Dawn Tiura: Hey folks, this is Dawn Tiura and welcome back to the podcast series. I'm so glad to welcome to the studio today, Dan Hanyzewski. And Dan, I have known you for a number of years, but your current title has me intrigued. And we'll have to get to that. But you are now Ambassador at Certree. So, before we get to where you are today, can you take our listeners through a little journey of who you are, what made you the way you are today, things like that. Things that might be of interest.
Dan H.: So, I'd love to, I appreciate the opportunity. When you think back on your career over time, there's some indelible moments that you capture that you feel strongly about. And in my case, it was a pure happenstance that I became part of this industry that I reside in. And it started, quite frankly with something light-years apart from where I ended. I essentially was trained as a sculptor originally. And studied art history at the Chicago School of Art Institute. And I thought for sure I was going to become the next famous David Smith, who is America's most revered sculptor, which didn't turn out that way.
Dawn Tiura: That is amazing. That's an interesting start. So, I haven't had sculptor end up in supply chain before. I've had recording musicians, I've had some interesting folks, but not a sculpture. So, tell us about that and how did that transition?
Dan H.: So, I had this passion for a monumental sculpture, metal, specifically. Metal and wood. And studied vigorously to get noticed. Commissioned a few pieces for commercial institutions, banks, building offices, and realized that the lifestyle that I wanted, as opposed to the lifestyle I was going to be was going to be completely disturbed.
Dan H.: My parents did me a big favor. They actually went through a domestic readjustment after 23 years of marriage. And being the eldest of five children and the head of the sibling tribe, found it necessary to come back to my home roots, and essentially be the subsidy for my family. So that's how it all started. And the way it started was really interesting from the standpoint of where I lived. I was in the Chicago area, and essentially would be referred to as a blue-collar neighborhood.
Dan H.: Always had gone to the city, but never had actually visited any businesses in the city other than stores and stuff. So, I answered an ad in the Sun-Times for a sales position and I thought, yeah, I was a pretty gregarious, outgoing person. I thought maybe why not give it a shot? The thing that intrigued me was it was $20,000 a year, plus car, plus a bonus in 1979. That was a pretty substantial opportunity.
Dan H.: So long story short, essentially what it was a bait and switch ad for an employment agency. And I was recruited via the Glengarry Glen Ross approach. Sell me this pen to essentially sell accountants. Never ever having had an accounting class in my entire life. Moving forward, it was pretty obvious to me that I was going to be good at this, because I had an affinity for it. And essentially loved talking to people and listening to people.
Dan H.: And those two things became very apparent as part of my makeup and my DNA that was going to foster any kind of direction. Essentially, a long story short, my first year I surpassed the earnings potential that they actually even advertised and never looked back. And woke up one morning and realized that I was making someone else wealthy by doing what I was doing, and decided, I have an entrepreneurial spirit. I was literally eating macaroni and cheese for a steady diet while I was a sculptor. What do I have to lose?
Dan H.: So, I went out and fostered my own practice, and started to learn firsthand how to navigate through big corporate giants, and essentially built a portfolio of some great clients. And in 1980 no one was hiring accountants. So, you had to be extremely good about positioning individuals’ backgrounds. And I got very fortunate with a gentleman by the name of Ben Heineman. I don't know if you remember a company called Northwest Industries. They were huge conglomerate. They were a Fortune one company.
Dan H.: Ben Heineman was a steward of technology, and he essentially brought me under his wing and taught me a little bit about something called decision support. And at that time decision support was bleeding edge. And he would actually have numbers that he could present to his CFO before his CFO had them, because he invested heavily in decision support. Long story short, he adopted me as one of his stewards in recruiting, and I helped him build his fiefdom to a certain degree, and subsequently was recruited away from Northwest Industries to a small little company called Ameritech Communications, which was the new regime once the Bell system was actually broken up.
Dan H.: So, Ameritech resided in Chicago and it was an experiment to build a service arm for the telecommunications industry, and design telecommunications individually for corporations. And I was brought into essentially build that function from the standpoint of recruiting. And spent a lot of time learning a lot about just the technology and finding out that there was something in my background that said that I really love technology. I never knew that I loved technology, but once introduced to it, twice introduced to it, it started to become a pretty meaningful part of my makeup.
