Decision Dialogues
Decision Dialogues

Episode · 1 year ago

Willing to Take a Risk - Ep 09

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

On Episode 9 of Decision Dialogues, Jennifer Faherty and Mark Willoughby have a conversation with Ruthanne Roth, Founder and Managing Partner of Aster Talent Partners. Ruthanne cites her willingness to take on risk in the pursuit of success, but also how she has moderated her gut instincts with data and advice, as primary drivers of that success. Get the full show notes and more resources at ModeraWealth.com/DecisionDialogues

Are you paving the way for the life you want, facing decisions that may affect you personally and financially? The decision dialogs podcast, brought to you by Modera Wealth Management, presents personal stories about navigating through life's pivotal moments, narratives that we hope will inspire you as you create your own story. You'll learn what influence their next steps and gain insights that could help you with your own critical choices. Welcome to decision dialogs. Thanks for joining us and decision dialogs or thrilled to have you along. My name is mark will it be, and I'm a principal wealth manager and Chief Operating Officer of the Madeira Wealth Management Llc. Today, my colleague Jennifer Ferrety, who is chief Client Experience Officer at Madeira, and I will be chatting with Ruth Anne Roth. Ruth Anne is the founder and managing partner of astor talent partners, are recruiting firm focused on the specialized needs of the alternative investment industry. Thanks for joining us. Welcome everyone to the show and I'll hand it over to Jennifer. Welcome. Welcome with an especially thank you for being here today, as our guest. So, as a mark mention, you are the founder of astor talent partners. So why don't we start there, with you telling us about your firm and how you founded the company? Great, thank you. I'm great to be here. I appreciate the opportunity to talk with you all. So, as mark mentioned, we are an executive search and talent advisory Boutique. We were a very niche player and that we focus exclusively on working with byside firms and our clients range all the way from newly created fund managers all the way to the more established, publicly traded private equity firms that are household names for us all. So why that nation particular? How did you come up with that? You know, we I. You know, I started recruiting when I was living in New York and worked for a firm that was specialized in alternative investment and when I went off on my own, really had the realization that, you know, to I couldn't be all things to all people and decided to go with the strategy of just traveling in in a pretty narrow lane and knowing it is best as I can. So it has, you know, it's been somewhat fortuitous that there's been so much growth and so much growing needs for talent and much more strategic talent to support the funds that are growing and multiplying. So it's been it's been a lot of fun. Was it always that niche or did it evolve over time? It's been this niche. You know, we do some portfolio company work when it's something that's adjacent to finance, but we've been kept extraordinarily busy working primarily with private equity, hedge funds and venture capital. It's great. And so you talked about having recruiting experience. It's and then starting your own business. Where their reservations about starting your business or can you kind of give us a little bit of a story about how that decision happened? Yeah, as I mentioned, I started recruiting when I lived in New York and moved home at the beginning of o nine, which was sort of a we all probably try not to remember, was a crazy time in the financial services world. So came back to California and sort of had a little bit of a Frank Sinatra moment, I call it, of you know, I want to do it my way and decided to go off on my own and started my my first recruiting company, and that was about ten plus years ago and looking back in retrospective is I really was living in a bit of an ignorance is bliss world. You know, didn't realize how hard it would be in some ways but, on the positive didn't realize how positive it would be in others. So I wish I could say that I had a really well thought out business plan, but it was it was really a it was an opportune time for me, both personally and professionally,...

