Unlocking Your Inner Unicorn With William Vanderbloemen


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Episode Overview:

"Unlocking Your Inner Unicorn With William Vanderbloemen" is an inspiring podcast that delves into the world of entrepreneurship, leadership, and personal growth. Hosted by William Vanderbloemen, a renowned entrepreneur, author, and leadership expert, this podcast invites listeners to discover their unique potential and embrace their inner unicorn—representing the extraordinary and distinctive qualities that set individuals apart. Through engaging conversations with successful entrepreneurs, leaders, and innovators, this podcast provides valuable insights and practical advice to help individuals unlock their full potential and achieve their dreams, making it a must-listen for anyone seeking to stand out in their personal and professional journey.

Additional Resources:

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Skot Waldron (00:01.243)
William, hey man, what's up?

William (00:03.222)
Hey, how are you, Scott?

Skot Waldron (00:05.435)
I'm so good. Now, first question, I didn't ask you this in the pre-show because I want to ask you now spontaneously. The last name, I would say it as Vonderbloemen, but you know, that's how the Germans would say it. I would say you're a high, a flower of what is it? A hiking flower? I mean, is that how you would translate it? I mean, what, like what is, tell me about the Vonderbloemen thing.

William (00:28.563)
You're not far from the truth. It does sound like flowers. Vander Bloemen, I don't know how you're supposed to say it. That's just the Americanized version that has been here for a couple hundred years. But in Spanish there's de la sol, de la, you know, Vander is the Dutch equivalent. So it's of the flowers.

Skot Waldron (00:46.73)

William (00:51.65)
So it's pretty amazing in middle school to be a flower boy. That was awesome. But, yeah. So, you know, it's funny though. You guys are interested in branding and logo and all this, right? So when we were very quickly putting our company together, which is a whole nother podcast, we were into logos and what have you. And it, and...

Skot Waldron (00:52.115)
Mmm, there you go.

Skot Waldron (00:58.572)
Yes, beautiful. Flower boy. That's what you're going to be called the rest of the interview. Boy, I'm flower boy.

William (01:20.762)
I probably bought 300 domain names from GoDaddy. I bought, I mean, like I need to get into a recovery group. It is bad. And I hired a guy who was an SEO guru, whatever that means, and said, "'Okay, I got 300 for you to work with, "'or you can use something else. "'What we're not gonna do is name the company "'after me though, because I don't wanna be the lid. "'I don't wanna be the thing that..."

holds back, I don't want people to say, well, we want William to do the work. So, okay, they come back, do all their magic on the mountain, or however they find their answers, you can come back and say, good news and bad news, okay? Good news is we found the right domain name, company name too. Bad news is this is your name. I'm like, are you kidding me? I grew up hating these things. V isn't Victor, A, N isn't Nancy, D isn't, it takes forever.

And they said, well, that's the thing. Your last name is so messed up that you can misspell it in Google a hundred different ways and it'll feed right back to your domain. So, well, it works. Try it. Try spelling it any way you want in Google. It'll drive right back to the company website. So in fact, we've almost dropped the visual logo and just made.

Skot Waldron (02:30.851)
SEO guru at their best, right? SEO guru.

William (02:47.394)
the actual word, the logo, which is sort of against the grain of a lot of thinking. But yeah.

Skot Waldron (02:54.263)
That's awesome, man. Oh my gosh. That's so good. I love it. So it's like own it, man. Just own it. You know, flower boy, Vanderbloom, whatever you want to do. That's all good. Uh, flower boy.com. Did you try that one?

William (03:01.098)
Yeah, that's it. That's it.

No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no

Skot Waldron (03:09.695)
Okay, well, I'm going to own that one now. Sorry, I'm going to sell it to you. So, okay, here we go. Let's get on with the real show here. This is so good. I love it. Okay. Be the unicorn. In fact, that was quite a unicorn quite move. Um, your, uh, new book coming out is, uh, speaking all about uniqueness and how to own something and how to be that original version of that thing or the best of the best or the thing that sets you apart and

You have a little bit of knowledge about this. You've done a huge research project and it wasn't something you went out and, and intentionally did something that you do at your company. So it just, you happen to have all the data. So tell us about that. Give us the background and why you came up with this book.