Dawn Tiura: So, Dan, I have to stop you there. So, a couple things. You're going down memory lane and I guarantee you there are people listening right now that don't even know what Ma Bell was, or Bell Telephone and Telegraph for that matter. You're going through an era, now I came out, I was a CPA, so I can reflect on the fact that at the time that you were trying to sell accounting services, I know at least the Midwest was going through a recession. And I was doing a lot of bankruptcy accounting. Which is what prompted my move to California to get out of the recession that was hitting the Midwest. So, I can reflect on that piece of it.
Dawn Tiura: But I'm still stuck with you being a sculptor. Understanding how to sell CPA services, never having taken an accounting class, to then you've gone through now the history of breaking up Ma Bell and working for a tech company back when tech was barely even spelled or discussed as technology. So, do you think your artist background helped you grasp this sort of ambiguous world of technology as it started to evolve? Was it...?
Dan H.: It's a fabulous question to ask, because I've asked it numerous times myself. And to be very frank with you, yes, I think it had everything to do with it. When you plan a piece, and when you build monumental pieces you, it's not just the construction of the piece itself that you have to take in their consideration, but it's all of the things that you need to put in place. And it's a project management exercise to the n-th degree. When you're building your 30-foot-tall piece of art that weighs probably more than two tons. So, you have to not only embrace the dimension and the extent of what it's going to take to stand that up. But you have to also understand the physics portion of it, and the technology that's going to help you actually make that happen.
Dan H.: And believe me, I didn't realize that when I was doing it, because it was a passion. I was doing it; I was learning the hard way. It was trial and error. But over a period of time, yeah, you realize that technology is your friend, and it's going to allow you to be better at what you do. And it became part of something that was really a thrust for me, that wasn't obvious when I was doing it. There was no way it was obvious when I was doing it. But going forward it became extremely obvious that there was a passion for it.
Dawn Tiura: That's neat. So, I've always thought of you as a talent person, because that's how I got to know you through SIG. So, was it the technology, or was it the talent piece of it that drove you in- so I guess help me with the connection there?
Dan H.: So, the talent piece was being able to identify and assess quickly, individual circumstance and the makeup of someone's persona within a culture that became the intriguing part to me. When you assess skills, it's kind of a check the box process. If they have it, they have it, and they can explain it. And if they can explain that, you learn, and you benefit from it. And that's how I grew to learn more about accounting and cost accounting and all the auditing, and so on. And none of these terms are even relevant to my world at that time. But when you do go through that process, you're really looking at the individual.
Dan H.: And I think what really harnessed my love for this was one, it was lucrative, two, it was intriguing. And three, there was never ending opportunities to learn from somebody that you first meet, and you're trying to assess as to whether or not they're going to be a benefit to your client in a role.
Dan H.: And having the opportunity to actually empower yourself, to drive an outcome for someone's life. To become real and see that firsthand, and watch those people aspire and be, I'll tell you right now, Dawn, you fast-forward into my career now, a lot of the people that I actually associated with an earlier years in my career, are executive levels and above, in my world today. Which is a huge payoff if you think about it. Very few people in this world who are in recruiting, or in talent, have that opportunity to really make that network sustainable. And I've been very fortunate to have that happen.
Dan H.: So, in answering your question, those things came together as a perfect storm. And quite honestly, I never looked back because of the lucrative nature of it, and obviously the insatiable desire to continue to learn. And I was gifted from the standpoint of being able to shut up when I knew I needed to shut up and ask questions when I needed to ask questions. And where that came from, I'll have no idea to this day where that came from. And I think some of it was innate, and some of it was trained. But by any stretch the imagination. I never thought that that would be my career, thrust in focus.
Dan H.: And it turned out that it led me to participate in building some things that you would widely recognize as first iconic brands. When I was recruited to work with, and I don't name drop, so I'm not going to, but when I was recruited to work with a small company in Menlo Park, California, who was basically operating an American Express Gold Card, They were about to basically change the world.
