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  • Writer's pictureRobert Adelson

Building & Keeping Your Executive Team: How to Recruit and Retain Senior Executives for Your Startup

Updated: Jan 19, 2023

This presentation was given eight weeks ago on May 17, 2022, for the Boston Entrepreneurs’ Network (ENET), where I was one of three invited speakers for the ENET’s webinar that evening on the topic “Recruiting Board Members and Senior Executives”.

As I explained to the ENET audience that night, since 2016, my law work has increasingly focused on executive representations, negotiations over job offers, employment terms, equity, executive compensation, separation and severance, for C-level and senior executive clients.

Today, more than 95% of my law work and 98% of all new law work consists of those representations.

But on occasion, a company will hire me.

Why would a company do that? Why would a company hire an attorney known to be one so focused on representing the interest of executives?

The reason: The company is having difficulty recruiting an A-level senior executive. They cannot pay top dollar and are willing to try something different to recruit that ideal man or woman to fill the pressing need in their organization.

So … in that time of pressing need, the company hires me, as one who knows what executives seek to help the company “think out of the box” – to devise a strategy and prepare documents to get the best executive at the least cost and within the company budget. For a startup or early stage company, it is executive recruitment on a shoestring.

In my work representing companies, my slogan is “Appear Generous. Demand Performance.” The strategy I develop and then the documents I prepare are radically different then most executive employment and equity documents. My documents do appear to be fair …even generous. And in recruitment, I help the company with its “sell” – telling executives, “Even at less base pay you will come out ahead with our package. And what’s more, this package reflects a culture where you will be valued and respected.”

But we still demand performance. My documents are still employment “at-will” and I make sure that a company can readily terminate a non-performer. But what is different, is that my documents provide that if the executive does perform, he or she won’t be cheated out of what they earned. Sadly, that element of basic fairness, is often so rare in today’s corporate America.

In my presentation and slides, I discuss such issues as

Between the revolutionary terms I suggest, and our explanation and “sell” to the executive recruit, I have had a high success rate. Although we are often significantly outbid on the dollar figure, I often get my target man or woman for my company client.

To see and listen to the video of my 19-minute ENET presentation on executive recruitment from my website, LINK:

It is my hope that this article will be of benefit to CEOs and Company founders who are having difficulty in recruiting a high caliber C-level and senior executive for a role key to growth, and might want to think out of the box…. Feel free to share these slides or this portion of my July 2022 Business Law Newsletter. If you or any colleague of yours has a need in this area, please do reach out to me.

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