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February Producer of the Month

February’s Producer of the Month at Joseph Chris Partners is Senior Partner Angie Truitt!

 

Angie Truitt

Turn Kings Harbor Blue by Joseph Chris Partners: past, present and future

Senior Recruiter Dawn Bahan of Joseph Chris Partners was raised to Back the Blue.  The daughter of a Louisiana police captain, Dawn landed her job as Turn Kings Harbor Blue organizer unassumingly.  In a round-table discussion with our team about what community service event to host 4 years ago, Dawn and several others expressed their desire to do something to thank our local law enforcement officers for keeping us safe.  With a few more brainstorming sessions, Turn Kings Harbor Blue was born.

Joseph Chris Partners is headquartered in Kingwood, Texas, a northern suburb of Houston.  Our offices are literally on the banks of Lake Houston in a mixed-used development called Kings Harbor.  The first Turn Kings Harbor Blue was a small affair, with blue lights in the trees, some representatives from the four separate law enforcement offices in our area and employees of JCP wearing blue and snapping blue chem-lights at dusk, listening to live music provided by a local music school, and raffling off some donated gift baskets.  The second year was bigger, but the third year saw significant growth in the event.

Before August of 2017, the tree-lined sidewalks of Kings Harbor were filled with restaurant-goers and shoppers, but Hurricane Harvey changed all that.  Office builders, shops, and restaurants filled with eight feet of floodwater, and while some have returned, many are still rebuilding. So last year’s Turn Kings Harbor Blue took on a whole new meaning:  #KingwoodStrong.  A community devastated by rapidly rising water rallied together and came out in force, happy to be back in Kings Harbor after floodwaters made the roads here impassible and shuttered beloved businesses.  Area businesses and schools clamored to donate time, volunteers, and food and set up vendor tents for our Kingwood neighbors, local law enforcement and first responders enjoyed the evening with their families and friends, and last year’s event topped all expectations.

After such a monumental success, organizer Dawn Bahan knew she had to bring her “A”game and build on the momentum from the post-Harvey gathering.  She and Project Assistant Tiffany Kenton started planning for Turn Kings Harbor Blue 2018 at the beginning of this year, and through their tireless efforts, our November 2nd event is slated to be our biggest ever in every way.  Police agencies from across the Houston area will be on hand with their rescue vehicles, equipment, and available for meet-and-greets with the community supporters, with special things just for the kids!  They’ve found 40+ local vendors offering deep discounts on their products and services to law enforcement officers and their families.  The Kids’ Zone is new for 2018, and it’s got several inflatables, a track-less train, a collection of cool Jeeps, Mustangs, and show cars, as well as many other surprises!  Live music right on Lake Houston will be provided by a local classic rock band, and as always, we’ll share a moving moment of silence for those we’ve lost along the way, with our signature blue lights adorning all the trees and blue chem-lights glowing at dusk.  And the cost for this wonderful family festival:  absolutely nothing.

The team at Joseph Chris Partners wanted to show law enforcement officers and their families how much their bravery means to the community, and how lucky we feel to know they have our backs.  The event was never intended to cost a dime, and thanks to the overwhelming support of the community and the tireless efforts of Dawn, Tiffany, and the rest of the Turn Kings Harbor Blue team at Joseph Chris Partners, this year’s event promises to be the best one yet!

For more information, or to contact our organizers, check out our event page on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/TurnKingsHarborBlue/

This event is a lot of work for our team, but it’s so worth it, and has managed to grow and become a community favorite year over year.  It’s now one of the largest events in Kingwood, and we look forward to hosting it for years to come.

 

Market Check–Video Blog

Check out the latest video blog from Senior Partner Angie Truitt!

Joseph Chris Partners can help you or your company navigate job and workforce changes

 

I was a baby lawyer, just one year out of law school, returning to my office after a hearing and there was a U-Haul trailer backed up to the entrance of my building.  Moving guys with banker boxes loaded onto dollies blocked my path into my office, and I stepped around them to get in.  I immediately noticed empty bookshelves, open file cabinets, and worried looks on the faces of my coworkers.

