The Challenges of Talent Management: Bob Kelley, CEO, Adaptive Business Leaders (ABL) Organization and Bryan Elliott, CEO, The GoodBrain Digital Studio and Editor in Chief, Linked Orange County Magazine

Date: January 14, 2014

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

Today’s guests are Bob Kelley, CEO, Adaptive Business Leaders (ABL) Organization; and Bryan Elliott, CEO, The GoodBrain Digital Studio and Editor in Chief, Linked Orange County Magazine.

Despite the proliferation of traditional networking avenues that exist, both of today’s guests saw voids in these forums and set out to fix them in distinct ways, one catered to CEOs navigating business challenges and the other to geographic talent looking to connect without hidden agendas.

BOB KELLEY  Talent Management

As the head of Adaptive Business Leaders (ABL), Kelley helps CEOs deal with their toughest issues by facilitating regular roundtables that offer insights on a range of executive topics. ABL was formed on the premise that CEOs need to ask the right questions, and then seek out people who can help with these questions. Kelley has also served as chairman of the board for six technology companies.

Weapons of Mass Destruction

The first biggest challenge in recruiting talent, according to Kelley, is to frame an effective job description. Once on board, Kelley says it’s all about “ensuring that the new hire either succeeds quickly or leaves early.” Effective job descriptions and thorough background and reference checks help filter out the wrong talent. Nodding to the destructive impact the wrong hire can have on an organization, Kelley likens bad leaders to “weapons of mass destruction” in an organization.

Plus It Up

When it comes to fostering creativity in a team, Kelley starts with an effective mind map or outline of the issue and the larger context. He then asks, “‘What’s missing?’” Any and all ideas are offered up for feedback, with no sugar coating allowed. “I would much rather an idea fail in discussion than after further effort is invested,” offers Kelley.

The Point of Passion

While Kelley values the role of passion in success, he recognizes that it may take several forms: passion for the company, the process or the team. As he learned in from his military experience, people can be highly motivated by their affiliation with a particular team, or as he calls it “loving the experience as created by your peers.”

He also believes passion can propel talent forward, particularly talent without a deep pedigree in their field, citing several business executives and politicians who lack formal training but enjoy plenty of success.

What are You Reading?

Among Kelley’s favorites is Boards that Leadco-authored by Ram Charan.

How Can I Connect with You? Visit and click on the information form, or find him on LinkedIn.

BRYAN ELLIOTT  Talent Management

Elliott started The GoodBrain Digital Studio in 2007 to focus on creating video content that tells stories. He describes the “rude awakening” he had becoming an entrepreneur. “I always felt like a square peg in round hole,” recalls Elliott.  In addition to leaving behind the stability and perks of a corporate role, Elliott describes his early entrepreneurship journey as “hunting every day and you eat what you kill, and when you don’t kill every day, you get hungry.”

Are You Half Pregnant?

“I feel like there is a chromosome in there, that if you want to activate it, it’s there – or it’s not,” comments Elliott on the fact that entrepreneurship is not for everyone. Through plenty of uncertainty and instability, he had to quickly learn “how to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.”

Others, he cites, are more adept at being “intrapreneurs” who work within a  larger organization, such as is fostered within companies such as 3M and Google.

His entrepreneurship journey was heavily influenced by two key pieces of advice from mentors:

  • The first from a mentor who, when in Elliott’s early days as a company founder he didn’t fully take the plunge, told him, “‘Bryan, the problem with you is that you are half pregnant. You either are or you’re not.’”

  • And the second from Seth Godin, who told Elliott that the one thing that is lacking generally in society is initiative. “The amazing thing about initiative is no one hands it to you. It’s something you have to take,” recalls Elliott.

How does he feel about it now? “The future seems bright when I am at the wheel.”

Play Up

When it comes to recruiting and vetting talent, “we all want to work with people we know, like and trust,” says Elliott. Beyond that, he aims to surround himself with people he thinks are better than him, evoking his days as an athlete during which superior teammates inspired him to “play up.”

Networking Without the Baggage

Elliott formed Linked Orange County upon feeling disconnected from resources and from other professionals when he started his company. After being disappointed with the networking options available, he set out to launch a group that would “really just be about connecting people.” Linked Orange County began as an invite-only forum that is about “connecting buyers with sellers and information seekers with information.”

What are You Reading?

Among Elliott’s numerous reads are Brian Solis’ The End of Business as Usual,” Seth Godin’s Linchpin and Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook by Gary Veynerchuk, which is “about knowing when to give and when to ask.”

How Can I Connect with You? Elliott can be contacted at, or found on Linkedin.

Talent management is a challenge for any business, whether it is managing the talent you are bringing in the door or the talent that has been committed to the company for 20 years.  Finding and keeping the right talent is of utmost important for continued success.  If you are effective in talent management, then you are able to do those things that some companies just can’t do…find the best talent and keep them around for as long as possible.

Tune into the show next week, and remember, do what you love….and show the world how talented you can be, today.