Ep. 128 – Encore Search Partners President, Scott Kelley

How do you find the best people and put them in places within your company where they can give the most value and grow the most professionally? This is what Encore Search Partners helps its clients with. Encore Search is not your usual search firm. It has a unique business model that basically flips the traditional process in which the industry normally operates. The company’s President, Scott Kelley, has been a big part of the company’s success in becoming one of the fastest growing recruitment firms in the Houston area. Listen in as he shares with Cameron Herold how he juggles the numerous moving parts of an in-demand company from his seat as second-in-command. Scott also shares some important insights about preventing attrition, bringing in the right people on the right seats in the bus, getting rid of unfit people, and fostering a mutually-supportive company culture.


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Scott Kelley is President of Encore Search Partners, a specialized recruiting firm that focuses on spotlighting the absolute best professional, technical, and C-level executive talent nationwide. Scott Kelley oversees business development, client services, operations, finance, HR, and technology initiatives. Serving as Encore Search Partner’s integrator, Scott Kelley’s expertise in business strategy, strategic planning, and business development has made Encore Search Partners one of the fastest growing recruitment firms in the Houston area.

Scott is active in his Vistage group, The Greater Houston Partnership, The National Business Development Association, The Houston Chapter of the Association of Legal Administrators, and The Greater Houston Manufacturers Association. Outside the office, Scott Kelley is an avid reader, philanthropist, and mentor to many Houston area professionals. When he isn’t working, reading, or mentoring, he enjoys spending time with his family, traveling, and experiencing new restaurants. Scott, welcome to the show.

It’s great to be here.

Thank you. I’m looking forward to this. I remember when I met you, it was before this whole COVID thing sprung up, back in Houston. You guys have an interesting model. Your company, Encore Search Partners, isn’t a traditional search firm. I remember meeting with your CEO and you at this entrepreneurs’ organization speaking event I was doing. When you walked me through a little bit of your model, I was shocked at how strong it was. Can you tell us a little bit about the model and what Encore Search focuses on?

Our recruiting model is different. We work with a lot of producing advisors and producing attorneys, people with a portable book of business and help them make transitions from firm to firm. It could be a wirehouse advisor. It could be a broker-dealer advisor. It could be a partner-level attorney. What they do is take their clients with them from one firm to another. We get the candidate first and then go to the firm and say, “Here’s what I have. Do you want to take a look at them?” It’s a little bit different than a traditional recruiting model. Our primary focus is on the wealth management industry and the legal industry. We do some energy, industrial, and manufacturing. That’s how our firm started. During COVID, that has shifted a little bit to the primary initiatives of the legal investments.

It’s interesting because, in a lot of ways, if I was to put some layman’s terms on it, you guys would be focusing on the supply side versus the demand side. You’re going out and finding all the people that you can place and then you’re saying, “We’ve got this talent. Who wants to buy it?” Why has everyone else got it backward?

The traditional recruiting model is you get a job holder. You go and call potential clients that you’re looking for. A lot of recruiting firms do that. We had to stand out and be different. It’s hard to compete with people like the Robert Hassell of the world that has been in business for 100 years. We decided that we wanted to be a little bit different. We wanted to be a disruptor. Over the last few years since we rolled out EOS, we determined that this is the best way to grow our business. We’re a contingency-based recruiting firm. We don’t have big retainers. We don’t work on contracts for our clients. Everything is eat-what-you-kill, pay for performance, and that’s the model that we like. This is a way that we’ve identified it. We can be different. We can find the top talent market and not have one opportunity. We could hedge ourselves and create multiple opportunities for each of those candidates that we talked to.

Whenever I try to find good recruiting firms, I like either a blend, somewhere between contingency and retained. I don’t like full retention. It often doesn’t seem fair to have somebody on full contingency because they’re doing all the work. For you guys, where you’ve already got the placement, contingency is easy for you because you’re getting paid completely anyway. There’s no risk because you’ve already got the person. Are we missing something? Is the industry missing something? Have you guys figured out, almost like Tesla figured out, “We don’t need car dealerships. We don’t need all that extra waste?” Forget about the electric vehicle, they cut out the entire dealer model. They don’t even have inventory. You go on a website and buy the car and it gets delivered and it’s perfect. Have you guys figured out the search industry where nobody else has paid attention?

