Gray Hair Management

Helping the professional win the job race through coaching, marketing and personal - touch networking
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In The Press

If you are a member of the media and need assistance, place contact Kelly Kirkendoll Shafer at or 817.236.6075

Gray Hair starting to look good on job seekers.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004
by Michelle Gabriel Medill News Service Daily Herald
Posted on Wednesday, February 18, 2004

After 26 years in television production, ScottKane lost his job. But his son's boss - in anupstart dot-com - gave Kane an idea where hecould put his managerial skills to work."There are a lot of young companies out therethat need some gray hair," his son's boss toldhim.

Kane realized unemployed executives couldprovide "gray hair" experience to newcompanies, providing business savvy and wellhonedpresentation skills, lending an air ofHome Delivery professionalism and legitimacy to firms withyoung managers.

When Kane printed business cards touting hisskills as a "gray hair manager," the interest theygenerated drove him to register the phrase as atrademark. Soon, he was passing along tipsabout part-time consulting opportunities to otherunemployed executives.

By 2001, he was back in business - for himself.His helpful hobby of passing job tips to otherout-of-work executives led to the creation ofGray Hair Management LLC in Deerfield.It's similar to outplacement firms: it advisesclients about resumes, gives diagnostic tests totry to determine a client's best match in the jobmarket and offers career counseling. But unlikeoutplacement firms, Gray Hair charges clients,not their former employers, one-time fees forlifetime use of the services. Today, it employsfour people and reports revenues of $500,000 ayear.

The business started as an informal e-mailupdate about job opportunities that Kane sharedwith a growing network of unemployedexecutives across the country. At first, he wouldseek out employers looking for part-timeconsultants and pass the information to hislistserv. As Gray Hair's reputation grew,employers came to Kane when they neededcontract consultants.

In 2001, Kane met former executive coach JackHeyden. The two made Gray Hair a full-timebusiness, coupling Kane's experience inmarketing with Hayden's coaching expertise.Gray Hair management has two objectives:building a nationwide and international jobseekingnetwork, and providing careercounseling.

Each day, Kane sends out e-mails to 4,000members with job leads, specific requests forindustry connections from job-seekers, andinformation about Gray Hair networking events.For a one-time fee of $85, executives searchingfor work can join Gray Hair Management's emailnetwork. Members who get jobs often stayon the listserv and offer industry connections toother members. Each month, about 100 newmembers join the network.

Last year, 20 percent of the members found jobsthrough connections they made from the service,according to Kane. Their new jobs pay between$75,000 and $100,000 a year.

Steve Adelstein, president of Chicago-basedTrillium Solutions Group Inc., acommunications software producer, said he wasso impressed with respondents to a recent jobposting that he will recruit exclusively throughGray Hair's listserv in the future. He's hiredthree contract consultants through Gray Hair.

Heyden oversees the firm's most profitablesector. As the client counselor, he meets one-ononewith the firm's 72 clients, who pay $6,000for personalized job-searching services. GrayHair signs about four new clients each month.Kane says 25 percent of coaching clients getjobs within 90 days of joining and 70 percent getjobs within 10 months - which breeds strongclient loyalty.

John Nowicki, 58, worked as a chief financialofficer in the printing industry for 25 years. Helost his job due to corporate downsizing, andwas working as a contract consultant when hebecame a Gray Hair client in 2001. Nowicki saidthe service helped him identify what he wantedout of his next job and boosted his confidence.Nowicki eventually was offered a permanentposition at the company he was advising, butlost the job in June 2003. As a client for life,Nowicki contacted Gray Hair again.

"The day that I was terminated, I called Jack,"Nowicki said. "Right away, we started myprogram."

Nowicki is still looking for full-time work, but ismaking contacts at Gray Hair networkingevents. He also meets with Heyden once a week."I kid with him," Nowicki said of Heyden. "Alot of people will go and see a psychiatrist on aregular basis. I go see my career coach."

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Winning The Job Race Book by Scott Kane and Jack HeydenJack Heyden and Scott Kane are executives with over 60 years of combined experience who, in early 2000, were out of work, did not know each other and who were forced to reinvent themselves to survive in the 21st Century workforce.

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