This week's guest spent some time around our host's old stomping grounds: Washington D.C. Charlotte Henson Tucker relocated to our area a few years ago with her husband and setup MetaMatch Professional Services. A staffing organization that specializes in medical, creative, off-shore, and professional services recruiting. Marcus and Charlotte originally met through a mutual client and we are excited to finally have her on the podcast; so let's jump into the conversation!
Charlotte: Hi, my name is Charlotte Henson-Tucker, and I own MetaMatch Professional Services.
Marcus: All right, welcome to the podcast, Charlotte. I'm really glad you're here.
Marcus: So, the way that we normally start out is we just want to get to know the person, so we Get a little bit of backstory. So, tell us the history of Charlotte. How did you end up here sitting on Blue Fish's couches? Where were you born? Where'd you grow up? Where'd you go to school? Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Charlotte: Okay. Well, I was born and raised in Georgia -- small town called Greensboro, Georgia. We have one stoplight. We have those little things in the road that stop your car from speeding.
Marcus: Yeah. Those speed humps, speed bumps.
Charlotte: Yeah, speed bumps. Any time I'll bring someone home, they make fun out of the fact that we still have speed bumps. I was raised by my grandmother. She was just one of the most amazing women -- just very strong; taught me very early on to be self-reliant and to understand that the world doesn't owe you anything and that you have to work hard to gain success. That was a big part kind of how I live my life based on the things that she taught me. I left home when I was 18 and went to Gordon College in Barnesville, Georgia, and never went home again to live, as a matter of fact. I only went home to visit -- kind of strange how that happens. I ended up in a staffing business while living in Virginia -- loved it, absolutely loved it.
Marcus: That's how you and I kind of bonded, right? Because you know the DC area. I know you spent some time in DC.
Charlotte: Absolutely. I remember catching a train up to DC and going to Maryland and Pennsylvania. At one point, I had a territory that was in that market. I think I always knew that I was gonna be in a business that served people, and so when I had an opportunity to join a staffing industry ... It's a funny story. I went through seven interviews. I found the ad in the paper, and the ad was three weeks old. I just happened to know someone that worked at the agency, and I called him and I literally said, "You may have already hired someone, but I saw this ad in the paper," and she said, "Are you looking for work? Are you looking to make a move?" I said, "Absolutely." She put down the phone and I heard her call another office with another phone and say, "Don't make that offer -- you have to talk to Charlotte."
Marcus: Oh, that's cool.
Charlotte: And literally I went through seven interviews and a psychological evaluation.
Marcus: And they still let you in?
Charlotte: Oh, matter of fact, they told me, "You know, we have someone here working as a contractor and we got give him an opportunity for the job first," and in that moment I said, "Okay. I am going to get into this business either with you or with your competitor. And you can basically decide." I had no idea that I was gonna get a call on a Sunday night a week later from one of the area managers saying, "Hey, I'd like for you to come down to the office tomorrow," and I said to her, "I'm not coming back to your office. Anything you have to say to me, you can tell me on the phone. I've been through seven interviews and a psychological evaluation. I'm done." In that moment, she said, "I've never made a job offer over the phone, but I'll do it today -- just this once." That's how I started in the business.
Marcus: That's cool.
Charlotte: Love it. Love serving people. My husband and I reallocated here about three years ago. I remember driving up 225 thinking, "Oh my god, he's moving me to the boonies." So that's how I ended up in Mobile. He had a job offer to come down here and work for a company. It was a great opportunity for our family, and so we-
Marcus: So you decided to set up shop.
Charlotte: Absolutely. Well, interestingly enough, when I moved here, we were living in home with [Sweets 00:04:16] and I wasn't really sure what I was gonna do, and met up with Annette Sebastian over on the eastern shore -- the "Welcome Wagon Lady", we like to call her. She shared with me that the Autism Center was about to break ground and they needed some help with some staffing, and set up a lunch -- I met with Kevin Mohler and Troy Dyess over there and literally ... I was sitting at lunch with ... 'cause at this point, I decided that I wasn't gonna work. I didn't know what I was gonna do, so I had my resume and I had a little folder. I'm trying to tell them about myself, and halfway through the lunch Kevin was like, "We don't need to talk anymore. We have this position, this position, this position -- can you help us?"That's really how I started the business here. I remember calling my husband and saying, "We need a business license. You got to find a place where we could get a business license," and that's how MetaMatch started here, was really serving the Autism Center.
