Interview with Dirigo Advisors Founder Patrick McGinnis

Full Name & Georgetown School and Year

Patrick J. McGinnis, SFS ‘98

Professional Title & Organization

Author, The 10% Entrepreneur and Founder, Dirigo Advisors

Career

What has been the most rewarding moment of your career?

Combining all of the experiences and lessons learned from investing in fast growing companies on five continents into a book that encourages everyone to be an entrepreneur without quitting their day job. My goal was to reach a global audience and that’s been truly rewarding. The book has been translated into a bunch of languages and I’ve spoken on the topic of 10% Entrepreneurship in a diverse set of places, such as Argentina, Uganda, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Mongolia.

What do you wish you had done earlier in your career?

I wish I had been more open to working on side projects as a way to explore interests, learn, and generate opportunities for upside. I was heads down and all-in on finance, which didn’t work out so well during the 2008 financial crisis.

What trends do you see in your profession or industry?

Entrepreneurship is going global due to the falling cost of innovating and the now indisputable fact that talent is borderless. As a result, you don’t need to be in Silicon Valley or New York or London to succeed. You can be almost anywhere.

What is the hardest thing you have ever done professionally? 

I’m credited with coining the term FOMO while I was a student at Harvard Business School. Staying focused, even when it’s not fun or profitable to do so, never gets easier.

What is the best career advice you have ever received? 

Find something you want to be known for it, write about it, establish your authority on the topic.

Hilltop Memories

How has Georgetown shaped you?

I like to joke that I have the most SFS career I could have imagined. Without question, the intellectual foundation and language skills that I got at Georgetown are fundamental to everything I do. I all have been heavily influenced by the values of cura personalis and social justice that I discovered on the hilltop.

What was your favorite professor or class at Georgetown?

“International Political Economy” with Prof. George Shambaugh and “Problem of God” with Julia Lamm

What is your favorite Georgetown memory?

Winning a ticket to see Bill Clinton speak at Gaston Hall my freshman year. I loved that Georgetown gave tickets out so democratically. It is still the greatest speech I have ever seen in person.

Your Inspirations

Who is a source of inspiration and strength to you in your life and why?

If you pay attention, you can find inspiration all around you, even in the little things. I try to pay attention and stay grateful for the little things.

What is on your desk right now?

A Oaxacan black clay skull from a great store called Tienda MAP in Mexico City. It’s a good reminder to make the most of each day.

Who is your favorite author? 

F. Scott Fitzgerald

What is one part of your daily routine you couldn’t live without?

I hate monotony, so I rebel against routine, but no matter where I am or what I’m doing, I will always start my day with a cup of very good coffee.

Final Word

What are your words to live by?

Always make sure to have more than one string to your bow.

Advertisements

Building Your Reputation. Stand Out to Get In.

Guest Post by: Jen Dalton for Brand Mirror

What is a personal brand, and why does it even matter? Put simply, your brand is your reputation. It’s the words that people think of to define you. It’s how relevant you are, and what conversations you are a part of. It’s how you stand out from others. If you don’t define your personal brand, others will define it for you, and this is why being in charge of your brand matters.

Brands create an emotional connection. When people think of Volvo, they often don’t just think car, they think safety. Apple is no longer just a fruit, but an innovative technology company. And you can’t think about Nike without thinking sports or speed. What emotional connection do people have when they think about you? There are actionable ways to control that, so let’s go over a few.

Understand Where You Are Today

First, we need to do some foundation building. To define your personal brand, we need to look at the Three D’s: Discover, Design, and Differentiate. Start with doing some self-reflection.

  • Ask yourself questions like: What do I want to do? What is the impact I want to have? What are my skills, strengths, and values? Where am I? Where am I going?
  • Think about 5 words that you think describe you, then go and ask your friends, family, even clients what their words for you would be. Compare the two, and think about how you might align them better.
  • Take a Digital Inventory. Google yourself and see what shows up. Ask a friend to search for yourself on LinkedIn by name, and then by role, and see where you show up. How hard is it for someone to find you?

It’s important to understand where others think you’re at because others’ perception of you is the reality of your personal brand.

What Do You Want People To Say About You When You Are Not in the Room?

Now, onto Design. Here we can look at some actionable steps to take towards designing your own brand. After you’ve figured out how people define you now, think about the ways you WANT people to define you. These are the words that will make up your Brand DNA. Think about how you want to show up, and start to design that brand. Be consistent. Does your work space, the way you dress, how you show up in meetings, and how you interact with others align with your Brand DNA? George Bernard Shaw said, “Life is not about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” Look at your LinkedIn page – is it telling a story about your brand, or is it just a copy of your resume?