Going forward and because of the volatility in the market, opportunity hire is the way of the future because people aren’t going to be posting these jobs like they normally do. We’re talking about firms now, specifically, law firms that aren’t going out there and recruiting actively. When we come to them and say, “I’ve got a partner with a million-dollar business that is interested in your firm for X, Y, and Z reasons,” they’re like, “Yes.” They pay for themselves on day one. It’s like, “John, you move over. Tim, you move over. Mark is going to sit right here now.” In that space, it’s easy. We can help firms also to upgrade their talent. If they’ve got a partner in that practice area, that’s okay but it hasn’t proven to do business development and grow their books, we can say, “Let’s bring in this person now.”

You even go to firms that aren’t looking. You’ve already got a candidate ready to jump into a seat. The firm isn’t sure they need to hire somebody, but you show them they’ve got a couple of B’s and C’s and if they replaced them with the A, they win. You guys are like the firing squad as well as the hiring squad. Unemployment doesn’t go down because you’ve got a new person coming in right away. It’s back to equilibrium. I still don’t understand why nobody else is doing that. Are there other companies in the industry doing this?

I’m sure there are. Specifically, in the wealth management industry, this is where it got started for us. We took that model and then started doing it in other areas, business, investment banking, commercial lending, sales, and in any industry, technical sales folks. People want to hire from their competitors but in some industries where it’s super close-knit, they don’t want to be the one picking up the phone and calling the guy down the street and trying to recruit them because they had a friendly handshake agreement or things like that. They use people like us and we say, “We’ve already got the guy. They’re interested in you. Do you want to talk to them?”

You guys are like the virtual bench. You walk in and go, “Here is who we’ve got.” How do you find these people? How do you find the people to start placing? Is it similar to normal recruiting or is it different?

It’s a little different. We hire cold callers. We have cold callers that call producing advisors at their desks. They’re making between 750 and 1,000 outbound calls a week. I’ve got two people making 1,500 calls a week. Of those 1,500 calls, one gentleman wrote up seven advisors. One of my female recruiters wrote up 60 advisors last week. We do the same thing for attorneys. We cold-call attorneys. We cold-call advisors. That’s how we get people on the hook.

Our pitch is simple, especially to the attorneys. We’re acting as your agent. You don’t have time to watch the market and see what’s out there. We’ll take down your information. We’ll confidentially share things with our clients that don’t have any identifiers for you like your name, school, year of graduation, or any of that information. Generalized statements about you, your book of business, what your practice area is, and see who would have any interest. We’ll come back to you and pitch those opportunities to you and then you decide the right fit. We may have between 2 and 10 opportunities and you may pick 3 to 5 of those. We get 2 to 3 offers and then they pick the right opportunity for their clients for themselves.

It’s a clean model too. You’ve probably got some good insights as to why great people leave. I’ve been on stages and you saw me speak to a large group of entrepreneurs and COOs. I’ve done speaking events all over the world. One of the things I keep telling these groups is that if you don’t have your A-players handcuffed to your company, guys like me will come and poach them and I do it for fun. What I always say is an A-player should never be working for an average company. Is that how you approach it as well? You look for the A-players and you go, “You’re working for someone average. We can find better.” What do you pitch them with?

What’s funny is in some industries, they may be a B-player but they have a big book of business they inherited. As with a father and son team, the father retired and the son took over the book, we see that a lot of time. They can be an average player but because of their book size, firms still want them because they’re bringing in that guaranteed revenue. In that aspect, yes. In the traditional recruiting role, you’re filling job orders with clients. We do go after those A-players. What we found is we’re able to identify A-players before they even know they’re A-players. Whenever I talk to clients, they say, “I want to find you. I want to find the Scott from 2016 when he joined Encore Search Partners and not the Scott of 2020.” We start identifying what those key things are and then we’ll go to the market and find those things.