Dan H.: And at that time, changing the world was with this thing called the router. And no one knew what the heck it was. And myself, and four other colleagues of mine, best friends my quote, unquote, "posse," were entrusted with going out into the world and hiring seven figure sales individuals to go out and sell Cisco routers. And essentially, we were extricating these people from major competitors like SUN and [inaudible] and so on and so forth.
Dan H.: And it was so exhilarating that, we used to say, when you're with that organization at the time, it was like seven years with anywhere else. It was truly that way. But then having had that opportunity and then leveraging that opportunity into numerous others in working for powerhouse, iconic individuals in major corporations, was now [inaudible] for me. Because we had already established the baseline credibility and people looked back and saw that. And, Dan had now something to offer from the standpoint of recruiting. And that became the evolution of what I've done for the last almost three decades.
Dawn Tiura: Yeah, it's amazing. And you have had such an amazing journey as a recruiter, and someone that is so respected within the staffing industry. And I've loved just watching your journey through that time, but now you're at a company called Certree, C-E-R-T-R-E-E. And I find this a really unique type of organization. I had only glanced at the webpage, and basically it says that we're not for everybody, and we'll almost choose you if we want you to be a customer. So, talk to me about what Certree is and why it's so important today.
Dan H.: So, when people ask me, first and foremost, why I matriculated to this time and place. I refer to it as the third act of my play in a dark comedy. This is my time to essentially give back. And I have some colleagues that just published this amazing book that I encourage everyone to investigate. It's called Inspiration, Inc. And it's really truthful in its content. And it drove me kind of to think about, and reformulate my thought process around, what next for Dan and why?
Dan H.: And in a nutshell, the purpose statement around this organization is to give everybody an impenetrable means to protect and control their personal data. And I know that sounds like utopia, but it's not, it's very, very real. With the impending amount of fraud, and people being abused in having your personal DNA repackaged, and sold and breached, and so on and so forth.
Dan H.: To me it was an absolute no brainer to say, "Look, this is an opportunity to position a solution that essentially can provide anyone who is caring about their own personal data, an opportunity to put in a secured encrypted vault, and only provide it to people that they believe you can entrust with it and you need to provide it to."
Dan H.: So that's the essence of it. We are not in the public eye right now. We're actually in the effort mode. I will use that term. And we are being very selective of our advocacy. And we're looking for organizations that have the same passion around a corporate responsibility, as it pertains to protecting their employee and past employees, privacy and personal DNA.
Dawn Tiura: So, when you say personal DNA, do you actually mean physical DNA?
Dan H.: No. When I say DN- I'm sorry for not being explicit. No. So the things that are basically abused today, your social security number, your date of birth, where you live, your employment history, your income history. The things that you find aggregators reselling and remarketing, and essentially abusing without individuals even knowing that's happening until something happens to them personally.
Dawn Tiura: What if you've already been part of breach? Can you protect it moving forward?
Dan H.: Oh, without a doubt. And the bottom line is that without getting into the weeds, we're deploying a patentable technological bent on blockchain, if you will, in terms of how we're actually encrypting. So, we're encrypting at the record level. So, it'd be like trying to basically find a specific fish in the middle of the ocean to try and penetrate. It's an improbability.
Dawn Tiura: Wow. That is so cool, because you know, and on top of that, I do wish people would protect their physical DNA at the same time. You know, I was-
Dan H.: Yeah. that is something quite frankly that has been asked of us. I wouldn't say that we're anywhere near that, and maybe we will evolve to that. But I agree with you. I think wellness records, things of that nature, our perspective clients in the future, may very well ask us to provide an opportunity to offer that benefit to their employees. And their past employees as well.
Dawn Tiura: That is really interesting. I want to stay involved with you as you go through this journey, and as this company further develops. Because I think it's absolutely fascinating. And I think the companies have to model this kind of behavior to protect the anonymity of people's personal data. And we don't do enough. And the hacks are getting more and more sophisticated all the time. And I just think this is such an important safeguard, and a mechanism that we should need to put in place for everybody. So, I applaud you for your third act. I think this is going to make a huge difference to a number of people in their personal lives.