William (03:52.587)

William (03:56.746)
Yeah, well, so for a long, long time, I don't know if you've ever, you've had this happen. You go to a party and there's a person in the room that's just different. They just draw people to themselves, right? Or you interview somebody and you're like, I got to hire them. Five minutes into the conversation, you're like, this is a special person, right?

William (04:24.57)
What's the formula for that? Like, how does that happen? Is it just inborn or is it learnable or whatever? So our company is an executive search firm. So we get hired to help values-based companies, faith-based institutions, nonprofits find their top leaders like this C-suite. And so these are not like mid-level or low-level in the org searches. And every time we do a search,

been doing this for a while now. Every time we do a search, we'll have maybe a thousand people interested in a search. And then you narrow it down. Maybe there's a hundred possible match candidates, right? And then you do your zoom interviews and phone calls and you're narrowing down to dozens and then you get down to the last layer of the best of the best. And those people probably, I don't know, maybe it's 10 people in each search, get a face-to-face interview that's long format.

So we've now done 30,000 of those face-to-face long format interviews. And during the pandemic, when nobody was hiring and everything was closed, we had some time to drop back and think, which was kind of cool. Because we've been growing every year and you don't have time to work on things when you're in them, right? So we started to ask the question. So 30,000 face-to-face interviews. Could we figure out who the best?

of those 30,000 are, like the ones that got the job, stuck at the job, were productive. And the people that you meet in five minutes later, you say, oh, what a great person. Yeah, we found them. We figured out who the best were. And then we asked the question, do they have anything in common? And the answer was yes. And the really cool part of the answer was, I'll tell you it wasn't, Scott. It wasn't.

They were all six feet tall, right? It wasn't, uh, they all had amazing hair and teeth, right? It, or what it wasn't even, they all had high IQs. They didn't go to Ivy league schools. It wasn't any of that. They had habits in common. And we distilled it down to 12 habits that we're able to track by data and see this, this is the alchemy. This is what makes the person.

William (06:52.982)
the person that stands out in the crowd, the person that is the unicorn, right? So the short way of saying this is for 15 years, organizations have hired us and paid us to find their next unicorn. And we're pretty good at spotting them. But now we've learned how to teach people to become one. And that's the hope with the book. So, you know, 12 habits, so we break it into 12 chapters. And we...

point to the data and say, here's what we've learned, here's how we've seen it happen, and here's how you apply that to your life. So it's not a dissertation, it's not brain surgery kind of reading, it's really simple habits that can be put in anyone's life. I mean, that goes down to, I know your audience is mainly C-suite people, but I bet some of your listeners have people applying to college right now. How do you stand out of that crowd? That's the hardest thing in the world.

Or you got people that are single, that are just trying to stand out in the dating world. Like this, I think we're onto something pretty cool. And I think it's gonna help a lot of people.

Skot Waldron (08:01.091)
Okay, that's cool. So it teaches me how to be a unicorn, not find the unicorn.

William (08:05.31)
Yes. No. You can become one. Be the unicorn.

Skot Waldron (08:09.739)
Be the unicorn. Okay, that's good. So tell me then.

Like out of these 12, I mean, you found 12. Why wasn't it, I'm going to say, why wasn't it like 10? Why'd you go to 12 and then why not 20? I mean, what was it about that 12 spot?

William (08:21.306)

William (08:26.637)


Well, you know, if you talk to experts, they'll tell you odd numbers are more dynamic than even numbers. It would have been a better book if it were the seven habits of highly effective people, right? Isn't that a given? Yeah, yeah. We should have begun with the end in mind. Anyway, it really was driven by the data. You know, what are the traits we saw in these best of the best? And how, you know, at some point, there's a drop off of

Skot Waldron (08:42.059)
That's a great title by the way, you should have probably taken that one. You should go get that URL, I'll bet you it's available.

William (09:01.302)
What do you see in all these people? So, you know, they're probably 20, 30, 40 things, but there are 12 that were right at the top that stood out.