If you’re having a hard time designing your Brand DNA, make your signature storyboard. Go through your history and find pictures that mean a lot to you emotionally, where you really liked the person you were at that moment. If you’re not visual, think of words or phrases where you really deliver in a powerful way. This can make up your storyboard, and this will help you define your brand promise. A brand is, essentially, a promise, so take time to create your Leadership Promise Statement. What can people expect when they work with you? How can you present this to people in, say, networking scenarios? When you introduce yourself, what do you say? Take this Promise of Value and make sure it’s consistent online. Show evidence of it everywhere. Prove it to everyone who looks.

Own What Makes You Unique and Different

Next, you need to Differentiate yourself from everyone else. What is your position? Look back over your storyboard and your Brand DNA and figure out what you have offered in the past that nobody else could’ve done. Figure out who your audience is. What companies do you want to be a part of that inspire you? What boards do you want to be on in your community? Taylor your brand to be approachable to your audience. Who are your competitors and who do you look up to and why? Spend some time researching them, how they got where they are, what exactly they’re doing. Figure out what their brand is.

Now you can start creating value and opportunities for yourself. Think about what you should be talking about. Should it be company related? Or perhaps about your passions, or your particular set of skills? Does what you have to say matter, and will people care? Is it relevant? Are the right people seeing you? How can you get them to care AND share what you talk about? Who are the leaders and influencers writing in the same space? These are the key elements that make up your Digital Brand. You can also create opportunities for yourself offline. You can join a board or volunteer in an organization. You can interview people in your same space and blog about it. You can network with others, and look for places to share your insights. You can look for speaking opportunities and webinars.

Plan Your Work, and Work Your Plan

Remember, timing is everything. Create an editorial or visibility calendar for your brand – where to be, when to write posts and blogs. You want to stay visible. In many cases, out of sight is out of mind. Make sure that your content is easy to share and re-purpose. Write about other people, companies, and organizations. Be sure to tag them when you post your content. This creates opportunities for others to share and help make you more visible. Write about others and help them be visible. Share helpful articles. Give shout outs on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram. Write recommendations on LinkedIn for people and on Google+, and Facebook for businesses. Send thank you notes, and provide recognition. Be genuine. Don’t expect things in return. Contribute to your brand by giving to others. Above all, be authentic. Authenticity contributes greatly to your personal brand. It’s easy to tell when someone is being disingenuous, and that puts a big hit on their brand or the way we think about them. Although you may plan a lot of your communications, be spur of the moment too and share things real time.

Lastly, monitor yourself, and listen to what others are saying about you. Continue to search yourself on Google and LinkedIn. Ask people to describe your brand periodically to check up on yourself. Do your own self-reflection when you can. Keep control of your brand, the emotional connection people make to you, by monitoring yourself using the steps above. Remember, although you are not a product, you do have a reputation and people will decide to work with you and help you based on your brand.

“People may not remember exactly what you did, or what you said, but they will always remember you how made them feel.” Maya Angelou

Be a noisebreaker, not a noisemaker.

Jen

Interview with the Co-Founder of Solemates Monica Ferguson (B’00)

What has been the most rewarding moment of your career?

There have been a lot of rewarding moments as an entrepreneur, but I think when Oprah Winfrey devoted a half page in her magazine and called my invention/product “genius”. It was great.

What do you wish you had done earlier in your career?

I wish I had learned basic HTML/CSS earlier in my career.

What trends do you see in your profession or industry?

As a retail brand, we are constantly navigating the changing face of brick and mortar retail (i.e., its decline), as well as how to strike the right balance in the digital space with the investment that goes into our branded website in a world dominated by Amazon.

What is the hardest thing you have ever done professionally? 

For sure it was the decision to leave Goldman (the second time) to start my company.

What is the best career advice you have ever received? 

Be comfortable being uncomfortable.

How has Georgetown shaped you?

Georgetown helped me understand what it was to have the courage of my convictions; and the importance of acting in accordance with my beliefs.

What was your favorite professor or class at Georgetown?

Advanced Financial Management (unlikely a common answer). It was the first class that showed me how numbers tell the story of a business. Accounting did not do that for me!

What is your favorite Georgetown memory?

Any memory that involves spending time with my friends; whether it was a class project, a dinner, or just sitting around our house. It was all so much fun.

Who is a source of inspiration and strength to you in your life and why?

My parents. They raised 4 children, have demanding careers, more friends than they can handle, and they have always made time for everyone and everything. I am inspired by their work ethics, sacrifice, and their energy.

What is on your desk right now?

An old fashion (paper) date book, an amazon Echo, a bottle of Smart Water, a to-do list, and a mess of sample products and packaging.

