In this episode, Mark Zides discusses how to unlock the mindset, traits, and techniques needed to plan, apply for, commit to, and explore your ideal career path.
About Mark Zides
Mark Zides teaches young adults how to get their feet in the door, climb the ladder, and not stop achieving until they find success!
Mark is the founder and CEO of CoreAxis Consulting, an award-winning talent management firm. He is also the founder of Katama, an agency specializing in sales strategy, marketing, and customer success for small-to-medium sized businesses, and Recipi, a digital marketing agency for rental event equipment companies.
Read the Transcript
Allison: Welcome back to the Deliberate Leaders Podcast. I am your host and executive coach Allison Dunn. Super pleased to introduce our guest today we have with us Mark Zides, he is the founder and CEO of CoreAxis Consulting, which is an award winning talent management firm. Mark’s new book, The PACE Process for early career success uses real life examples, research in a bit of tough love, that will equip the reader to not only just survive the modern work world, but also to conquer it. Mark, thanks so much for joining us here today.
Mark: Thanks for having me. I appreciate it.
Allison: My pleasure. I like to kick these off with a deliberate conversation Mark, what would be your number one leadership tip for our listeners.
Mark: So it’s cliche, but I’d say be the best listener, you can be from a leaders perspective. So always listen to your team, your constituents, your partners, your colleagues, and learn from them every day and try to craft the best solution or answers that you can that’ll impact the most people.
Allison: Okay, love that. Thank you for that tip. I just want to make sure that I said the title of your book correctly, because you forgot, you know, like the hashtag pound sign like is that was that the proper? Like, it’s, there’s a hashtag before it. How do you pronounce your book title?
Mark: Yes. So you are perfect. The pace process.
Allison: With that said, Could you could you share? What does pacing stand for just to kind of give it a level ground with our listeners?
Mark: Sure. So the book was written to prepare young individuals early in their career to launch their careers, you know, thinking about everything need to do to prepare for it, apply, commit and evaluate. So that’s what the acronym pay stands for. Pace seems a lot of different things to a lot of different people. So when I wrote the book, I use pace wasn’t an acronym. And just like any entrepreneur, or business leader, or coach, like you, you want to try to come up with a process or, you know, a step by step approach to being successful. And it’s a framework or, or model.
So I turn the word pace, which I was always coaching young adults, or, or students or even kids that I coached on, keep the pace or maintain the pace or pick up the pace or slow down the pace, right? It means a lot of different things like the people. So in the context of a business world, I wanted to say, look, you can prepare for a job or prepare for an interview or prepare for a career change. And then what do you need to apply toward that, right? So you need to apply yourself or your skills your behaviors. Commit is to commit to the role the job or making a change, and evaluate is just what that means, right? It’s like, every year, as you’re in your career, you should take a look at what you’re doing both professionally and personally. And is that the best place you want to be at that time? So that’s in general terms, what it means.
Allison: Okay, fantastic. Thank you for sharing that. Super curious, tell me a little bit about your background.
Mark: So I’ve been in the learning and development field for almost 30 years. So I’ve been both in management, consulting with large firms, working with talent management organizations, or HR organizations like PWC, selling, advisory, coaching, talent, succession, learning, training, all those types of solutions. And then I’ve been an entrepreneur, back and forth, trying to figure out what I wanted to do between working for myself and building a business to help companies create change, or create, you know, transformation in their employees, whether it’s retention or acquisition, or development.
And then I did it for a few years, like I said, working for PwC and Deloitte. And then I said, after the market crashed in, I guess it was 2008. I was in the financial service practice for PwC as a partner, or as a managing director. And I’m like, You know what, this isn’t really what I signed up for. It’s a terrible time for the whole economy and market, but I want to impact more people. So I restarted car access, and we had a journey on building learning experiences for all types of organizations. So whether it’s, you know, onboarding, training, new hire training, leadership, training, manager development, training, you name it, we would be an outsource partner for all those types of firms.
Allison: Okay. Cool. That’s super broad background. I’m curious what is the best piece of advice you’ve received for your own career?