Something bad had happened.

I walked into my own office and surveyed my surroundings.  Only one case file remained of the 35 files I managed during my first year of practicing law.  I turned to see my boss standing in the doorway.

“Sorry about this, kiddo.  I really am.  We’re going to have to let you go.  We’re letting just about everyone go.”

Stunned, I sat down, head swimming, thinking of car payments and rent and groceries, and how to begin the search for a new job.  I barely heard his explanation that our biggest, pretty much only, client decided to hire a different firm and we lost all their business.  I just zeroed in on the part where I just lost my job.

At 27 years old, that was the first time I would experience the unexpected loss of a job and be forced to look for a new one.  Luckily, I had a good network of classmates and alums of my law school and was working within a week, but the prospect of finding something new was definitely a daunting one.

I’ve also been on the other side of that experience, having to tell someone they no longer have a job.  I know it’s never an easy conversation, even when you’re dealing with an employee that isn’t a great fit for your company.  Naturally, you don’t want them to stress or struggle even when parting ways is necessary.

Being on both sides of this coin gives me a unique perspective when helping professionals who’ve recently lost jobs, and with clients who want to help their severed employees transition into the job search market.  At Joseph Chris Partners, we offer services for both in the form of Executive Coaching for those professionals looking to reenter the job market, and Career Transitions for those companies who want to help their former employees prepare for their own job search.

Both options offer several levels of service, tailored to the needs and budget of either the professional or the company, and we offer free consultations for you to determine which level is right for you.

If you want to learn more, just give us a call and we’ll be happy to talk with you about how we can help you or your company.

Things worked out for the best for me after that fateful day when the U-Haul blocked my office door.  I went on to work at a litigation boutique with some amazing and talented people in a firm that was by far my favorite in my 13 years of practicing law.  So even when news of a job change makes your next steps in your professional life uncertain, something incredible could be waiting for you just around the corner.  Don’t be afraid to step around the things in your way and open the door to the new opportunities.

 

MILITARY APPRECIATION MONTH: The importance of Veterans’ Hiring Initiatives

I grew up in the military. My dad served for 23 years, and we moved around every 3 years throughout my childhood. It was a really good life, filled with amazing people and places, and I credit my outgoing nature to that life. We’d move to a new post, and I’d go knocking on our new neighbors’ doors, asking if any kids lived there, and if they did (they almost always did), I’d ask them to be my friend.
The hardest thing about my childhood was saying goodbye to good friends when it was time for them, or for us, to move.

That’s nothing compared to the difficulties military service members and their families face today. We’ve been involved in armed conflict on multiple fronts continuously for almost 20 years. Families face multiple deployments in the modern military, and many returning service members struggle to assimilate back into civilian life.

We’ve all read the statistics about veteran suicide rates, and divorce rates among military families are higher than the already high national average. It’s a difficult life, but most military families wouldn’t change a thing about it because it’s their duty to serve, despite the personal sacrifices required to do so.
With very few exceptions, most individuals in this country support our military, even if they don’t agree with the conflicts they find themselves in, which is a welcome change from the sentiment the country expressed towards Vietnam veterans, like my dad, upon their return home. But we can all do more. We can do more individually; there are so many ways to help, and a quick Google search will point you in the right direction there.

But we, as business people, need to impress upon the leaders of our companies how important it is to support our military families with veterans/military hiring initiatives. Many returning service members and their spouses struggle to find work despite amassing incredible skills while serving our country. Most hiring managers, however, aren’t focused on what these individuals can bring to their organization and, instead, focus on the words on the resume that don’t appear—at first glance—to fit. Veterans positively impact a company’s culture, are natural problem-solvers, and set the standard for teamwork and work ethic.

Particularly relevant in our industry, where there is a marked shortage of talent, and construction shows no signs of slowing down, so that shortage will continue to grow unless we look for other sources of talent. Several large companies in our industry have recognized this and have implemented focused veterans’ hiring initiatives and are reaping the benefits of those efforts now.

