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SMART IDEAS #16: Priorities and overcoming grief

Weekly inspiration for the staffing industry

ISSUE #16  |  January 27, 2023

New this Week:

• Priorities and overcoming grief

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SMART IDEA #16: Priorities and overcoming grief

David Searns | Co-CEO

I’m struggling to write this.

It’s not writer’s block. It’s not the lack of a topic.

It’s sadness.

Last week, my mom passed away. She was 81. And this was not unexpected. She had been suffering from cancer (and dementia), and in fact, she actually lived longer than the doctors thought she would. She was also blessed with a great life and passed peacefully in her home.

But that doesn’t make it easier.

If you’ve experienced grief, you know that the world doesn’t stop because of what happened to you. However, for every down, there is also an up.

For me, the up has been the support of family and friends. While I hate the reason, I am so grateful to have spent the past week reconnecting with old friends. And I’ve really enjoyed conversations with distant family members—most of whom I had not spoken with in years.

I’m also glad to have met (for the first time) a few of my mom’s friends—and been inspired by their stories of things my mom had done. My mom had touched many people—and seemed to have made a positive impact on everyone she knew.

I may be biased, but she was a pretty special person. And I feel inspired by her legacy.

So, let’s focus on the positive side of this story.


My mom was not a traditional mom for her era. There were no cookies after school. There were few PTA meetings.

No, my mom was an entrepreneur. She launched a staffing company in 1968 and ran it side by side with my dad for more than 30 years.

Every night at dinner, right after “how was your day at school?” and “what did you learn today?,” I would hear my parents discuss the challenges (and sometimes the annoyances) of running a staffing business, managing people, and dealing with clients.

While my dad never loved the staffing industry, my mom always did. She loved people…and building relationships. She loved selling. And she loved managing her recruiters.

Looking back, my mom was successful because she had an incredible ability to make people feel special. And I never realized until quite recently that what she did was so simple.

She listened. She asked questions. She used her skills as an interviewer to make every person she spoke with the center of her attention.

She always made others her priority. And even over the last couple of years, when she was battling cancer and dementia, she never lost her ability to prioritize the people around her.

She never complained about how she felt…even when asked.

She never stopped interviewing people. In fact, she was so good at it that most people didn’t know she was ill.

So what’s the lesson here?

Staffing isn’t just a vocation, it’s a life skill.

If you work in this industry, you know something about interviewing people. About asking questions. About being curious. About listening. You know how to make others the center of your attention.

That’s a gift.

It’s a gift that will make you successful in your career. It’s a gift that will make your business successful. And most importantly, it’s a gift that will make you successful in life.

This post is dedicated to my mom, Jari Searns, and the lessons she taught me. Thanks mom!


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