Opinions And Ramblings By Adam Kmiec On All Things

Category Archives: Funny

3 Interview Rejections I Learned From

Rejection. I don’t know anyone that loves it. Be it, asking your parents for that cute puppy, only to be told not a chance. Be it, asking for that girl’s number and being shut down. Be it, getting that letter from the college you really wanted to attend, and having it say, sorry, no dice.

Rejection, in its many flavors just sucks. It’s disheartening. It leaves you feeling blah. Now, I’ve had my fair share of rejection over the years. From not making the basketball team in high school to having Georgetown tell me: umm…you can come to our school, but you’re not good enough to earn even a $2.00 scholarship.

One spot I’ve definitely faced rejection was in the interview process. The Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota had a class taught by Mike Henle that was all about interview and resume prep. Honestly, one of the best classes I ever took. Whether it was that class or luck or whatever, early on in my career I generally aced interviews. I remember keeping track of my “close rate” – the ratio of offers to interviews. I stopped tracking it years ago, but I do recall at one point being in the 90% area.

Now, this isn’t about the offers. This isn’t about the jobs I took. This isn’t about my successes. This is about the failures. Specifically, I want to tell you about the 3 jobs I interviewed…that I really wanted…that I felt I was very qualified for…BUT didn’t get.

General Mills
It was just after the dot.com bust. Or rather, the middle of the bust. I was working in Chicago, but my girlfriend was Minneapolis based. And as many of you know, long distance for a relationship is no fun. Brad Smith was the director of Digital at General Mills and he was looking for a manager of digital. Several of Brad’s colleagues recommended me to him. After a phone screen, I came in for the full day of interviews. Now coming in I felt like I had a lot on my side. First, I knew Brad; it’s a small circle of digital people in Minneapolis. Two, I knew the VP of HR/Talent; she even endorsed me for the job. Three, I had a lot of CPG experience at the time. From Kellogg’s to Nestlé and from Altoids to Coca-Cola, I’d managed a lot of great brands. Four, I had the “buzz” that came from having worked at Fallon, on BMW on BMW Films. The General Mills interview process was standard…meet a lot of cross-functional team members, talk about your background, explain why you want to leave your current role, etc. Well, it was standard to a point. Part of the process involved the Myers Briggs personality test. And apparently, that’s where I failed in legendary fashion. I left the interview thinking I had nailed it. My initial conversations with Brad and HR, post interview, were encouraging and positive. A week went by. Then another. On the 3rd week, I got a call from my HR contact. She explained, I would not be moving on. I was shocked. My heart dropped. I inquired why. She hesitated initially and explained, that while everyone “loved” me and though I’d be great…I had failed the Myers Briggs test. Well, that’s a head scratcher..how do you fail a personality test, I asked. She explained, that I was too extroverted, an apparent no-no in Big G land. The test indicated that I would be the type of person who wouldn’t simply follow the process and approaches that had been used by the company or years…that I would challenge the norm too frequently. Baffled, I called Brad, who confirmed what I had been told and said something I remember to this day, “dude, I’ve never seen anything like this before, I’m sorry, I didn’t realize you could fail a personality test.” Well, me neither. It’s safe to say I’ve remained quite extroverted, so I’m not exactly expecting a call from General Mills any time soon. I love many of the products in the General Mills family and have a lot friends who have thrived there. Sometimes, it’s not about talent, it’s about fit. And in this case, I didn’t fit.

Somewhere at the middle point in my career, just before I joined ConAgra Foods, I interviewed with R/GA to run the SC Johnson business. At this point in my career, I felt I was tailor made for this role. In addition to the CPG experience I listed above, I’d also cut my teeth on Similac, M&M and a few others. In short, I knew how to move pallets of product to Wal-Mart, using digital. R/GA at the time was one of the few digital agencies doing it right. Even today, they are one of the best digital shops in the world. I had and have a lot of respect for the agency and it’s commitment to great work. After a lengthy interview process, I was notified that after careful consideration I was not going to be offered the position. My notice came via phone by the head of account management. That’s a classy move and something more companies should do. Anyhow, of course I wanted to know where I didn’t measure up. Imagine my surprise when I was told, “unfortunately, you don’t have enough CPG experience.” Huh? I mean had you said, not enough telecom or retail experience, I’d have agreed. But, not enough CPG experience? Well, that was just obviously BS. Not only was a bummed, I mean R/GA was probably one of the few shops everyone really wanted in at, but I was irked I wasn’t getting the full story. How can you improve if you don’t know where you fell short? Well, shortly thereafter, I took a job working with a great team at ConAgra Foods. We were conducting an agency review for new digital agencies. I wanted R/GA in the pitch. Like I said, they did and do amazing work. I wasn’t harboring any bad feelings and more importantly, you have to set aside personal feelings (when they exist) and make the right business decision. Well, 3 things happened during the pitch that just shows what can happen when you aren’t level with someone…it can always come back to you later on. First, during the first round of the pitch, I got a call from the head of new business, he had with him the head of account management. She wanted to tell me how much she thought of me and was thrilled that while it didn’t work out with me joining R/GA, she’d finally get the chance to work with me as a client. He, wanted to make sure, there weren’t any hard feelings…there weren’t. Second, I relayed the call to my boss and his boss; in doing so I gave them all the context. They were surprised I’d still want to work with them. But, like I said, they did amazing work. Third, R/GA lived up to their reputation and made it to the final presentation. In that meeting, the head of account management explained that R/GA doesn’t have a “B” team, because they only hire the best. At that point, my boss asked…if you only hire the best, how can you explain not hiring Adam, because I happen to think he is one of the best. I was stunned. It’s a hell of a question and not one I was expecting. Initially, they thought he joking, but realized he was serious. I honestly, don’t remember the answer and it had ZERO impact on how we reviewed and rated them. Even today, nearly a decade later, I wish I knew why I wasn’t good enough for R/GA. If you’re reading this R/GA can you let me know why…call me…maybe?