Dan H.: Well I truly appreciate that. I do too. And I haven't personally been impacted, directly by an aggregator’s incompetence. But again, without subjecting people to a specific name, it’s pretty apparent if you read any of the business journals who is actually the biggest culprits in this regard. The thing that bothers me the most, Dawn, is that instead of actually doing the right thing, you find companies actually trying to make hay, or monetize their incompetence.
Dan H.: And in the case of the largest brute out there, while the house was burning, they essentially sold you fire insurance. And if you purchase that fire insurance, which was like free credit monitoring, you vacated the opportunity to actually adjudicate a civil suit against them in the fine print. Which to me is just absolutely sleazy if you think about it. What are you telling these people? You're telling these people that they're basically a product. That their information is a product. And regardless of how ridiculous we were in terms of caring for that product, we're going to exacerbate the issue by eliminating any opportunity for adjudication, by offering up something that offer anyway.
Dan H.: So, I think those types of companies need to disappear. And I'm very, very adamant about taking on Goliath. I think we'd have a really good opportunity to find good advocates who do the right thing and want to do the right thing. And I'm hopeful for that.
Dawn Tiura: Oh, me too. I want to be hopeful about our personal data. So, Dan, just to focus on, I don't want to ever say final act, because that sounds really dark fear for your play. But is this something that you can see yourself in for a number of years? Is this third act going to be sort of a swan song that you want to go out on knowing that you made a difference in people's personal lives? Or is there something else? And who knows if you know it now.
Dan H.: You learn every day if you pay attention. Right? So, there's so many things going on right now that I think they are very meaningful for people to be paying attention to, other than the pablum we get fed by the quote unquote "mass delivery mechanisms" that we have. There are so many things that are being contributed to the benefit of our well-being, if you just look around. And I can honestly tell you that this is last act, but I can tell you that legacy is important to me right now.
Dan H.: And I think I have been gifted by so many other people. They've provided me with so much opportunity that it's a meaningful and purposeful thing to want to contribute. And I believe that companies who inspire, and are purposeful, are absolutely going to be more attractive to the talent that they require to succeed, and compete, and contribute as well.
Dan H.: So that's another voice that I want to expound on in the market, and hopefully will do that implicitly by having platforms to discuss it. But I really believe that. I believe purposeful organizations who are inspirational are what our next generations of potential professionals really aspire to want to be part of. As opposed to revenue generating moguls that have only one particular focus, which is shareholders. And there's nothing wrong with shareholders, and shareholder value. That's capitalism that we all participate in. Today we're seeing a shift. And purposeful and inspirational, is more meaningful than just pure, unadulterated revenue.
Dawn Tiura: I agree. I cannot agree more. Dan, you've always been such a huge ambassador for SIG. And you've been a great mentor for a number of people. So, I hope we can continue our relationship, our professional relationship, and on a personal basis, I really want to stay in touch with you and just see how the third act of your play is going. So, I'd love to invite you back, maybe in a year from now when you've got a little bit more under your belt with this company and talk about how you guys are changing the world.
Dan H.: I'd be honored very much so to do that, Dawn. I really appreciate what you're doing for everyone in the space. It's interesting when I was thinking about this conversation with you, I was thinking about the whole evolution of SIG, and the purposeful nature of what you're doing. I think that's very, very obvious to everyone that you have a drive, and undying passion for what you do, and it shows in everything that you produce, and contribute to. And allow people to contribute back. So, I can't thank you enough for having an opportunity to actually even do this.
Dawn Tiura: Well, thank you. And it was a long time trying to get you on the calendar, and we did play calendar tag for quite some time. But I always knew that once I got a chance to sit down and talk with you, it was going to be a fantastic. So, Dan Hanyzewski, who I've known forever, but he was just Dan to me. Who is ambassador at Certree. So, stay involved, stay listening to follow Dan, follow him, link in with him. Follow his journey, because it's been phenomenal to date, and from what he's saying, it's going to be phenomenal in the future as well. So, Dan, thank you so much for joining me.
Dan H.: Dawn, thank you so much. Have a wonderful rest of your day. I look forward to our next conversation.
Dawn Tiura: I always look forward to our next conversation. Thanks Dan.
Dan H.: Bye now.