At times, do you have companies that put you under more of the typical contingency search model where you show up with one candidate, but they say they need four more and now you’re going out to look for that talent?

Absolutely. It’s a part of our business. We haven’t completely eliminated that out of our traditional book of business ourselves. Clients have amassed over the years where they come to us and say, “We need to find another whatever.” We’ll go to the market and still search for those. We have about 2 or 3 recruiters working full-time on that.

What about outside of your niche, how focused are you? If you trip across a second in command for a technology company that you meet somewhere and you realize that person needs to be placed in a better company, are you going to go out and try and find that person a home? Are you loyal to the niche that you’re in?

If we come into a second in command, the unfortunate thing is, and I’m that guy, we’re viewed as a cost suck. We don’t add a whole lot of value to a certain organization from a CEO standpoint. They know they need us to run the business. However, we don’t walk in with a book of business. There has to be an opening. It is harder to do that with someone from operations, finance, and things like that. It’s harder to do the same model that we do with the producers because there’s a finite number of roster spots out there for the second in command.

That makes sense. You’re selling the book of business in addition to the person that’s carrying it. How do you get around the non-competes?

In the wealth management industry, there are protocol and non-protocol firms. The firms agreed that they’re going to stop suing each other because the only people getting rich were the attorneys. In the legal industry, we haven’t seen a lot of issues around non-competes. One of the biggest issues we do run into is when they’re going through due diligence before they make a transition with their book.

What’s cool is you’re identifying early on if the conflicts are there. I love that the industry has realized, like, “No one is winning except the lawyers. Let’s stop.” I was coaching a CEO on this and he had an employee quit to go to another firm and then he lost a second employee that was going to another firm. He was mad at the employees for doing it and he was going to sue them for breach or whatever. I’m like, “What’s the point? You’re not going to get them back. You don’t want them back. You’re not going to win because they don’t have any money. You’re going to wait and then you get all this negative energy and time. It doesn’t make any sense. Go find another person.”

SIC 128 | Encore Search Partners

Encore Search Partners: Someone can be an average player but still be wanted by firms because of their books.


Specifically, it’s hard to win a non-compete type of lawsuit anyway.

You guys are doing recruiting. You’ve got a couple of industries that you’re big in. All of a sudden, this whole COVID hits your industries and the oil and gas. You were big in the oil and gas sector as well, being based in Houston. What have you had to do to work around those issues?

Once everything got serious here in Houston, they did the mandatory stay at home, work home, stay safe order that the county judge rolled out, we were looking at our clients that were all putting things on hold. We had Fortune 100 industrial manufacturing energy clients that are like, “We’re on a hiring freeze.” They all announced major layoffs after that. Overnight, 40% of our clients completely disappeared, the job orders and things that we traditionally recruited in that space.

At that point, Jeremy, myself, and the EVP of our financial search group got together and said, “What are we going to do?” We decided to pivot our employees into other areas. We did virtual remote coaching and training and built call lists and got our team working within 2 or 3 days in other areas. We were able to pivot quickly. For those 60-ish days that we were at home, we were able to have high productivity even though these folks were completely new to it, they didn’t know what they’re talking about.

We didn’t allow people to sit there in front of their computer screen and not know what to do. We were always engaged and saying, “What’s going on? How are these calls going?” We would listen to their calls and do coaching sessions for the whole team based on call recordings that we’re listening to and things like that. We were able to do a lot quickly and not skip a beat, honestly. We built the biggest pipeline we’ve ever had in company history during the COVID months while we were working from home.

Of potential employees, right?

Potential placements. What we call deals, we had over 70% to close. We’re waiting on the start date. We’re waiting on something along those lines. That was our biggest pipeline we’ve ever had coming back into the office. We were able to thrive and not just survive during this time.

Is there an industry that you would like to break into? Is there a vertical that you’d want to start selling to?