Mark: Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. So When it comes to building a business, and, you know, being in the trenches every day, it’s okay to make a mistake. And it’s okay as long as you learn from it and, and apply it, where you’re not gonna hopefully do it again. But that’s been some of the best advice. So it sounds, again, like motherhood and apple pie advice. But it’s really been good advice. I would never think that we’re really making mistakes, we’re just always learning and you have to make mistakes in order to get the big learning at a certain thing. So that’s a great piece of advice spoken from a true coach. Absolutely.
Allison: True. What types of tips would you have for professionals that are looking to continue like an ongoing career development, and so you’re, you create learning platforms, but what would be your guidance for someone who maybe doesn’t have bouts in their business or their company?
Mark: Right. So you know, I would say, learn something new every day, try to learn something new, and broaden your horizons. And as part of that step outside of your comfort zone. So, you know, even if your own company doesn’t have, like you said, the platforms or the assets to provide training, there’s so many social tools out there or platforms that you can learn from.
So whether it’s, for example, LinkedIn learning, or you know, there’s other types of online materials, go buy a book, you know, in the area that you won’t feel like you need to develop your skills, download an audible and listen to a podcast. So I feel that there’s so many different platforms that somebody can self develop on a daily basis. I know a lot of people don’t have time, but come up with a strategy or sort of a timeline over per quarter, right? Or per year, say, look, here, my, whether you receive feedback and work around some of the things you need to work on, and find ways to actually enhance your skills or change your behaviors around those things.
Allison: So what would you say are some of the defining qualities that help our millennial and Gen Z generation succeed in today’s workforce?
Mark: Great question. I get that a lot. And I don’t think I answered it the same way every time. But I would say be different because the Gen z’s, the Gen Y’s are different, right? They think differently, they behave differently. they’re digital natives, they, you know, a very much into social causes, like climate change, or police brutality, things like that. And what can they do when they go to the workforce and apply some of that energy and different thinking from people like myself, that’s a Gen X er, right, that I’m just, you know, focused or wired a different way.
So I think that, you know, the community sort of thinking, and so the collaborations they can bring to the workforce, to embark and make change, I think, is really important. So don’t feel like you have to, you know, fall follow authority at like, maybe, but at the same time, you know, use your social sort of thinking and your in your attitude to kind of make change in some of these organizations. And we do see it right, we see that large companies like, you know, Google and others have unlimited vacation time, right? We you and I would never think of that, nevermind 20 years ago, but even five years ago, so a lot of change is happening. And I think that if they bring that energy and focus into the workforce, it’ll really help the future work.
Allison: Thank you. I’m curious, what guidance or tips does the book outline? Or would you give a listener who’s really looking to expand their professional network? And maybe that’s not going to focus yet, but it needs to be in thinking about how to level up or do something more fulfilling?
Mark: Yeah, another great question. So I think, you know, going back to social media, or a platform like LinkedIn, is really important, right? So I feel that building your personal brand, and your personal network is very important. I talked about that in the book.
So a practical example is make sure your LinkedIn profile is professional, and you’re following the groups that are important to you, you obviously have to follow the company or industry that you’re in, and you want to actually be part of, you know, be proactive, and maybe in other social platforms, you know, create your own communities or groups that you can get like minded people involved in the same causes or the same type of work, work that you’d like to do. So I think that, you know, those types of initiatives actually are really important young in your career.
Allison: Awesome, what is some of the key things that you look at when you’re giving guidance about attracting top talent? So what does the candidate need? Need to kind of like, what are the check things that you’re looking for that help get that?
Mark: Yeah, I mean, I’m old school. So I’m looking for, you know, executive presence, I’m looking for somebody who’s got some research done on the company or about me or, you know, Ken kind of has a strong understanding of the industry or why they want to work there, what’s their why, or kind of What’s their purpose of wanting to work in an industry or company. So I coach somebody on doing the research upfront, and making sure they’re mapping their goals, and what they want to do to what the company’s goals are, as well. So I think some of the, you know, tendencies around preparation, making sure that you know, you are prepared for a video interview, right, there’s not as many face to face videos, face to face conversations, as we may have had 510 years ago, sort of EMIC.