...and and I'm delighted that I took that leap. That's great and it's true sometimes that ignorance is bliss, or that's not quite the right phrase, but like you're not not really having that kind of experience before or plan really sometimes can have more ability to take risk or kind of you know, kind of jump in right no, I think I've always been a very risk friendly person in my life and I you know, again is I is I get into my the later stages of my career and I look back and and sort of marvel, if that's the right word, at the hoods. But I've had it earlier stages in my career and maybe would be much more calculated in those risks today. How how long into your career before you decided to go out on your own? Jh, I have ten years in the recruiting business. Do you feel like you left at the right time to go out on your own, or it sounds to me like maybe you you left a little bit earlier than you had intended? You know, it was a good time for me personally because, you know, going back to risk tolerance, which I think is a really important thing for any entrepreneur to sort of hold the mirror up and know what degree of risk a person is able to take. I was single, didn't have children and was able to really I was at a point in my life where I could take that risk and, you know, I knew that my worst case scenario would be moving home and having to sleep in the twin bed in my old bedroom at home, which probably wouldn't have been an ideal thing for me at age, you know, at that age, at age forty, but you know, knew that I would you know, my again, my worst case scenario was going to with what's going to be okay and that I would land on my feet. So one quick question before I hand back to Jennifer. So, if I got it right, you combined deciding to found your own firm with move moving back home across country, both at the same roughly the same time, roughly the same time exactly. I mean it was. It was a perfect, I guess, trifective events, just both with personal and professional and also, you know, I was at a larger recruiting firm that was focused on financial services that was going through a period of distress, as a lot of firms in the industry were. You know, it's almost counterintuitive, but starting a company at a time of distress, when you have the opportunity to build the infrastructure, to find who you are, learn, you know, proved to be valuable. And as a business owner, you must have had to surround yourself, and still do with with good people support. So in the beginning and also now, who do you surround yourself with? How do you help make your decision making easier with the support networks that you have? That's something I've definitely have had to work at and as it's a muscle that I've developed, because it's hard to delegate when you're a business owner and it's hard to also to admit that you don't know the answers to everything and it's important to have somebody who's going to challenge you. You know, my husband, who is an investment banking and is very analytical, has been a tremendous sounding board for me and the people who work with me today. You know, we all bring very different skills to the table. In My old age, I think I've developed a pretty healthy self awareness around my strengths as well and, more importantly, a healthy self awareness around my weaknesses. I think the point you bring up around hiring for your weaknesses is absolutely critical. Yeah, and you're in the recruitment business. In some ways you're kind of applying that to yourself and kind of as you help other people do the same thing. Absolutely, absolutely. There must be so many rewarding parts of your job and I'd love to just hear about some of what you find most rewarding in terms of, you know, both as as a founder and managing partner and then also in just your...

...coaching capacity when you're talking to people and recruiting them. Yeah, I mean working with people, and pepe and people make really big decisions based on the work that we do. I mean ninety plus percentage of the people who I place are professionals who are minding their own business until they get a phone call from me, and I take that very seriously because, you know, people are leaving jobs and making very impactful decisions on their both financial lives in their professional lives because of opportunities that we present them. And when somebody gets their dream job or you present something to them that they've never thought of before and created an opportunity, I think that's enormously rewarding and I've also just in the twenty plus years that I've been doing this, have found found enormous satisfaction in what I've learned from people and the friendships and people that I've met from doing this. It's a relationship business and you have to enjoy being a relationship person and just being able to build relationships with people who are very different from me. I mean, I've recruited for different levels of positions throughout my career and there have been times where I'm working with candidates who come from diametrically opposite backgrounds from mine and being able to find a point of commonality with those people and and learning from them. You know, you never want to be closed from who you can learn from has just been tremendous. Yeah, I mean in some ways, you know, we've a lot in common in the sense of, you know, as financial planners, we kind of come across our clients and decisionmaking points of their lives and you know in the podcast is called decision dialogs. So you're really at the heart of that decisionmaking process. So I'm not sure if you can answer this, but do you see patterns or on how people make decisions or what some of those tradeoffs are that they're looking at as are making them? Yeah, and it's funny, every person, or every candidate that I place has it. You know, does go through a very different process because people are at different points in their lives, whether they're the breadwinner for their family, whether they're going through personal situations, whether they have financial distress, whether they're able to make a financial risk. You know the those are all very important decisions and and you know, one of the sound bites that I find myself saying when people say to me often because you build such a trusting relationship, similar to what you do with your clients, and when somebody says to me ruthing on what do you think you know. I often find myself saying, you know, I can't play God in your life, and you know people I mean, just because I have a very high tolerance for risk and haven't always been is analytical about my decisionmaking as others are. You know, you have to honor and respect the process that each person has let me turn to spotlight. This is I think this is a good segue because what you said earlier about your own decisionmaking around setting up your own firm. We've spoken to a lot of folks on this podcast series with then, and many of them, like you, have started in the corporate world and have met a decision to be entrepreneurial at some point, and it's amazing to me to see the contrast in how our various guests have met their decisions. Some have been very analytical and I planned it out for two or three years. It sounds like we have a contrast in you in that you you welcome risk and it almost sounds like you are making your decision on your good instincts. Am I right? But can you expand on that? Yeah, I think you're exactly right, and earlier when you had asked about the...