Who is your favorite author? 

Amor Towles, Jonathan Franzen, and Kristin Hannah

What is one part of your daily routine you couldn’t live without?

Coffee and exercise

What are your words to live by?

Gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder (Gilbert K. Chesterton), but I erroneously attributed it to David Brooks for years.

 

Interview with Halo Top President and COO Doug Bouton (COL ’07)

What has been the most rewarding moment of your career?

If I had to choose, I think the fact that we employee more than 100 people right now. It’s very rewarding to create great jobs for great people.

What do you wish you had done earlier in your career?

Unfortunately, my “career” has largely been Halo Top so not sure I would’ve done anything differently. I went to law school out of college and practiced law for a year or so before Halo Top. My legal background helped tremendously with the founding of and raising money for Halo Top so can’t say I even regret that aspect of my short career.

What trends do you see in your profession or industry?

There are plenty of trends in the food industry. When Halo Top started, it was in the middle of the healthy eating trend that continues to this day, which Greek yogurt largely spearheaded. In that sense, we’ve been fortunate to have the right product, right time – aligning with food/beverage trends like low-calorie, high-protein, and low-sugar. As far other trends, non-dairy/vegan is a big one that will last for a long time. I suspect things like gluten-free are more fad than trend and will pass but time will tell.

What is the hardest thing you have ever done professionally? 

The first few years of Halo Top were really tough, really stressful. I would’ve been easy for my business partner and me to give up. Persevering through those 3-4 years, in hindsight, was probably the hardest thing that I’ve done professionally. I’m also most proud of what we’ve done and what we’ve accomplished because I know personally just how hard and precarious it was. We could just as easily not be here today, Halo Top wouldn’t exist, and I would be personally bankrupt if we didn’t catch a bunch of lucky breaks and keep on keeping on.

What is the best career advice you have ever received? 

If you’re not happy, stop talking about it and make a change.

How has Georgetown shaped you?

Georgetown has shaped me in more ways than I can count. I think the two most important ways in which it shaped me are:

  1. critical thinking (especially as it relates to self-reflection)
  2. holistic education

Georgetown was the first time that I was really challenged to critically think about all of my beliefs and opinions, and the importance of critical thinking – in business and in life – cannot be understated in my opinion. Georgetown also emphasized the importance of a holistic education – focusing on activities, relationships, and social education beyond the classroom.

What was your favorite professor or class at Georgetown?

Professor McKeown – Problem of God

What is your favorite Georgetown memory?

House parties, Georgetown Day activities, 2007 Final 4 trip to Atlanta, pretty much all of my theology classes. Too many to count.

Who is a source of inspiration and strength to you in your life and why?

The easy answer is my parents. The values they taught me, the work ethic they instilled in me, and the love and support they have given me are the main reason why I am who I am and have accomplished what I have accomplished.

What is on your desk right now?

Papers, clutter, and more crap than I care to admit.

Who is your favorite author? 

Don’t really have one. I read anything – biographies and other non-fiction, fiction, fantasy, sci-fi, etc. Literally anything.

What are your words to live by?

Pick just about any Drake lyric.

Nailing the Internal Interview

If you are looking to get ahead in your organization don’t wait to be tapped on the shoulder and asked to step up.  Put yourself out there!  Applying for an internal promotion/new position within your company?  Here’s what you need to know.

1.  Rest on your laurels. Know your reputation before you interview. Are you known as being a team player?  Intrapreneur? Getting things done?  Capitalize on that!  Know your personal brand and speak to it in your interview by providing specific examples.

2.  Don’t rest on your laurels. Yes, this is the opposite of what I said above and yes this is purposeful.  While you need to know your personal brand within the office and highlight the strengths of your brand, you also can’t rely on it.  Make sure you take this interview just as seriously even if you know the interviewers. Just because you’re known internally for being a great employee doesn’t mean you don’t have to answer the questions well in an interview.  Don’t assume that just because you work at the organization the interviewer is going to know your accomplishments.  Even if they do, it’s okay to remind them of the highlights.

3. Treat it like any interview… but this time you have an advantage. Wear a suit even if you don’t wear a suit every day to the office.  Send a thank you note to your interviewer even if it’s a colleague in the cube next to you. Ask questions – don’t assume that because you work there you know it all.

4.  Research the future instead of the past. In a normal interview you need to research the organization extensively. In this case you have been doing research the entire time you’ve been working there.  Take a step back and think about how the new position is different, consider if it is in a different department or on a different team.  Instead of doing baseline research, you can wow them with your insights. Instead of answering only with your past experience, you can talk about future directions based on historical knowledge.