Skot Waldron (09:08.855)
Okay. Cream, the cream right there. Right. The cream. So what should we end the episode? No, we should just end it now. Right. Just like cliffhanger. No, let's do this. Tell me, give me some, I want, uh, I don't know. Give me some of your best ones. Give me your top three, your first one. That's awesome. Whatever you want to do.

William (09:17.25)

William (09:27.21)
Yeah. Well, you know, it's interesting. It depends on what you are trying to become. Okay. So there, there's some we've actually built a software tool. That's really cool. That'll help people self assess. What am I good at? It will look teams can use it for three sixties so we can see where, how do we help you progress as an employee and become better as a team member better in your career. And it, and what we're working on now is figuring out which combinations

of these 12 habits are more present in salespeople versus accountants versus nurses. You know, like where do these, where is the alchemy really special for case specific jobs? I'll tell you a couple of it. I'll tell you one that's so surprising. Responsiveness. You know, what do you mean? Well, do you get back to people? Like

You know, your listeners wouldn't know this, but both of us had a calendar issue today and it kind of, you know, led to some sideways on recording. And I reached out to your team and said, well, how would later this afternoon work? And the answer was, that's great. How about an hour? And got right back to me. And now here we are. And it's done rather than having five meetings to schedule the meeting. Just getting back to people is a habit that is very common among unicorns.

and incredibly uncommon among the population. So like you do marketing stuff, right? That's kind of your.

Skot Waldron (11:05.099)
I did for 20 years and that was a lot of brand strategy and things I did but passed, I've shifted a bit since then, but yes, my own knowledge of it is extensive. Yeah.

William (11:13.919)
Okay, so inbound marketing, right? Like HubSpot, Infusionsoft, that sort of thing. You know, it's the, when you're on a website and they say fill out your form for more information or have something, when you fill out the form, turn in, right? So my understanding of sales is the point of a sales call is not to close the sale. The point of the sales call is to get to the next call, right? You don't club people over the head. You take your time, you build relationships.

And so the question HubSpot asked years ago was, does how quickly you respond to people affect how likely you are to get that next call? Right? So what they found was, you fill out a form online, please have someone contact me. If that person that reached out gets a response that's not automated, like human response, within one minute.

there's a 98% chance that you're gonna get that next call. If you wait 20 minutes, it drops to 60%. If you wait 24 hours, you have a less than 1% chance of ever talking to that person again. So then they ask the question, well, like of all the inbound marketing companies, what's the average response time that these companies are actually doing? You know what it was?

Take a guess. Yeah, about that, 42 hours. 42 hours. So spending all this money on marketing, all this money on people, on the payroll to call people back and you're literally, you have less than 1% chance of success. It's so uncommon for people to do what your team did with me today and get right back to people. It makes it a unicorn. Something common among the best.

Skot Waldron (12:41.271)
Three days. How many?

42 hours? Okay.

William (13:09.482)
that's uncommon among the rest.

Skot Waldron (13:11.863)
That's interesting. I think we either scared a bunch of people to ever fill out a form again, or we got a bunch of people excited that maybe somebody will actually call them back if they fill it one out.

William (13:20.066)
Well, actually the people that are scared is my team because anytime I bring this particular habit up, our phone starts lighting up saying, okay, well let's see if they actually get back to me in a minute. And... Ha ha ha.

Skot Waldron (13:35.543)
Oh, pressure's on. Okay, everybody call William right now. We're right now. Oh man. Yeah. Pressure's on. Oh, that's good. That's good. Okay.

William (13:45.026)
But it's so simple, just get back to people. It's not hard, right?

Skot Waldron (13:49.435)
Yeah. Yep. Yeah, that is, that isn't, I think my kids are doomed though, because they obviously do not respond when I asked them to empty the dishwasher, it takes a few times. So I don't know if there's any hope.

William (14:01.186)
Have you tried asking them over Snapchat?

Skot Waldron (14:06.691)
Oh, I have no-

William (14:08.718)
That might be the way to do it.

Skot Waldron (14:09.847)
I should probably do that. Human to human connection. That's so nice. That's so old, so old. Oh my gosh. All right, give me another one. I want another one.

William (14:15.644)
So outdated.