Related Companies Senior Vice President Frank J. Monterisi, Jr., a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and Marine Corps Veteran, leads his company’s veterans hiring initiative. He recognizes that veterans:

are very valuable to our company and the overall construction industry. The men and women who come out of serving our country have dedication, a strong work ethic and are exceptional problem solvers—which are great attributes to have when working on construction projects. Construction projects are all about teams and working together. Veterans have great teamwork and can manage through demanding environments with efficient real-time, problem-solving skills. We are happy to bring them on and will continue to keep this hiring initiative as a key priority for our organization.

“The Benefits of Hiring Veterans,” US Veterans Magazine.

Jim Crigler, Vietnam Veteran, Partner of HC2 Capital, and author of “Mission of Honor,” an account of his trip canoeing the entire length of the Mississippi river to raise awareness about Gold Star Families, is a huge proponent of veteran hiring. “If you want leadership under stress, hire a veteran,” Jim said.

Only about 7.3 percent of Americans have served in our military. These are the men and women who keep the rest us safe and allow us to enjoy the freedoms that make our country great. The debt we owe them can never be fully repaid, and we need to honor and support them every day, not just on a few patriotic days of the year. They’ve done their part; it’s time for us to do ours.

For more information about setting up your own veterans hiring initiative, check out:
http://hr.commerce.gov/Careers/Veterans/index.htm
https://www.dol.gov/veterans/Employer-Guide-to-Hire-Veterans-DEC-2017.pdf
https://www.dol.gov/vets/ahaw/

Turn Kings Harbor Blue: A Vision in Blue

CEO Veronica Ramirez has a giving heart, and she has always wanted Joseph Chris Partners to be a company that gives back to the community.  I still remember the meeting where Turn Kings Harbor Blue was born several years ago.  After the team decided we wanted to show appreciation for the local enforcement officers that keep our families safe every day, the real work of organizing the event began.  And Senior Recruiter Dawn Bahan was exactly what we needed to drive Turn Kings Harbor Blue to be the success it is today.

 

Dawn, whose father Dennis Dunn was a Captain in the Gretna, Louisiana, Police Department until his passing almost 4 years ago, poured her passion and love for the bravery and sacrifices of our law enforcement officers and their families into the event, working almost a second full-time job leading up to the event’s first launch in November of 2015.  Dawn coordinated with the local law enforcement offices, local business owners and community leaders to organize a free concert for our community, packed with free gifts and food for our local law enforcement officers and their families.  Kings Harbor literally turned blue, thanks to strands of blue lights decorating all the trees and participants in the event cracking hundreds of blue glow sticks at sundown.  The first year was a huge success, and something JCP vowed to support for years to come.

 

This year is a special year for our community, with so many of our neighbors suffering the effects of Hurricane Harvey.  Our office and other Kings Harbor businesses and residences were badly flooded, and we weren’t sure if we’d be able to host our event as we have the past two years.  But Veronica and Dawn and Tiffany Kenton, JCP Project Assistant, didn’t give up, and worked tirelessly with the property management team and leaders in the community to make Turn Kings Harbor Blue a celebration of the strength and resilience of our community, and an opportunity to thank law enforcement and first responders who gave so much during Harvey and afterwards.

 

Turn Kings Harbor Blue promises to be an amazing event, with vendors, food trucks, live music and special guests, and all are welcome to come celebrate with us.  More information about the event can be found here:  https://www.facebook.com/TurnKingsHarborBlue/TKHB

A Portrait in Strength: A Tribute to Founder Victoria Ramirez

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It’s hard to miss with all the pink everywhere, and it’s amazing how many people and organizations have mobilized to work towards early detection and cure of this disease that women have a 1 in 8 chance of getting.

 
And in looking around at the people I know personally who have battled the disease, I feel like it’s even higher. It seems women are getting diagnosed younger and younger, and tragically, dying younger and younger as well.