...types of people I surround myself with. And I think of my husband, who's an investment banking and you know, he thinks with his head and I think with my you know, with my stomach right or with with my gut. You know, my gut has, in my my intuition and my instincts have served me well in my career. But I cannot, I can't say a hundred percent of the time. But you know what the what's important, I think, is that you know, as we as we do this series, you know, for some people, for some of our listeners, they need to be planned out, but but for the folks like you who who operate on good and feel, it can still work out fine. It can still work out fine, you can follow your own path. And for you, I mean it seems that you're good, while not being precisely accurate, is accurate enough that you've had a tremendous amount of success. Well, thank you. Yeah, it's it's been fun. I feel fortunate that my brain works in a way that lends itself to the work that I do and to the decisions that I've made. People like you who operate by Gut and instinct. When you look back, are there any parts of the decisions you've met that you've Gone Oh my Lord, why did I do it that? Is there any advice you can give to people like you? Oh my Gosh, how much time do you have? I mean, while I think being a gut thinker and working off of intuition it is a very powerful skill for certain people to have, I don't think. I think relying on good data is also really important and there have been times where I've had an idea for a practice or a product where I was sure everybody would buy it, and I probably should have taken the time to ask more people and to collect more data and and also just to crunch the number. You know, I not having a head for numbers, thinking more analytically about like what is the true prophet and baking in the opportunity cost of my time, the opportunity cost of the time of my team and everything else. So I do think things may have been eat I mean the result may have been the same, but the path for me to be would have been much more linear had I taken more time to really study the data. And it's really a balance right, because I've seen it both ways where people rely too heavily on the data especially. You know that we've seen this a lot in marketing lately to where, you know, there it's become much more data driven, which is great, but oftentimes they missed that element of the art of the marketing and things like yeah, yeah, and recruiting has become like that too. I often speak about recruiting how it's part art part science. It's because there's a lot of a lot of firms that we work with their and financial services and by definition, financial services is a very data driven industry and people are trying to apply objectivity to something that's actually quite subjective. Absolutely. So I love this phrase that you used about yourself. You said risk friendly. Yeah, you know, we deal at big NBA word. Right. How did that develop? You know, was that something you were taught or, you know, did you just always have remember being that way? Yeah, you know, my my father, who was, you know, my hero and and somebody who I, you know, really modeled myself after in a lot of ways, really beat to his own drummer and and was fearless in a lot of ways, and I was always a very precocious child, not always to my you know, to the best outcome. You know, maybe it, but I was always...