Marcus: I didn't know that story. That's really interesting. I know Kevin, too -- he's been on the podcast and actually we ... full disclosure, he is a client. We do work for the Autism Center and the Hyperbaric Center, so ... But he's a phenomenal individual, but I didn't realize he was the one that kicked this whole thing off.
Charlotte: Yeah, he's pretty awesome. Yeah, they're a pretty great group of people. I love working with the center. I think being a mom ... I am an autism mom and I think understanding the need from a parental perspective helps out alot when I'm staffing those difficult positions for them. It's been a really good experience, I think for them and for me.
Marcus: So you mentioned college -- did you study business? What did you study in college?
Charlotte: I was a mass communications major.
Charlotte: And I thought I was going to be an editor for the Washington Post because anyone worth their salt in journalism wants to write for the Washington Post.
Marcus: Right. I bet you're glad you didn't make that move now.
Charlotte: Yeah, I'm all right. I still like to write and actually have been working on a book about the story of autism and how it's affected our family. I've been kind of working on it a few years -- I'll stop and I'll work on it some more -- but most recently really thinking about just getting it finished.
Marcus: Do you remember the very first ... I mean, you mentioned that you really wanted to get the job with that job placement firm, but do you remember the first time that you actually placed somebody? That feeling of, "Okay, there might actually be something to this," 'cause I know what it's like, it's like the dog that chases the car. You got the job, but getting the bumper is a completely different thing, so what was that like?
Charlotte: I was working on the administrative side of the house, so we were doing professional service type staffing -- entry level administrative, and accounting, and customer service. I had a candidate come in, I'll never forget her as long as I live, and she looked like she was just on her last leg. Her hair was braided and ... It was one of those experiences where I felt like I had to give her more than just a job. So she came in and she looked ... I would almost say she looked homeless; I mean, she really, really did. But we her up on the assessments on the computer -- she passed every single assessment, not just like intermediate, but all advanced -- Excel advanced, Word ... all of it. I was sitting there and I was thinking, "She does not have a front office appearance. She does not ... It looks like something's wrong," so I took her back in the office and I talked to her, and I just said, "Listen, I really want to help you, but here's some of the things I need you to do." I said, "Come and see me in a week and then we'll take it from there." Well, she came back to the office a week later and I did not recognize her. She asked to speak with me; we went back in the back office and she said, "Hi, Shirley," you know, pointing at herself, telling me who she was. I'm like, "Shirley who?" And she ... And then I said, "Oh my goodness," and we were literally able to place in an administrative role. Last time I checked, she was still with that company. But more importantly than that was the note that I received from her just telling me that I gave her hope. She felt like I cared about what was important, and that if she was ever in a position to work with us, she would definitely use our services. I thought that was pretty great.
Marcus: That's a pretty strong testimonial, 'cause I know ... I've had to use placement services before. When I was in DC finding ... I was on the finding a job side of things and wasn't looking for people. It can be harrowing thing trying to find a job in a large city, or even in a small city, and to have somebody kind of walk you through that process and present you with offers that fit your skillset that have been vetted ... I mean, it just makes the process so much smoother, but to take that extra step and talk to the person, right? Not just the person's skills, but actually talk to the person, I mean, that's pretty powerful. Yeah.
Charlotte: I think that's what makes MetaMatch such a unique organization; the fact that we do put people first. One of the things that we do ... You know, I've been in the business a long time and I've seen situations that work and situations that don't work. One of the things I did when I started a business was I surveyed 10 of my clients and 10 people that either I was involved in placing or someone on my team had been involved in placing. The goal of that was to just hear from them, "What is your dream relationship with an agency?" It kept coming back that people ... We have forgotten the importance of people in the business, and started seeing people as commodity, and what can they actually do for you instead of understanding that this is a total person coming to us. It's going to be important to understand how far do they want to drive every day to work? Where do they want to live in the community? How far is where they're going to work ... the distance between where they work and where they live? So, we try to really gain an understanding of the talent, but then on the client side ... I learned a long time ago a creative director in an agency and a creative director in a Capital One setting are two very different beasts. So it's important to also understand the industry that you're serving. We spend time learning the industry, not just a job type -- developing a strategic recruiting plan that helps us identify not just softer skills, not just hard skills, but your wishlist skills. So what is ... If there was one thing that you wanted in a talent, what would that be? And just really trying to narrow that down. I think that's why we make really good placements and they tend to stick.