 

VictoriaWe at Joseph Chris Partners are extremely grateful that our founder, Victoria Ramirez, won her battle with breast cancer. Victoria co-founded our company back in 1977 with her husband, Joe Ramirez, in the garage of their first house. Our President and CEO remembers helping her mom stuff envelopes with materials about the company when she was just a young girl. Being raised in a family driven to succeed through hard work, determination, and a “never give up” attitude, and witnessing her mother’s contributions to Joseph Chris Partners made Veronica Ramirez the woman and leader she is today.

 
Veronica has always been very close to her family, and her mother, particularly. So when they received the news in 2015 that Victoria had breast cancer, Veronica was, understandably devastated. Her sweet and precious mom who has always been a fighter was now in for the fight of her life, and Veronica was ready to be with her every step of the way, from initial diagnosis to surgery and treatment and to finally, the day when Victoria rang that bell signifying she was cancer free!

 
Victoria knew she would beat it. She used the same hard work, the same determination, the same “never give up” attitude that she used to help create a very successful business to attack her attacker and win the war with cancer.
She was one of the lucky ones, and with more support and awareness, we hope someday soon, everyone who receives that diagnosis will ring the bell the way Victoria did. There are so many resources available to help share information on early detection and treatment of this disease. A quick Google search will lead you to that information, but the Komen Foundation has a helpful list of places to turn for help with things like questions to ask your doctor, and a glossary of breast cancer terms here: https://ww5.komen.org/AboutBreastCancer/ToolsandResources/ToolsResources.html

 
Victoria was vigilant about early detection and sought medical help right away. It saved her life. So we’re thankful for all of the resources available to encourage people to stay vigilant about their own health, be aware of warning signs, and get to a doctor if you suspect anything might be wrong.

 
This month, we celebrate Victoria and other survivors, we stand with those presently fighting breast cancer and their loved ones, and we remember those who have lost people dear to them to the disease. Our hope is that Breast Cancer Awareness Month will be something our children and grandchildren just read about because we’ve finally made this cancer history!!

When is it okay to walk away?

I quit

I left the practice of law because of a movie (“The Help”) and a song (“I Dare You To Move”).

After far too long in a profession that didn’t fill me up, I quit.  I walked away and I’ve never looked back.

I’m firmly in the “life’s too short” camp, and over the last 6 years, I’ve cut people and things out of my life if they don’t make me happy.

And I’m much happier as a result.

I contemplated this last week after another volleyball match where my kid never set foot on the court. Since she made the JV team, she’s maybe played 2 minutes in the last 6 matches, and she’s been the only girl out of 17 who never rotates in.  Couple that with residual drama from the last season with the coach and some of the girls, and my kid has been just miserable.

While I was contemplating, I heard the voices of other parents and great coaches who talk about powering through the tough times and building your mental strength and it’s not about playing time and you shouldn’t be a quitter.

And I thought why not?

My kid has had more than her share of tough times. She’s had to suck it up and power through far more by 15 than I’ve had to by 45. She’s mentally tough. She’s not a quitter.

But when I realized just how much being on this team was hurting her, I let her quit.

I let her do what I’ve only recently learned to do:. cut people and things out of her life that don’t make her happy.

I understand that team sports teach many valuable lessons about life not being fair, and you can’t always be the best at everything, and not everyone is going to like you.

My kid has already learned those lessons. In spades. She doesn’t need them shoved down her throat every day. Sometimes, things should just be fun, and sometimes things shouldn’t be so dang hard.

Sports is one of those things.

She loves volleyball.  She hated playing on this team. So let’s be done. Let’s just be done.

Life’s too short.

Obviously, there’s a line there. There’s always going to be stuff you don’t love doing, and you’ll have to spend time with people you don’t enjoy, and there will be goals that are extremely hard to reach.  You can’t walk away from everything.

But if you can walk away from someone or something that makes you unhappy, that takes the light out of your eyes, that makes you feel you aren’t valued or that you don’t matter, why don’t you?