We hired an individual, she’s a young talent. She put herself through a sales training program and paid $10,000 out of pocket to learn how to sell and learn the psychology of sales. We’re using her to break into the CPA market. Working with CPA firms, it’s similar to the wealth management industry, it’s similar to law firms. Once you meet that manager-partner level, you amass the book of business. That book of business can follow you from one firm to another. Working with the space is something that we’re looking to do, tax audit and things like that. That’s a space we’re looking to break into. We’re going to use her to do that same process of finding the candidates and then go to the clients and say, “I’ve got this. Do you want to buy it?”

I want to back up and talk about the sales process that you use because you touched on something that I almost skipped over. I want to go back to it and it was around the cold callers. I hired a cold caller years ago for a barter company that I was running. This guy has a unique character. He liked to pick up the phone and was fine with getting it slammed in his face. Is that a dying breed of person? Where do you find good cold callers? What do you market to find them? What’s their DNA? What do they look and feel like?

I would love to say that we have that recipe down 100%. It’s hard. We’ve got folks that are all over. A gentleman that started with us, the guy that’s making 1,500 to 1,700 calls a week, he has a Master’s degree and was a college professor at the University of Houston downtown. I’ve got another young lady that’s making 1,300 to 1,500 calls a week and she was a swim instructor at a swim academy in Katy, Texas. One was a sales rep at Vitamin World and a Mattress Firm store manager. It’s all over the place. There’s no one recipe for success. We can always find this.

The one thing that I found is all people that are intelligent, they have the desire to succeed. They’re incredibly competitive in the industry. They didn’t even understand what recruiting was or no one gave them a shot at it. For the most part, a lot of the folks that we have in our business, none of them came from recruiting firms. We home brew every single one of our recruiters from property management companies, the hospitality industry, you name it, and women’s healthcare. We found good A-players that are in the wrong industry. Jeremy has got a great way of spotlighting that talent via LinkedIn. We’ll put a post-up and we’ll get messages on our company Facebook page about people looking for this type of opportunity. We’re brutally honest and we tell them, “You’re going to make 1,000 calls. Of those 1,000, you’re going to get 2 to 5 yeses. Are you in?”

You’re setting them up with the expectations. This is getting a little bit tactical and then we’ll jump back up into the COO world, the president world. How do you get them to stay on picking up the phone versus spamming people with email or Sales Navigator, LinkedIn messages?

When we first started aggressively cold calling, the leadership team was saying, “Let’s turn off their email. Why do they need an email? They need a phone and an Excel spreadsheet in front of them.” That is a hard thing, especially when folks have been here for a long time. We’ve got a couple of producers that have been in this cold calling for two-plus years and that’s when it starts like, “What’s next? It’s hard to keep making 1,000 calls every single week.” That’s where we start running that challenge. At first, we show them that this is the only way to do it and they come in and do it and they start seeing success. We have an individual that in the first full year made over $100,000 making 1,000 cold calls a week.

Are you guys doing anything with marketing and marketing automation? Are you doing anything where you’re positioning and saying, “We’ve got these jobs, come to us?”

That’s what we do. We have some email marketing campaigns that do cadence emails. Jeremy is a marketing expert. He started this business with Market Share Solutions. He started as a marketing firm person. He’s doing email campaigns to do business development for other firms. He realized how big the recruiting fees were and cut out that middleman and said, “We’re going to do it for ourselves.” That’s how we became a recruiting firm. We do it. It’s not as successful as picking up the phone. Especially in those industries, that’s fine in the legal and wealth management space. Picking up the phone beats an email every day of the week.

It’s interesting that you guys are focused on it. Talk to me a little bit about Jeremy. That guy is wickedly high energy. I remember meeting him briefly at this event. He’s a 10 out of 10. Turn it up to eleven on energy. How do you get on the same page with his vision? How do you keep him in his sandbox and allow him to play and be the entrepreneur while you operationalize his ideas?