Crispin, Porter + Bogusky
Let me first say, I’ve never had an interview, ever, like my interview at CP+B. You show up. There’s not set agenda. You meet some people for an hour and others for 5 minutes. They want you to meet with as any people as possible. But, here’s the catch…if one of those people, gives you a thumbs down, you fail. It has to be 100% consensus. I learned this all after the fact. On my interview day, I showed up at 8. I sat. I sat some more. And I sat even more. Around 9:30 I met my first interviewer. Between 9:30 am and 6:30 pm I met with no less than 30 people. I met with assistants, receptionists, Jeff Benjamin, the HR team, Winston Binch and more. As I boarded the plane back home, my head was spinning. I had no idea if I’d done well or if I’d bombed. A few days later I received a call from HR. It started out great. She was complimentary of me and my background. But, you just knew…you just knew, a “but” was coming. And, about 5 minutes into the call, it came. She explained their 100% consensus policy and indicated that while the core team I’d be working with and my “boss” thought I’d be a great fit, there was 1 dissenting vote. That one dissenting vote was enough to reject me. I was bummed to say the least. Now here’s the funny part. A few weeks later, after I’d already accepted another role, I received a call from HR. The person who had cast the no vote, had left the company, which paved the way for them to offer me the job. I passed. Good thing I did. Sometimes things happen for a reason, right? A few months later, CP+B lost the account I was going to work on.

You have to learn from your rejections and your failures. As I’ve gotten older any bitterness I had from being rejected by General Mills, RG/A and Crispin subsided. You get more pragmatic and realize that “fit” is really important. You start to evaluate opportunities based on philosophical alignment, culture and fit. You realize that having a company want you as much as you want them is an awesome feeling. I became better from those experiences. I learned from them. And frankly, without them, I probably wouldn’t be where I am today.

While not making the cut for the top 3, special mentions for Best Buy, Edelman and Carmichael
Lynch are well deserved.

Creating Success

What Success Looks Like

I will not rest until I have you holding a Coke, wearing your own shoe, playing a Sega game featuring you, while singing your own song in a new commercial, starring you, broadcast during the Superbowl, in a game that you are winning…

How To Create Success

…and I will not sleep until that happens.

Funny Or Die Hits Another Homerun

I love when people say, “hey can we make this go viral?” Or, of course, “how do we make this go viral?” Here’s the simple answer…if you want something to go viral you better make sure the content is outstanding. Funny Or Die genuinely understands this concept. Their latest homerun is a parody of Ralph Macchio. You’ll have to watch it to understand the brilliance.

Ahh Spam

This just really made me laugh. I hope it does the same for you.

I am Dr. Marc Schneider and I work for Global Vibration Inc.  in Washington DC  ( Tel: 1 202-250-3645 ) – I would like to speak with the person in charge of your international clientele. Who is my contact? Who should I speak to??

In fact, after visiting http://www.thekmiecs.com , I have noticed that your website cannot be found on foreign search engines (I tested  it on Hispanic search engines, German search engines, Asian search engines,  etc.) Our company is specialized in multilingual search engine promotions in 28 languages . From the Japanese Google to the German Yahoo, from the AOL  in Spanish to the MSN in Chinese, we can show you how to develop a true international online presence by promoting your website on foreign search engines.

Let us show  you how to develop a presence on the multilingual web without having to  translate your website: It is not necessary to translate your website in  order to submit to foreign search engines, however, you need to have at least  1 page in Japanese optimized with Japanese keywords and meta tags in order to  submit to Japanese search engines, at least 1 page in Spanish optimized with  Spanish keywords in order to submit to Hispanic search engines and so  on…

I strongly suggest that you watch our online presentation which  will explains clearly how to get top rankings on foreign search engines with  only 1 entry page per language (click on the following link or copy-paste it  into your web browser): http://www.mplw.net/demo

From the Japanese Google to the German Yahoo, from the AOL in Spanish to the MSN in Chinese, get users to find your website when  searching with YOUR KEYWORDS in their Native language.