As adults, we are afraid to walk away. We are programmed to think things are supposed to be hard, and at times, really friggin’ suck.  We’re taught that people are imperfect, so we stop expecting people to treat us the way we deserve to be treated. We’re told there are no fairy tales, no Happily Ever After, so we live less than our happiest life because we think this is as good as it gets.

I wasted so much time in a career that made me miserable and with people who did the same.

So as a mother, I want my daughter to understand the importance of hard work and dedication, of sacrifice and sticking it out. But I also want her to understand when it’s ok to quit.

She handled herself with grace when talking to her coaches. She let them know her heart was not in it, and never whined or complained or cast blame.

On the way home from that game, she seemed relieved. I told her I was proud of her. All I’ve ever wanted was for her to be happy. That’s all any parent wants.

Empowering her at 15 to recognize when a situation isn’t right for her will hopefully prevent her from wasting time in a career that makes her miserable or with people who do the same.

If you feel like you’re stuck in a career you don’t love, or working with people who don’t treat you with respect, or in relationships of any sort that don’t make you better, it’s really okay to quit.  Because life truly is too short.

You Snooze, You Lose: How to streamline your hiring process so you don’t lose out on top talent

blog

I am not a morning person.  My bed is really cozy, and I keep my house nice and cold at night, so when the first of my 4 alarms goes off at 5 a.m., I snooze so I can stay in my warm and cozy bed.  And each of my four alarms is set to snooze 5 times before it stops.  And depending on how cozy I am, I may snooze for an hour, relishing the quiet 5 minutes between alarms, until I finally turn on my morning Spotify mix and start my day.

It’s a silly ritual, I realize, but it’s my morning routine, and one I’m pretty Rainman-esque about.

Until Monday of this week.

I haven’t been going to the gym like I should.  Or at all.  And I’ve always got an excuse.  I usually blame my daughter’s busy schedule, or just being tired from life in general, but the bottom line is, I just don’t want to go.  I want the results from going to the gym, like we all do, without doing the work.

So Monday I changed the paradigm.  I set my alarm for 4:00 a.m.  I didn’t snooze.  I got up, dressed, and out the door for a 5 a.m. class, and was home by 6:20, showered, and at work by my normal time of 7 a.m.

And Monday was an incredibly productive day.  Things just seemed to go my way.  It was probably just coincidence, but I’ve committed to abandoning my snoozing habit on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and getting my morning workout in.  It’ll be my new Rainman-esque routine.

Certainly, snoozing has its benefits, and no one loves it more than I do, but if you really want to get things done personally or professionally, snoozing is not the way to go.

In this candidate-driven job market, clients who hit “snooze” on a hot job search are losing out on great talent.   Some companies are used to being able to select from a myriad of wonderful professionals itching to go to work for them, but the dynamic has changed, as dynamics always do.  The pendulum has shifted once again, and while professionals will still entertain conversations about great opportunities, companies that don’t have an efficient way of moving from initial conversation to offer will likely lose out to those companies that do.

The best way to avoid losing a great addition to your team due to hiring process delays is to do the following:

  1. CREATE A HIRING TIMELINE.
    • Identify when you want this person to start working for your company. Is there are big project that they need to be in place for?  Is someone retiring and time is needed for training before the changing of the guard?
    • Decide who in your company needs to weigh in on this decision, and take inventory of scheduling issues to determine how quickly necessary interviews and pre-hiring testing can take place.
    • Working backward, tentatively schedule necessary meetings with key team members so time is reserved on everyone’s busy calendars for hiring activities.
    • After your hiring timeline is created, you can share it with your hiring partners, either internally or externally.
    • Your talent acquisition partners will then be able to tailor their search efforts to your timeline, as well as be transparent with the professionals they connect with about the process.
  2. BE RESPONSIVE WITH YOUR FEEDBACK.
    • From a branding standpoint, you need to consider the message candidates in market are receiving from the length of time it takes your hiring team to share feedback with them.
    • Commit to provide feedback on candidate resumes, interview performance or other follow up questions during the hiring process within 24-48 hours.
    • If unexpected delays occur, communicate them promptly to candidates and/or your talent acquisition partners.
  3. MAKE A FAIR OFFER.
    • It is not the time to try to save a dime on a hire. That’s not to say you should just throw money at people, but you should discuss your offer with your talent acquisition partners to ensure it’s a fair one.
    • The cost of making a lowball offer in today’s candidate centric market is high: not only will you lose the interest of the professional you’re pursuing, you will have lost the time your team invested in the job search when the candidate declines and you have to restart your search, and your brand will suffer if the professionals in your space don’t think you appreciate the value of what your team members bring to the table.
    • Listen to experts in the industry about what it takes today to get the type of talent you really need to grow your business.