Rolling out EOS helps a lot with that and showing him, “Here’s what you do. Here’s what I do. All of our people, here’s what they do.” He has always been the catalyst to get everything going. He’s been the business development guy. He’s the idea guy. He builds the list. He builds the pitch. He does it all. Through this process of rolling out EOS, we identified what our three-year vision looks like and the ten-year vision. Everything that we’re trying to accomplish, we said, “Here’s what we need from Jeremy. Here’s what we need from Scott. Here’s what we need from Casey. Here’s what we need from everybody else.”

Jeremy has such high energy. He has a lot of great ideas. Most of his ideas, we try it out. I’ll never disagree with him publicly on an idea. Of course, Casey and I are 100% supportive of him because we can do these little things and not change the direction of the book, so to speak. We can test those things out. What’s great about Jeremy is he’s such a hands-on CEO that when he comes up with an idea, he’ll go and do it himself and he’ll do the beta test. He’s not going to take somebody and say, “Stop doing this. I need you to try this quickly.” He does it himself. He’s not afraid to get in the weeds and do the work. Whenever he has those ideas, he’ll go and do it. It doesn’t impact the rest of the team. The book is still moving in the right direction. He’s not like, “This is a great idea. Come look at this, Scott.” We talk about it then we come up with the process of how to roll it out and who should be doing it, how we’re going to do it, what the message is going to be and we’ll whiteboard it from there.

What part of the business do you run? What parts does he still run?

Jeremy primarily does all of the sales functions of the business. I’m the sales manager of the business. If you look at the accountability chart, Jeremy reports to me in the sales capacity. I primarily focus on operations, finance, accounting. As a sales manager, I do all of the meetings individually with the recruiters. We’re a relatively flat organization. We hired our first mid-level manager who’s thrown into that role. She’s not fully in it but she’ll be able to peel off some of the things that I do with the recruiters individually. I still hold that hat.

I’m on calls with the recruiters. I’m doing client update calls. I’m doing candidate update calls with him when things get sticky. Jeremy handles all of the sales and inbound calls from constructive clients to all of our outbound campaigns that we run that ring back to him. That’s what he loves to do. He loves to get on the phone and close deals. Jeremy and I were talking about why we’re such a good team. It’s because what motivates Jeremy is winning and what motivates me is being the best. We pair those two together and then we turn to this two-headed monster that’s aggressive but follows policies and procedures.

You guys certainly are a great team. How did you get involved in the organization? Did you grow up in the company?

SIC 128 | Encore Search Partners

Encore Search Partners: Sometimes the people who have gotten you to where you’re at are not the same people who are going to get you where you need to go.


I did not. I was in Vistage with Jeremy. We were in a business group together. We were the youngest guys in the group by far. We connected a little easier than others. Jeremy was complaining about his business one day. We were in his backyard, drinking beers, and he needed to vent. I came over and we were drinking a few beers by the fire pit, and he was telling me all these things that are bad about the business and why it’s frustrating. I was like, “How much money did you lose?” He’s like, “What are you talking about? I made a lot of money last year.” I was like, “You’re accidentally making money. You can put it in policies, procedures, processes and have a system for everything. How much more successful can you be?”

We sat there in his backyard and he built this funnel in his hands and said, “This is what I’m doing today and dollars are slipping at the bottom. I need somebody to come in and bring that together, cut the dollars and help me get that.” Probably 2 or 3 months later, we met again. He made me an offer. We met through Vistage. I came into the team in 2016 as the Vice President. About 6 or 7 months later, I was promoted to Senior Vice President. I took over all of the operations and was running that and then became the EVP and COO a year and a half later-ish.

It’s similar to how Brian and I got involved or in 1-800-GOT-JUNK?. He and I were in an EO forum group together for four years and he wanted me to coach him. I started coaching him and one of his team and he’s like, “This isn’t going to work. You need to come and do this. I don’t know how to do this.” How has the company changed in the time you’ve been there?

