Getting your team together requires a human touch | Dowling

From the Tallahassee Democrat

Right before the pandemic started, WFSU-TV asked me to be on their evening show “American Graduate.”

The topic was soft skills and the importance of those skills (professional dress, punctuality etc.) in the work force. (WFSU American Graduate | A Non-Traditional Interview Process | Season 9 | Episode 12 | PBS.)

I told a story on the show of an individual who was working for our cleaning service (while also getting their degree at FSU) that we hired at Aegis. One night some of us were working late and while her team was wrapping up their cleaning work she popped her head in my office and asked if we were hiring.

I said something like, “we are always on the look-out for talent, so send me a resume.” She did and as the clip says, I invited her to a non-traditional interview. I asked her to meet me at an early morning Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce networking event where I was going to speak to a group about an upcoming conference.

My goal was to see if she was on time, dressed and acted professionally. Fast forward to that day and she beat me there and already worked the room prior to my arrival.  Interview one success.

We brought her to the office for interview two and she was hired as an intern. A couple of months later a global pandemic knocked on the door and as most of our staff headed for the home office, she volunteered to be our logistics coordinator and stayed at the office, routing calls and orders.

Then thanks to mastering that job she became my assistant and then was promoted to an Account Executive. Cool story. Great hire.

Thanks for having me on the show, Kim Kelling and WFSU.

The winning acronym

The person in the story was named Adrienne Jones, and she was part of a fast-moving team that got us through those days of 2020 when the world went dark for a bit. It did not go dark for long here in Florida, but for anyone who worked and lived through the time, it was all uncharted territory back then.

When I think about team building a lot comes to mind. Also, don’t get cringey and try to flee the room, I don’t mean corporate team building exercises, I mean building an actual team.

Before we get started, I will share one team building exercise story. We do them all the time at HQ with some being awesome and some being snoozers. One I will never forget was called the Acronym Game. Each team member had to write on the white board an acronym that described themselves.

We all took our turn and then we sat down and each person explained theirs. One young lady, my friend Heather, wrote C.A.R. on the board. As the moderator of the exercise, I asked her to explain hers to us.

I was expecting another very professional and stiff response, as most of the first descriptions were on the super professional side. She said, “it stands for Crazy Ass Redneck.” Boom. She won. The end. Best answer ever.

Helping others find success

Back to building an actual team, my background is sales, marketing and the entertainment business so when I entered the team building phase it was new ground.

When you think of the things that bring feelings of pride in leadership you might list: hitting goals, new clients, successful projects, community involvement support, awards, new content (podcast, columns, or book), media engagements, cutting edge offerings and crisis avoidance. These things are fantastic but there is one more important.

The feelings associated with identifying talent, giving someone a place to find their professional footing, and then having them find their success and be a long-term member of your team is something special. In other words, true success can be defined as helping others achieve and find their own success.

Diversifying your workforce

Not all talent just walks in the door like my AJ story. Indeed and other job sites are solid; recruiters can he helpful. If you want to check all the boxes there are resources in Tallahassee like TPM put out by the Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce. Check it out if you are in the hiring game, it stands for Talent Pipeline Management.

TPM focuses on helping businesses build a skilled and diverse workforce while more and more learners and workers are pursuing employment and career advancement. TPM is a demand-driven, employer-led approach to closing the skills gap by utilizing supply chain management principles to develop, and source talent.

The Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce’s TPM initiative is currently focused on healthcare and technology, meeting regularly to discuss challenges and opportunities as well as hosting speakers on different topics key to improving Tallahassee’s talent, workforce, and education.

The Tallahassee Chamber is looking to host new collaboratives in 2022 and a huge round of applause for the Chamber team behind this effort, Corrie Melton and Eddie Gonzalez Loumiet.

Treat that resume like gold

When thinking of building teams the logical analogy is college football right? Team building, coaching, recruiting, we just saw it all on national signing day last month.

Unlike football there is no off season in the business world. We plow forward 1000 mph every day and sometimes we forget about the importance of team building. Numbers, goals, analysis, metrics, and analytics can consume an exec pretty fast.

But remember, next time a resume lands on your desk, that is someone’s life in your hands. Treat it like gold. Maybe that is the missing piece that your team needs to hit the next “goal” or maybe it is just a crazy ass redneck. Such is the journey of building a team.

All of us live and die by our team and as Henry Ford said, “coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is a success.”

See you and your team out there soon.

Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies and the author of the book, Professionally Distanced, he also hosts the Biz & Tech Podcast and can be reached at