco goes Silicon Valley go to Palo Alto at the time that was before San Jose, what is what it is now. And I found the tallest building in Palo Alto, which was at university and Calper. And started on the top floor, knocking on doors, looking for an office. And by the time I got down to the fifth floor, there was a there was a law firm that had an office and a very kind, office manager, Betty Schneider, I’ll never forget her, basically called me and said, Here’s an office will you can use our conference room, I’ll answer the phones for you. And it’ll cost you like $500 a month. That was February 1990.

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