When I started, we were about 7 or 8 guys in an industrial park out in Richmond, Texas. It was interesting. It was a hallway type of office. We had a garage. We had three recruiters that were cold callers in the garage with limited AC. It was a bunch of guys. It was almost like a fraternity. I said, “This is one way to do the business. If we want to scale and grow this, we need to think bigger.” We moved into an office in the Energy Corridor here in Houston. We moved to the Energy Corridor and we said, “Let’s hire and recruit top talent.” We want to find better people. Not that our people weren’t good, it’s that when you look at the folks that we had, they got us to where we were but they’re not going to get to where we need to go.

We moved into a nicer office. We hired our first female employee in the office ever and then we’ve continued to grow. We probably have 45% to 46% female employees. We have a ton of young talented people that I would never imagine driving out to Richmond, Texas. They all live inside the loop in Houston. That’s how we’ve been able to grow a lot. We were all 1099 in the past. I brought everyone to W-2. We rolled out health benefits. We rolled out 401(k). We’ve done a lot to become a real company and we bootstrapped it.

What about during this whole COVID time, did you guys have to go remote?

We all went remote for about 60 days and that was interesting. We had all the technology. We already had Zoom that I was using for some of my meetings through Vistage and for our accountability team meetings. We had teams rolled out internally as well. We’re able to communicate with everybody in real time. We have consults done remotely. All of our software packages are all in the cloud. We didn’t skip a beat from any of that perspective. It was more of missing that camaraderie and missing the team building.

For me, as the president, I do a lot of 60-second coaching. When I’m walking through the halls, it will sometimes take me 15 or 20 minutes to get from one side of the office to the other because I’ve stopped along the way. It all went away when we were going remote. I had to reach out to individuals and get information out of them. Normally, I would get, “Do you have a second?” One of the hardest parts about being remote was not getting that.

You’re clearly not going to be a remote-based company. You’re going to come back and stay full location-based.

Yes. We do have folks that work remotely. The unfortunate thing for those people is there’s limited upward mobility within our organization because we’re collaborative and we’re hands-on. We like to do a full meeting debrief. We like to get together and do those things. We do have a place for people to work remotely. There are about five people working remotely. There’s not going to be a lot of upward mobility potential for those folks because of how we’re structured and how we do things inside the office.

How about your skillset, how have you had to grow? As you’ve positioned from EVP and COO and the president role, how have you continued to work on your skills?

I meet with a coach. I have my accountability team through Vistage. I go to a lot of EO events. I read a lot. I’m constantly focused on developing my skillsets. I do more targeted reading. If I’m having an issue with an employee, for instance, I’ll pick up a book on how to coach people and find their individual skillsets, and transform them to that higher potential person.

You’re one of the rare individuals I’ve met who understands targeted reading. I’ve got a client that I coached years ago. I lead their strategic planning five years in a row. He took his company from about $100 million top line to about $800 million top line in the five years that I ran their planning meetings. A 36-year-old CEO in Switzerland. What he does is he thinks about the stuff he’s working on this quarter and then he goes and reads as much content about that stuff as he can. I don’t understand why people are like, “I read a book a week.” That’s stupid. Reading a book a week about what, random crap that’s going to cause you stress and add stuff to your to-do list? Why don’t you read about what you’re working on like you’re doing and then at least apply it? It’s not about reading. It’s about applying some of what you’re reading.

We had our executive planning session. We were meeting and we are writing our vivid vision. I read Vivid Vision ahead of that. We’ve rolled out the vivid vision. We were going through that process at our executive planning session. I wanted them to know that I knew what I was talking about.

You’ve been involved with a couple of coaches as well. Talk to us about how a coach or a Vistage chair, which is a coaching role as well, extracts the most value from a coaching relationship.

The biggest thing for me is not being afraid to get feedback. They go to a coach to pat them on the back and say, “You’re doing a good job.” A lot of people are focused on what’s in it for them instead of how they could take what they learned and give it out to others. For me, what’s made me the most successful in my coaching relationship and Vistage chair is we have conversations about me and what’s going on with me but it’s more catered around how I am failing my people. They could be my Vistage. I’m not giving enough to my group. It could be my team here. It could be my family. No matter what it is, I’m open to that look in the eyes and give you that God’s honest truth. Brutally honest, cards on the table type of truth.