There are a lot of companies competing for the same talent in our industry right now, and while the hiring process alone will not guarantee that your company will win every head-to-head battle for talent, those companies committed to efficiency and transparency in their talent searches will win over the ones who aren’t.

If your company needs help restructuring your hiring process or connecting with the right professionals to add to your team, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us here at Joseph Chris Partners.

BUILDING HOMES, CHANGING LIVES

JCP+HFH2

There was a time not too, too long ago when I stayed awake at night, sometimes all night, worrying about how I was going to pay my mortgage. The stress was crippling, and almost all areas of my life suffered as a result: my health, my career, my relationships, and certainly, my happiness. Crushed under the weight of overwhelming fear, I couldn’t see a way out, and worry consumed almost all my waking hours.

Fortunately, I found an answer, and I’ve managed as a single mom to keep my daughter living in the only home she’s ever known. A safe home in a safe neighborhood, close to schools and services.

The type of insecurity I experienced is common, especially in the aftermath of the financial crisis. More than half the country, in fact, has reported that they’ve worried about how to pay the rent or mortgage and many have been forced to cut back on healthy food or medical care, or take second or third jobs, or move to unsafe, more affordable neighborhoods.

So Joseph Chris Partners’ commitment to support our Habitat for Humanity chapter here in Houston is one that is close to my heart.

The need for affordable housing hits home for many, especially as development and construction continue in our big and small cities alike. Neighborhoods that once offered affordable options for many families are transitioning into price points well above what they can afford as a result of affluent buyers increasing demand for upscale living options closer to city centers, forcing them to look elsewhere. Even here in Houston, long-touted as an affordable city, we’re seeing high-dollar development edge out families living in traditionally affordable areas of town.

And while attitudes about affordable housing development are evolving, the “Not in my backyard” or NIMBY issue remains one of the largest obstacles to offering safe neighborhoods to those struggling with the high cost of housing. If affordable housing is relegated to those areas not in anyone’s backyard, residents there who want more for their families are given little hope of providing it.

Habitat for Humanity provides that hope. Hope for home ownership. Hope for safe streets, access to key services, options for education, creation of strong neighborhoods. Through programs like the ones Habitat for Humanity offers, families are thriving.

Our first Build Day with Habitat for Humanity, Houston, is June 3rd. We’d love for our local friends and colleagues to be a part of that with us. And with a goal of $40,000 to commemorate 40th year in business, we’d certainly appreciate any donation to help us reach it.

This industry is like no other. We create beautiful spaces for people to live and work in. We grow communities and create opportunity. We transform landscapes and lives. We repurpose and reinvent and redevelop. This amazing industry has treated us well. But most of us remember when things weren’t so good. Many of us may have had sleepless nights worrying about how we were going to pay our mortgages. There are still many families who have those worries, and we all have the power to change that.

If you’d like to learn more about Habitat for Humanity, check out their website here: https://www.habitat.org/. And if you’d like to support Joseph Chris Partners and our efforts to raise $40,000 for our local chapter to build a home for one of our neighbors, you can do so here: https://app.etapestry.com/onlineforms/HoustonHabitatforHumanity/jcp.html

Written by: Angie Truitt J.D. Senior Partner