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How Companies Identify Fantastic Talent with Katy Goshtasbi & Kage Spatz

HR Strategy Series, Real Human Resources

Puris Consulting Human Resources Hiring Strategies

We all need to love ourselves more and feel wanted in this world. In this way, we could be kinder to others and bring more peace to the world.

Asa part of my HR Strategy Series, I’m talking to top experts in the field to teach prospects what hiring managers are actually looking for, while also supporting business leaders in their hiring and retention strategies. Today I had the pleasure of talking with Katy Goshtasbi.

Katy Goshtasbi is an accomplished securities lawyer, author, keynote speaker, immediate past-chair of the American Bar Association (ABA) Law Practice Division and spent time as an attorney at the US Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC). Katy has held numerous board positions including those on the National Association of Women of Color In the Law, Iranian American Bar Association, National Association of Women Business Owners, San Diego, Dress for Success, and Group Legal Services Association. Katy is currently setting up Josie’s Place, a non-profit devoted to senior citizens, senior dogs, and aged-out foster youth.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! First, please tell us what brought you to this specific career path?

As an immigrant, I became a lawyer to save the world. I had a powerful and amazing career as a securities lawyer for many, many years. Then one day when I was in-house investment counsel at a major company, it happened. I had spent 15 hours on that Wednesday drafting a very small piece of a fund prospectus. I went home at 9 pm and opened my own mailbox. It happened that my own prospectus was in the mailbox. I threw it away reflexively because no one reads that stuff. That was the day I knew I was no longer living my purpose as a human.

I quit practicing law cold-turkey. This was two years before the recession. No one was recreating themselves at that time. Everyone thought I was nuts. I thought I was nuts. I just couldn’t keep practicing law. The stress and lack of fulfillment was going to kill me. Thus, I worked with an ex-Harvard trained litigator (more lawyers!) who was teaching natural talent. I discovered I had a natural talent. I turned my natural talent into a global consulting company through many iterations. As a behavior expert, my role is to guide employees in knowing who they are so they can bring their “whole” employee to work daily and increase retention, productivity, job satisfaction, health, and happiness. Thus, revenues grow.

Can you share the most interesting or funny story that happened to you since you started this career and what lesson you learned from that?

So many stories! Where to go….

When I practiced securities law, I was like every other employee in corporate America. I never really understood or appreciated the power of my presence, vision or values and purpose.

Once I switched careers, I realized how important and powerful my purpose was and WHO I was. It took me a long time before I started being comfortable speaking out loud my purpose and values. Doing so, made people around me stop and take notice. Then I realized if I asked for support and business, it would be a natural progression of events because I was sincere and trustworthy.

My big lesson: speak up, speak my truth, be authentic and don’t be afraid to ask for support.

Wonderful. Can you share 5 techniques that you use to identify the talent that would be best suited for the job you want to fill?

1. Life outlook: How excited is the person about life? Do they have a general positive outlook on life or not? I generally figure this out by asking them about their previous employer. The way they choose to paint their previous employer tells me much about how they view others. I also ask them what they would do if they won the lottery. I can read through canned answers and see if they would really be motivated to quit their job or not. I know if I won the lottery tomorrow, I would keep doing my work. My work is my purpose in life.

2. How well does the person communicate? Are they passive or open to being brave and communicating with directness, yet kindness? I give them a scenario where they have to give direct feedback TO their supervisor. I watch for the words they use. I also send them to one of my staff to ask for “something” I tell them we need during our interview (a pen, paper, etc). How passive are they when they make the ask? What’s their presence like?

3. Are they open to learning? There are some positions that require specific qualifications (lawyer, doctor, etc). However, in most other positions, anyone can be trained if they are open and willing. I ask them about their hobbies and activities. Tells me so much about their eagerness in life to grow and learn.

4. How do they treat others? I take them out to lunch and watch how they interact with those who are serving us. I’ve discovered they can’t fake this very well.

5. Do they know who they are/their life purpose? This is directly tied to their ability to do their job. If they are not motivated b/c their job is not part of their purpose, they will not be able to execute daily. I ask them to tell me “their story”. If they don’t start going back to their childhood and, instead jump into their work story, then I redirect by asking them to tell me why they decided to pursue this career.

If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

I love movements! I believe we all need to love ourselves more and feel wanted in this world. In this way, we could be kinder to others and bring more peace to the world. What a movement that is!!

I’m starting a nonprofit, Josie’s House, to allow three segments of society that are traditionally “unwanted” to come together and be supported/give support: elderly, old dogs, and aged-out foster kids. Age does not define us. What does it say about society that we choose to ignore three segments of society due to age? My goal is to grow a movement where we have more compassion for these three segments and thus, for ourselves.

That really is wonderful. There is definitely a need for support there. Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote” and how that was relevant to you in your life?

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our Light, not our Darkness, that most frightens us. -Marianne Williamson

I’ve been called a pioneer, a black sheep, and even a rebel. It took me a while to own these amazing labels. Starting and creating this business based on what I saw was missing in corporate America, and the needs of employees as humans, was a risk. I was scared. Later, I realized I wasn’t scared of failing. I was scared of being successful and having to live up to that success and having to have eyes on me and being then responsible for being a role model to others. Whenever I’m in fear, I’m in fear of my own greatness.

Powerful. Thank you so much for these fantastic insights!

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