William (14:22.09)
Yeah, okay. You know, one that's super interesting is people that are curious are uncommon. Most people don't ask questions. You know, I'm finding when I do an interview, I do very few searches now. I really am not very involved in the client-facing work. I do more speaking and writing and that kind of thing. But I find the best way for me to learn

about a candidate in an interview say, hey, you know what? I'm not the person you're gonna end up working for. I'm just the search guy. What questions can I answer for you about the company you're talking about working for? What questions do you have? Wow, do you learn a lot when you ask that? First of all, most people love to be asked that question. Very few are able to come up with an intelligent question. Like,

I don't know how much does it pay? That's not a good question. You know, it's a necessary question at some point. But like, well, tell me how many times this position's been open in the last 10 years and why. That's pretty interesting. You know, tell me about, like, say it's two years from now, I got to work for this company and they have renamed their campus the Vanderbloom campus because you all did such an awesome job.

What did I get done in the first two years that made them do backflips and rename their buildings? Like just curious, interested questions, which leads to another one of the habits. I'll give you a third one and I'm gonna have to catch off. But a third one would be like agility. And what I mean by that is the ability to stretch and try new things.

Um, most people are not good at that. I remember Scott, gosh, it's probably been 10 years ago. Now our youngest was two years old and I, uh, I'm a slow jogger and I've gotten to the age where I really had to start stretching some or I get injured. Right. And the stretching was worse than the run. I hated it. And I, uh, was stretching one day.

William (16:44.634)
and just sweating like a mad man while just trying to touch my toes. And our youngest who was little at the time came in, looked at me, sat herself down and tied herself into some kind of human pretzel that only, little kids can do. And stood back up, laughed at me and left the room without saying a word. And I thought, you know, dawned on the answer, William, you know what?

every day you're alive, you get less flexible.

And that is just a biological fact. So the people who will commit themselves to intentionally stretching themselves, that's not a common person, but it's a common trait among unicorns. So, and man, in the world we're in now, where you got post pandemic living and you've got AI coming for human jobs, and the ability to stretch yourself might be one of the most important...

habits to develop. It'll certainly make you stand out of crowd.

Skot Waldron (17:53.847)
Wow. Okay. Just being responsive, being curious. So I imagine the people that when you said, Hey, do you have any questions about the company? The ones that say, no, I'm imagining those people do not get further in the interview process. Okay. And then agility stretch, try new things, push yourself.

William (18:07.254)
I'm good.

William (18:10.745)
Right, right

William (18:16.01)
Yeah. Oh, we were, we were interviewing somebody for a chief communications officer job during the pandemic. And I like to ask the question, hey, what's a cool new hobby you've got or, you know, something, some new interest you're pursuing? Because that's a passive way of saying, are you somebody that's working on agility? And this woman who was a fabulous candidate, but she said, well, you know, I'm learning French. I said, really, why? Because it's been

You know, back in the day, French was the diplomatic language, but now it's like, unless you're a foodie or into wine, why? Maybe you got a relative in Canada. She said, well, the thing is my daughter is the class of 2020 and for her graduation, we were going to go to France. And obviously that's not going to happen now. We had to cancel it. I don't even know if she's going to have a graduation in person or not. So I promised her we were going to do the trip whenever this lets up.

and we challenged each other to be able to speak French whenever we get there. And so I'm trying to learn French. I'm trying to, you know, it showed problem solving, solution oriented thinking. It showed an ability to try new things and learn new things, not just willy nilly, you know. There's some people you say, what's your favorite book? And then the answer is the one they just finished. But it's not that, it's a curious agility and responsiveness. When you see those...

That's just three, but when you see these 12 things coming together in a person, it makes them stand out. And they're not difficult habits. It's just people don't do them.

Skot Waldron (19:54.819)
That's a cool story. You know what I love about what you do? I love that you make sense of the things that are said, but you pull out the goal, like the high-end strategy, the story behind what's really being said. That is such a gift, and that's really cool. I'm just a little bit of a side note, not really applying to this show necessarily, but I just, I love that ability for you as a company.