That’s a big step for an executive to focus on their weaknesses and focus on their gaps. What allows you to feel okay with doing that versus getting defensive? Most entrepreneurs strive to get more praise. It sounds like you don’t look for more praise. You look for more constructive criticism. How have you been able to do that and still feel the confidence?

What’s funny is Jeremy and I always joke about that because he’s words of affirmation in the workplace and I’m the opposite of that. He always tells me, “You’re doing such a good job. I can’t believe you thought of this.” He says all those things and all those meaningless words.

What are you, quality time and acts of service?

I’m quality time and acts of service all day. I feel uncomfortable getting public praise. I’d rather somebody tell me that I’m doing bad at something because then I can identify what I need to improve on. When someone gives you all this praise, the bar is set higher but you don’t know where it’s at.

The best praise for you is to give you a big project and let you run it. It’s like, “This guy believes in me.” It’s this silent holy crap moment. If Jeremy was to buy a company and hand it to you and say, “Integrate this thing,” you’d be like, “Yes. The best praise ever, this big, huge, gnarly project that I get to run with.” We touched on the love languages, which a lot of people might have just heard. You said words of affirmation and I mentioned the acts of service and quality time. The other two are physical touch and gifting. Do you guys focus on understanding the love languages of all your employees as well?

I do. I’ve read The 5 Love Languages and also The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace. I bought the test for our employees to take. I understand what motivators are there for each individual here. For some people, gift is high up there. I’ve taken team members to a Rockets game and we sat courtside. I’ve given folks gift cards to restaurants so they can take their spouse out and things like that. We do public praise. Part of our weekly level ten sales meeting is we do a “grateful.” For those folks that are motivated by public praise or public recognition, we’ll do that. I want to make sure I understand exactly what makes everybody tick that’s around me. Anyone that’s ever been in a romantic relationship, they’ve got to take the love language. Jeremy and I fully understand each other’s love languages and what we’re looking for. It’s one of those things that help us be more successful. We’re putting it up altogether. When I look at the company, we do a quarterly survey of our employees for satisfaction. Twelve of eighteen people that took the survey said family was 1 of the 3 words that we use to describe our culture. Sixteen of the eighteen said competitive.

Hopefully, that twelve didn’t come from abusive family backgrounds. They came out of foster homes or something. That’s a weird joke. What were the five workplace ones called?

SIC 128 | Encore Search Partners

Encore Search Partners: It’s better to be told by somebody that you’re doing badly at something because then you can identify what you need to improve on.


It’s similar. There are still words of affirmation. There’s still quality time.

What was the test called, though?

I have to find it for you. I don’t have it on hand.

It’s darn transferable, though. Physical touch in the workplace is a pat on the back or a hug when they come in.

High fives.

There’s also The Five Languages of Apology. Have you heard about that one? It’s how people like to be apologized to.

I have not.

I think about that, it’s like, “How does someone like to be apologized to?” It’s like, “That’s interesting, too.” I love these personality profiles because it teaches you how to work better with other people. Do you use any other personality profiles in the business?

I use ProfileXT. I’ve used the Kolbe A Index as well. The EOS preferred test is Kolbe.

What’s your Kolbe?

I can’t remember what the exact word was but it’s an 8, 6 on quick start, and 2 in the hands-on. I forgot the second one, it was 7 or 8.

You’re an 8762. You’re a high fact finder. You ask lots of questions and then you put systems in place. What’s Jeremy, a high third number? Is he like 4393?

He was one for the last one, 4391.

Kolbe is interesting. The only thing you learn from Kolbe is how you start or initiate projects. Every member of our COO Alliance does the Kolbe Profile. They all line up similar to you, high first or second number. We have all their CEOs do it as well and all their CEOs are 4393. We teach them how to work better with each other. There’s so much to be learned in these personality profiles, for sure. You mentioned the level ten meetings. You guys have clearly dug in with EOS, with traction. Gino Wickman is a member of Strategic Coach, which is where Kolbe got a lot of their promotions from. I know Gino through Strategic Coach and the Genius Network. What is it that you like about EOS traction and how have you iterated and made the systems your own?

