Michael Gorelick, VP of Benefit Equity, Inc. and Lisa Perrine, CEO of Cibola Systems Corporation Share Insights on Employee Development

Date: October 29, 2013

To hear the entire show, click http://tiny.cc/podcast_gorelick_perrine  

Hosted by Chris Dyer, the CEO of PeopleG2.  Talent Talk Radio features engaging conversation with CEOs, thought leaders and HR executives.  Talent Talk connects professionals who care about talent-related issues and employee development. 

Today’s guests are Michael Gorelick, VP of Benefit Equity, Inc.; and Lisa Perrine, CEO of Cibola Systems Corporation.

While global business leaders and great management thinkers often play a key role in developing talent, today’s guests both found professional inspiration much closer to home, in their fathers.


Gorelick started his career with Frito-Lay, a job his father – a lifelong consumer products professional – helped him land. He went on to work with his father as an executive headhunter with Gorelick & Associates, later joining Benefit Equity in 1995 as a sales manager to take on a new challenge.  Today, he works with businesses throughout California.

Say Less & Listen More

Key influences for Gorelick are his father for “his pure work ethic” and his uncle, who he calls “the best practices guy.” One of these best practices is

“listening to learn as opposed to listening to respond,” which Gorelick says allows you to glean knowledge from others. “Early on in my career, I was so obsessed with learning my trade….to the point that when I was out doing my job as a salesperson, I was coming across as arrogant…It turns out that it was my insecurity, and I needed to say less and listen more.”

When you do speak, Gorelick encourages, ensure you are logical and thoughtful in your delivery.  He recalls a college professor interrupting him in the midst of a presentation and threatening to fail him if Gorelick said “um” one more time. He has listened to recordings of himself in past speaking engagements to ensure he sounds fluid  — a key skill for any sales person.

What’s In a Resume?

When it comes to recruiting talent, Gorelick says, “The internet has made an impact on how people really source talent…but you still have to be able to understand who you are talking to.” In thinking back to his own hiring decisions, he has noticed that, “most of the time, it ended up being common sense” and not pedigree that defined the best talent choices. He believes, “a resume doesn’t tell you if they are going to be successful.” Instead, Gorelick asks candidates to put together a timeline of strategic points in their life representing their key skills.

What are you Reading?

Gorelick often turns to self-help books such as Fierce Conversations,” which tackles fear of confrontation.

How Can I Connect with You? You can find Michael Gorelick on LinkedIn or visit www.benefitequity.com.


Cibola Systems is a systems integration firm that takes multiple communications technologies and puts them together in interesting ways. Perrine’s own background is in design, having started her career in product design prior to joining Cibola as its CEO.

Engineering Great Talent

Since Cibola Systems hires engineers frequently, they look for three key traits beyond an engineering background, namely:

  • Empathy,
  • Creative problem-solving, and
  • Highly-ethical people.

Perrine points to two key approaches to developing talent at Cibola. “We allow people to volunteer for a non-profit and pay for some time for them to do that.” In addition to being “a good thing to do,” Perrine believes it also teaches key workplace skills. She also uses a tool called StrengthFinders, an online assessment that focuses on only on strengths. Perrine uses it to identify how her team can further apply those strengths to their work.

She also takes a bit of an unorthodox view of managing talent: “It’s important to help people to connect with their dreams, whether it has anything to do with their current job or not.” So, she asks employees: “What are you dreaming of and what can we do to help you reach that goal, whether it has to do with Cibola or not?”

Mentorship Mix

In her own leadership journey, Perrine’s key mentors include her father and her higher education pursuits. Most of all, however, she says: “I owe a big debt to people I volunteered for – the Sisters of Saint Joseph,” which taught her the importance of “faith, flexibility and foresight.”

Before her first husband passed away, Perrine describes herself as very driven and impatient. “Going through a long illness with him gave me a different attitude…and I brought that to the company.” Today, a large part of the culture at Cibola Systems is that there is no expectation to work nights and weekends.

Another leadership progression for Perrine was reconciling her introverted nature with her leadership. “It was a real growing process to me to be introverted and a leader of an organization.” From sales presentations to public speaking engagements in her role as CEO, she quickly learned to overcome her shyness.

What are You Reading?

Perrine is reading Morten Hansen and Jim Collins’ Great by Choice,” a book about “a very few companies that way outperformed their competitors in good and bad times.”

How Can I Connect with You?  You can find Lisa Perrine on LinkedIn or visit www.cibolasystems.com.

When it comes to employee development, there are so many different insights and approaches.  Tune into the show next week, and remember, do what you love….and show the world how talented you can be, today.