We’ve all heard the phrase from Scripture “there is nothing new under the sun…” 

As The Grant Partners grows, we are constantly reminded of this wise but simple fact. That is why we are intentional every month to come together and learn from professionals who have walked a similar path and trying to learn from their successes and failures. As we discussed last month, these huddles are a great way for us to take stock of where we are and focus on where we want to go as an organization.  

Recently, we had the pleasure of sitting with Glen Jackson, the co-founder of Jackson Spalding, one of the country’s leading marketing communications agencies. Glen is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to creating a preeminent organization (we encourage you to listen to his two-part interview with Andy Stanley). 

Glen is a living example of one of the greatest lessons in effective communications ever told, the triptych from Aristotle. It’s very simple:

  1. Tell them what you’re going to say
  2. Say it
  3. Tell them what you said 

That could be a great synopsis of Glen’s career. Glen wrote down what he wanted to do, then he did it and now he’s graciously sharing with others what he did. I know we’ve hit King Solomon, Aristotle and Glen Jackson and we’re supposed to be talking about a 60-minute lunch conversation, but I promise this will all make sense once you hear what Glen had to share.

Write it down …

Glen and Bo Spalding were leaders at the Atlanta office of a national public relations agency. While working hard to serve clients locally, they grew frustrated at the distance between the decision-makers, many of whom were scattered across the country, and those impacted by their decisions, namely the clients and employees in Atlanta. 

In a phrase that ultimately would become the bedrock of Jackson Spalding, the two believed there was a “better way” to run a business, so they decided to make a bet on themselves and build their own independent agency. Before they opened their doors, they made one vital decision that has been the key to their success — they spent hours crafting their vision and values before they took the leap. Each word carefully thought out and intentionally chosen, those vision and values have remained the same since their founding in 1995.


Live it out …

Once Glen and Bo put their vision and values on paper, they put them into practice. As Glen shared with us, excellence takes time and persistence. What started as an eight-person shop is now nearly 150 people spread out across four offices in Atlanta, Athens, Dallas and Los Angeles. A common byproduct of growth is an erosion of culture, which is why Jackson Spalding can sum up their hiring approach in what they call the 5Cs – Character, Class, Confidence, Competence and Chemistry. But hiring is only one piece of building a preeminent organization, which is why Glen has worked hard to model small traits that can have a big impact. These include:

  • DTUs – Do The Unexpected to deepen relationships inside and outside the organization. Handwritten notes, flowers or a thoughtful book can create ties that bind.
  • R&B Music – Networking is transactional, but relationship building is transformational. Glen preaches to his team about being narrow and deep, building genuine relationships that yield great returns.
  • Ships that help organizations sail – Leadership, Mentorship, Stewardship, Entrepreneurship and many other “ships” are important to build a healthy organization that lasts.


Tell others about it …

The organization that Glen and Bo built has become one of the best agencies in America. Their client list is a who’s who of great brands. Glen could have taken the wisdom built throughout the agency’s 27 years and rode off into retirement, but instead he has made the decision to pass the learnings along to anyone who will listen. He wrote a book, called Preeminence, which summarizes many of the lessons he has learned throughout his career. Glen also spends much of his week mentoring young leaders and speaking to organizations about what it takes to build a preeminent organization. 

So maybe Aristotle had it right. Sometimes the most profound things are profoundly simple. 

Glen, and his Jackson Spalding team, have walked the path that we are on at The Grant Partners, and his willingness to share lessons along the way are so important to growing organizations like ours. Here at The Grant Partners, we are following in Bo and Glen’s footsteps in many ways. Our values are prominently displayed and guide us as an organization. We work hard to live them out every day as we serve our clients as they grow their organizations. Finally, we are always looking for ways to give back to those who can learn from our successes and failures as they march down that long and arduous path to preeminence, following in the footsteps of people like King Solomon, Aristotle and Glen Jackson. 

The Grant Partners Make it Better Together

A few years ago, the New York Times wrote a story on one of the most ubiquitous elements in football that was disappearing in front of our eyes – the huddle. For many, this is just a natural byproduct of an evolving game. It just removes an element that slowed the game down, which means less plays and less opportunities to score.

Many will argue whether this is a good or bad thing on the football field, but in growing organizations, the huddle is invaluable. As teams grow and expand, it is natural to feel like movement is progress and stopping, just for a moment, can bring that momentum to a halt. Unfortunately, that constant motion can be what causes breakdowns in communications and stifles a healthy culture.

Here at The Grant Partners, one of our core values is “Make it Better Together.” It’s hard to get better together if we don’t intentionally stop what we are doing and actually come together as a group. So, in 2023, we are committing to doing that every month and leaning into that core value.

At our first Huddle of the year, we were honored to be joined by David Hoyt, from The Table Group. The Table Group was founded by best-selling author and pioneer of the organizational health movement Patrick Lencioni. Patrick, David and their team are driven to make organizational health a reality in companies and organizations everywhere. Their fundamental principle, which we often share with our clients, is that a healthy organization achieves greater results, builds a more loyal customer base, and develops fulfilled employees.