William (20:11.075)

Skot Waldron (20:23.531)
to do that. And I want people that are listening to this to think about the questions that are being asked probably aren't the questions being asked. You know, um, to think about how do you present yourself in a way that is adding context to the story and how are you shaping your own narrative to be hireable and to be somebody, somebody wants to, you know, recruit totally. Yeah.

William (20:32.098)
That's right.

William (20:48.808)
Yeah. And true to your own brand. I mean, you know the question, tell me about yourself. Like that's in every interview. It's a terrible question, but it happens. Well, how do you answer that? If you know yourself and you've studied the company and job, you're not just rage applying or whatever the phrase is these days. You can answer that question really well. You know, Scott, your company, you guys.

I love that you're in hockey stick growth, because that probably means that your company is hiring people and then the job description changes every day because you're growing so fast. I'm a seven on the Enneagram. I love the next new challenge. I love the next, so like, and in my previous job where I was head of marketing, we were growing really fast and we had to come up with a new plan every time there was a new social media platform. So we implemented, you know.

Instagram and then Snapchat and then TikTok. We had to learn all that and figure it out. It was great fun. Don't put me in a job where I'm doing the same thing every day. That's why I love your company. And I think that how I'm wired might match the kind of person you're looking for. See, like that is a good answer because you're showing knowledge of self, knowledge of the company, and the two can work together.

Skot Waldron (22:04.255)
That is really valuable. So what would be, would that be the main advice you give somebody looking for? You know, to be this unicorn, to stand out in the crowd. Is it that know yourself thing? Or is it like, what would you say is what?

William (22:18.466)
It's certainly one of them. That's one of the 12 habits. You got a fourth one out of me. That's bonus content. Yeah, no, self-awareness is incredibly rare. You know, we surveyed a quarter million people around these 12 habits to see how people view themselves and what's the norm in the media and the mean and all this. I think it was 91% of the...

Skot Waldron (22:23.339)
D'oh, I got a bonus one. I got a bonus one. Okay, everybody.

William (22:47.022)
quarter million people we surveyed said they were more self-aware than average. 91%. Like I'm not a mathematician, but I'm pretty sure 91% of people are not above average.

Skot Waldron (23:00.275)
Yeah, I there's a stat that I'll throw out there sometimes. It's around that idea, right? Is that, and this was done with the, another study, about 95% of people said they were, you know, more so matches what your, your study was the actual number. They actually did some actual, I don't know how you actually measure if somebody's self aware or not, but the actual number was around 15%. So there was like an 80% gap. And I would say that's a huge self-awareness problem is that you've got 80% of the people thinking they are, but they're not. And.

William (23:20.386)

William (23:28.982)
Well, so that's the thing. These are habits that are really common among unicorns, easily learned and applied, and not common among normal people. You know, out of all the interviews I've done, you know how many times somebody told me, yeah, that job, I got fired from that one and it was my fault. Let me tell you why. Like I probably could count it on my two hands. Like everybody's had a job that didn't work out. Like it's just.

You know, but self-awareness, you know, it's not common at all.

Skot Waldron (24:04.403)
Yeah, I was working at Target Food Court and I was giving my friends free refills on their drinks because I wanted them to like me and I was a cool guy and I found out that was not what I was supposed to be doing. As they took me into the camera room later and showed me all the receipts of the free drinks I was getting everybody and then they told me I was banned from that Target for the rest of my life. So, yeah, no. There it is, William. I've given you my, I gave you my dirt. I gave you my dirt. So.

William (24:16.878)

William (24:32.734)
That's awesome.

Skot Waldron (24:33.651)
I gave you my dirt. Okay, so tell me as a company searching for the unicorn, what do they, how do they make sure it's good cultural fit? How do they find these people to make sure they're bringing in the right people and doing the right things to find the unicorn?