...a very precocious and confident child. You know, well, why wouldn't I try to do this, or why wouldn't I work out? Or why wouldn't this work out? Or, you know, why wouldn't this person want to be friends with me? And you know, of course, there were a lot of hard lessons to learn through that in adolescence. But I think it's it's always how I've been hardwired. So he gave you a lot of advice. It seemed your influenced by him. What other kind of advice have you had along the way? That is helped. Yeah, one piece of advice that I wish actually I learned earlier in my life is, you know, never confuse the need to tell with the need for somebody to know. Yeah, so that that's been a good piece of advice. It's better to be kind than to be right. has been another important piece of advice in you you know, just in this job, you you learn a lot from all the people that you interview and the things that have made them successful and how they approach interpersonal challenges or difficulties to we talked a lot about that in the interviews that we do and it's you know, it's sort of a Cumulu, you know, accumulation of all the little of the nuggets that you pick up over time. Yes, absolutely, absolutely so. I'm going to pivot a bit. So I know we talked a lot about your business and the recruiting industry. I heard also that you're somewhat bicoastal in some ways. I don't know if that's still the case. Once upon a time I never thought I would miss the United Lounge. But yes, it's right, that's right. How can you tell us a little bit about that piece of I don't know if that's part of your business or if that came out of something else. Very, very much, very much so. My my recruiting roots are in New York. For the lion share of my career, the epicenter of the firms that we work with have been very New York based. Interestingly, even pre Covid, that is shifted a bit with California Fun and a lot of capital flowing into California funds, both venture and in private equity, and so I have found myself, at least precovid, a little bit less on airplanes than I otherwise would be. But usually it's it's about every sixty eight weeks. And how has the industry and recruiting changed because of Covid? You know, it's been really interesting to watch. I think the biggest change is how people are viewing location, because the workforces a lot more mobile. People are making big life decisions and deciding to live in other places. We have funds that are relocating to other geographies, so there's there's a lot of uncertainty around that. In some ways, you know, our jobs have become harder because where the talent used to be very concentrated on the coasts, today clients are asking us to do searches where the candidate can be anywhere, and sometimes there's also a cost savings that's associated with that. For example, if there's a role that would cost, just for the sake of easy math, a hundred thousand dollars a year in California, is there an opportunity for that person to cost a hundred minus X if we hire that person in Arizona or in a city that cost less than in California? So I think in some ways our jobs are harder because the breath in the the candidate world there is it's just become a lot bigger. Absolutely. So you've had to pivot your business and in some ways because of that. Yeah, we definitely have had to pivot, but there's been some really nice silver linings to this business, you know, to to Covid as well. For example, we started a business around professional development, which I think clients, I mean all organizations, are looking for meaningful ways that they can create engagement and also show their employees that they're vested in their professional development, even though they're not physically together, or so...

...you know, with the expectation that trainings, you know, not be done physically. We can spread one training across California, New York, Texas, London. You know, we've had trainings where we've had several hundred people engaged. So that's that's been a really nice silver lining for us and a nice pivot for us. Come for from COVID. That's great. There's one part of your story that has me fascinated. Oh well, there's plenty for as one particular. So when you relocated back from New York with that yes, and you set up your recruiting business, I think you mentioned that your epicenter was still New York. Yeah, I had very strong I mean I'm from the bay area and I wanted to be closer to my family. And you spend ten years or so in New York City and when you set up your recruiting from back in California, the epicenter was still New York. It was tooked about that. And what do you looked to network in the California area and Build Your Business in the California area as well? That that kind of has me intrigued. Yeah, that came over time. It that came over time. I mean having relationships and ties and trust in New York, even though I wasn't physically there. I that's not something I would have been able to do earlier in my career. I had to. I think I was at a point where I had some really strong and meaningful relationships and and some some good reps, like enough reps to point to that the fact that I was physically not there all the time wasn't as much of a roadblock as maybe one would think. I also had a great team in New York. And then, in terms of California, the marketing California is always been a little bit different. It hadn't been as exciting and as busy, although I think that's changed quite a bit over the past few years. Actually, I had two thousand and eighteen, I think I did. For the first time, I did more revenue in California that I did in New York. So you've paid your jues in your corporate life building reputations in New York. You paid your juice. I paid my dues. So your clients in New York after you move to California, didn't care that you're in California. Most of them did not. You mentioned you had a good team in New York. Did you? Did you start hiring out of the gate? I did, I did very quickly. I mean I we were fortunate that we got busy very quickly and I was also fortunate that there were a lot of people who I had worked with in previous iterations and my career who were open to a phone call for me to to work together again. Wow, interesting. So, so really New York drove your business early on and give you enough time to start getting a foot hold in the bay area. Exactly exactly, and what kind of advice would you give someone starting off on a new business, whether it's in this industry or another? I have a few. I mean the first thing I would say is, I mean I'm a I'm the person who everybody calls when they're thinking about these things and I guess my sort of I always tell people I'm the person you want to call when you need that final kick off the cliff to do it and to say you know it's going to be okay, because it's really it's a hard decision to make and it's scary and I fully recognize that not everybody has the same risk tolerance and in the same cushion that I had when I started my when I started my business. So my first piece of advice is do it. You know do it and there's always going to be an element of closing your eyes and plugging your nose and jumping in. And you know, if you're waiting to have all the answers before you start your business, you'll you'll never do it. And and the other thing I tell people's like what you think is today, how you...