So you have to, you know, make sure you have the social cues, kind of understood, you can practice a mock interview, through a zoom or through a platform like this. So be really prepared, I guess, is the overarching message that I’d say to someone young in their career, whether it’s through research, knowing who you’re interviewing with, you know, trying to understand kind of, you know, what, some of the reasons why you actually want to work for that company.
Allison: Okay, and you know, what I feel like, you say you’re old school, but it’s like the basics, right? Like, don’t forget the basics, right? It’s really important.
Mark: Yeah, me, you know, and again, to get tactical for a second, on that, thank you letter, right, like, send a thank you note, after you interview with somebody, not just the one person, but if you interview with four or five people send one to everybody. And one of the things that strikes me Alli is, you know, a video, thank, you know, those are kind of different and interesting, right.
So that’s a little out of the box. But I actually liked that, because if somebody just sends a quick video, thank you so much, I welcome the opportunity to learn more about your company. Like that’s a nice little touch again, it demonstrates that they’re a little bit more creative and thinking differently. So again, whatever you need to do to help yourself stand out from another candidate or another person, I’d advocate for that.
Allison: Yeah, that’s such a it’s a great tip. And hopefully, our listeners are listening in because it does, it absolutely does set you apart. I agree. It can also hurt you if you don’t do it well, but it will set you apart in one way. For sure. Mark, what advice do you have for building and leading teams, that is, I feel like a key opportunity inside every single company today.
Mark: You know, building teams is more challenging. Now I feel that it’s been prior to last few years. And that’s because a lot of what we do is virtual. So team building, I feel is a lot of in person collaborative work, whether it’s you know, in person, or in a room where everyone’s sharing ideas and collaborating. So I would advise people or leaders that if they can, if they can replicate that in the context of a business tool, if they can’t do it in person, that’s what I think is really important nowadays. So whether it’s on Microsoft Teams, or Zoom call, there’s a lot of different, you know, aspects to those platforms that you can pull, you can actually have breakout rooms, you can, you know, provide feedback, you can do a lot of those same things that maybe you used to do in a conference room that now you need to do online.
So I’d make sure that all of those tools and capabilities are in place. And I think the other part of managing teams is, is connectivity. And really feedback loops is what you know, coaches like you and me will call it right. So always check in Don’t be overbearing, I check it every day. But you know, is there any other way that if I’m a team leader, can I help you can I can I help you get to the next point or, you know, coaching people sort of in, you know, be their mentor, not necessarily directly but indirectly. So I feel that collaborative, and communication is really important. And there’s a lot of great tools out there to do it, where you can’t do it in person, whether it’s slack or, or some other, you know, collaborative tools. But I think you know, conductivity is really, really key to success and uplifting a team toward the right direction.
Allison: Thank you all super good tips. I’m just gonna like I think it’s my final question as far as thinking through the Career Success process. And so I know that there’s a lot of shifting going on in the world right now. So where should someone start to find the perfect job? Like, what’s where do you start?
Mark: Well, I think you’re starting to find your why. Right? Like, What’s your why what’s your purpose? I think it should be I mean, you know, you would think that what do you want to do? What’s going to drive you what’s going to motivate you what’s, you know, sort of what’s the fundamental purpose of actually work, right? If you want to be working out ecosystem or a company, that’s a great choice, if you want to be an individual contributor, that’s not a choice. If you want to be an entrepreneur, that’s another choice. Right? If you want to work remotely, that’s not a choice.
So I think some of those, you know, checklists is something that someone has to sort of think through prior to going, you know, for that role, or for that job, you know, what industry do you want to be in? Do you want to be in, again, biotech or financial services, so a lot of that a lot of decisions are, as you know, are made for you based on what your background is, or where you went to college or what your major was, but I would say, you know, you know, apply yourself to what’s going to make you feel the most whole happy. And I know it’s not perfect, because you know, getting a job is competitive, and it’s not easy. But if you can try to match your values to accompany these values. So look on a company’s value page and make sure that they have similar values that you do. So some of that research that I mentioned before, is really important to kind of find out the type of company you want to work for.
