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Diversity Recruiter Philip Anthony Gornail: The ‘Champion for Optimism’

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By: @Ameliaismore

Philip Anthony Gornail resizedFar too many times we hear the saying, “Life is a Choice,” but what does that mean as it relates to your future, your endeavors, your aspirations and your job selection when seeking a new position within the workforce? Bronze Magazine had an opportunity to speak with Mr. Phillip Anthony Gornail, the Senior Diversity Hiring Expert, career coach and a partner at Cardiff Group (NYC) who also happens to be a ‘champion for optimism.’ On a daily basis Mr. Gornail helps others understand their power of choice.

AM: It’s so rewarding to see someone such as yourself doing the hard work, the good work for so many others that might not know how to become a ‘champion for optimism.’ How did you get on the positive path? Was it something that you knew all your life or did something happen to you?

PG: I would love to say that it was in my DNA and from the time the mother-ship deposited me I was on a mission. Life doesn’t work that way. I think that when you lose things, that’s when you recognize their value. The saying goes; “You don’t miss the water until the well runs dry.” As I think back, what occurred to me early in life is that happy is good. Yet, later in life I realized that sadness sucks. Some people say, ” I’ve been rich and I’ve been poor and rich is better.” I think when I got thru some of the hard stuff of life being optimistic was much better. I took stock of my life and decided rich in attitude is better.

AM: Well said! Sometimes the hardest thing to understand is the power of love. When selecting a career path the goal is try to find your passion and make money doing it. You are quoted numerous times that you are motivated by love. How does love fit in your life? How important is it to you? Lastly, how do you utilize it to be a catalyst for everything and anything else in your life?

PG: I have to bring my faith into this conversation. There are so many scriptures that come into my mind but the two laws that all the other laws are hinged on is; 1) Love GOD above all and 2) Love your neighbor as you love yourself. You can’t give what you don’t have. No matter how much you want to give to a charity if you don’t have it in the bank you can’t give it. Same with love. No matter how much love you want to give to someone, if there’s nothing coming from the internal banks of your heart and your mind, there’s nothing to give. It’s superficial at best and definitely temporary. In Corinthians we hear the scripture: “Love is patient love is kind.” It doesn’t keep an account of errors. Love is best. If you have faith, hope and love, in the end the greatest of all of these is love. Right? With the French, Greek and Aramaic the word love has many different definitions. We use the word with the four letters l, o, v, e to be all encompassing for love. Yet with the French, it means charity. So the greatest of all of these is charity. When you think about that, think about the implication and how we treat people who we say we love. Are you self serving or selfless in your charity towards others? As for love in my life I would have to say I do my best to be more mindful of my loving nature than my other nature. I’m a New Yorker. The two golden rules being a New Yorker are 1) do not get in the way and 2) always keep it moving. So in my base nature I got this internal always on, make it happen, living on purpose mentality. I walk deliberately. However I’m not going to walk over someone or step on people on my way up. While I’m wired in a particular way I’m mindful of my presence in this world being a positive influence. That’s my choice.

AM: May there be many more people like you. For many employee’s one of their biggest concerns is job security, yet as a diversity placement person you believe in “Hiring for keeps.” How does that philosophy get indoctrinated within today’s corporate environment? More specifically, how do you get companies to transpose what they are doing right now to adopt your philosophy to hire for keeps?

PG: That’s a great pretext and context. I guess there are a couple of things that come to mind. First, everything rises and falls on leadership. I am a firm believer of that ideal. The leadership of the organization really sets the tone on how the organization sees things. For me to propose that I can bend or twist their arms to hire in any particular way is false. However, what I am is someone who offers to broaden your periphery. I ask my clients (the ones that I can make a personal impact) to suspend some of their beliefs on how things have been done and ask them to reflect on how things could be done. There is a lesson on excellence. When you think about the word, it’s going beyond what has always been done, yet what is excellent on one level can be mediocre at best on the next level. When I’m given an opportunity to work on a particular job I’m coherent of the process. Let’s call it the square peg in the square hole philosophy. We want a square peg to fit in the square hole. With that understood I will ask a series of questions like: How often is this a role they have to fill? Have the people that fit in this hole before all come from the same mold? What would make this a more efficient placement? Instead of doing this again in two years, what is necessary not to do this again? Should we look at someone different? Is the attitude of coming into this job one of entitlement or one of gratitude? Can we broaden our periphery on who is a better fit? What are the changes that have been made within this organization overall that may have affected this particular role? The questions I ask usually make my client say, “I never thought of that, or “I never thought of that in that way.” Diversity is not a black or white issue. It’s about understanding that the way that we see life is either with blinders on or off. If on, I ask if they can take them off. Individuals that come from areas of a social economic construct have to work harder just to get the base level of those who have privilege. Is that a mindset and a personality or character trait that can better serve your organization? As soon as they say, “I never thought of it that way,” I know I have them considering diversity, which results in my ability to present a broader candidate pool than what they are accustom to seeing.

AM: In the 90’s there was an influx of access to capital. During that era a lot of employees left work to start their own business and embrace the lifestyle of an entrepreneur. Fast forward to today, a lot of entrepreneurs are finding themselves having to enter back into the workforce. What can entrepreneurs do to position themselves better for their transition back into the workforce? What can make them a better candidate?