Please call me at +1 (202) 250-3645 or email me and let’s work on giving your website the true international exposure which it deserves to have with foreign native online users!!


Marc Schneider, Ph.D.

1250 Connecticut Ave N.W. Suite  200
Washington, DC 20036 USA
TEL: +1 (202) 250-3645 – FAX: 1 (202)-318-2453
Multilingual Search Engine Promotion Services since 1999.

You just have to love how savvy these spammers are getting.  I mean WOW, bummer, German search engines are finding me.

Can You Spare Some Change

Twitter is fast becoming an over saturated destination for people to “beg” for money. Whether it’s money for Daniela (which I gave $100.00) or Sarah Evans asking for sponsors to fund a conference, twitter is fast becoming the hip place to ask for money. You’ll hear people like Chris Brogan asking for only $10.00 for a good cause. I mean, heck what’s $10.00. Well it’s not much till you keep giving $10.00 to every single cause or request on twitter. And trust me there are 1,000s.

Twitter is starting to resemble an episode of South Park titled, “Night of the Living Homeless.” In this episode:

“The number of homeless people in South Park is increasing as they eat, sleep, and beg for change across the town. While the adults try to find creative solutions to deal with the homeless, the boys are trying to figure out a way to solve the problem for good.”

Here’s a video to show you how I’m starting to feel.

Folks I’m all for a good charity. Really I am. As I noted above I gave David Armano $100 for the Daniela cause. His DM to me indicated I was the first person to donate. But, at what point do we need to draw the line? At what point does twitter simply start to resemble a bunch of people screaming for your money, while you’re just trying to have a conversation with some friends.

It’s gotta change, because I don’t have anymore change to spare. Oh – if you want to support the Susan G. Komen foundation please buy this book…you’ll learn a lot about social media in the process. I wrote chapter 2 and we could really use your spare change to make a difference.

25 Random Things About Me

I’ve resisted this insane concept and craze for a long time. But, when you consider how big it’s gotten, I felt compelled to participate. For those of you not in the know about 25 Random Things About Me phenomenon, you can read up on it here, here, here, or here.  In short, 25 Random Things About Me is a chain letter program. Person A lists 25 random facts/things about them. They then tag people in the list.  The people tagged are then supposed to repeat the process…they create a list, they tag people, etc.

Someone tagged me on Facebook and I refused to participate.  Like I said, I’ve put it off for a long time, but now I’m going to participate, albeit in my own way.  I’m not going to put the list on Facebook, thus circumventing the process of the phenomena 🙂  I’m calling it a personal victory!  Without further adieu here are 25 Random Things About Me:

  1. I clean while I cook because I hate a mess.
  2. I’m long waisted; even though I’m 5’9″ my inseam is 30″.
  3. I work in a paperless office.  Seriously, no paper, ever.
  4. Nike is the only sneaker brand I’ll buy.
  5. I’ve been using the same AOL instant messenger handle since AOL 1.0.
  6. On an average day, I sleep for 5 hours.
  7. My first car was a 1987 Toyota MR-2; I still scan Ebay every once in a while for a used one so I can buy and restore it.
  8. If given the choice between being blind or deaf, I’d take deaf.
  9. I have a ridiculously large collection of offensive T-shirts.
  10. When I was in high school I could dunk a basketball.  Really.
  11. The day when Madden Football is releases every year is a holiday for me.  I take it off and spend the entire day setting up rosters and drafting a team.
  12. I’m a vodka snob. If offered Sky, Smirnoff, Absolut, etc. I’ll decline.
  13. I’m not a fan of voicemail. I loath it’s existence.  If given the choice between emailing someone or talking to someone, I’d take the digital communication.
  14. I don’t drink coffee, only hot chocolate.
  15. I can read books ridiculously fast. 400 page books get knocked out in about 2.5 hours.
  16. I think there’s a big difference between truth and honesty.
  17. I hold grudges for years; probably too long.
  18. I’m not a fan of following the heard.  For example, I avoided watching Lord of The Rings for nearly 6 months.  I watched it in a nearly empty theater and loved every minute of it.
  19. I’m a huge Beatles fan.  To me they aren’t just a band, they’re an iconic BRAND.  From shirts, to hats, to CDs I’ve got a massive collection.
  20. I love change. I’ve owned 3 houses and lived in 3 states in the last 6 years; and I’ll be on to state number 4 shortly.
  21. I find great meaning on movies and music.  There’s a tremendous amount that can be gleaned, quoted, and shared from films and songs.
  22. Strange, but my shoe size when I was 13 was 13, but now it’s 10.5.  Crazy. Are shoes just being made bigger these days?
  23. My dream job is working behind a bar in Costa Rica…granted it’s a bar that I’d be owning.
  24. I love speed, one day I will drive on the Autobahn.
  25. I just became an organ donor.  Never was before.  However, for some reason, I decided to do it when I got my Minnesota driver’s license.

Well there ya go, that’s 25 Random Things About Me.