We didn’t use an integrator. I self-implement EOS. I’ve done something similar in the past for this company and see how it works. I was able to pull pieces of it. We’ve rolled out most of the toolbox, I would say. It helped us put that clarity around what we’re trying to do and why we’re trying to do it. Before we rolled out EOS in 2017, we didn’t have core values. We didn’t have a vision statement. We didn’t have any of those things. We accidentally made money and we wanted to go from accidentally making money to intentionally making money. That’s what we did.

In 2018, we did 201 direct hire placements. In 2019, we did 176 direct hire placements. We did a million more in revenue. It’s because of EOS, we were able to target the right things and identify what areas are going to be the most successful for us and do less and get more. That’s helped us streamline everything. Because of the core values, we have a great HR process for recruiting and hiring our own team members. Whenever you’re in the industry, sometimes we forget about ourselves and how to handle our stuff. Now, we hired a coach and fire the core values. Every single time someone left this organization, it’s because they violated one of those core values.

That’s a great reason to be getting rid of people too. When they don’t read the core values, they don’t get to sit and say, “Sorry.” It’s like, “If you keep breaking the core values, you don’t get to come and play here anymore.” The government is always hiring, they can go to work there.

They’re adding more jobs every day.

Scott Kelley, if you go back to your 22-year-old self, your 21-year-old self, you’re graduating from college and getting ready to go off on your own and getting ready to start in your career, what words of advice would you give your 21-year-old self that you know to be true now but you wish you’d known back then?

For me, it’s enjoying the journey. There’s this great quote by Kobe Bryant and he talks about this, “The prize isn’t the end of the road. The prize is the journey. Greatness is what goes on in between.” Take the time to enjoy every single step of the process. Whenever I had to wake up super early to get ready for a meeting or stay late to prepare for a meeting. Whenever I was behind in work and I had to put in extra hours and I didn’t sleep much and was growing my career, I appreciated that time. I was almost trying to fast forward.

I’m that borderline Millennial where I tend to fit in by age but I’m not a Millennial. The advice that I would give to any 22, 23-year-old now is to slow down. You can’t learn everything in a textbook. You need experience. Learn from the experiences you have and soak all that in. I got to where I am because I carried the CEO’s briefcase. It’s because of that, I was able to learn so much more about business than I ever could. The advice I would give is to enjoy those moments. Take a step back and say, “What did I learn today and how can I apply this going forward more often?” I did that because I am where I am now. I could have got here maybe a little bit faster or even prevented some of the mistakes that I’ve made here. I’ve already experienced this years ago. Why did I let this happen again? If I would have reflected a little more back in the day, I can prevent a lot of things from happening.

Scott Kelley, President and Second in Command for Encore Search Partners, thank you so much for joining us on the show. I appreciate it.

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About Scott Kelley

SIC 128 | Encore Search PartnersAs President of Encore Search Partners, a specialized recruiting firm that focuses on spotlighting the absolute best Professional, Technical, & C-Level Executive talent, nationwide, Scott Kelley oversees Business Development, Client Services, Operations, Finance, HR, & Technology initiatives.

Serving as Encore Search Partners’ Integrator, Scott Kelley’s expertise in business strategy, strategic planning and business development has made Encore Search Partners one of the fastest growing recruitment firms in the Houston Area.

Scott is active in his Vistage Group, The Greater Houston Partnership, The National Business Development Association, The Houston Chapter of the Association of Legal Administrators, and The Greater Houston Manufacturers Association.

Outside of the office, Scott Kelley is an avid reader, philanthropist, and mentor to many Houston Area professionals. When he isn’t working, reading or mentoring, he enjoys spending time with his family, traveling, and experiencing new restaurants. 


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