Hiring Guru: Jason Greschuk - Booming From Brushes to Brands

Jason Greschuk is an Award Winning Real Estate Investor, Public Speaker, Author, and Internationalist with business centers in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Formally, his background is in business at I.H. Asper School of Business but his real schooling took place on the streets in the game of entrepreneurship as the the Owner/President of Winnipeg Painting Company Stratford Price Painting which has expanded into a multi-divisional company specializing in providing high end renovation services, as well as the acquisition and maximization of opportunities in commercial and residential real estate.

I asked Mr. Greschuk about his hiring during expansion and even what preceded that.

Before we tackle hiring, what motivated this broad expansion from painting to other avenues?

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"My experience has been that companies will a) live as brands or b) die as commodities. A company must have a compelling vision or mission, and each candidate must be shown how they are needed for that mission. In that sense, as much as we interview people, people are interviewing us. They want to see passion, growth, and they want to be a part of something. It's important for us as employers to show people adventure and potential. People want to be part of something much bigger than themselves."

To what degree do you keep your finger on the pulse of hiring for your ventures? 
"I likely do things differently than most. I have designed my entire hiring process to have many steps but I make sure to include a few different people from within the company along the way. I do this for a few reasons."

"Reason 1: It gives me an opportunity to re-affirm our company culture to the people aiding me in the hiring process."

"Reason 2: It gives me an opportunity entrust an extremely significant part of our business to others. It builds team. You might be surprised at the loyalty and the respect it fosters within your work area."

"Reason 3: People think differently than me. My teammates have different personalities and perspectives in life and business. If my Brand Manager handles the initial phone call, he will learn things based on his life and business experiences that will give us a glimpse into the candidate's character and skill. Then, if my Production Manager takes the first interview, he will perceive information that will tell us something more. Candidates will eventually meet with me and I will synthesize everything together based on my knowledge of human nature, the information provided, knowing what a successful candidate's attitude is, and their technical expertise."

How important is it to keep personally connected to the process of adding new talent/personnel to your team?

"It is extremely important; as the owner, I am ALWAYS the one responsible for who I let into the business. The buck stops with me. I don't want to let my existing team down by letting someone in who will hurt the culture, brand, progress, or our mission. And just as crucial is that recruiting fosters dreaming and vision. It is fun to meet new people, learn candidate's stories, and hear about their skill sets and experiences! Recruiting inspires me because sometimes I meet a new candidate who I KNOW would do well in a position that will be available in the future. It is a huge motivator for me to work harder and build the business faster to make room for such a person in a role they would shine at, even if the candidate doesn't realize it yet."

Do you have any hard-fast rules that are followed in your own selection of team members or those who will be working close with you?

"Yes; honesty and personal integrity. The candidate must "do what they say". If a person can take instruction and handle great detail, write things down, make plans, and execute when they say they will, then I'm very interested. Give each candidate many opportunities to show you their integrity. Then just watch and listen. It could be as simple as asking them to confirm their interview at a certain time, write you a personal letter explaining how they will help build the company, bringing things you want to see to the interview, showing up on time, etc. Make them jump through many hoops!"

Sounds like Jason echoed a bit of wisdom from my book The Naked Interview: Hiring Without Regret Truth 6: The Tour Isn't Show & Tell, It's Watch & Listen. When showing someone around the company, ensure to allow interaction with the staff and see how they view the work environment.

Do you have an anecdote or philosophy to share that comes to mind that would sum up your thoughts about hiring?

"The easiest way to answer that question would be to read my e-book "Business Romance", which outlines the company culture of Stratford Price. Don't worry, it is very interesting and only 17 pages. To sum up my thoughts on hiring: listen with your ears and your eyes. Be wise as a serpent but innocent as a dove. Be gracious with people and look for the best in everyone, but spend your time selecting the best candidate who has the right mindset first, and skill set second."

Best interview question you have used?

"Why do you work? (ask as many times as you want before you get the "core" stuff) and What do you want? (with same deep dig)."

Any hilarious (or horrifying) interview stories?

"I could write a book about interviews that have made me laugh, cry, and just shake my head. Maybe I should do that. I will give you the best one liner I've ever heard: "Hey, I just got out of jail and I need a job. What do you say?" Not for his painters!

What has driven you in building such success?

"I am driven by stewardship and faithfulness. My goal is always to be faithful with whatever business or venture I have on my hands right now, yet believe for more, knowing it is coming my way. I constantly remind myself that I don't actually own anything (my time or my money), but rather I am a steward of it. Money is a tool that I use to accomplish a purpose greater than itself. I build profitable businesses and assemble teams to be ready to mobilize to accomplish something significant in the world. Even if that significant step isn't clear yet, I am happy to be faithful and be ready to move on those significant opportunities. My goal in business is to listen and provide value in whatever business I create, to follow my passions in creating value, and to do it in a way that I don't let anything own me (money, power, prestige, etc). I'm passionate about building companies that adhere to the "Business Romance" philosophy. My businesses are constantly listening to staff about what is important to them, looking for creative ways to use the business to help them get those things, and enjoying the adventure with people on the battlefield with me."

Interview by David Jensen