William (24:40.971)

William (24:49.986)
Yeah, well, I think we're back to self-awareness. Are you aware as a company? Are you aware of what you're looking for? When I was a young leader, running a organization that had about, let's see, probably had 200 people head count and I was running it, and I would just go hire, right out of the gate, I had four high-level hires, and I hired the four most talented people I ran into. They were amazing. And then I realized,

why no one wants to coach the NBA, I mean, excuse me, the Olympic basketball team, because everybody's just like, ball, I got it, you know, talent is not the win. What I should have done is said, what are we actually looking for and what actually fits at our company and then assess who I'm looking at? Very few people actually do that. Like, you know, all we want creative and energetic and innovative.

really just outside the box thinking. Yeah, not if you're looking for a compliance officer, right? What, you know, we tried innovative accounting in Houston. It was called Enron, you know? So I think if you're an employer looking for the unicorn, it's not just, you need to know what works in your organization and what you're actually looking for and then find the tissue match. And I think most companies are not self-aware. We need some young.

new thinking around here when it's a company that's been around for seven bajillion years and hasn't changed in six bajillion. You know, they're just going to get eaten alive and nobody's going to have a good time. So I think that self-awareness of what are we looking for and what works here? It's the, it's the, I tell people when we do a search, it's essentially an organ transplant. And I asked transplant doctors this question because I live right around a medical center and

When I'm told me, oh, William, you know, the donor list is hard to develop. But what separates the best from the rest is the ability to do the tissue match. You can put a healthy heart in a healthy body and if they don't match, it's bad ending for everyone. And that's about, that's about the cleanest way I know to describe hiring that there is. You, you can get a great person and a great company and put them together. If they don't match, it's all over. Most, most of our time.

William (27:15.422)
Most of the reason people pay us is for the ability to tissue match, not just go find me some names, if that makes sense.

Skot Waldron (27:23.275)
That makes a lot of sense because I think that the, the finding me some names as a commodity, I think it's just, Hey, go get me a list of a hundred people. And it's like, okay, I can get you a list that'll pump out these criteria and these things and these whatever. And, but I, then I think it goes back to, and I think it's that skill that I was pointing out earlier is how do you tell the story from the information you're pulling?

William (27:31.051)

William (27:37.77)

Skot Waldron (27:48.959)
Cause a lot of people can get the information out. I can sit on a phone with anybody and just interview them, ask them a bunch of questions, but it's, it's what's the story that's being told. What who's who is the right tissue match for what we're trying to build here. And I think that skill is invaluable and that's probably what set you apart.

William (28:07.502)
Well, we're learning as we go.

Skot Waldron (28:10.079)
Aren't we all like this is so cool. Okay. So we've got your book. It's coming out in November of 2023. If you're listening to this after the show, then it's already there. Hallelujah. There you go. Um, but stay tuned if it's, if you're listening to this before the show, I mean, before the book comes out, um, and people I imagine will be able to find that wherever they buy stuff.

William (28:34.058)
Where they buy stuff and oh, you know back to that where we started if you go to Amazon and just try Typing Vanderbloom and in however you would like you'll get to the author page and the things that are there and you can Even while we're recording now pre-orders are open. So it's so go ahead and reserve your copy. It'd be great

Skot Waldron (28:56.267)
Brilliant. Do not type in flower boy and Amazon. It will probably not come up. So, um, Vanderbloomen for sure. That's awesome. William, this has been gold, man. If people want to hire you to speak, they want to find out more about your services. Um, maybe they're searching who, who do you cater to? Where do they find you?

William (29:01.651)

William (29:14.314)
Yeah. So they go to Google and they type Vanderbilt in however they want. And it'll go straight there. And you can see all the things you'd expect a speaker reel. And there's also, uh, probably 3,500 free resources on that website for how you can build and run and keep a great team. So if nothing else go there and if you've got a headache with people at your company, there's probably a resource there to address it. We've, we've been writing for a long time.

Skot Waldron (29:44.011)
Goodness, 3,500. I spent the rest of my life there, William, just like hanging out. So I'm gonna get a tattoo of Vanderbilt on it. It won't be spelled right, but at least it'll say it. So good, it was really good to have you, man. Thanks a lot for adding the value and telling people how to be those unicorns. I think it's something that people are looking for, but I think if you give them a good formula, get some good pieces to look after, I think it's gold. So thanks for doing that.

William (29:47.662)



William (29:58.754)
Thanks for having me, man. Yeah.

William (30:11.79)
Well, I hope it helps people. It's a tough time to stand out right now, and I hope this helps some people.



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