Allison: Is there so starting with recognizing what you see what you want your future to be? What you want to be doing, what your values are? What would be your next most appropriate step?
Mark: That’s okay. Yeah, I mean, I think then it almost gets into, you know, what is it going to take for you as an individual to earn the right to get a, an opportunity at that company, right, get an interview, get a job, get a at bat. So that’s what I mentioned earlier about researching or networking or using LinkedIn to figure out okay, well, who’s the hiring manager? And sometimes companies will just post them they hire internally, anyway, right? Which is frustrating. But how can you break down some of those barriers? And get creative to have that decision maker who’s the hiring manager want to hire you? And what can you do on your own to make yourself stand out from all the other candidates and everyone else? I don’t know if that answers your question. But I think that’s the practical next step.
Allison: It absolutely does. I’m just curious for you, will you share with us what you are most rewarding job you’ve ever had.
Mark: And what I have not, I mean, I think that it’s really when you’re the happiest. And when you’re feel like you’re adding value and making impact is when you know, you’re the happiest every job I’ve ever had I enjoyed, I learned from but I feel like from a career progression perspective, you know, at least the way I think about it is you always want to have that work life balance, and you want to have that challenge On the work side. But then you want to feel fulfilled after you do something, whether it’s for the company or people on your team. So in the situation I’m in now, I feel like I have the opportunity to add a lot of value. But I also have an opportunity to learn from everyone that works with me. And that’s very fulfilling. You can always get that as you know, in every company. Right? So how,
Allison: How lucky are we that we do right?
Mark: I agree.
Allison: You will you work with a lot of organizations? In your opinion, what is the most challenging thing that businesses and entrepreneurs will face in today’s work environment?
Mark: So you know, if you’re an entrepreneur or you’re a business owner, it’s really finding new business or rainmaking our business development or sales are, you know, right. I mean, we’re in business, unless you’re a nonprofit or other businesses, which are very fulfilling and maybe even more fulfilling, you know, but if you’re in a business that’s organized, where you’re trying to make money, it’s hard to build to sell, right? It’s hard to open that door and get the decision maker to want to speak with you whether you’re selling a software widget or something else.
So I think as an entrepreneur, that’s one of the most challenging things is to figure out the channel or the best way to sell your service your product. And I think there needs to be some thinking on the best way to do that. Whether it’s multi channel marketing or direct dialing or old school cold calling, right I think that’s one of the hardest things for an entrepreneur or business owner to do. If you’re a successful coach like you a lot of it’s word of mouth, right? So you coat somebody and then someone else says I need to speak to ally and it comes back.
Allison: Thankfully, yes. Now, not in the beginning, though.
Mark: Right. So when you first started, you know how Did you get your new coaching client or how to you know, so that’s, that’s probably the most challenging thing I would say to answer the question.
Allison: Okay, I 100% agree, I feel like being in a different phase now, I think it’s more of, you know, getting talent. But initially, until you get the right amount of sales, you can’t get talent. So I agree. Yep. Mark, what is the best way for our listeners to connect and or fine tune?
Mark: Yeah, thanks for that. So I have a website with www dot Mark sides.com. So you can connect with me there, you can send me an email mark at Mark sides.com. I’m on Instagram, I’m on LinkedIn, if you just reach out on LinkedIn, I’m happy to DM with you and kind of learn about you know how I can help. So I’m sort of an open networker, by nature and, you know, happy to help anyone at any point in their career, whether it’s on the coaching side, and the talent side and the learning side of the, you know, I also do some investing and help startups and, you know, board work, things like that. So happy to help anyone who wants to kind of grow themselves or grow their business
Allison: Fantastic I will make sure that I include those connections in the show notes as well. So, Mark, I just want to thank you very much for joining us today and sharing your insights.
Mark: Thanks for having me. I really appreciate the time. Thanks. My pleasure.