The exercises and applications David walked us through facilitated candid and honest conversations. As a team, we all left knowing each other better and with set goals to hold each other accountable and make our team a shared success.

A quote often shared by Lencioni is, “If you could get all the people in an organization rowing in the same direction, you could dominate any industry, in any market, against any competition, any time.” Never has this been more evident than in the 1936 Olympics. Chronicled in the book The Boys in the Boat, the 1936 U.S. Olympic Rowing team shocked the world by winning the gold medal despite unfathomable odds. One of the more enduring images of that team is of the eight shabbily-dressed athletes huddling with their coach prior to the final race. That moment of coming together before separating to do their individual jobs led to one of the greatest athletic triumphs in Olympic history.

While we may not win gold medals or have books and movies written about us, we believe, like those boys on the boat, that taking a moment to stop and come together make us a better team and allow us to serve our clients more effectively.

Make it Better Together.

If your perception of executive search is simply culling through resumes and scouring LinkedIn, then you’ve got the wrong idea of who we are. At the Grant Partners, we see ourselves as your dedicated, loyal partner in the ongoing war on talent.

And if we’re going to win, that means we need the best strategy, the best tools and the best approach possible. That’s why we take a unique and effective approach to executive search that helps you attract the very best talent.

See, we believe there is an art and a science behind search. Here’s how we tackle it.

Understanding the science

Unlike, say, complex chemistry, the science of search is fairly easy to understand. It’s the process that we use to identify talent for our clients. We are process and timeline-driven, and we rely on metrics and assessments to give us the best information possible to inform our decisions.

We’re targeting candidates to interview based on their competency, and we’re leveraging the various assessments of them to better understand their motivations, their goals and how they’d fit within the culture of our clients.

Embracing the art

Where we feel we make a difference is the experience we deliver to our clients. We do this by putting an emphasis on the importance of relationships and service. We bring the elements of hospitality, empathy and care to our search efforts. We believe it’s our responsibility to be visionary storytellers for our client, painting a picture of the opportunity they want to share, rather than simply checking off boxes.

And we also have a desire to build relationships and serve the candidates we engage with. They are placing their faith and trust in us, contemplating a significant career move, and that’s why we provide such a high-touch, high-feel level of service throughout the acquisition process.

Becoming a partner

We want to be viewed as an extension of our client’s team, a trusted advisor who seeks to drive results and provide the counsel and guidance that can strengthen their brand. Our hospitality-focused approach to search is simply one example of that, as we strive to help our clients think through the entire talent wheel, from talent acquisition to employee engagement strategies.

One of our values is to deliver “wow” through our service, and by embracing the art and science that power our approach to executive search we’re able to ensure our clients wins the war on talent.

At every intersection, there’s a choice.

Which direction are you going to go? Is it down the tried-and-true, familiar path? Or are you interested in embarking on a new adventure by opting for a road not yet taken?

At The Grant Partners, we strive to help you find a way to better understand — and navigate — that intersection.

As a trusted advisor to leading private equity owned companies, Fortune 500 organizations and professional sports teams, we have the privilege to help candidates reach that intersection where talent and skill meets one’s passion and purpose. Choosing your path from there will enable you to embark on a professional journey that not only makes the best use of your abilities, but also empowers you to live a more fulfilling and purposeful life.

What do we mean

Let’s keep this simple. How do we define talent and skill? They are those natural abilities and acquired competencies that enable you to do your job and do it well.

How about passion and purpose? This is the motivation and desire inherent in you. It’s your answer to “why” — why do you do what you do, why do you find joy in your role.

Two potentially contradictory traits, right?

This is why we believe it’s so important to truly understand this intersection because just relying on one of those traits — passion and purpose or talent and skill — could lead to a path where you may not take advantage of all you have to offer. For instance, let’s say you thrive in communications and take a job in an industry that doesn’t interest you. You might be able to do all the necessary tasks, but you also could prove to be unsatisfied with what you’re doing.

Likewise, if you lean too hard into a passion that exceeds your own personal talents, you could set yourself up for failure. You may enjoy painting on the weekend, but that doesn’t mean you should open up your own art gallery.

Our approach

Finding that balance, the sweet spot, is integral to our approach to executive search. As a trusted advisor, we partner with our clients to understand everything about them. Yes, we help identify talent needs, but we also want to know what makes your culture. What drives people to be a part of your organization and keeps them engaged.

This enables us to seek out and build relationships with candidates who not only have the competency you need but will thrive in the environment and culture you’ve worked so hard to build.

We do this by embracing assessments. We’ve partnered with one of the leading assessment firms in the country to better identify the strengths of an individual, making use of these tools and resources to get a better, more intimate understanding of each candidate we work with.

We also employ a service-oriented model to our search, cultivating meaningful relationships with candidates allowing us to better understand their hopes, goals and passions.

This enables us to better know those gifts inside of you and the competencies you’ve honed over years of education and work, but it also allows us to identify your passion and align it with your talents.

It enables us to help you navigate that intersection.

When you reach it, what choice will you make?