Those DIY Unicorns

Between, water polo, #2 Son’s swimming career, headhunting and writing this rubbish I do not really have time to watch much TV.


The major exception is Grand Designs. Now, I know that UK TV is not necessarily followed Europe wide and usually there is not much point on writing about it here as half of such audience that I have would understand even less of what I am on about than usual.


However, Grand Designs is transmitted everywhere, including Iran, so I am pretty sure that I am on culturally safe ground.


Just in case you live on Mars a quick rundown of the concept of the show is as follows:


A rugged male presenter (Kevin) meets a couple (usually with their kids) who are planning an elaborate and unusual home either as a conversion of an existing building or an entirely new build. Each one-hour episode follows construction from site clearance to the final reveal and projects take from a few months to several years. People will propose living in converted bunkers, water towers, mansions made entirely of mud and houses built only from what can be sourced from local woodland. Neighbouring goat farmers will observe progress through binoculars and local authorities will point out that the nearest source of mains water is three miles away.


Naturally, it would be very poor TV if everything went exactly to plan and budget so it doesn’t. Head, if you will, to the Twitter hashtag #granddesignsbingo and take pleasure and points for spotting:


  • The presenter wearing a hard hat
  • Use of the word ‘bespoke’
  • Use of the word ‘eco’
  • Delayed windows (windows are usually sourced from specialist companies in Austria and are often made of sustainable teak)
  • Friends helping to build
  • The architect is a relative
  • The money runs out
  • Borrowing money from family
  • The wife is appointed as project manager
  • Something being ordered from Sweden
  • The staircase doesn’t fit
  • The dawning realisation that architectural fittings are generally designed for straight rather than curved walls
  • The wife gets pregnant halfway through
  • The owners end up living in a caravan during the build to save money/because they have run out of money (bonus points for caravan residency over Christmas, extra bonus points for getting pregnant in the caravan and having the baby whilst still resident in the caravan)


So what has this got to do with headhunting? Well, I am glad that you asked.


You see, over the last 30 odd years, and especially over the decade since the invention of LinkedIn,* I have been intrigued by the slow drizzle of CEO’s who always recruit for themselves because only they know what they are looking for and all external resources are, in their experience, rubbish.


I take an atavistic (okay, sadistic) pleasure in following up on various instances where I have been told to get lost because LinkedIn is obviously much better than the experience of someone who has, you know, done this sort of thing before.


As I watch the progress of my non-clients to the conclusion of their key hires from a suitable distance I find that I begin to play #diyheadhunterbingo.** Big points are available for:


  • The company tries to attract a new board member with a two-line Specification (extra points if the phrase “unique opportunity” is used in said Specification)
  • The CEO discovers that nobody actually wants to relocate to South Shields/Charleroi/Bielefeld***
  • Anyone actually capable of doing the job in the CEO’s head is paid twice as much the CEO
  • Of the 27 obvious candidates that came up on the LinkedIn search, only one responds to their InMail
  • The CEO has to take a week off being a CEO to carry out interviews at a service station in Kent
  • The CEO’s best friend’s aunt knows someone who would be a fantastic Commercial Director
  • The CSO tells the CEO if they don’t find a Project Director by Christmas then they won’t be launching anything before 2021.
  • The CEO’s best friend’s aunt’s recommendation goes through three interviews and turns the job down because the company car is blue****


You might like to contribute some of your own…


Now, in Grand Designs, there is a common theme of a limited budget. Most of the participants do stuff themselves because they want to save money, and up to the point where they have to bring in a specialist contractor to shore up the drain that they undermined on their property, or they can’t actually work and earn money for 18 months, this generally works really well.


Because I run a business myself, believe me, I know that there is an imperative to have very short arms and very deep pockets when it comes to expenditure. However, I also understand that whilst I could, for instance, given six uninterrupted months, do my own tax returns, to stay solvent and out of jail it’s probably wise if I pay someone else to do them for me. Doesn’t mean that I don’t want a competitive rate but it does mean that I understand that I have to pay to get it done properly.


*Other social media search options are available and readers in Germany have their own programme.


**I’ve already pitched this to Channel 4




****This actually happened

Posted on: 26th November 2018 by Ivor Campbell

Into his fourth decade of search Ivor has a voice with stories to tell, observations to make and the odd picture to share. Mostly related to the day job.

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