Marcus: Yeah. It can a difficult thing because most people think they're just hiring for a skill set. The truth is if you're doing your job correctly, you're hiring culturally as well as for the skills. The skills almost become secondary because you want to make sure that culturally the person fits within the organization and then you can kind of bring them up to the skill level that you're looking for often times. But if they're not a cultural fit, then they'll never stick.
Charlotte: They'll never stay.
Marcus: Yeah, they'll never stay.
Charlotte: And I think the other thing is when you start ... A lot of our clients and our clients that are looking for people with 5 years of experience minimum, because a lot of these positions are mid-level and higher ... So, when a person gains 5 years of experience in a particular industry, 9 times out of 10 they know how to do their job.
Charlotte: So then, what we do is we spend the majority of our time getting to know that person and making sure that we understand what makes them tick, what makes them excited. One of the questions we ask at the end of every interview that stumps people all the time ... I've even had clients call me and say, "Oh my gosh, I got your interview summary. I could not believe the last question." But the last question that we ask every talent is, "What is your personal philosophy? What drives you every day? What makes you want to go to that job?" 9 times out of 10, people are stumped. They're shocked, and then they try to figure out-
Marcus: It's like the ... Thankfully I don't have to interview anymore, but the questions that I used to get back in the late 90s, early 2000s, were the standard like, "Well, what's your greatest weakness?" Those kinds of questions it's like ... but that, I mean, that makes sense. Like, "What is your personal philosophy?" You can learn a lot about a person about what drives them; what do they feel is important. Do they lean more towards philanthropic type work? Do they need something that is larger than them to draw them? Are they driven by money? Are they driven by their family, or by notoriety -- people knowing who they are? Yeah, I mean, you can learn a lot about somebody in that question. If you were talking to someone that wanted to get started running their own business, what's the one bit of wisdom that you would impart to them?
Charlotte: Nothing ever goes as planned.
Marcus: I'm gonna say, "Amen, sister."
Charlotte: And you have to be extremely flexible and willing to ride the waves. If you're not ... If you are someone that thrives on things being the same and not a lot of change, entrepreneurship is not for you.
Charlotte: The other thing about being an entrepreneur is that entrepreneurship is a call to leadership, so you also have to think about how you lead. People are always watching -- you gotta be ready for that. I would have to say definitely understanding that nothing's gonna ever go the way that you think it's gonna go -- you can plan as much as you want. You can write it out on paper. You can create spreadsheets.
Marcus: It doesn't matter.
Charlotte: It doesn't matter.
Marcus: Yeah, because at the end of the day, you're gonna end up ... I always tell people, "It's your ability to pivot and recognize those pivot points that is the important aspect," because you can plan, and you should plan, but at the same time you have to be able to recognize when something in that plan has changed significantly enough that you have to change how it is that you operate the business. But your ability to kind of go with that flow and not just go, "No, I'm invested. I'm going down this path regardless," 'cause that's where you end up in a lot of trouble.
Charlotte: Well, and the other thing I think is important is knowing how to run your business when you have lots of revenue in the bank, and knowing how to run your business when there are lean times and still have the ability to create that same level of service for your clients. If you don't know how to do that, that's gonna be a problem as well.
Marcus: Very much. What are the last two books you've read that you'd found helpful? And I'll give you an ... I'll say ... We always are curious about books 'cause I love to read, but also just any resources that you've found helpful as a business owner.
Charlotte: "Finding Your North Star".
Marcus: Okay. Is that a book?
Charlotte: It is a book.
Charlotte: And it is centered around you understanding you and understanding the things that make you tick. I really, really enjoyed that book because it encouraged me to step outside of my comfort zone a little bit. I will probably say the other book that I read that was really, really good and I actually have it on the table in our family room I called "The Blessed Life", and I can't remember the author at this time, but just reading about his experiences with faith and being obedient to that little still small voice really imparted a lot on me.
Marcus: I mean, you mentioned "The North Star", did you ever envision yourself as a business leader, or a business owner, or did you always think that you would be working for somebody else?
Charlotte: I always knew I was gonna be a business owner. I remember I'd only been working for the company I started out with like a year and I was like, "Okay, what's next? What's next?" And my boss was like, "I know you're breaking all kinds of records and that's great, but before we promote you we need to make sure," but I was always, "What's the next thing? How do I get to the next level? How do I go,"-
Charlotte: Yeah, absolutely. I think, too, I always had that fear of failure. That fear of failure is a double-edged sword, you know? It can drive you and push you to be successful, but then on the other hand it keeps you from taking that step back sometimes and saying, "Okay, maybe I need to take a rest." I remember at one point I was working almost around the clock and I remember one of my bosses said, "You know, you never take a break."