...envision things and how it's going to be in a year from now, I promise you will be different. I cannot remember a time in my life ever where I haven't said if, a year ago to day, you would have told me that I'd be doing x, Y and Z. I would have never believed it, I mean, and that's that's the great thing about life. You know, it's unpredictable, it's fun, it's exciting. You know, you learn from your your mistakes. The other piece of advice I would give is that it's really important to take care of yourself in all of this and when you're a business owner and people quit jobs and they join you and you feel, you know, a really deep sense of responsibility. But I take a, you know, a page from one of my favorite podcast I listened to by Scott Galloway, and he always says, you know, you got to put your own oxygen mask on first. My mother in law used to say that resent. Yes, there was a no get in there, though, I have to call you out, because there was a no get. There was an get in there. So your risk friendly. You operate on your instincts and your good but I heard you say that you had a financial buffer. You were comfortable with a financial buffer before you went entrepreneurial. So it sounded like you felt comfortable, from a financial perspective, taking a flyer or launching your own business. Yeah, at that time in my life my financial burden was was different than it is today. I did you know, I was single, I I didn't own property and as long as I had enough money to pay rent and, you know, go out to dinner from time to time with my friends, I was happy. So I had pretty simple needs, I guess, I would say, relative to my needs today, where I'm at a different point in my career and I'm thinking about you know, maybe there will be a time when I when I work less and I'm generating less income, and I think my tolerance for risk today, ironically, even though I have a much as a significantly larger buffer than I do that, but my tolerance for risk would probably be different today, interesting because I would not want to jeopardize my my ability, you know, my retirement understood. You know, I would say, just hearing you last half hour, I think probably one of the attributes of your success has been that you also know yourself very well. It sounds like you knew you're very selfaware in terms of where you could take rest, where you couldn't, what you're good at, what your strengths are and and what maybe where you might want to rely on somebody else. So I think that also is something that we commend you for and it sounds you know, we're really happy that you've had this success that you have. Thank you, thank you and we love to d with the last question. What was the last non financial related decision you had to make today? You know what podcast I should listen to? Great did. I am a very I love podcasts. I love audio books, you know, I devour them veraciously. You have a favorite besides the Scott Galloway one, it sounds I do like another one that has got Galloway Pivot with Kara Swisher and Scott Galloway. A couple of few books that I've listened to recently atomic habits. I would recommend that to to everybody. I am a full Groupie of Chris Foss and everything he's written. Never split the difference on negotiation. Okay, those are great resources. Thank you so much. Yeah, thanks very much to Jennier for ferity and to Ruth and for letting miss listening on their conversation. We appreciate your time and perspectives and thank you for tuning in. We hope you'll join US next time on decision dialogs for more stories from successful business owners. So long for now thank you for listening to decision dialogs. We hope you found today's stories helpful for your own decisionmaking. If you like to listen to more episodes, you can subscribe on your...

...preferred podcasting APP or visit our website, where you'll also find show notes and important disclosures. WWW DOT wellcom. Forward Slash decision dialogs. This has been a production of twin flames studios.

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