5. Don’t assume you will get the job. Just because you are an internal candidate doesn’t mean you’ll get the job.  The process is competitive so treat it as such.

6. Among friends? Interviewing with colleagues and friends can be awkward. Even if you are friends/colleagues with those involved in the process, you can have a familiar tone but make sure you remain professional.  Be up front with them that you may repeat things they already know but that you want to be thorough in your answers. Also consider how this will affect your relationships with friends/colleagues if you will be managing them in the new position – it may come up in the interview.

The age old question is whether to tell your boss about applying for the new position.  The age old answer is… it depends.  A good manager will want you to succeed and grow within the organization. If you have a positive relationship with your boss, honesty is the best policy.  You don’t want them hearing through the grapevine before you have an opportunity to address it yourself.  If you have a challenging relationship with your boss this can be a tough conversation and you need to determine how this will impact your relationship with them whether you get the job… or don’t get the job.

Top 10 Interview Tips

The biggest downfall of interviews:  assuming that because you are a “people person” you don’t need to practice.  While you may be the life of the party, natural networker, or social butterfly, it doesn’t mean that you can necessary ace the interview. The fact is, most of us aren’t comfortable talking about ourselves and our accomplishments, much less in a clear and succinct way.  Start your interview prep with identifying your top 3 strengths and 3 specific examples of each.  This will get you started and most interview questions will come back to those strengths and examples.

There is a ton of information out there on interviewing here are our top 10 tips:

1.  Sharpen your pencils.  Just like when you had to bring 5 #2 pencils to the SAT’s, make sure you have everything you need and know where you are going.  Do a dry run to check out the parking situation and see how long it takes to get there.  Bring a pen, paper, tissues, mints, a snack, extra copies of your resume and cover letter, and a bottle of water.

2.  Research.  While this is an obvious one, we can’t reiterate it enough!  And we’re not just talking about googling.  Find connections in your network (hint: fellow Hoyas) to talk to about company culture.  Look at industry trends, recent news, their competitors.  Take your research a step further by a) integrating your research into the interview and b) asking questions based on your research. Bonus points for researching your interviewer(s) in advance. Note: It’s not a good idea to connect with those interviewers on LinkedIn until you get an offer.

3.  EVERYONE is part of the interview process.  From the person who schedules your interview to the receptionist who greets you, to the hiring committee, your interview starts as soon as you begin correspondence with a company or organization.  The content and timing of emails, responsiveness to phone calls, and how you treat employees when you actually get to the interview all count in the process.

4.  The hardest question:  Tell me about yourself.  This question is inevitable so make sure you nail it.  I’ve done alot of mock interviews in my career and hands down this is the question that most people not only don’t nail but flub miserably. This is your open-ended chance to talk about whatever you want – take advantage of it.  It frames your entire interview. Keep in professional in nature and choose a few most relevant highlights.

5.  Respond in bullet points.  You have 30-60 minutes to discuss the highlights of your educational and professional background.  That’s alot to encapsulate and alot for your interviewer to take in. Make it easy for them by breaking down your answers into succinct pieces of information and examples.  Keep your answers clear, concise, and linear by enumerating where possible.

6. First impressions count.  According to Forbes, you have 7 seconds to make a first impression.  The first 5 minutes of your interview are the most critical.  People want to hire employees who are smart but who are also enthusiastic and that they like. It’s human nature.

7.  Ask for business cards – it sends a signal that you want to follow up and are invested in the process.  And yes, a thank you note is critical.  My personal preference is to send an email thank you within 24 hours of your interview.  If you have multiple interviewers, send separate, unique emails.   While a written note is great, the time to write, send, and mail may leave your interviewer assuming you didn’t send one.  In a world where decisions can be made quickly, timing is everything. Make your thank you note substantive too – chances are each interviewer will forward to the hiring manager.  If you are a traditionalist, feel free to send a handwritten note in addition to the email but make sure you use professional stationary and the content is not identical.

8. Ask about the interviewer’s experience.  Everyone likes to tell their story.

9.  Bring examples.  Do you have examples of marketing pieces you put together, annual reports you have compiled, anything tangible that represents your work? If so, use them as props to supplement your answers during the interview.  It will make you stand out from the competition.

9.  Finally… breathe.  When asked a question, don’t be afraid to take a moment to collect your thoughts.

We all get so wrapped up in the competitive nature of the job search that sometimes we need to take a step back and remember that interviewing is a two way street. You want to use your interview as an opportunity to determine if this is the right company and job for you too.   It’s not all about them!

We love this infographic on interviewing as a little reminder to hang on your mirror before the big day!  (source: http://visual.ly/what-you-wish-youd-known-your-job-interview)

We want to know – what questions do you have about interviewing?