Marcus: "Why don't you take a three day weekend?"
Charlotte: Yeah. I needed to take a break.
Marcus: Yeah. Take a step away from the cellphone for a little bit.
Charlotte: Yeah. I think the other thing, too, for me is the way that I grew up -- having my grandmother just impart that -- and coming from very little and wanting to give my kids options. I want my son to be able to say, "I'm gonna graduate from college, but I can go work for the family business if I want to."
Marcus: Yeah. We're driven by a lot of the same things. You and I have talked over lunch before and you know I got three boys, so you know I'm very much driven by that same kind of thing, and also not coming from a whole lot. It's amazing how psychologically you don't really think about it, but deep down inside it's like ... I remember what it was like when everybody was buying Nike's or buying Sperry Top-Siders and I was wearing the off-brand Payless shoes, or something that looked similar but who was keenly aware that it was not the same thing, you know? That stuff affects you in a way, so I get it. I definitely get that.
Charlotte: I remember telling our 11-year-old ... We were talking one day and ... you know, kids are so picky today about what they want to eat and what they don't want to eat, and he said, "Mom, what was one of the meals that you had when you were a kid?" And I said, "I remember we had fatback collard greens and cornbread," and he was like, "Fat what?" He goes, "That just sounds disgusting." I was like, "At the time, it worked."
Marcus: It was food. Fatback collard greens, yeah, that's ... Yeah.
Charlotte: That's grandma cooking right there.
Marcus: Yeah. I hear that. So what do you like to do in your free time? Any hobbies?
Charlotte: Okay, so my husband and I are foodies. We love to cook -- not just ... We can cook soul food, but we can cook all other types of food. We love having people over, and we have people that come over sometimes and their food is plated so well they're like, "Why would I ever go back to a restaurant? I mean, we could just come here." I like to do that. Friday nights in our family is pretty sacred -- it's kind of our downtime day. We order pizza. We watch a movie as a family. We try to play board games and things of that nature, so I really, really enjoy that time. Sometimes ... because my husband travels so much, I mean, there are Saturdays that we just order in and veg -- Netflix.
Marcus: Yeah. Sometimes you just need to do that now. He's shaking his head. He's here observing the podcast and he's just like, "Yep." Well, you mentioned being a foodie, what's one of your favorite restaurants? What kind of food do you like?
Charlotte: Gosh. Okay, so, I am definitely not a salad girl, so let's put that out there.
Marcus: Let's start there. Yeah.
Charlotte: Let's just start there.
Marcus: That's not really food anyway. That's ...
Charlotte: That's not really food. One of my favorite restaurants is Muriel's in New Orleans in Jackson Square. Every time I go to New Orleans ... I've been going there since like 2007 or 2008. Every time I go, I have to go to Muriel's. So I had the opportunity to take my husband there for the first time a couple of years ago and he fell in love with it as well. They just have this dish called a "crawfish crepe" that is like amazing.
Marcus: Sounds light.
Charlotte: Oh, no it's not. They have the one-inch-thick pork chop with the brown sugar glaze and the sweet potatoes. So, that's one of the spots I really like. I like anywhere I can get a good steak -- the filet is my favorite cut. My husband knows that and he makes the best filet.
Marcus: That's cool.
Charlotte: I just got to give him that plug.
Marcus: Alright, so I know you, and you may not be able to say, but I know that you've placed people in Fortune 100 companies.
Marcus: It's say to say.
Marcus: You have a ton of experience. You are building your business up in this area, and where can people find you? If they're interested; they want to help you or they need your help either way, where can they get more information about ...
Charlotte: About the company?
Charlotte: They can visit us at www.metamatchps.com. They can also send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We also have a Facebook page, we have A LinkedIn page, and we have Twitter.
Marcus: Very good. Well, I want to thank you again for coming on the podcast, Charlotte. To wrap up, any final thoughts or comments you'd like to share.
Charlotte: Thank you for having me, and definitely ... It's been really, really exciting learning this market and learning more about the people that are here.
Marcus: Very good. Well, I appreciate your willingness to sit with me and share your journey as a business owner and entrepreneur. It's been great talking with you.
Charlotte: Thanks for having me.