What Fuels You on Smash Notes

#1 Shauna Swerland

What Fuels You

On the first episode of What Fuels You, Shauna is interviewed by executive coach, author and friend, Teri Citterman. Shauna Swerland, a Seattle native, is the CEO and Founder of recruiting firm, Fuel Talent. In just five years, Fuel Talent has been recognized as one of the Fastest-Growing Companies, Largest Women-Owned Companies and Best Places to Work in Washington, among many others awards. Hear how her recruiting career came to be, how it’s evolved and her process on finally deciding to become an entrepreneur. You’ll learn about her passion and desire for creating this podcast, and it will set the tone for what you’ll hear the rest of this season when she does the interviewing moving forward.

Episode notes last updated on May 13, 2019 15:28

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Smash Notes summary for this episode

Who is Shauna Swerland ?

She is the founder and CEO of Fuel Talent.

What has been Shauna's favorite part of her recruiting career?

Shauna loves the stories people tell regarding leadership, career choices, and team building.

What inspired Shauna to start the "What Fuels You" podcast ?

She was curious about people's lives and wanted to help share their stories as far as how they arrived at a place, what decisions were made along the way, who influenced their decisions, and what they learned in the process.

Who is Teri Citterman ?

She is an executive coach and author of the book "From the CEO's Perspective" who has spent the last several years asking hard questions and challenging CEOs in the Chicago region.

What is the earliest memory Shauna has of being a leader ?

Shauna jokes that she has been the leader-type her whole life. She remembers running for student council in second grade.

Who had the biggest influence in Shauna's life when she was young ?

Growing up, her family had a business and she looked up to her grandfather, her parents, and her brother.

What was one of the biggest lessons Shauna learned at a young age ?

Her grandfather instilled in her tenacity and fearlessness. She learned about self-care and hard work.

What was Shauna's first job?

She worked for the family business selling clothes and was also a tennis instructor every summer.

What hobbies did Shauna participate in ?

She was a competitive tennis player that grew up on the tennis court with her mom. She thrived in tennis, but would have enjoyed a team sport more.

What did Shauna do after graduating college ?

She moved to San Francisco and became a recruiter.

Where did Shauna go after San Francisco ?

After a year into her career, a company from LA hired her to open up their San Francisco office and subsequent offices.

What was life like for Shauna while living in New York ?

She met her husband and had her first two children there. But, she kept wondering when she would move away as many 20-somethings often did. She wishes she would have started her business sooner, but she let fear impact her decision.

How has living in New York after 9/11 impacted Shauna ?

She was at work when her team went to the roof of their building and saw the second plane hit the twin towers. After 9/11, she connected with a company in Seattle and began working for them remotely.

What happened to her business in 2009 ?

All of Shauna's clients imploded, like Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns, during the financial crisis.

How did Shauna overcome her fear of starting her own business ?

Her family helped her realize that she could hire out in areas that she wasn't confident in.

What does Shauna see as the best part of owning her own company ?

The income is completely secondary. Seeing her vision and brand that reflects her values has been incredibly satisfying. She is able to handle people vs. money as she wants to.

What advice does Shauna have for someone wanting to start their own business ?

Make sure that there is a viable idea. Once confident in that, don't overthink it and go for it. Sometimes you must place yourself around people who are encouraging and motivating and ask the "why not you?" question.

What was the inspiration in naming Fuel ?

She collaborated with a few friends. While many names were already taken, she loved the name "fuel" and "what fuels you" came really organically and has become their slogan for nearly everything they do.

What does Fuel specialize in ?

Fuel Talent is a holding company for lots of smaller recruiting firms. They specialize in the technology and marketing sectors along with finance, HR, personal assistants, and household managers.

What do CEOs need to keep in mind when hiring for an executive assistant ?

CEOs sometimes don't know themselves well enough. If an assistant isn't strong enough to ask the necessary questions, they might not be the right fit. Onboarding of the assistant with the executive must be taken seriously.

What has been the secret to Shauna's success?

She believes that 80% of life is showing up, following through, and executing. She does a lot of "doing" and taking care of others. Shauna is good at picking up on her environment and isn't into the numbers/science side of some recruiting philosophies.

Who are the ideal clients for Fuel to work with ?

Shauna likes to align with companies who see them as partners and not vendors. Companies with a compelling story are easier to sell.

What mistakes does Shauna see startups make ?

A lot of companies do not take into the consideration the comps, metrics, and systems that must be looked at in each industry. It is tough to partner with companies that have not figured out the pace of their markets. Also, some companies do not have a system for funneling resumes and/or an applicant tracking system that allows for an overall game plan.

Who is the next client who does not know that they need Fuel ?

Fuel has added to their business and is not only working with startups, but also larger enterprise clients. The hiring managers within those larger clients are the ones who may not know what Fuel Talent has to offer.

Are there more details on the inspiration of the "What Fuels You" podcast ?

Shauna started listening to podcasts within the past year and has become obsessed. She has interests in so many areas and wants to be a part of that.

What should listeners expect to hear on the "What Fuels You" podcast ?

Shauna wants people to email in about what they want to hear about. Topics like networking, interviewing, assessing equity, when to walk away, when to negotiate, etc. will all be discussed. She also wants to go deep with others and challenge them.

What piece of advice does Shauna believe now that she may not have believed early on in her career ?

Convincing herself that, in order to be a CEO, that she needed to understanding everything inside and out was a false belief.

What can women do to support other women?

Invest in one another.

What has been the most surprising thing about having kids and running a business?

It takes a village of people to allow Shauna to be a mom and to run her business. She did not realize how satisfying it would be for her to see her kids become self-reliant. She sees it as a gift that she has given them because of her time restrictions and does not want to smother her kids.

What does Shauna most admire about David, her entrepreneur husband?

She admires his mind and his abilities as well as his attitude. Shauna tends to be a Type A personality whereas her husband likes to "stop and smell the roses" which is a good reminder for her.

If Shauna was not the CEO of Fuel Talent, what would she be doing ?

She would love to be a dancer or in something related to sports or entertainment. She likes to be "front of the house" versus "back of the house" as she is extroverted and loves people.