PG: There are probably 19 different approaches but I’m going to pick two. First, who said that they have to stop being an entrepreneur? Second, if they are looking to get back into the workforce they need to review their relationships. Everything I do is about my relationships. One of my creeds is, relationships precedes resources. That applies even in the dictionary. When you lack a resource you look at your relationships first. You have to begin by massaging those relationships. You can’t start looking at job descriptions and try to be that square peg fitting in that square hole. You have to get someone that can help you fit back into the workforce. As you make yourself available to others you don’t ask if they can do something for you. Instead reverse it by asking what can you do for them. Its inherent in all of us to want to repay that help with helping you. They begin to connect the dots for you. Hence creating a conversation about you and the services you provide not your need for employment. The first thing I encourage anyone going back into the workforce is take stock of their inventory of people. Now for the entrepreneur, the matter of them quitting is based upon the person they are listening to for direction. First thing I would say to the entrepreneur is who are you listening to? Who told you that there was a shift you had to make? Find out why you made this decision in the first place. When did it stop being fun? Then reflect and find out what adjustment you could make to put everything back in perspective. What the world needs is more entrepreneurs. Many may think that viewpoint is counterproductive to my being a recruiter, but that new entrepreneur just might be my new client. I know that I reap from where I sow. So if I keep planting good seeds of success it will cultivate further success.

AM: In today’s job market there is a lot of discussion about job shortage or quality positions for women. There isn’t a lot of women in top positions, especially CEO’s. There is also the issue of equal pay. Many take the attitude that there is an unbalance for hiring women, yet you have had tremendous success placing women. What do you attribute that success rate towards?

PG: If I had the secret sauce I would love to sell it. I’m not the type of person to say its a trade secret. Honestly it’s a combination of things. First is the discipline; we recruit for accounting and finance. Those disciplines probably have a 50/50 male to female ratio as opposed to welding, which is 95% men, or fire departments which is 90 + men. It could be the gene pool which just puts me in a better more favorable statistical setting. The other thing is, our clients are mostly on the private side. Our claim to fame is Sports and Entertainment companies. We also have some consumer product firms. One of our clients is Avon. So to answer your question I would have to say my gene pool and clients helped enabled me in that regard. Now in the area of all things being equal, meaning equal male and female candidates, I think one of the things we do differently or as good as anyone else in the business is preparing our clients to do well in their interview. Helping professionals, male or female, understand and project who they are as a human being first. Critical to the recruiter/client relationship is the communication and the level of trust we have with our clients. Our authenticity prevents us from under promising and over delivering. Instead, our integrity enables us to be honest with them on what’s occurring.

AM: On the other side of the fence is the candidate. What are the components or attributes that you look for that indicates the perfect candidate? Is there a certain criteria?

PG: Great question. I will put it to you this way. Our business model is placing individuals at companies that will pay us. Our primary responsibility is to find specific people for specific roles within specific companies. I typically work with 3-5 individuals who I feel I have to help. It may be indirectly or directly. There is something about them. I will call it their like. The candidate that I represent exhibits a couple of things. First, a high teachability index. What do I mean by that? It’s their willingness to learn and their willingness to change. Second, they are real. Real defined as being genuine and authentic, not pretentious. Divergent thinking is another plus. There really isn’t one specific characteristic, personality trait or experience that makes you the perfect candidate. Instead it’s probably the culmination of it all.

AM: You have been quoted as saying; “Being effective is better than being right.” Can you explain what you mean by that statement? I’m perplexed by that statement because most people who are effective make the right decisions. What do you mean by right?

PG: Dale Carnegie said, “Most people argue on method but not on purpose.” Methods change yet the purpose remains the same. If you open your mind to the various possibilities that exist you open yourself to getting to your purpose without having to make method important. I discovered if I’m right all the time then why does my life look like this? Whatever this is. My moniker is the recovering know it all. I discovered that with all the stories I could tell about my life and the conditions of my life, the common denominator is me. So if I’m so smart and right why does my life look like this? The answer is me. So rather than being right about stuff maybe I just need to discover what would be more effective. Sometimes being effective is being open to other options that might not be your suggestion or thought.
AM: We live in the information age and most everything we do is a proponent of what’s online. With that said, even job searching occurs online. What is your position or opinion on online job searching/ job recruitment?

PG: I always like to remind people it’s about being human first. It’s called human resources. The human aspect of recruitment is vitally important. Where does the proliferation of online tools help people to find a job? I will say this, online recruitment is a tool, but its not the tool. You can have information overload when you are on these sites, which can make you lose sight of the importance of a networking event. Nothing is more valuable than the human element. Being in front of people is much more effective than a resume in a pile of other resumes. Again, its about offering your services instead of asking for a need. Its about leaving a footprint. The human side says if you are rich in relationships you will never lack in resources. The online side says square peg, square hole. If you don’t fit the criteria or that certain dynamic, then let’s face it, we are in a buyers market online and you might not be considered for that position. However, if you went on LinkedIn and looked at your relationships and then connected with them first, you just might be led to a resource.

AM: You produced a television show, and Ms. Forbes, the host of the show said, “You are the sum of the obstacles you overcome.” You sir are a positive influence and your progressive attitude and perspective on life has garnered tremendous results for you and others. Is there anything else you would like our readers to know as it relates to their aspirations and being an inspiration to others while being the “Champion of Positivity?”

PG: I’m a big believer in being a vessel for the lessons that we learn and to share them. I’ve written about it and I’ve talked to people about it and i guess what I would invite people to consider is that they matter. They are important. To really fine tune who you listen to even within your own mind. I’ve got ten thousand voices to reckon with before I wake up. I choose to listen to the voice that says go you can do it, you matter, you’re loved, they miss you, they want to hear from you. The rest falls in place from there. Thank you for this opportunity to speak with you and your readers.

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