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Hi Friends,

 It was February of 2004, and I was back in Buenos Aires.  
This was my fourth visit in the last six months. 

We acquired Eduardo’s business through an earnout two years ago. 
I was there to thank him for a successful transition with his team and a strong financial performance. 
He wanted my assurance that he would get his cash and stock compensation as we documented in the sale agreement. And I assured him of that, gave him my word, shook his hand, and as customary in Argentina gave him a kiss on both cheeks and wished him well. 
As Eduardo gathered his personal items and addressed his team one last time, Sabastian looked at me and made a motion to the conference room. After I publicly thanked Eduardo, I met Sebastian. 
Sebastian’s English was not nearly as good as Eduardo’s and my Spanish was like a sixth grader. 
And we conversed, slowly, making sure each of us understood the other. 
I got to know Sebastian during the last two years. He is brutally honest, a hard worker, a great strategizer, and family man, and a big Boca Juniors fan (Argentine Football). 
We talked about the last six months of performance and created a plan for the next three. 
As an impatient CEO and an American who wants things done yesterday, my plan was much more aggressive than Sebastian’s. 
And in Sebastian’s not-so-perfect English, he said “Slower, lento por favor”. 
I said, “porque “(why)?  
“Marcos, mi amigo, paso a paso.  Mira mi pies (look at my feet)”. He started walking. Then he continued, “One in front of the other o paso a paso”. 
I use that saying to this day. 
And earlier this week, in a meeting with Justine I shared the saying. 
Justine has been a business owner in the recruiting business for six months. And she is a New Yorker with a big personality and talks fast. Justine expects a lot out of herself, including results. 
As a matter of fact, I lived in Livingston, NJ, a thirty-minute commute into The City. My family moved after I completed ninth grade at Mount Pleasant Junior High School. Also, my extended family lived in Brooklyn. So, it’s like old times for me when I meet Justine. 
Justine was not happy with the performance of her candidate’s interviews. 
So, I asked her, “What are you doing to help them prepare?”  
Justine said, “Mark, I don’t believe in that. They need to show who they really are.” 
Ok, “Are you or your clients happy that it takes four first interviews to get a candidate to round two?” 
And then she blushed and just stared at me and did not say a word.   
So, I asked if we should build a process to address this. 

“Mark, not too much as I don’t want them to be over-prepared.” 
“Ok, Justine, no problem.” 
So, we created what I would call a light version of my winning the placement process which I used when I placed plant and corporate leadership. 
Justine was confident that she was prepared to coach her candidates. 
Fast forward to next week’s meeting and no changes in the results, still four first interviews for one advancement. 
And the week after, the same thing. 
This time in our meeting, she asked “Mark, I am doing what we discussed but feel like I am doing something wrong. What else can we do?” 
“Justine, we created a process that was good but not great. We need add more elements and sharpen what we have”. 
“Mark, why did we not do this a few weeks ago?”  
I reminded her of the conversation a few weeks ago, and said, in the famous words of Sebastian, “Paso a paso”.  
She looked at me and I could see that even translating, she did not quite capture what I was delivering so I made it more personal. 
One of Justine’s passions was long-distance running.  She usually ran twenty to thirty miles a week depending on the weather conditions. 
So, I asked, “Could I run a marathon with you when I visit in two weeks?” Running is not my thing. Spin, strength, or hand me a yard tool and I am on it. And she knew that about me.   
And she looked at me like I lost my mind and asked, “What have you done to get ready to do this?” 
I smiled and said, “Nothing”.  
And she said, “Nothing? Why do you think that you can accomplish this goal without training?” 
I said, “Justine, that’s my point on the candidate preparation. We prepared for half of the marathon.” 
That’s when we added the rest of the pieces to her process.  
We can’t train to run a marathon in one day or one week.  
And in our businesses, we can’t learn and become masters of all the techniques in one day or one week.  
Both take practice and persistence. Paso a paso mis amigos. 

Thanks for reading.

Dedicated to your success,


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